A weekend in Paris: Day two & three

arc de triomphe

The Louvre

As I’m sitting here typing away on this rainy day, it seems like visiting Paris last month was a distant dream.  Or at least the last blog I wrote about it was….

I mentioned in my last blog that we got a two-day ticket for the Batobus shuttle boat, so we commenced our second day in Paris by heading to the stops we didn’t get to see the previous day which included the Louvre Museum and the Champs Elyse.

The Louvre

Do you have Lorde in your head now? I did the entire time we visited the Louvre ‘But we’re the greatest, they’ll hang us in the Louvre. Down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre’ (it’s a great song, I wasn’t complaining!)

The Louvre is a very famous museum and art gallery, housing all kinds of modern and classic art and treasures from around the world. It’s a beautiful building on its own, crafted from translucent glass that projects different colours as it sparkles in the sun. It was a boiling hot day when we visited and we wanted to make the most of the weather, so we didn’t go inside the Louvre but enjoyed wandering around the courtyard.

Paris

Champs Elyse & The Arc de Triomphe

The Champs Elyse is a huge avenue which is famous for its theatres, cafés, luxury shops and is also the finish of the Tour de France cycle race. It’s possibly the busiest road I have ever seen in my life, and impossible to cross safely, with an array of vehicles circling the Arc de Triomphe.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about the Arc de Triomphe before visiting it (although I recognised it from the Olsen Twin’s film Passport to Paris, which is probably the lamest thing I’ve said….) but a quick google informed me that:

“The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.”

We couldn’t get very close to it (due to the insane road) but I was amazed by the size and detail of the monument and was pleased I’d seen one of Paris’ most famous landmarks.

Walking around in 32 degree heat calls for one thing; gelato! We tracked down one of the most highly recommended gelato places, Armino, and the mix of fruity flavours hit the spot. Mango, passionfruit and lemon; we were not disappointed!

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Rooftop terrace

Later in the evening we decided to check out the views from one of the tallest buildings in Paris. We went all the way up to the top floor and realised that while the views were amazing, the temperature of the bar was not as there were no open windows or air con, and quickly decided to make our exit.

We had heard about a bar with a rooftop terrace that seemed more suitable in the heat. The terrace was located on top of a hotel and had the most amazing views of Paris. It was so lovely watching the Eiffel tower sparkle while the sun went down, putting the world to rights with my bestie. However, if you decide to go there, make sure you bring cash because they do not take card and it was 8 euros for a glass of white wine!

Day 3

We didn’t have much time on our last day before we had to catch our flight so we made two stops before heading to the airport.

sacre coeur

Sacré-Cœur

The first was the Sacré-Cœur, which is also called the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, which is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. How nice is the name sacred heart? It is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city, and provides amazing views across Paris. It was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen and truly looked like a palace in heaven.

Moulin rouge

Our last stop was to see the famous Moulin Rouge, which is a musical dance theater and tourist attraction. The original building burnt down in 1915 but the interior consists lots of the original décor. I have to admit I was a little disappointed when seeing it from the outside, I was imagining a huge windmill that took up the entire street, but perhaps it is more spectacular at night (and after a few Aperol spritz!)

Paris was an amazing city and I would love to go back and spend more time getting to know its beautiful streets and culture. As it’s just an hour’s flight away from Manchester, I’m sure I will be returning soon.

Gym workout for when you don’t have much time

Hannah Gets Hench Animal Fitness Bootcamp

As I haven’t done a fitness post in a while, I thought I’d share my gym tips for when you don’t have loads of time to spend in the gym.

Adulting is tough. Most of us have to work full time, balance busy social lives and we all have to keep on top of boring stuff like cleaning, cooking and generally being a responsible human. I long for the days when I was a student and I could easily spend the best part of a morning exercising in the gym, taking advantage of the empty equipment and trying out new things without fear of being judged. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I can squeeze three gym sessions in a week, but that’s all part of growing up I guess and hopefully I’ll find the right balance one day.

