Making Exercise Work For Me

IMG_20170307_085916_442

I’ve spoken about exercise a few times before. Or moreso about my failed relationship with exercise. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for years. I’m sold on the benefits, I know exercise will give me more energy and pump some awesome endorphins around my body to get me feeling all the good vibes. But actually making myself do it has always been a chore.

I don’t want to join a gym, and I never have. I can’t afford regular exercise classes, and while my boyfriend is a personal trainer, we’ve kept our work and home lives separate. The spate of running I did to prepare for a half marathon was almost traumatic, and those memories of nights on the sofa icing my knees are enough to put me off for life.

I tried The Body Coach’s HIIT routines, and while I totally believe in the benefits of HIIT training, I don’t feel like working out so hard that I think I might die. I guess I’ve learnt a lot of the things that don’t work for me, and it’s only recently that I’m starting to learn the things that do.

Little and often. A 20 minute yoga practice or one of Davina’s 7 minute workouts are the perfect options for me. It’s over quick enough that it doesn’t take a huge chunk out of my day, and when I move regularly I can really feel the benefits in my joints.

Having a tracker. Since I started my bullet journal, I’ve been so good at keeping up with my exercise goal. My plan to exercise 40 times by the new year was illustrated with lots of little boxes for me to shade in every time I completed a workout. And it really, really helped! I love seeing those boxes fill up and not wanting to miss out on my goal is motivation enough to whip out the leggings and get right on with it.

Being accountable. I’m not very good at being accountable to myself, but letting Sam in on my goal and knowing that he’ll ask me how my workouts are going is the perfect way to stop me from bailing. He’s a good motivator, too, so that helps on days when I’m not feeling up for it.

Getting it in early. I’ve learnt that I’m much better at working out in the morning. As soon as the day gets going, I’m so caught up in other things that stepping away to exercise seems like such a chore, and it’s much easier for me to put it off.

I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride with my workout routine, and I’m committed to it more than I’ve ever been before. For the first time in my life, I feel like I would answer the question ‘Do you exercise?’ with a ‘Yes’.

So my advice to you is to exercise for your own reasons, whatever they are. Don’t beat yourself up if it’s not working out and just try something new. At some point you’ll hit on what works for you, and it’ll become part of how you live your life. Just allow yourself a little (or a lot!) patience to get there!

My Morning Routine

img_20170203_082153_455

A few months ago I was listening to Sophia Bush on the That’s So Retrograde podcast and I had a bit of an epiphany moment. Sophia is my #1 girl crush so I obsess over most of the things that she says, but what hit me that day was her super simple advice. Do one thing in the morning that is good for you.

For her that started with drinking a glass of water. From there, she explained, it’s easier to add other good actions, like taking vitamins, incorporating meditation or fitting in some exercise.

I took her advice, and started adding positive actions into my (then non-existent) morning routine. As those actions became habits, I started to add more, until I reached the stage I’m at today.

I love my morning routine. It really sets me up for the day and knowing that I’m doing all of these things that are good for me gives me such a buzz. So, here’s what it looks like…

07:00 The alarm goes off. I try super hard not to fall back asleep, but do allow myself a few minutes to laze and relax before I face the day.

07:15 Time for exercise. I’ve got a good thing going with yoga and Davina’s 7 minute workouts, so I take my pick, usually based on whether I need to feel like I’m busting my ass, or if I need to re-centre and calm myself.

07:45 A quick shower freshens me up, blows the cobwebs away and really prepares me for the day ahead.

08:00 I tend to stick with one breakfast option if it works for me, and right now that’s a bowl of porridge (made with almond milk and a scoop of protein powder) with an apple chopped in.

08:10 I give my breakfast a little time to cool while I practise my German. I’ve been using the DuoLingo app and I’d recommend it to anyone. I studied German in school, so a lot of it is a refresher for me but it’s amazing to learn a different language.

