2
Feb
2016

Missy Empire Dress Haul

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Getting fit is great but what’s not great is when all your clothes that used to fit you, are now too big! So as I go along, I have to replenish my wardrobe with new clothes and after seeing some of their dresses featured on social media and in magazines, I decided to get a few things from Pretty Little Thing. I see the brand as very much a rival to the likes of BooHoo and Misguided and I’d say the pricing and quality is pretty similar. I don’t think you’re going to get anything from this brand that’s going to last for years as they’re more focused on current trends but if you have a night out or special occasion, then it’s a great place to pick up an inexpensive dress.

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Pearla Bodycon Dress £15 | Iona Wrap Over Dress £12

The Pearla Black Bodycon dress was my favourite out of everything I got because it’s such a classic and really flattering.  The fabric has a good amount of stretch and the hemline doesn’t ride up some some can! I feel like it’s a good length on me (I’m 5ft 7) and the halter neck is really nice for showing off your shoulders. The baby pink Iona wrap dress is always going to be flattering for anyone with a bigger bust and the wrap detail also minimises your waist. The V-shaped hem also draws attention to legs – I may pin it gently with a small safety pin though as I don’t want any embarrassing mishaps! Flashing your underwear is NOT a good look! ha ha. My only criticism of the dress is that the fabric is quite thin and therefore you’d have to be careful what kind of underwear you put on. I’d say nude underwear would work best with it.

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Frieda Cold Shoulder Tunic £18 | Basic V Hem Dress £8

I love the Frieda cold shoulder dress because it will look great with my thigh high black boots from ASOS. It could easily be worn in the daytime with the boots or as an evening dress with any heels. I love the exposed shoulder tops and dresses that are around at the moment. The basic dresses at Pretty Little Thing are great and I especially love this powder blue v-hem dress with scoop back. It’s also a great dress for transitioning from day to night. Once again, the fabric on this dress is quite fine so be careful not to wear black underwear!

Overall I’m really happy with what I got. I did get two other dresses but they ended up being too big.  All of the above dresses were true to size but there were two bodycon dresses that came up a little big. I don’t really understand why that happens with certain brands. I think it’s really important for online retailers to try and get it as spot on as they can as no one wants to faff around with returns. I’d advise checking the reviews of the item you’re buying as often people comment on whether it’s true to size.

1
Feb
2016

Healthy Eats: Chocolate Protein Banana Bread

I’m a big fan of banana bread and when you throw chocolate into the mix, well that’s a match made in food heaven right?! It’s a great way to use up any really ripe bananas you have lying around and by adding protein powder into the recipe, it makes for a great pre or post-workout snack.  I like to eat mine with a bit of crunchy almond butter on it. I’ve included the macros (protein, carb and fat breakdown) to allow you to add it to your snack list if you’e keeping a food diary on an app such as MyFitnessPal or LiveStrong MyPlate. This banana bread recipe is so fantastic because it’s so moist and really feels like such a treat. It’s also incredibly easy to make!

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Makes 8-9 generous slices (approx 170 calories per slice, 11g Protein 24g Carbohydrates, 4g fat)

Ingredients:

  • 40g protein powder (I use unflavoured for this recipe but you can use chocolate flavour if you like)
  • 2 large ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain non fat Greek yogurt
  • 175ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 140g steel cut oats
  • 60g unsweetened cocoa powder (70% cocoa solids or more)
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 tbs dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180oC. Spray a loaf tin with non-stick cooking spray (I like to use the Groovy Food Virgin Coconut oil spray). Place all of the above ingredients in a blender (except for the optional chocolate chips). Blend for a couple of minutes until smooth. Stir in the dark chocolate chips if you are using them. Pour the batter into a loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

27
Jan
2016

Update

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Wow, I haven’t blogged in a long, long time! I’m sorry I’ve been so absent on here. As a lot of you will already know if you follow my Instagram account, our house was flooded a couple of weeks ago during Storm Frank.  We flew home early from our holiday in Ireland after reading flood warnings for our area in Aberdeenshire. This was a major worry to us because we live right on the river. Our flood defences held out on the Monday (the water came about half a foot from ground level) and we were elated…that was until we saw what was coming on the Thursday night. We could see by the unprecedented levels of rain coming that there was no way our home would be unscathed.  So we moved everything we could upstairs, put the heavier furniture up on breeze blocks and sent Conor over to our neighbours house so he could be shielded from all the stress.

