What I've learnt from leading a healthier lifestyle

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 Every now and then my thoughts go back to the younger, slightly different me. I'm still the same person I've almost always been but gradually developing into the me that feels right and is more like my true self at heart. A big part of that has been adopting a healthier lifestyle. I won't get into my whole story, I think I'll save that for another day. For now I want to share what I've learnt from my always evolving lifestyle change.

The best way I can describe it is, one day something clicked in my mind. There wasn't a big shooting star moment, it started small, little things here and there. Before I knew it, more things in my lifestyle had changed and I took it from there. By a healthier lifestyle, I wouldn't say I lead the healthiest life, it's a constant journey I'm living and every day I'm slowly making progress. However, it is far better than it was for a very long time. In every aspect of living, from the food I eat, how active I am, the amount of time I rest and everything in between. Health, body, mind and soul. It's a package deal.

What I've changed.. 

My diet is one of the key changes that I've made, I'm more mindful about what I put into my body. Not everything is clean and nutritious, however it's better than ever. More of the good stuff that comes from nature and less of the not so good stuff, and drinking plenty of water. Exercise is now very much a part of my routine, I get moving at least twice a week and it has been that way since the beginning of the year. I've tried out different workouts and I can honestly say I'm fitter than I've ever been (for now). I go to sleep and wake up at more reasonable hours, that in combination with exercising has helped me become less fatigued. Writing down my thoughts and feelings, keeping it in is emotionally and mentally draining. My mind is clearer and moods are not all over the place. Thinking more positive and remembering to be thankful. Just some of many little changes that have helped me become healthier, personally.
What I've learnt.. 

It takes time
When I realised this, I think that was around the time it all became clearer. There isn't a quick fix, that's why they call it a 'lifestyle'. It's the way you live, if you want it to last it takes a little while for it to stick. At times it feels like you'll never get to where you want to be but you will.

It's not always easy
Think of it like you have always walked backwards and you have to learn to walk forwards. You find your balance, you can hold yourself up and put one foot in front of the other. It feels strange, you know it's better for you but you haven't quite got the knack of it yet and still stumble to the ground. That's what it's like to change the way you've lived for most of your life. Some days will be difficult and some will be manageable. Once you've got the hang of it, it gets easier.

It's all in the mind
Although there is active changes when you're adjusting your lifestyle, a lot of it is a mental change at first and then the physical acts follow. Being wired in your head to continue to do good things for yourself is what keeps you going back to it and it will become a healthy habit.

It shows in unexpected ways
Firstly, I felt better in myself both emotionally and physically. I saw it in my mood, body, skin and just about everything. Of course I knew it would be beneficial in a lot of ways but you don't quite realise how much. I found that other people could see it in me too, my confidence was one thing people commented on, how I looked and that I seemed happier.

I won't regret it
No matter what, I will never regret the more wholesome attitude I've achieved by taking care of myself. One little thing I do regret is not doing it sooner, but maybe I had to get to this point in my own time when I was ready to take a stand and do something so amazing that is now my life.

By no means am I an expert, I did what felt right for me. It's going to be different for every one because no human is the same. If there is ever anyone who needs some encouragement to strive for what they want when it concerns their life, I want to say that taking the first step is the most important part. Believe in yourself. Be kind. You can do anything and most of all, you deserve it. 


Simple Coffee & Walnut Cake

Now that we're over half way through August, it's only a matter of weeks until the autumn days are here and baking becomes a regular thing in my house. The Great British Bake Off is also back and it inspires those sweet cravings in us all. They baked a walnut cake the other week and as I'm a coffee lover I felt like baking a coffee and walnut cake. I was pleased with how it tasted, not as elegantly decorated as I would have liked but if your Dad says it tastes like a cake from the shop then that's a good sign. I wanted to keep it simple, I'm no expert, I just enjoy baking every now and then. I just found a standard recipe and tweaked it a little. So if you're like me and not very experienced here's how you can get bake your own.


For the cake 
100 grams butter
50 grams caster sugar
50 grams soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
100 grams self-raising flour
50mls strong espresso coffee
50 grams chopped walnuts

For the icing
75 grams butter
100 grams icing sugar
A teaspoon of espresso coffee (if you wish)
Walnut halves to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C degrees, line and grease a cake tin and leave to the side.
Beat the butter and sugar together into a bowl until light and pale.
Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring the egg is completely mixed in before adding the next egg.
Pour in the coffee and vanilla extract into the bowl and stir well.
Mix in the flour to the wet mixture, then add the walnuts until completely combined.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and put in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked, take out of the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
While the cake is cooling you can make the icing, cream the butter and sugar together and then add the coffee and mix well until it's a creamy consistency.
When the cake is cool, spread the icing on top and add the walnut to decorate.



