01/06/2017

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.

25/05/2017

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 |

30/03/2017

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!

Timekeeping
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. 

19/02/2017

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

17/01/2017

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.