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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This week is Yellow Week. What’s Yellow Week I hear you ask? Well, I’ll be honest, I had no idea either. It wasn’t until I was contacted by one of the lovely girls I met at the Cosmopolitan Self Made Summit asking me if I would get involved that I learnt all about this week and what it stood for. #WearYellowDay is a day aimed at raising money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited disease affecting more than 10,400 people in the UK that has no current known cure. It is a disease you are born with and so it cannot be caught in later life but 1 in 25 of us carries the faulty gene that cause it usually without knowing. The disease causes a thick, sticky mucus to form in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. The mucus clogs the lungs, which eventually results in respiratory failure. 

Before writing this post I did a lot of research into CF. I have been lucky enough to have never had come across it and, perhaps naively, knew very little about the symptoms and the impact that it has on people’s lives. Originally, my intention was to look at exercise and CF. There was loads of information available and I would urge you to take a look. If you are interested there is a great website exploring ways in which you can find and create a fitness programme that is going to work for you and your CF.

However, my plan changed when I came across an incredible project by photographer, Ian Pettigrew in an online Women’s Health article from way back when. He published photos of around 60 women, all of which are living with CF. The women who took part in this project were of all difference shapes, sizes and ethnicities and CF looked different on each one of them. Yet each one of the photographs are beautifully unique and personal and each women tells her story in a different way. The series was called the Salty Girls project, named due to the higher levels of chloride in the skin of those with CF.

The aim of the series was to help put an end to body shaming. These women embraced their bodies and scars whilst inspiring women everywhere to do the same. I was hugely inspired by this. In a world where our rigid conceptions of beauty dominate our daily lives, loving your body has become all the more difficult and yet all the more necessary. If I search #bodypositivity on Instagram I can get over 1,000,000 hits in seconds and yet I wonder how many of us practise what we preach. If you scroll long enough you’ll probably find one of my pictures – I use the hashtag a lot! However, I still look in the mirror and feel disgusted sometimes. I still wish I could have smaller thighs or a bigger butt. Yet seeing this shoot acted as a reminder that I am lucky to have the body that I have. Seeing these incredible women embrace their scars with pride is truly inspirational for us all and reminded me of my interview with the amazing Billie Anderson a few weeks ago.

If you head over to the website you can see the full project. I would seriously recommend taking a look and reading some of the incredible first hand experiences of these women. I cannot possibly do justice to their experiences and the experiences of people everywhere who are suffering with CF. This disease is truly horrendous and yet there are men and women out there fighting it and learning to love their bodies despite and even because of their scars, chest tubes and ileostomy. Body positivity needs to include every body because we never truly appreciate how lucky we are.

I am really grateful to have been asked to get involved with this years campaign and I have learnt so much about a disease I knew very little about. If you are able to donate to the cause please do. Every year the Cystic Fibrosis Trust invest millions into research to help those with CF tackle some of their biggest challenges. Their aim is to allow people to live a life unlimited by the condition. You can head over to their website here. I understand this may not be possible for everyone but I do urge you to take a look at the project and get involved in #WearYellowDay if you can. You can also take part in fundraising events throughout the year so head over to their website and see how you can get involved. 

Until next time. 

Jamie x 

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The public have voted.

No, no, not for Alex and Samira (although good work guys). The public have voted for more blog posts! Therefore I will now be attempting to post twice a week. So long as I can continue providing interesting (I hope) and high quality content, I will definitely give it my best shot.

So here it goes, I am proud to present the first ever Tuesday post – #HealthyHeadlines.  Keeping up with what is going on in the world of health can be tough so I thought I would share with you recent research and headlines to keep you on top of the latest in the fitness world as well as some of my thoughts on them. As always, my sources are down below so take a look to keep up to date with future #HealthyHeadlines and stay tuned as I am hoping to make this into a blog series. So, let’s get started…

Eating Salmon and Eggs can cut Colorectal Cancer by 31%

Nothing too surprising here but the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health has found that high vitamin D levels can lower your risk of colorectal cancer by up to 31%. The truth is most of us Brits are lacking in our Vitamin D – surprise surprise. With British summertime lasting a grand total of 3 days, it is easy to see why. However, you can also get Vitamin D from your foods, for example salmon, egg and cheese, meaning these foods can help to cut back on your risk of colorectal cancer.

