June Goals 2020

2020, goals, student

Hello!

On one hand, it feels like we’ve been in quarantine forever and it’s never going to end, but on the other hand how has another month flown by??

May was an incredibly mixed month for me – some days I felt great; I went on walks, I was productive, I made the most of my new creative hobbies. And some days I felt lower than I’ve ever felt before and my monthly goals were the last thing on my mind, but the internet doesn’t need the details of that.

My May goals were mixed – some I hadn’t really thought through and some I achieved in the first few days, so I’m trying to learn from that with my June goals.


1. Do Hannah Witton’s #DearJune instagram photography challenge – I’ve been re-evaluating my relationship with Instagram, trying to be less structured and ‘talking to an audience’ like I’m pretending to be an influencer, but I do love a good challenge. Taking pictures to fit all the prompts when realistically I’ll probably be spending another month in my own home might be difficult but I’m really looking forward to it!

2. Make a video game – for my dissertation project for my masters, one of the artefact’s I’m producing is a video game. However, the unit I took where I was meant to learn how to make a video game last semester was pants so I’m going to be teaching myself – I want to follow a tutorial from start to finish and make a game by the end of the month, using those skills going forward to make my own game for my project.

3. Do 5000 steps a day! – as I’m writing this, it’s nearly 6pm and my FitBit tells me I’ve done 696 steps today. I can pretend to justify it by saying I’ve been working at my computer, I live in a very small house and I’m not that lazy I promise but if I’d been for a walk down to the end of the street and back I’d probably have got a couple of thousand steps so I really want to do this in June! I’m working up to starting the Couch to 5k program again but I definitely need to work on my baseline fitness first…

4. No spending – in lockdown, I have been spending significantly less than I did in ‘real life’. But I have also placed a hefty Amazon order roughly once a month and considering I have no income and my last instalment of student loan will run out at some point and I still have rent to pay, I think trying to resist Amazon purchases is probably for the best!

5. Start planning my novel again – I wrote the first draft of my novel nearly 8 years ago when I was just 16 and pretty much every year since I’ve said I’m going to work on a second draft but this year I am determined! I’m using the idea I created oh so long ago as the baseline for the game I’m making for my dissertation so I’m hoping that it will be two fold – getting back into planning the novel again will inspire me to work on my diss project and working on my diss project might inspire me to carry on working on the novel.


I’ve really tried to make these goals more achievable than last months goals. In part, it’s all about my mindset and how much I’m willing to put into achieving these goals but I need to seriously evaluate how useful these goals are to me before I set myself them. This month, I think these goals will all contribute to my growth in ‘the big picture’.

I hope you and your loved ones are happy and healthy! If you’re setting yourself goals in this strange time, remember to be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to take things slow sometimes. This isn’t ‘normal’ life at the moment and it’s okay to give yourself that space.

A good quote to come back to is ‘you’re not working from home, you’re at home, trying to work, in a global health crisis’!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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working out (or not working out?) in quarantine | unfitness update

2020, fitness, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

Working out at home has never been easier – with all the fitness influencers under the sun doing live workouts on Instagram while gyms and classes and everything is shut, so many apps are doing free trials and everywhere it seems people are posting timelapses of their at-home-yoga routine in their ginormous gardens.

Overall, the pressure to exercise and ‘make the most’ of all these resources and time is very intimidating. Especially if you don’t have a ginormous garden or a yoga mat, let alone motivation, energy and any confidence to post it online for other people to scrutinise and /or feel pressured by.

But there are ways to make exercise feel less intimidating at this time so I think I’d note a few of my ideas to how I’m actually finding the headspace (and the physical space in my little house) to exercise.

Firstly, you don’t have to exercise if you don’t want to – if you’re happy with your health and fitness and have no desire to workout at all, don’t do it. Put your energy into something you’re passionate about! Otherwise you’re just wasting your own time.

Once you have then decided whether you actually want to workout or not, I’d recommend with starting with the goal of exercising just once a week – I feel like everywhere I look someone’s saying 2-3 times a week, 3-4 times a week, every weekday, every day and it all just feels like so much? If you start with once a week and hate it you can stop, if you really enjoy it you can build it up from there. Start gently and do it more regularly if you get into it, try not to put any pressure on yourself.

Personally, I’m someone who works so much better with guidance, so if you can find a live class or a YouTube video, it can feel a lot less intimidating that a list of exercise and number of reps (and it can kind of feel like there’s someone doing it with you?). I started with ‘PE with Joe’ on the Body Coach channel – yes it’s a 9am workout designed for children to still be able to do PE but wow it’s actually a pretty intense hiit workout. The ‘live’ bit makes you feel like you’re being cheered on but the ‘being in your own living room’ bit makes me feel a little bit sneaky when I adapt the exercises for my dodgy joints and bad stamina.