But as they say, any activity is better than no activity, so don’t feel guilty for only being able to do 20 minutes, or even 5, because it will be doing some good in the long run for your physical and mental well-being. Some studies have found that short bursts of activity throughout the day are actually more beneficial than long sessions, but more on that in another post.

Gym routine when you don’t have time

So here’s what I do when I have an hour, 45 mins or even 20 mins free to exercise. Just to point out I walk to and from the gym so I tend to use this as my warm-up/cool-down when I don’t have time to foam roll and stretch.

1 hour

An hour sounds like a long time but by the time you’ve got changed, filled your water up, set up your weights and waited for people to clear the machines you need your time is limited!

I like to start the session with some interval cardio as it helps my muscles to warm up and works you relatively hard, but not so much that you can’t do anything after (as after HIIT I want to curl up on the floor).  Intervals are great because you can hit high intensities without getting as exhausted as you would if you did the whole session at that intensity.

My cardio of choice is usually the cross-trainer, I’ll do 20 minutes of alternating intervals (3 minutes high level, 1 minute lower level) and I aim to get my heart rate up to around 165/170 bpm. I know most people recommend doing the highest level for 1 minute, but when you’re doing a short session like 20 minutes I prefer to do the longest intervals at a higher level to ensure my heart rate gets high. After this I’ll jump off (clean my machine, of course) and head to the weights area. I choose to do either legs or arms, usually legs if I’m honest because I enjoy doing it more, and start on my routine.

Legs

Activation:
2 x 10 Bodyweight squats with a resistance band
2 x Clams with resistance band

3 x 12 bodyweight lunges (sometimes holding a dumbbell but my balance needs work at the moment so I am generally doing without weight)
3 x 12 step ups with a heavy dumbbell in each hand
3 x 12 glute bridges with a heavy sandbag over me
3 x 10 leg press (machine) at a heavy weight

If I have enough time I will use the foam roller and stretch before leaving, although as I said I walk home from the gym so that helps to relax my muscles and I can do some stretching in the shower once I’m home.

45 minutes

I like to kick start a 45-min session with a 10-15-minute incline walk on the treadmill. I start the incline on a 4 and gradually build up to 10 (or sometimes more if I can) and walk at a fast pace. This gets my heart rate up loads, often as much as the cross-trainer does! I’m aiming for about 160/165 bpm on this.

Then on to the weights, as I mentioned legs last time I’ll focus on arms for this example. I don’t tend to do any activation techniques for arms as it’s more about strength than muscle growth but I make sure I stretch them properly and get them moving before I pick up a weight.

Arms

3 x 10 press ups
3 x 12 dumbbell bicep curls
3 x 15 Dumbbell military press
3 x 10 Overhead tricep extensions with dumbbell/ 3 x 10 tricep pull down with cable

20/30 minutes

On days when I’m pressed for time I will complete a HIIT session. This is such an effective workout but the downside is that I quickly transform into a sweaty, red madwoman; which is annoying because my face stays red for hours afterwards (not the best look when you need to go out.)

If I’m in the gym, I do HIIT on the treadmill. I put it on incline 4 and set the speed to 16 and then run for 20 seconds and jump off and rest for 40 seconds until I have completed 20 mins of this. This never gets easier, sometimes I put the speed lower or take a longer rest because I get exhausted and can’t do more, but it’s a work in progress.

I also like doing HIIT at home. This is a good time saver because you don’t have to worry about getting to and from the gym. I use an interval timer app on my phone and created a 25-minute workout ahead of time, including 30 seconds of activity followed by 30 seconds or rest. I do 4 exercises in each set, high knees running on the spot, press ups, squat jumps, and burpees, and then repeat these 6 times.

There you go, these are my quick  workouts. Hope you enjoyed this post and let me know your time saving gym tips if you have any x

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.

street in Paris

river seine paris

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.

Eiffel tower

Eiffel Tower

What’s the first thing you think of when you imagine Paris? The Eiffel 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.

eleanor graceful hannah gets hench paris

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 Elysee 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.

Notre Dame

We jumped on at the Eiffel 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 queuing.

paris river seine

notre dame paris

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.

