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Why do I feel so unnatural being natural? | Collaboration with Love George and Haze.

Something a little different for you today folks!

I have had the absolute pleasure of collaborating with two of the kindest girls, and most talented writers I know – George and Haze. These girls have provided me with countless amounts of inspiration for both my writing and how I live my life. I would urge you to go and check out their blog! You can also find my most recent blog post over there. If you have any questions for the girls, pop them in the comments down below and stay tuned for the next instalment of our collaboration. We have a lot of exciting stuff coming up in 2019, so watch this space. 

Now, let me hand you over to George and Haze. 

G AND H 1

The Christmas holidays started as a well-needed break — I was happy to see my family and more than ready to tuck into Mum’s box of Quality Street. But it wasn’t long before I started to feel the ‘itch’. We’ve all had ‘the itch’: the ants-in-your-pants feeling after you ~ finally ~ allow yourself to relax out of the hectic lifestyle you normally lead. So, I decided that I ought to move my body about and get myself to the gym.

As I was putting my contact lenses in, I caught a young woman in the reflection of the mirror getting changed. Her body was beautiful, as though it had been sculpted by Aphrodite herself. She had perky D cups, abs galore, toned arms, and a nice round bottom to top it all off. I blinked (mainly to get my contacts in, but also out of awe). It was evident she had worked very hard to achieve her muscular physique. And her boobs were perfectly shaped due to cosmetic implants. For no valid reason, I suddenly felt somewhat conscious of myself. A little insecure gremlin knocked on the door of my brain and said:

“You’re not good enough”.

I call this gremlin Graham. He enjoys making me feel insecure by comparing me to other people, or should I say, women.

Graham can be even more invasive than he was when I was changing at the gym. Normally he doesn’t knock, he barges straight in, especially when I’m online, and makes me think I need things, like… new clothes, new make-up, a gym pass, tanning lotion, wax strips… the list goes on.

Mid-body consciousness, I thought: Why do I feel so unnatural being natural? I had no make-up on, no jewellery on, no body piercings, no cosmetic surgery; I have an untoned stomach, non-muscular arms, hairy thighs, and one inverted nipple! That’s probably what I will have for the rest of my life, and yet I felt inadequate. Like I had failed some sort of test: The How to Be a Sexy Woman test that I didn’t even know I had entered. Graham told me I got 40%. In university terms, I still passed, but not well.  

Online, on television, and in advertisements, bodies are modified, optimized and hypersexualised. This constant exposure has its drawbacks.

My brother once told me that if he heard me fall in the shower, he wouldn’t be able to come in and check if I was okay because “it would be too awkward.” At first, I thought this was a fair response. Perhaps, a lot of people would agree, and of course, privacy and modesty is important. But as I’ve got older, I’ve realised how backwards this mindset is; my brother would prioritise my “modesty” over my physical safety. Why? Because bodies connote sex, particularly the female body. Now, I wonder whether this connotation is really worth dying for?

Its also this inescapable exposure to the “Instagram body” that is not only damaging for our mental health, but for the environment that we live in. Natural states, in all senses of the world, are becoming undesirable and unusual. I’m not saying that we should all become hairy hippies, but we do need a serious realignment with Mother Nature.

Of course, adopting a natural lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t actively try to be fit and healthy. In fact, we believe that the two are intertwined. When I volunteered in Fiji, all of the men had the physique of rugby players because they spent every day either outside on the farm or playing sport with their friends. They didn’t have sinks/running water, let alone weights and shakes. They didn’t have phones to scroll through all day lazing on the sofa, either. They were the fittest, healthiest people I’d seen, and their only tools were motivation and nature.

It’s a Western mindset — the idea that a half an hour treadmill session is more valid, and feels more like exercise, than an hour dog walk in the fresh air. It’s the same for supplements. Why are expensive protein bars or sports drinks, or even weight-loss tablets more appealing than taking real control over your diet and eating a balanced variety of healthy wholefoods?

Fitness, despite going hand-in-hand with natural health, has become a commercial industry, and yet another thing for us to consume. We’re not saying cancel your memberships or stop going (we too are members of our university gym), but remember that your 30 minutes each day to drive to the gym and run on the crosstrainer is not the exclusive answer to feeling healthy and natural in your skin.