I also use a variety of apps depending on what mood I’m in – some of them are subscription apps but have limited programs available for free and sometimes I just search for things on YouTube but there’s loads of PT style workouts available.

If full on ‘working out’ feels a bit intimidating, or you’re wanting to get fitter but don’t know where to start (or everything feels a bit advanced), going for walks is exercise enough! I moved to an area that has considerably more hills than my hometown and it’s only now that I’m getting to explore it and realising how unfit I am.

I got tagged in this ‘run 5k, donate £5, tag 5 people’ thing on Instagram (thanks Nick) and I went for a 5k walk with my boyfriend. The uphill was hard, we managed to jog for about 2 minutes I reckon, but it was a start. I want to start using couch to 5k again and now we’ve done some exploring I’ve found the place (that’s not quite as hilly!) to do it. It’s all about little steps building up to bigger things!

And lastly, I want to reiterate that if working out feels like a lot of pressure and stress right now, your mental health is more important and making time to centre yourself using apps like headspace is more important than anything else. I don’t want to become the kind of person who preaches about meditating, but taking 10 minutes in the morning to focus on your breath can have a great impact for the rest of the day.

These times are completely unprecedented and the way we all handle isolation, social distancing and lockdown is so personal to each of us. The most important thing is to try and listen to your body and keep yourself happy and healthy.

All my love in these strange, pandemic times!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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why I’m setting monthly goals on lockdown | April Goals 2020

2020, creativity, goals

Hello!

These past few weeks have been absolutely mad, haven’t they? I’m now in my third week of isolation (though I’ve been out a few times to go to the shops for food because I don’t have any alternatives) and I was quite peppy at first, looking forward to time at home with my boyfriend and catching up on my mammoth to do list.

Now the motivation to do any uni work is drying up and the fact this is life for a few weeks, maybe months is starting to set in and my mental health is taking a knock, but I’m trying my best to stay positive – not putting any pressure to ‘achieve’ anything and trying to listen to my body and be gentle with myself.

But with that in mind, I’m still trying to maintain a routine of some sort and I’ve been setting monthly mini goals for upwards of two years now (just looked it up – I started in March 2018, so definitely two years!). These goals really help me focus and I love seeing myself making progress, it’s incredibly satisfying, so I’m going to try and uphold that while we’re all safe in lockdown!

With the COVID-19 crisis in mind, I’ve tried to keep these goals as relevant and achievable as I can. What everyone determines as ‘achievable’ is so personal – some people are still working, whether it be from home or as key workers, and these people are saints, some people are finding these times really difficult and getting out of bed and feeding themselves is a challenge, so please don’t compare yourself or what you’re doing to my personal goals because they’re just that – personal goals.

1. Workout once a week – it’s been one of my goals forever to lose weight, eat healthier and find a fitness routine I can maintain and thus far it’s not worked very well. However with all this time at home and so many amazing influencers offering so many workouts for free, now is the prime time for me to give them a go. But I’m not aiming to workout three times a week – although it doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s those kinds of numbers that always pile up on me so for now I’m starting at one. Depending on how the month goes I can adjust the goal from there but for now just one. I started on April 1st with one of Joe Wicks live ‘PE’ classes and it was tough but I did it!

2. No snacking – with health and fitness in mind, being home so much more these past few weeks has meant that all I want to do is snack. Bored? Snack. Thirsty? Snack. Need motivating? Snack. Dehydrated? Body is misinterpreting that as HUNGRY, therefore; snack. Having more time to tune in to my body, I’m going to try and learn what different feelings mean (it sounds pretentious but stick with me) – logically I want to snack because I’m restricting at lunch time, so I’m experimenting with having a more filling lunch to last me through till dinner. Being home and trying to go out as little as possible means I want to make our food last as long as possible so now’s the time to try and figure out for the sake of food efficiency and being a bit healthier!

3. Maintain routine and keep up with uni work schedule – to no one’s surprise, my masters (that was already incredibly unorganised and is in the process of being complained about) is right up in the air. My assignments are all being rewritten, unit’s are completely different and there’s a lot of ‘if the uni is open by X time’ being thrown about so it’s very uncertain and granted, two of my lecturers are absolute stars and are doing so much to try and make it work. For the sake of my mental health, I need to keep up with to do lists and trying to get something done every single day but I can see a future me where that is more challenging, so I want to adapt as I go along to keep up with the work I need to do so I don’t fall into a slump where I become one with the sofa. Little things like making an effort to sit on a chair at a table rather than the sofa (or my bed) make a surprising difference!

4. Work on COVID-19 bucket list with spare time – maybe ‘bucket list’ is the wrong phrase, more like ‘here’s a list of all the thing’s I said I’d do when I had more time and if I don’t write them down I’ll forget’. I’ve already done a couple of things on the list – I sorted out the stuff in the alcove and my tee blanket is very much in progress – but I’m making a big effort to manage my time to include things like these that are just for me and don’t serve a ‘greater purpose’ other than my personal enjoyment.