Eiffel tower

We returned to the Batobus and watched the sun go down as we sailed along the river Seine with the Eiffel 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 🙂

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

My tricks to get a natural looking fake tan

pineapples on beach

I feel like it’s been very serious on the blog recently, so today I wanted to talk about something light hearted – fake tan! You might be thinking, ‘Hannah fake tan is not related to fitness! What are you on about?!’ but have you ever seen a bodybuilding competition? Touché!

Fake tanning isn’t for everyone I know. My bed sheets are permanently orange and there are brown lots of innocent splodges on my towels. I love the pale and interesting look on other people, it’s just not for me. I absolutely love having a tan because it boosts my confidence and makes me feel like a new woman. However, I hate the idea of using sunbeds so I always opt for a bottle to get my glow.

I swear by St Moriz, it’s cheap and it does the job better than any of the other ones I’ve tried. St Tropez is amazing, but it’s just too pricey for me. I find the St Moriz lotion easier to work with, but the mousse still gives good results. (Ps I haven’t been paid to write this, I just love the product!) There are a few rules to get your tan to look nice and last longer. In the past I haven’t done the prep and I’ve ended up with a patchy tan that looks like tiger bread and only lasts a couple of days. Since following the steps I will tell you about below I have managed to get a really natural looking tan that hasn’t gone patchy at all.

ross from friends fake tan

Sorry Ross, but you didn’t follow my instructions.

Exfoliation: The first step is exfoliation. It’s pretty obvious, but you need to have a smooth canvas to get a rich colour. I recommend using an exfoliating dry body brush before you jump in the shower or body scrub while you’re in the shower to remove dead skin. Make sure you do this for at least a week before you want to apply your tan to get the best results. Then gently exfoliate a couple of days after your tan is on and continue to do so to keep it from going patchy.

Time: I generally apply my tan at night time, before I go to bed. In theory, the longer you leave it to develop the deeper the colour will be but sometimes I just don’t have time to do it. If you can leave it on for a full evening and sleep on it then by all means do. There is also an express version that develops in a couple of hours. To help it dry quicker I always use a hair dryer to go over it and make sure it’s all sunk in before I get into bed.

Moisturise: This is probably the most important prep tip. I don’t know why it makes such a difference but if your skin is moisturised properly your tan will apply more easily, stay on for longer and look 100% better. Like the exfoliation, I suggest moistening the area you want to tan every day for at least a week. Follow this by moisturising the area the day after you put your tan on and do this every time you have a shower to lock the moisture in.

Shaving, tight clothes and sweating: Sounds like weird tips right? Wrong! All these things will rub your tan off so its important to bear them in mind. Shaving your legs will take most of the tan off, but shaving before you tan isn’t great either because the tan will go into the follicles and you’ll look dotty. Personally, I just apply more layers of tan on my legs but even that doesn’t help it stay on completely. Wearing tight jeans all day will also take off your tan, even if it’s developed and washed off so opt for loose fitting clothing or tights as it isn’t as tight around your legs. Finally, sweat makes St Moriz tan rub off. The most annoying thing is if you go to the gym and it rubs off around your sports bra so you get weird outlines that won’t go away no matter how much you exfoliate.

Wash your mit: If you don’t wear a mit, then go and get one! It saves your hands from going orange and streaky. You can use gloves but I find these to give a streaky look. Anyway, the mit absorbs quite a lot of product when applying and usually I would just leave it and let it dry but I’ve started washing the mit in lukewarm water straight after applying. This helps the mit to stay in good condition which will help you achieve a smoother fake tan on next application.

Oh wow, I have genuinely written 800 words about fake tan….I will stop now, but if you have any tips you’d like to share with me that I’ve missed then feel free to leave them in the comments or give me a shout on twitter.

Oh and if you haven’t already, please vote for me as Fitness Blogger of the Year in the Blogosphere awards! x

Blogosphere Blog Awards 2017: Fitness Blogger of the year

blogosphere blog awards

Good news everyone! I have been shortlisted in the Blogosphere Blog Awards 2017 and nominated in the Fitness Blogger of the Year category!