08:15 I make sure I put my phone down so I can eat my breakfast peacefully, and consider how I’m feeling each day. Eliminating those distractions allows me the space to acknowledge anything that might be troubling me, and opens up the opportunity for thoughtfulness.

08:25 I cosy up with a cup of green tea and check my Instagram. A lot of the people I communicate with are in the US, so I like to address any overnight messages first thing in the morning to make sure I’m on top of everything.

08:30 I’m super lucky that I get to work from home, so I have the opportunity to really make the most of my time before work starts at 09:00. I spend this time knitting, reading, taking photographs or prepping the day’s meals and I can’t explain how much I value it!

It’s been a process to get my morning routine just right, and I do love a Sunday when I scrap the alarm and give myself a relaxing lie in,  but these positive, repetitive habits have had such an impact on my wellbeing that I can’t imagine giving them up!

Do you have a morning routine? What habits have you built to keep you feeling good? I’d love to know!

On Spending Time, Not Wasting It

On Spending Time, Not Wasting It.jpg

They say that we all have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé, and y’know what? They’re right.

We all get the same 24 hours in every day, and it’s up to us what we choose to do with those hours. Will I ever be as productive as Beyoncé? Doubt it. But then again I don’t get to have a literal entourage follow me around everywhere I go, so it’s swings and roundabouts, I guess.

What I do know, or at least I’m learning, is that time is valuable. Like really, really, valuable. Once it’s gone, that’s it. It’s actually gone forever and there’s zero chance of you getting it back.

What I’m getting at here, is that I’m fed up of wasting my time. I’m fed up of looking back on my days and weeks and genuinely not being able to remember what happened. I think my hours are draining away in a semi-aware state of working, Netflix marathons and social media scrolling. I wonder how much of my life I have given to screens? Too much.

I’m trying to train myself to think about my time. To believe that it is a valuable resource and to budget it as much as I budget my money. Money’s always tight, but time seems infinite. The thing is, it’s not. And while you can always find ways to get more money, you can’t ever get more time.

Which is why I’m changing the way I talk about time. The way we define things can have a huge impact on the way we think and act about them, so I’m only ever going to refer to doing things as spending my time. To me, spending is exchanging something of value for something else of value. Like time.

So while there’s always stuff to be doing with my time, some of it out of necessity, I want to start to bring value to all of my transactions. Gotta do the ironing (yeah, I’m one of those people who irons everything)? Then listen to a podcast or TED talk and learn something at the same time. Desperate to catch up on the latest Bake Off, because there’s a Bake Off on all of the time these days? Do something with your hands while you’re at it. Knitting anyone?

And then there’s those expanses of time that pass by without much warning and before you know it you’ve been up for hours but somehow you’ve, quite literally, done nothing. That’s where my favourite little pal comes in – the humble to do list. Writing down a list of everything that I want and need to get done is the best motivation for me to actually get on and do it. If it’s not on paper, it’s so easy to forget, or think I can do it another time. But when there’s a little empty box next to it, just waiting for a tick, it’s the metaphorical kick up the ass I need to keep doing things.

So I’m gonna wrap this up here, and go and do something a little different, but equally valuable, with my oh-so precious time.

Catch ya later!

{Find me on InstagramTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’}

Re-Aligning My Fitness Goals

image

So I’ve become a broken record…

I’m always adamant that I want to be healthier, that I want to be fitter, stronger and generally better. I want to feel super confident in a bikini, not get ridiculously out of breath when I walk up a hill and trust that the stuff I’m fuelling my body with is actually good for me. I’ve got the talk in spades, but I’m struggling to walk the walk.

I definitely go through phases. The intention itself seems to be a constant, but that’s all that is. I’ll be totally motivated one week, heading out for walks at the crack of dawn and lacing up my trainers when I have a spare minute, and then something will change. I don’t know what and I don’t know why, but all of a sudden it just stops without any kind of conscious decision, and before I know it I’m back wishing I was doing more.

