Thursday, 17 December 2015

30 Life Lessons

"How do you feel about turning 30?"
A question I've been asked a few times this month. I actually feel really excited about starting a new decade. After taking control of my life in my late twenties, I feel more confident and positive than ever before. But hey, it's been a long time coming so I don't wish to sound smug over here!

I started the last decade feeling very insecure. I was five dress sizes bigger and didn't have much confidence in my abilities. I spent most days feeling utterly self conscious and worrying about what people thought of me. I had kind of given into the fact I was going to the big girl who would probably not the live the life I was supposed to had I been more confident and open to opportunities.

Things changed though and I went through many experiences, which I have spoken about in past blogs, that have made me who I am today. And I wouldn't change it for the world. No regrets.

However, there are a few life lessons I have learned that maybe I would have liked to have known a littler earlier in my life....

1. Sugar is the enemy and is as bad an addiction as smoking. Cut down on it.

2. If there is someone in your life that makes you feel rubbish, see them less or not at all.

3. Be nice to everyone you meet on the way up.

4. Be open to opportunities that come your way, what is the worst that can happen?

5. Excercise every day, even if it's just a brisk walk.

6. Don't compare your life to others.

7. Meditate every day.

8. Write every day.

9. Drink lots of water.

10. Don't be scared of the gym, no one is looking at you.

11. Try not to judge someone who's in a situation you've never been in yourself.

12. Find your passion and don't let it slide.

13. Don't worry about what people think of you on the beach, wear that bloody bikini.

14. Don't trust men who look at your lips one too many times when they're talking to you.

15. Always, always listen to your gut instinct.

14. Cook from scratch as much as possible and always read the label.

15. Don't be scared to say no.

16. Don't be scared to say yes.

17. Watch Star Wars, they're actually really good films.

18. Eat less bread and pasta.

19. Eat more veg.

20. Don't use food as your comfort blanket.

21  Try something new that scares you more often.

22. Go to Paris as much as possible.

23. Everyone has their own insecurities, don't assume you're the only one.

24. Cleanse, tone and moisturise every day, twice a day.

25. Put extra sun screen on your forehead when subathing.

26. Tell friends and family you love them more, you never know what will happen tomorrow.

27. Loneliness is one of the worst feelings so learn to love your own company.

28. Look after your mental health as much as your physical health.

29. Dance more.

30. Do what makes you happy.

What are your life lessons? I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Raw Chocoholic!

I have been on a quest for some time now to cut down on my sugar intake.

As we know, sugar is the enemy, and I believe the weight I gained when I was a young girl was mainly down to my sugar addiction.

So now I lead a relatively healthy life - going to the gym four times a week and eating well the majority of the time (we all need a cheat day) - I've also been thinking about the quality of the ingredients I eat and what goes into the food I freely put into my body.

My good friend Susan owns a wonderful shop Natural Healthy Food in Digbeth and she has educated me in the art of cutting out sugar and ridding of all the horrible toxins that come with a poor diet.
I'm a total chocoholic and this has been an issue for me when trying to cut down on sugar. However, in walks Susan and her delicious raw chocolate produce she knows I will just love.
I have just sampled this raw chocolate tart by Inspiral, and I have to say it's the most luxurious mousse made out of raw cacao and avocado with a wonderful crumb on the bottom made out of pecans, walnuts and dates with a splash of Himalayan salt for good measure. There is no sugar involved, just raw cacao and agave nectar syrup... A natural sweetener.
You may think raw chocolate sounds revolting but once you get a taste for it you won't go back, you just need to find your match!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

An Ode to Paris

This time last week I was in Paris. A city I love the most and a city where I have spent the happiest hours of my life.

My best friend has called the city his home for four years now and I can see why.

The city is not only aesthetically pleasing (what an understatement), with the cobbled streets of Montmarte, the elegant bridges joining the islands on the Seine and the landmarks of architecture that still make me gasp each time I see them as if it was the first time. No, Paris is so much more than the 'romantic' reputation it bestows. And it's the city's residents, who have a zest for life and for all the city offers, that makes the city my favourite place to be.

