I’ve heard many things about Boomtown festival, some good some bad, but mainly that it was unlike any other festival. Last week I put this to the test and experienced the madness that was Boomtown Chapter 9: Behind the Mask Located in Winchester, which is basically […]
Variety is the spice of life; the world would be so dull if everything was the same. Differences are beautiful and make us unique, so why don’t we celebrate our differences when it comes to our appearance?
Photo credit: Alexander Ward
I’m a firm believer of inner beauty and the fact that people’s goodness will shine through. I’ve met many a ‘beautiful’ person whose beauty quickly diminished after I’d realised they had a rotten personality. I don’t think there are any ugly people in this world, just ugly souls and actions.
You don’t need to change anything about yourself. We need to stop trying to mould ourselves into someone else or fit an unrealistic ideal. You might look at yourself and spot imperfections, but for every ‘flaw’ you chose to celebrate, you make someone who is insecure about the same thing feel better about themselves. If we all embraced our ‘flaws’ then there would be no such thing as a flaw, just lots of variety.
Companies insist on making us loathe ourselves and invent new flaws every day so we spend more money trying to ‘fix’ ourselves (lots of sarcastic speech marks in this post). It’s 2017 and people are getting designer vaginas for God’s sake! I know that people can do what they like, but it worries me that cosmetic surgery has almost become normalised. I fear for my younger sister growing up in such an image focused world.
Weird analogy: imagine if having one huge foot was the new ideal for women and every single woman got a foot job and eventually it was more uncommon to NOT have one large foot? We’d all look the same and people would expect every woman to have one giant foot. Girls would grow up thinking it was just a normal part of growing up and they’d have a surgical ‘rite of passage’ to get the giant foot of their dreams. I know this is a silly example but it illustrates my point. We shouldn’t be uniform, we should all be different. Children aren’t born hating their bodies, they only start to believe this once they’ve been exposed to social pressures and the media.
I’m trying to reclaim my ‘flaws’. Every time I look in the mirror, instead of telling myself that I hate certain parts of my body, I focus on the things I love and think about how lucky I am to have a body that allows me to experience life. This extends to mental health too, I am trying to silence my inner critic, the one that tells me I am not good enough or I will fail at everything I try.
Sure, this is all easier said than done. Everyone has days where they want to change themselves, I have days where I see a horrible photo of myself and think ‘Fuck it! I’m getting a loan to pay for veneers.” but that’s all part of being human and it’s ok.
As my saviour and all time hero, Ru Paul said,
‘HONEY, IF YOU CAN’T LOVE YOURSELF, HOW’N HELL YOU GONNA LOVE SOMEONE ELSE?’
Please vote for me in the Northern Blog Awards. I’m up for the Health and Fitness Lifestyle category and you can vote here. Thanks lovelies x
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 […]
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.
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