Be Kind To Yourself

self love

When I do my daily binge of social media, I am accustomed to seeing many posts which present a thinly veiled statement of what the sharer thinks about them-self. It is sad but amongst the vanity and the delusion, the prevalent emotion is insecurity. This can manifest itself in many ways; Someone you know has put on weight only posting photos from a year ago,  a feed full to the brim of body selfies coupled with long ‘deep’ captions to try and imply they are more than the pair of boobs they just posted etc…

These are very common occurrences, and believe me when I say I’m not judging anyone for it, I partake in plenty of selfies too. But there are some people who bypass these clues and just come out and say it. They post pictures or upload stories outlining what they hate about themselves, once or twice I wouldn’t really bat an eyelid, but I’m talking every day. It really makes me sad.

I am a huge believer in how we are influenced by our surroundings and the people we spend time with. For this reason I advise people to carefully consider who and what they expose themselves to. If you are in an environment that promotes happiness, healthiness and ambition you are going to be onto a winner in most cases. However, sometimes that is not enough. Some people are their own worst critic and are unbelievably harsh on themselves. I would argue that this is unhealthy. As this picture states, be careful what you say to yourself, because if it is all negative, you are going to start believing it. Think of yourself as a sponge, we absorb what is around us and hold onto it until someone wrings it out of us. Awful metaphor aside, this is the season of wringing.

In 2019 I think we should all focus on self love and self improvement. I have seen some bloggers saying that the self love movement for this year could lead us into a selfish society, but I disagree. To say that we need to focus on our own interests and happiness does not automatically inhibit us from helping other people do the same, in fact I would encourage it.

The main thing is to be kind. To yourself, to other people, to animals it doesn’t matter, just be kind. Life is too short to be mean, especially to yourself.

The Difference in a Decade: 2009-2019

2009, I think, was an underrated year. I am also aware, that not many people agree with me on this topic. The word ‘iconic’ is thrown around far too liberally nowadays, but in this case I am tempted to use it. I’m not sure why it holds such a special place in my heart, 2004 and 2007 were also great years but I think they just fall short of 2009 based on one simple fact. At the time, everything about it felt so cool but there is nothing like hindsight, and the Facebook ‘On This Day’ feature, to show you that we were of course not cool in the slightest.

Below are a list of 5 quintessential aspects which help to sum up 2009:

Flip Phones of all varieties

phone

Okay so if you were a teenager in 2009 you were probably the proud owner of a sliding/flipping/twisting mobile phone. From the sleek but virtually unusable LG Chocolate to the achingly cool (but as we have established definitely not cool) twisting Sony Ericcson, if there was a process to opening it, we went mad for it.

2009 was when this mobile design was at its all-time high before touchscreen technology came and saved us with its minimalism. The IPod Touch paved the way for the phone layout we all know and love but there is some nostalgia to be had in the mobiles of 10 years ago. And, was there really anything as satisfying as hanging up on someone and angrily flipping your phone shut?! No, there was not.

Shaved hair/bobs

rihanna hair

Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Pink, Robyn. What did all these women flying high in 2009 have in common? Yes, the sub title gave it away; their hair. There are some years that bring with them a stand out hair style. In 2010 it was the bright red Rihanna hair that 1 in every 10 girls seemed to sport. In 2013 ombre hair was all the range. 2016 had everyone going mad for pastel shades, the list goes on, but before all of these trends 2009 brought with it the shaved side of the head and a bob. At least one person you knew was rocking this look and you even considered it at one point. The awkward growing back of one side of your hair though is enough to make you thankful you never went through with it.

Punk fashion

scene kids

Another quintessential aspect of 2009 was the style, or maybe lack of it. Were you even ready to go out of your door without a couple of bows in your hair to match your graphic T-shirt and ripped jeans meticulously held together with pins?! Punk inspired fashion had a revival but without bringing along any of the edge that it was born with. Instead we had a sort of pop/punk hybrid popularised by the bands of the time (think Hayley Williams, Pink again, Fallout Boy etc.)

‘Scene Kids’ were the local leaders of style, a bright and edgy alternative to the Emos and Goths we were used to, and with them brought another punk trend: brightly coloured, big hair. This particular look was one that I definitely fell prey to, I am still guilty of indulging in big hair, but as a red head I never bothered with the dying part.

