A Weekend in Paris: Day One

Paris Seine river at sunset

Paris Seine river at sunset

Paris is one of those cities I’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t got around to – despite it being a stone’s throw away from the UK. Last week I finally got to see what all the fuss was about, as myself and my best girl Ellie, spent 3 days in the amazing city.

We caught a mid-morning flight from Manchester airport and arrived in Paris at midday (Paris time). I knew Paris was close, but I didn’t realise the flight was only one hour – it’s quicker for me to fly to Paris than to travel back home to Harrogate!

Even though we were on the 10 am flight, there was a couple next to us who had drank a whole bottle of champagne, and several beers, who were telling people they were going to the Eifel tower tomorrow night– definite proposal on the cards, the smug bastards.

After landing we hopped on the train from the airport and headed into the city. The trains and metros are really easy to navigate and it didn’t take us long to get our bearings. Although admittedly, Ellie took the lead and told me where to go and which trains to get on, but if I hadn’t have chosen such an organised travelling buddy I’m sure I would have been fine. We purchased a 10-day ticket for the metro (which actually came as 10 tiny tickets) as it was the best option for multiple trips and cost us 14.50 euros.

Hannah in paris

What’s the first thing you think of when you imagine Paris? The Eifel Tower! We decided to visit the famous landmark on our first day (after stopping to eat some French bread and meat of course!) All I can say is that the tower is SO much bigger than I expected! When you get up close to it you can’t believe how much space it takes up and it can be seen from almost anywhere in Paris. It looks amazing in the day and even better when it’s lit up at night.

Paris was a scorching 30 degrees the entire trip, and as the hot metro station is no place to be in a heatwave, we decided to catch a ride on one of the river boats. The ‘Batobus’ is a boat shuttle service that travels on the river Seine to different tourist attractions including Notre dame, The Louvre, Champs Elysees and more. The boat was 19 euros for two days of unlimited travel which is very reasonable considering how far it goes. It was so lovely being on a boat on the Seine and watching all the beautiful French architecture going by.  We jumped on at the Eifell Tower and floated down the river to Notre Dame, which is breath-taking medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. The cathedral lies within a square, which due to the weather was buzzing with tourists, performers and Parisians, which was great to watch. However, the queue to get inside Notre Dame went on forever so we chose to admire the view from outside instead of queueing.

Next stop on the Batobus was Jardin des Plantes, which is a huge botanical garden by the river. It was around 7pm by this time and there were loads of people sat along the riverside dangling their legs over the side and enjoying a few beers. There were also groups of people dancing to different styles of music, with young and old folk joining in. Of course, we wanted to get involved too, so we bought some beers and perched nearby overlooking the river. Top tip, the men selling cheap beers by the river are selling them for 1 euro for a reason, because they are watered down beers! We learnt this the hard way, but still had a lovely time.

We returned to the Batobus and watched the sun go down as we sailed along the river Seine with the Eifel Tower lighting up the background. It was a magical way to end our first day in Paris.

Part two will be up soon, so keep checking back 🙂 apologies for my grainy Iphone pics, I took actual photos on my camera but haven’t edited them yet.

5 reasons I’m adding more cardio into my workouts

Leeds half marathon medal

Forget City or United, cardio or weights truly divides people.

I will be the first to admit that I turned my back on cardio for a while in favour of weight training, but recently I’m incorporating more cardio into my workouts and I want to explain why…

Lifting weights has become a lot more fashionable, as fitness influencers like Grace Fit and Busy Bee Fitness promote the positive benefits of lifting. Women of all ages are feeling stronger, more empowered in the gym and are proud to show off their muscular figures with pride.

Don’t get me wrong, I am really pleased so many women are discovering the joys of lifting and I think everyone should incorporate some strength training into their workout routines if they can, but cardio is given such a hard time nowadays.

Cardio is good for you, it’s fun and it’s cheap! Here are some of the reasons I’m adding more cardio into my fitness schedule:

Endorphins

After a 5k run I am feeling on top of the world! It’s difficult to rival the happy hormones quite like the ones I get from doing cardio. I find that completing an hour-long run gives me a much better endorphin payoff compared to a 30-minute strength session.

Stress relief

Although weight lifting is amazing for getting my frustrations out, who doesn’t love slamming a heavy weight down on the floor and grunting through your problems, cardio gives me time to think clearly and resolve my problems. Perhaps it’s because I’m participating in activity which lasts for longer than doing weights does, but I always feel calmer after cardio. The time acts as a safety net until I have switched off and calmed down.

