Image of a pink rose and a polaroid style photo with a pink background and the words 'Be Happy' spelled out in pastry. Photo sitting on top of a marble worktop covered in colourful sprinkles.

New year, new beginnings.

I can’t believe it’s 2019!

How the hell did we get here?! As in, how it is already the year 2019, and where on earth did 2018 go?! Last year flew by. Insanely quickly. It was a year of ups and downs. Like many years are. There was lots of happiness, and as is life, some sadness too.

And on top of that our home was hit by redundancy for the second time in two years. This time for Mark. It felt like another kick in the gut for us. Plus it made the fact my job was only until the end of the year a bit more daunting. After a little bit of stressing, I decided I needed to be a bit more like my other half, and just chill the f**k out.

I’m trying to see this year as a bit of an adventure. Embrace the fact that I don’t have it all planned out. This doesn’t come easy for me!

As with every year, there will be no new year resolutions. I’m not a fan of them, and the feeling of failure when you (inevitably) break those resolutions. Last years goals ended up being pretty hard to achieve, having a three-hour commute every day and the fact that I was learning a job meant I had very little brain capacity left for much else.

So I’ve set myself some goals for the year ahead, but they come under one overall goal.

Be happy!

This is my biggest goal. And the most important one. I spent almost all of my twenties miserably unhappy. And it’s something I never want to feel again. Not constant unhappiness like I felt before. And I’m not pretending happiness all the time is a thing, life always has its challenges. But despite what life has thrown at me in the last three years, I’ve been mostly happy.

There are smaller goals that will contribute to my overall goal of being happy. Things like running more – something that genuinely makes me feel good.

I really need (and want) to finish my web design course. I would love to have a job I like, that lets me use my creativity. It’s also really important to me that I become financially independent. Something I’ve never been.

2019 is also going to be the year I start doing more for me. I’m a people pleaser and struggle to let people do nice things for me or put myself first. The result of this is that often I do things I don’t really want to. I’m not about to become totally selfish but maybe just say ‘no’ more often.

Other things – eat less meat, use less single-use plastic and have lots, and lots of FUN!

Do you have any 2019 goals or resolutions?

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

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Image of 2 red and white candy canes arranged in a love heart shape

Christmas is the time for giving…

Right?! It’s the season for generosity.

The time to show people that we care. This often takes the form of gifts. Material things we give to show we’re thinking about someone. Sometimes it shows how little you were thinking about that person. Sometimes it shows that you did a mad dash round the Boots 3 for 2 gift section!

I know I sound a bit bah humbug, but I’m at a point where I’m done with consumerism of the festive time. We live in a society where we ALL have too much stuff! Mark and I have been trying to clear out for the past year, I don’t need more stuff to clutter up my already cluttered home.

With this in mind I’ve decided to do things a bit differently this year. It was after a conversation with my Dad talking about not doing gifts, not buying people things they don’t want or need. It made me think that maybe I’m not the only person feeling like this. We’ve decided to give each other the gift of time this year. We’ll do something rather than buy each other things.

So I’ve decided to put together an alternative gift list this year. Some ideas of how you can show the people you love that you really are thinking of them.

Movie marathon

Pick a friend (or partner, or sibling), get settled on the sofa, grab a blanket, some snacks and pick a load of films or a box set you both love. Maybe use it as an excuse to have a marathon viewing of your favourite series. Some suggestions: Disney, Star Wars, Harry Potter or Back to the Future.

21st century mixtape

Remember when a mixtape was the ultimate declaration of love?! You would sit and painstakingly record tracks onto a cassette tape to give to your crush. Well, those days are long gone. But the sentiment doesn’t need to be. Make a playlist on Spotify/Amazon Music/Apple Music and send them the link. Include songs you love, songs they love and songs that mean something to both of you. Maybe a selection of songs from bands you’ve both seen live this year. It shows that you’ve taken time to really think about what songs they like. A perfect ‘gift’ for any music lover!

Plan a road trip

There’s something really exciting about jumping in the car and getting away for the day. You can either have the day perfectly planned out, or go on the ultimate adventure with no idea where you’ll end up. If you want to go for the latter, get your passenger involved. They tell you whether to turn right or left and just see where you end up! A road trip is a great way to explore a part of your country you’ve never visited before.

The gift receivers perfect day out

Make a day all about them. Plan a day to their favourite place, take them to their favourite restaurant. Most people shy away from a day all about them unless it’s a birthday.

Fun day out

This can really take many forms. You could visit the zoo, do a day as a tourist in your city. Go on an open-top tourist bus to learn things you never knew. Some suggestions for Central Scotland – Glasgow Mural Trail, Glasgow/Edinburgh city tour bus, Edinburgh Zoo, Glasgow Science Museum, Stirling Castle or Jupiter Artland.

If you can leave your phone untouched for all of these, all the better. Make sure you’re 100% present with the person you’re giving time to. It’s the one thing you can never get back!

 

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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

 

 

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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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