The health overhaul- 7 weeks on 

  
For reasons mostly related to a chronic illness, bad joints, poor sleep and anxiety over the state of my health I took the plunge into a new lifestyle about 7 weeks ago. 

The biggest part of that was completely changing my diet, which by the way wasn’t that bad before. I just had no real idea what food was for. I had help in the form of a body coach plan, which has more importantly than anything, taught me how to feed my body properly. Gone are the days of thinking a fruit yogurt and some granola with a handful of berries was a good start to the day. Gone are the days of going to the gym and feeling like I’d earned a treat. And gone is 75% of the sugar I was consuming before. I was an addict, and now I’m a recovering one. Sort of. 

I haven’t bought a chocolate bar or packet or normal crisps in 7 weeks. I haven’t binged on biscuits or dipped my hand into the work treat box once. I’ve given up over half of the caffeine I drank, half of the tea, all of the fruit juice and all of the fuzzy sweets. I’ve learnt how to exercise efficiently, I’ve lost weight and changed my body shape and all the while I’ve been eating more. So much more.

I’m amazed at what having some knowledge on nutrition and fats and carbs can really do for you. I’m amazed at how much better I felt almost a day after not eating refined sugar. I’m just amazed full stop. I’m also amazed at how hard it still is. You don’t just become a health guru and start bleeding green super juice. Who knew?

Moving house over the past couple of weeks has meant more eating out and I have had some major indulgences but you gotta live. I still drink alcohol on weekends and still get drunk and sleep with my clothes on. But a lot has changed and my body has changed with it. 

  
The strangest part might be that I want the weight back. I always thought I wanted to be thinner but at almost a stone down I feel just as annoyed at my body as before. I look way more like a person that exercises than ever before but also don’t like my clothes not fitting. I don’t know where the happy body medium is. Weight loss hasn’t led me to it.

BUT

7 weeks in and I feel healthier. I feel like I treat the body that gives me life a lot kinder. My skin is better, my sleep is better, my concentration is better and my fitness is through the roof. If you’re going to make a resolution for 2016 to overhaul your health I urge you to do it the proper way. Educate yourself. You don’t need to pay for a plan but just take time to learn what food does. How it fuels ad when we need certain kinds of feeding. Don’t diet on a whim and assume attending endless spin sessions will just change everything. 

7 weeks has taught me that I haven’t got over sugar, still need to work on willpower, still need to get better at stretching and that I haven’t yet truly overhauled anything. I still feel like I could snap back into my old ways at any time. 

Oh and when you stop shovelling down the sugar your teeth feel like silk even at the end of the day just FYI. 

Resting is not a sign of weakness

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On Monday I woke up with a swollen eye, a banging headache and felt a bit like someone had spent the night repeatedly running me over for fun. It was great.

This is not normally the sort of thing that would keep me from work. I live with a condition that causes chronic pain and fatigue and joint dislocations, so I’m used to feeling ropey. Feeling ropey is kind of the norm. But on Monday I just couldn’t. I needed to rest. I needed to sleep more, I needed to hold a hot flannel over my eye and I just needed to drink tea and not move. I basically needed to let my body and my brain catch up with life. It’s not just the chronically ill out there who need to rest sometimes though.

We’re a generation of busy people. We rush everywhere. We do everything. We get up early, stay  out late, have a crippling fear of missing out and we run ourselves into the ground trying to have a full life. It’s bloody exhausting. Yet, a lot of people I know (not all, admittedly, I do know some bed fanatics) feel ashamed of resting. They feel like they’re being boring, or letting people down, or wasting time if they just take a day out to regroup. I’m one of those people. I feel like I need to do something productive every day, on top of going to work, doing washing, cooking, going to the gym, doing freelance stuff, cleaning the shower, seeing my friends. I always want to fit in more.

We need to just stop. There’s nothing wrong with having a day where you genuinely feel like rubbish to spend the day making yourself feel better. I think for the most part, if you’re feeling in need of one of those days, you probably earned it and then some.

It’s not an easy habit to break but if you can appreciate the fact you need to give yourself time to be a human and catch up on EVERYTHING around you, you’ll benefit more than you could imagine.