If you’re a vegan, not to worry! The Vegan Society have a load of advice of how you can make sure you’re getting you Vitamin D so check that out here.

8 hours sleep might not be enough!

Penn State University researchers have claimed that the recommended 8 hours sleep a night might not be enough for us. In fact, they have suggested that we should all strive for an extra 30 minutes a night, making the new optimum sleep target 8.5 hours. I have written a lot about the important of sleep here on my blog, but the reality is 8.5 hours of decent sleep can be tough. I hate to be the one to break it to you though but this study also shows how you apparently cannot ‘catch up’ on sleep. Meaning that mid afternoon nap doesn’t count – darn it!

If you’re anything like me and this new target seems more than a little unachievable, here are some top tips on how to get a better nights sleep.

Love Island and the #bodyposi movement  

As always, ITV2’s Love Island has been causing a lot of controversy. This year it has faced a lot of criticism for its lack of body diversity, with many arguing that the programme is a huge step back for the #bodyposi movement, which encourages men and women to love their bodies regardless of their size.

With the average size in the UK for a women being a 16 size, the question is, does Love Island have a responsiblity to show different body types rather than solely that which has been deemed as an unrealistic portrayal of male and female bodies? I am interested to hear what you think – let me know in the comments below (or you know, if you just want to chat about the latest Island gossip I am up for that as well…) 

Women’s Health are back with their ‘In Shape My Shape’ campaign

It is not all bad for the #bodyposi movement! My favourite Health and Wellness magazine, Women’s Health are back with their ‘In Shape, My Shape’ campaign, showing us how ‘health’ looks different on everyone. This is the third year the title has ran this campaign and it just keeps on getting bigger and better – you go guys!

You can join loads of celebrities, influencers and avid Instagrammers and get involved with the campaign on social media using #InShapeMyShape and sharing what you love about your body.

 

Food combining both Fats and Carbohydrates are more beneficial than consuming the macros in isolation.

Journal, Cell Metabolism (not something I have a monthly subscription to, I’ll be honest) has revealed that foods that combine both fats and carbohydrates might be more rewarding for us than foods that contain these macros in isolation. A study of 206 adults supports the idea that foods containing just fat or just carbs hijack our body’s inborn signals governing food consumption. Basically, this means we are more likely to overeat due to underestimating the calorie content of our meals – it’s all psychological.

Hey, it means we get bigger meals so I am alright with it! 

Pip and Nut have announced a new Chocolate Orange flavour

Pip and Nut have got a new nut butter joining the family! If you love Terry’s Chocolate Orange, this is for you! (If you don’t, I have got some serious questions for you). The new spread is made from orange extract, almonds and cacao (sounds delicious – plus it’s not peanuts so it gets a thumbs up from me!) You can get your hands on some now for £3.49 from their website and on Ocado and apparently we will be seeing it in Sainsbury’s from the end of this month.

I’m not drooling, you are!

So there you have it! Some #HealthyHeadlines that have been popping up this week that I think you need to know about. Let me know what #HealthyHeadline caught your eye and if you have any thoughts on any of the ones discussed here. Stay tuned for more #HealthyHeadlines in the future, but for now, happy Tuesday guys and gals. 

Jamie x 

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2018/jun/11/8-and-half-hours-optimum-amount-sleep-time

http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/health/symptom-checker/8616/health-headlines-one/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180614213837.htm

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-island-2018-contestants-body-diversity-criticism-dani-dyer-a8383811.html

Pip & Nut releases limited-edition chocolate orange almond butter

Why eight hours a night isn’t enough, according to a leading sleep scientist

‘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 

 

 

As you will know if you have me on social media, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Cosmopolitan Self Made Summit. I had the most incredible day and met some wonderful, inspirational women I know will take the world by absolute storm! Whilst I was there I had the honour of meeting Billie Anderson. Billie’s story inspired me so much and she was kind enough to allow me to share it with you guys. Like most of us I think, I strive to constantly make my body ‘better’, either my bum isn’t big enough or my waist isn’t small enough and do not even get me started on the size of what can only be described as Mount Everest taking over my face! Talking with Billie though I realised maybe I’m a little harsh. Maybe I should start to appreciate what I do have because after all, all of our bodies are incredible… Here is Billie’s story. 

