Health Kick

I've been on a bit of a health kick recently. 

I've been fairly healthy this whole year so far really, and before that I guess, but recently I've really been trying to crank it up a notch. 

It's probably helped by fact that my holiday is really not that far away (we go to Greece in less than 6 weeks!! aaah) and I would very much like to be prancing around the beach in a bikini without a jiggle in sight, but I'm also running a 10k at the end of May so it's becoming a bit more taxing to find excuses not to get out there and run!

I thought I would share some of the things that have helped me make my lifestyle a little healthier, along with some things I'm trying (and usually failing) to implement daily.

Find a healthy recipe book you love. 

This is probably not so important if you're a budding masterchef anyway, but I for one am not particularly kitchen competent. One of my resolutions this year was to cook more, and to cook more healthily, so I bought Natasha Corrett's Honestly Healthy and Honestly Healthy Cleanse. For a while I made things almost exclusively from this book, safe in the knowledge that the recipes would be good for me and not make me feel like a bloated, greasy slob afterwards (oh hey Dominos). Now, I feel like I have a better grip on what is healthy and what my body needs, and frankly, how to cook it! A lot of that is down to those two books, but I think any good, healthy recipe book would be great. I know my friends like Deliciously Ella, Hemsley & Hemsley and Madeleine Shaw.

Drink more water.

I bet you have never heard anyone say that before... Aside from all the benefits for your skin, hydration levels, digestive system and brain function, drinking water supposedly ups your metabolism too. I don't know how true that is, but nevertheless I am trying to drink more - and succeeding! I find it easiest to drink first thing in the morning, as having slept all night obviously I haven't drank anything in 8 hours or so and I find I'm pretty thirsty. I then set myself a target of drinking a couple of glasses before lunch time, and generally speaking, that's me drank 2 litres of water already! I do think I am feeling better for it, and definitely less tempted to snack at my desk.

Find an exercise regime you enjoy. 

I am a Kayla Itsines addict. If you haven't heard of her, you soon will as she seems to be taking over the world, but I urge you to go and check her website out and just download the guide ASAP! It is a 12 week programme, consisting of three circuit style work outs per week - each focussing on a particular area - that last only 30 minutes. The work outs are bloody tough, and get progressively so the further into the programme you get, but they get results. One of my favourite things about it though is the online community around it, as cheesy as that is. Put #bbg on one of your instagram photos and you get a flurry of supportive likes from other #bbg girls. It's nice and encouraging and I like it! That said, I am most pleased with the fact that I can now do proper push ups (!) and I think the intensity of the leg work outs has upped my running pace, which brings me on to....


I know I have harped on about running before,  but it really is that good. I got out of the way of it for a while, as I turned to the treadmill during winter and that made running feel more like a chore than a joy. Now that it's spring and the mornings and nights are getting lighter, I've been thoroughly enjoying getting back into pavement pounding and battling the elements. Although running is clearly cardio exercise, I don't run for any particular weight loss reason, rather for my sanity and my brain. Given that running is pretty much the only time when my brain isn't being bombarded with information or my own thoughts (it's pretty much the only way I can enter a kind of meditative state) I find it hugely relaxing, and the endorphins are a brilliant side effect. Plus, it's nice to get outdoors.

Exercise in the morning.

I've taken to running in the morning lately, and I do one of my Kayla work outs in the morning too and I really prefer it, on days where I can drag my sorry ass out of bed that is. Firstly, it's 'fasted cardio,' i.e. you are exercising in a fasted state, assuming you didn't eat breakfast beforehand, which supposedly burns up to 20% more body fat, because your body has to turn to your fat stores for fuel rather than that macaroni cheese you just scoffed. Secondly, it really sets you up well for the day. You go into work with a sense of accomplishment at having ticked your exercise box for the day already, and you've got all those happy endorphins buzzing around. Plus, it frees your evenings up entirely for doing much more interesting things, or just lazing around. I'm aiming to do at least three early morning work outs per week, although we will see how that goes!

Use MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a little app that calculates your calorie requirement based on your height, weight and activity level and how much weight you want to lose per week. You then input the food that you've eaten and the exercise you've done and it tracks your calorie intake and output, calculating how much you will weigh in five weeks' time if you continue like that. I do have reservations about it, as I don't think obsessive calorie counting is particularly healthy, nor do I think you should only eat 1200 calories if you're doing multiple gruelling work outs per week. BUT I have been using it to track my macros - protein, fats and carbs - not so that I hit any particular target necessarily, but to check that I don't overeat in the fats department. I know fats are good and necessary, but not the fats that come from the chocolate cake that's been in the office kitchen.... ahem. Anyway, I no longer use it as religiously as I previously did, but use it as a little tool to make sure my diet stays fairly balanced and to stop me from overeating massively, which is very possible. I like food.

Find support

I'm very lucky in the fact that all of my friends are healthy individuals, but recently we've been bonding even more over fitness and healthy recipes. There's quite a large group of us now who are following the Kayla Itsines work outs, so we created a little whatsapp group, basically so we could all bitch and moan about how tough the work outs are. But it has blossomed into a little conversation where we share recipes and smoothie makers and favourite books and general life stuff. It's nice having the knowledge that there are other people doing, or trying to do, the same things you are trying to do. It's also good for motivation. If I know one of my friends didn't skip a work out this week it makes it very hard to find rationale for skipping my own! Plus, with us all in different parts of the country, it's lovely to have a common thread between us. Maybe that sounds lame, but it's true.

