Monday, 26 January 2015

5 Myths About Getting Fit & Healthy.

This year, I resolved to get myself in shape... thanks to finals, I spent most of my first term back at University being horrible sedentary, and once my exams were done I felt absolutely rotten in myself - I looked gaunt and scrawny, with dull skin, terrible eyebags and absolutely no energy. It's now the end of January, and I'm quite literally a new woman - gone are the days when walking to the cornershop to buy a pack of cookies counted as exercise, and long gone are the days when a huge chocolate binge at 5PM meant I felt too sickly to bother with dinner... nope, it's all about healthy food and fitness.

I've discovered a few things since starting out on my journey, so I've put together what I consider to be the 5 biggest myths surrounding healthy-living in a bid to inspire you all to get on the food and fitness bandwagon (or get you back on it if you've waived since January 1st).

1. You have to join a gym.
When it comes to money-making, gyms pretty much rely on the fact that people will eventually stop going, yet continue to fork out their monthly membership fee. If you're a gym-lover, and will be sure to make full use of that membership then by all means continue. I know for a fact I am not a 'gym person' - I get bored of mindlessly exercising on a treadmill/cross-trainer/bike, I'm far too chicken to go to the weights section and lift whilst stood next to Mr Muscle, and I know I will make any excuse not to venture out into the cold and go to the gym... even if it's on my road. Rather than fork out that extortionate monthly costs of a membership, I took matters into my own hands and searched good ol' YouTube for fitness inspiration, where I found everything, from ballet-barre to boxercise.. and I'm just scratching the surface here. My favourite channels are Fitness Blender, Yoga with Adriene and Blogilates to name but a few- there is so much variety, I can quite literally never get bored. Another plus is that I don't have to travel anywhere to get my dose of fitness - therefore no excuses.
2. Healthy food is super boring and super expensive.
Trust me when I tell you, I'm not eating boiled cabbage everyday - if anything, my meals have become a lot more exciting since I've made this change... I'm enjoying my food so much more now it's all made with completely clean, fresh produce. My favourite foodie site has quickly become Deliciously Ella, whose sugar, gluten and dairy free recipes are anything but boring... and yes, there are even healthy desserts on there. I'm itching to add her recipe book to my collection - I'm so excited that it's out later this week! I'm also loving the Honestly Healthy book, and I've made lots of the recipes with huge success. RE: being expensive... this is sort of a half-myth. Prior to my resolution, I bought a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables in my weekly food shop... although cancelled the goodness out with a bevvy of naughty things on the side. An average shop used to come to about £30 (about $45) per week. Since the beginning of this month, I've been spending more than that - so now, I'm forking out about £40 a week  on my weekly food shop- I'm not going to lie, incorporating non-refined sugars (like agave nectar and pure maple syrup), even more fresh produce and an increased number of dairy-free alternatives does cost more, but at an extra £10 a week, it's hardly extortionate - alcohol along with multiple weekly trips to the cornershop for Tangfastics and Rolos would probably equate to £10 a week (if not more), so I really don't mind spending just a little more, and feeling all the better for doing it.

3. Your skin will become terrible if you start working out regularly.
This is a complete myth - I've found my skin has actually become better as a result of regular workouts, although this is dependent on a couple of things. First, and most important, is to always work out with clean, bare skin... that means absolutely no makeup. Getting a sweat on with a full face of slap is one of the worst things you can do for your complexion, and unless you're very lucky, will definitely cause you to breakout. Secondly, I always make sure to cleanse with a gentle face wash just before and just after working out - I'm currently using the Sk:n Vitamin Rich Cleanser for Oily Skin*, which is formulated with Glycolic Acid, Evening Primrose Oil and jam-packed with skin-loving vitamins. It effectively removes all the sweat and gunk from the skin's surface without being stripping of moisture, and keeps my skin looking and feeling clean and soft.

4. You will get bulky if you lift weights.
I'm not all too sure where this misconception has come from... I've always lifted small weights, even when I couldn't be bothered to do any cardio-type exercise. Now, you've seen photos of me on my blog and Instagram... do I look like a bodybuilder? I can't tell you the number of times friends have spotted the dumbbells in my bedroom and made a comment along the lines of "I'd never lift those, my arms/legs are already really big." Weights do not make you bulky - quite the contrary actually... lifting them a few times a week will strip fat from your limbs, giving you that lovely long and lean look. Strength and resistance training actually burns calories for much longer than your average cardio workout, so you're getting all the benefits long after you've put down those dumbells, and I've found lifting weights produces the quickest results in terms of changes to the body. Sure, if you lift hundreds of kilos and it's all you ever do, you might start to resemble Action Man... but if you keep your weights relatively light (I use these ones), and do a high number of reps, you'll begin to see the benefits quickly.

