Approaching Fitness After an Eating Disorder

It’s 8:45am on a Saturday morning and myself, along with roughly four hundred other participants, are lacing up their trainers, stretching on any available surface and bracing themselves for a 5K park run to start their day in Moors Valley Country Park. We are cheerfully greeted by the running director and volunteers, who wait to lead and encourage us on our way around the park towards the finish line. This is all before cheering on the regulars who have hit their 50th and 100th runs and have the pleasure of donning a ridiculous (and somewhat impractical looking) hat for the duration of their travels around the parks already familiar route.

It wasn’t too long ago that I would struggle to run 1K down the road, let alone manage to persuade myself to lift up my feet for another 4. I definitely have my best friend Paige to thank for suggesting I tag along and give it a go, as I now have my 6th run to look forward to this weekend. Whilst I have quite a while off until I get to wear that silly hat for my efforts, I can genuinely say I’m proud of myself for pushing past the doubts I had about my abilities. Sure, I still find myself taking a break and walking more often than I’d like, but it’s a start!

Add to this the occasional Pilates class when I'm feelin' fancy (or, in other words, can slightly justify the £7 for a class), daily ab and arm workouts and the occasional yoga video to wind down when I feel like I need it and I guess you have what some might (loosely) consider a routine. Whilst this may not sound particularly taxing, this is a huge step for someone who has struggled with their approach to fitness for many years.

After recovering from Anorexia Nervosa five years ago, I did wonder if I would ever be able to view exercise and fitness in anything other than a negative light. This is after seeing it solely as a means of punishment and a way to lose weight after feeling like I’d eaten too much for so long. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to adopt a different mindset and appreciate, if not enjoy, the benefits that being active has to offer.

Take, for example, my approach to one of my best friends Alice’s suggestion of cycling from Bournemouth gardens to Studland and back (for those not familiar with Dorset, it’s approximately 15 miles overall). During the grip of my eating disorder, my primary thought would have immediately been how many calories I would get to burn off. This time, however, I accepted straight away; purely for how fun it sounded and how much I wanted to visit Studland again.

Naturally I did have my doubts, seeing as I hadn’t ridden a bike for two years, but I saw it as a challenge that I could take on whilst catching up with my friends. As expected, it was fun and the end result of sitting in the glorious sunshine on the beach with a picnic and cider was more than worth it… even if we did have numb bums for the rest of the week!

I think my career and freelance lifestyle also has a huge part to play in wanting to be more active, as sitting at a desk for the majority of the day has its set backs. If I'm sat for too long I find myself throwing on a workout video that evening, just to get myself moving again and to avoid any tension, which has a habit of sitting in my neck and upper back otherwise.

Moreover, it's been about realising that I do have the ability to take care of myself without overstepping that boundary of overdoing it like I've feared for so long. Not only that but the headspace that running gives me, as well as the stress relief I get from yoga and Pilates, is the best outlet for someone who has a habit of bottling up their anxieties. It's another act of self love that's come with the aftermath of recovery which, after all this time, still gladly surprises me.


Black Magic Woman | A Style Post

I have to admit that I've wanted to do an outfit post for quite some time, but never knew what kind of ensemble to go for. When I bought this dress from Boohoo a couple of months back, however, I knew it summed up exactly what my style was all about... even if it'd only see the light of day for a special occasion! 

With its long flowing skirt, bell sleeves, lace waist insert and button down detailing, it was love at first sight. Accompanied by my wide rim fedora, heavy bohemian earrings, rings and tan 70's style wedges, this is me in a nutshell and allowed me to embody my inner Stevie Nicks. 

Plus, who needs a special occasion to dress up and dance through the woods, right?

Hat: M&S | Dress: Boohoo | Earrings: Primark| Wedges: Primark | Rings: Primark |


Stress Free Tips for Freelancers

In Restless Wonder

Whilst I'm not out in the forest exploring or taking too many photos of trees and deer, I'm in my home office creating copy for my clients, planning my next steps and keeping track of my finances. If you're a fellow freelancer - or looking to venture down that route - you'll understand that, as great as being your own boss can be, it definitely has its stressful moments! So, as April is Stress Awareness Month, I thought I'd talk about some tips and tools I've found useful to make sure my work is the best it can be. Hope it helps you too!

