keeping my mind calm when I’m nervous

2019, mental health

Hello!

This week is a nervous one – my driving test is this week and for some reason, I’ve been feeling the effects long term anxiety for a couple of weeks now. It’s things like not being able to sleep, being unreasonably ratty and finding it difficult to concentrate.

And to be honest, it’s exhausting – it’s the heavy weight in my chest and the racing thoughts as I’m trying to fall asleep, so here are a few of the things I’m trying to do to combat it.

1. The Alphabet Game

If I’m struggling to fall asleep, I’ll play the Alphabet Game and go through baby names or films or food. I find this helps as a way to distract my brain and slow everything down – to stop the racing thoughts, try and lift the tightness in my chest and slow the heart rate down.

Also this is a fun family restaurant activity waiting for food!

2. Give yourself a little time off to do something you enjoy

Whether it’s turning off your computer, doing a little face mask or playing Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu for a whole Sunday afternoon (guilty) – giving yourself time to do something just for you, guilt free is a surefire way to keep yourself distracted and calm you down.

3. Have a morning or two with no alarms if you can

I know I’m fortunate to be in a position where I work very flexibly part time and at the weekend I don’t have any pressure to be up at a certain time. Sometimes, it’s not even necessarily that you sleep for much longer in the morning but waking up without the sudden panic of an alarm makes mornings feel much more chilled out and peaceful I think.

4. Try Headspace!

I know it sounds like a complete gimmick but meditation really does work – I’ve been using some of the sleep programs on the Headspace app (I’m sure there are others out there but it’s the only one I really know about) and I find them so relaxing – they help me breathe more deeply, I feel physically more relaxed and I feel like I’m more in control of how I’m feeling. It proves to me that I do have the power to control what I’m feeling and that’s really reassuring.

5. Apologise when you don’t mean to be angry

I’m quite a self aware person and sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in my own head screaming ‘I don’t mean it, I’m sorry!’ but I just can’t stop snapping and acting like a grumpy teenager. The best thing I’ve found is to be honest – to apologise and say ‘look, I’m really nervous and stressed about this thing, I don’t mean it’.

If, however, the person you’re talking to is making you justifiably angry then let loose.

6. Focus on what you can do and not what you can’t

Managing concentration when you’re stressed is a pretty good way to make yourself more stressed – looking at all the things I have to do when most of them are computer based and my eyeballs feel like they’ve been replaced with cotton wool is just the worst. But, focusing on what you have done or what you can achieve is important – getting one thing ticked off a to do list is better than none. Do what you can without pushing yourself because anything is better than nothing!

At the end of the day, the thing to remember is that life has a path – I’m halfway of the mindset that everything happens for a reason and halfway that life isn’t that scheduled, but the part of me that believes everything happens for a reason is often proved right.

For example, I was absolutely devastated when I failed my first driving test but when I upgraded my car and the transition from diesel to petrol was harder to adjust to than I expected, still having my ‘L’ plates on made me feel so much more secure because I had the safety blanket of everyone around me knowing I was new to the car!

I’m hoping for the best for my driving test, but if I don’t pass, there are ways around it – it will all work out in the end! Good luck for whatever you’re nervous or stressed about – it’ll work out in the end!

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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braving the shave for Macmillan

2019, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

Well the title says it all doesn’t it! Tomorrow (Sunday 23rd May) I will be shaving my hair off for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Let’s take it back to the beginning – one whole week ago when I decided I was going to do this (because don’t we all love a spontaneous decision).

I was scrolling through Instagram stories, just relaxing as I do, when I see an ad for Macmillan’s Brave the Shave – I did a double take, scrolling back to watch the ad again and something in the back of my mind said: “I could do that…”

So I put a poll on my own Instagram stories – do I or don’t I? The results were surprisingly positive, so I turned to Twitter with another poll – do I or don’t I? And again, the results were swinging towards shaving my head…

Then I was chatting to my mum – she reminded me that cancer was one of the contributing factors when my nanny passed away two years ago and her birthday would have been June 24th. Since we lost her we’ve had a family gathering around her birthday so we would have everyone here as well.

And everything seemed to slot into place…

Before I could change my mind or regret it, I made a donation page on the Brave to Shave site and I got the first couple of donations that night and that meant I was fully committed – I have to shave my head now.

I feel so grateful to my friends and family who have donated – I reached my donation goal of £100 in just TWO days and the night before the shave I’ve managed to double that goal!

I’ll be honest – this is as much for me as it is to raise money for charity. It’s been roughly a year since I moved home before graduation and a year that hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to at all. It’s been tough but I’ve learnt a lot and things are just starting to look like they’re going in a more positive direction, so why not do something drastic and spontaneous to mark the occasion right?