I walked back into the changing room, all buzzy from the endorphins. This time though, there were lots of women getting changed. Mothers and children, both stripping with ease, as well as young women, middle-aged women, and elderly women too. I wasn’t intending to be the creep that ‘looked’ but I couldn’t help myself. I was surrounded by women, all here with the intention to keep their bodies ‘in shape’,  yet they were all so different.

Some had big boobs, others tiny boobs, some had rolling bellies, some flabby in places others were tight. Their figures didn’t fit into the shapes women’s magazines had told me they were supposed to — I didn’t see any  “apple”, “pear”, or “hourglass” shapes — I saw human bodies. They were just bodies and it wasn’t and deeper than that.

Social media, society, advertisements, women’s magazines all told me there was one body type that was perfect. Graham was wrong. Women’s magazines were wrong. I was wrong.

Stupid, I thought, as I took my sports bra off. I shouldn’t be surprised when I see other shapes and sizes — but I was, and it saddened me to be so. My own body doesn’t entirely comply with an ‘ideal’, yet I was still surprised when others’ didn’t, either?!

I peeled my sports leggings off with confidence, ready to join this liberal, nakedness movement and show what my mama gave me to the room.

It is naive to say that the gym is the culprit behind the warped distance between healthy mindsets, bodies and nature. When I was younger, I begged my Mum to let me shave my legs because the other girls in PE all did. I was so impressionable, I remember crying about it. Crying! Because of some tiny blonde hairs! But everyone else had beautiful smooth legs, so my unconscious bias told me that was what I needed. I was completely immersed in an environment that valued image and compliance with expectation without a second thought about natural states.

But how far are we going to push it before it’s too late? If you’ve seen Black Mirror’s Nosedive, you know that striving to make yourself look better online is not going to lead to life fulfilment. The natural is not the enemy, as much as capitalism likes us to believe.

It‘s a common truth that if all women woke up and were confident in themselves, millions of companies would go out of business.

Love,

George and Haze xxxxxx

G AND H

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. Let me know your questions for the girls and keep coming back as the next instalment will be up soon.

Jamie x

I had an epiphany.

That’s right. I had an epiphany. You might have noticed that I haven’t been here for a while. What with starting my new job, moving to a new house and coming out of a nearly three-year relationship, sitting down and writing a personal blog post just didn’t quite feel right. I have just wanted to be all go.

I felt like my life should be 100% all the time – I didn’t want grey.

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At first, I thought this was really positive. I was going out every weekend, meeting new people and experiencing things I had never experienced before – not all positive in hindsight.

Reflection seemed like a bit of a waste of time.

It wasn’t until everything started to calm down and become the norm that I really started to evaluate things and reflect on the personal growth and development that has been taking place for me over the past few months.

When I left University and started my ‘new life’, I thought I knew exactly what I needed in order to become ‘happy’. I had painted an idea in my mind about what being happy meant to me. It hasn’t been until I have started to reflect that I realised that my fabricated idea of happiness was quantitative.

Bloggers talk about followers and readers a lot, but when I finished University, I genuinely believed that these numbers would bring with them my happiness. Of course, the nature of my job means that numbers are an essential part of my day to day life, but I was struggling to separate that with my own personal happiness and success. Not only was I focused on my Instagram follower count, but I was also focused on the numbers I saw on the scales, the number of Tinder matches I was getting, the number of plans I had made that week… I had reduced my entire happiness to a number. To the outside world things were looking great, but in reality, I could feel myself slowly slipping back into older, unhealthy thinking habits.

I didn’t want to write on here anymore because I didn’t want to see how many readers I had got that day and feel disappointed. I had forgotten something important – I never used to write for other people. I didn’t train for other people. I didn’t work day and night for a history degree for other people. I did it all for me and because those things made me happy, regardless of the ‘numbers’ that might have been attached to them. The things that made me happiest had nothing to do with numbers.

I realised that my idea of what I needed to be happy was way off and, truth be told, I was already pretty happy without forcing anything.

It took being away from the things that do make me happy to have an epiphany about what is important to me. I stopped consistently training, I stopped reading, I stopped learning for learning’s sake. Everything I was doing was for the purpose of validation because I genuinely believed that happiness and validation were the same thing.