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Sometimes in a spur of the moment, you've got to get our the coloured pens and write a list ✍️🖍️🌈 ✨ Generally, I'm handling all this fear mongering and isolation better than I thought I would – especially with a master's degree that's now completely up in the air. But yesterday I felt the urge to write a multicoloured list of the things I want to do whilst I don't have to commute to Oxford and I have more time than I've had in years. Granted, I still have other important things to do and I'm not going to tick this list off quickly, but I wanted to make it so I don't forget. If I carry on at this pace, this list will last me the months that the virus is looking like it'll be around for! I'm trying to find the positives in isolation 😖 ✨ I was going to leave it at 'pretty colours' and post like a normal person but I'm a writer, I've always been a writer and writing is what I do – so I'm going to keep writing.

A post shared by Sophie (@sophiecountsclouds) on

5. Use film camera up, take fun photos around the house – I may have jumped the gun on this one and used up all my film at the beginning of the week and now I’ve realised I can’t get it developed anywhere and I don’t want a second film just sitting in my camera for the sake of it, I’m not rushing to put a second one in. But I might use my DSLR more instead! The one thing that’s taking me a long time to get my head around is manual photography – I’m getting there but I’m still learning so solidifying those skills will help my film photography when I get back to it.

Whenever I write long blog posts like this I remember how therapeutic blogging is for me and why it’s something I’ve kept up for over five years. I’m considering working it into my schedule to write two posts a week again but ideas are what I’m lacking in! I want my blog to be meaningful so it’s finding the balance between the two.

Let me know what you think! I hope you’re happy, safe and healthy in these scary times and please tell about all your tips and tricks for this strange time in lockdown, quarantine, isolation, social distancing (and all the other phrases that are being thrown around).

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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unfitness – what’s going wrong?

2020, fitness, mental health

Hello!

I’ve talked about my personal health and fitness journey for years now – I used to do a ‘Monday update’ post where I essentially made excuses for why I didn’t eat well or exercise and I don’t know why I thought posting this to the internet once a week was a good idea but it happened.

You may be thinking “Surely that’s what this post is doing right now?” but I like to think that the way I write about health/fitness/anything is a bit more generic and less personal, whilst anchoring it in my own ‘journey’. I don’t need to justify myself, but there it is.

So asking myself ‘what’s going wrong’ is a bit like saying ‘I’ve got a gym membership (that I haven’t used), why aren’t I getting fitter?’ – it all comes down to personal discipline, finding what works for you and making time for it. However, in a world of masters degrees, maintaining a house, keeping mental health in check and maybe even having a social life, it’s difficult to find ‘time’ for fitness.

And the reason I say ‘time’ is that as someone who prides herself in being incredibly organised and running to a pretty successful schedule, there’s always time – the motivation is always the tough bit.

I’ve been using the Nike Training app for a long time – it can schedule programmes based on what goals you want to achieve, there are lots of different workouts based on what level you are and what equipment you have and a lot of it is accessible for free which is fantastic. But, and I’m really trying not to think of this as making excuses, I did have minor dental surgery at the beginning of the month and I can honestly say that having an infected wisdom tooth is the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, so ‘pushing past’ that to workout was not something I was prepared to do.

I quite often talk about ‘mental energy’ (which sounds much more mystical and exciting than it is now that I write it down) – usually my phrase is ‘I don’t have the mental energy for that’. What this means is I usually have the time, but I don’t have the mental headspace to think about or do the thing (in this case, exercise) on top of everything else I’ve already got going on in my head. We all have our own energies, some people can make that energy go further but particularly when mental health comes into the mix, that energy source is severely depleted so you have to prioritise where that energy is going to go.

So all of this sounds like one long excuse and to be honest, it kind of is. But I’d like to think it’s putting into words what a lot of people feel.

Whilst looking back and reflecting is incredibly useful, the important bit is to use that to make changes moving forward. What am I going to do now?

Realistically, I’m not going to change much right now – my priorities are my masters and looking after myself when my head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton wool. I’d like to start doing more steps in the day because I’ve been wearing my fitbit everyday for several years and my lifestyle at the moment is more sedentary than ever before, but there’s only so much I can do when everything is driving distance away.

My priority with fitness, regardless of how often I workout or how many steps I do a day, is to not beat myself up about it. Because I don’t have the mental capacity! I’ve got bigger things to be worrying about than the fact I didn’t do the six minute workout because I don’t know where my sports bra is and I’m not doing a workout that involves jumping without one.

I’m giving myself a break – there’s time for exercise and losing weight when I have more money and time, right now I have to put the energy I have into the important things in my life; my masters, my relationship and my house.

