Exploring Clean Eating

The Clean Eating phenomenon has swept the UK over the last few years and I’ve watched with interest as it’s spread around social media. My introduction to these diets came when I was given Deliciously Ella’s first book back in 2015. Since then, clean eating has continued to increase in popularity  but there has also been some backlash against a few of the more high profile figures in this movement, questioning the facts behind these lifestyle ‘crazes’ and branding some as unaffordable and even dangerous…

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Not Going Out

At the grand old age of 27, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that my days of partying like a carefree teenager are over.

Now that my boyfriend have moved out of the city, nights out are logistically more difficult. When we go out together, someone usually ends up driving -that someone is usually me. If one of us goes out separately, it’s a case of an expensive solo taxi ride or begging the other half to pick you up past bedtime.

I complain to my boyfriend on a regular basis about my lack of party action. One of the reasons for leaving our central city flat was that didn’t go out regularly enough to justify the location. But any time that I’m stuck inside cooking dinner on a Saturday night, I’ll listen to Radio 1’s dance anthems and invariably get FOMO. Sometimes I feel like I’m running out of time to enjoy myself before I have to ‘properly’ settle down.

But I’ve never been known as a wild party animal and maybe I only want to go out because I think I should be. I LOVE to dance and I’m partial to a few cocktails, but I also associate bars and clubs with unwanted male attention and being jostled by sweaty drunk people while I’m trying to get down to Rihanna. I’m also not a big drinker due to a combined fear of hangovers and feeling out of control. My goals on a night out are catching up with friends and getting some dance action; other seem to go out with the sole aim of getting completely smashed. Not my idea of a good time.

Most of my friends go ‘out’ a lot less now anyway – they have busy lives, more responsibilities and less time for hangovers. With the expectation and excitement of a rare ‘big’night out, it seems to be easier to get carried away – and the night will end with someone in bed before midnight, drunken arguments and/or an exhaustingly long journey home.

So these days I’m learning to be content with casual nights at the pub – although if next year is anything like this one, there will be plenty of weddings and hen dos for me to get my party fix! #latetwenties!

H x

Making an Effort

A little while ago I listened to a radio show discussion about young people, particularly girls, believing it wasn’t ‘cool to be smart’. In my mind, caring about being smart is closely connected to caring about working hard – caring about putting effort in.

I think I’m quite an earnest person. In my teenage years, in the minefield that was high school, studying the relaxed, ‘don’t care’ attitude of some of my classmates was practically an additional subject for me. From what I remember, enthusiasm or passion – shown by anyone –  often resulted in teasing. When did not caring get so cool?

I’m definitely not a teenager anymore, but sometimes I still encounter the same attitudes among ‘adults’. I’ve had a pretty exhausting/frustrating day at work which has also partly inspired this post.If you are someone who puts effort into (almost) everything they do, however insignificant or boring, it’s so depressing to deal with people who can’t be bothered. What’s the point in doing anything in life if you do a half-arsed job?

Anyway, rant over. Hard work does pay off and there will always be someone out there who appreciates what you do, whatever it is. Here’s to enthusiastic people!

Time for some positivity – I’m actually having a pretty good week! Bike training for September’s cycle ride (read what I’m doing here) is going well – cycling the 15 miles to and from work is feeling easier each time. I’m also looking forward to visiting some old uni friends this weekend 🙂

Hope everyone else is having a good week!

H x

Temporarily ignoring the future…

Today has been a crazy day for the UK. Rather than think about the uncertainty of the future, I’m currently looking at the happy past – at some of my photos of last weekend. We had a long weekend with family in a beautiful part of the UK: Devon.

I’m sitting watching Glasto on TV: it’s currently Foals, playing Spanish Sahara. (LOVE Foals. Wish I was at Glasto now, although I think I’ve had enough of the disappointing UK weather recently!)

Spanish Sahara kinda feels appropriate now – it’s such a moody, evocative song.

Anyway, some photos for you to enjoy….I enjoyed taking them 🙂

H x

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Hartland, Devon

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Clovelly, Devon

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Why I used to hate Instagram…

Bit late with my post this week – I’ve been trying to post every Sunday, but last weekend I was away with family for a mini break in Devon. As you would expect from such a rural setting, there was a serious lack of phone signal and  a little more unexpectedly, WiFi too – several of us struggled with the lack of connectivity! You never realise quite how much you check your social media feeds until you can’t.. which got me thinking..

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Why I used to hate Instagram….and why I’ve re-embraced social media!

I used to have a love/hate relationship with social media. I’ve been using various sites (starting with Myspace and Bebo, old-school!) for 10 years now, but I’ve never been one to post much myself – I never wanted to be one to ‘overshare’.  I always looked down on people who were constantly posting on Facebook – I thought they were just needy, or trying to make out that their lives were more interesting than they actually were.