Organic personal growth and change are great, but I have found that trying to make a difference in my life artificially was only moving me further and further away from the person I know I am. I was trying to squeeze myself into a mould that I just don’t fit.

I am grateful for this period in my life. It has more certainly been necessary because it has taught me that I didn’t need a huge move or huge nights out. I didn’t need to post every waking moment on Instagram or worry about external validation. Happiness was, in fact, a good book. It was coffee with friends. It was writing blog posts that I loved. It was learning.

I found my happy.

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So, I guess this is an ‘I’m back post’. I am back, not only to blogging but to me.

Jamie x

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Tattoo Top Tips | Getting Your First Tattoo.

A few months back I got my first EVER tattoo. I had wanted a tattoo for years and so, after months and months of looking at designs, myself and my Mum booked in to get matching tattoos. I am by no means an expert. I have one tiny tattoo on my ankle that took all of 15 minutes to do. HOWEVER, I did pick up some top tips during the process that I thought I would share with you incase you were considering getting your first tattoo. 

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Take Your Time

Whatever you choose is going to be on your body forever so make sure you love the design! I am not one of these people who believes that every tattoo has to mean something but I do think you should invest time into making sure you’re 100% happy with the design. I had my design saved on my phone for about 6 months and kept looking at it to make sure I was definitely certain this was the first tattoo I wanted. It is also really important to consider placement. Originally I was going to get this on my side, however, after browsing the net I decided the ankle was the place to go and I love it.

Do Your Research

Make sure you research both the parlour and the tattoo artist before committing. Check out as many online reviews as possible and if you can, visit in person to check it all out and meet the artist that will be doing your tattoo. Artists tend to have certain styles they are really good at and other things they would rather avoid, so check them out on Facebook and have a look at some of their previous work to get a idea of style. If you’re wanting a dainty flower on your rib cage then maybe someone who specialises in big ass gothic dragons might not be the one for you… 

Don’t Be Tight

Don’t pick your parlour/artist based on how cheap they are. A tattoo is an investment and it’s better to spend that little bit more and be happy with it than end up on the next series of Tattoo Fixers.

Ask Questions 

As well as researching the artist make sure you ask them questions. You want to make sure you have a good rapport and your mind is at ease before the day.

Look After Yourself Prior

This is something that I had never really thought about until I met with my tattoo artist prior, but it is really important to make sure you take care of yourself beforehand. My advice would be don’t go to the shop drunk (#Maga2018 might seem like a good idea at the time but it probably won’t in the morning) and make sure you eat a decent meal and drink lots of water beforehand. I’d also recommend saying YES to the offer of a lollipop. 1) The sugar will keep your blood sugar levels elevated and stop you feeling sick. 2) You can bite of the stick when it gets a little bit sore. Plus you get a free lolly – win, win. 

Prepare Yourself (And Maybe Take A Friend)

I hate to break it to you but it is going to hurt. It’s not totally unbearable but you’re having ink carved into your skin with loads of little needles, obviously it’s not a bloody spa facial. To be fair, my artist did say the placement of mine might make it worse as it as going directly onto the ankle bone at points, so positioning does impact it. Obviously your pain threshold impacts things as well. I didn’t think it was too bad and I would definitely have another. Mum on the other hand…. I’m not too sure.

The Aftercare is CRUCIAL

Tattoo aftercare is really important and something that you really cannot neglect! You’ve probably spent a lot of money on your tattoo and it’s going to be there forever so it deserves to be shown some love. If you’re not supplied with aftercare treatment (I wasn’t) I would recommend Bepanthen+ applied at least twice a day for AT LEAST a few weeks. Listen carefully to the instructions your artist gives you and think about timing. You need to keep your tattoo out of direct sunshine and chlorinated so you don’t want to be getting in done the day before you go away.

I loved having my tattoo and I am really happy with how it turned out. I have definitely got the tattoo bug and am already planning a second on my ribs (again only a little one, don’t worry Mum!). If you’re looking for some inspiration for designs I would suggest looking on Instagram and Pinterest as there are some incredible pieces on there. I also have a board on my Pinterest dedication to my tattoo inspiration so go and check it out. 

Have you guys got any tattoos? Are you planning your first? Let me know in the comments below. 

