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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the eve of 23

2019, lifestyle

Hello!

It’s my birthday tomorrow – normally I spend the few weeks leading up to my birthday getting excited and looking forward to it, but this year it’s really snuck up on me. My boyfriend and I are moving to our new flat in Reading this weekend and that is most definitely taking priority but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it.

slight update: between drafting and publishing this blog post, our estate agents (with three days to go) have pushed our move in date until September 28th so, all round very emotional and frustrated tbh

I’m a very reflective person – New Year is my best and worst time of year for that very reason – and my birthday always has me looking back on the year that’s gone passed. And 22 was an… interesting year.

It was the most challenging year of my life so far – having been home for a couple of months after graduating, having no luck in getting a job in any way shape or form, spending the next few months in denial that I couldn’t get a job and feeling particularly inadequate in every way, shape and form. 22 will always be the year that the only thing that mattered to me was being able to get a job and starting my career and, to be honest, that still stands now even though I’m less than a week from starting a masters degree in Digital Media Production.

Whilst this thought that I wasn’t good enough still lingers in my mind today, 2019 picked up a lot after realising that things weren’t going to get better if I didn’t try. I took a more permanent role working at my mum’s business as an office assistant and consequently worked enough hours to be able to consistently add to my savings account, upgrade my car and pay the deposit on our new flat (lol), as well as taking on a post-graduate certificate course in Professional Development Planning and decided to apply for a MSc in Digital Media Production. As well as getting my driving licence, a first aid qualification, doing lots of volunteering and making lots of self-development progress.

So 22 was up and down – I accidentally took a ‘year off’ though my mum doesn’t like me calling it that. My career isn’t where I want it to be, but I can’t change it and I can only make 23 better than 22 was. There’s no point dwelling on a past you can’t change! At least that’s what I’m trying to remind myself.

23 holds a lot of hope – having a place with my boyfriend, starting a new course in a new place, having a list of professional and career related things I want to achieve and knowing what I did wrong in my undergrad that I can amend in my post-grad hopefully will mean I can get this career off the ground (and maybe I’ll fish my self esteem out from the bottom of the ocean too!).

I’m hoping to go on a holiday abroad again, I’m planning to go to a festival with my mum next summer and I want to do everything I can to make 23 better than 22.

Sounds completely unrelated but hang with me – my boyfriend loves singing badly to songs and making up his own lyrics and the other day he came up with ‘dancing queen, young and sweet only twenty three’ and you know what? I’ll take that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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September Goals

2019, goals, lifestyle, student

Hello!

I spent all of July wishing for August, then August flew by quicker than I could follow and now my favourite month of the year has come round. September – the month of the last dregs of summer blending into the beginning of Autumn, lots of birthdays and back to school season (I’m a nerd, it excites me).

My September has lots of fresh starts – turning 23, moving to a brand new city and starting studying at a new university. Lots of ‘new’ but whilst trying not to think about how daunting all of that is, here are the mini goals I will be focusing on this month:

  • Get a part-time job in Reading – for one, moving house is really expensive, for two, post graduate loans barely cover anything and for three, my partner isn’t going to be around a lot of the time and I don’t have any friends in Reading so I want something to fill the time, pay the bills and make some friends! I’ve applied for a job I actually kind of subtly really want but what I’ve learnt from a year of applying for jobs is not to put all your eggs in one basket! When I know more about my university course and my timetable I can throw myself head first into looking at working and (hopefully) by the end of the month I’ll have something lined up.
  • Stay on top of my finances amongst all the moving costs – did I mention that moving is really expensive? Not only am I now paying for my personal bills and insurance for two new drivers, I’m paying for utilities and WiFi and a TV license and all those things! Obviously I’m not complaining, it’s just adult life, but as we move things are going to be tight tight tight so I need to stay on top of my budgeting!
  • Finish PG Cert course, start MSc Digital Media Production – this one isn’t so much of a goal to strive for as a marker point to get to – I’m going to finish my post graduate certificate and I’m going to start my masters, but it’s about not losing momentum at the end of one qualification and making sure I’m prepared to start the other. There is literally one week of crossover but in a busy month where I’m also moving about 150 miles (ish) away, staying on top of my education is another important thing!
  • Focus on content – making four regular posts on time every week – my YouTube content in particular is massively slacking at the moment. I feel like I have nothing to film for my weekly vlogs, I’m working so hard in the office I don’t have time to film or edit other videos, blogging is something that comes very naturally to me and is less time consuming than YouTube (at least for me at this very casual level) but it’s important to me to maintain the two, especially where this month is going to be very busy. Time management is key!
  • Do something for self care every single week – and in a much less ‘productivity focused’ manor, things like taking my make-up off and brushing my teeth are the first things to fall off when I’m stressed or my mental health dips. My mum and I call my stress ‘subconscious stress’ because I feel okay about things but I feel a lot of physical symptoms of stress, so I want to make an effort to have time to look after myself – I bought a Lush face mask while I was in Reading and I want to use it! I want to look after my skin! I need to have a home routine and not rely so heavily on external routines and self-care is something I need to prioritise so much.

September is going to be a challenging month – financially, it’s so tight and it’s going to be super busy, but it’s also got numerous birthdays, a brand new city to explore and a whole new chapter to begin! I’m genuinely so excited and can’t wait to document it all.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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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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