The Blogosphere Blog Awards has 10 categories which cover a range of blog niche’s such as lifestyle, fashion, beauty and book bloggers and there is also a category for the ‘Blogosphere Blogger of the Year’ as well, which basically means you’re the best blogger evaaaaa. The winner of each category will be featured in issue 14 of the Blogosphere Magazine and have a photo shoot and interview in London!

I have been nominated in the fitness category along the crem de la crem of fitness bloggers – Carly Rowena, Zana Van Djik, The Runner Beans and Imperfect matter. If I’m honest, I’m really not sure how this has happened! I have looked up to these bloggers, Carly and Zana in particular, before I even started my blog. I’m still quite worried I have been added in as a joke candidate. Imposter syndrome, be gone!

If you enjoy reading my blog, or want to do your good deed for the day, you can vote for me as fitness blogger of the year by clicking here and selecting Hannah Gets Hench in the fitness blogger category. Nominations are open now and they close at the end of May so get voting!

Best of luck to all the amazing bloggers who have been nominated (Not dominated spellcheck…) and I am looking forward to meeting you all at the event in June!

VOTE FOR ME HERE

Thanks, Hannah x

7 body positive reasons to love fitness

Girl sat on mountain

So after a lengthy twitter feud debate, it appears that some people don’t understand how you can be body positive, inclusive and accepting, AND be a fitness blogger.

Contrary to popular belief, being body positive and being passionate about fitness are not mutually exclusive. You can love exercising and at the same time not give a tiny rat’s ass about losing weight or fitting into a certain size. Yes, exercise often does lead to weight loss but that is not the sole purpose or reason that you should aim to get your body moving.

This post is going to be about all the amazing outcomes of fitness and physical activity that have nothing to do with your appearance!

1.Confidence

Joining a gym and pushing myself to run faster, lift heavier and embrace what my body is capable of is one of the most empowering things I have even done. Four years on, even on my most self-deprecating days, a good gym session or a long run can give me the boost of confidence that I need.

2. Endorphins

I may be quoting Elle Woods here, but when you exercise your body produces happy hormones and people that are happy just don’t kill their husbands! The hormones, also called endorphins, help to relieve stress and give you an uplifting sensation. I know some people experience these differently, or even feel down after exercise, but personally I feel euphoric after I finish exercising. I feel light, hopeful and…dare I say excited for life, which for a cantankerous sod like me, is a miracle!

3. Strength

Feeling strong is seriously underrated! The feeling or strutting into the weights room and picking up a heavier weight than I was using last week is awesome. So is being able to carry multiple bags of food shopping home from Aldi AND carrying an entire door through my sister’s house during a day of DIY (just some recent examples, I recommend starting with lighter objects than a door if you’re a newbie to strength).

4. Focus

Work stressful? Relationship fallen apart? Get your trainers on and focus on something else. During that period, there is nothing else to concentrate on apart from your body and what it can do. Working towards a goal such as a 10k distance, or a new strength PB is a wonderful way to challenging yourself and work towards something positive.

5. Functional Movement

Functional movement refers to the types of activities you do as part of daily life such as bending down, twisting, walking upstairs, carrying bags etc. By developing strength and cardiovascular fitness you can perform everyday tasks more efficiently, which makes your life that tiny bit easier

6. Sociable

I’ve made loads of new friends through exercise and I continue to nurture current friendships through it as well. Last weekend I did Parkrun with friends, I met my flatmate at a fitness bootcamp and a lot of people I talk to on social media I found through their passion for fitness.

7. Mental resilience

You that feeling when you’re running and you want to give up? But you keep putting one foot in front of the other until you’ve reached your destination. You hit the wall where you want to give up but you keep on going. These skills that you learn through fitness can be transferred into everyday life. Life is hard, it’s not fair and sometimes it just sucks, but you’ve got to keep going and putting one foot in front of the other. Fitness has given me the tools to get to grips with life’s challenges and come back stronger.

