Thursday, 26 June 2014

Healthy Thoughts // Healthy Habits

Staying fit and healthy doesn't just mean keeping in shape and bikini ready. If your thoughts aren't healthy then everything else just becomes much more difficult. We all have bad days or those little insecurities that turn into something much bigger in our heads. The stresses of juggling everyday life can get on top of us all and can have serious consequences. It is a scary thought that 75% of all illnesses are thought to be stress related and every day over a quarter of a million people in the UK miss work everyday due to stress.

 We all need to take some time out every now and again. I know for me I really relax next to the sea. Lying down in the sun, listening to the waves lap up against the sand and breathing in fresh air is my ultimate in relaxation, however for most of us this isn't a daily reality.

If taking a holiday to a beautiful location isn't an option then it's important to find a few minutes to unwind and clear our heads throughout the day. I like to enjoy a few quiet moments in the morning before anyone is up, maybe have a drink in the sunlit garden or light a candle and take a shower or bath in the evening to zone out. I also find that a pilates session helps to ground me when I am feeling under pressure and some quiet music helps me unwind at night, helping me to fall asleep if my mind is in overdrive.

When I was has having treatment recovering from anorexia, my therapist introduced me to positive affirmations and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Her introduction to it was "now I'm not trying to turn you into a hippy or anything but...". After years of negative thinking, anxiety and self-hatred, I didn't believe that this would actually enable me to deal with situations I found difficult. It was difficult to look in the mirror and focus on positive aspects of myself. It was alien to hear good things and I'd always found it difficult to take compliments.  MBCT however, teaches you to pay attention to the present moment, rather than worrying about the past or the future, and to let go of the negative thoughts that can tip you over into depression. It also gives you a greater awareness of your own body, helping you to identify the signs of oncoming depression and ward off the episode before it starts. It is a proven way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them. 

More often than not I am now able to recognise when a panic attack of episode of anxiety is coming on, I am aware of the triggers and have the skills to think more rationally about the situation or if it is not the appropriate situation I can usually take a few deep breathes and decide to deal with it at a more appropriate time when I can explore what caused those feelings of anxiety to arise. It has given me the skills to lead more of a normal life, I don't generally avoid situations now because I know that I have the skills to overcome any negativity that I may face from myself or others. 

Yesterday at work a volunteer told me that she had started a diet as she needed to lose a lot of weight and asked me if I'd ever tried or thought about doing that diet. The anorexic voice in my brain tried telling me that she thought I was fat and needed to go on a diet. Instead of getting upset I took a deep breath and remembered that earlier she had complemented me on how nice I looked and that she wished she could wear a dress like mine. She may have meant did I use that diet to get in shape so just replied that no I hadn't tried it and just try to eat as clean as possible and had she looked into that?

Of course I still have my off days just like anyone else. There are times when I react completely irrationally to something someone has said or done. Mindfulness takes continual practise and if I do flip out I know that I have let that practise slip. I try not to beat myself over it though, everybody has bad days and tomorrow is a brand new day. On that note, I'm about to take five minutes to sit in the garden and enjoy the birds singing before I focus on getting on with the day :) 

How do you cope with stress on a daily basis? Do you take mental health days? 

Linking up with Katie //Healthy Habits, Shanna // Random Wednesday

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Park Life

Play suit - Miso
Sandals - Next

The weather was glorious this weekend and we certainly made the most of it Saturday. We were in Somerset again and I'm certainly getting used to these weekends in the peaceful countryside. I took the girls to the park at the other end of the village, the walk is beautiful through the lanes past  the church and beautiful, quirky houses. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the hustle and bustle of the city and the city girl in me has not left yet, but after a busy week I love waking up to the birds singing and watching the horses at the bottom of the garden over my morning cup of tea. There's something very 'old world' about this corner of the country, the buildings are fascinating and the countryside beautiful with lots of stories to tell.

After playing in the park for a couple of hours we headed back to the house for a picnic in the garden and a change into swim wear for hours of fun with a hosepipe and a slide, which proved both refreshing and exhausting. After a shower and change of clothes we popped out for food at a nearby restaurant (well nearby for this neck of the woods) then put the kids to bed. All the fun in the sun proved tiring for all the girls. The youngest didn't make it home before falling asleep and the older two fell asleep as soon as their heads touched the pillow. A rather successful Saturday! 


