Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Musings On Instant Success

In recent weeks, it has become quite clear to me that one of things I place the highest value on in my life is success and achievement. While I'm thankful that I rely entirely on my own definitions of success and achievement rather than letting other people tell me what that actually means, I do put a lot of pressure on myself to adhere to these values. No one else is telling me I have to do this, I have to do that, but I've still become quite obsessed with the idea of overachieving and being successful, but most importantly, I want my achievements and successes to be instant.

I want to be feel completely healthy NOW.
I want to hit my goal weight NOW.
I want to have loads of blog followers NOW.
I want a viable business NOW.
I want my debt gone NOW.

I want the changes I am making to my life to happen literally overnight, I want to be able to draw a very definitive line between Old Emily and New Emily and I have taken a very all or nothing approach to success and achievement.

This kind of behaviour means that any progress I do make is often ignored. For example, if one day I had a healthy breakfast, healthy lunch and no snacks in between but went and had a pizza for tea, I'd immediately deem that day a failure rather than accepting that having two healthy meals is a great improvement on going a whole week without any vegetables.

It's NOT a healthy attitude to have.

I recently reblogged this post on Tumblr, and it really hit home:
"Some people have this “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to healthy living. You either run every day or you’re not a runner. You never have unhealthy thoughts at all or you’re not recovering. You have to never eat fast food or you’re not a healthy eater. You love yourself everyday and never have bad days or you’re not body positive.

Like this whole all or nothing mentality is toxic because people feel like if they’re not doing it all, then their progress is nothing & that’s not true.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Every little bit is a step to a better life.

So if you ran yesterday and today you’re not able to - you’re still a runner and I’m proud of you.

If yesterday you were “ok” but today you’ve fought the urge to restrict or purge since you woke up - you’re still recovering and I’m proud of you.

If today for the first time in weeks, you eat burgers and fries with friends or just on your lunch break - you’re still a healthy eater & I’m proud of you.

If you woke up this morning and immediately didn’t like yourself this morning, it’s okay - You’re still a body positive person & I’m proud of you.

Just take each day step by step, each run, each urge, each dining experience, each negative thought. Because it’s not all or nothing. It’s a little of this & a little of that & each piece turns progress."
So today, I promise myself to drop the all or nothing attitude. I promise to praise myself for the baby steps I take each day towards my goals and forgive myself when I fall backwards. I promise to recognise that all progress is progress, no matter how small. I promise to accept that hitting my goals is not an instaneous process and stop berating myself for failing to change at the click of my fingers. I promise to realise that even if I achieve all the goals I have today, I will likely make new goals and so let go of the idea that there will be a definitive line between "Old Emily" and "New Emily." I promise to stop placing completely unnecessary pressure on myself to achieve impossible standards in my life.

I invite you to do the same.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Life Lately (My GIVEAWAY ends SOON)

Hello supervixens, long time no speak! It has been 10 days since I last blogged, which, I guess, in the grand scheme of things and considering my track record this year, isn't all that bad, but it does feel like such a shame after I got off to such a great start at the beginning of the month. However, my blog is merely a hobby at this stage in my life and sometimes, life gets in the way of your hobbies. About a week ago, I started getting very, very poorly and I had to have a little bit of time off work. Naturally, my blog has suffered too. I am slowly but surely coming out the other side of this now though, so hopefully I can finish June on the blogging front with a bang!

First off, a bit of housekeeping: MY GIVEAWAY ENDS IN JUST TWO DAYS! In case you weren't aware, I am currently running a giveaway to win a little self care package. The prize includes a Lush boxset, some scented candles, two notebooks, a nice set of pens and some face masks. I keep looking at the goodies lustfully, wishing they were for me, but alas, one of you lucky lot will soon have them in your possession instead! If you haven't yet entered yet, PLEASE DO, it'd be GREAT to see one of my regular readers win! There is a link in the sidebar to the giveaway where it explains how to enter, or, you can click here.

So, besides being ill, what have I been up to? In all honesty, not that much, my life seems to revolve around work and sleep at the moment unfortunately. I'm going through a bit of a hard time at the moment and I have a lot of huge decisions to make but I'm currently paralysed by fear of the unknown and the idea that I always do the wrong thing. This means I am pretty damn miserable at the moment but I suppose the fact that I have at least acknowledged that something (er, everything) has to change is a step in the right direction.