I won’t be donating my hair to charity, mostly because it wouldn’t be accepted – it’s far too short, it’s been bleached and dyed to no end and no one’s going to want a wig made out of my hair I’ll tell you that for nothing! But now that it’s settled in that I’m really going to do it and I’m really going to have short fuzzy hair for a few weeks, I’m really excited. I’ve been describing it as ‘factory resetting’ my hair – I’ve not seen my natural hair colour since I was 17 and in that time I’ve bleached, dyed, damaged and cut my own hair so many times and my beloved hairdresser has done wonders for my hair in this last year… and now I’m about to shave it all off and start again!

This decision has come around very spontaneously and I’m so grateful for all of the support – from Instagram messages, friends and family, the women at my tap class, my driving instructor – I’ve had support from so many people that I’m genuinely so appreciative of and I can only imagine the amount of good this money will do for Macmillan Cancer Support.

If you’d like to donate to my shave, you can find my donation page here, otherwise I will be streaming live on Instagram (not sure what time yet, keep an eye on stories!) and I will be posting a vlog with the full story on my YouTube channel this weekend!

Here’s to braving the shave!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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what I’ve read so far this year

2019, books

Hello!

When I sat down to write this blog post I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about – I love blogging so much, so usually I can just sit at my computer and find something to ramble passionately about but today? Nothing. I’d spent all day doing uni work for my PG Cert course and nothing was coming to mind.

I even Googled ‘blog post ideas’ seeing if that would spark anything but advice to anyone thinking about starting a blog – don’t Google blog post ideas. They’re never that good and definitely not original.

So I started scrolling through instagram – my feed is a creative hub of friends and other creators and browsing through posts, it wasn’t till I thought about my own posts that I actually decided what I wanted to write about (how vain is that?).

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (or 2019 Goals, however you want to word it) was to read one book every month and I’ve already finished my book for June so I’m feeling genuinely really pleased with myself that I’ve managed to integrate reading back into my nightly routine.

Today, I’m going to do a little run down of all the books I’ve read so far this year. If you like this post and want me to do another round up at the end of the year, do let me know!

In chronological order, let’s go!

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I set myself the challenge this year of reading 12 books – one a month. I used to be the kid that snuck out of bed to keep reading and studying English at school destroyed any previous love for reading but I'm determined to get it back! ✨ My first book of the year was @louisepentland's Wilde About The Girl – I read the first in the series when I went to Louise and Carrie Fletcher's book event last summer (I know I should have read it before) and absolutely fell in love with Robin Wilde – she's sassy and funny but she's flawed, she thought she needed a man to love her and sometimes she wore her pyjamas for the school run but she was so real. I'm not the target audience for this series but I bloody loved it and somehow I loved Wilde About The Girl even more. It was raw and emotional and laugh out loud funny, there were twists and turns and love and friendship and it was all round a feel good book. It was so easy to read, difficult to put down and the perfect holiday book – I thoroughly recommend it, even if you don't think a book about a mum in her late twenties is for you, Robin will wiggle her way into your heart. Can't wait for book 3 💜 ✨ I think I want to do a little review like this after each book I finish – I never thought I'd finish my first book of the month only halfway through but I'm thoroughly enjoying reading before bed, 2019 is going to be such a good year. Up next – when the curtain falls by @carriehopefletcher 🎭 ✨ #bookreview #book #bookstagram #reader #readagram #wildeaboutthegirl #wildelikeme #robinwilde #louisepentland #writer #blogger #lifestyleblogger #shinyhappybloggers #smallblogger #discoverunder100k #vlogger #smallyoutuber #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #thatsdarling #creative #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #pa #freelancelife

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Wilde About The Girl – Louise Pentland

My second attempt at finishing this novel – I read the first in the series in the run up to meeting the author at a book event last summer and I fell in love. ‘Wilde Like Me’ was the reason I wanted to get back into reading this year and on the second attempt of ‘Wilde About The Girl’ I was on a roll!

I’ve never really been into chick lit – I love fantasy and magic and space and adventure, but there was something beautifully mundane about Robin Wilde’s story. I commented at the time that it was like reading a vlog in someone’s life and it was cosy and lovely. Genuinely I’d recommend it to everyone – an emotional but beautiful read!

