Body and fitness goals- summer

  
 Getting fit is one of those things that so many people want to do, some people can’t be bothered to do, some people physically struggle to do and others just seem to do effortlessly. I definitely do not fall in the kale blending, early morning running, super toned effortless group, as much as I would love to deep down. I used to really beat myself up every year when summer rolled round at not having gotten myself fitter because let’s face it, we all want to look good in bikinis or summer clothes or whatever.

It’s taken a long old time to realise that ‘looking good’ is basically just interpretation and interpreting yourself as already looking good is a step in the right direction. If I didn’t have health problems and grumpy joints that hold me back, I reckon I could give the full fitness freak lifestyle a really good go ( I say 2 hours before I’m off to Hache to eat thousands of calories in burger and milkshake), but the simple fact is, I probably will never fit that mould.

So I’m basically going to do the next best thing, and challenge myself to find the highest point I can reach when it comes to fitness and physical health. I did the Body Coach 90 DaySSS plan last year, and got told several times that I looked thin enough to snap, and that was after 6 weeks of eating no sugar, no junk food, virtually no alcohol and none of my all time favourite pick and mix sweets. I definitely got fitter from the plan, but I don’t want to look too thin, I just want to look and more importantly feel physically good.

  
I’ve already made a start on this by joining a gym where I’m now living with my mum and sister who spur me on, and together we’ve been going to various classes every week for quite some time now. I’ve already noticed a difference from this, and genuinely feel like some sort of Olympian after a spin session, so things are on the up.

The other day after spinning my instructor asked what my aim was, and I sort of just looked at her (and noticed even MORE muscle on her perfectly toned body) and realised I didn’t have a clue. Exercising and increasing fitness and prancing around in lycra is all good and well, but I guess you do need some sort of aim. If I have a goal to work to (finish work so you can eat burgers) then I tend to do everything better and more efficiently.

As luck would have it, I got an email that week asking if I was interested in running Run London- the Vitality British 10k happening on July 10 and raising a bit of awareness on this blog and across social media.

I didn’t reply straight away because a) running is effort and b) can I actually run 10k? Then I did that thing where I type a draft reply and look at it then just carry on watching Netflix without pressing send.

I have hips that sub-lax (basically, half dislocate, it’s really quite grim and the noises are not sexy) thanks to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome so I have to be careful with running, but I need something to train for and get my teeth into and this seems like a good focus to have.

There is of course a small chance I will reach somewhere around the 7k mark and then lay on the ground and silently weep into my water bottle, but I’m hoping to avoid such a thing.

If you’re looking for something to train for and springboard you into your fitness or bikini body plans then take a look at the website, because after looking at the route and officially signing up I’m seriously excited. Starting on Piccadilly outside The Cavalry & Guards Club on Hyde Park corner, runners will make their way past London landmarks including the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, so you can fully pretend I’m Paula Radcliffe running the marathon in record time. I love London, not only because it’s my hometown but the sights never really get old.

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By signing up you can also run for one of the amazing charities the race is supporting. Official partners this year include Epilepsy and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, but there’s a whole host of others on the website.

Having now received my ‘you’re running, this is happening, shit is getting real’ email I feel so motivated to start. I’m hoping that by the time the run comes around, I’ll be in the kind of physical shape I always want to be, but manage to talk myself out of achieving. I won’t lie either that I’m also spending 2 weeks in dessert heat in August and would like to feel confident on a beach for once in my life.

Oh and if you see anyone laying on the floor by Big Ben on July 10 asking people for a piggy back, do stop and say hi to me.

Let’s talk cystitis 


I tweeted something at the weekend about cystitis and it was one of those quick, laying in bed at night, throw away tweets that was mostly for the sake of it  and partly because I felt like moaning. However, I then proceeded to get several replies, a couple of messages and an email from a fellow sufferer before I went to sleep. When I woke up there was more. Girls want to talk about cystitis and so do I.