My photo of the Eiffel Tower from the Louvre on 7/11/2015

When I visit, which I am very lucky to do a couple times a year with a best friend living there, I feel so alive. No other city or place has made me feel as alive or welcome. You know when you start to feel down with your day to day life? Like when you feel like you do nothing but work and sleep? Well, the Parisians have conquered the work/life balance and just a few days in the city will put everything into perspective for you.

I normally arrive in Paris late on a Friday night and the city is brimming with activity, even in November. Cafés and restaurants are filled with friends catching up over a late delicious dinner, sharing a cigarette and enjoying the relief that the working week is over. Parties will be planned for the weekend - there is definitely no Netflix and chill in this city.

I have struggled with my self confidence over the years so with the reputation of Parisians being 'snooty' you would think it would be an intimidating place for me to be. The city has only built up my confidence. My best friend has formed friendships with many lovely people who I think I can now call friends of my own. They are always so warm, loving and genuinely pleased to see me back in the city. I feel happy that I can leave my best friend in the city surrounded by a fun and fabulous network of people.

Lunch for one.
I took this whilst me and my best friend had lunch in a favourite café on 5/11/2015

 I think the 'snooty' reputation has only been formed due to the fact that the French have the inner confidence we yearn for. The way they carry themselves in a confident manner, as if they have rolled out of their lover's bed, straightened their hair, splashed some water on their face and got on with their day. We Brits could learn a thing or two from them.

They also know what they want. If they fancy you, they will tell you. There are no games being played... They are direct and I love them for that. There is no worry that they will be turned down and if they are? So what? Life is too short after all.

Any man I have met in Paris tells me if I am only here for the weekend, what is the point in sleeping? I like that mentality. There is always a party to be had!  

The best party in Paris is at Rosa Bonheur, a little cafe and bar in the most beautiful park called Buttes Chaumont. It takes place on a Sunday night, when most of us would be curled up on the sofa waiting for the working week to begin. Instead the Parisians are out in force, dancing the night away and drinking beer together like tomorrow will never come.

Life is for living after all, and this sentiment has never been felt stronger than when I am at Rosa.

When I turned on the news on Friday night, I instantly thought of all the young people out on a typically bustling Friday night in Paris.

Sharing a bottle of wine and a crepe with my two best friends in Paris overlooking the Louvre 7/11/2015

I thought of my friends who may not be safe. I thought of that zest for life that had been extinguished from so many in one bullet or blast. They were defenceless and their future taken from then in seconds.

Museums, schools, markets all now closed. The freedom we take for granted, gone.

I understand that people's lives are being taken across the world each day in similar circumstances and these should be as acknowledged as Paris.

I can't relate to those places as much as I do with Paris and I think this is why people have reacted more passionately. It's not because we don't care less for those lives lost in places further afield. This time it was too close to home and an attack on places we freely enjoy.

I have had the numerous 'what if's' whirling round my mind. What if I had been visiting a week later, it could have been me? What if my best friend not had been out of town that day? It could have been him.

It was a reality for so many people, and their family and friends, and I think of them and I feel so much sadness.

Life is for living so don't hold back. Let's adopt that zest for life from our Parisian brothers and sisters, in respect to the many lives taken.

With love,


Ps. I will be back

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Lightening the load

It's been one of those roller coaster weeks of emotions, for various reasons. Normally if I have a particularly stressful/bad/sad week, I have a tendency to get anxious and feel like a black cloud is hanging over me. Since I started going to the gym, these weeks are now few, however, this past week has been a tough one.

All week I've been getting up, going to the gym and going to work so I haven't had much time to think. Today was my first day in a long time where I had absolutely no plans. I woke up feeling very low and pretty tearful, and that black cloud was very present. I got up but went back to bed and tried to sleep. I felt even more grey so I decided to get out of my pity pit and put on my gym wear. 

Instead of wallowing in the thoughts in my head, I charged the wasted energy into a workout. I can't tell you how much better I feel from just an hour in the gym, getting my heart pumping and my skin sweaty.

I've spoken before about exercise being a mood lifter but this is the strongest elevation I've felt. I feel more level and myself again. It was nice to see familiar faces too... What I love about my gym the most is the friendliness of the staff and people there. 