So my advice? (That I’m totally not qualified to give)? Give yourself space – focus on self improvement as much as you can, but your career or your studies or other aspects of your life are as important to improve in as your fitness if that’s what you want. In the long term, if I look back on this moment in 50 years I won’t be thinking about how little time I dedicated to exercise, I’ll think about the amazing friends I made studying in Oxford, the time I spent with my god-mother’s daughters and my family, the adventures I went on with my boyfriend/fiancé (it still sounds weird) – I won’t think about the time I only did 2000 steps a day or skipped a workout for an extra hour in bed.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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February Goals | 2020

2020, goals, student

Hello!

These monthly goals posts have been a part of my blog for maybe two years now? They’re the posts I really look forward to writing every month and with that has come a lot of learning about reflection, setting goals that are actually achievable and seeing a lot more personal growth!

If I could make a whole career about coaching people to setting good goals then I’d be all over that.

Either way, February has rolled around really quickly this year – everyone seems to be talking about how long January lasted and I’m pretty sure I’m still in 2019 so I appeared to have missed that boat. I’ve always quite enjoyed January – a fresh new start where the resolutions are in full swing and everyone’s saying ‘Happy New Year’ until February! Sure, there’s horrible diet ads everywhere and it’s cold but the evenings are lighter and people start talking about Summer holidays!

And with that in mind, let’s crack on with the Feb Goals!

1. See if writing one blog post a week is better for my creativity

I’ve been posting multiple blog posts for years – in 2015 I blogged every day, in 2016 I blogged three times a week I think? Then at some point it went down to two and in this last month I’ve really struggled with figuring out what I want to write about amongst feeling like an utter fraud on the internet. So I want to see if not having the pressure to write twice a week but just once helps me feel more creative and less forced.

2. NO SPEND MONTH. (again). (no, seriously this time).

I did a ‘no spend’ month in January and generally I did okay – between some low moments and McDonalds cravings I didn’t spend too much in the first month of the year. But as my student loan dropped this week, two thirds of the money went straight to paying my course fees, some of it went to rent and I treated myself with a ticket to MCM ComicCon in May and now it’s back to no unnecessary spending.

Seriously.

3. Start Nike Training workout program at home

With a little shuffle around of our furniture and realising I really can’t afford a gym membership or classes, I’ve decided I’m really going to make an effort at home. I like the Nike training app and I’ve done the ‘Beginner Program’ a few times now so I’ve started it up again. I did a benchmark workout on Tuesday morning and I’ve got four weeks of workouts lined up if I can stick to them. I’m determined!

4. Start my t-shirt blanket!

I made a whole video about this blanket project I’ve been mentally-but-not-actually working on for years and 2020 is the year. This month I want to make a start. My goal is to lie the blanket out on the floor and pin the t-shirt cuttings where I want them to be by the end of the month, not necessarily to start sewing. That might sound like a minor goal but between university, ongoing dental struggles (I still have an infected wisdom tooth that is causing me grief) and maybe having a social life this blanket isn’t a ‘priority’, even though I really want to do it! If that makes sense. So smaller, achievable goals.

5. Plan my uni workload properly

Heading into the last eight months of my masters from this week, I’m being inundated with new assignments and deadlines and frankly it’s scary. But the only way to combat this is a lot of lists and prepared organisation! I’m in a good mindset of setting really achievable deadlines for myself, making realistic to do lists and having a calendar where I can see months ahead, hopefully meaning I can plan my assignments accordingly!

I think I’m being quite optimistic but we can but try!


As well as these five goals, I have my ongoing monthly goals of reading a book and having a date night with my boyfriend (we’re not very good and blocking out proper time together outside of playing video games together when we’re both home). In January I managed to read THREE books and we went on two dates nights so all round it was a good start to the year and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) maintaining it.

Especially with all my uni work, I think these next few months are going to fly by so I’m trying to live as much as I can in the moment and make the most of all the opportunities I have right now.

Feeling positive and motivated!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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unfitness update – still unfit?

2019, fitness, mental health

Hello!

I used to write updates quite regularly of how I was doing on my ‘unfitness journey’ as I was calling it (basically just trying to lose weight and get into a good exercise routine).

I was doing Couch to 5k, I was eating well, I was tracking my weight and making good progress, then mental health kicked in, it was summer, it was too hot and then there was the whole palava with moving and starting a masters and I’ve only just really settled down to be able to think about it all again and it’s nearly December, so it’s time for advent calendar’s for breakfast and hot chocolates galore just to survive!

(Obviously I’m joking, although a medium hot chocolate with marshmallows and no cream from Costa is my favourite, I can survive without it)

So where am I at with my diet and fitness? Basically? Back to square one.

