Photo of woman with red hair holding a balloon and wearing a party hat, black and white striped top and black leather jacket

I hate birthdays.

Well, my own anyway.

I’m all up for celebrating friends birthdays, I want to. I want the people I care about to have a day all about them. One where they get to do what they want and eat as much cake as they can stomach. And let their nearest and dearest rally round them to show them how much they’re loved.

When it comes to my own birthday I have very different ideas.

For a start, I HATE being the centre of attention! I feel uncomfortable with things being all about me. Even a day which is all about me. Well, not all about me according to my Mum, she likes to celebrate the day I came into the world. And also feels it’s her right after almost 24 hours of labour to get me here…! I guess I can kind of give her that. I am her first born after all (she does celebrate my wee brother’s the same, no favouritism there).

Since turning 21, pretty much every birthday has felt like a reminder that I’m not where I should be in life. And in some cases where I want to be. We’re told by society that a mark of how successful you are is by hitting certain life goals by a certain stage. Especially for women. This translates into bagging a man who wants to marry you, having babies and owning a house. Some sort of career also plays a part. And if you can do all this looking like you’re 24 when in fact you’re 30, even better!

For me, the job thing is important and along with that a salary I think I deserve. It’s also about getting to travel. And yes, babies and owning a house come into it too. During (most of) my 20’s I never felt like I was at the stage I wanted to be. I felt like I was fumbling through life and not really making any gains. Even when I became a homeowner, and even when I got engaged. This may have been because those milestones were reached with the wrong person.

The one real exception in my 20’s was my 28th birthday.

In terms of life goals, I had taken a massive step back. I was back living with my parents after ending a relationship that had lasted almost nine years, and called off a wedding with just over two months to go. In many ways, I felt a little worried about my situation. Mostly because I was closer to 30 than 25, newly single and no longer a homeowner. Plus I was going to have to start dating at some point…! But regardless of all this, for the first time in years I felt like I’d taken control of life. I felt f**king amazing.

Yes, I’d called off a wedding. Yes, I’d hurt someone (I did him a favour in the long run really). Yes, I’d lost money for wedding deposits, and was in the process of being bought out of a flat. It was one of the most stressful times in my life. But also one of the best. I’d been unhappy for years, much more than I realised. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I started smiling and laughing again. Not long after my 28th birthday, I met Mark.

Fast forward two years and my 30th birthday was looming. I was jobless. The things that weren’t in my life that I want were highlighted even more because I was feeling so low. It’s a big birthday, people expect you to celebrate. I wanted to hide and eat a giant cake with a fork all by myself. That didn’t happen. I had a party, I got drunk, and moaned to Mark about not wanting to turn 30. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop it though and here I am almost a year into my 30’s.

I turn 31 very soon.

You know what? I’m not dreading it. As a teenager I thought when you got to your 30’s you were old. I expected to have kids by now. I expected to be a proper functioning adult. Rather the type of adult who frequently runs out of clean clothes to wear because I haven’t got around to doing washing in a week. I thought I would have all the answers for everything. I don’t. And that’s ok.

People have said to me your 30’s are so much better than your 20’s. For me, I think that will definitely be the case. A lot of my 20’s were spent unhappy. I spent most of my weekends arguing. I didn’t travel much. And I really didn’t like the person I was. I was grumpy all the time. I was dealing with anxiety I didn’t even know I had and I didn’t have the balls to get myself out of a situation I hated. I’m glad I’m not married. I’m glad I don’t have kids, because it means if I do get those things at some point in the future they will be with someone I love and who is my best friend. Rather than with someone who was there at the time in my life that these milestones should have been hit.

I think your 20’s are the decade you really find out who you are. They are the time when you can make a total balls of life and learn from your mistakes. Meaning by the time you get to your 30’s you know you have the strength to overcome even the s*****st of things life can throw at you. You surround yourself with people you want in your life. I made and lost friends in my 20’s and I don’t feel sad about it. I know I have the best friends ever that I can rely on for anything.

I’ve decided 31 is the year I’m going to start enjoying birthdays.

My birthday last year was not really spent how I wanted it. And I often drag my heels when making birthday plans but this year I’m going to let there be a day all about me. I want to eat ALL the cake. I want to drink gin. And I’m going to think about what I’ve achieved in the last year rather than the things I don’t have that society tell me I should.