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book 02 : when the curtain falls (@carriehopefletcher) 🎭🔫✨ It took me a bit longer to get into 'when the curtain falls', then I was 200 pages in and realised this wasn't early chapters set up. Then I read the last 70 pages in one night (which is a big deal for me) and everything cascaded into a defeating crescendo of a finale and I'm lying in bed nearly in tears over these characters I didn't realise I'd fallen in love with. Combining my love of theatre, magic and writing 'when the curtain falls' has decided that I /need/ to catch up on the rest of Carrie's books and I really want to publish one of my own. Next up – 'eleanor oliphant is completely fine' (gail honeyman) ✨ . #book #bookstagram #whenthecurtainfalls #carriehopefletcher #book2of12 #reading #writing #fiction #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder100k #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #socialmedia #lookingforwork #selfemployed @salportfolio

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When The Curtain Falls – Carrie Hope Fletcher

At the same book event as I met Louise, Carrie was also promoting this beautiful novel. I’ve tried one of Carrie’s books before and enjoyed it but just couldn’t get into it enough to finish it.

At the beginning, I felt similarly about When The Curtain Falls – with a history in performance and musical theatre, I was invested in the story but it wasn’t until 200 pages in that I couldn’t put it down. It was as I was nearing the end of the book that I realised ‘this isn’t the set up anymore, this is it!’ and I read the final 100 or so pages in one night.

Utterly thrilling, a beautiful telling of romance and love and unsuspecting characters. Again, would whole heartedly recommend.

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book 03 : Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine (gail honeyman) 🎸🖥️🐈 Eleanor and I have had a rocky relationship – at the beginning, I thought she was a bit pretentious, I didn't think she was trying to be funny when people said she was funny and she needed to re-evaluate her relationship with strangers, but then I met Raymond and I slowly learnt more about Eleanor's story. This is one of the most cleverly written books I've read in a very long time and I'd LOVE to go for a coffee with Miss Honeyman and have a very in-depth conversation about the intricacies of Eleanor Oliphant. At its heart, it's an incredibly sad story but it's insightful, heart warming and so utterly, utterly real – I genuinely think everyone should read this book, stick with it… You start to empathise with her eventually ✨ 🥰 next up : we all looked up – tommy wallach ✨ #book #bookstagram #reading #eleanoroliphant #eleanoroliphantiscompletelyfine #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder1k #newblogger #shinyhappyblogger #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #socialmedia #lookingforwork #selfemployed @salportfolio

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Oh Eleanor, we had a difficult relationship. All the things I’d seen people say about how the book was hilarious and gripping from page 1, I didn’t get. It took me over a month to finish this because I found Eleanor arrogant, rude and uninteresting as a character.

Then the story developed, the introduction to one key character kept me hooked and by the end I wanted to protect Eleanor with every fibre of my being – she’s an incredibly complex character that I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to understand.

If you’re struggling with Eleanor’s story, I highly recommend pushing through to the end because you’ll be rooting for this girl I promise.

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book 04 : we all looked up (tommy wallach) 🌌💖🔫 Sped through this wonderful coming of age novel at first because I wanted to keep up with my monthly goal but then because I was hooked on these four Mish mashed broken characters – 'we all looked up' is full of teenage angst, existential realism and a freedom of not caring anymore. I've not read a book that made me feel so alive in such a long time and boy-o do I want to work on a film adaptation! Don't be put off by YA – when it's the end of the world, we all look up 🌆 ✨ next up : hold on – alan gibbons 🌌 #book #bookstagram #reading #wealllookedup #tommywallach #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder1k #newblogger #shinyhappyblogger #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative

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We All Looked Up – Tommy Wallach

An existential story about four teenagers at the end of the world? Yes please.

A lot of my books are YA and young YA at that – I bought them when my family used to go on holiday in Derbyshire and there was the most incredible bookshop where I could buy 10+ books for £30-£40 and it was my heaven. I picked up hundreds of books most of which went unread because I simply never would have had time to read that much.

When I moved back from uni I sorted through all my books and donated about two-thirds to charity, most of which had never been read but the ones I did keep I really wanted to read.

And that’s where ‘We All Looked Up’ slots in! It’s a very interesting narrative told from four different perspectives about what the potential end of the universe can do to all sides of society. I don’t want to spoil it in any way, but it’s a really humbling read that really nails the key aspects of humanity.

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book 05 : hold on – alan gibbons 😢🐂🥰 this short little novel (novella?) was not a challenging read, but I don't think I enjoyed it – it's about a boy who commits suicide and his friend's journey to figuring out why and coming to terms with everyone who played a part in it. I don't know if it's maybe because I'm not feeling my best mentally at the moment but I don't think I like the representation of mental health in this story, but perhaps that might be because that's how mental health is still presented in society and I don't like that. I don't regret reading 'hold on' but it's one to go to the charity shop I think 🤷 ✨ next up : one seriously messed up week in the otherwise mundane and uneventful life of (sam taylor) Jack Samsonite – tom clempson 😢 #books #bookstagram #holdon #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawarenessweek #alangibbon #reading #bookclub #pageturner #writer #blogger #huji #photography #shinyhappybloggers

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Hold On – Alan Gibbon

The first book of the year I haven’t really rated – ‘Hold On’ is about a boy who has committed suicide and his friend’s attempt to figure out what went wrong. Told from the modern day perspective of his friend and diary entries leading up to the end of his life, it’s a very mixed tale about who’s to blame.