There were points where I thought the water wouldn’t come into the house…I mean, we’d be ok, right? This couldn’t happen to us when we had put so much time and effort into decorating the whole house. It wouldn’t be fair. Unfortunately mother nature doesn’t care about what’s fair.  By the late hours of the evening, it was just myself and Chris working together with the assistance of my mum trying to prepare everything we could to minimise the damage – filling sandbags and putting them at the back door, taking the tv off the wall, emptying the lower kitchen cupboards.  Basically doing everything we could think of.  It got to the point where we were just exhausted from stress and physical exertion.  We’d done everything we could and all that was left was to just sit and wait for the water to come in.

That was the strangest part of it all, just surrendering to what was happening.  We sat drinking tea and eating toast with marmalade while we waited for the river to rise.  We tried to keep a sense of humour about it all but inside we were both devastated.  I mean this was our home, Conor’s safe place, somewhere we’d poured so many hours of time into making it our own and we were just sitting there in silence waiting for it all to be ruined. Eventually, the water started coming in under the skirting boards, slowly at first but the flow quickly increased and before we knew it, the water was ankle deep.  At this point we figured the water would get to about ankle depth, but it just kept coming and coming. It got to a point where it was becoming dangerous to stay in the house because the power cut out and we were walking around in the pitch black with torches. We found ourselves wandering around in shock not really knowing what to do.  Once the water got to knee depth, it was time to leave the house.

I can’t explain to you the feeling of having to just walk out and close the door and leave your home to be engulfed by water. We had no idea what we were going to go back to the next day or how bad it would be (it ended up coming to chest height). That feeling of a complete loss of control, all that emotion wrapped up in your home and you just have to give up and walk away.  We fought so hard, with everything we had but we had to admit defeat. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I mean your home is your sanctuary, the place you go when you’ve had a bad day, a place you feel safe and protected, in a cocoon of comfort and reassuring familiarity.  And suddenly we didn’t have that. I guess a home isn’t just a building, it’s a feeling inside you. So I walked away from that house feeling lost.  We stayed at our neighbours house that night with Conor and they were so very kind to us, going out of their way to give us anything we needed.  I had tried to stay strong throughout the whole experience but I just remember walking to the neighbours house, looking at the ground, feeling all that emotion bubbling up and I completely broke down in tears. I had run out of strength at that point.

The turning point that night and something that made me feel so grateful was walking into the bedroom at my neighbour’s house and seeing Conor fast asleep in his travel cot, completely oblivious to everything that was happening. He looked so peaceful. That brought clarity to the whole chaotic situation and I realised that the only thing that really mattered was that we were all safe and unharmed.  They say unfortunate events like this can bring a blessing and that for me was realising what’s really important. People kept telling me how strong and brave I was for being so positive throughout such a stressful time but for me, I had no choice.  I had a couple of crying sessions but after that something clicked inside me and I just went into practical mode. I wasn’t going to let it get the better of me. People have overcome things a lot worse than this. There didn’t seem any point in moping around, complaining and indulging in self pity. After all, so many families had been affected by the flooding – we weren’t the only ones. Some people didn’t get a chance to save any of their belongings or they didn’t have insurance against flooding. So really, we felt lucky in a way.

It’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you react to it that counts. So we decided to turn a negative into a positive and go ahead and make all the changes to the layout of the house to make it more protected against any future flooding. That means more exterior and interior flood defences, we’ll be moving the kitchen upstairs, knocking down small walls to make an open plan sitting room area next to the kitchen and also moving the bathroom downstairs.  That way, if we ever flood again, all the white goods will be upstairs and out of harms way.  I’ll be setting up a permanent gym area downstairs so I can buy that squat rack i’m always banging on about! So despite this very stressful time, we could end up with a more practical layout to our home.

Sometimes growth can feel painful at the time, but you look back and see that it all happened for a reason. Once we started planning the positive steps, we already felt better about the situation and felt more equipped to handle everything. We figured we’d rebuild everything and make it stronger and even better than before. We’d come back stronger for it, in every way. The house will take about two weeks to dry out completely, then the flooring and plasterboard has to be ripped out.  We won’t be able to move back until about September time but in the meantime, we have a really lovely rental house to stay in that’s not too far away.

I have to say a big thank you to all of you who sent messages of love and support…some of you offered up your time, resources, homes and anything else you could which really touched me deeply. Another blessing of this whole experience has been seeing all the kindness and good and community spirit that follows an unfortunate event like this. There’s so many good people out there. Even strangers go out of their way to help you. It’s a beautiful thing.  And that’s something to be very grateful for.