I had a particularly great session at the 6.30am class on Thursday where we did circuit training. I knew a few of the lovely people who go to the class each morning and everyone made me feel so welcome. I admit I felt nervous beforehand, mainly due to the thought that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the uber fit early birders! The circuits were tough but we got through it together, and people took breathers when it got really tough. I surprised myself with how far I could push myself. My mood was very much lifted as I left feeling strong and rejuvenated.

I truly believe the gym and gym goers have kept me sane this week. Last night, we all went out to say goodbye to my wonderful trainer, Anna, who has helped me so much. She is sadly moving to another gym but us loyal followers are going to do road trips to her new gym to attend her classes and continue having our 1-2-1's. 

We had a really good giggle and it was nice to see each other out of the gym and out of our sweaty work out gear! We are all different ages and do different jobs, but we have one thing in common, a love of staying happy and healthy through exercise.

It's so important to have an outlet from your working life to ensure you don't get wrapped up in the stresses that come with everyday life. Whether it be playing the piano, learning a new language, reading great novels, or going to the gym!

Tomorrow I have a 1-2-1 with new trainer Jon, last time I saw him I couldn't walk the next day! Wish me luck....

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Official Gym Bunny

I've been going to the gym for nearly a year now and I'm glad to say I haven't lost the motivation or interest, I've only gotten more addicted to the power of the endorphins and seeing the changes I'm making to my body and general health.

In all honesty, I didn't think my will power was as strong as it appears to be. Will power is what makes me drag myself out of my bed and get to the gym 3 mornings a week. I prefer going to the gym at the crack of dawn. Call me mad, but it starts my day off so positively and gets my metabolism going. I sometimes will go after work or later in the morning at the weekend but generally I'm definitely a morning girl!

 I have my days where I really 'can't be bothered'. Like this morning - my alarm went off at 6am, it was pitch black, I heard the rain tapping on my window, the wind rushing through the trees, and I just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep.

But I didn't, I had a glass of water and splashed my face because I knew I would only be lying in bed for one more hour begrudging myself that I didn't go to the gym and would instead have to go after work when I'm tired and drained. I would start the day on a less positive note, that's for sure.

(On the left) Out at The Midlands Fashion Awards on Friday (on the left) Back in 2007, cooking in Portugal
When you start going to the gym on a regular basis, at the same time each day, you start to get to know people. It's that community spirit that human beings need, and you can find it anywhere, whether it be in the workplace or your neighbourhood, or the gym! I love my gym for the fact that people of all ages, sizes and backgrounds, come together to keep healthy and spend time doing something so positive for themselves. It helps to keep you motivated too. You can be inspired by what the ultra fit lady is doing next to you with the kettle bells or stay focused together in a class. If the person next to you is continuing to lift those weights, it will spur you on to do the same.

 This past month I have really seen a difference in my body. My arms are becoming more sculpted, my bum is firmer and my tummy is even getting more toned! I also have seen a difference in my health.  I would always get ill with my asthma and have horrendous sore throats and coughs when the colder months kicked in. This year I have had one cold. That's it! And even when the dreaded time of the month looms and you're feeling agonised by cramps, just get on the cross trainer, they soon disappear.

The gym may not be for everyone but it really has turned my life around for the better, and the more I feel the benefits of keeping fit, the more I want to push myself. I've even signed up for a Body Combat Circuit training class (I think that's what they call it?!) first thing tomorrow morning.... Wish me luck!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Interview with Jezz: the muscles from Digbeth!

In Digbeth where I work in Birmingham, along with being a buzz of creativity, it is also becoming the place to come and train. The gyms in Digbeth, such as CrossFit Digbeth, are a world away from rooms filled with treadmills and bikes. Instead it's all about focusing on training the body to move the way it is meant to through a mix of cardio, weight lifting, gymnastics and core training.

I got to know one of the lovely guys who trains down in Digbeth, Jezz Freeth, a university student in Birmingham and also a personal trainer. He comes into our café at work, Fazeley Social, for a post-workout protein fix. Jezz has got a case of the fitness bug like me but Jezz is on a whole other level! He is even going to compete in Men's Physique 2016, for which he is now focusing on getting in the best shape possible along with a bit of fake tan!