If you’ve never had it or had it like once a few years ago then it probably sounds incredibly lame that for a while it completely ruled and ruined my life. But that’s no exaggeration. For a about a year, I was constantly unwell and forever crouched on the floor feeling like I might pass out because I had UTI after UTI and received inadequate medical care to sort it out. Most 23 year olds wish for holidays to places like Thailand and maybe some sort of TopShop voucher windfall, but all I wanted was a healthy urinary tract. I didn’t choose the thug life.

If you’re prone to UTIs and suffer with recurring issues, then you’ll likely know how debilitating and horrible the common symptoms are.  The waking up at night to pee about 8 times was the first one that kicked off my year of bladder hell. I started to think I was just drinking too much, so stopped drinking anything past 6:30pm, but since it made no odds I ended up going to a doctor who within a minute told me I had a ‘bladder infection’ and sent me on my way with three days of antibiotics.

I remember finishing them and not being able to tell if I was actually better or not, as I hadn’t started getting all of the usual symptoms or feeling particularly unwell, but that calm period didn’t last long.

I feel like with cystitis, the symptoms mount up until you feel so terrible you may as well have flu. That awful feeling of being desperate for the loo but then not being able to go, followed by stomach cramps, then feeling feverish and getting the shakes- not a recipe for a good time. And then there’s the burning. The awful, horrible, dreaded burning.

I started getting a UTI every couple of weeks when things were really bad. In retrospect it’s likely that I had less than this, but they weren’t clearing up, rather just lasting longer. I was asked to stop making GP appointments and was prescribed antibiotics over the phone because it was ‘easier’ that way. I urge anyone with ongoing, long lasting UTI symptoms to push for proper investigations. When you don’t regularly see the same GP it can be hard to pursue a lasting issue, but please don’t let it go. After being pushed from pillar to post and referred to the same set of ‘rules to reduce UTIs’ (you know the drill- peeing after sex, massive amounts of hygiene etc), I finally got referred for scans that revealed one normal kidney and one small ball of scar tissue. Voila. I was told this was likely partly down to the amount of infections and kidney infections I had endured plus some childhood infections- but it took a lot of pestering and an eventual hospital admission with a severe kidney infection to find any of this out.

My point is, the hell that is cystitis is no laughing matter. Not that you could ever laugh at it while you’re sat on the toilet at 3am weeping into a bottle of water- but it’s a total, utter bastard that makes life seriously miserable.

If there was a cystitis support group I would seriously go. I don’t get it anywhere near as much as I used to these days but if I ever feel those first pangs setting in it fills me with dread. As women, it’s one of those thing we’re told can ‘just happen’, and that we have to accept it- which is true but doesn’t help anyone who can’t get up from sitting in case they wet themselves or who needs to get off the train on the way to work because the fever strikes and you need to lay down immediately.

I realise this has turned into a complete bladder ramble but I just feel like connecting with people fighting the same issues and feeling like total crap because their bladder is harbouring bacteria like some sort of smuggler is really helpful. It’s nice to share the pain sometimes.

21 Sources of Childhood happiness that are still as good now

  
1) Tea and biscuits.

2) Pancakes on a weekend morning.

3) Listening to it rain from bed.

4) Saturday nights in with a 4000 calorie meal.

5) Coming home to the smell of dinner already being cooked.

6) Waking up to sun coming through blinds.

7) Watching homemade Yorkshire puddings rise in the oven.

8) Eating whole loaves of bread between 2 or 3 when only toast will do.

9) Having someone else paint your nails.

10) Being a ‘practice model’ for any kind of plait.

11) The smell of fresh washing coming in from the garden in the summer.

12) The smell of cut grass on sunny Sunday mornings.

13) Being told you’ve made a really good cup of tea.

14) Waking up in the middle of the night to go on holiday and being so excited despite it still being dark and having had about an hours sleep.

15) Being given any hot fruit pie for pudding.

16) Hot chocolate made at home properly on the hob.

17) Watching a storm with all the lights off but but never getting too near a window for fear of lightning striking.

18) Absolutely anything Winnie The Pooh.

19) Getting straight into a bath after getting caught in rain.