What are your thoughts on birthdays, do you hate them like me, or do you love a day all about you? Let me know in the comments!

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

Photo by M Richardson

 

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Image of girl with red hair wearing a pink top and black leggings in the gym doing a squat

Exercise has been a big part of my life for a good few years now.

After years of being overweight and doing absolutely nothing active, I’ve completely changed my ways. And would say I now have a pretty healthy lifestyle.

I lost a lot of weight a few years ago. At the time I started losing weight I wasn’t at my biggest. However I did have the motivation to get rid of the weight. It took until I was 27 for me to realise what my real adult body shape was. This was achieved by going to a popular weight loss club. But despite the restrictive way of eating working wonders for getting the weight off, it wasn’t really sustainable. (I wrote a post/rant on diet clubs and how they really are a load of s**te. You can read it here.)

Although I would’ve said that my diet was healthy and I was active, I’ve been struggling to get to a point where I’m totally happy with my body. This isn’t helped by being in a happy relationship with someone who loves pizza as much as I do! Saturday night Domino’s was ruining my waistline, and my bank balance. I’ve struggled for years to get the exercise and nutrition balance. Being no expert in either area meant I was not really getting it quite right.

I’ve worked with a PT before and I definitely saw improvements. But without giving it 100% on the food front the results I wanted were never going to be achieved.

When James (The Body Development Coach) reached out looking for bloggers to work with I jumped at the chance. I’ve wanted to train with a PT again for a while. And I knew unless I was having one on one sessions I wasn’t going to get the confidence I needed to get into the weights area of the gym by myself. Plus, James specialises in working with females and helping them get the results they want. So he seemed like a good person to work with.

My initial consultation with James wasn’t in the gym. We met for coffee and actually ended up sitting in Princes Street Gardens in the sun. It was so much more relaxed than I expected it to be, and I didn’t feel completely out of my comfort zone. Not a fitness test in sight! Before we met I filled out a questionnaire, answering questions about my lifestyle (social habits, how much I like to drink/eat out), previous diets and what I wanted to achieve. During that initial consultation, we talked through my answers a bit more. After this, James asked me to change my password on MyFitnessPal so he could have a look at my nutrition over the next week and we arranged my first session in the gym.

I was really nervous about my first session for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I was going to a new gym, and it had been a while since I’d done any strength training. There was no need to be nervous. James put me at ease really quickly. He got me to do a few basic moves – squats, lunges and some of the machines for upper body. If he had to correct my form on any of them he did it in a way that didn’t leave me feeling stupid, which is something you want from a trainer. We finished the session with some sprints – my comfort zone!

Later that day James sent me my nutrition for the week. Thankfully there was no diet plan. I was given a calorie target to stick to and a list of approved foods. For the first week I was just to concentrate on calories, no macros. I quite like cooking so I didn’t find the approved foods list restrictive and was still eating nice meals. I just had to miss my Saturday night pizza…

For the last six weeks I’ve been training twice a week with James, and twice myself in the gym, plus running. And I’ve started seeing a difference! So do you wanna know the secret to getting the results you want…?! Well, there is no magic pill, shake or lollypop. It really comes down to sticking to the plan, eating healthy (that means no pizza and saying no to cake when it is brought into the office, I’ve said no to so much cake!) and putting the work in at the gym.

Photo of girl with red hair wearing a pink top and black leggings and man wearing grey top and black shorts with brown hair and a beard in a gym

Finding a good PT really helps too. Whether it’s just that you need someone to push you in the gym, help you out with nutrition, or even just someone to hold you accountable. Over the last six weeks James has pushed me, making sure I get the most out of every session I have with him. He has given encouragement when I’m at the point of giving up, helping me get the last couple of reps done. Although I’ve really pushed myself during sessions there’s no point in the last six weeks that I’ve been left unable to walk. He knows my limit and hasn’t left me destroyed so I can still go to the gym by myself.

In six weeks I’ve seen more difference working with James than I saw trying myself at the gym for months.

There’s no point in sugar coating it, I’ve found it really hard at points. My first week of reduced carbs on non-workout days was so tough. On day one I was starving, tired and really could’ve eaten everything in sight, but I managed to keep my willpower and it paid off. I’ve lost weight, my jeans are feeling looser and I’m actually starting to see the outline of abs!!