Ed Hardy

ed hardy

Fellas, this one is for you. I think we all remember Ed Hardy T-shirts, I personally am still waiting to regain fully functioning vision after gazing one too many times at a bedazzled chest. Commonly adorned with tigers, a rose and possible 100 studs, wearing one of these masterpieces undoubtedly made you feel like one.

However, as is the case with all of these trends, I’m sure you have already deleted or untagged yourself from any evidence of partaking in the ocular offence. I don’t blame you. Admittedly my boyfriend at the time was a wearer of these monstrosities, but that isn’t the point.

Electronically enhanced music

Last but certainly not least on this list, 2009 was the year where autotune really became popularised. I know you remember Jason Derulo’s smash hit ‘Whatcha Say’ and you have thus since been afflicted with involuntarily singing his name in your head every time you hear it! (Yeah like that)

Rappers like Lil’ Wayne were using autotune in their songs as well as the electronic sound being a staple in the world of Pop too. Artists such as La Roux, The Black Eyed Peas and David Guetta were all employing the electronic sound to much success, helping to create a sound that can easily be pinpointed to this wonderful year.

I would also like to give a special mention to the makeup choices we made during this year, I am sure we will all be punished appropriately in the future.

In many ways, 2009 feels longer than a decade ago. The examples listed above serve to date the year pretty effectively, I can safely say that none of those trends need reviving any time soon, their current replacements feeling futuristic in comparison. But, horrendous style choices aside, it was the time that I look back on fondly. If nothing else, it makes me feel a lot cooler now than I was, but it also makes me wonder what choices I will be scoffing at in 2029.

I’m sure I won’t think I was cool in 2019 either.

Let me know if I missed anything. Do you have any favourite memories of the year?

J

 

Build your 2019

flowers

I came across this picture during one of my daily social media trawling sessions and it really made me smile. Not only is the illustration sweet but the message is surprisingly relevant and poignant.

Contrary to popular belief, the world does not owe us anything. We are not owed success, we are not owed happiness and we are definitely not owed an easy life. For the most part, how we progress in life is wholly dependant on us. And that is how it should be, it is our life after all. We basically live within a world of cause and effect; we get back what we put in.

There are so many things happening in the world which are bigger than the individuals. 2018 brought us the political situation in the U.S, the nightmare of the Brexit negotiations in the U.K and the natural disasters happening elsewhere in the world, so we should strive to take control of what we are able to and put our lives in the best positions we can.

Put your happiness first, it is so important and often treated as an after thought or a bonus when it is a necessity.

Work hard, your work is a reflection of you and thus should be approached with everything you have.

Strive to improve yourself in any way no matter how small, that’s the crux of what life is about to me; self improvement. Everyday you should go to bed a tiiiiiiny bit better off than when you woke up.

Be active, if you have been blessed with a body unaffected by ailments then pleaseeeee take advantage of it, use it, appreciate it.

All of these things are good for your health, your productivity or your state of mind and those are what we should be prioritising for ourselves in 2019.

This post feels kind of bleak and serious for a Friday but it is something I felt compelled to write this morning. I’m kind of impulsive. But even if only one person reads this and takes something away from it then that will be enough. Let’s get passionate about our lives again, take back control and don’t let our potential prosperity be over shadowed by things we have been made to feel are more important than ourselves. They’re not!

Let’s create the world we want to live in, it’s possible!

Let me know your thoughts on the picture/subject matter, I would love to discuss further.

J x

Living a Life of Leisure (Centres)

In my previous posts, I have touched on two topics which affect my life: vanity and motivation, so it only feels right for the third post to combine them. In 2013, I left my life as I knew it and moved to Sheffield for University. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, I was leaving my body, as I knew it, at home with my parents too.

First year of living in halls is like living in a bubble. A bubble that apparently nutrition and wise decision making cannot penetrate. I estimate it took 3 months for my diet to descend into complete anarchy and by the second term I was trapped in a cycle of over indulging and under exercising. Predictably, I put on a noticeable amount of weight. However, it crept up on me so I didn’t notice for an alarmingly long time considering I was so self-absorbed.  Anyway, by the time I graduated and moved back home, the takeaways had taken their toll and I had to face the consequences of my eating in the mirror every day.

I ignored it for a long time but the last straw was about two years ago when I was in the bath and tried to avoid looking at my reflection in the tap. A definite low point for someone who stops to observe themselves in a car window. This acted as my turning point; I was unhappy with my physique, size 8 was but a murky memory to me and size ten was a couple of pizzas away from a similar fate.

Long story short, I joined the gym.