I've found that one of the most efficient ways to keep stress at bay is by planning ahead to make sure I'm hitting those deadlines whilst not overloading myself by taking on too much at once. I keep a handy notebook next to me at all times, as I have a habit of drafting out the week ahead and what I want to achieve in this timeframe. That way, I can look at each day individually and assign myself tasks that work towards completing this goal. As easy as it sounds, its really effective in keeping me motivated.

Cluttered Desk, Cluttered Mind

One thing that really seems to hinder my productivity and increase my stress levels is having an untidy desk. I confess that I do have a habit of letting mail, magazines, post it notes and mugs creep up on me, despite knowing all too well that this directly affects how I feel about my work! Keep clutter at bay to ensure nothing distracts you and instead replace it with things that inspire you. For example, I have a mesh board in my direct eye line with photos, inspiring quotes, a loom wall hanging and macrame pot hanger with a selection of air plants. I find that these reminders of my goals and what makes me happy inspires me on a daily basis.

Money Management

Freelance work aside, I have to say I've never been the best at keeping tabs on my finances! Therefore having a go to accounting tool is a lifesaver, and one thing I'd definitely recommend for those just starting out. Online tools such as QuickBooks* offer a range of features useful for freelancers or those running small businesses, such as creating invoices on the go, quick HRMC self assessments and the option to store and separate your business and personal transactions at the swipe of a button. Lets just say I find the last feature particularly useful!

Cut the Caffeine

I know, I know. For some, grabbing a coffee on the way to work is a sacred part of a morning ritual, especially for those reluctant to leave their beloved beds in the early hours. However, as caffeine increases our levels of cortisol, one of our body's stress hormones, it might be worth considering cutting down if you're starting to feel the pressure and switching to decaf or tea instead.

Take Five. Or Thirty.

Whilst it's easy to fall into the trap of working way past lunchtime to get that extra piece of work finished, neglecting your own wellbeing in the process will catch up with you. I mentioned this back in my Keeping Motivated when Working from Home blog post last year, but I feel like its worth noting again. As spring starts to make an appearance, make it a priority to grab at least 30 minutes of fresh air. Not only is this much needed screen free time important for your eyes, but it's great for allowing the creative ideas to flow without interruption.

Do you have any tips for keeping stress at bay as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments below!

*This blog is in collaboration with Quickbooks. 


Alchemy Oils Amla Hair Oil Review

Alchemy Oils Amla Hair Remedy Review
I have to admit that, other than a quick spritz of hairspray, I’m not one for using styling products on my hair. As it’s super thick, I’ve never been keen on the thought of adding any weight to make it any heavier! Not only that but, because of it’s thickness, any style tends to hold quite well without the need to add any styling sprays or mouses.

However, when Alchemy Oils* kindly emailed me about trying their Amla Hair Remedy, I was intrigued. They only use natural essential oils and, even better, don’t test on animals and are Vegan Society approved. You won’t find any parabens, PEGS, phthalates, sulphates, silicones and the like hidden within its ingredients list either. This combination sounded like the perfect product to persuade me out of my reluctant ways!

With amla, avocado, coconut, argan oils and a dash of lemon essential oil, the Amla Hair Remedy is not only a feast for the senses, but perfect for those seeking a product to strengthen their hair and promote growth. Amla, which is derived from the Indian Gooseberry and contains a number of essential fatty acids, is also known for its hair follicle stimulating and conditioning properties.

Nourishing elements aside, I was pretty excited that the Amla Hair Remedy also promised a brilliant shine to my hair. As someone who dyes their hair on regular basis, lets just say my hair could do with a little TLC. So, when I arrived home to a lovely package waiting for me, you can imagine how eager I was to give my new product a try!

The first thing I noticed was how beautiful the packaging was. Anything that incorporates a wooden cork topper grabs my attention! I also appreciated how much consideration had gone into the delivery, as it arrived in a small box stuffed with polystyrene cushioning to avoid any unfortunate mishaps. It smells absolutely gorgeous, and the lemon essential oil really packs a punch, so if you find yourself drawn to citrus scents then this is one you’ll love.