Of course, when we have our next reunion I can assure you all Kayla related exercise and healthy eating will likely fall to the wayside in favour of prosecco, G&Ts and chips 'n' dip. But hey, everything in moderation right? 


Three Books #1

I used to read a lot. I have childhood memories of being so engrossed in a novel, that I'd read all day, only stopping when I realised it had grown dark and my eyes were straining to read the text. University pretty much put an end to that book worm behaviour, as so much of my time was spent reading what I had to read for my course that when I had spare time, I chose to spend it vegetating in front of some vapid reality TV show (Keeping up with the Kardashians and Biggest Loser were my particular favourites).

Now that I am sufficiently distanced from University to no longer associate reading with exams, presentations, essays or general academic pressure, I've been making a conscious effort to read more. I thought I would share a few of my recent favourites.

Angela Carter - The Magic Toyshop 

This was the first Angela Carter I've read, and I'm itching to discover more of her work now. This was utterly disturbing, compelling and transportative and I recently spent an evening in a pub trying to persuade my friend to introduce it to her book club. It's the kind of novel where you're not entirely sure what is real and what isn't, or indeed if any of it is. The whole text felt to me a little like a dream sequence, or perhaps a nightmare, and it was one I didn't really want to wake up from.

Emma Jane Unsworth - Animals
I spent much of my time reading this book photographing sections of prose and sending them on to my friends, as I've never read more accurate descriptions of what it feels like to be a young British woman. To me, it's about friendship and relationships and how, ultimately, the person you have to care about most is yourself, but it's all seen through the blur of the wine and pill fuelled night and the anxious hangover haze thereafter. As soon as I finished it I shoved it in a jiffy bag and sent it off to Sarah, who loved it as much as I did. 

Head For the Edge, Keep Walking - Kate Tough

I struggled with this book initially. Although the prose is beautiful, I found it bleak and found myself wanting to shake the main character into action and get her to buck up her ideas. Ultimately, however, I stayed up until 3am one night to finish it. Whilst I'm yet far from my thirties, the pressures described in this novel that women face with regards to relationships and reproduction are incredibly relatable. The madness of internet dating, the desire to find a fulfilling career, the difficulties in friendships when your paths suddenly dramatically diverge; it's all in here, and it's wonderfully, wittily written and pretty darn funny too. 

What are you reading at the moment? Do you have any recommendations for me?


Being 24

Your body exists purely for the pleasure of men or the criticism of females. Be pleasantly plump in all the right places in order to please the men in your life, but appropriately slender elsewhere so as not to be excluded from all the latest unforgiving fashions you must adopt in order to be deemed stylish.

Oh, and abs are now essential thanks to the new craze for all things fitness. But you mustn't get too muscular of course. We wouldn't want you to 'look like a man.'

Be adequately well shod so as not to elicit displeased remarks from your mother or disparaging glances from your boss, and yet not too snobby for Primark. Let's face it, your wallet is more Primark than Louboutin anyway, and nothing is worse than friends saying 'so how exactly can you afford that?'

Your cupboard should be full of weird health fads and superfoods like chia seeds, coconut oil, quinoa and kale. But don't dare let your healthy lifestyle prevent you from checking out the newest burger joint, nor from washing down those curly fries topped with mac 'n' cheese with a craft beer or gallons of red wine. Your quest for that perfect body shall not interfere with your social life! You must have both!

Be sufficiently well read to understand any oblique references to Dickens or Austen or Shakespeare over dinner, but also indulge in celebrity culture and reality TV so as not to be left out in lunch break conversations.

Meditate, practice yoga, be mindful, enjoy the great outdoors and get up at sunrise to go for a hike followed by a green juice and some artfully presented fruit, which you'll instagram, of course. But also make sure you go out until sunrise, dancing in a packed, sweaty, dark room to music so good you feel like you're having some kind of heavenly, out of body experience, worshipping at the altar of house/techno/jazz/folk/whatever's your poison. But get the balance right. Too much of the former, you're lame, too much of the latter, you're wild and out of control and need to calm down and grow up.

Find time for all of the above. Alongside your full time job (which you love, of course), you easily find the time to exercise 6 times a week, cook wonderfully healthy dishes from scratch every night, read the news, watch the latest hit TV show, meet up with your friends, read a book, go out for dinner, go out for drinks, keep in touch with your parents and those far away, get ridiculously drunk and spend all night out dancing, go shopping and keep your wardrobe relevant, have a savings account with actual money in it, meditate, cultivate your interest in that thing that you're interested in, nurture your relationship and prioritise date nights, spend your evenings dating eligible or otherwise bachelors, have hilarious weekends away with your friends, romantic trips away with your other half, and remember to visit your Granny.

If you can do all this whilst maintaining your sanity, then I think you deserve some kind of medal.

I feel the pressure to do everything and be everything to everyone quite keenly and it's been stressing me out lately and making me not very fun to be around. It's easy to let pressures get to you, to feel like you have to be the perfect friend, employee, daughter, girlfriend and have a perfect body, diet, social life, bank account, wardrobe..... But most of these perceived pressures are created internally, not externally, and that's the bit that I have to try to remember. 

I need to remember to relax and let go sometimes.

Because, really, it's pretty bloody good being 24.