20) Any occasion that warrants a buffet style dinner.

21) Taking a duvet downstairs to the sofa for a day of not moving.

Brain burnout- the curse of being a planner

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In the world of the Monday-Friday 9-5 workers who burn the candle at both ends and use weekends as a chance to catch up socially rather than catch up literally, taking a day to do nothing is weird. It feels strange and unnatural and if you’re one of the above mentioned people, you’ll know what it’s like to feel like you can’t relax without plans.

I’ve loved structure ever since I was a child. I liked to get up every day at the right time, be at school early, know exactly what I had planned for the day and that momentum has continued into adult life. Apart from uni, where I took a hiatus from any sort of structure and just did ‘student life’ like a normal, cheap vodka drinking, occasional essay-writing, happy go lucky young adult, I’ve never dealt well with just going with the flow.

For many reasons, health being the biggest, I’ve desperately been seeking to adopt the laid back attitude that would let me just roll with whatever happened without the need to plan and give everything a structure. I have a body that needs rest, yet I give it basically none. If I’m laying in bed or sitting on the sofa, my mind is usually doing some serious mental admin, or I’m on my phone doing blog things or reading news or having a minor internal panic about work. This is probably why I’m so bad at watching TV series- I can’t stop life planning for long enough to concentrate.

I don’t really do relaxing, as my teeth grinding habit confirms. I don’t like days where I wake up with no purpose, they make me feel antsy and unnerved or like I’m wasting my life or time or throwing away my youth or something. It’s nor Saturday morning and if you’re reading this in a timely manner, I’m currently on my way to Brixton for a photo and then going straight to Brighton to immediately go to a birthday lunch because busy is best and all that….right?

I feel like I could never fully let go of  that fear of missing out and if I did manage to become okay with not having a degree of control or structure over all of my time, I would probably take up worrying that my ‘chill’ time wasn’t being ‘chilled correctly’, and the vicious circle would be complete.

I mean, there’s quite a lot of good that comes out of being a planner. For one thing, you do get the best out of time, because you make sure you plan it that way. It also means that you rarely come unstuck for something to do. I might sound like an insufferable person right now but my mental backlog of things I could do on days where plans fall through (yes this is real) is really long. And I swear I’m not unspontaneous and I don’t throw huge adult tantrums if I have to abandon a plan, because as long as SOMETHING is happening, then it’s fine.

By the way, this doesn’t mean I haven’t become a total mid-twenties grandma because I so have. I just even plan my grandma weekends in. Someone help me.

It’s probably unhealthy to a degree to have this ‘ WHAT CAN I DO NEXT THOUGH?’ brain that never stops mentally filling out a diary. It’s surely good for our mental health to have some ‘screw everything today my only plan is cheese’ time every so often? Maybe meditation is the way forward. Maybe mindfulness will help to slow things down. Maybe just forcing the thoughts and the plans to stop for a few days at a time is necessary.

Maybe maybe maybe. But also maybe it’s just the way millions of us are wired and actually it’s fine to completely mentally burn yourself out all the time.

6 times the internet has been good recently

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Favourite reads and things that have me made me laugh or weep lately:

1) This tweet. I’ve been going back to this for a laugh at least once a day for the past week or so. I don’t know exactly what’s funniest, the size of the pelican, how uncomfortable the dean looks or the situation in general. Credit to @IncrediblyRich for always RTing the best laughs.

2) Acne needs more attention. This was a discussion on BBC Newsbeat this week, after skin charities called for more to be done to help sufferers with acne, particularly which services are available to them.

3) As part of allergy awareness week the writers over at Standard Issue put this together on what makes them sneeze and itch and it’s rather hilarious. I never imagined I’d be entertained by allergies, but this is perfect lunchtime reading.

4) The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard apology video. I don’t even know if they meant for this to be funny but Depp’s immensely straight face is too much. Apols Australia.

5) How to think about the future of marketing and everything else. If you’re into digital comms or marketing or strategy this is for you.