As someone who has suffered with mental health problems, I found it very hard to empathise and very difficult to read about so many characters who had such a trivial and incorrect understanding of how depression can manifest. I came to the conclusion that I think that was the point – I think it’s meant to be an uncomfortable read. But I didn’t enjoy it, because parts of it didn’t feel intentional, they just felt naive.

I’ll be donating my copy, that’s all I’ll say.

And last but not least!

One Seriously Messed Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Sam Taylor Jack Samsonite – Tom Clempson

The one that hasn’t even made it to my instagram yet! This book (I’m not writing out that title again) is another very YA one about 16 year old ‘Jack’ navigating GCSEs, girls, friends, not friends and a couple much more sinister (but not too dark, it’s still YA) topics.

I feel like there’s not too much I can say without completely spoiling the book. It’s not really comparable to ‘Wilde About The Girl’ in any way but the sort of mundanity of it all is similar. There’s a few melodramatic teenage bits but as a 22 year old reader it’s about a teenager getting worked up about teenage things and it’s almost refreshing to be able to complete separate myself from all that knowing I no longer than categorise myself with teenagers.

A fun read, a solid 4/5.

And that’s what I’m reading this year – I always post little reviews on my Instagram so if you want to keep up with what I’m reading either follow me there or add me on goodreads! Sometimes I forget to update my page count for a few days but my most up to date reads are all on there!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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a setback isn’t the end | unfitness

2019, fitness, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

It’s been a hot minute since I did a little update on my ‘unfitness’ and for anyone else on a similar journey to me, I thought it was time for a little run down!

So far this year it’s been difficult – after Christmas and into February, my mental health took a nose dive and consequently any motivation or desire to look after myself (tasks like taking off my make-up and brushing my teeth were basically Everest to me). But overall, my step count was still on target and I was doing okay with food so my progress was much slower but still progress.

Now I’m ready to tackle it all head on and build it up again!

[ f o o d   /   d i e t ]

I’ve found what works the best for me is simple repetition – I really don’t mind having the same thing 5 times a week and then I can allow myself the freedom to be a bit more lenient at the weekends (usually with some sort of cheese and bread meal). This is working really well for me! I’ve always noticed the most progress is when I’m focused on diet and don’t put any pressure on myself for exercise.

For dinners it’s always a compromise – at the moment everything seems to be super busy  so there’s a fair bit of eating out and having meals beyond my control, but when I’m home I make sure I eat as many vegetables as I can and try to be sensible with portion size.

Overall, I’m still training myself back down to smaller portion sizes but I feel like I know how to tackle this and I feel okay about it!

[ f i t n e s s   /   e x e r c i s e ]

Half term has been and gone, I’ve had a week away at Centre Parcs doing 10,000+ steps a day and swimming 5 times in a week and now I’m back to normal life and self motivating exercise!

Tap classes have started up again (I’m sat waiting for my second one of the day as I write this!), I’m aiming to hit my step goal 4 days a week and do one additional workout. I’m not particularly enjoying workout out at home because most of the rooms in my house are quite small and there’s just not enough space (nor is it warm enough for me to go out and use the garden yet!). This one I’m still figuring out – I’m trying some other free apps and mostly being guided by letting the rest of my life fall into more of a routine and then fitting in workouts around that.

My best tip – if you want to follow fitness people on social media, don’t follow the ones who make you compare yourself and feel bad or the ones who make it seem like a massive chore. Someone I went to school with has committed to working out seven days a week to train for climbing Mont Blanc and watching her share and talk about her training has really motivated me to workout! Not quite to the same extreme but seeing her so happy and her progress is really inspiring.

[ w h a t   n e x t ? ]

As a said – finding a routine, getting to a point where my appetite is smaller and figuring out where at home workouts fit in to my life at the moment. I’m hoping to have taken and passed my driving test by April/May time and I think when I’m at a point where I can drive myself to the gym and maybe afford a session with a personal trainer I’ll be more motivated to get out the house and workout. Getting out the house is normally the solution for me!

But as always – all tips, tricks and hacks welcome! If you have any advice please do leave it in the comments down below.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I lost 16lbs without dieting

2019, fitness, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

I feel like I’ve been banging on about how I’m trying to lose weight in literally everything I make or post. But here we are again because losing weight is really hard so if I can contribute anything and help someone, I’m going to try!