Jamie x 

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Sources:

https://www.hartandhuntingtonorlando.com/blog/11-tips-your-first-tattoo

First Tattoo Tips

https://www.bustle.com/articles/97422-tips-for-getting-your-first-tattoo-because-getting-inked-is-a-pretty-huge-pretty-permanent-life

22 Things I’ve Learnt By 22.

I turn 22 tomorrow. Part of me is excited because, you know, presents but the other part of my wishes everything would just SLOW DOWN. The little 8 year old inside me still can’t quite comprehend that she’s an adult now, going to work and renting her own little house. When I first moved in I wasn’t ready for it, but I had no choice but to learn and learn FAST. That has often been the case with most of the lessons I have learnt throughout my 22 years on this earth. Life comes at you quickly and sometimes you just have to go with it and hope for the best. 

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Started from the bottom…

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Now we’re here.

  1. Always have a sanitary towel in your bag. You never know when mother nature is going to come-a-calling and you should always be prepared. After a few accidents and more than a few girls asking me if I had one spare in bathrooms, I learnt my lesson.
  2. You’re not going to ‘like’ everyone, but that doesn’t mean you cannot get along. Back in year 8 if I didn’t like someone they were automatically my worst enemy. As I have grown up I have learnt that I don’t have to ‘like’ someone to get on with them. It doesn’t mean they are bad people or that we have to be enemies, it might just mean we’re different and that’s okay – you’re not going to like everyone.
  3. Not everyone is going to like you. Following on from number 2, not everyone is going to like you and guess what? That’s okay too.
  4. Bitching says more about you than it does them. When I was younger everyone bitched about everyone. It was cruel and unnecessary. I learnt overtime that bitching about people said more about me than it did them. If you have a problem with someone the only way to resolve it is to speak to them.
  5. Pee after sex. This came as a shock to me but yes, pee after sex. Nobody wants a water infection.
  6. Relationships should be 50/50. You should never have to bleed yourself dry to maintain a relationship. Relationships should be an equal balance of give and take.
  7. Always have a bottle of water in your bag. Hydration really is key! Plus, bottled water is expensive and bad for the environment.
  8. Water looks a lot like vodka and lemonade – just keep your mouth shut. If you don’t want another drink just order tap water. Trust me, no one will notice and you’ll thank yourself for it the next day.
  9. Endings are a part of life. Endings aren’t always nice but they are a part of life and symbolise growth and change.
  10. There is no shame in vulnerability. I used to think that in order to get anywhere in life I had to be hard faced and emotionless. Remember all the Facebook quotes glorifying this? Turns out, there is no shame in vulnerability. In fact, I have grown up to find it an endearing quality in others. Without vulnerability I found that life was very lonely.
  11. Sex and self respect do not correlate. When I was younger I firmly believed that sex and self respect went hand in hand but overtime I have learnt that that is not the case. People have both self respect and sex – the two do not correlate. If they are happy and safe then it really doesn’t matter how many sexual partners an individual chooses to have.
  12. You’re going to need anti-ageing creams sooner than you thought. Okay so I haven’t got wrinkles and I’m not greying just yet BUT there is no harm in erring on the side of caution. I have recently brought myself an anti-ageing eye cream to help with early signs of ageing. Kind of expected that to be a purchase I made closer to my 40’s but there you go…
  13. Coffee is cheaper if you just make it at home. Yes I know this is obvious but honestly you will save SO much money if you cut down on your coffee shop habit and just make it at home.
  14. The laundry is not going to wash itself. Turns out it was Mum who did it! Who knew?
  15. You are your own priority. I spent a long time trying to be a people pleaser and it got me nowhere. The more I tried it seemed the less I was liked. I learnt that your happiness should be your first priority. The more I put me first, the more I found people like me who loved and supported me for who I am.
  16. Things hardly ever go to plan. Literally EVER. You really have just got to roll with every new opportunity. As a self confessed ‘planner’ this came as a shock to the system but hey, that’s life for you!
  17. Not everyone has the same heart as you. Sometimes people can be cruel and work from a different moral compass to yourself. Take lessons from these people should you come across them and remove them from your life. Do not sacrifice your inner peace for anyone.
  18. Mum knows best. It didn’t take me long to learn this but it did take me a long time to accept it. Mum’s really are always right. My Mum knows me better than I know myself and her advice always come from a place of selfless love.
  19. You don’t owe ‘looking pretty’ to anyone. Don’t want to wear make up? Don’t. Can’t be bothered to wash your hair? No worries. It took me a long time to learn this but you don’t have to ‘look pretty’. You do not owe being ‘visually appealing’ to someone – you are worth so much more than that.
  20. Heartbreak hurts but you get over it. I have had my heart broken. One time I never thought I would EVER get over it but I did. I still think about that person from time to time but it is usually with fondness. Heartbreak is a part of life. It sucks but you’re going to be fine.
  21. Dry shampoo is a gift from the gods. I thank the gods for the day dry shampoo was invented. Honestly the day I learnt I did not have to wash my hair every single day was a wonderful one.
  22. You’re never alone, even if you feel like it. There are times when I have felt very lonely but I have learnt that I am never alone. In a world where anyone is just a phone call away and friendships with your online pals are as real as friendships with those you have known in person you really are never alone. I promise.