Doom and gloom aside, I had a very good weekend last week. On the Saturday James and I went for a daytime date. We went to Pizza Hut for some lunch and afterwards finally got round to seeing Jurassic World. While not quite as great as it was hyped up to be, it was still an amazing film and I really enjoyed it. On Sunday, it was Wiltshire Roller Derby's home game in the British Championships. Sadly we didn't win, but I still had a brilliant day. Bath vs Devon was a fantastic game to watch and I also had the responsibility of live tweeting both games on the day which was a fun and er, steep learning curve! It was good to hang out with everyone at the after party as well.

This weekend, I've been home in Wakefield with my family and just chilling. Or, you know, trying to chill as I talk through some of my options with my family haha. I'm heading back to Swindon this evening and I'm also back in the office tomorrow for the first time in a week so I'm a bit grumpy but oh well.

Here's to a week of strong blogging ahead!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Vixen Thinks: When Self Care Is Not Self Care

For the past few years, self care has been a big thing for me. For most of my life, I have not looked after myself very well. I’ve had the poorest diet you can possibly imagine, I have abused alcohol, I have smoked, I didn’t give myself time off when I needed it, I didn’t exercise, I have remained in toxic and abusive friendships and relationships.

Thankfully, I eventually realised that enough is enough and began to take care of myself. Slowly but surely I am doing the things I need to do to look after myself: I don’t drink alone, I have quit smoking, I eat lots of fruit and veg, I exercise and get fresh air, I don’t associate with people who bring negativity into my life.

For me, these things work. They make me feel happy and healthy and leave me much more equipped to deal with the daily stresses and pressures life brings - however, I’ve had to follow a lot of poor self care advice to get to this point.

For a very long time, I would eat camembert cheese every other day, filling in the gaps with Domino’s pizza. I called it self care. I justified it because “I’m too tired to cook” or “life’s too short to eat healthy.”

I would stay in bed all day long. I wouldn’t do anything. I wouldn’t read, I wouldn’t watch TV, or even open up my laptop. I’d just stare blankly into space, mindlessly scroll through apps on my phone and sleep, sleep, sleep. But it’s OK, because “it’s what I needed. It’s self care.”

Except, a lot of the time self care is really quite the opposite. While staying in bed, eating takeaways and ignoring all your responsibilities can seem like the most gentle option to take a lot of the time, it isn’t always the most caring option to take.

At some point, I finally realised that self care looked a lot like a massive kick up the bum for me.

For me, self care is:
  • Crawling out of your bed and tumbling into the shower because you haven’t had one for four days and they can probably smell you next door by now
  •  Brushing your teeth while you’re in there
  • Walking to work even though you’ll be late because the exercise and fresh air is good for you and you need to keep your job
  • Using the stash of frozen vegetables you have because they’re already cut and ready to go for you - no excuses about it taking too much effort
  • Making the effort to speak to your family because despite what your stupid brain says , they do love and care about you and want to speak to you
  • Establishing a balance between genuinely needing a rest and ensuring essential tasks get done.
While there most certainly are times in my life where what I absolutely need most is to curl up on my sofa in a duvet and have a Pretty Little Liars marathon, the majority of the time, the best thing I can do for myself is something genuinely useful. Things that genuinely mean I am taking care of myself in the best way possible.

It’s time to stop hiding destructive behaviours under the guise of self care.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Pink Primark Blouse

Outfit Details:
Jacket: Miss Selfridge 
Blouse: Primark
Vest Top (underneath blouse): H+M
Leggings: Sainsbury's
Boots: Boohoo (can't really see them..!)
Earrings: Claire's Accessories
Necklace: unsure, but I think it was Cheap Frills

Makeup Details:
This post, except I swapped the lipstick. Unsure exactly what I used, but it looks like a mix of the old Arbonne lipsticks: Shell and Coral Reef 

Oh yes, creativity and inspiration levels were clearly running high when I named this post! Despite the boringness, it is a very relevant name because my new(ish)(not really) blouse is the focal point of the outfit. Way back in February I was off sick from work for most of the month and on one lovely day, my mummy came to visit and bought me this blouse. When I returned to work, I proceeded to wear it every week, sometimes even twice. I LOVE IT.

Although I've done a terrible job capturing the colour, I assure you it really is the most lovely, delicate baby pink colour with a nice subtle black trim. Unlike most of my blouses, there is no collar so it's a nice change from my usual style. I like how it's oversized and I can wear it with a long vest top underneath over leggings for a really comfy look that doesn't look overly casual.

Now, I did actually wear this outfit for work, but my office is very relaxed and I don't think most offices view leggings as office attire, but what do I know! I think with my nice smart jacket and my heeled boots, the fact that it is the comfiest outfit I own is cleverly disguised and the leggings don't seem so bad...!

What do you think?

