unfitness – what’s going wrong?

2020, fitness, mental health

Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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making yourself a routine

2019, lifestyle

Hello!

One of the things I consistently find myself yearning for in day to day life is a routine – when I left school I found it weird so at uni I made myself a more structured routine. Then again when I finished uni I struggled taking each day with no plans and no idea of what would happen.

When you’re freelance, self-employed, unemployed, a graduate struggling to find a job, whatever reason for being home a lot, often on your own and an expanse of uncertain future in front of you, the weight of that uncertainty can make it hard to find a reason to get out of bed. The only definite timings you have are breakfast, lunch and dinner and that’s assuming you’re not sad binge eating, snacking all day and have a healthy relationship with food.

So here’s where the routine bit comes in – I’ve always been the person who thrives on structure, will pull a to do list of things I need to do out of the air and keep myself busy so I thought I’d share what works for me. This is a little disclaimer that it’s exactly that – what works for me, everyone is different; some people don’t care about routines, some people really struggle to stick to a plan they’ve made and sometimes other factors come into play, I’m just sharing what I do to structure my days.

There are some tips to how I motivate myself to get out of bed every day and give myself a purpose.

#1 – writing to do lists

Is this a shock to anyone at this point? But seriously – making my monthly goals which feeds to my weekly bullet journal spreads and daily to do post-it notes make it so much easier to make a routine that doesn’t become stale too quickly because each day is different from the tasks I set myself. I then feel more productive and feel mentally prepared to do it all again the next day.

My lists are filled with things like filming videos, writing blog posts, working on my freelance career, but also includes things like doing the laundry, selling that pile of stuff that’s building up in my room etc. Obviously I can’t write a list of things that you could put on a list because it’s so personal, but if you don’t have projects to work on or you struggle to think of things you could put on a list then even things like having a shower, making lunch, making your bed can be a place to start – it’s something to tick off (which is so satisfying) and you can build on it from there.

#2 – have set times for food

It sounds ridiculous, but if you can give yourself time markers throughout the day it just breaks the day up a bit. I aim to eat my breakfast by 9am, I let myself go for lunch at 12pm (I normally count down the minutes) and then depending on what we’re having for dinner I usually start cooking about 5pm for dinner at 6pm. That’s when I stop for the day – I come out of the office, leave my computer and have some off-screen time. Which is ironic because instead of looking at my computer screen I watch TV and scroll through my phone but it’s a work in progress, I’m cutting down my scrolling! An attempt was made!

#3 – plan stuff for the future

This isn’t so much for having a routine but for keeping yourself sane – whether it’s a diary, a bullet journal or a digital calendar on your phone, getting through every day when you have to make stuff up for yourself to do is so much easier when you’ve got days with friends or a weekend away or a job pencilled in, especially if you’re unemployed and don’t have any friends that live nearby, having something to look forward to can make finding a routine in the now much easier.

It’s a bit like #2  – rather than breaking up the day, it breaks up the future so rather than this expanse of ‘no plans’, there’s something coming up. Obviously this is based on the things that I struggle with – some people see a blank calendar as relaxing or exciting but it scares me, to be honest. What I’m saying – take these tips with a pinch of salt!

#4 – have a space to work

This one I struggle a bit to explain, because for me it meant not being in the living room, not being in the kitchen and not being in my bedroom but I know that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of turning a spare bedroom into an office – I definitely didn’t at uni! But if you can find or make a separate space to work on your tasks I find that really helpful. At the moment, I’ve got a little office space at home but when I was at uni I found going into a local cafe or into uni (not the library, it was soul destroying) really helped my productivity.

Sitting somewhere as comfortable as the sofa is probably not going to work in your favour if you’re trying to get out of the slump of binging Netflix and having an afternoon nap. Also then, the sofa is not a work environment and it can be exclusively for binging Netflix and taking an afternoon nap.

#5 – have a strict sleep schedule

I don’t mean strict in the extreme way that you can’t stay up late sometimes and adapt, but having times to wake up and wind down make a routine and structure so much easier.