5. You will inevitably give up.
Every year, I make the resolution to get fit and healthy, and I usually give up within a week. Something was different about it this year, though, as I was (and still am) so determined to stick to it. I've gone weeks without even a mere nibble of a chocolate bar, and at a minimum I've worked out 4 times a week since the new year. If you're beginning to feel the itch to ditch your health and fitness regime... don't! Social media is great for inspiration, and I've discovered lots of healthy living motivation on Instagram - my top picks are Results With Lucy, Deliciously Ella, Healthy Not Skinny, Honestly Healthy, Millie Mackintosh and Rosie Huntington Whitley... the latter being my fit-spiration. A little scroll through these accounts and I'm all the more motivated to get my trainers (and my sweat) on.

I have to be honest though, these last few weeks I've actually looked forward to cooking my healthy meals from scratch along with regularly exercising - I get an itch if I leave more than a day between a workout, and I can even walk through the chocolate aisle of a supermarket without so much as stopping to browse at the Mini Eggs... who even am I?

*PR Sample

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Pinterest-worthy Print.

Pinterest really is the most wonderful thing - I'm completely hooked, and even more so when I was sitting my exams back in December. Whilst procrastinating on the 'site, I stumbled across this picture of a print featuring the famous Carrie Bradshaw saying, "I like my money right where I can see it, hanging in my closet."

I decorated my bedroom 2 years ago (for more about that, click here) and had a patch of empty wall that I'd left bare whilst patiently waiting for the perfect something to fill it with... and I quickly realised I'd just found just that. 

A quick Internet search, and I discovered the print was made by a company called Dottie Rocks - not only do they make this awesome Carry Bradshaw one, but they also make a whole host of gold foil prints, including Audrey Hepburn's "Paris is always a good idea." Whilst I love Audrey, I'd already set my heart on the Carrie Bradshaw version of the print.

Whilst having a browse through their collection, I also wanted plenty of their other cutesy items including these What Would Blair Waldorf Do? Pencils - definitely next on the Dottie Rocks wishlist.

Unfortunately, the Dottie Rocks website was (and still is) undergoing some maintenance, so I made it my mission to seek out another stockist - lo and behold, Yellow Sunflower Interiors came to my rescue.

The print is just as Pinterest-worthy as I'd have hoped, I pretty much Instagram-ed that bad boy as soon as I possibly could. Whilst it didn't come with the chic frame, I managed to find a vintage gold one in HomeSense, and my lovely print now sits happily on my wall just above my desk. After 2 years, my bedroom is finally complete, and I'm so glad I held out for that perfect something.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Pretty Honest.

I can't tell you how pleased I was to unwrap Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes on Christmas morning... I spent most of the day munching on crisps/mince pies/Roses et al whilst perusing its pages - it's safe to say it quickly became one of my favourite beauty reads.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Sali Hughes, she is an acclaimed beauty writer - she writes for The Guardian, but also runs a successful blog and YouTube channel. I've long-loved her no nonsense approach to beauty, and she's one of few public figures in the beauty world whose recommendations I trust implicitly... so when I learned she was writing a book, it's fair to say I was pretty damn excited.

Pretty Honest covers everything beauty related, from must-have products, how-to's and and wonderful tips and tricks, to specialist subjects like bridal beauty, beauty for cancer sufferers and acne (oh boy, how I wish I'd had this book when I was 13 and in the throes of bad skin), along with lifestyle-focused chapters, such as how to take compliments (I loved this, seeing as this is my usual approach to someone telling me I look nice), - best of all, though, is that Sali covers them all with authority, wit and, as the name suggests, honesty.

I was half expecting a 'coffee table' book, full of pretty pictures along with a few choice words about lipstick and liner - and it's anything but. It's satisfyingly chunky, and mainly text interspersed with the odd pretty picture... and I like it that way.

If you're struggling with a birthday present for a female friend, I reckon this lovely book would make the perfect present for any lady, whether she's just starting out with makeup or she's been piling on the eyeshadow for decades. 

Pretty Honest is available at Amazon (RRP £22.00).

Sunday, 18 January 2015


Whilst some prefer to travel light, I'm definitely more of a 'carries around the kitchen sink' kinda gal, so when I was kindly asked by Debenhams to select a handbag from their website, I opted for a big'un.
I went for the Warehouse Relaxed Shopper*, a huge slouchy tote bag in a mink grey colour, with sleek metallic hardware - sadly it's no longer available, but here's something very similar.