Over the course of the last two years I have been going to the gym at least 3-4 times a week consistently. Although my body is finally back to being the way I like it during the process of getting here I have encountered many of the common issues fitness faces us with. When you make the decision to change your lifestyle and get into the gym, you can always expect there to be growing pains (and actual pain in this case come to think of it). Now, as 2018 draws to a close, I consider myself to have become somewhat of a gym whisperer, and a generous one at that, so in preparation for the January resolution buzz, I have decided to offer some advice. I hope my hard earned insights can be of help to you all in your quest to become sickeningly healthy.

  1. Ladies don’t be afraid of the men

First things first; men do not have any ownership over the weights section. ‘Yeah, obviously’ I hear you cry, but trust me, when you get in there and your find yourself next to a behemoth dropping weights that are bigger than your head everywhere, you will seriously consider running to the safety of the cardio section.

It’s a weird feeling, considering it is the only place that people with less muscle should be, yet it is the ones already weighed down by theirs that are comfortable being there.

NO MORE is my plea to you.

The only way to start feeling at home in the weights section is to put some empowering music on your phone, strut in there, pick up the 4kgs and go for it. After a couple of weeks I promise that you will feel at home there and scoff that you ever felt differently. Before you know it, you will be telling Tim in his vest to move over, you want to flex in the mirror too!

In all seriousness though, cardio is good for losing an initial bit of fat, but to build the body you want and see plastered all over the place, you need to create some muscle. By doing so you can take advantage of perception. Want a smaller waist? Build your shoulders and bam, you have the illusion in all its tapered glory. Building muscle not only speeds up your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories, but it will make sure you stay in proportion, or help you change your proportions if that’s your goal. You can build whatever kind of body you desire, just get in that weight section!

  1. Don’t rely on motivating yourself. You. Will. Fail.

This one sounds weird, but the reality is, that little voice in your head whose job it is to shame you for being lazy and force you to get up and do stuff, can be a bit lazy too.

Don’t be surprised if after a month or so your resolve begins to dissolve and you’re back to eating peanut butter with a spoon (a random example in no way related to my life…)

I combated my ability to down play how much I needed to go to the gym by following people on social media who make me hate myself a little bit. This sounds like a toxic piece of advice I know but it honestly works for me. If I am in bed scrolling through social media, it isn’t going to be one of my friends who sparks this reaction from me. I need to be bombarded with physical examples of what I want and, because I am still in bed, don’t yet have.

This works for me because I am depressingly aware of what distracts me on a daily basis. Therefore this solution is tailored to help me snap into action, the possibly attainable carrot tantalisingly dangled from the pull up machine. This can be changed to fit different people’s habits of course. If you honestly assess your habits and locate what is becoming a hindrance to your activity then you can create your own solutions. My friend, for example, leaves notes to herself and pictures of her ‘dream body’ randomly in the pages of books she is reading, because she knows books can swallow at lot of her time.

Do what works for you but do something because it is really, really difficult to keep your motivation up without a little bit of help here and there.

  1. You’ve got to organise to capitalise

This is a common tip you can find on most fitness pages which only serves to prove how true it is. Creating structure around your workouts and your diet helps immensely in your journey to becoming the envy of everyone you know. Many fitness influencers publish their own workout guides that you can purchase but I don’t think it is really necessary. I spent a lot of time on YouTube and Instagram finding people whose bodies I wanted to emulate and watching the movements they did in their videos. In addition to this, rather than pay for a personal trainer, I watched other people’s personal training sessions in the gym while I was there and basically stole their plans. #sorrynotsorry

By combining these two cheap and fool proof methods, I made my own plan until I became familiar with what each exercise did for my body and how they could be grouped, tweaking as I went. Now I split my workouts by muscle groups which I why I can go to the gym 4-5 times a week without damaging my muscles. This helps to stop your workouts getting too repetitive which limits your interest and enthusiasm for the gym but also your progress. Muscles get accustomed to exercises after a while and they become less effective, unless you are increase the weight constantly.

Organising your diet is also important I think. Go shopping with meals in mind and try to plan your week as best you can. I don’t like to do meal prep because I never know what I am going to feel like eating, so if you’re fickle like me you definitely need to make sure you have a few healthy options in the fridge waiting.  I would also recommend getting the MyFitnessPal app as well so you can track what you’re eating. I was horrified at the information that I had been eating pasta for a family of 4 with ease for the majority of my life. That being said, be mindful of what you’re eating and how much but don’t starve yourself, you need to eat to speed up your metabolism if nothing else. Eat a balanced, fresh diet and exercise regularly and you will be laughing.