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So, I guess the first question a lot of my readers will have is what actually is an Ostomy? 

So I have an ileostomy – it’s my ileum or small intestine that pokes out my stomach into a bag. I no longer have a large intestine!

Why was the surgery necessary? Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I was diagnosed last year with Ulcerative Colitis, one form of inflammatory bowel disease – the other being crohns. Colitis effects your large intestine. Basically ulcers form along the gut lining and this can make it inflamed/bleed. One of my nurses once said my colon looked like it was sunburnt & grazed.

I went through just over a year of intense drug therapy to tackle the colitis. I was on 20+ different pills everyday & was having monthly IV therapy but was still rushing to the loo 20+ times a day. I went from 8st to 5st in days & the side effects of the medication resulted in my hair falling out, joint/muscle pain, insomnia & acne.

Surgery really is the last resort & my colitis was very aggressive. I was just passing pure blood which meant that I got anaemia. I couldn’t walk more than 5 feet.I think around 2 in 10 people with colitis have to undergo surgery so mine is a pretty serious case

But essentially colitis sapped everything good from my life! I couldn’t leave my flat without crippling anxiety about having ‘accidents’ in public spaces. I lived off bagels & chocolate buttons for 6 months because everything I ate was painful! The medication ruined everything I loved about myself – my hair and skin – and I lost so much weight that I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without crying.

What was the surgery like? 

The surgery was tough. I was in hospital for 12 days – I had all sorts of tests & meds thrown at me pre-op to make sure it was the right thing. I could’ve saved them some time – I was always going to be leaving colon-less. I was so unwell that surgery was going to save my life, not take it away.

How has the surgery impacted your life?

Having my colon removed was the best thing I ever did. I needed to try all the medication, go through all that pain & hit rock bottom, so that I knew it was the right thing. I mean it’s not easy deciding to shit out of your stomach into a bag for the rest of your life at 21 but its impacted everything! Firstly I’ve been able to do more 3 months post-op than 2 years of colitis. It has given me the chance to do something positive with my life – to try & help other people like me. I’ve found the most inclusive & strong community since getting my ostomy. So it’s been a huge positive.

Soon I’ll be medication free, I’ve put all the weight back on and I am actually healthy again!! It may have taken a while to get used to but I can eat pizza & drink wine for the first time in 2 years & that’s more than enough to be thankful for! Mostly I am grateful for life (sounds so cliche) but it really makes you see how health is a luxury you don’t realised you have have until you don’t have it anymore. I’m lucky to be alive (my colon almost perforated). So it’s made me thankful & grateful for what I have – my family, friends etc

So you’ve started a blog about your experience (which is fab by the way!!). What made you start the blog? What’s the aim?

So the blog ‘Trust your Gut’ (I see the irony in this now I don’t have one) started as a way of connecting people with IBD and now has moved into showing people who have to go through surgery or something similar, that it isn’t a death sentence. When I first heard about the surgery I was so against it but in hindsight, even though it’s scary, it’s such a good thing! So the blog is about showing the life you can have when your insides are on the outside!

When I met you I was super inspired by your positive outlook. I wonder what you’ve taken away and learnt from this experience?

I’ve certainly changed how I look after my body – I realise that the ‘ideal body’ for me is right in front of me. I used to obsess over the gym – having a rounder bum, toned legs etc etc. But being unhealthy for a long time and now being well again, makes me see that I am happy with my body for the first time ever! It might not be conventional and I certainly doubt people aspire to look like me but I love my bagged bod!

If you were talking to someone who was going through surgery, what would you want them to know?

I talk to a lot of people who are about the undergo surgery and my first advice is always to highlight that it isn’t the end of your life! Surgery is tough (it doesn’t get licked on by kittens) but surgery pain will end… the colitis was never ending agony.

And also to give yourself time – it’s the best healer for the mind & the body.

Another is talk to people – I spoke to so many people pre-op who had gone through it before me & that took the fear out of it.

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Inspiring, right? I want to say a huge thank you to Billie for sharing her story with my then and allowing me to share it with you all now. Her strength, courage and positive outlook is incredible and it really made me appreciate the body that I have got. If you want to read more about Billie’s journey you can check out her blog here. It truly is fantastic and I would highly recommend giving it a read. You can also find her on Instagram and share her incredible journey with her. 

Jamie x 

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