I follow Jezz on Instagram, he inspires me to keep motivated and he also posts fantastic nutritional foodie shots that have really inspired me when I've struggled with knowing what I should eat following a workout.

So I thought I would interview Jezz to get some advice for all of my lovely followers, in case you have gotten bored of me rambling on about green juices and my sugar addiction...

Have you always been into health and fitness?

I was always active from a young age. Me and my older brother were into wrestling and admired people like Arnold Schwarzenegger for his physique. When I was 15 I got into cage fighting, which we had always been fans of. This really stepped it up for me being so physically demanding.

Me, my brother and my dad would train together and eating well was also always important at home.

How has going to the gym helped you?

Going to the gym has taught me the essentials in fitness and strength. At Athlete Box in Digbeth, I love that there are people of all ages and backgrounds working out together. I have different people I train with and then there are the classes which are good as you are not in control of what you are doing. You're less likely to give up and push your body further. Everyone is around you and you have to rise to the occasion.

You shouldn't be afraid of going to the gym, there is a place for everybody and everyone has different goals. Do what works for you and make sure to mix things up so your body doesn't get used to the workouts you do.

With all the hard work you put in at the gym, do you make sure you're putting the right food into your body?

When you eat a cleaner diet, you do notice a difference. It's like putting the right petrol into your car. I'm currently studying nutrition as part of my University course and do my own research as well. I follow what works best for me and the goals I want to achieve. It won't be the same for everybody!

I eat a lot of protein, to build muscle, and eat good carbs such as brown rice, quinoa and sweet potato. I don't believe in cutting any food group out of a diet. It's all required for a healthy body you just have to make sure it's balanced.  Add extra vegetables onto your plate alongside your chicken or steak rather than making it carb heavy. 

I work at the Juice Bar at the gym too and smoothies are a good boost for pre and post workouts at the gym. Add sweet fruit such as mango to sweeten the taste of the bitterness from the veg. And always make sure the ratio to fruit to veg is the same as too much fruit will spike your blood sugar level.

Do you follow 'rules' such as not eating after 7pm and working out in the morning rather than late at night?

I have a very fast metabolism so I can get away with eating late at night, I don't really follow the rules of when you should and shouldn't eat.

As for what time of day to exercise, you have to do what works for you to make sure your lifestyle change is sustainable. Exercise when you can and fit it into how you live your life.

You post these delicious photos of Protein Pancakes on Instagram, can you tell us your recipe?

These are a good way to start the day or to have after a workout as they keep you full for ages and are full of goodness.

Protein Pancakes:

One Banana
2 eggs
One cup of oats
Protein powder

Mix and blend the above ingredients together and cook as you would normal pancakes! You can ass honey, cinnamon and peanut butter to the mix too. Add some colourful berries too.

Can you give us one top on starting the day right?

I always start the day with a glass of water, you need to rehydrate after a nights sleep to get your body ready for the day!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Slippery Slope...

So after meeting my target of wearing a bikini for the very first time on holiday, I feel a little deflated.     Holidays at my second home in Portugal usually include a fair amount of indulgence, such as too much wine and beer along with chips with steak and pepper sauce... And my friend Marga's famous chocolate cake which you just cannot say no to. And I know, I was on holiday, I'm allowed to indulge but it is incredible to see how the body can get hooked on bad habits so easily.

Back home, I try and be good during the week and let go a little at the weekend. This means avoiding sugar, processed foods, caffeine, and white carbs. So after a week of giving my body what it use to survive on, my body was hooked again.

I went back to work feeling bloated, tired, spotty, and rather grumpy. I had caught a head cold on the plane too which made me even more grumpy. I didn't make it back to the gym until the Thursday so  it the longest I'd gone without going to the gym.

It was so difficult to get back into my routine. I had major headaches at work and it wasn't until I gave in and had a coffee, I realised my body was craving the caffeine hit I'd been giving it every morning on holiday.

My sugar addiction was also back, probably from the booze consumption and ice creams, and I was craving a sugar hit after my eating my lunch. This is the hardest thing for me to resist... That sweet fix after eating something savoury.