There are many other things I could go into on this topic but these are the main three that I wanted to share. I could always write a follow up post to this another time if that’s what the people wish, let me know.

My last word on the topic is at least give yourself 8 weeks of serious training and commitment, once you see results you won’t need any more help.

Enjoy your journey to health, it’s horrible but well worth it.

J

Being Mildly Motivated: An Abusive Relationship with Yourself

One thing that I have learnt never to underestimate is my ability to avoid doing stuff.

These tasks are unlimited in their variety; all that is certain is that if I feel as though I ‘should’ be doing it, a lot of the time I won’t be. Not doing/starting/completing things is not especially out of the ordinary; many people don’t do stuff they know they ought to. However, what I find especially strange about my personal avoidances is that, at some point, they were all things I really wanted to do.

The feeling of motivation is an odd phenomenon I think. We often underestimate how fleeting it can be and how it’s potency in driving you to do something can evaporate the longer it is left unattended. I was inspired by this subject whilst working on the beginning of a different blog post. There I was tapping away, ruminating over all the subjects I wanted to tackle, when something caught my eye. “God, your hands look awful.”

And that was literally all she wrote.

An hour later I had little recollection of some of the ideas I had been so excited to write about and even less of the excitement itself. But at least I had a full manicure, better do my toes to match…I’ve found that there are endless distractions that we can busy ourselves with providing we want to be distracted.

But, inevitably, guilt rears its ugly, self-righteous head (usually when you lay yours down) and relentlessly reminds you that you should have been finishing what you gave yourself till today to do, rather than wallowing in the depths of your own laziness. However, the self-destructive behaviour does not end here. Often this situation will repeat itself for a few more cycles until finally, you do whatever it is you were supposed to do. And suddenly it’s as though the clouds part. You are hit with the intoxicating realisation that the thing you had been avoiding doing this whole time was actually really easy to complete. Not only was the experience totally painless, but you are once again filled with an enthusiasm and the promise to become more dedicated. From tomorrow you will begin working on your next task and will definitely not get complacent again.

But predictably, you do.

The mystery of this plot thickens further when we think about how humans, rightly or wrongly, often measure their sense of worth against their success. But how are we supposed to be successful when we avoid the necessary steps to become so? Our perception of how valuable a person we are/will be is entirely dependent on us. Which is great, right?

No, it’s terrifying.

This mind set is admittedly really hard to break but, in order to achieve what we are capable of, break it we must. The desire to become accomplished isn’t going to fade, so unless we take action, we are resigning ourselves to a lifetime of always knowing that we could have done better, had we just put the effort in.

That’s the thing however, which I think is a comfort to some of us and may on some level contribute to this behaviour. We have the potential to accomplish almost anything, if we try hard enough, care enough or put enough hours in. That’s why you hear so many people saying ‘I could’; in theory most people can. But it’s weirdly preferable to fail because of our own laziness than to have really tried and fallen short. It’s scary to try.

Some people are genuinely okay with putting some effort in and getting what that gives them. If that is you then fair enough, do your thing. But before you count yourself in this group, really have a think about it. Most of us fall prey to the three R’s; Reminiscing, Romanticising and Regretting, I know I do. Even if you look back to something as small as a subject in high school that you could have gotten better results for, this applies to you.

The behaviour of being motivated, but only mildly, is not easy to combat. But I genuinely believe that people like us will not be content with our lot in life unless we do. There is no magic way to shake yourself out of it however. Which is unfortunate. It seems fitting though that the only solution for your tendency to avoid things is to tackle it head on. Obvious as it sounds, everything would have been so much easier if we just did stuff. (Eat your heart out Nike)

One thing that has started to help me has been to focus on the fact that the only person who is being cheated in this equation is me. I will be the one to miss out, I will be the one left wishing it had been different and I will be the annoying person doing the Marlon Brando “I could have been somebody” speech at any and every opportunity.

I have realised that I cannot rely on something or someone else motivating me. It has to be me. Getting things in life easily is great, but nothing feels as good as reaping the rewards of hard work. Focus on the feeling of validation you get from that, and let it imbue you with self-worth and determination. And most importantly, hold onto it; don’t let it evaporate before you can act on it.

The only person who will lose out, is you.

Let me know if you guys struggle with motivation and how you combat it.

I am always taking tips.

J