Make the time to do what you love

Sitting on my bed, on a Tuesday evening, half typing and half looking out at the slow moving grey and blue clouds with Spotify Discover Weekly playlist playing, a great new feature by the way. And I have finally found the time to write a little blog post. It makes me feel disheartened when I think about how we can't do what we love all the time, well some lucky souls can but for the most part there are moments when we all would rather be doing something else. For me, it's writing and blogging. How I would love to just sit down at a lovely desk or out in a cafe just thinking and typing away, go out exploring taking photographs everyday. It's so simple but it brings me solace.

Making the time to do what I love is what I want to focus on for a while. As life has become busier with work and summertime antics with friends and family, I have craved quiet time for myself. I'm very much introverted in that way. Finding peace to collect my thoughts, breathe and rest.

I have managed to make the time to workout whether it's cardio or yoga/pilates, albeit not as much as I would like to but enough to be satisfied and create those good endorphins. That has helped curve my yearning as well as helping keep on top of my fitness. The way I have managed that is to set the time, I'll think about my week ahead, see where I can fit it in and just go. No excuses.

Whereas when it's something like writing that's not deemed as 'essential' to my life or 'needs' to be done like pesky errands, it can be so easy to push it to the side. But why should that be the case? It's silly, really. An hour a day that is time for yourself is just as important as the other 23 hours in a day. Not only am I going to make the effort to make time for myself to do what I love I want to encourage all of you to do the same. It will be different for everyone but as long as we make that time like we make time to eat lunch we can do it. No matter what you do with it, as long as YOU are happy with what you're doing or not doing, that is what it's all about.

Little things I want to make time for..

Take a morning walk around some fields and overlook the green landscapes
Colour in my colouring book
Bake an apple crumble
Have a long stretch with yoga in the evening
Read a book
Go outside, see the world and take some snaps
Collect my favourite photos, get them printed and stick them in my photo album
Sketch some jewellery designs
Lay down, get comfy and listen to my favourite songs
Write a little every now and then

What do you want to start making more time for?


Summer Snapshots

Despite the recent rain and the autumnal chill in the air the last few days, summer has been quite good in a different kind of way. As much as I adore the time of year when the low golden sun is beaming through the browning leaves, the layers go on and days feel cosier, summer always holds a place in my heart. I think when you're a summer baby you're wired that way and there is always something to look forward to, even if you don't feel the age you're turning. So far it has been my first summer and month of working full time, no more waking up on a summer weekday and lounging around outside and being spontaneous. Before this new chapter in my life began I had some time to take a breath, do what feels good and soak up the last page. 

At the start of summer I bought myself a blender, I've been enjoying making fresh smoothies, so refreshing and no matter what you put in everything tastes good. I read most of Still Alice outside when we had some seriously gorgeous weather, I couldn't put it down. I want to read more but it slips my mind until my eyes are too heavy to stay open long enough to read a paragraph. Once I've got into the swing of a 9 to 5 job I'm sure I'll get back into reading again. My sister got me some books for my birthday so no excuses.  Made trips to the park, Trent Park is one of my favourites. It's a special place for me as I spent my first year of uni right around the corner and it looks so beautiful in spring with all the daffodils.

My grandparents came down from Scotland for a week, I always love seeing them but a little sad that I didn't get to see them as much this time. My Grandma is a huge tennis fan and came down for Wimbledon. She got the final day, not the men's final but I would have gone with her in a heartbeat. As fate would have it, it was the same day I was seeing Ed Sheeran at Wembley Stadium. He was pretty amazing, him on his own, a guitar, and thousands of people. Everyone was on their feet singing out loud and dancing away. 

So I became another year older, 23. My mind doesn't feel like that's my age. It's hard to explain, I think I don't feel I'm doing what I believe a 23 year old should be doing. Although there is no right or wrong way. It's that whole expectations versus reality dilema. I'm looking forward to seeing what this year will bring me. For the first time in a few years I entered a new age without having an existential crisis, questioning what I'm doing with my life. I'm moving forward, steadily and I can't wait to keep doing great things with my life, experiencing more and do what I want to do.