6) 22 hilarious tweets about babies. Classic Buzzfeed lunchtime reading.

 

 

When inanimate objects become social media famous

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When something has a massive spike in popularity due to social media, it’s usually not because it’s an amazing product or it’s changing lives worldwide or something. It’s much more likely because it’s aesthetically pleasing, has some serious brand/PR power behind it, is being touted as the next miracle health food or is easy to photograph on the go. That’s how I think when I scroll through Instagram or Twitter at the moment, because you see so much of the same thing being posted, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is interesting to watch things you wouldn’t have given two thoughts to a year ago suddenly become an online sensation.

For example, the humble avocado, leader of the ‘good fat’ pack, is basically the Kim Kardashian of food thanks to endless people crushing them up and sticking them on toast with a sprinkling of black pepper and chilli flakes. If you didn’t take a photo of avo on sourdough in 2015 were you really alive during 2015? (unless you’re allergic to it like me, in which case you’re let off, and is also the reason I assume I’ll never be internet famous.)

I swear things are getting stranger now. Avocado, to be fair, not that strange. Neither is the very well documented latte art (how do they do it though?) because it looks good, is quite impressive and coffee is divine. But now there’s a whole league of inanimate objects who are having a massive moment of fame online. The things that have become social media famous because they look good on a grid or make you appear like a lifestyle guru who’s probably currently at home installing a Nespresso machine while your cats play next to you and some kale steams in the kitchen and DEFINITELY NOT at work with a dry shampoo bun.

Such as-

1) Attractive floors. colourful tiles, nice patterns, rustic looking cracks- if you like floors you’re in luck, because they’ve migrated from Pinterest and are now everywhere, making your shoes look good and your freshly painted toenails standout.

2) Lush bath bombs. They’re everywhere. Kind of like a weird, fizzy, rainbow army.

3) White bedding. The simplest of the linens is now a backdrop for every photo of ‘I just happen to have barista-quality lattes and a fruit salad in bed every morning’.

4) Cacti. The spiky little buggers are suddenly everywhere being all chic and green in their white pots.

5) Street art. Because look at me and all my culture and colours.

6) Patterned coffee cups. Starbucks probably know more people buy their drinks for the ‘patterned seasonal cup Instagram post’ rather than because they wanted a coffee- hence why more and more appear. Hashtag spring.

7) Other people’s front doors, because we live in a world where ‘door envy’ is a thing now.

I wish it were that easy for people to become hugely influential.

8 struggles of people with chronic joint pain

  
It’s the middle of Saturday and I haven’t left the house or really moved more than to change bedding and put washing away. I haven’t stayed indoors this long during the day for weeks and even though it’s down to my joints swelling up and giving me hell, it’s still been nice. 

I don’t really know the spilt between who reads this blog for the chronic illness element, which has been quite lax lately, or who just reads it in general (I’m still amazed at the amount of people that do so mega super thanks xxx). 

It’s weird to have an illness that lurks in the background of everyday life because you never know when you might wake up and feel utterly awful or in my case, not be able to walk properly and put clothes on unaided. It’s sort of like living with a game of health roulette but it’s not really fun and you don’t ever win any money. 

For the past few months my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome joint pain and general health woes haven’t been bad at all, but on days like today when they all come out to party and have a rave inside my legs and shoulders, I’m reminded that the struggle is real. And also that I definitely need a full time personal assistant or robot that can wash my hair and do my life admin and just carry me around when walking really hurts. 

Anyway- top 8 joint pain struggles right now: 

1) Hair washing/drying/styling. Birds nest hair is life. 

2) vegetable peeling/food chopping/pasta draining 

3) Holding on for dear life on public transport and ignoring the cracks that come out of shoulders when you hold the bar above you.

4) Desks. Sitting at them hurts. Standing at them hurts. Laying on them would probably hurt and I’m willing to try it to find out. 

5) Undoing a bra. My God. 

6) Shopping. Prolonged standing and walking while carrying bags is a recipe for ultimate suffering and why the internet exists. 