Linking up with Shanna

Friday, 20 June 2014

This week....

I seem to have lost four days! I've been a little pre-occupied and it seems to have gone in a flash! Of which I'm not complaining as it means I get to head off for a break and a weekend of motorsport. Although Tuesday could have hung around a little longer. My good friend Tyler has been over from America for ten days and came to visit for the day. It was a beautiful day so we headed out to enjoy the sunshine and walked down the lanes to the pub to sit out in the beer garden.

We love having Tyler around and Megan was upset to see him go again. He was living here for nearly four years and now he's back in America, the short time he was here for just didn't seem right.

Before he came back to the UK this time, I made a few purchases from Charming Charlie, Forever 21 and the Anberlin merchandise store. International shipping is just so expensive and as Tyler had pretty empty suitcases (his visit to the UK was to collect more of his belongings) he kindly offered to bring them all over for me and kindly brought me a bottle of Carolina Coast Spiced Rum as a gift (yes I am a pirate girl at heart!).  I'll go into what I bought more next week but I was so excited to receive them!

To end this week on a cute note, here's daddy bunny aka Billy in his new hiding spot - my side unit. He's been having great fun jumping up and finding new things to chew! Meanwhile his baby bunnies are growing very quickly and having lots of playtime and cuddles. I can't believe they are now a moth old.

Do you have lots planned this weekend or just planning on relaxing in the sun? Whatever you are doing I hope you enjoy this beautiful summer that we are having so far this summer. See you Monday!


Linking up with H54F, Daily Diaries

Monday, 16 June 2014


This weekend I was fairly busy. I met my friend in Cardiff Friday afternoon as he's over from America for ten days. We caught up at Starbucks, then spent a leisurely evening down the bay eating at Las Iguanas with a couple of drinks. I looked after my niece and nephew (aged 3 & 5) after braving Tesco on a busy Saturday morning, who then woke up at 5.45 on Sunday morning. We spent Father's Day morning sat with my parents, enjoying the sun in their garden, then went home and decided to have a big sort out. 

Despite all the business, I seemed to spend the whole time in some sort of daze and I couldn't seem to shake it off. I'm not unhappy, but rather found myself reflecting upon anniversaries that sneak up, where I'm currently at and where I see myself heading. I'm sure it can't only be me that lies there on a warm summers day, looking up at the blue sky watching the clouds pass by and wondering where on earth do we fit in to the grand scheme of things? 

So where did all this reflecting get me this weekend? Did I resolve any questions that I was pondering? 

I can't say I did to be honest! However, my skirting has had a good clean. I got through a load of washing and through out a bin load and two bags of recycling of accumulated junk that I'd be meaning to sort out for months! I guess there was some productivity after all and I had a good dose of vitamin d even if my head still feels as though it is living on a different planet!

I hope you all had a good weekend.

Linking up with Monday Morning Gossip, IBOT 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Healthy Habits // Breakfast Smoothies

Oh how things can change in a week! Last week for Katie's Healthy Habits link up, I talked about how I'm fighting fibro by staying active despite the pain. I mentioned those days where it does flare up so bad that I am bed ridden due to the pain. Well it's been one of those weeks. I felt it coming on Friday and by Tuesday I was unable to walk and covered in heat patches and hot water bottles to help with the pain. Thankfully, it now seems to have passed but I'll be taking it easy for the rest of the week. Even though last week I said that I push through the pain of exercising to keep me mobile, I also realise that I must listen to my body and give my body the rest it needs during these flare ups. It also means that I haven't prepared the post I was planning today as I've been unable to string a sentence together this week (fibro fog is very real!).

However, I like to get a healthy start to my morning (which is even more important during and after a flare up). I usually start by drinking a cup of fruit tea or hot water with lemon. This wakes up your metabolism, aids digestion throughout the day and helps rid your body of toxins. Weekday mornings I will usually make a breakfast smoothie aswell as it is quick and easy when I need to get out of the house along with two acai berry capsules.