Not weight wise – I did put on a bit of weight over the whole ‘let’s just get moved I’ll eat what I can phase’ but not as much as I was this time last year when this whole thing started.

My fitness however is non-existent – I can’t afford a gym membership or dance classes, I don’t have the time or energy to figure out where I can go running around my house and now that I can drive I’m not walking anywhere near as much as I used to.

So what am I doing about it?

Well I’m tracking my weight again for one – although it can be scary how quickly something like the numbers on the scales can negatively effect us, at the moment I’m in a space where it gives me something to monitor my progress with and inspires me to make positive changes.

I’m cutting out snacking on focusing on eating three (mostly two) meals a day – a good lunch and a good dinner (with evening dessert) are what I plan for.

And anything else? That’s a bonus.

In the last two months, I’ve been living in a hotel being told we can’t move into a flat and making Nutella sandwiches with a tea spoon because it was cheaper than buying a meal deal every day.

My mental health still isn’t at it’s greatest and a mantra (if you can call it that) that’s really been helping me is “something is better than nothing” – eating a Nutella sandwich isn’t the best thing to eat but it’s better than getting so worked up about it all that I either eat nothing at all or I binge everything we have in the fridge. Drinking sugar-free juice is better than not drinking water or living off coca cola. Going to uni and work every day and getting 2k-4k steps is better than running myself down to the bone trying to make my bank account afford a gym membership and working out with time I could be spending with my boyfriend playing Pokemon Shield.

It’s all about compromise – something is better than nothing, always.

It’s a bit gross and I always feel really self-conscious about talking about it but something I really struggle with when my mental health is bad are daily things like brushing my teeth and having a shower. I know, it’s awful but there’s a part of my brain that doesn’t think I deserve that self care. But with my new little phrase, I know that brushing my teeth for 30 seconds is better than nothing, putting my body under running water for a few minutes rather than a full hair-wash shower is better than nothing. It’s little compromises and in the end the swings and roundabouts will swing and roundabout like they do and it’ll get easier again.

Last year I was in a really bad place – my weight was effecting my life, I couldn’t walk up stairs without getting really exhausted and I was losing motivation to do anything. Taking control of my diet and having a healthier relationship with food did wonders for me and I’m going to take small steps to get there again.

So at the moment I generally have a breakfast bar on the go in the morning, a sandwich, crisps and a chocolate bar for lunch (because who doesn’t love a school lunch box?) and then a bigger cooked meal in the evening. When my boyfriend is away with work I eat almost exclusively veggie and dinners are a bit more of a treat when he’s around.

Exercise is something I really want to integrate back into my life but I’m not confident exercising outside, I don’t have the space inside my house and I can’t afford a gym membership. But I’ve just started a new retail job and on those days I almost always get my 10,000 steps so it’s not much but it’s a start. And it’s something on my mind for the future, when I’m a bit more settled in the uni/work/life balance.

The posts I’ve written before in this ‘category’, if you want to call it that, have inspired me to get back into it – a setback isn’t the end, slow progress is progress and when the going get’s tough, listen to your body. The one thing I’ve learnt from documenting my fitness is that I’m never going to be the girl that works out every day – I’m never going to have a flat tummy or fit into a size 6 dress, and that’s fine. My body carries me and though I’m not my biggest fan, I have to live in this body so making peace with it is just going to make it easier.

So I’m not working out right now – I’m not doing couch to 5k anymore and having Nutella for lunch most days is definitely not a weight-loss recommendation but I’m doing what I can, and that’s all any of us can do really.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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2019 Goals – Mid Year Review

2019, goals

Hello!

love goal setting and the end of June is always somewhat momentous for me because I know it marks the halfway point to the year, so it’s the best time to check in on my goals, adapt if necessary and see how much progress I’m making!

Quick context – I have three categories that I set goals in (personal, career, creative) and each of those categories has three goals and then I tried something new this year in setting some ‘bucket list’ style goals.

I’ll try to keep this brief but I do love a ramble about goals and progress so tuck yourself in lads! Grab a cuppa and tell me all about your goals in the comments please!

Personal Goals:

1. work towards my weight goals – eat well, build workout routine

I feel like I mention it in every blog post, YouTube video and Instagram caption but I’ve been trying to lose weird basically forever now. Progress has been slow over the last three months or so but I’m trying to eat much more intuitively and I’ve been running three times a week (or thereabout) for nearly 10 weeks now and I feel like it’s the longest I’ve ever stuck to something and I’m really proud of myself!

2. prioritise tasks and make time for hobbies – stop caring about ‘productivity’ so much

I’ve been refining how I make my to do lists and generally I am finding ways to make the most of every day as much as I can. I definitely haven’t been making time for hobbies but I have been more efficient with my productivity. I still care about productivity much more than I want to, but with how the rest of the year is going to go I think the time for hobbies will come. But in a way writing blog posts and YouTube videos are my hobbies so I guess that counts?