I became increasingly annoyed by trivial and mundane updates from people I barely knew, clogging up my feed and preventing me from seeing what my actual friends were up to. Some dull but necessary time spent honing my privacy settings has since (mostly) sorted this issue. Still, I’m uncomfortably aware of the effect it has on our relationships –  how many times have you dropped an ‘Oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook!’ into conversation? Sometimes I feel like I spend less time discussing a friend’s weekend because I already knew what they got up to.

Meeting one person, the sibling of a friend, sticks in my mind. They were very prolific on social media. They had added me on Facebook (through which I could also see their Instagram) despite the fact I had never directly met them. When I actually talked to them for the first time, I felt quite awkward and inhibited in some parts of our conversation – I already ‘knew’ so much. I’d seen intimate pictures of their holiday. I didn’t need to hear about their house renovations, because (without even trying) I’d already been exposed to it all.

My misgivings around social media extended to Instagram when I first joined a few years ago. Influenced by my experiences on Facebook, I saw Instagram as a place for attention-seeking selfies and heavily filtered images depicting seemingly perfect lives. I associated it with people who spent all their time on their phone rather than living in the moment. Judging by the internet, I think this is still a commonly held opinion by non-Instagram/Snapchat/etc users!

Then, just recently, I went back on Instagram and saw it differently. It’s not all grainy selfies and contrived shots of food. There are some absolutely beautiful photos on there. One of my favourite feeds is IGers Bristol, which often celebrates very talented photographers, however amateur they may be.

Mainly, I think I just grew up. I can appreciate Instagram for what it is, and I don’t care if people think I’m being materialistic or narcissistic. If I take a selfie (at the time of writing I am yet to post one) I want to look as flippin’ good as possible. Even if it takes an hour plus of hair styling and make-up to achieve that beforehand…

For me, it’s not just about sharing.Yes, I really enjoy looking at other people’s images, but it’s also the process that’s enjoyable. I’ve seen complaints that Instagram ‘isn’t art’ and ‘doesn’t make you a photographer’ – but there’s still a bit of skill involved in taking a good shot. It’s fun to ‘create’ something that is aesthetically pleasing, or just create a record (hopefully both!).

So I’m very late to the game…but Instagram is currently my favourite social media platform!  I’d be really interested to hear if anyone else has changed their views in a similar way 🙂

H x

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FOMO – First World Disease?

FOMO.

According to a favourite source of mine, Urban Dictionary: ‘Fear Of Missing Out:  A form of social anxiety – a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event.’

I am guilty of FOMO. It’s an intrinsically human feeling and these days, social media only serves to heighten that sense of ‘everyone else is having so much more fun than me’.

Last week I was invited to a little gathering. I like the group but they’re not my closest
friends. It was really nice to be invited but it wasn’t high priority for me as I already had a busy weekend lined up. I thought I wasn’t bothered about going.

But then I spent a ridiculous amount of time agonizing whether to go or not. Why was I so anxious about making a simple decision?

It was FOMO. They were all going to have themostamazingtime.

No one likes being left out. Deep down I think everyone has that very human desire to be liked, to be included, to be part of the group.

I remembered that the girl who was hosting probably had very similar fears. It’s quite a brave thing to do – invite a load of people round to your house and hope that some of them turn up. I realized that (as usual..) I was completely overanalysing the situation. There was no right or wrong answer.

In the end I did go along. It wasn’t the best thing ever. But we had good food, a few drinks and some fun chat. And that’s fine.

Stand back, recognise your FOMO for what it is and take control – it’s your life!

H x

Learning not to squeeze spots… and other important life lessons

I think I am finally learning not to squeeze spots.

Not the most pleasant intro to a post I know, but I am quietly proud of myself – after 26 years, I am finally learning to control the urge!

So yes, I turned 26 earlier this month and it’s really made me think hard about some things in my life (just to clarify, the spots thing not being one of them!). I’m definitively feeling that last word of the oft-used phrase ‘older and wiser’ – I’m much more able to take a step back and view situations from an outsider’s perspective.

Here’s some other things that I am slowly learning…

  1. Not to get sucked in by advertising/sales/general media that makes my internal voice go “I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE”. I used to have a pretty bad clothes shopping habit, not helped by living in close proximity to some of my favourite stores. The voice of Experience is more able to battle my inner demons when they try to tell me that dress/lipstick/bag will make everyone admire me!
  2. You can’t change men. My boy loves to make various loud and disgustingly noises with his body, and giggle afterwards in a way disturbingly reminiscent of Bart Simpson. He is currently watching sport downstairs, with an empty box of French fancies (his favourite) next to him. “You haven’t eaten them all in one go?!” I exclaimed when I entered the room half an hour ago. Stupid question – I already knew the answer.
  3. Just because someone was rude to you, it doesn’t mean they’re a horrible person. Well, they may be. But everyone has bad days. Smile and don’t judge!
  4. Not to pig out on chocolate. Because it always gets to a point where you’re just not enjoying it…
  5. Don’t say ‘Yes’ automatically. Stop. Think. It’s OK to say No. (I have still have some way to go with this one…)

As they say, life is a learning curve…

H x

‘Choose Your Age Category’…

IMG_20150706_204709I am 26.