22
Dec
2015

Healthy Habits To Practice Over The Festive Season

After months of working hard on my fitness, I’m not about to give it all up for a few days at the end of the year and gorge myself on anything in sight.  I’ve become much better at creating a balance in my lifestyle with regards to working hard and treating myself. I know if I let it all go and stopped exercising for a couple of weeks, I’d just end up feeling awful. I decided a while ago that I wanted to have a good balance of being active, having a little of what I like and feeling guilt free.  I will be working out 5 days a week as usual but I’ve chosen which days I will be more relaxed with my diet.  Those days will be Christmas Eve (evening), Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve (evening) and New Years Day.  I chose those days because ultimately that’s when your most likely to want to enjoy yourself at social occasion and with your family and friends. If you’re struggling to stay motivated over the festive period, check out some of my tips below.

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Stay Hydrated

It’s that time of year when we all tend to have a tipple or two more than usual. I’d love to be the kind of person who can go teetotal but the honest truth is that I do enjoy a social drink. I never drink during the week with meals or anything but if I go out with my friends, I like to enjoy cocktails, so for me it’s all about balance.  Because of this, it’s really important to keep on top of your water intake and I therefore aim to have a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink that I consume.  Your head will thank you for it in the morning. I also try to drink a large glass of water before a meal – this gives the feeing of being fuller and stop you having the urge to overeat. Often thirst can be mistaken for hunger. We all stick the heating up high in winter too which is very dehydrating to the skin. When I’m out and about, I always make sure I carry a water bottle around with me so I don’t forget to hydrate. I like to add slices of lemon to mine to make it a bit more interesting and that also has a great cleansing effect on your body.

Schedule your workouts

This is a really important one for me because I thrive on sticking to a structured plan.  Where possible I exercise at a certain time of day (4pm before dinner) and I plan out what I’m going to do to make the most of the time I have. It’s tempting to give up on the exercise all together at this time of year but the truth is I really don’t want to now. It’s become so much part of my daily routine that I can’t imagine not doing it. It makes me feel great and it also takes away any guilt about treating myself. This time of year is busier than usual so write down a plan of which days you are going to work out and plan which exercises you’ll do. Because my days will be full of social occasions, I’ve decided to move my workouts to early in the morning.  Not only will this kick start my metabolism but it will get it all out of the way without the temptation to skip it later on when social commitments kick in.  It can be difficult to steal away and do a workout when your family and friends are over so get it done early and make the most of that fasted cardio!

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Compromise

I’m aware that a lot of people favour the gym over working out at home but because of altered opening hours and the extra hassle of getting to the gym, I would recommend working out at home. Even if you have minimal equipment, there are loads of bodyweight exercises you can do, not to mention HIIT. Set a timer for 20 minutes and see how many times you can go through the following circuit:

10 Burpees
20 Mountain climbers
30 Jumping Jacks
40 Reps jumping rope
30 Jump squats
20 Push-ups
10 Reverse lunges

Healthy Snacks

Being realistic, you’re not going to be snacking healthy 100% of the time what with all the treats lying around but even if you could switch 50% of them to healthier versions then you’ll do yourself a big favour.  Always keep a healthy snack in your bag if you’re out and about so you always have that option. My favourite options are a protein bar, a handful of nuts or some fruit. It means that regardless of the environment I’m in, I always have that as a back up.

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Everything in Moderation

I’d love to just gorge on everything in sight this year but I know I wouldn’t feel good after doing it.  I will be having a few treats but I’m just not going to allow myself to be a human dustbin. I will indulge in the things that I really love instead of eating stuff just because it’s there. I want it to be worth it. So I’ll stick to my ultimate weaknesses and fully enjoy them guilt free. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t about avoiding all treats and I’m all about maintaining a good relationship with food. On the days I don’t do a workout, I’ll still be going for a couple of walks a day simply because I enjoy being active. It’s getting that balance that keeps your mind in a positive place instead of beating yourself up about those two slices of cake you devoured!

Dont Starve Yourself

It’s really not a good idea to completely deprive yourself before an event or a big meal. This will only encourage you to binge more on heavier foods.  Instead, concentrate on eating nutritious protein packed meals throughout the day beforehand.  It doesn’t do your body any good to go long periods of time without eating. It also encourages a negative relationship with food which is something you really want to avoid. Starving yourself will only make you feel exhausted and very unhappy.