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My last celebration living at home. 

I hope I never lose the little 8 year old inside of me who still jumps in puddles and will go out of her way to do the hop scotch on her route home from work. I might be an adult but I always want to be a child at heart. I always want to keep hold of that youthful, carefree fun whether I’m 22 or 82. Happy Birthday to me. 

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“We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public’ – Bryan White.

Jamie x 

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From Summer To Autumn | Switching Up My Routine.

It’s Autumn time!! Autumn is my favourite season hands down. A) Because it is my birthday season (I’m an October baby so it is officially my birthday month) and B) Pumpkin spiced lattes are back and I am continue embracing the #basic life in caffeinated style and C) Because I love updating my health and beauty routine to suit to colder weather. I thought I would share with you guys today some of the changes autumn brings to my routine. So, let’s get started. 

Skin Care

I tend to use autumn as a transition season to help to rejuvenate and repair your skin from any summer damage and get it ready for the brutalities of a British winter. Everything has to serious up its game when it gets to autumn as moisture becomes to new buzz word. Now it is getting colder and I am becoming more and more reliant on the central heating, a more intensive moisturiser in necessary. I tend to ditch the lighter creams and go for heavier moisturising creams and gels that reinvigorate my skin and body and give it a little extra hydration.

  1. Whereas the Dove Summer Revived Gradual Tan was getting me through the summer months just fine now it is more about the Aveeno, which I cannot recommend enough. I also tend to get slight eczema during the colder months on my chest and elbows (nothing too serious) but this moisturiser clears it right up and keeps it to an absolute minimum.
  2. I also tend to switch up my lip care to something a little more moisturising. As you might remember, during summer I was LOVING the Carmex Pineapple and Mint lip balm (it even featured in my holidays essentials post). Now, however, my lips are needing a thicker balm that does not make me mourn my summer holidays. Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm is perfect for this. It is so so nourishing and super thick so continues to provide moisture ALL day. The thickness might not be for everyone but I cannot think of a better lip balm to take me from summer into autumn – it’s fantastic.
  3. Moisture might be the buzz word but it is important not to forget to exfoliate during the autumn months. My go-to is always FRÉ Skincare ‘Purify Me’. It keeps my skin clean, smooth and helps to get rid of dead cells and impurities without making my skin feel dry or tight at all. It’s a dream of an exfoliate and I would seriously recommend it. If you fancy getting your hands on some remember to use my code JJ, which will give you 15% off at the checkout.

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Hair 

Moisture is also the buzzword when it comes to hair. I have pretty dry hair anyway so my hair care regime doesn’t change dramatically BUT I have some bits and bobs I would recommend and one pretty big change.

  1. The Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment (For Hair That Never Grows Past A Certain Length) is AMAZING! Not only does it help speed up hair growth, which I love during the autumn and winter months, it also leaves your hair feeling super moisturised and silky smooth. I definitely will be using this product a lot more regularly over the next few months.
  2. The biggest change when it comes to my hair is that autumn means it is time to bring back the gold. I am a natural blonde but like to change up the tones to match the seasons. Over summer I had a super light highlight ran through it. Autumn will see more honey shades to match my wardrobe and make up changes. By winter we will probably see the return of a silver undertone but, for now at least, I’m going to be a golden girl

Make Up

I hate to say it but I am no longer the tanned goddess I was last season. Now I resemble a sheet of paper and that sadly means that my make up all needs switching up to suit. My autumn make up looks tend to be a lot deeper and more intense. Whereas summer saw pastels and pretty shimmers, autumn is about browns, burgundy and a popping highlight.