7) Opening jars. Not good for the peanut butter/marmite faithful. 

8) Walking uphill. 

Do we ever truly miss people now we have smartphones and messaging apps?

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The generation that talks about absolutely everything- that’s life if you’re in your twenties or teens right now and you have a personal assistant in the form of a smart phone. WhatsApp, Facebook Chat, iMessage, free texts- we can talk as much as we want to because as long as the monthly phone bill keeps sliding out of our account we have access to more messaging platforms than you can shake a stick at. I have absolutely no idea what that saying means or why you would ever a) be holding a stick or b) shake it at anything,  I just really wanted to use it.

I got out of the bath last night to 17 WhatsApp notifications from three friends, a text message and a notification from a group chat on Facebook to which someone had sent a gif of some bees earlier in the day that I hadn’t caught up with yet. Standard. That’s quite a lot of contact, and I’m not trying to sound mega popular because I don’t usually have that many notifications about anything, it was just a busy hour in virtual friend world.

The thing about all of the notifications and various conversations is that they weren’t really saying anything. They were just chit chat. This is what I do every day with friends. It starts with a message from someone moaning about the tube service, to which I reply, sympathise and then share a story from how bad the trains are being or how bad the person next to me smells, then it just continues, slowly, all day, talking about basically nothing but pretty much everything, just because we can.

When my phone recently started being needy and saying the storage was running out and I should delete things, I went into the settings to see what was taking up the most storage and apart from photos, it was mostly just messages. If you use WhatsApp, have you ever looked through just how much media you share with people? Endless photos accompanying messages like ‘is this dress nice?’, ‘look at this cat’ and screenshots from something hilarious or outrageous or a BBC news notification alongside that shocked face emoji that’s slightly blue.

I feel lucky that I have good enough friends that I can chat to them as much as I do about pretty much everything and anything, but all of the deleting and looking through just how many messages there are made me wonder if it’s too much. Like, I’m not going to change it and stop the conversations, because I like it this way, but it has occurred to me that there’s never any surprises. There are fewer and fewer times when a meet up with friends has me reeling with shock at something because we cover it all on the phone.

I still miss my friends who I don’t get to see much and I still hugely look forward to seeing them, but because of the constant and easy ways to get in touch at any given time, it’s not like I ever go without their company, even if it is only virtual. Maybe it would be nice to stop for a bit and grow to REALLY miss someone? There are a few friends right now who I haven’t seen in the longest time and can’t wait to finally meet up with, but snippets of their life appear on my Facebook or Twitter feed, or I have brief conversations with them through texts, so there’s not a definitive, long gap- but should there be?

Is it healthy to share everything and be able to send a photo of your lunch in 7 seconds to a friend who you haven’t had human contact or a serious conversation with in a couple of months?

Or maybe this is just a normal way of life now. Maybe the days of having catch-ups with friends where you literally haven’t had a chance to speak to or check in with them for weeks on end are over for many people.

5 places to shop and do good at the same time

 Pact coffee– If you love coffee and endeavour to make it yourself rather than buying a cup every morning, you could do a lot worse than ordering from Pact. Their coffee is, and I’ve drank it many times so I can confirm, absolutely delicious. The good part is, the company deals direct with farmers worldwide, which cuts out the middle man and allows them to pay more to those growing the beans- which is in fact 25% more than fair trade. 

Sniffy Wiffy moisturiser– This quirky company are one of my favourites. They may be quite small but they are mighty. The moisturiser- including body and hand cream for men and women, comes with labels which illustrate exactly how to check yourself for lumps and signs of cancer.  A portion of the profits go to two charities- Cancer Research UK and Balls Brothers.

H&M conscious‘Looking good should do good too’ is the strap line for H&M’s conscious campaign. The idea is that they will work to make their fashion sustainable, which we should all be on board with. They don’t have factories mass producing their clothes, which is hugely positive for a highstreet chain store.

