A Year in Review | 2020

During a post-Christmas clean, I found a journal entry I wrote on 1st January. Incidentally this was the only entry I made all year, but looking back I started the year out filled with a lot of hope and ambition for 2020. Reading it made me realize just how much growth I have had in many areas of my life. The global pandemic has certainly brought some challenging and depressing days, but there have also been some wonderful moments this year that I want to remember. So before 2020 is over, here are just some of my highlights from this incredibly strange year:

  • I attended my auntie’s wedding right at the beginning of January and who knew that would be my first and last big social event for the year?! The day was filled with carefree dancing, toasting, laughing, hugging, and all without wearing a mask or obeying any rules of six…

  • This year the U.K. has really enjoyed some glorious weather, which I really appreciated particularly throughout the first lockdown. This meant there were lots of walks (often twice a day!), as well as days filled with various kinds of outside exercise or sunbathing with a glass of cold Pimms.

  • Being at home and having a lot more time back in my day, meant it was the perfect opportunity for more blogging, with this post being number 58 of this year! I pushed myself with writing challenges and also concentrated more on uploading videos to my YouTube channel. Overall this has resulted in more traffic with readers/viewers from different parts of the world – thank you! I can’t wait to continue creating next year.

  • There wasn’t a homemade sourdough in sight on my end, but I did get some baking in here and there. My new favourite discovery was a Sangria cake I baked for my Mum’s birthday – so easy and delicious! I also tried cooking some new recipes which emphasized how much I love trying new things. I am excited to do more of this in 2021 too!

  • I was devastated when my Summer flights to America were cancelled as I planned on going to Chicago for the first time, as well as attending my brother’s wedding! However we all still celebrated virtually via a live stream, complete with video calls for speeches and toasts. My family and I made the effort to dress up and we also decorated the house, the garden and the table. I even cooked a slightly elaborate meal! Overall, it was a bittersweet but a memorable and special day.

  • Despite all the challenges working from home, I am super proud of my progression in my 9-5 job and the impact I have had this year. I am giving myself a huge pat on the back well done… something we all need to do now and again!

  • Living an active lifestyle was my main goal for 2020. At the start of the year I was focused on getting beyond the 8 week mark of regular exercise (before I typically lost interest). From HIIT, running, pilates, hikes, walks, online classes and various other videos and IGTV’s, I’ve LOVED every moment of it. I am feeling stronger both mentally and physically, with my relationship and attitude towards exercise being completely transformed. Here’s to health in 2021!

  • Finding out I would be an auntie for the first time has also been a highlight for this year. Roll on early 2021 where I get to meet (virtually but hopefully physically soon) my little niece.

  • Becoming a dog auntie to the wonderful @cosmoandsherlockadventures has brought me so much joy and firmly helped me get over my fear of dogs! I am now one of those people who would coo at a dog rather than run away from it, haha!

  • In a way I am hugely grateful to 2020 as it meant I was able to save money faster and led me to buying my first home with my boyfriend. I am so excited to move in January 2021 and begin a new and exciting chapter of my life!

This year may not have always gone to plan, but 2020 has helped me be thankful for what I do have and enjoy the small moments along the way. Whatever way you are ringing in the New Year, I wish you a wonderful , happy, healthy and safe year ahead, filled with lots of positivity and light. Let’s hope 2021 will be filled with more times seeing our loved ones and squeezing them tight once again.

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Opening Up| How I Began Exercising Consistently – 6 Month Fitness Update!

In January 2020 I set myself the challenge of getting back into fitness, shaping up and living a more active lifestyle. To sum it up with one word, my workouts up until this point were inconsistent. In my childhood and teenage years I had always loved being active. I played everything from football to cricket and competed in Athletic competitions, and I loved every single second of it! (I even somehow got scouted for Crystal Palace F.C.) As I joined the world of work, I began to learn and appreciate the benefits from exercise on my mental health. It relieved stress after a busy day of work and in that 30 minutes alone I would find complete stillness and peace of my mind. The pressures and challenges I encountered that day were all of a sudden a distant memory. However, there had always been an issue – I hadn’t found my groove. (Side note – Define groove as according to Urban Dictionary: a verb meaning to smoothly interact, maintain or improve relations with business associates, a person, or a situation). My workouts were either always too repetitive and boring or too challenging and off-putting. There was no real structure or guidance of where to go after those first few sessions. I mostly trained as means to an end and thought of exercise only in the short term, this basically being for aesthetic reasons to slim down or tone up before a holiday, a wedding or a party etc. I had no real, sustainable incentive or intrinsic motivation to make me want to exercise. There was, as I say, a lack of groove!