As an incredibly nosey person, I love looking at what other ladies carry around in their handbag so today I thought I'd let you guys see what I lug about in my lovely new Debenhams handbag!
Clockwise, starting at bottom right:

1. A magazine: I've had a subscription to Glamour for longer than I care to remember, so I'm nearly always carrying a handbag-sized copy... you never know when you might be very bored in a tutorial... kidding, of course. Chances are if it's not Glamour, it'll be travel-sized Cosmopolitan or Elle.

2. My iPhone: I've got an iPhone 5 and I'm constantly tapping away on it.. I reckon I check my Instagram about 60 times a day.

3. Chanel Les Beiges Powder: I love this product, it's great for on-the-go touch ups when I'm looking a little shiny, and it never, ever looks cakey.

4. My purse: mine is by Ollie & Nic, and was a gift from a dear friend many years ago, it's really well-made and still going strong.

5. My everyday lipstick: I usually have about 5 or six rattling around my handbag, but the one I reach most for is the L'Oréal Paris Liquid Lipstick in Molto Mauve*, a gorgeous peachy pink shade. The formula isn't particularly long-lasting, so I do find myself delving into my handbag to top-up my lippie a few times a day!

6. L'Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream*: I have extremely dry, sore skin between my fingers, and this cream has been my saviour in this cold weather. The tube is pretty massive, but a little goes a very long way.

7. Diary: in a bid to be more organised in 2015, I lug my diary absolutely everywhere.

8. A scarf: living in the UK, you never know when an icy blast is heading your way, so I've usually got a scarf tucked away just incase - I've been loving this RJR John Rocha Stole* recently.

On the theme of unpredictable weather, I also tend to carry round an umbrella - it's seen better days, so thought I'd spare you a picture.

Other things that tend to be floating about in my handbag and I forgot to photograph (d'oh) are Extra Chewing Gum, a big bottle of Glaceau Smart Water, a Nakd Bar for when I'm in need of a quick and healthy sugar fix and finally a Burts Bees Lip Balm*.

If I'm carrying my bag around in the hospital, chances are I'll also be carrying around things like a stethoscope, pen torch, fob watch and tendon hammer... as you do.

So that's #WhatsInMyDebsHandbag... what are your handbag essentials?

*PR Sample

Monday, 5 January 2015

StormFlower by Cheryl.

Whilst I can't proclaim myself a massive fan of Cheryl's music, one thing I constantly admire her for is how damn perfect she always looks. Her luscious hair would make even Barbie green with envy, those contoured cheekbones could cut glass, and her trademark smokey eye never looks anything short of flawless.

When she announced she was to release a fragrance, I have to say I was somewhat sceptical. Over the years, there's been some real hits where celebrity perfumes are concerned (Sarah Jessica Parker and Katy Perry come to mind here)... but also some real misses (I'll be gracious and not name those...).

Cheryl is said to have been heavily involved in the production of her debut fragrance, with the scent, bottle design and even the name created under her direction... so when it was first released during the summer of last year, I hot-footed it into town and was very, very impressed with both the beautiful bottle and the scent itself. However, having already drawn up a gift list for my 24th birthday, I just missed the boat with asking for it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway where I won a signed Cheryl print, StormFlower Eau De Parfum 100ml* and the matching StormFlower Luxury Body Wash*.

The fragrance is housed in an amber-hued glass bottle and adorned with a rose gold flower-shaped lid - it's so beautiful, and looks quite at home sat next to my bottle of Valentino Valentina Assoluto!

So, onto the important part... how it actually smells - it's a floral, fruity scent featuring top notes of Mandarin and Nectarine, along with Freesia and Peach Blossom with delicate notes of Vanilla, White Musk and Sandalwood. I've never smelled anything like StormFlower before, and can hand on heart say I'll definitely repurchase this once this bottle runs out. I've recently been finding many new perfume releases are actually quite similar in their scent, so it's lovely to have tried out something which smells so unique, whilst still being feminine, and is delicate enough to wear in the day, yet also perfect to wear during the evening (where I'll be using the Luxury Body Wash prior to spritzing myself in perfume to lock-in that gorgeous scent).

Still not convinced? Well mummy Bombay Rose, a lady of great taste, with a nose for Chanel and Givenchy fragrances thought StormFlower smelled incredible... if that doesn't tell you it's lovely, frankly I don't know what will.

Cheryl StormFlower EDP 100ml is priced at £39.95 and available at Debenhams.
The matching Luxury Body Wash is priced at £17.95, and also available at Debenhams.

*PR Sample (won in giveaway)

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