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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We’ve talked before about how music can help your workout here on the blog before. When I first started training it worked wonders on my self confidence and helped me focus on what I was doing rather than worry about what everyone else was thinking about me. However, it is more than just a placebo! Science has actually backed up, in numerous experiments, the claim that music can actually help you SMASH your workout. Here’s why and some of my motivational gym playlist for you to listen to during your next session. 

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The Science

In recent years science has made a hell of a lot of claims regarding the positive of using music to motivate your workout (and no, I am not talking about Bad Day by Daniel Powter, however much of a banger it may be). It will probably come as no surprise to you that music distracts people from pain and fatigue, helps to elevate their mood, increases endurance, reduces how much effort you think you’re putting in AND (now I’m not sure about this one but hey, I’m no scientist) may even promote metabolic efficiency. Turns out that music is a lot more than just a distraction from the burn.

It also turns out that having your own headphones might be more beneficial than listening to the gyms pick of tunes. A 2013 study revealed that choosing your own music (dubbed ‘musical agency’) allows you to think for yourself, which encourages a sense of autonomy and self-worth, which consequently helps you to power through your workout. Those who are stuck listening to the gym playlist reported feeling less motivated – just invest in Spotify Premium guys, I CANNOT squat to my full potential when an ad is on.

So there you go, now we know that music actually does help you smash your workout and you have an excuse to put your headphones in and not talk to that annoying gym regular (you’re welcome) it’s time to share with you some of my gym bangers.

My Gym Playlist 

Apparently, there is an optimum tempo of your gym music that is songs between 120 and 140 beats per minute (bpm). I’ll be honest, never in my life have I been blasting out a bit of eye of the tiger and thought ‘hold up – is the tempo right?’. Instead, I just go for motivational tunes I am loving at the time. Obviously, my playlist is very VERY extensive so I am just going to shuffle it and take the first 10 that come up for cardio and the first 10 that come up for resistance training (no cheating). I should warn you, they are very very varied.

Cardio

“Pump up the Jam” by Technotronic

“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

“Hey Ya!” by Outkast

“Temperature” by Sean Paul

“Pound The Alarm” by Nicki Minaj

“Get Busy” by Sean Paul

“That’s My Girl” – Fifth Harmony

“I Like to Move It” – Reel 2 Reel

“Stronger” – Kelly Clarkson

“Welcome To The Club” – Manian

Resistance

“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen

“Stronger” by Kanye West

“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

“Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses

“Lose Yourself’ by Eminem

“Smells Like Teen Spirt” by Nirvana

“We Will Rock You” by Queen

“Numb” by Linkin Park

“The Man” – The Killers

Phew, shuffle was kind to me today! I would love to know what are your go-to gym bangers and what you can always count on to get you motivated. Do you have  different playlist for cardio and resistance training? Let me know in the comments below. 

Jamie x 

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Sources: 

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/why-exercise-workout-music-playlist_n_4173931.html

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychology-workout-music/

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/music-workout-exercise-playlist-pain-easier-rocky-research-studies-proven-a7238016.html

http://www.brunel.ac.uk/about/chls/life-sciences

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3741536/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19793214

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/exercise-and-music

I swear I say this every single month but HOW is it already the end of September. It seems like just yesterday I was walking around with so much sweat between my thighs I constantly thought I’d weed myself, moaning about the sunshine and waiting for the delights of pumpkin spiced syrup. Nice image for you there, ey. Seriously though, it is mad how quickly this year is going. It is also mad how I have managed to do favourites of the month consistently now since March. Well done me.

By this point you’re probably getting the hang of these, so let’s just get straight into it. 

Fashion

It will probably come as no surprise to you that this month’s fashion favourite is from Gymshark (something tells me that this is going to become a reoccurring theme). A few months back Gymshark released their Slounge Collection and quite literally as soon as I got into the office and saw these sets in the flesh I knew I HAD to get my hands on them. I went for all three components of the set in the grey but can also vouch for the other colours (I was really torn but decided that grey would go with more). They are possibly the comfiest joggers I have ever owned and yet they still manage to have such a flattering, bootylicious fit. The whole collection is an absolute game changer for Gymshark and I cannot rave about them enough. They are perfect for rest days, casual days out and for smashing your gym session now it’s getting a little colder – the perfect all rounder outfit.

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Image from gymshark.com

I wear a size S in all three components and they fit perfectly. I am usually a size 10 in bottoms and around an 8-10 in tops.