I had never been a huge gym-goer, preferring home workouts, the odd gym class, or run instead. I liked my workouts to be convenient, time efficient and resented having to hold myself accountable for letting my gym membership fee go to waste. I would typically go through a couple of months (most likely timed before the aforementioned holiday) where I would attend workout classes feeling like a boss because I managed 3-4 days that week. Only for this hard work to soon be diminished, as I’d then break the routine for several reasons (and excuses). Maybe I had over-trained and overdone it with the weights at the start of the week, which would leave me sore and unmotivated to ever look or think about lifting a weight ever again. Perhaps I had a bad night’s sleep and the dreary Winter months were just too depressing and cold to take myself for a run. Or it could have been that all the classes were over capacity and I was going out after work. Then there was the classic, “I am too busy”. Truth be told, the majority of my actual thought process went a little something like this…

I could not be bothered to do any exercise because then I would have to wash my hair and that is simply just too much effort. In the meantime I would probably embarrass myself in front of a large group of people, as I displayed my uncoordinated self. My arms and legs always somehow manage to move in different directions! I’ve had actual fitness instructors and some of my pals laugh in amazement, at my interpretation of moves. Then there is the pressure of what or what not to wear. I would inevitably turn up in my not so chic or highly unflattering workout gear which displays all my sweat (which then also would need a wash!) Plus I’ve already gone on holiday this year, so can’t I just stock my body up for Winter now?!!!

So that’s just what I would do.

Then rolled in January 2020 and with it, so did the New Year resolutions. By this time I had shifted my perspective towards exercise and what I wanted from it. Sure, I still wanted to trim up and for my jeans to fit a bit better after Christmas, but recent family health matters had reminded me how important my actual health was over vanity. There was also this pandemic I had heard about and I thought there is no time like the present to look after myself better. I also knew from past workouts, the power exercise had to “reset”my mind. How it can completely change my attitude to the day. The idea of what I could achieve was also very appealing… maybe my fastest 5k yet to date or perhaps I would finally attempt that 10k I was always too scared to try? If I followed the right workout and did something I enjoyed, maybe I would stick to it consistently. All in all, I was set and clear on what my motive was. I wanted to feel healthier, fitter and begin to live a sustainably active lifestyle.

With step one being complete (establishing my new exercise intentions), I needed to action step two… which workout plan I would commit to! Having not stuck with purely running or YouTube workout based videos in the past, I decided an e-book or fitness app would give me the kick start I needed. Lo and behold, Sarah’s Day a holistic health & fitness YouTuber that I had followed for the last 2 years or so, had a sale on her 8 week fitness guide e-books, Sweat It To Shred It & Sweat It Reload. As an even bigger incentive, all the proceeds were being donated to the bush fires in Australia. At £22 per book, that worked out to only £2.75 a week – a cheap cost for something I was determined to stick to (and didn’t have to leave my house or pay a hefty fee to participate!).

Now fast forward to June 2020, I am by no means a fitness expert, but the 16 week guide gave me the push and motivation to be consistent in my training. Here I am 6 (nearly 7) months later since I set on being more active and I feel better than ever! Despite the challenges that came with the pandemic, the lockdown actually really assisted me in finding time in my day to exercise. So how am I doing and feeling? Well, I genuinely look forward to each workout; I even slowly built up into now training 6 days a week! My workouts are habitual and mostly take place in the morning. This helps me feel like I’ve achieved something and leaves me feel motivated, recharged and ready to tackle the day ahead, as I continue to work from home for the foreseeable. After completing the 16 week guide, I mixed in some 5K runs and can actually confidently say I can do several push ups! I have now moved onto Shaun T’s Insanity Workout which I am also loving, although I’ve never sweated so much in my life!

Want to hear my review on Sarah’s Day E-books? Stay tuned for Thursday’s blog post!

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Get Inspired

It’s a new month and after a long weekend break I’m trying to get refocused back on my goals (without sounding too cliche). It can be hard to feel motivated when it’s grey outside, you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere with work, you battle the same problems daily or life just simply is giving you lemons. When I’m feeling a dip in my motivation or am caught in a funk, there are a few things I do to get back on track and inspired. These won’t change your life, but if practised regularly, your mood will be lifted I promise (or who knows maybe they will change your life!)