3. self esteem, I need some

This was a way of wording ‘fix my mental health’ whilst being a bit kinder to myself about it. I’ve tried my best to get to know each other and build better habits and I’m much better at recognising the triggers of when I’m not doing so good. I’ve had a bunch of doctors appointments, I’m on anti-depressants now and I’m on a waiting list for computerised CBT, which I’m hesitant about but know it’ll probably be for the best. This is the most progress I’ve made with my mental health in the ten years I’ve been internally battling with myself so whilst I don’t really have any self-esteem yet, the whole process is a work in progress.

Career Goals:

1. build freelance career – make my own work, be my own boss, superhero woman (essentially)

I set this goal in the beginning of the year when I had freelance work and that fell through within a few weeks (which was horrible, ngl) so now this goal is just about working hard for me. How this year has gone so far hasn’t been to plan for me, but I’ve gotten over myself and made my situation work and I’ve earned enough many to make a big purchase recently so it’s going okay! I’m making it all work.

2. build my own media kit (save for a camera/refine my skills)

This one is something I know exactly what I want but I’ve justified that I’m not going to spend the money on something as big as a camera and lenses etc when I’m not certain I’m going to use them or they’re going to be a cost-effective purchase. If I spend the second half of the year glued to a camera, then I can justify it, if I don’t then I’m not going to spend that much money on a camera. All justified!

3. make a future plan with work goals, house/relationship aspirations etc

I’ve done this! Not set in stone kind of 5 year plan because that just doesn’t work for me but I have the framework in my bullet journal and that I add to a change and adapt occasionally. It’s all flexible because I think life is too unpredictable to really make a solid 5 year plan.

Creative Goals:

1. continue towards making the most genuine ‘me’ content on my blog and youtube channel

Actually really pleased with this one – I’m really happy with the attitude I have towards my blog and my channel at the moment and cutting myself some slack when I don’t upload exactly at the right time or anything. I feel more genuine than I’ve felt in a long time and I’m really happy with it.

2. write a book? finish something? write more than I did in 2018 (may be some freelance writing?)

I’ve been planning little writing challenges all through this year in the build up to writing 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo and it’s been going semi-decently! I’ve not always hit word counts but I’ve been writing consistently for the first time since before I went to uni. This month I’m hoping to write 35,000 words but I’m significantly behind and it’s day 6 so I’m hoping to get a couple of really good catch up days in before the month is out.

3. work on photography – need to solidify basic knowledge and then work with better equipment

I spent a lot of time at the beginning of this year teaching myself the basics of photography – what all the settings really mean, getting to know my camera, figuring out how the core skills of photography really work. It’s something I want to develop further with more experience when I go back to uni in September but for now I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made so far.

10 ‘bucket list’ goals:

1. have a PT session

This one is centred around driving for me – I can’t walk to a gym locally and I’m moving soon so getting professional help with working out will come when either I can drive or I move. Another work in progress!

2. get another tattoo

Done! Got a series of tattoos to start my travel sleeve this week and I love them so much.

(photos)

3. read a book a month

I’m currently on 7 out of 12 books for the year! I haven’t read for a few weeks but because I was a little bit ahead it was a bit of pressure off and I’m going to get back to it soon, when I’ve fixed my sleeping pattern (lol).

4. do a grid drawing every month

For context – the premise of this is this is that I print off a line drawing, draw a 30 square grid over the top and colour in one square each day of the month. This is something I’m really enjoying – sometimes I find colouring books a bit daunting because I don’t know where to start or they’re so intricate but this one has been really good for my mental health and for my creativity.

5. listen to more music, use Spotify playlists

I’ve been writing my monthly mixtape posts for a few months now and I listen to my discover weekly playlist every week!

6. save for a canon 80d, 50mm lens and a 75-300mm lens

See previous photography goals – if I don’t do this one it’s a financial choice.

7. have a little trip away with my boyfriend every month

I wrote a blog post about how I’ve already broken this one for the year but finances and work have disrupted this one a little, but that’s alright – it was pretty ambitious anyway.

8. take my driving test + upgrade my car

I have taken my driving test once and failed but next one is booked and I feel so much better about it. And I bought a new car at the weekend! I’m genuinely so excited about it all, I can’t wait to see where my little H R Wheels and I will go in the latter half of this year.

9. improve my posture

A silly one, but one I’m trying to integrate into my day to day life.

10. find somewhere to live/get our own place

And following the brief mention of going back to uni, my boyfriend and I will be moving somewhere close to Oxford (probably Aylesbury because there doesn’t seem to property available anywhere else). We’ll be moving in the next couple of months!