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Focus On The Fun

This time of year is all about enjoying time with your family and friends, so try not to stress about food or missing a workout here and there. These things happen.  Be present in the moment, be positive, relax and have fun. You can relax things without going off track completely. Go easy on yourself – indulging for a couple of days won’t undo all your hard work you’ve been slogging away at for months.  If anything, having a small break can do you the world of good and allow you to come back even stronger.

Set Goals And Write Them Down

Whether your goal is to maintain your current weight, boost your energy, stick to your macros on certain days or sleep better, write down those goals. Revisit them every morning and think about how to achieve them every day. Physically recording your efforts and tracking your progress can help you work toward your goals, and remind you that you’re making progress. It also makes you accountable so you’re much less likely to go off track. If you really want to keep an eye on what you’re eating then try the food diary in MyFitnessPal – that way you’ll get a much better idea of which foods to stick to.

Remember Your Supplements

We all tend to feel more run down with all the alcohol and treats at this time of year so it’s important to remember to take your vitamins every morning to stave off any colds.  Your immune system may not be at it’s best so I’d advise taking some echinacea tablets and extra Vitamin C, as well as ensuring you get plenty of rest. That way, when you do choose to exercise, you’ll be at full power. Drinking a nutritious smoothie every day with a scoop of protein powder, a handful of mixed berries, lots of green leafy vegetables, a little bit of ginger, squeeze of lime and water will keep your body at it’s best. No one wants to start the New Year with a cold!

What are your best tips for staying motivated over the festive period? Let me know in the comments below!

16
Dec
2015

My Birthday

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Things have been a little quiet on the blog lately simply because I have been so incredibly busy for the past week. I turned 33 on Sunday and it’s still taking a little while to come to terms with that fact! I feel like the older I get, the harder it becomes to decide what I actually want for my birthday. I generally buy all my own clothes and makeup so I guess that makes it difficult for anyone to buy gifts for me. However, I was very lucky in what I received this year and I also had a really lovely weekend celebrating.

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I had been lusting over Olivia Burton watches on Instagram for the past year or so, particularly the large face bee design.  I love anything to do with nature and the simple design of this watch with it’s leather strap just really appealed to me.  My other watches have a more casual, masculine feel to them so I really wanted something different. I was given an ASOS gift voucher from my brother and his girlfriend and since I could receive 15% off on the ASOS app that weekend, I decided to go for it. I’m so happy I did – the watch is even more beautiful in person. My mum got me a couple of presents, one of which was a L’Occitane Almond gift set which I will definitely use as the shower oil is one of my favourite products of all time! It’s one of my most purchased beauty products for sure.

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Chris got me an Astrid & Miyu rose gold necklace and ring which I’m absolutely in love with.  I much prefer fine, delicate jewellery now and these pieces are so pretty.  The quality is fantastic and whilst they’re on the more expensive side, they’re something you can keep for a long time without them tarnishing or becoming outdated. The designs tend to be quite simple and timeless which I really like. I’ll definitely be looking to buy more of their rings. I also got a lovely voucher from the people at Debenhams PR so I treated myself to a couple of Guerlain products – the BB Beauty Booster and the  Meteorites Powder in Medium.  I have been wearing the BB cream for the past couple of days and it’s so beautiful on the skin, giving a really natural, glowy look.  The powder is fantastic for adding radiance to your complexion too and the multi-dimensional colour stops your face from looking ‘flat’.

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I went out on Saturday night with a big group of friends for my birthday and ended up wearing this BooHoo dress which only cost £15! It fit beautifully and it’s great if you have curves because it’s really flattering. I did end up having to pin the front section as the split was edging a little too high for my liking! I kept the makeup pretty simple, using the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette for my eyes and opting for a nude lip. My suede khaki fringed clutch bag is from Zara and I teamed it with Dune studded sandals.

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On my birthday on Sunday I took Conor to a kid’s fancy dress Christmas party – the theme was pirates and princesses. He looked so cute in his little costume! It was so lovely to see him having lots of fun on the bouncy castles, playing with all the other children and meeting santa for the first time. Although I have to say he wasn’t that keen and didn’t look too impressed! After that I met up with the lovely Karlie from The Swag Guide and she took me for a birthday lunch at Boozy Cow.  All in all it was a great weekend with great friends and I’m pretty sure I’ll get used to being another year older!