Music is a large part of my day, not a day goes by where I won’t be listening to some music. Whether it’s on the radio, on YouTube or putting in one of my favourite CD’s in the car; I find listening to some music relaxes, invigorates and inspires me. Whether it’s the instrumental, the lyrics or the artist’s very own passion for their music, it makes me think and re-evaluate the things stressing me out, gain some perspective and get re-inspired to go after my goals. Alternatively on occasion if I decide to woe in my self-pity I listen to some depressing songs and am reminded that it’s not just me who has down moments or frustration; somehow this makes my world feel a little bit better. After the world’s smallest violin has been played, I try to listen to something upbeat and being the musical lover I am, The Greatest Showman soundtrack is currently one album that I have on repeat. I also listen to this because it has me feeling like I’m prepared to take on the world and achieve what I set out to do that day.

If you read my blog post why I started blogging, you will know that one of my life aspirations is to be a presenter or tv host. A career in media where I am meeting and talking to new people and have a working career like Oprah is just one dream of mine! Of course then, it may not be a surprise to you that I love and am inspired by watching interviews. I used to love acting so of course “In the Actors Studios with…” is a huge drive for me. You don’t always need a huge motivational speech to set you back on track. Hearing from an actor that you admire about their journey can be really gratifying and can remind us that we are all people, and life can offer us the opportunities we dream about. It can also shed light on the fluffy pretty clouds that Hollywood is made out to be and remind us that everyone is like us and has to work for what they want, unless you’re living the high life of a millionaires heiress that is then you can just be fabulous all day long. As well as this, tapping into something that you aspire to achieve one day can really get you inspired. You want to be an athlete? Watching the Olympics will get you feeling pumped. You want to be a make-up artist? Watch and learn from Pixiwoo on YouTube and I guarantee you will be feeling like you too want to aim high and work hard for it.

Another sure way that gets me inspired is exercising. Don’t roll your eyes just yet!Exercise isn’t purely about burning some calories, if it is you certainly won’t be enjoying it. There are so many different types of sport or activities out there that can lift your mood and many benefits to be reaped from it. Making friends, improving strength and flexibility, discovering a talent you never knew you had and of course the mental relief and therapy that a sweaty workout session can give you are just some benefits. Whether you choose to do it socially or to blow off some steam after a long day, every single time after exercising I guarantee you that you will be feeling a lot better afterwards. It’s so worthwhile to find a type of exercise that you enjoy, for both your mental and physical health.

Now let me share a little secret with you, which is quite embarrassing but seems to work for me… When I decide to do a workout I listen to music by artists who “inspire” me to workout in the first place, let alone what I’m procrastinating to do, i.e. I want J-Lo’s body so I’m gonna listen to her over and over again, to remind me that a body like hers doesn’t come from giving up on the side plank. As silly as it sounds, it seems to work for me and if you can watch a music video of hers whilst exercising it can go a long way too! Is that embarrassing or weird? Oh well, I’m still gonna get those squats done with a bit of help from Jenny from the block.

One last thing that is a sure inspiration for me is social media. Despite the discussion surrounding only the negative impact of social media, I like to use it to follow the success and ambition of others. Many successful YouTubers and bloggers want to help their fans and share tips with aspiring entrepreneurs. One blogger who inspires me is Marianna Hewitt who set up her blog with me page, to share tips and create a community for bloggers across the world to meet. What’s more is that Marianna is truthful about her journey. There is so much falseness in social media you wouldn’t be a fool to think that some people become an overnight success. Instead Marianna’s honesty makes it feel attainable to reach your goals and that it is possible. In a world where there is a lot of fake news, humility, honesty and hard work go a long way- especially when people do it just to help others achieve their own goals!

This is a really positive way of using social media and is one of the reasons I use it so regularly. Make sure you follow accounts that make you feel positive and inspired, because contrary to belief social media is not all about talking about yourself and showing off. You can discover blogs that tap into something you really are interested in (maybe one that talks about hair, beauty and real life thoughts of a 20 something old, like this one!) or it could be anything else; vegan cooking, travel, cat lovers etc! Social media really does have the power and ability to allow you to discover new inspirations every single day. One last thought for getting inspired is a simple one, from Smart Twenties who shares motivational quotes for personal growth; who you can follow on Instagram here.