So while I know I’m not where I want to be, and I could spend hours pondering on why that is, I’m not going get stuck in this negative place. Instead, I’m going to set some clear intentions, because maybe that’s what I’m missing. I don’t really have an end goal, I just want to feel better in myself, so it’s a little more vague, but I reckon I can do it!

I think one of the best steps I can take is to plan when I’m going to exercise. To start, I think just twice a week for dedicated exercise sessions like HIIT or one of Davina’s DVDs. Then when I know I can commit to that, I can start thinking about adding more!

I always work out from home because I can’t afford a gym membership and, quite frankly, I find them pretty intimidating, but that way it’s quite easy to just not bother. For this, I need some accountability. I really like the app Rewire, which helps you to track your habits and keep in line for your goals and will definitely use this, but I should probably also tell Sam when I’m planning my workout sessions. That way he can check in with me when he gets home, and I really won’t want to tell him that I bailed!

I also need to get real with myself. I’m the worst at impulse decision-making, especially when it comes to food. I’ll have my whole menu for the week planned out, it will be super healthy and exactly what I need and then I’ll meet a friend and buy the biggest slice of cake I can get my mouth around. I know that’s not the worst thing, but it happens pretty much every time! What I really need to do is ask myself the right question, and answer it honestly. Is this what I need right now? And sometimes, yes, a big slice of cake could be exactly what I need, but more often than not I’m just eating it out of the habit of ‘treating myself’, and really a green tea would suffice.

Finally, I need to move! I used to walk three miles a day just getting to work and back, but now I spend the majority of my time at my computer and FAR too long on my bum. Realistically, I think I should be able to walk three miles a day, and I know I will feel better for it. I’ve got a Fitbit too, so that should help me keep on track.

I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted with how my fitness journey goes, and I’ll be sharing the tips and tricks I’ll (hopefully) be learning along the way!

Is health and fitness important to you? How do you keep yourself motivated? I’d love any tips you can share with me!

{Find me on InstagramTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’}

8 Ways To Brighten Your Days

image

We all have great days, good days and not-so-much days. If you’re anything like me you can be having the best day and something will happen to turn it all around. You might not even notice what it is, but suddenly you’ve lost the skip in your step and you’d be happy to spend the rest of your life binge-watching Netflix in you comfiest clothes, demolishing tub after tub of cookie dough. And while I’m all for indulgence and super cosiness when you’re feeling down, sometimes you gotta do what’s good for you, and kick that bad mood in the butt.

I really believe that the simplest actions can have a huge impact on the way you feel, and just getting on and doing something positive can be the injection of good vibes that you need. So when you’re feeling a little blue, have a think about one of these easy ways to boost up your mood…

Pour yourself a cuppa
I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know if there’s any scientific fact around this, but it is practically proven that tea makes everything better. Well, not everything but it’s totally conventional to make someone a cup of tea when they’re feeling sad, even Sheldon knows that!

Take a hike
Get yourself outside and into the fresh air, let the great outdoors clear away your negativity and take a minute to appreciate the beauty of mother nature. Even if your don’t have rolling hills to climb, taking a minute to look at the bigger picture around you can help put things into perspective. Plus, walking is a great opportunity to take a little time to meditate on what’s troubling you.

Jump in the shower
I don’t know about you, but I always feel better after a good scrub! There’s something about just-washed hair and super soft skin that makes me feel ready for anything.

Put your phone down
Log out, switch off and forget about what everyone else is doing. I love social media, but when you’re feeling down it’s all too easy to get stuck in a cycle, comparing yourself to what everyone else is doing and enabling that mounting feeling of inferiority. Shut that shit down. Social media presents a filtered, rose tinted view that no one can live up to, and sometimes it’s better to just ditch it and focus on you.

Read your favourite book
Sometimes it’s best just to allow yourself to get lost in a familiar world that’s not your own. Curl up with your favourite book and get lost in the stories that you know you love.