I really dedicatedly started trying to lose weight (and started seeing results) at the beginning of October. Now, nearly 4 months later I’m 16lbs down, I’m on my way to being fitter and I really feel like I’m making sustainable life changes! All without going on any fad diet or ridiculous workout program that makes you want to vomit. So, I thought I’d just have a little chit chat about the steps I took to get to this point, where I see my progress going in the future and how I’m going to maintain a healthy weight when I get there.

Let’s give a little bit of context – when I was a teenager, I was so convinced I was huge. I felt fat, I thought everyone thought I was essentially an elephant waddling round school and alongside that my main source of exercise being dance meant I was surrounded by skinny gorgeous girls in leotards and the fact my arms wobbled and I had that little stomach pouch (that basically every woman has) was literally the end of the world. At that point I was wondering somewhere around 12 stone/13 stone. Looking at height/weight charts, I was on the heavier end of healthy, but I was healthy.

Then I went to uni, got a boyfriend and had to massively cut down the amount of dancing I was doing. And here we have a recipe for packing on the pounds.

Without going into (even more) detail, by the time I moved home from uni in July last year I was approximately 5 stone heavier than when I left. Even though I didn’t actually look that drastically different.

  • step 1cut out the snacks

My biggest problem and the first thing I wanted to address was that when I was hungry, I just found something to eat. I knew I had to get used to not snacking throughout the day so it was a couple of painful weeks of being absolutely ravenous and craving every carb under the sun, I really noticed a change in my body’s eating habits and it kind of blew me away, because I think I’d tricked myself into believed that it couldn’t change and I would always be that hungry.

It feels awful at the beginning but it does get better and it does get easier I promise.

  • step 2 – think about what you’re eating and try to make healthier choices

I know this sounds so ridiculously vague and I definitely don’t know enough about nutrition but I know that vegetables are good, pastry is a complete no go, carbs are okay in moderation – little things like that! Basically everything is okay in moderation. I plan it so during the week I’m much stricter – I have my cornflakes for breakfast, roast vegetables with cous cous for lunch, a reasonably healthy dinner and 200 calories of dessert snack – then at the weekend I’ll maybe have a toastie for lunch, a McDonalds meal and a Saturday night dessert treat. Within reason of course but doing this I’ve been losing 1-3 lbs every week.

You don’t need to eat foods like kale and avocado and spinach if you don’t like them – every healthy eating recipe I’ve ever looked at includes those kinds of foods, quinoa and seeds and things but I don’t like them. I know that the vegetables I’m eating are good for me, even if these ‘superfoods’ would be better, I’m going to work within what I like and what I can afford. It’s all about balance and learning and we all progress at our own rates.

People will try to tell you that everything is bad – I’ve had people try to tell me that I shouldn’t have sausages, cous cous makes you bloated and hot chocolate is really bad for you but I’m happy with my diet and it’s working for me and it’s sustainable which is the whole point of this, otherwise I might as well just go on a diet.

The other thing I’ve found with making healthier choices is that I really understand now when people say they feel groggy after eating unhealthily – I think it was over Christmas I really started to feel the impact that the change in my eating habits brought and it wasn’t great, but it was also really interesting because it meant that I’d been eating well enough that eating badly made an impact! I really felt it! And that motivated me to start eating well again and it was so refreshing.

Step 3 – be more active

I don’t mean go to the gym or hire a personal trainer or go mad spending lots of money on a program that ‘guarantees results in two weeks’ (I’ve already bought it, it’s not worth it) – I mean literally being more active. For me, my FitBit is a god send because keeping track of my steps and heart rate really helps me see that I’m doing enough each day. I like to change my step goal every week, so I look at the total number of steps for the previous week, then I figure out how many steps I need to do per day to beat it the following week. I think this is a good long term plan because it makes doing more steps part of your everyday life and slowly builds up how much exercise you’re doing.

And then when you feel ready you can start introducing more traditional workouts if you like – I started going to tap classes at my old dance school and I use the Nike training app to build a program that works for me and do workouts at home.

Being back at tap has shown me so much about myself – the whole reason I started this routine to be healthier was because I was noticing I couldn’t do simple things like jump, run up the stairs, I even noticed my walking pace was getting slower and I decided I didn’t want to live like this. I don’t want to be a mum that can’t jump and dance with her kids or isn’t physically fit and healthy enough to keep up with them, I don’t want to teach them bad habits so I’m making a change long before I actually have kids.

Not happening for another 7 or 8 years yet!

  • the next steps

I know that eating and exercising this way will only work to a point and then I will need to start exercising more to get the results that I want. So looking ahead to that I’m going to work out more, building on my current scheme of 1-2 workouts a week for more intense, longer and potentially more frequent workouts. I’d like to get into running and start each day with a walk or a run but that’s very much a work in progress, going to keep walking for now.