  1. The biggest change in my make up from summer to autumn is my lipstick colour choices. Whereas summer sees me rocking a soft pink, bright orange or more natural/nude shades, autumn is all about deeper and darker lip colours. My absolute go-to’s are both MAC. First up is Dark Side, which is the most stunning deep burgundy ever that goes so well with browns and oranges. I also absolutely love Dubonnet, which is described as a deepened claret. It is the perfect deep red and goes with pretty much every single make up look.
  2. I am sad to say that after months of light powders and a bit of bronzer, the liquid foundations are back. Even though I am looking for a bit more coverage from my foundation I still don’t want my skin to feel clogged up and full of make up. My favourite for creating a beautifully dewy, natural finish is the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation. If I am looking for something with a little more coverage, the MAC studio sculpt foundation is my go-to (although I am currently in the market for a new one so suggestions are welcome). 
  3.  In terms of eye shadow, my bright oranges and yellows have had to go back in the drawer until next year. It does mean, however, that my NUE Eyeshadow Palette from Laritzy  has really come into it’s own. I have spoken about this palette before for it’s stunning browns and deeper shades and they are absolutely perfect for the autumn months. My Smashbox Full Exposure palette is also a favourite for the autumn/winter months and is great for creating day looks as well as looks for your work Christmas party.

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It’s goodbye for now Silent Disco… 

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Fashion

Definitely the most notable change in autumn is my fashion. Living in the UK means that autumn gets very cold so the shorts and cute summer dresses go to the back of the wardrobe for another year and we say hello to some new fashion staples.

  1. Hallelujah, jumpers are back! I love a jumper. The bigger the better. Last year I did a huge jumper shop and got loads from Primark. They’re super affordable and will last me through this autumn as well. I would also recommend hitting up Primark for coats. They’re usually very similar to ones you might find in River Island or TopShop but are a fraction of the price.
  2. It’s time to say goodbye to the sunshine yellows, baby pinks and bright (and by bright I mean covered in flamingos and pineapples…) and hello to burnt oranges, burgundy and deep reds. Just as with makeup, my wardrobe becomes a lot deeper in the autumn months. I still like my longer dresses but tend to pair them up with cute little chelsea boots and wooly tights rather than flip flops. When it comes to shoes, Zara have an excellent selection (as always). Here are some of my favourites.

Snake Skin/Leopard Print High Heel Ankle Boots – £99.99

Red Leather Stiletto Ankle Boots – £89.99

Burgundy High Heel Knee High Boots – £119

All a little pricey (they’ve had to go onto the wish list) but Zara shoes are great quality and last for years so definitely worth the investment if you can afford them.

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Okay, so maybe baby pink still features a little… I just can’t help myself. 

Exercise

Autumn might be my favourite season but the switch from summer to autumn is a bit of a disaster my training programme. Okay, that’s unfair on autumn, but it certainly does mean there is a huge dip in my motivation. When you get up for work and it’s dark and then you come home from work and, surprise surprise, it is once again dark, the last thing I fancy doing is a gym session. This means that my exercise programme sees a bit of a switch up in order to maintain motivation throughout the colder months.

  1. My training moves from outdoor agility and functional training to more gym based, indoor training. This isn’t a problem as long as I ensure to keep up cardiovascular training whilst I’m there (I’ll also probably be walking around less so I also need to make up for that). 
  2. I train a lot smarter in the colder seasons. This means that I make my workouts shorter and focus them more on compound movements.That way I’m not inside for every single daylight hour but I can go in and get an effective session done quickly.
  3. Gym buddies are saving graces when you’re lacking in motivation so I tend to go to a lot more classes and group sessions during the colder months. Pop into your local gym and see what they’ve got available OR look into local walking groups or Zumba classes – these always keep me motivated and it is also a great way to make friends (it’s nearly secret santa time, right?)

So there you have it, some of the changes I will be making to my routine over the next couple of weeks. Are you guys excited for Autumn? What are some of the biggest changes to your routine that the new season brings? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time. 

Jamie x 

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