8. Fun

Find an exercise, or activity, that you love doing and you’ll have so much fun. Whether that’s running, rock climbing, hiking, swimming or dancing, do what you enjoy.

Did any of those amazing things include losing weight, fitting into a size 6 skirt or feeling confident on a beach? NO, because exercise is a celebration of what your body can do NOT a punishment for its differences! Also you can visit the beach any damn time and be happy. Got it? Ok thanks.

Finally, I want to write something about concern trolling. This is people jump in on debates under the pretence that they have genuine concerns for people’s health so that gives them a legitimate reason to shame fat people. You may think that you are being helpful by telling people that they need to lose weight, or by informing them that their lifestyle is unhealthy and dangerous, but you’re not helping at all. Fatphobic concern trolling is causing a lot more damage to society than fat people are. Mental health issues and eating disorders are real and being fatphobic contributes to these more than anything else. Plus, it makes you a shit person so just don’t do it people.

How to support someone who has anxiety

girl holding water melon

TW: anxiety, panic attacks.

As it’s mental health awareness month, I wanted to write about a topic that I am very familiar with; my old buddy anxiety.

I’ve suffered from generalised anxiety disorder for most of my teenage and adult life. I take medication to deal with it daily, which generally keeps it at bay, but sometimes it does flare up and cause my to feel very anxious which can even lead to a having a panic attack. Panic attacks are different for everyone but I believe they are universally dreaded by every anxiety suffer, even as I’m writing this I’m worried I am going to trigger one from just thinking about it so I will stop!

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is not about me, but about being supportive towards others who have anxiety. Many of my friends also have anxiety and there are often times when I need to help them out (just as I’d hope they would do the same for me when I feel anxious) I understand that it can be overwhelming and difficult to discuss anxiety if you don’t suffer from it yourself but the worst thing you can do is to ignore them and pretend it isn’t happening. Anxiety is extremely isolating and scary and you need all the support and help you can get from the people that mean the most to you.

Here are my tips for supporting someone with anxiety, from personal experience and from things my friends have recommended.

Keep communication short and sweet

When I’m anxious I really struggle to reply to things, texts and emails can build up and I’ll feel very overwhelmed. Don’t even get me started on missed calls and voicemails! At the same time, I feel incredibly lonely when I’m at this stage of anxiety, so I need to keep communicating but not allowing it to overwhelm me.

Receiving a short text from a friend saying something simple like “I’m thinking about you” or “You’re going to be ok. Get in touch when you want to” is enough to make me feel loved but not enough to make me fret about replying. I will reply once I get back to myself and my friends know that. Alternatively, if your friend would be more relaxed receiving a phone call then sometimes hearing a loved one’s voice can massively ground you. Find out what works for them.

Don’t search for reasons why

Anxiety doesn’t discriminate, it can affect anyone at any time and there is often no logical reason for feeling that way. If someone feels anxious then you should talk to them about how they feel but don’t ask why they feel like that (unless they want to talk about it). The main thing is not to judge, pressure them to open up, or make them feel guilty for feeling that way.

Learn about anxiety

There is still SO much stigma around talking about mental health conditions, but the more we learn and talk about them, the more helpful we will all be for those who do suffer. When I first told my sister about my anxiety she didn’t really understand it, but she took the time to learn about it and I think that helped her understand what I felt a little bit better. Do as much research as you can about anxiety and read about people’s personal experiences with it. Even though they won’t be the same as your friend’s experiences, it will give you a glimpse of what they might be going through.

Offer to spend time with them 

Groups of people intimidate me, even if its friends I’ve known for years I can still feel anxious about being in a group with them. If your friend is hesitant about social situations like this, offer to meet them before you meet the group and go with them to take some pressure off. If they really don’t want to do anything involving a group, arrange to spend time with them alone so they don’t feel left out.

Don’t pressure people to feel better

While it’s really positive to try and help people take their mind off things, you shouldn’t expect them to instantly feel better. Anxiety can effect people constantly, or only at certain times, it’s totally dependent on the person. Likewise, don’t say things like “Don’t be silly, you shouldn’t be anxious!” or “It will pass soon just forget about it!” because it makes the person feel like their feelings aren’t valid.