On top of getting the help I’ve needed in the gym and with my nutrition, James is easy to work with. We have a laugh during my sessions and he’s just a text away if I have any questions. During my first week I was sending messages every couple of days with questions about what food I could eat. And my first week with stricter macros he was really helpful when I was texting asking what I could eat to make sure I was sticking to the targets he set me.

Working with a PT is an expense, but investing in yourself and your health should be a no brainer. I’m six weeks into twelve weeks with James and I’m excited to see where I’ll be at the end of it.

James is a level 3 trained PT and has an HND in Health, Exercise and Fitness. As well as one to one coaching he also does online coaching. Check out his website here.

 

*James is giving me PT sessions in exchange for a review. As always, all views are my own. And in this case, the hunger and sore muscles are definitely my own!

Photos by M Richardson

 

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

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Photo of woman with brown hair wearing a red headscarf, sitting on a chair

It’s Edinburgh Fringe time again!

The Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival running for most of the month of August each year. I’m going to assume that you’ve heard of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe because most people have! But, just in case you’re completely oblivious to one of the biggest events in Edinburgh, here’s a wee bit of background on it for you.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe (most commonly referred to as The Fringe) started in 1947 and has run every August since then. It’s an open access arts festival, meaning anyone can put on a show. And anyone does!

Tourist and performers from all over the world descend on our capital, and it’s often the starting point for comedians. With around 300 venues in the city, you’re spoiled for choice on what to see! Whether you like comedy, dance or theatre there is so much to choose from. There are even performances to keep the kids entertained for part of their school holidays!

If you’re a bit of a history buff and want to read up on the Fringe you can do so here.

Unless you were to take the whole month off to see shows, you will unfortunately only be able to scratch the surface of what’s on offer. You really need to be selective about the shows you go to. I love comedy, so something that’s going to make me laugh is always top of my list.

Our first show was Tash York’s ‘Adulting’ at Underbelly. A cabaret comedy, that I really hope most grown-ups can relate to. Tash talks (and sings) about the real struggle that being an adult is. The show is so funny because everything Tash is saying is true. I think everyone likes to pretend that they’ve got all their s**t together, rather than admitting that they haven’t taken their glass recycling out for so long that now when they go to the bottle bank they’re going to look like raging alcoholics (I’m not referring to myself in this scenario…)!

Tash sings along to tunes you will definitely recognise, with even a bit of Disney thrown in there. Oh, and she even did a wee bit of improv! This show is hilarious and should definitely be on your list of shows to see at this year’s Fringe. Underbelly is a great venue, with lots of mini venues there are loads of other shows to see. There are also a couple of outdoor bar areas you can sit in to soak up the Fringe and the sun (or rain depending on which Scotland you get!).

‘Adulting’ is running until Monday 27th August at Underbelly, Bristo Square – Buttercup. You can buy tickets here.

What are your top picks for the Fringe? Comment and let me know what you’re planning on seeing or have already seen!

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

 

*Tickets were gifted by Tash York but as always all views are my own.

Image provided by Tash York

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Photo with three bottles of gin, two bottles of tonic on a white table with marble backdrop

Gin subscription delivered straight to your door?!

There doesn’t sound like much better than this.

Recently, Flavourly got in touch with me about their monthly subscription boxes. When I heard that they offered a gin subscription I was definitely keen. The rise of subscription boxes over the last few years has been big. And, why not? Hardly surprising that people want to receive something nice through the post – rather than a bill. It’s a great way to discover new brands that you might not have otherwise heard of. And when it comes to gin it can be pretty expensive trying all the ones you fancy.

So, how does it work and what do you get? Flavourly pride themselves in working with smaller brands, who focus on quality and experimentation during the distilling. Each month you will be sent a box with three 200ml bottles of gin, a mixer, a snack and a copy of Flavourly magazine. And all for £35 a month! The box that I got introduced me to some new gin, which I always love! I got a bottle of Badachro Scottish gin, Blackwater no.5 Irish gin and Sovereign no.1 elderflower and gooseberry gin liqueur. Along with this, there were two bottles of Lamb & Watt tonic water and a packet of Soffles pitta chips.

I really like elderflower as a flavour with gin and quite often use elderflower water as a mixer, so I was looking forward to trying this out. I mixed the elderflower and gooseberry gin liqueur with the Badachro gin and used the tonic as a mixer. The result? A sweet, refreshing cocktail that was very easy to drink.