You can either use the Hair Remedy as a heavenly deep conditioning treatment by massaging it into the roots and leaving it for thirty minutes before washing, or as styling product on damp hair before drying. I’ve found this to be the perfect excuse to cram in some pamper time, as there’s nothing lovelier than massaging the remedy into my hair, tying it up in a bun and grabbing a moment to relax before jumping into a hot shower.

I’ve also since used it as a styling product by applying a small amount to the ends of just curled hair to tame any flyaways or frizz. I’m not exaggerating when I say I resemble Friend’s Monica in “The One in Barbados” when the slightest bit of humidity is in the air, so I can imagine I’ll be appreciating this even more as summer approaches!

*This post is in collaboration with Alchemy Oils and I was kindly sent their Amla Hair Remedy to try. All opinions are my own.


A Love Letter to the New Forest

Taking five with a flask of hot chocolate in the New Forest
You know that scene in Almost Famous when Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane tells Patrick Fugit that, whenever she’s feeling lonely, she goes to the record store to visit her friends? Said friends being in the form of a collection of 7” vinyls. Well, for me, whenever I’m feeling down, stressed or lonely, I seek refuge in the New Forest. As someone who spends most of her days at a desk, I savour these resplendent moments in a haven that almost feels like a second home to me now. 

And yet there’s still so much waiting to be explored.

There’s nothing quite like basking in the morning sunlight that escapes from between the trees and cascades streams of light, as if to tend to new life hidden amongst its expanse of green, or finally taking the leads off of your eager pups and watching them run uninhibited as you share their elation at finding freedom, even if for just for an hour or two.
And with each season, the forest brings with it something new for each and every incomparable month.

Wrapping up in a multitude of layers, throwing on my wellies and filling a flask to the hilt with a hot chocolate to take on our travels can’t be compared to seeing the early blooms of spring, just as packing up the car boot with a picnic and soaking up the sunshine can’t be compared to the reds, oranges and yellows of falling crisp leaves that paint the forest in an array of colour during the autumn months.

Knowing that the New Forest is within close reach is a thought that reassures me on a daily basis. Should I need a moment to take five, or if I’m feeling the pressures of everyday life becoming a little to much to bear, we simply load up the car and go. The moment that I step foot on a forest floor of leaves and feel the snapping of branches beneath my feet, all of my trivial anxieties fade as I breathe in that fresh air and appreciate what nature has always had to offer.

Each day, I find myself facing emails, social media and the inevitable feeling of not being good enough. Switching off from the outside world, where no one mentions deadlines, bills or life’s expectations, is a retreat for the mind.

What could be more humbling than standing before a Sequoia Tree at over 200 years old and 51m tall in the beautiful Rhinefield Ornamental Drive? Or catching sight of a pure white deer daintily dancing it's way between the trees near Anderwood? Or watching as horses serenely mind their own business in Burley as you make your way through their familiar ground?

With this in mind, I remind myself everyday of how lucky I am to live a stones throw away from this National Park, which is not only a sight to behold but steeped with such a fascinating history. This is well as having a fiancee who's lifelong appreciation with the great outdoors, and a current ambition to become a forest ranger, has only added to my own love of this beautiful spot in Hampshire.


DIY Cruelty-Free Solid Perfume

If, like me, you find yourself reaching for your favourite perfume to complete your morning routine, you can imagine my dismay at realising that I only had a few spritz’ left of my Dear John body mist from Lush.

I'm finding myself in quite a crafty mood at the moment (well, more so than usual!), so gave making my own perfume a go to make use of my favourite essential oils. It went so well that I've decided whip up a batch as little token gifts to add to my handmade Christmas gifts this year.

For this how to post, I’ve replaced the traditional beeswax with soy wax to make this a vegan alternative, making it the perfect gift for fellow cruelty-free lovers!

What you’ll need:
Makes one 15ml solid perfume

2 tbsp soy wax
2 tbsp carrier oil (Jojoba or Almond)
A selection of your chosen essential oils
Container of your choice

First, heat some water in a double boiler. If you don’t own one (like myself), create your own by boiling some water in a pan and placing a bowl over the top, much like you would do when melting chocolate.