Four weeks on and I have to say I am still struggling to cut out the naughty habits that once upon a time led me to becoming very overweight and insecure. My tummy is still not as flat as it was pre-holiday and my energy levels are all over the place.

 My anxiety keeps making small comebacks but as soon as I hit the gym, my mind feels back on track but I haven't been able to get back into my gym routine... I had a very nasty injury on my friend's hen weekend (don't ask) so this has hindered me a lot over the past two weeks.

However, tonight I went to the gym and did a really good session, and for the first time my injury didn't cause me any problems. I also have a personal training session with Anna on Tuesday who continues to support me. She knows I've taken a little backwards step but I know she will help me to up my game now I'm feeling better.

My diet is much better this week, as soon as I'm back working out it makes me more conscious of how I'm fuelling myself and I'm less likely to want to put any crap down my neck!

I was feeling terribly anxious when I woke up this morning after a terrible nights sleep, thinking I was slipping back into my old ways but I feel like I have pulled myself out of it.

It's important to remember that we are only human after all and to give ourselves a break. As Anna said, it's very easy to slip back into old ways but so much harder to get back on track... So maybe it's best to keep that healthy balance in mind but enjoy life at the same time.

Monday, 17 August 2015

An Ode to Burgau and the Bikini

I have recently been away on holiday to my second home, Burgau in Portugal, for a week of pure relaxation, good food even better booze! Cristiano in Smugglers Bar makes the best Gin and Tonic... not so great for my waist line but more on that in my next blog post!

 Burgau is the ultimate 'happy place' for me... I first went there aged 20 to work behind a bar with my best friend Joe, knowing no one but each other. It was a life changing decision and I'm so glad I did something completely out of my comfort zone at a time when I was shy and feeling insecure.

By the end of that first summer, I was more confident, had made life-long friends and could speak to just about anyone after nights spent serving drunken teenagers.

Nine years on, I'm still in love with the little fishing village that boasts steep cobbled streets, friendly locals, a beautiful beach, my favourite tapas restaurant, No. 9, stunning cliff top views and a community spirit higher than anywhere else I've ever visited.

Burgau is very special for another reason too. I had some hypnotherapy a year or two ago to get over some issues that were making me a rather unhappy girl following a horrible break up. I was asked to imagine a happy place throughout the process and mine was Burgau beach surrounded by all my friends and family with Bob Marley being played in the Beach Bar. In my head it was like my wedding day, except there was no groom. Just me, smiling in a beautiful white dress, dancing with everyone who I could trust and had always accepted me for my true self, whether I was a size 22 or 12.

So Burgau beach is an important place for me for many reasons... and this particular holiday I knew I would be spending most of my time on it. Joe and I love the beach and we both needed a week of pure relaxation. That means lying horizontal on the sand, listening to Madonna on our headphones, and making the occasional trip down to the clear blue sea for a cooling off.

Being the fashion conscious girl I am, I wanted to look and feel good on the beach rather than spend my week worrying about my wobbly tummy and hot sweaty thighs rubbing together as I made my way down the beach. Not a good feeling...

Joe, Tracy, our lovely boss at Jimmi's bar, and me seven years ago!

My first health and fitness goal since joining the gym was wearing the fitted pink lace dress to my friend Carrie's wedding, which I did and felt the best I've ever felt. Glowing, happy and healthy. My second goal came in the form of a bikini. One clothing item I have never, ever worn. 

My friend Katie leant me a stunning polka dot bikini from Primark, a complete bargain, to try on. She knew I felt apprehensive and she thought this particular style would suit me. And she was right! The halter neck bra and fifties-style shorts flattered my figure, which is becoming more hour-glass than potato-like thanks to my time in the gym, and I actually felt good in it!

Burgau Beach
My tummy was still wobbly and had stretch-marks due to the extent of my weight loss, and my thighs were still curvy... but I chose to focus on my good bits. My shoulders were looking more toned and upper arms more sculpted, and you could actually see my belly button! A few more circuits and weights, and lots of hot water and lemon, and I would be feeling even more confident...