Unique Beauty– This company don’t do sustainability by halves, so much so that they get all their power for production from windmills. Yep, windmills. I mean, 10/10 for effort. They also include unusual but sustainable ingredients in their products, listed on their site. They also package everything simply but beautifully so it’ll look nice on your dressing table. I saw the products when in Denmark last year and they currently don’t have shops anywhere else, but you can buy online.

SCT Charity shops– If you’re in East London and you’re a charity shop fiend, look out for Spitalfields Crypt Trust shops, who put their money into local addiction recovery and homelessness, including providing services like drop-ins which offer a place for those recovering from addiction to seek advice and support. They also use the shops to fund therapy sessions for the people they work with. They’ve been providing a service to the local community for 50 years now.

The art of filling your time for free

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Since December when I waved bye bye to my little flat in Fulham I’ve been saving. Like actual saving, for the first time ever. I’ve ‘saved’ before but It’s always been quite half hearted and lame but now I am actually compiling savings that can buy serious adult things. And yes I mean more adult than an electric toothbrush.

It’s all good and well, but becoming really careful and good with money is like learning an art form. It’s made me appreciate what I have a lot, and made me realise how lucky I am that I can save at all, but it has been hard. Hard mostly because having a very active mind and a constant need to be moving around and doing something or seeing someone or visiting somewhere requires cash to splash, and in the past four months I’ve had to overhaul how I spend my free time.

Me and my boyfriend spend a lot time discussing weekend plans and then saying “remember when we used to have money to spend and all those things we did?” When we first put this plan into action and made the move home to my teenage bedroom I thought we would be stuck inside forever averaging one social occasion a month, but it hasn’t been like that. I think we’ve done a good job at learning to fill our time for free and also being able to make money stretch.

It might not sound like something hugely exciting but before we moved, we got a book called London Walks, which literally maps out walks around different parts of London, telling you where there are good pubs or interesting facts and we did a couple. Now, wondering has become a massive past time. I’ve discovered so many parts of London I would never have dreamt of visiting or never even heard of just by taking to the streets and walking.

Yesterday for instance, we went to a car park in Peckham (romance is not dead ladies and gents) that’s sort of abandoned but has insane views over London. We went there, had a nose around, took some arty photos, then looked on google maps and decided to head for a 2 and a half mile walk to London Bridge. Not massively exciting (though we did call the police because we heard someone getting beaten up or something horrid and I HATE violence) but it passed Sunday quite pleasantly for the most part. You don’t need to incorperate brunch and multiple coffee stops for a lazy day mooching around town. I’ve become massively into stumbling upon really cool bits of the city that I would otherwise never have seen, like this weird, watercolour painted pub on Old Kent Road that we found yesterday:

  
Aside from walking a lot and getting some serious leg muscles, I’ve started to learn when to go home. I’ve been honing in on social events that take place in pubs or casual drinks that aren’t fully blown, all drinking, all dancing nights out, going along for a few hours, seeing my friends, spending minimal or basically no money then going home before I reach the stage of ‘well screw it, I’m out now.’ I won’t lie, I’m excited to get back to that, but it’s not so bad having a few more early nights and getting better acquainted with Netflix.

Another way the last few months have slipped by in about five seconds is through free events. God bless the internet. I sit at work on Friday afternoons before I leave and always look on Time Out or other such sites for free things happening around town, and there are loads. I’ve been to pop up festivals, free wine tasting, a cocktail masterclass, the Sky Garden, a lunchtime coffee tasting event and I’ve got my eye on loads more spring freebies like DJ sets, free fun runs, free exercise classes and free food. These are the kinds of things I used to see advertised, make a note to go but never be that committed to because it didn’t really matter.

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Oh and now I run seriously. For real. It’s free and it’s good for me and I’m getting faster and keeping track. 2015 me wouldn’t recognise 2016 me.

I also now realise I don’t need to eat out at every single opportunity which has helped me nurture my cooking skills and roast dinner timings. I didn’t choose the party life.

So yeah. Spending time for free is not that bad, once you get used to it and put out your feelers for all the freebie fun. If anyone knows of anything fun and free coming to LDN, share the love. I’m interested.