And that’s a check in with all of my goals for 2019! I think checking in on goals like this is really important because if you’re on track and making progress it inspires you to keep going and if you feel like you’ve not made as much progress as you’d like it gives you the kick up the bum to focus!! Here’s to the home straight of 2019!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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July Goals

2019, fitness, goals, lifestyle, student, writing

Hello!

It’s that time again! We’re officially over halfway through 2019 and I’m not entirely sure how it’s gone that fast actually. It’ll be Christmas before we know it!

But with a new month, it means new goals! My June goals actually went relatively well – I made good progress on lots of things and I’m going to maintain that this month. So here are my achievable personal goals for July!

  1. Practice driving petrol – may sound dumb, but long story short I upgraded my car! I’ve been driving diesel since I started learning last September and this is the first time I’ve ever driven petrol and boy-o it’s different and difficult to get used to. I say ‘difficult’ – it’s only been two days and when it’s flat I’m mostly okay but I want to get lots of practice in so that when I pass my driving test (eventually) I’ll be ready to zip off here there and everywhere in my gorgeous new car! Aptly named H.R.Wheels by my creative boyfriend, plus points to anyone who watches the Flash and gets that reason.
  2. Confirm my place at uni and research where to move – literally yesterday as I was brainstorming what I wanted my goals for this month to be, I got a conditional offer email from Oxford Brookes University to study MSc Digital Media Production and I’m simultaneously nervous and excited. But what goes with that is moving – finding somewhere to live around Oxford (because I definitely can’t afford Oxford) and figuring out the finances of it all! July is a month of figuring out.
  3. Write 35,000 words – I’ve been setting myself lots of monthly writing challenges to train up for 50,000 words NaNoWriMo in November and this month is Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s just to maintain my habit for writing every day and making time for creative hobbies around work and other commitments!
  4. Run 3x a week and stop snacking – a little development on my goals for last months. In this last week is when I fell off my couch to 5k bandwagon and I needed a bit of motivation, so this morning I did the run from week 1 and I’m going to do a condensed version of the first 4 weeks, then build up on week 5 and 6 again because that’s where I started to struggle. It’s going to take me considerably longer than 9 weeks but I’m going to get there! This is the most committed to exercise I’ve been since I was dancing four times a week at school. And I need to get a hold of my eating habits again – it’s getting out of hand so step 1 for me is cutting out snacking. It’ll be tough but I want to feel better again so I’ve got to work for it!
  5. Make sure I can pay all my bills – having bought a car at the very end of June, July is going to be incredibly tight (because I may or may not have spent the majority of my wages before I got paid… haha?). It’s manageable as long as I don’t waste money on things I don’t need and am really careful with what I do spend. I’m not worried about it but I need to focus and having it as part of my monthly goals helps keep me on track!

A couple of days ago, I noticed in myself that I was feeling a bit spaced out – that I was stopping doing things that are good for me and feeling a total lack of motivation for everything but writing this post has really perked me up! If you feel a bit lost I thoroughly recommend setting a short list of achievable goals, it makes it so much easier to be productive!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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Couch to 5k update! | unfitness

2019, fitness

Hello!

I thought it was time for a little update on my Couch to 5k progress – if you’ve never heard of Couch to 5k, it’s a (supposedly) 9 week program to get you from no running, to 30 minutes of running, here’s a breakdown of the 9 weeks if you’d like to have a nosy!

I started my journey with Couch to 5k 9 weeks ago, which should mean I’ve finished the program and can comfortably run for 30 minutes right?

NO! NOT AT ALL!

The whole point of the program (to my understanding), is that you take it at your pace – repeat as many runs as you need to until you feel comfortable and ready to move on. Currently, I’m still working on week 6 – my life has been a bit hectic and I’ve missed a couple of runs, so to maintain my ‘no pressure’ approach, I’m not going to push myself over the weekend and I’ll get back to it on Monday.

And that’s okay! Personally, I think the Couch to 5k should have different levels – that splits at week 3, or maybe have different options to split depending how you feel at the end of each week, giving options with longer progressions as well as the one that jumps from 8 minutes of running to 20 minutes of running (wasn’t a fan).

Where I’m at currently is I’m not loving it, I like seeing the progress but it has massively slowed and it’s really demotivating to see that the program makes such giant leaps and I’m being left behind. But I’m trying my best not to focus on any of that and just take it in my own time – the fact that I’ve maintained running (just about) three times a week for nine weeks is a huge step for me! If you’ve been following my unfitness updates for a while you’ll know that normally I get really hyped about something for usually about three weeks and then I fall off the bandwagon and I’m back to square one.

The most important thing for me has been being able to fit it into a routine – the thing with at home workouts is you need equipment and space and you have to follow a video, but with this I just hop on the treadmill, have my phone with the podcast playing and I watch YouTube on my iPad so it’s much simpler for me to get my head around fitting it all in.