When I can drive I want to get a gym membership and actually go to a gym (currently I live just a bit too far away to walk and I can’t afford it) – one of my goals for the year was to have a personal training session. Whether it’s just one or I can afford to have consistent sessions, I want to learn more about weight training, the right kind of working out and how I can progress more in the future to continue losing weight.

In the long game, my goals are to be slim and healthy and then work on getting a bit more toned once I’ve lost the weight (I explained it more in this video) but that will probably be months if not a year or two down the line so I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

So that’s everything I’ve done and learnt up to this point! I’m always looking for new recipes and new workouts – I’m going to have a go at some FitBit workouts and I might have a look at some Kayla Itsines workouts but 1) her app is expensive and 2) the workouts I’ve done from Facebook videos have been killer so definitely not ready for it yet.

Also a step I kind of forgot about – drink 2 litres a day, preferably water but I don’t like water and the juice I drink is sugar free and basically water anyway. Obviously 2 litres of cola isn’t going to help your teeth or your diet.

If you have any recommendations or suggestions for new recipes to try, workouts I should have a go at or any advice for losing weight without cutting food groups or anything drastic, please to leave a comment down below! I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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why goals are so important to me

2019, goals, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

Can I only write about goal setting and resolutions and pushing myself? No, I swear there’s a point to this post!

This is the time of year where everyone shuns New Year’s Resolutions – “why wait for a new year? Re-invent yourself whenever you like!” – yeah I totally get that and fully support that, but also why not be motivated by the new year? I write little goals for myself every month to check in with my progress and refocus, every month is a bit like a new year for me.

I’m someone who very much is motivated by a new week or a new month and if the new month starts on a Monday? Lads I’m a new woman, it’s a miracle.

But why do I like setting myself goals so much? Well for one, while I’m working freelance from home, it gives me some sort of structure and purpose when I wake up each morning. Perhaps this sounds a little melodramatic but I’m sure many people can empathise how difficult it is to get out of bed when you have no reason to and the whole day is just a challenge to fill.

For two – it’s a good way for me to make sure I’m still growing and progressing and developing both professionally and personally. In some aspects of my life, I’m happy to maintain them as they are – let them grow in their own way – but there’s other aspects that I don’t want to be stagnant, that I don’t want to get stuck in a rut in, so I want to make sure I can see that progress.

And for three – having goals took the productivity I was already passionate about and gave it a focus, especially after I finished uni. I’m not saying I liked the assignments or deadlines (the day I handed in my last essay was a bloody marvellous one) but I’ve always loved having a project and being able to put my focus onto something.

The other day I was sorting through my email folders (because I lead an incredibly exciting life) and I found this email from August 2016.

I’ll be honest I don’t know what this means about me – I can never remember what the letters I am are (cut to me trying to burn INFJ-T into my brain) – but hello strategy: constant improvement! I don’t know what being 95% turbulent and my role being a ‘diplomat’ means but that last categorisation of who I am just makes so much sense.

But then I did the 16personalities test again for a uni assignment in April 2018, nearly 2 years later and these were the results I got.

10% less introverted, 25% less intuitive, 28% less feeling, 2% more judging, and 1% more turbulent, but overall the same; still INFJ-T. How uni changed me!

I get it, going from talking about why I like goals to personality types might feel like a massive jump but hear me out on why they’re connected (other than explicitly labelling me as someone who strives for constant improvement).

  1. They just make me happy – I quite like putting myself in a box and sitting there, it makes me feel more defined as a person.
  2. Tests like this and finding out more about your personality in depth and what it says about you can help give you a purpose  – obviously there are 15 other personality types and even within those everyone has different percentages and aspects that make them individual, but sometimes having a test tell you a little bit more about yourself can make things a little easier.
  3. But on the other hand – just because it’s not part of your personality type doesn’t mean you can’t find something to focus on that motivates you.

Setting goals works for me, but beyond that I enjoy setting them for myself and seeing my progress. A lot of people don’t enjoy it and obviously that’s fine, but I do. I’ve read so many articles at this time of year that are definitive in “everyone should set goals“, “why new years is crap“, “setting goals won’t get you anywhere” – you know what? You do you. If you put the work in, things will work out.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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just an outfit post

2018, fashion, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

I really want to make an effort to talk more about fashion and outfit posts on my blog because it’s something I love and I feel so much more confident about and it’s something I’ve made huge progress on this year so I want to continue documenting that!

So I thought it would be nice if I could find somewhere cute to take the photos on a trip to London on Monday and we walked past this shrubbery outside a restaurant with fairy lights in it and I decided it was festive and cute and this would be it.