Make Up 

When I first bought this product I was a little disappointed. Not because it was bad quality because it is definitely not (it has such a silky smooth formula – I cannot fault it) but because it was a little too golden for my skin tone. I am talking about the cult favourite from Laura Geller, the Baker Gelato Swirl Highlighter in Gilded Honey. This glow is one of the best I have ever owned but the colour just wasn’t quite right. HOWEVER, that all changed this month. I have been consistently using my gradual tan and so I have a bit of a glow. Plus, now my make up as transitioned from the dewy, summer, barely there look to a more intense, winter look, it is perfect. It goes so well with deep brown lids and burgundy/berry lips. The product has a little bit of sparkle and a LOT of glow. It makes my make up pop and my skin look super healthy even in the colder weather.

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Image from beautybay.com

I would seriously recommend having a look at this product if you haven’t already because I really can see why there is such a hype surrounding it.

Skin Care

As you will know if you’ve read these posts before, I get really dry skin and this only gets worse as the weather starts to get colder. My absolute go to over the past few weeks has been Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Concentration Cream. It is the most delicious, nourishing formula that smells like melted chocolate. It has a thicker texture than usual moisturisers and feels so silky smooth, which I really like. This product has made it into my daily bag, which is a HUGE achievement for a moisturiser so well done Palmer’s – I tip my wooly bobble hat to you. The collection is HUGE so have a browse and see what floats your boat.

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Image from ebay.com

Exercise

It surprises me to say this but this month my love for the deadlift has returned. I really went off deadlifting when I pulled my lower back due to some dodgy form and seriously overestimating my capabilities (sure I am pull 100kg after 2 weeks off, no worries…). Since then I admit I have avoided it but since starting training in Solihull I have really started to love them again. Rather than going super heavy like I was doing before, I tend to do high reps with a lower weight (50-60kg) and I am really enjoying them.

If you’re not deadlifting here’s why you definitely should be doing:

  • It works your full body.
  • It helps with fat burning
  • It can help improve your posture (as long as the form is correct) 
  • Helps increase grip strength
  • Makes you feel BAD ASS.

Entertainment (Book) 

This one way easy this month. My September favourites when it comes to entertainment has to go to the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. The first book in this series is the one that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film was inspired by. They are such fantastic reads – trippy, engaging and totally unpredictable. If you get the chance and enjoy crime fiction then I would seriously recommend giving these books ago. Larsson has such an original writing style that will have you hooked from the first page!

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Image from booktopiablog.com

This has actually been the easiest favourites of the month EVER! I usually find myself really torn but I am loving all of these things so much that they were unrivalled this month. What have you been loving this month? Did you treat yourself to the Gymshark slounge? On the hunt for an intense moisturiser to get you through the winter months? Let me know in the comments below. 

Jamie x

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It’s no secret that I am a huge coffee fan. I never used to drink it but final year at University got the better of me and I went from a milky Latte to a black Americano with an extra shot in the space of about a month. Nowadays I have coffee every single day without fail, whether that be from a coffee shop or chilling on the sofa at home. Coffee has a bit of a bad rep when it comes to health and fitness (one of the reasons I avoided it for so long) but is it really all that bad? Can squatting and shot-ing ever mix? What is your coffee habit doing to your fitness goals?

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We’ll ignore the huge slices of cake, shall we? 

I have been doing my research and found both positive and negative ways in which coffee is having an impact so sit tight, get yourself a cuppa and let us begin… 

Positives

We’ll start with the positives and you will probably be pleased to hear that there are a lot.

  1. Calorie Burner: The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned around 15% more calories during the three hour period post-exercise than those who took a placebo. This comes down to the fact that coffee contains caffeine (surprise, surprise), which you probably already know is a stimulant. What you might not know is that it has also been shown to enhance our metabolic rate and can help increase fat oxidation as a result of this – cappuccino anyone? 
  2. Athletic Performance: You might also be surprised to hear that sipping coffee has also been linked to improved athletic performance according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This is due to the fact that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Research has shown that that it can help with memory and concentration, which subsequently helps when it comes to your workout. This leads us on to our next benefit…
  3. Pre-workout: Pre- workout can be expensive but it turns out that everything you need might already be sitting in your cup board (or, you know, at your local Costa). As well as hoping with your performance, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning has revealed that caffeine can also help to reduce DOMS when it was compared with a placebo. Less time needed for muscle recovery more time to make the gains!

Negatives 

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news and there are some pretty bad ways your coffee habit could be impacting your health and preventing you from achieving your fitness goals.