Here is my favourite at the moment, please note that I don't really pay much attention to measures I just throw it all in and blend!

Half a cup of water or coconut water
Chia seeds
Maca powder
Almond butter

To make things even easier, I prepare my servings once I've been shopping, put them into freezer bags and pull one out of the freezer the night before. Then all I have to do is add water and blend - simple!

It's important to make sure that there is some protein at breakfast, note the almond butter.

So, today I will be mainly working from home, go for a little walk and having lots of cuddles with our baby bunnies :) 

How do you kick start your healthy day? I hope that you are having a good week so far. 


Linking up with Katie

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Afternoon Recovery

Today I've spent all afternoon in bed, I wish I could say that it was a lazy afternoon that I've enjoyed, but unfortunately it has been enforced. I spent four hours in the morning driving and on top of the rushing around and training I've been doing lately, my body has just given up. I'm propped up with pillows, with hot water bottles and heat packs rotating around the most painful areas of my body. There's a mountain of paperwork to get through if I'm going to get my project application in by the end of next week, yet today I realise that there's really no point in putting pen to paper - it's taken me twenty minutes to put this together so far! If I can walk tomorrow morning, (which at the moment I can't), then I'm working at the museum for a few hours so can catch up with my proposals after that. But for now, it's all about rest. As frustrating as it is, I've now learnt that when a flare up arises I just have to ride it out. So, with copious amounts of green tea, painkillers and a search for an easy to watch box set, I'm set for the night!


Linking up with Random Wednesday

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Village Fete

This Friday and Saturday was again spent in Somerset. Saturday morning we visited Litton, a quaint little English countryside village set around a 13th century church. It was there annual village fete and was quite a surreal experience for the city girl in me! There were children folk dancing, snail races, tea and coffee served in tea cups and saucers in the village hall and my favourite of all crockery smashing! Old men were dressed in their Sunday best wearing hats and the beautiful houses with their country gardens brimming with roses a delight. If I'd known we were visiting and how lovely it was going to be I would have taken my camera but I was armed only with my iPhone, which has now seen better days! You will have to believe me when I say for an hour or two it was as though I'd stepped back in time. The rain even kept away for a few hours!

I hope you've had a wonderful weekend.

Linking up with Monday Morning Gossip, IBOT, Random Wednesday, Lovely Thursday Blog Hop

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Healthy Habits // Fighting Fibro

Thursday means that it is time for Katie's new link up - Healthy Habits. I'm super excited for this one as I have been thinking of taking a day a week to talk about my health and fitness aims / routines plus a love Katie's blog so it's kind of a win win situation. If you haven't checked out Katie Did What yet then you really should. Hers was one of the first blogs I discovered and she's the sweetest lady and a gorgeous new mama! 

So, for those of you who don't know, after years of feeling unwell during my later school years and early twenties plus suffering with an eating disorder, I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, osteopenia and last year at 31 fibromyalgia. There is some disagreement amongst the doctors over which condition caused the other but it is fair to say that they are all linked. Some times have been so debilitating that I have been unable to walk unaided and I still get flare ups where the pain is just so bad and the chronic fatigue that goes with it means I even need help to get dressed in the mornings. Put all this in the context that prior to being unwell, I was an athlete competing at European level with dreams of the Olympics, then I'm sure you can imagine how frustrated I can get!

I have had a relatively stable few weeks in comparison to usual (touch wood) which has enabled me to work out a little more than usual. For the first time since I was 16, I am no longer considered unhealthily underweight and there has been some improvement in the bone mass in my spine, so things are on the up. Exercise is recommended as a treatment for fibromyalgia and although many sufferers panic at the thought of the pain it will cause, I have adopted the opinion that I am in pain every day anyway so I'd rather be in pain and get stronger, than be in pain and let my muscle mass waste away (which it had already started to do). I won't lie it is bloody painful. After my first few sessions of physiotherapy, there were many tears and it caused a flare up so bad I was bed ridden again. Working out is painful and exhausting but I've never been one to give up though, being a single parent for most of my daughters 11 years means that I have no other choice but to push through it at some times when I possibly shouldn't but I'd rather fight back at it than let me beat me.