However I didn’t think to not be holding the bulging purple bag of my new NASA sweater and the hat and scarf it was too warm for, I didn’t think to shrug off my coat and actually show off my outfit, nor did I think to get any close ups of nice details. But it’s all lessons to learn for the future – can’t rush outfit photos!

This pinafore dress has become such a favourite of mine this month – I bought it in Primark and I really didn’t think it would suit me at all but it’s so flattering! I decided to wear it with a New Look shirt (similar), an old TU from Sainsburys cardigan and my men’s Primark coat.

The shirt and pinafore is something I hadn’t tried before, usually I wear knitwear jumpers with this dress but I really loved the shirt and I’ve decided I’m definitely wearing it on Christmas day.

The tights however – don’t recommend! You think chub rub is just a summer problem? Nah mate – I love how they look and they’re generally so comfy but after 15,000 steps it was a bit much and they actually broke skin, definitely learnt my lesson. They’re okay if you’re staying at home or not walking too far but long term? Don’t bother!

This might be the only cute candid photo of me ever taken. Ironic that it was taken on Monday and then on Tuesday I spent 2+ hours letting a very nice lady called Gemma change dye and cut my hair. I’ll be posting some pictures on Instagram in the next few days but for now these are the photos that I’ll be keeping for a while!

Sometimes I have a proper complex about liking a picture of myself – I don’t want people to think I’m vain or self obsessed because I love a picture of myself but y’know what? It’s so rare that I don’t hate a picture of myself that I am going to sing and shout about this picture and post it everywhere because why not make the most of a photo I actually like?

I think this is the first outfit post I’ve ever written without any particular kind of purpose or message – normally I have a statement about body confidence or my improving relationship with my body but I think my last post about finding some confidence still rings true. I’m still not 100% confident in my body or what I’m wearing, but I don’t think anybody is all of the time! I’m not scared of trying new things and I’m really working on refining my wardrobe and ruthlessly getting rid of the stuff I don’t wear even if I love it.

I’m kind of working on a long term blog post on the process of making my wardrobe into something a bit like but not quite a capsule wardrobe – if you have any tips or advice that would be very much appreciated!

So learning to write about fashion without having a huge point or a big meaningful conclusion is the next step I think! Maybe I need to write less and just let the pictures do the talking (and spend longer getting much nicer pictures that actually show the outfit) but we all know I love a ramble.

And I like reaching a conclusion! In the last week or so a few old friends from school that I knew literally years and years ago have reached out to me on Instagram and said they really like my content and my positivity online.

Being told I’m positive is news to me, I always feel like I’m super depressing and negative and I’ve been desperately trying to make more of an effort with this and I feel it’s paying off. So I like my blog posts to reach a positive conclusion, even if it’s not got a weighty point or covers a topic like body positivity.

Sure, I just wrote a couple of paragraphs about positivity but I can’t smile in an outfit photo because I’ve got a lil bit of a complex about my smile at the moment. But that’s not the point!

I really like this outfit, this pinafore and the fact it coordinates so well with my Dr Marten’s. It’s only from Primark but it’s really opened my eyes to trying things that ‘don’t stereotypically fit my body type’ and giving things a chance! Yes, I’m trying to change my body shape and this time next year I think I’ll have a whole different level of fitness and hopefully be a fairly different dress size, but coming to terms with my body and accepting it for what it is? It’s such a useful life skill to have that peace with yourself.

So no, I don’t have a ‘point’ – I wanted to write an outfit post, I thought it would be fun to take the pictures in London and it’s an outfit for the sake of an outfit. I like sharing and posts without a big conclusion are definitely a work in progress!

As always, thank you to my gorgeous boyfriend for taking the photos – we’re both getting the hang of this ‘fashion blogger’ malarky and I’m so grateful to have my number 1 cheerleader as my go to photographer.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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an accidental week off, but that’s okay

2018, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

This week has been my biggest week since I finished uni – I’ve barely been at home and I’ve definitely not had the time or energy for creative projects as usual.

So days went on and the weekly vlog hasn’t been uploaded, I didn’t post a blog post on Wednesday, I couldn’t film, edit or upload a second YouTube video and my usual Saturday blog post was a mere dream.

I wanted to post something just to acknowledge it – I don’t think anyone’s on tender hooks waiting to see why I haven’t uploaded but on two sides I wanted to say something and I needed to write about it for my sake and for anyone reading.

I’ve felt a bit flat this week, but I always do when I don’t feel productive and I don’t get everything on my list done, but I need to train myself out of it because at the end of the day? Not forcing myself to write, film and edit late into the night was better for me in the long run and practising the self care to not be bothered is more important than beating myself up about missing deadlines I set for myself.