My birthday was last week and I am now officially in my late twenties. I’ve moved up a bracket in those ‘Select Your Age Category’ questions – In my local ParkRun I am now ’26-30’. Ahh!

Along with my birthday, there were a few other milestones last week: it was my boyfriend and I’s 5 year anniversary, and our 1 year anniversary as home-owners.  I’m not really sure where the time has gone!

A couple of events recently had dragged my focus away from these really positive milestones toward pointless comparisons with other people’s lives. I had several really quite negative moments last week – Why wasn’t I travelling the world? Why didn’t I have a really exciting career? Why wasn’t I going out every other night to wine bars with my girlfriends or throwing impressive dinner parties? (Gawd, I’m really not 21 anymore…) What have I done in the last 5 years to be proud of?

After a lovely weekend away with some old friends I have managed to regain some perspective on life. I can do all of those things – if I want to. But I should do them for the right reasons, and not because I think I should.

Here’s to year number 26!

Black Bags and Big Decisions

It’s been a pretty busy few days over Easter, split between Bristol and Wales visiting the family. It was straight back to the early starts this morning and ended up being a 9 hour day 😦 As we were back late from work, my boyfriend and I treated ourselves to a cheap and cheerful dinner at Pizza Express down the road (not very exciting or original I know but the menu never disappoints me).

I looked like a scruff but was too hungry to change, so in an attempt to smarten up I grabbed two favourites: my pink coat and trusty black leather bag. I love the effect of a beautiful handbag. This one always makes me feel a little bit more classy, and, when I’m walking down the street on a nice sunny day, like I’m in an episode of Sex and the City! It’s by John Rocha and I bought it as a ‘necessity’ for an interview last year (Read: I wanted it because it looks a bit like the Mulberry Bayswater I will never own).

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(I was too lazy to change my Converse!)

Another excuse for having dinner out was the need for a Discussion. Here’s the dilemma: My boyfriend’s parents have offered for us to move in with them for a few months while we save up to buy a house.

It will obviously save us money – we have the deposit now but it seems to be unbelievably expensive just to move, let alone to buy the property! My boyfriend’s parents are lovely and I get on well with them but I don’t want to lose my personal space – I’m a very independent person and enjoy time on my own in the evenings. I worry that it could get awkward with the differences between  cooking and day-to-day habits. They also live outside of Bristol and moving out of the centre would be quite a big change for me.

My boyfriend says it will be a ‘short term pain for long term gain’ but I can’t bring myself to agree to it yet. Does anybody have experience of moving in with a partner’s family?

H x

Thoughts: Am I a city girl now?

I couldn’t get home for Mother’s Day so I took a few days off at the end of this week to visit my parents in Wales. This is the lovely little village which I grew up in, tucked away in the gorgeous Brecon Beacons…

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It amazes me how accustomed I’ve become to living amongst the perpetual hum and buzz of a city. After three years in Bristol I’m fairly accustomed to sleeping through the glow of street lights, car alarms and sirens. I currently live in the city centre and have a stream of shrieking students wandering past my window on week nights (I am guilty of a sing-a-along on a walk home so I can’t complain!) but even that doesn’t really disturb me! I think it’s pretty amazing how we can adapt like that. When I woke up in the middle of the night at my parent’s house it was so dark and quiet that I panicked for a minute or two – it was like being shut up in a box!

I love the buzz and opportunities of city life and I’m  not ready to leave that behind yet, but I’m always amazed at how relaxed I feel when I get back home. I love getting my first glimpse of the mountains on the drive home.  Bristol has some great green spaces ( I go on a quick run around The Downs if I need some quiet time) and beautiful countryside is never more than a short drive away so I’m pretty lucky.

It was warm and sunny here yesterday so I was pretty happy. I went for a walk looking like a true city girl – I climbed a wall in my pink coat and chelsea boots just to take a photo – I must’ve looked a bit ridiculous! It’s great to be rid of this pollution now – it caused havoc with my asthma. Has it affected anyone else badly?

There were some adorable little lambs in the fields as well (I tried to get a picture but the zoom on my phone camera is useless 😦 )

I can’t wait for summer to arrive!

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