I previously had always worn swimsuits or tankinis on holiday, and had always envied my friends in their bikinis with their brown tummies. If I looked back to three or four years ago, I would never have believed that I would one day walk down Burgau beach in a bikini - it just seemed too far out of my reach when I was at the weight I was.

So the first day of our week in the sun came and I put on the bikini... and I felt so free and happy on that first walk down to the sea. Liberated from that prison of insecurities. I looked around the beach and there were women of all sizes and shapes confidently walking into the sea and playing bat and ball. How had I spent so long worrying about what people thought of my wobbly thighs? You never know, they might have been looking at my cleavage thinking, 'Lucky girl!'

No. 9 restaurant in Burgau where the owner, Marga, is renowned for her deliciously naughty chocolate cake - the recipe is a secret!

I have chosen to post this photo below, which was taken six days into the holiday, rather than one on the first day where my tummy looked a lot flatter! Due to a few boozy nights and coffees with cows milk and a nibble of bread before dinner, my tummy soon felt the effects... However, it was my week to enjoy and by then, I really didn't give one hoot!

 So here's to wearing exactly what you want and learning to feel good about yourself for who you are, no matter what other people say or think. Cheers!

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Happy Drug

I'm back from a lovely weekend away in the countryside. Lots of sea air, chilling out, cooking good food and perhaps drinking a little bit too much red wine.

I know I've over indulged in sugar and booze but I'm back on my hot water and lemon and heading for a workout after work (I couldn't quite get out of bed this morning after a long journey home last night!)  I'm actually excited to go to the gym. I haven't been since Wednesday as I had a long weekend. I'm anxious to get back and get the endorphins flowing through my body.

I'm now one of those people who get anxious if I know I can't get to the gym the amount of times I would like to each week. I know it can only be a good thing as it has kept me loyal to the weights and cross trainer, and I haven't had a major gym absence since I started going in December.

This has made me realise something about exercise and why it can be SO addictive. Along with my body becoming healthier, my mind is too.

My anxiety issues have switched to being worried about not being able to work out instead of worrying about what people think when they look at me.

I prefer to workout on my own than in classes at the moment. For me working out is my 'me time'. It's the time where I have experienced the most zen-like experiences. I guess it has become my form of meditation where I am completely in the present, not thinking about the past or future, but concentrating on being able to lift that weight or run as fast as I can for 30 seconds, and then feel the adrenalin through my body once I have conquered my little challenges.
In our busy world of work, family commitments and socialising, it can be easy to forget to be happy with what you have in the present instead of constantly looking for the next best thing.
My friends recently had a discussion about who was the most happy in our group. I personally don't think you can easily quantify happiness. Everyone has gone through different life experiences and have personal aspirations in life. I can say I am happy, and one of the happiest times of my day, is leaving the gym after a cold shower!
I am going through one of the happiest periods of my life. I am nearly free from the prison of insecurities I felt throughout my younger years of being very overweight and I am celebrating what I have in the present. A healthier mind and body, and so much I want to do now I am more confident and content within myself.
Here are a few recent happy moments in 2015...

Sunday, 28 June 2015

6 months on

I'm sorry to have been completely slack with my writing recently but I promise to get back to regular blogs. I've changed up my routine at the gym and really seeing the benefits. My body continues to change week by week thanks to my inspiring and supportive personal trainer, Anna. This week she has mixed up my programme and my body is reacting well! I do a mix of high intervenal training, circuits and weights. No walking on a treadmill for an hour for me.

What I like about incorporating exercise into my life is when I do sessions when I would normally be getting drunk in a pub or sleeping in. My last two personal training sessions have been on a Friday night and then 8am this morning (yep, it's a Sunday). It's refreshing and it takes your body by surprise. It certainly did this morning... But I feel amazing now and can enjoy a lay Sunday without feeling guilty.

I can't imagine not exercising now... Along with sculpting my body, losing fat and being generally healthier, it has also beat away bouts of anxiety I would get and I no longer worry about what I look like to other people. I used to spend hours of my life worrying about how I looked. Instead of spending energy worrying, spend it getting a sweat on. If I could only give one piece advice, that would be it.