I’ve tried many different subscription boxes over the years, and to be honest, once I got over the initial excitement of them they’ve quickly lost their appeal. I’m not sure if it was because I felt like they maybe weren’t the best value or that the items in the box maybe weren’t right for me. But with this, I don’t think I would ever tire of new gin. And for the money, it really is great value. You would never be able to buy small-batch gin for this price and you get to try brands that could potentially have never been on your radar.

Not a gin lover, but know someone who would love you forever if you bought this as a present? Then you’re in luck! Because not only can you subscribe yourself, you can also give as a gift. Pick from a single one-off box, or in multiples of three (three, six, twelve months).

If you want to give Flavourly a try then use code FROCKS10 for 10% off. And if you do try them out I’d love to know what gins you get!

Oh also, today (9 June) is World Gin Day so that definitely gives you the perfect excuse to drink some gin!

 

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

Photo by me

*I was gifted a subscription box by Flavourly – as always all thoughts are my own.
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Photo of scales and Slimming World and Weight Watchers booklets

I’m a quitter.

I always have been. Pretty much every extracurricular activity I’ve ever started I’ve quit.

Normally, quitting is seen as a bad thing. Well, especially if it’s something that’s seen as good for you. I’ve decided I’m quitting weight loss clubs. This might be viewed by some as quitting something good for you. But I wholeheartedly disagree. Don’t worry, I’m planning on telling you why. And also talking a bit about my relationship with food and dieting and what made me get to this decision.

Before we go all the way back to my teenage years, let me fill you in on the point I decided once and for all that weight loss groups are ultimately a load of s**te. During a moment of weakness in February, I joined Weight Watchers. Focusing on, as I’ve always done, the number on the scales I was feeling a bit bummed out after some Christmas weight gain. Week in week out I was disappointed with the results. Nothing much was changing with the number.

But I’d been making changes. My new job and free gym membership meant more exercise. I was eating better. I was convinced the weight would at some point catch up and drop off. The tipping point came a few weeks ago. The woman in front of me getting weighed had a good week. She lost more than the week before. When asked what she had done differently her answer was exercise less. To which the class leader told her that just goes to prove you don’t have to exercise to get results!

I couldn’t believe my ears!

I was livid. This woman was being told to focus on her results on the scales rather than being encouraged to be fit and healthy! Oh, and getting charged about £6 a week for the privilege! When I got home I emailed and cancelled my membership.

I’ve had body issues for most of my life. During my early teenage years, this was unjustified. But as I got closer to 20 my weight just kept creeping up. I spent most of my 20s very overweight. I’ve actually been going to weight loss clubs on and off for almost half of my life. I joined Slimming World and finally lost the weight (over 2 stone), the fear of gaining the weight back has definitely kept me obsessed with the scales.

As much as I’m slating these groups, I don’t deny they serve a purpose. And can do you good. If you have a lot of weight to lose they can be a great starting point. But they are not an effective long-term way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle (body and mind). They can help people overhaul their diet. But I learned nothing about nutrition at any of the groups I went to. And once you’ve lost the weight the only focus is on keeping that number on the scales the same. There is no focus on body fat percentage, or how many inches you’ve lost.

Once I lost the weight I needed to get rid of and started exercising in a different way my weight changed. I was seen as a failure. I was asked what I was going to do to get my weight back down. Your success or failure at these things is purely based on how much weight you take off and keep off. How demoralising is that?! I never got any praise for the fact that I knocked about four minutes off my 5k time, or that my strength was improving and I could leg press more than my body weight. No well done for the fact that even though the scales have changed I can still fit my ass into my size 10 jeans.

When I say I’m quitting weight loss groups I’m not saying I’m stopping caring and will eat everything in sight. What I’m saying is I don’t want to spend my life on a diet. Friday night pizza shouldn’t make me feel guilty!

I need to redress my relationship with food. And I need to start looking at my body and not focus on the bits I hate. I need to stop hating bits of my body! When I have kids in the future I don’t want them to see me constantly on a diet. I don’t want to give them the same body issues I have.

Being obsessed with how our bodies look, rather than what they’re capable of is bad for our mental wellbeing. And diet clubs enable this unhealthy way of thinking.

I would love to know your thoughts on the subject and find out about your experiences of weight loss and body positivity.

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

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