Stop mixing up nerves with anxiety

Feeling nervous about things is natural. Situations like going on a date, starting a new job or doing a presentation will generally make most people feel nervous, but this is different from having anxiety. Saying ‘that gives me anxiety’ when you really mean that it makes you feel nervous is so frustrating to someone when their life is controlled by anxiety. Most people don’t mean to offend when they say stuff like this but it’s always something to bear in mind.

Quick list of things friends can do to reduce anxiety

  • Sending/receiving cute letters or cards
  • Providing sweets/chocolates or any delicious food
  • Going on a long walk and talking (sometimes reduced eye contact is good)
  • Having a film night – especially old films you love and find comforting
  • Playing with animals/visiting animals
  • Doing something active together like a run or a swim
  • Doing a project like colouring in, painting, tidying or making something

Hopefully this post helped, as I said this is from my personal experiences with anxiety and things that have helped my friends so they might not be for everyone. Have you got any things that help yourself or a friend when they feel anxious?

What being body positive means to me

neon lighting

The body positive movement aims to end the negative relationship we have with our appearance and accept ourselves for who we are naturally. It is inclusive of everyone, no matter how you look you deserve to be loved and to love yourself.

Body positivity isn’t just about weight, it’s about feeling good in the body you are in. It’s about focusing on yourself as a whole and challenging society’s perceptions of beauty. You are worth more than how you look.

It’s not apologising for having a double chin in a photo. It’s not worrying about how your cellulite looks in natural light. It’s enjoying what your body can do for you, instead of chastising it for not looking a certain way.

Body positivity and me

Body positivity is a relatively new concept for me, having only learned about it over the last 18 months. After years and years of self-hatred and insecurities, the idea of loving my body unconditionally seems like both a breath of fresh air and a rope to hang myself with.

Many of us have been conditioned from an early age to believe that we need to be smaller, symmetrical, perfect versions of ourselves. If we only squeezed into a smaller size our lives would be better. This is not true, and the only reason we are subjected to this kind of thinking is because companies want to make us spend money on products we don’t need and they need to keep feeding our insecure to get us to splash out. As an intelligent woman, I know this is true, but after 25 years of body shaming myself, it’s difficult to kick the habit.

Being body positive can be more challenging than you might think. As with most things, there is a steep learning curve. I have many days where I stare at my reflection in the mirror and tell myself I am fat, ugly or disgusting. Irrational thoughts consume my mind, ‘What if I gain loads of weight and no one likes me anymore?’, ‘I can’t wear that because my legs are too fat’ ‘My nose is so big and ugly’ etc. The fact that I have these thoughts is evidence enough that I need to embrace body positivity and self-love.

Fitness and body positivity?

Some people reading this might be thinking I’m being hypocritical because this is a fitness blog after all.

I hold my hands up and say in the past I was not being body positive, through a lack of education and knowledge. Once you open your eyes to how much body shaming is around it’s quite shocking. Even this year when I decided to embrace the body positive movement I still had a lot of setbacks. In my Grace Fit Guide posts I get carried away with how my body is responding to the guide looks wise and began to feel very critical of myself once again.

I would love to be in a place where I feel 100% happy with my appearance, not because I have achieved unrealistic beauty standards, but because I love and accept myself the way that I am. My goal is to stand naked in front of a mirror and honestly say that I don’t care how my body looks and that I am just so grateful to have it. You can be body positive and into fitness and health, it’s a celebration of what your body can do after all.

Our society is becoming more image obsessed by the day and humans are already hard wired to respond to images. Self-hatred is accelerating; depression and eating disorders are increasing and it’s only going to get worse unless we teach each other to think differently. Nowadays, people are celebrated purely for their looks, while intelligent, funny, kind, courageous and artistic people are valued less.

Thanks for reading this. If you’re interested in more body positive posts my friend Vicky wrote a really interesting guest post for me which you can find here or you can visit her blog which is body positive.