Remember the good things
Grab a pen and paper and write a list of all of the things in your life that are good, the things that you’re grateful for. It might be the sun through the window or the love of your life, nothing is too big or small. Write it, read it and appreciate it.

Blast some tunes
I always find that my mood can be dictated by the music I’m listening to. Adele is my bae, but sometimes her songs can make me feel miserable, let’s be honest. When you’re feeling a little low, crank up the volume on some feel good beats. I’ve even got my feelgood playlist ready to go!

Call someone you love
You mother, brother or significant other, take the time to chat to someone who’s got your back. Voice your stresses and let them help you out. Plus, talking out loud is a really therapeutic thing to do.

So, next time you’re feeling a little blue, take a small step or two and see if you can lift your spirits and brighten your day!

What do you do when you’re feeling down? Have you got any tricks that help you bust a bad mood and get your day back on track?

{Find me on InstagramTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’}

I’ll Make A Reader Of Me Yet

12509809_10153355961517957_8173249884712294761_n

Over the years I’ve had conflicting attitudes to reading. When I was young, you’d find it impossible to get my attention over Jacqueline Wilson. I devoured her books for years and even spent one World Book Day dressed as the Illustrated Mum, COVERED in temporary tattoos. After that, Harry Potter took my attention, and the Lord of the Rings, but, aside from re-reading the aforementioned, I didn’t get much further. I’ve dabbled over recent years with a book here and there but I could still go months without turning a page.

What I have to remind myself, though, is that I really enjoy reading…when I get around to it! I love the feeling of getting lost in a book, in another world with characters unknown. I love the quiet when I read, the peace and tranquility. It relaxes me, it inspires me, it rejuvenates me. So I’m on a mission to read more!

For Christmas I asked for books, and books I received. I’ve re-ignited my GoodReads account and I’ve gladly inherited a secondhand Kindle – I am all set! I’m even including scheduled ‘reading’ blocks in my Daily Greatness planning so I have no excuse! My plan is to read 26 books this year. It may not sound like very much (Amy is aiming for 101!) but it’s a solid goal for me. That means I should be averaging a book every two weeks and so far, I’m on track.

I don’t think I’ll get into the habit of reviewing my books. I’m pretty easy to satisfy, so if I found enjoyment in the read it’s all good with me. I’m not one to read between the lines, pick apart the narrative or consider the characters, I’ll just take a few minutes of quiet escapism, thank you very much.

So far this year I have worked my way through In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and find myself currently devouring Suffragette: My Own Story by Emmeline Pankhurst. It’s a wordy read but, somewhat surprisingly, I am enjoying it very much.

I still have a few books on my to-read pile, but I am constantly on the look-out for more! If you have any suggestions at all (I really am up for giving anything a go!) please drop a comment with details!

Thanks for reading, until next time!

SignOff

{Find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Bloglovin’}

My Faves For Fitness Inspiration

Improving my health and fitness has been something on my to-do list for quite a while now, and while I have all of the good intentions I’ve been a little slow to progress. It’s easy to let life get in the way, but I’m making a conscious effort to work towards creating the best version of myself, to be kind to myself, and to treat my body with the respect it deserves. Cake will forever be in my life, but in moderation with a much greater focus on my personal wellbeing! Throughout my journey so far there have been a few people and places that I constantly find myself looking to for inspiration. Whether I need a boost to get up off the sofa, or to turn down that chocolate biscuit, these guys are always in my feed giving me a good dose of enthusiasm and a hell of a lot of motivation!

Amy’s Healthy Baking

The Girl Gains

Zanna Vandijk

Little Bird Organics

This Girl Can

What's your idea of a #winterwonderland? #skiseason #snowtime

A post shared by This Girl Can (@thisgirlcanuk) on

Who are your go-to’s for a bit of fitness inspiration? What’s your work-out of choice? I’m always looking for more suggestions to keep myself motivated!

Thanks for reading, until next time!

SignOff

{Find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter and Bloglovin’}