Add your wax and carrier oil of choice and stir continuously whilst it melts. I’ve gone for Jojoba oil, as this is what I had handy. It’s also a great moisturising oil, so is perfect for making balms and nourishing hair oils too!

Once it's melted, add your combination of chosen essential oils to add the scent. I’d advise mixing your essential oils in a separate jug first to make sure you’re completely happy with the fragrance before you add it to the oil and wax.

I’ve gone for sandalwood as the base, with a mixture of vanilla, ylang-ylang and bergamot as middle and top notes for a fresh, floral fragrance to remind me of our forest adventures.

Tip: go easy with your oils. They're highly concentrated, so you won't need much to make an amazing scent! It's worth noting the health and safety elements of using essential oils to avoid causing any irritation by doing a little research first.

Mix gently. You can then pour your mixture into your chosen container, but move quickly as the wax sets fast! I bought an inexpensive batch of silver metal tins from Amazon, as well as matching kraft stickers, but you could get creative and add yours to a favourite locket or compact to take with you on the go.

Leave to set before using your new and unique solid perfume. Enjoy!

Have you tried making your own solid perfume before? Let me know what fragrance combinations you’re loving in the comments below!


Keeping Motivated When Working from Home

I've been working from home as a freelance writer for a little while now and must confess that I'm guilty of falling into the procrastination trap on more than one occasion! However, I've managed to overcome this by sticking to a few house rules, which I've listed below. Hope you find them just as useful as I do!

Wake Up, Get Up and Wash Up
Working from home can seem like the perfect excuse to stay in your jammies all day long (no judgement from me at all here…) but I’ve learnt that treating my home office like the real thing is the best way to get you in the motivated mind-set. Not only that but, should I need to go out and face the day, I’m ready to walk out of the door. 

Take a Break
This ones a little obvious, but it can be easy to find yourself fully absorbed and ignoring your growling stomach. A lunch break is mandatory whatever job you’re in, so be sure to give yourself the same treatment at home. Not only is giving yourself some screen free time really important, it’ll also get the creative juices flowing as you allow your thoughts to venture elsewhere. Most of my writer’s blocks are cured in these savoured minutes!

Sort Your Workspace
If there’s one thing I can’t deal with it’s a messy workspace. I’m quite strict at keeping my desk organised, even if I’m in a rush! Coming back to a cluttered workspace in the morning is never a great way to get me feeling motivated, so I see a clean desk as a blank slate to start the day with. If your workspace is starting feel a tad overwhelming, take a moment to refresh your environment. Get rid of that empty mug (and fill it!), sort out those overflowing papers or even go for a complete overhaul.

Set Yourself Targets
I confess that I’m a serial “To Do” list keeper. In fact, I’ve got lists for lists! I find that it’s the best way to focus on the tasks ahead… plus nothing beats the satisfaction of crossing off something that’s complete! I usually plan for the week ahead and assign myself daily tasks that I know are achievable, but don’t keep me unoccupied. That way I know I’ve got my timeframe sorted and can focus on accomplishing everything I need to in order to stay on track! This of course justifies a lovely planner or notebook. But who really needs an excuse?

Keep Inspired
I’m not the only one glued to Pinterest morning, noon and night, right? Whenever I’m stuck in an inspiration rut, or feel like I’m lacking motivation on the creativity front, Pinterest is my go to. Many of my crafting projects have been spurred from it! I also find keeping tabs on my favourite bloggers on Bloglovin’ super inspiring, and I feel like their motivation and commitment is something I can apply to my own work. This is as well as keeping a few of my favourite magazines, such as Oh Comely, The Simple Things and Country Living, on my desk to flick through if need be!

Talk About Your Work
This is a huge one for me. I’m incredibly lucky to have Kieran, who is just as passionate about my work as I am, to bounce ideas off of. A lot of blog ideas have arisen from our early morning ventures out for breakfast or on walks across the forest! This is as well as weekly coffee (and banana bread) meet ups with my lovely best friend/amazingly talented illustrator Paige, where we set up camp with our laptops and sketchbooks to work. Rambling to each other is not only a great way to catch up, but also to get some feedback and support for our upcoming endeavours. 

I hope these ideas are useful in helping to kickstart your next project, cure that writers block or get the creative juices flowing! Let me know if you have any that aren’t mentioned above.