Personally, I start planning to go to bed at 10pm, by the time I’ve actually got up from the sofa, changed into my PJs, brushed my teeth, read a couple of chapters of my book I’m ready to settle down for sleep between 11pm and 11.30pm. I’ve also recently started not looking at my phone after I’ve plugged into charge before I start reading (except to update my Goodreads progress) and that’s really helped too.

I am to be up between 6.30am-7am but that doesn’t always happen, I’m usually out of bed by 8am at the latest and having that structure is so helpful for my routine.

It’s all a work in progress – I’m still learning, I accidentally spent three hours watching YouTube with breakfast the other day but I mentally reviewed it and planned a way to combat it. It’s about self awareness, noticing the things that aren’t helping your routine and deciding how to work on it.

I hope this has been helpful, it’s turned into a proper long ramble but these are my favourite kinds of posts!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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“under pressure” – why I disappeared from the internet

2017, lifestyle, student

Hello!

When I started this blog (over three years ago now, wow) I knew it would be a fairly big ask – I was in my last year of sixth form, I was applying for uni, I was already making YouTube videos once a week. But I didn’t make a big deal – it was somewhat unfamiliar territory so I didn’t make a big deal about pushing myself. Between September and December 2014 I wrote 8 posts.

In the new year of 2015 I started what I called the ‘365 Pages’ project, where I wrote a blog post every day for a year with each post being ‘Page 1 of 365’ and so on. I didn’t actually write a blog post every day – there were a couple of days I missed and I actually went away on an charity work expedition to Ecuador for four weeks and managed to pre-write over 30 blog posts and schedule 9 or 10 videos too (I’m still very proud of this, don’t know if you can tell).

So as my blog has gone on I’ve piled on the expectations of myself. It’s really not unusual for me to ask too much for myself. As the year of blogging ended, I decided I wasn’t going to have a schedule – I was going to have lots of ideas and write fairly regularly?

Yeah, no.

That didn’t happen so I planned a schedule – I think I uploaded three times a week and then I didn’t do that anymore. I don’t remember how my blog schedule changed between the end of 2016 and the entirety of 2017 but by September this year I just stopped. Third year began and blogging and making videos and basically everything else (like my diet and mental health, lol) took a massive backseat.

Third year has been really intense – in the 12 or 13 weeks that made up my first semester (I lost track, to be honest) I had 11 deadlines, pretty much one a week, I didn’t have time to do anything like cook myself food, I was in university 40+ hours a week every week, alongside running a society and rehearsing for a drama and performance showcase and trying to maintain friendships and a relationship and it was a lot.

Following the final result of my second year, I was driven for third year – I’d done the maths, I knew exactly what I needed to do to get the grade I wanted from my last year of university (so far). But that made me very stressed when suddenly I was faced with the reality of actually working at that level.

I don’t know if I’m writing really ominously or pretentiously or if I’m just not making sense at all, but not all the pressure came from myself. Third year is intense – obviously, it’s my last year of uni so it’s meant to be challenging and I thought I was ready but clearly not.

Maybe by asking myself to do as much as I can for third year, writing for my blog, making YouTube videos, running a society, being part of a performance society and having a job was putting too much pressure on myself? I was made redundant at the end of November so that’s one thing off the list and I’ve taken a step back from drama and performance until after Christmas. Sonar Film has been manic and I want to sit and have a day focusing on that over the holidays and I’m slowly working my way through uni stuff.

Writing all of this out really helps me, which is partially why I love writing on my blog and why I’m determined to get back into blogging and YouTube.

I’m someone who thrives on routines – writing and making videos as and when ‘I feel like it’ doesn’t work for me at all because I’m not someone who gets inspired to write things as and when.  So I’ve planned a new routine.

I have so many blog post ideas and I’m going to write as much as I can before I go back to uni properly at the end of January and I’m excited about it.

My aim for my blog and my Youtube channel is to take the pressure off a little bit – so that I have time to do it around my uni work but enjoy it as a welcome break from my degree. I don’t need anything else to be stressed about!

If you have any tips for maintaining a blog and a million other commitments do leave me a comment, I need all the help I can get!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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