So as always – it’s a work in progress. I’m not seeing the progress I want at the moment, I’m having a real mental battle with food and all round I’m feeling pretty tired about the whole thing. But I’m still trying. I feel more like I’m closer to the ‘couch’ end than the ‘5k’ end, but I’m trying and at the end of the day? That’s all we can do.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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I don’t hate running anymore? | unfitness

2019, fitness

Hello!

I know, the title is so shocking that I don’t even need to write a post to follow it up right? But we all know I will.

I feel like every time I go on Instagram I see stories and posts all about travelling, babies and working out – lots of people are documenting their journey with running, I follow a couple of people who are basically fitness instagrammers and there’s been a whole bunch of body positivity on my feed for #mentalhealthawarenessweek which is fab.

But between Carrie Hope Fletcher, Lucie and the bump and Hannah Witton’s surgery to 5k series, I felt inspired and in quite a snap decision I decided I was going to do Couch to 5k too. I may have mentioned it a bit prematurely in my May Goals post (literally the first day I did it) but you know what? I’ve stuck with three runs a week for three weeks and I can see massive progress!

I know this is going to sound so stupid, but it’s incredibly well designed (by the NHS, so of course it is) – three runs is the perfect amount of time to adjust. When I do the first run of each week, by the end of the half an hour I’m normally doing a fast walk more than a run but I push through and by the third and last run of each week I can pretty consistently ‘run’ for the whole time I’m meant to run.

Just as a quick summary – Couch to 5k is an app, I use the NHS designed one but I’ve used other ones before which are usually the exact same program just in a different app. It coaches you and slowly builds it up over 9 weeks to be able to run roughly 5km in roughly half an hour! So in week one, it was a 5 minute warm up walk then alternating between 60 seconds running and 90 seconds walking 8 times and then a 5 minute cool down walk. The week 3 I’ve just finished was a 5 minute walk, 90 second run, 90 second walk, 3 minute run, 3 minute walk, 90 second run then walk, 3 minutes run and a 5 minute cool down walk. Just to summarise!

So when I say ‘run’, I don’t mean a full on sprint, I mean a semi decently consistent 6km/hour jog when I’m meant to run and a somewhat leisurely 4km/hour when I’m meant to walk.

And the reason I know what speeds I’m going out is actually something that I wanted to mention as working really well for me – I’m doing my couch to 5k on a treadmill rather than running outside. I’m fortunate enough that my mum has a treadmill in her garage that I can use rather than having to go to the gym (I do want to start doing that soon though!) but it makes running so much more appealing for these reasons:

  • I don’t have to leave the house, I don’t have to worry about ‘bumping into’ someone I know (I don’t really know anyone in my town anyway but still), I don’t have to worry about finishing my run further away from my house that I really want to. Being inside is a big plus for me.
  • I can watch YouTube which is my favourite thing to do when I’m running because I don’t like listening to music because I run in time rather than at my pace, I don’t listen to podcasts (yet?) and I don’t want to listen to the radio (see music reasons) and bonus – it means I can cover the treadmill screen, which is good because looking at times and stats just gets me too much in my head about it and then I don’t run very well.
  • It sets a pace that I can maintain because I know full well that I would go significantly slower if I didn’t have that consistent pace so it means I’m training myself even more than just couch to 5k.
  • Even if it’s not a pace I can maintain, knowing the treadmill is at 6km/hour means I know that even if I’m fast-walking rather than slow-running, I’m still going at 6km/hour which I wouldn’t be doing if I was running outside. So by the time I do start running outside I’ll be better at pacing myself without having my pace set for me.
  • Did I mention I don’t have to leave my house?

At this point in the plan, I generally run to over 2km – in week 2 I was reaching 2.5km but in week 3 even though the times I’m running for is longer, over the whole run I’m running for less time so I’m not going as far but at the moment I’m just following the program and doing whatever Sarah Millican’s lovely voice tells me to do.

All round – I’m feeling really good about the whole thing, I’m really excited about getting to week 9 and being able to run 5k! I’m already thinking about being able to run further than 5k – to me, it seems natural to progress from 5k to 10k to a half marathon (roughly 20k) and then a marathon (just over 40k!). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

I’ve set myself the personal goal of taking part in the ABP Southampton ‘Marathon’ (there’s lots of races but it’s generally referred to as the ‘marathon’) – it’s a fairly big event in Southampton and it was a significant part of my time there so it feels right that if I was to do a race I would start there. But for now, just going to finish my couch to 5k and keep doing what I’m doing.

One day I’ll definitely start running outside but for now, sticking with my couch to 5k program on my mum’s treadmill and loving it!

If you have any questions about starting running or using couch to 5k, leave a comment down below and I’ll answer anything! But I will say, if I can do it, anyone can do it I promise!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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