5 ways you can make a difference this Christmas


As much as I love Christmas and get sucked in to all the commercialised sparkly festiveness, getting older definitely means wanting to give more. This year more than ever (despite it still only being November) I’ve noticed so many ways advertised for us all to make Christmas better for those less fortunate. Since it  is the season of goodwill and all that, I think everyone should get involved. These are my favourites:

1) Giving Trees

I’ve seen a couple of these now in supermarkets and shopping centres. They’re small christmas trees with handwritten paper notes attached from children, requesting one thing they would like for christmas. These are children who likely will get very little or nothing at all for Christmas and the gifts are all quite practical- shoes, clothes, school equipment. The idea is you take a note, buy a gift and hand it in (the tree should have instructions, trees are clever) and it makes it way to the child who requested it.

2) Christmas Jumper Day 

This has been going for several years now thanks to Save The Children, but it’s now linked up with several charities through ITV, including Macmillan and Make A Wish. If you work in an office this is a particularly easy way to raise some money- just wear your festive jumpers to work on December 18th and do a collection. It’s also the best day of the year to commute on the tube because SO MUCH CHRISTMAS EVERYWHERE.

3) Christmas Present Appeal 

I remember doing this at school. Basically, just wrap up a christmas present and donate it to the appeal. We used to fill shoe boxes with little gifts and practical things and this is still the idea. Give whatever you can and it will make it’s way to someone who needs it. It’s not just for children either, presents are needed for older people, homeless people and families.

4)  Matalan alphabet scarves 

Not just for Christmas, but Matalan are currently selling alphabet scarves and profits go to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital charity, which provides vital funds to help the 270,000 patients it sees a year. They’re pretty adorable, and would make ideal gifts for Christmas.

5) Crisis at Christmas

Crisis is a homelessness charity and by volunteering for their Christmas campaign, you take part in events that give those who have nowhere to go something to enjoy at Christmas. Giving up a few hours of time can make a long lasting difference. This appeal is running all over the country and there are several ways to get involved.

Let’s all be a little more thoughtful this December.

Six things to concentrate on when you get your first DSLR camera

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If you’re immersed in the digital world of content creating, you’ll know that photography is key. When you’re producing your own images for a website, blog or even using imagery to build up followers or create a brand, the better they are, the better you’ll do.

Blogs have really taken hold of photography. It’s not uncommon for even spare-time bloggers to use top of the range equipment, and many blogs have pages of glossy, pristine photos to accompany their words.

Creating something that looks good means you’re creating something that’s going to sell itself better to others. Would you rather scroll through pages of dimly lit photos that look like someone took them on their phone, in the dark, after several gins, or would your eyes prefer bright, well executed, attractive photography?

Probably the latter, let’s be honest.
You definitely do not need a DSLR camera to take good photos. If you’ve got an eye then you can do it on basically anything, but if you’ve taken the leap of getting yourself a pricey, impressive looking piece of equipment, you may as well do it justice. It can be overwhelming, there’s a lot of buttons, functions, modes and options not to mention lenses and straps and caps. It’s tempting to stick it on automatic and leave it at that. BUT DON’T. LEARN.

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Here’s 6 things you should concentrate on first:

1)      Take lots of photos – it sounds like a no-brainer, but there’s a reason why ‘practise makes perfect’ is such a cliché. The only way to improve is to always be shooting – learn by doing. This one is also dead easy, all you need is your camera, your eyes and a little time. You’ll be amazed how quickly you start to think like a photographer as well, it won’t be long before you start see opportunities and framing up potential shots in your head about 8,000 times a day. Which brings me to the next point….
2)      Have your camera with you as much as you possibly can. Another obvious one, but you can’t jump on those 8,000 daily opportunities without your camera. And you will kick yourself when you miss them. Obviously, you won’t be able to have it on you 100% of the time (we’re not people of leisure who wonder aimlessly between cafes and coffee shops all day, sadly) but try to keep it on you as much as possible.
3)      Fittingly, point three is about the fabled rule of thirds. It’s a pretty standard rule of composition that basically says you should avoid placing your subject bang in the centre of frame. Instead, switch on your camera’s guide lines, that will divide your viewfinder into nine boxes, and position your subject where two lines intersect. Those lines are also really handy if you’re shooting landscapes: the number of old photos I’ve taken with wonky horizons is a source of never-ending shame. The best thing about this is what a quick win it is – your shots will improve immediately. But! don’t be beholden to it – in photography as in all things, the rules are there to be broken and knowing when to flout the rule of thirds will result in great shots.
4)      Get to grips with Manual mode: the M on your dial makes the camera your bitch, giving you complete control over the settings that will have a huge say in how your pictures come out. There are three biggies to consider: aperture (the size of the hole that lets light into the lens, and determines your depth of field), shutter speed (the length of time the shutter is open) and ISO (the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light). Getting an idea of these three things and how they interact with and affect each other, will open up endless opportunities for creativity, whether its pin-sharp focus throughout the frame, getting that velvety smooth background blur for portrait shots or using long exposures to paint with light and motion. Once you’ve got the hang of Manual, using the semi-automatic settings such as Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority will be much easier.
5)      The ultimate cliché: enjoy it. Don’t get downhearted if your shots aren’t coming out like you see them in your head. Simply check your settings and go again. Everyone is on the same learning curve and every photography great has been where you (and I) are now. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Ansel Adams, widely regarded as one of the greatest photographers of all time, said: ’Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.’ And he wasn’t even shooting with a digital camera.
6)      A cheeky final point: be a student of the game. Read a lot about photography. There are a shit ton of websites and blogs about the art and craft of taking pictures, from technique to different bits of kit, so it makes sense to use them.
HAPPY PHOTO TAKING. HAPPY CONTENT WINNING.
Thanks https://dannyboyjnr.exposure.co/ for the tips

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Three places to put on your map for 2016

 It’s mid-November now, so travel planning and 2016 wanderlust can officially kick in. In true wanderlust addicted fashion, I’ve got three of my 2016 adventures already planned already. Travel organisation is way more fun than any other kind of organisation.

There’s three places you should definitely consider visiting in 2016 (click place name for more):

Sri Lanka 

Beautiful, hot, different and calm. Well, Colombo isn’t calm, but you don’t go to capital cities for calm. Very different to the backpacking hot spots in Asia as it’s not been drilled into by tourism (yet). Sri Lanka is bright, the people are kind, it’s got a lot of scars from war and natural disasters but that makes the locals so interesting to talk to and the history really meaningful to learn about. It’s easy and cheap to get about and the incredible train journey from Colombo Central to Ella is dubbed the most the most beautiful train journey in the world. The beaches are glorious, the storms are crazy and tuk tuk is the most efficient way to get about when not going long distances. I’ll 100% return to Sri Lanka, i’ve never had holiday blues quite so so strong.

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Isle of Skye, Scotland

It feels a bit weird to call it a staycation when it takes almost 16 hours of driving from London to get to, but since it’s the UK I count it. I went here off season, in February, when there was snow on the ground and a lot of eerie fog around all the closed pubs and hotels. You should definitely do the same. Going when it’s quiet, not full of tourists and still has the chance of snow makes it so magical. Scotland is insanely beautiful as it is, but add some snow on the way through Glen Coe, fog and ice at the top of Old Man of Storr and a freezing sunset in Elgol and you have the most breathtaking winter trip. You can also go to the most famous landmarks like Neist Point and not lay eyes on another person, making it seem very other wordly. The drive there, though very long, was like one big gorgeous sightseeing treat. We passed snowy mountains, shimmering lochs and drove through forests and cities. Also, if you drive, split petrol and use air B&B you can do this for super cheap.

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Malmo, Sweden 

I went here for a flying visit while in Copenhagen and was completely taken with it. If you’ve seen the show The Bridge, you probably know that’s how you get there from Denmark- a really long, impressive looking bridge, going right over the sea. Malmo is pretty, quirky, full of cool places to eat and cute little clothes boutiques as well as flowers everywhere and a bridge every few feet. I went in the peak of summer and it wasn’t hectic, packed or overwhelming. Quite the opposite. It’s very relaxed, quite small and really rather charming. There’s a beautiful park to lounge in, canal tours to go on, plenty to eat and drink and you can also use the very good transport links to include it in a trip to Copenhagen or another Swedish City. Just be sure to take enough money if you want to eat out a lot, Sweden is pricey, just as people say.