I also understand my body better now, having to stare at it whilst looking hot and sweaty in a mirror whilst you work out will do that! I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel like crap but I've also learnt not to be scared to indulge a little. It's the 80/20 balance.

I've met a few personal targets in the past row months, such as wearing a tight fitting lace dress to my friend's wedding and feeling good in it! In the week running up to the wedding I cut out cows milk and coffee and just drank hot water, lemon and ginger... I can't tell you the difference it made to me. No horrible sluggish feeling or bloat, which I would always get after just one coffee. It's different for everyone though, you just need to do a few tests and cut certain foods out to find out what doesn't suit your body.

I also have a green juice every morning... I moved away from fruit heavy smoothies that spiked my sugar levels. I have raw spinach, kale, cucumber, carrot and apple with almond milk, and add a spoonful of peanut butter for protein and a sprinkling of cinnamon or cayenne pepper. Try it, it sounds disgusting but just add a spice or lemon juice or ginger to sweeten it up naturally.

Over the next month I have another personal goal - wearing a bikini. It is something I have NEVER done. I tried one on on Friday and I actually felt good in it, I just want to tone my tummy some more over the next month to feel more confident. Pass me the hot water and lemon...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

And Push!

There was a point in my personal training session whee I though, gosh this might be what childbirth is like...

Now I know you mothers out there will scoff but I was on the leg press with my knees up by my ears and I had to push back, lifting over half the stack of weights. I had already done 4 circuits, 1000m on the rower and leg reps.... but yes, I am probably exaggerating.

I had that same feeling tonight, I didn't feel like I had the energy for the gym after the Bank Holiday weekend but I had my personal training booked in with the lovely, supportive Anna. Unlike a scary PE teacher I had at school, and who I would often forge absence notes to so I could get out of making a show of myself on the running track, I look forward to my Anna sessions. She pushes me that bit further but we still have a giggle... Again it's all about balance. She has a way of making me go that little bit further and before I know it, I'm doing it!

Now I'm home and lying in bed, I feel ten times better than I would have done if I had slumped in front of the TV. I have dropped 4lbs since my last weight in and have gained 3lbs in muscle! The more muscle, the more fat I burn...

This has given me that kick of motivation I need to keep going. I saw how pleased Anna was with the results and it's so important to have someone supporting you and helping you along the way. They can't do it for you but having that support is paramount.

I'm really pleased to know that this blog has helped a good friend Like me, she was scared of people looking at her in the gym, specifically when she ran. So much so, she wouldn't run. However, knowing she wasn't alone in feeling self-conscious at the gym, she did it. She ran for 30 seconds... I mean, what's the worse that could happen?

I've been going to the gym regularly for 3 months now and when I started I could barely look at myself in the mirror and didn't want to get sweaty in fear of how disgusting I look. 3 months on, Anna noted tonight that this has completely changed.

I don't think about what I look like in the gym and this has carried on through my every day life. I'm walking taller, feeling stronger and, most importantly, I'm feeling healthier.

To finish my post I thought I would share a quick and easy recipe I do for post-gym workouts...

Get 2 eggs and whisk them, add light seasoning and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Grate half a courgette and carrot and add it to a hot frying pan and sauté in a tiny bit of butter for a few minutes. Add chopped avocado.

Lower the heat and add the eggs and scramble the ingredients together.

Instead of eggs you could add strips of chicken or salmon and a bit of soy sauce for a healthy stir fry.

Serve with gem lettuce or rye bread or oat cakes.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Mood Lifter

I feel like shouting from the roof tops tonight. Tonight I experienced something I've never experienced before. A mood lift that went from so low to high that I feel inspired to write to tell you all.

I have just got back from the gym.... It was somewhere I really didn't want to go tonight. I have been away on two very boozy weekends in a row and today I was on what they call 'a comedown'. Yesterday I was so tired I felt giddy and tipsy but today the over-indulgence hit me.

I know for sure that my willpower has over taken my mind and body because a year ago I would have  gone straight to bed in my mood. Instead I got home and put my gym kit on (that felt slightly tighter than normal over my bloated tummy - alcohol will do that) and just went for it.