This essay wasn't intentional so well done if you've made it this far! I guess my priorities for living healthily have now changed from ensuring that I'm competitively fit to being able to live as normal a life as possible. It's heartbreaking when my daughter asks why I can't be like the other mums sometimes, running around, not being in pain and tired all time. I just want to make sure that this doesn't get worse! For me, the first step to getting healthy (or as healthy as I can) was realising that accepting my limitations didn't have to mean giving up and getting rid of the negativity. Of course we all have bad days where things seem to much whatever it is going on in our lives, but I'm trying to replace worrying about what I can't do with praising myself for the things I am showing that I can do.

What is your biggest motivation to stay fit and healthy? I'm looking forward to next week and sharing my daily healthy eating plan!

Linking up with Katie

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Life Lately

Only a short post today as my mind is full of mumble jumble. I've not been out of the house much this past week or so due to looking after our newborn rabbits and Megan being unwell. Thankfully, she is well and back at school again today and I am heading to the museum to work for the morning before spending the rest of the week catching up on project work. I feel as though I'm going to have to learn how to communicate with the rest of the world again, so I'll leave a more insightful post for a time where I can articulate my thoughts again and instead leave you with the cuteness that are fluffy baby bunnies!

Being at home has meant that I've had lots of cuddles with all five of our babies. They are now two weeks old and have grown so quickly over the last week or so. They now leave their nest to hop about the hutch and chase after poor Lily trying to feed from her whenever they feel like it! I think she was happier when they left her alone! All five are adorable, I don't know how I'll be able to part with them when it's time for them to leave!

Have a lovely day

Linking up with Random Wednesday

Monday, 2 June 2014

No Spend May // Beauty

It's safe to say that I wouldn't cut it as a full time beauty blogger! However, (excusing the iPhone pics), I wanted to show you what I managed to get without spending any money this month. You may recall back in January I decided to challenge myself not to buy anything for myself that was non-essential. It's fair to say that it didn't go well and I pretty much gave up straight away.  At the beginning of May though, I decided to try again and I'm very pleased to say that I've managed it! Yes, shock horror, I'm still in disbelief myself! 

I desperately needed a new blusher though and didn't want to spoil my record of making it half way through the month. Therefore, I passed by my usual No.7/ Benefit options and decided to make use of what few Boots points that I had left on my Advantage Card. It turned out not to be as many as I thought, so I scoured the cheaper options. I was pleased (and dare I say a bit excited) to find that Natural Collection products were '3 for £5' and that there were some really nice colours. I chose a blusher in Pink Blush and two Moisture Shine lipsticks in Berry Sorbet and Fig Leaf.

The quality of the packaging for that price isn't exactly great and the products don't feel as luxurious as some of the other brands I'm used to using but to be fair for the price, I'm quite pleased with the colours. I'm not sure I'd buy the lipsticks again as I'm scared that I'm going to break the whenever I take the lid off and the colour doesn't last that long, but despite the blusher being loose in it's case and needing a lot of blending it's a pretty nice shade. It certainly beat going a month without one though, especially as I had an event that night and it meant that I could use my points and not spend any money all month. Yes, I'm (not so) quietly proud of myself! 

Have you ever put yourself on a no spending challenge? What are the best budget products that you've come across? 


Linking up with IBOT, Random Wednesday

Hello June, Goodbye Sun!

The first day of June was beautiful - the sun was shining, so I got up, worked out and had a lovely brunch (gluten free porridge, made with coconut milk, banana, cinnamon and chia if you were wondering!), washed down with raspberry and cranberry tea. Sat out in the sun, arranged some of the beautiful flowers that I'd been given and was able to dry a few loads of washing outside on the line. Nothing truly exciting but being able to do some of the little things in the sunshine, with the doors wide open and a cool breeze drifting throughout the house, brought the promise of sun filled days that summer would bring. 

Roll on 24 hours, it's raining, the heating is back on and I'm writing this snuggled up on the sofa with a throw around my feet! Oh the joys of the UK weather! I hope you had a lovely weekend and maybe the lovely weather will be back soon. 


Linking up with Monday Morning Gossip, IBOT