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7 times the internet has been good this week

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I’ve been too busy to write anything this week which has meant falling behind on NaNoWriMo and other stuff like hair brushing and sleep. I have though, come across a few quite amazing things on the internet while sitting slumped on the tube or laying in bed putting off actually turning out the light. Prepare to be hungry and get some wanderlust.

1) PANCAKES.

The greatest of all Food. Buzzfeed have rounded up the best in London, so I’ll just need a week or two off work to really concentrate on eating them all.

2) ASOS- Christmas made me do it

I never actually buy anything from this edit but I still love it every year. ASOS do a good Christmas party edit and this year there is a LOT of sparkles.

3) Emma Watson

I read this on Time on my way home the other day. It’s just a snippet of Emma Watson saying she hated her hair in the first Harry Potter film and reminding everyone why she’s so amazing.

4) 43 reasons you’ll fall in love with Bali 

This was on The Sunday Chapter, which is one of my absolute favourite websites. She does travel stuff so beautifully and this is no exception.

5) 10 things you should know about the gender pay gap 

Simple, important and well explained. Good old Guardian.

6) Danny Boy Jnr Exposure blog

So I’m biased on this one but my boyfriend started a photography blog and it’s beautiful.

7) 101 Christmas baking recipes 

Er, YES. Christmas is excellent. Baking is excellent.

IT’S NEARLY FRIDAY.

Finally got a hobby

 I’ve been told I need a hobby several times in my life, because I’m bad at doing nothing but often have nothing to do. It’s not much of a problem at the moment as between work and freelance projects, I have virtually no time anyway. Lately though my boyfriend and I have gotten into photography, in quite a big way. We have a lot of plans and ambitions for the next 6 months, and it all started with a camera. It’s actually really exciting, and in the last two months we’ve trawled and explored London more than ever before. I’ve actually learnt street names and can recommend nice places to people without needing Google Maps to sort the logistics out.

He’s the real photographer, and he’s now doing blog photography, so do get in touch if you’re in London and want a free hour long shoot. We did one today in Kensington with Sasha from F For Foxtrot and the outcomes are pretty gorgeous.

It’s also really nice to explore the city you call home without any actual purpose but to wonder and find new things.  And now we spend our time planning and editing and emailing and generating actual work which is exciting. It’s much better than getting annoyed over not having anything to do together that we both actually like. Oh and no the hobby is NOT having MY photo taken, it’s the actual photography. I’ve got about as much grace in front of a camera as a camel. These are just shameless plugs and portfolio building.

You should also check out this >> https://dannyboyjnr.exposure.co/


 If you need a good photoshoot location and you can get to South Kensington, go to Onslow Square. It’s a two minute walk from the station and is where I’ll live when I l find a few million quid on the floor. Which should be any day now. Ahem.

  

Hormones are hard, aren’t they?

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I’m just laying in bed in my pink fleece leggings with my bra on my feet after I threw it there about half hour ago. I think one of the hooks is stuck in my sock, so that’s exciting. I’m also on my 13th Australia’s Got Talent audition video on YouTube because I got one as a recommended video, clicked on it and things have spiralled out of control.

While I’m doing this, I have a bag of wet washing next to the bed that wants to be hung up and another bag with shampoo and my ‘luxury’ tampons in that I need to take the bathroom. Problem is though, I can’t be bothered to move. I’m seriously considering never moving again. Maybe in 20 years they’ll come remove me with a crane like in those TV documentaries. (unlikely, my landlord will totally evict me with force if I stop earning money to line his pockets. Oh life.)

I ate way too much at dinner washed down by about a litre of squash because I’m worried my skin is getting bad because I’m not drinking enough. The struggle is quite real.

Sorry if you get massive ‘too much info thanks love’ alarm bells ringing, but I’m due on my period. I’m bloated, tired, have a headache and feel like all I can muster up is to lay a bit more, watch some more Australian’s sing and maybe put my phone on charge so I can WhatsApp my friend a bit more and talk about the flu jab and face powder she’s left at my house. All the important things. I have actually thrown my phone out of my reach though because my emails wouldn’t load and then I couldn’t find the santa emoji. I can only deal with so much after a long day.

Don’t mind me I’m just over here, in my bed, being a girl, having some hormones.