I don't know if it was the need to get the toxins out of my body or the fact I felt guilty for my over-indulgence but I did my time on the rowing machine at my fastest I've done so far. I also moved the weights up a notch.

I left the gym smiling and feeling elated. I had arrived at the gym feeling lumpy, tired, angry, irritated, ugly... You get the idea. 

Now, believe me, a year ago I could never have even imagined myself sweating on a rowing machine but I have got to the stage where I feel confident amongst burly men doing weights. Although I don't grunt like them. 

What my point of this blog is... If you don't do much exercise, start to add a little to your day. Even if it's a half an hour walk round the park. Even when you're feeling rubbish just get up and do it. It's not 
just about making your body healthier but your mind too. I can't tell you how much clearer my mind is tonight and my body already feels less bloated and tired. 

A lot of people have recently asked how I've gotten down from a size 20 to (in some shops) a 12... Well, there is sadly no magic wand to make those extra tyres disappear or to stop your hand reaching for another chocolate.

It's willpower. If you want to do it, you will. And it's about balance too. I was eating a burger at 4am on Saturday morning in Dublin but I knew I would be back to my lighter food this week. Also, my one tip to end this blog is to cut out hidden sugars... Each morning I thought I was being healthy by eating granola with yoghurt and fruit. I may as well have been eating a bowl of sugar! I have a vegetable filled frittata or green juice smoothie first thing now... It keeps me going until lunchtime but if I feel peckish I snack on nuts.

I will be back with further healthy eating tips next time. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The lost years

I read something today that really hit home. It was an interview with a minor celebrity who had lost six stone in the public eye. She said the negative comments from internet trolls actually spurred her on to do it and keep at it, change her lifestyle as I have. Then she said that she was obese from the age of six and had lost all of her best years, as she didn't start losing it until her late 20s (like me).

This hit home today and I thought back over the years of how I struggled with my inner enemies. The feeling of self loathing which would often hold me back from doing things. Even small events like going swimming when I was on holiday at the age of 12. I even felt too self-conscious at that young age to get my body out into the public for fear of being judged by snooty French women (our family were French caravan holiday types).

I wallowed about this today until I started to look back at my profile pictures on Facebook. You know the annoying viral campaign to get everyone to post their first profile picture? Well mine is of me sitting on the side of a fountain laughing hysterically, during my first summer in Portugal (where I did three summers working as a barmaid) and minutes later I was pushed into the said fountain by my  lovely friends. As I clicked through the profile pictures of yesteryear, it occurred to me that yes, my face was fatter and my chin jigglier, but I was always smiling.

Going to Portugal and working behind a bar really boosted my confidence. I made incredible friends and was accepted for who I was. There are so many photos of me on nights out in lovely dresses having a good time. I was also always having moments of feeling utterly self conscious... I know I would spend ages deciding what to wear, especially to the beach. However, I had a bloody good time. Even though I was a good few sizes bigger when I worked in Portugal, I didn't really ever struggle to attract attention of the opposite sex. It perhaps wasn't always the right sort of attention, which is down to the fact I wasn't truly happy with myself. I didn't have the confidence to pursue anything longer term and a quick fling ensured I would not end up getting hurt. Well, so I thought.

I think in the end, when you hit 25 and events start to happen around you to make you realise life is pretty short. It's time to take charge and make your life even better.

I was tired of feeling self-conscious, bored of just wearing dresses - I wanted to feel good in jeans too! I also wanted to walk brazenly into the sea, feeling  confident and.not giving a damn what people think. And slowly but surely, I really don't give a damn what people think.

I am a self confessed gym bunny now. I still think I must look like a twat when I do my 30 seconds of intense, fast running but I don't care. Before I started at the gym, I was scared of looking like the fat girl with her tummy wobbling as she ran and big boobs giving her black eyes. Once you're in your zone you realise everyone else is too and they're too busy puffing and panting to care about the person next to them on the cross trainer.

So yes, my life could be very different if I had been a size ten throughout my teens and early twenties. I could be engaged or married with children, having found the one. I could be higher up the career ladder if I'd always had the confidence I have now. But you know what, I believe every battle you face in life happens for a reason. I'm just excited to know what will happen next, now I'm the happier, healthier, confident me.