  1. Calorie Intake: We’ve talked about how coffee can help when it comes to burning calories but make the wrong order and you could be adding a lot more calories to your dinner break. It’s estimated that 34% of us (ahem, me) fall victim to what is called ‘upselling’. Picture the scene: you’ve ordered a small latte and the cute barrister has told you you can upgrade for only 50p extra. Seems like a good idea, right? Wrong. This could apparently result in an extra 17,000 calories over a 12 month period. Of course it depends on your coffee preference but certainly food for thought.
  2. Anxiety: Perhaps not directly linked to your workout but certainly important to consider, coffee consumption, due to the caffeine, triggers the release of the same hormones involved in the fight-or-flight response. This can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and has the potential to exacerbate any existing anxiety disorders.
  3. 40 winks: Despite apparently helping with performance, if you’re drinking coffee within three hours of heading to bed you could be increasing the time it takes to drift off by up to 40 minutes – that’s a lot of extra counting sheep. Being sleep deprived can have a huge impact on your whole day, not to mention your workout.

So there you have it. As you can see, science has been anything but conclusive and there are both positive and negatives ways coffee can impact your health and fitness. My thoughts overall? Everything in moderation. I personally find myself more motivated, awake and content after a coffee in the morning (not to mention I enjoy the taste). I usually go for a white Americano with almond/coconut milk so it is not too calorific. Every so often I will treat myself to a dirty chai but it’s all about being aware. Stay hydrated and maybe cut back on the syrups and you’ll be fine.

What’s your go to coffee order? Let me know in the comments below.

Jamie x 

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Sources:

https://www.verywellfit.com/the-neurological-benefits-of-muscle-building-creatine-3121392

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24901809

https://www.verywellfit.com/drink-coffee-to-boost-your-workouts-and-more-3121398

http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/nutrition/happy-hour/7744/coffee-effects/

http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/beauty-style/skin/2759/is-your-morning-coffee-wrecking-your-skin-with-acne-and-dehydration/

https://www.nutracheck.co.uk/calories/calories_in_drinks/calories_in_coffee

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/calories/faq-20058100

https://www.muscleandfitness.com/features/edge/think-coffees-bad-you-think-again

https://www.health.com/nutrition/5-reasons-to-drink-coffee-before-your-workout

‘I’ve definitely done more steps than that! This bloody thing doesn’t work.’ Sound familiar? Of course it does. I remember the first day with my FitBit. I went to the gym, I walked around University. I had clearly smashed 10,000 steps. 4,500 YOU WHAT? For a moment (okay, a few days) I lost faith in my FitBit but it turns out it might be us all along… I hate to be the one to have to break it to you guys. 

A recent study has revealed that how active we really are is often a fair bit different to how active we think we are. The research showed, a little morbidly, that no one gets it right. Thank god I’m not alone! Actually, peoples ideas about their activity levels vary from country to country – it all depends on your surroundings! This is sounding a hell of a lot like one of my postmodernism seminars… 

So, what are the differences? Well, turns out our buddies over the pond, the Americans, think they are as active as the Dutch or the English when they are actually much less (this is all on average of course, if it was between myself and Serena Williams I am pretty sure she would probably take it…). This doesn’t mean to say that all the Americans who took the questionnaire were lying and the British were just being humble. Believe me, when I go to the gym I make sure everyone knows about it…. I have a blog dedicated to the fact I lift for god sake. That is not being humble about my activity levels. What it does mean, however, is that our perceptions of our own activity levels are impacted by a number of different factors – culture being the obvious one here! The study’s big boss and lead author, Arie Kapteyn said “it means people in different countries or different age groups can have vastly different interpretations of the same survey questions”. So, for example, statistic show that the Dutch are less reliant on cars than those in the US and therefore do more exercise simply running errands, which they probably would not take into consideration.

So if we look back to my example with my FitBit, hey, I go to the gym 5 times a week. That must mean I have high activity levels. Turns out it is not as simply as that and I ignored the fact that for the rest of the day I sit at a desk exercising my thumbs and little else.

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The results were also impacted by age group, which is unsurprising. What would be considered as very active for a 20 year old is different to what you might consider as very active for a 70 year old. Essentially, not only do we have different idea of fitness depending on our culture and environment but also depending on us as an individual and the expectations we hold ourselves to.

So, what was the point of the study? Basically, this study reveals that our reliance on self reported data to judge people’s lifestyles and general levels of health might be way off.  It also shows that I might owe my FitBit an apology… Fitness is not just about putting hours into the gym or fitness classes. Leading an active lifestyle does not have to be hard, expensive or time consuming but it can be something we all have. I am not saying that all fitness trackers are completely accurate but I am also not saying that all of us are completely honest with ourselves regarding our levels of fitness. It might be time for us to face the facts, put on our FitBit’s and face the stats… 

Hate to be cliched but, FitBit, it’s not you… it really is me. 

Jamie x