I spent quite a long time on the tube home wondering if I look worse than everyone else in my carriage because I don’t brush my hair enough or because I’ve never learnt how to apply make up properly. I mean, is it okay for a 25 year old to not be able to do an eyeliner flick? Should I be worried? Should I just never dwell on it again and keep having crap makeup and do more freelance work instead because that’s actually important isn’t it? OR should I move to Sri Lanka?

Oh and now there’s a puppy on the tv in some advert about animal cruelty so I’ll just get a bit weepy about that. I’m now actually sitting up because I need to get some water because the squash hasn’t hydrated me enough and WHAT IF I GET CYSTITIS AGAIN. Oh God, I feel really emotional. Cystitis makes me sad. Really sad. I don’t even have it right now and I feel sad.

Hormones are hard aren’t they?

18 things to do with your days off in London this autumn/winter

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1) Buy a London Walks book. It’s just an opportunity to stop off for many hot drinks and hot food every hour. On the hour.

2) Go see Slava’s Snow Show. It’s incredible.

3) Go to The Cheshire Cheese, one of the oldest, coolest, cosiest pubs in London where a round is still relatively cheap. Definitely try apricot beer.

4) Go look at street art around Brick Lane and the get a bargain curry for lunch.

5) Have lunch at Spitalfields Market and sample the many hot chocolates(it’s kinda indoors, so you won’t freeze)

6) Go Ice Skating at The Ally Pally.

7) Wrap up and watch fireworks while sitting on Primrose Hill from Bonfire night onwards.

8) Go to Melt in Notting Hill for the best chocolately hot drinks imaginable.

9) Visit the Geffrye Museum, which exhibits about how Christmas was celebrated in the past. Shoreditch, obvs.

10) The Soutbank Centre Winter Festival. They have a CHRISTMAS TREE SHAPED cafe. Not a drill.

11) Taste of Winter at Tobacco Dock. Firstly, this part of London is pretty cool if you’ve never explored it, secondly- FOOD AND WINE.

12) Borough Market. Good all year round, but extra good if it’s raining/freezing/deathly windy.

13) Go Very South and go to Morden Hall Park. It’s the photo at the top of the post and it’s beautiful, especially in autumn/winter.

14) Do the Jack The Ripper tour, you can warm up from the walking in ALL of the pubs the East End has to offer.

15) Have breakfast for dinner at the Breakfast Club in London Bridge, then take shelter from the cold in Hays Galleria.

16) The Hot Tub Cinema.

17) The London Blitz Party. Keep your eyes peeled for the next event on their website. Perfect excuse to wear big, glamorous fur and drink champagne.

18) Go to Kew Gardens. It gets lit up at night so even when it’s dark early it doesn’t matter. Also a really good place for quirky, crafty christmas presents.

Outfit: The £1 jacket and the last days of autumn

I have an aspiring photographer for a boyfriend and an amazing £1 jacket I got from a vintage clothes stand at a Sunday market. So this happened.

Sunday was the perfect crisp, sunny autumnal day (once the fog subsided) and as there probably aren’t many left before we all start freezing and getting icicles on our noses whenever we leave the house, it seemed rude not to stroll through the pretty back streets of Fulham.

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I got this (mildly ridiculous) jacket from a Sunday morning half carboot/half farmers market a while back and it was so worth getting up for. If you have anything like a carboot or clothing sale near you, try and drag yourself out of bed on a Sunday and go thrifting. They may start early but the bargains are seriously impressive. Who WOULDN’T need a velour floral bomber jacket? I also got two silver plated photo frames for £3 and a burger the size of torso. I need to go to more of these things. Time Out have a list of the best ones in London, so knock yourselves out. Go wild.

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Sunday was also one of the fast fading days where the weather allowed feet to be shoved into shoes with no tights or socks and not cause toes to turn blue. I stumbled upon these slightly aggressive looking flats in Debenhams (I know, there actually are things to buy in Debenhams) and turns out they are outrageously comfortable and go with pretty much everything. Perfect office shoes that won’t fall apart in the rain.

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I also want to just shove it down everyone’s throats again that if you live in or around London, you should definitely dedicate a day one weekend soon to come to Fulham and go for brunch and a wonder. It’s SO pretty and my Sunday morning stropll made me really sad to think about leaving soon.

The other point to this post (aside from in your face velour, boot sales and red trees) is to ask any bloggers in London who want some free snaps taken with professional equipment over the next few weeks to give me a shout.