Obviously if you’re at uni or work this isn’t as flexible because deadlines are important, but similarly if something goes wrong and things have to change, deadlines need to get shifted then letting yourself be emotionally invested and be negatively effected by those things isn’t worth the heartache.

I’m still astounded by the positive impact the mentality of ‘everything is hard, make it worth it’ and the coil have done for my mental health and positive outlook – months, even years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to decide not to let anything effect me like this but with positive mental practice, I’ll be able to take changes like this in my stride and won’t beat myself up for it.

Especially over a hobby like blogging and my YouTube channel – this super busy week has shown me what a working week might look like and has shown me that maybe I won’t be able to sustain this creative outlet when I do get into working full time but being aware of that and allowing myself flexibility is a good step for preparing for that. But that’s more of a 2019 problem!

I’m excited for the new year and applying my new mindset to what I do – 2019 is going to be the year that everything changes and I’m not going to sit around and wait for it to happen.

And I’m not going to waste my time getting hung up on missed blog posts and dwindling subscriber counts! (Still working and not caring about that one, but it doesn’t matter and that’s what I need to remember)

Give yourself a break, you’ve achieved a lot.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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I’ve lost a stone! | unfitness update

2018, fitness, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

I’m so glad I decided to document my fitness and weight loss journey because I’m really settling into it and I’m so glad I will have these posts, videos and other tracking methods to look back on and see how much I’m achieving! I’m feeling a rebrand is coming for this blog and fitness might be a much bigger part of what I write about as it’s now a much bigger part of my life but we’ll get to that!

[ f o o d   /   d i e t ]

I still feel a bit lost in terms of nutrition and not knowing anything about it but I feel like I’m figuring out what’s good in terms of feeling like I’m eating well. I never understood when people talked about eating bad food and feeling sluggish but lads I get it now. I went to Southampton a couple of weeks ago and it was all very rushed and we got food where we could and after two days of McDonalds I felt so tired and unmotivated. So that’s new!

But my routine is good – I aim for breakfast before 8am (have moved from Cheerios to off-brand Cornflakes), I’m loving having roasted vegetables and cous cous for lunch (sometimes I’ll put a couple of chopped sausages in there too) and dinner’s have been pretty consistently not awful. I’ve definitely noticed that when mum and I are both really busy a plan goes out the window and we do what we can and going into the New Year we’re all just going to get busier so it’s adapting and finding ways to cook healthy food quick, or using the slow cooker more.

[ e x e r c i s e   /   w o r k i n g   o u t ]

Working out is so good – since my last update I’ve finished the four week Nike Training App plan and it was challenging but I really enjoyed it and I’ve set it up to do another ‘Start Up Plan’ program! I think the workouts are really suitable for my level of fitness (or lack thereof) and for a free app, I’m so impressed by it. I’m also doing two tap dance classes a week and I’m generally doing more steps per day too – overall I’m doing some form of exercise about five days a week and I’m so pleased that I’ve realised that exercising that much doesn’t mean going to the gym or killing yourself for an hour every day.

It’s all so integrated into my life that it doesn’t feel force and I’m really enjoying it – it’s taking me years to get to this point but that’s persistence! It’s not perfect yet – sometimes I wake up and working out or going for a walk is the last thing I want to do but I really feel like I’m more in the ‘progress’ stage than the ‘work in’ stage.

[ c h a n g e s ]

A new thing worth mentioning is that I got the coil in November (every time I talk about it I feel like I’m being so TMI but talking about contraception or menstruation really shouldn’t be TMI and I’ve had so many wonderful open conversations with people since I’ve mentioned it so I’m continuing to talk about it!).

I might do a whole post or video all about my experience with it so far when I’ve had it for a bit longer, but now that my body is getting used to having hormone interference again, it’s pretty much settled down and I’ve got it all under control. There were little fluctuations but mostly it didn’t effect my weight loss so fingers crossed that I can maintain the downward line!

Regarding the mental health, now that my body’s had a few weeks to settle into these new hormones, I feel like I’ve discovered this new positive mindset which has really opened my eyes and helped me focus on better things – I spoke about it in my November Favourites video and that’s my favourite description. Figuring out that everything is hard and facing difficulties doesn’t mean I’m hard done by, that’s just how life is, has made facing the hard things and accepting that if I want something to change then I need to work for it so much easier and I feel so much more motivated and productive because of it.

In conclusion, I feel like I’m really settling into working out and making it a proper part of my life routine which has been a goal of mine for so long. Food is kind of an ongoing battle again but I’m fighting, contraception is difficult to adjust to but my new favourite motto is really getting me through – I’m going to make all of this work. Just watch me.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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