Quicker achievements

Every time I go for a run I can improve on my last run, I either get faster, can run for longer, or stop less. Yet with weights it takes me a few weeks to improve and track progress. If you’re impatient like I am, cardio gives you that confidence boost of achieving your personal best a little bit quicker.

Good for your cardiovascular system

The cardiovascular system includes your heart and blood vessels and is responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. Unsurprisingly, cardio activity strengthens your cardiovascular system. To improve your cardiovascular fitness, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends increasing your exercise duration, increasing your exercise intensity and incorporating interval training into your workout routine.

You can do it anywhere

I love the freedom of running outdoors, or deciding to do a quick HIIT workout at home when I don’t want to go to the gym. Unless you’ve got a home gym or your own set of weights, cardio is more accessible as you can do it with no equipment from anywhere you want.

Yes, you get so sweaty that people might presume it’s raining outside, you have to wear a heavy-duty sports bra and your session takes longer, but get past these things and you’ll fall in love with cardio again. I think the trick is to mix up the different types of exercise that you do so you don’t become stagnant with your routine. The main thing is to find something you love doing and you keep doing it!

Is online counselling right for you?

laptop on desk with vase of flowers

Counselling works wonders for the soul, but there are several factors, such as price, availability and waiting lists, which put people off seeing a face-to-face counsellor. This had led to a surge in online counselling services which connect people to counsellors through voice, video or instant messaging.

I’ve been using online counselling on and off since the end of 2016 but I’ve only recently been seeing a counsellor weekly. This kind of service appeals to me because its time efficient, I can schedule sessions during my lunch or after work. It also gave me access to help immediately rather than being stuck on a waiting list for years (not knocking the NHS, just the bastards who cut funding for mental health).

How do you choose an online counsellor?

Choosing an online counsellor is a bit like online dating; you can browse through hundreds of counsellors by age, gender, speciality, qualifications etc. This helps you get more of a feel for the counsellor you’d be happy speaking to. Obviously, you can’t tell that much about someone from their profile but I believe it’s better than being assigned someone randomly.

You can message any counsellors you’d like to speak to and introduce yourself and have a chat about what you’d like to achieve. After this you participate in a taster session to see whether you’d be a good fit and could work together. This is really important because you want to have a good relationship with your counsellor, after all you need to feel comfortable talking to them and feel like you can trust them.

First impressions

The first time I started online counselling I wasn’t really sure what to make of it and to be honest I wasn’t prepared. I found a lovely counsellor and had a few video sessions but I stopped because I had so much to talk about it felt overwhelming. Counselling is never easy and sometimes you need someone encouraging you to keep sharing and pushing through the sessions. I didn’t feel confident directing the sessions and instead of telling my counsellor this I disappeared.

When I returned months later I approached it in a new way and started working with a different counsellor. I was more direct about what I wanted to discuss and told her about all the issues I wanted to talk about from the off (I literally made a list). Since then, we have focused on a particular issue each session and approached it in a structured way which I find really helpful. Counselling is still hard and I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed it but it feels like it is helping overall. However, it’s still worth pointing out that you can stop counselling at any time you want.

As someone who suffers with social anxiety, the idea of speaking to a counsellor gives me pangs of anxiety. But I’ve found that speaking to an online counsellor over the phone encourages me to share more in a session than I probably would do face-to-face because I’m not worrying about the social interaction side of things like making eye contact. Don’t get me wrong, I do still feel anxious because I am speaking on the phone, but it’s not as bad as face-to-face and after ten minutes I feel quite at ease. I’m hoping these phone sessions will encourage me to be more comfortable speaking on the phone in general.

The downside to online counselling is that it’s not free. I pay £35 for my sessions which quickly adds up to a lot every month. I’ve had to be more careful with my money and sacrifice things in order to pay for my sessions but I’m lucky enough to be able to do that as I know some people don’t have the luxury to pay for private counselling. The service I use, Plus Guidance, are changing their prices soon so every counsellor will charge £50 instead of their rate so it might be a good idea to find a counsellor you like and then decide a fee with them and go direct.

If you are considering counselling, but are a bit worried, then I would highly recommend online counselling. It has given me access to help when I really needed it and I wish I had known about it when I was younger. Hopefully this post has helped if you are considering it, if you have any questions feel free to email me or tweet me.

Thanks for reading x