Friday, 12 June 2015

Operation Supervixen: Operation Weight Loss

Operation Supervixen is my own personal transformation programme. In June 2015, I decided I was utterly fed up of being miserable, unwell and feeling like I wasn't reaching my full potential in life. To combat this, I decided I was going to radically transform my diet, maintain an exercise routine and centre my leisure activities around personal development. To keep me accountable and help others in the process, I started Operation Supervixen.

Weight loss. It's a tricky topic. On the one hand, so many people are interested in it, on the other, no one wants to promote unrealistic body standards and an unhealthy dislike of one's size and shape. There's always a concern that if you talk about losing weight yourself, you'll offend people who are bigger than you, or people will think you're just fishing for compliments. 

For most of my life, my weight was never something that has bothered me. I've always been a very slim person, and a few times, I've also been more than a little underweight. When underweight, I'd be aware of it and know I had to make a change, but it never affected my body confidence. In fact, until recently, my body was the one thing I could say I never, ever hated about myself. My negative self talk has always been about the type of person I am, the way I conduct myself, or if it did involve my appearance, it's usually my hair or skin that gets the brunt of it. Never my body or weight. 

However, in January 2014, two things changed. The first was I got a job behind a desk and my activity levels absolutely plummeted. The second was I completely lost control of my diet. While I lived with my boyfriend's parents, I was always served massive portions I felt guilty for not eating and when I moved out of there, for the first time ever in my life, I started comfort eating instead of starving myself when depression took its hold.

Since January 2013, I have put on four stone. The first two I put on, between the beginning of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I welcomed. I was no longer very underweight and doctors had stopped making concerned noises every time I was told to hop on the scales. I felt good and I looked good. I knew it and other people knew it. Putting this two stone on was a sign of recovery, a sign I was healthy again. 

The next two stone, which I put on last year, well that's when problems started to show. At first, I didn't mind. I was suddenly very curvy and well, I liked the big boobs that had appeared out of nowhere after being pretty damn flat chested. But then, my clothes stopped fitting. Not just the items I had from pre-2013, but clothes I'd bought recently. In August, I bought about six new dresses. I had to send them all back because they were too small. I bought bigger sizes. They fit. About a month later, they stopped fitting. That's when I started to hate my new body.

But it got worse. Buying new clothes wasn't an option because of my really horrific financial situation. (I was exceptionally lucky that my boyfriend bought me all my new underwear to fit my new boobs and bum.) However, alongside the frustration that I couldn't squeeze myself into my favourite clothes anymore, I noticed I felt a lot heavier. My knees would groan and creak whenever I stood up. Walking to work got a lot harder. Everything exhausted me. I was tired all the time.

Finally, it became apparent that because I had put such a significant amount of weight on in such a small amount of time, it was to blame for a lot of my exhaustion and constantly aching legs. While in real terms I would not classify myself as fat, the truth is my BMI is straddling the line between healthy and overweight and looks and statistics aside: I KNOW I FEEL TERRIBLE.

And so, for the first time in my life, I am actively and genuinely trying to lose weight. While I've been interested in healthy living for some time now, weight loss is now something I am aiming for, even though it will hopefully be a side affect of ditching the less healthy foods in my life. I've said for so long now that my health is the crux of whether I feel successful in life, that my poor health that stops me from hitting my goals, and right now, a lot of my health seems to depend on shifting some of the weight I have put on since 2013. 

Naturally, I will be documenting my weight loss efforts as part of the Operation Supervixen series on this blog. I'm very conscious that I don't want to "diet" or take part in "fads" but I am planning on doing a Juice Cleanse, a follow-on programme after that and the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond programme to set me up for lifelong healthy living. I will be reviewing these as I go along and sharing my results. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Vixen Thinks: The War On Selfie Sticks

The selfie stick. A device solely created to extend the user’s arm in order to take better self portraits. Naturally it has divided opinion: there are those who love it and there are those who view it as a narcissistic indicator that the end is nigh.

Personally, I’m in the camp of loving the selfie stick. I’ve got pretty damn short arms so taking selfies, particularly those that involve my boyfriend, friends and/or family in them, have always been quite the task for me. My sister got a lovely bright pink selfie stick for Christmas and after having ages of fun taking stupid photographs of ourselves, I decided it was something I needed myself. Not only does it create flattering angles, but when using it, I can even manage to get everyone in on the photo, whoa!

Yet, a war is being waged on the humble selfie stick. Museums, football grounds and public attractions all over the world are announcing a ban on the nifty little gadget. While many argue this is for health and safety, I’m starting to think there’s an undertone here that’s not so much in the public interest.

For a start, if selfie sticks are a genuine health hazard, so are other long, pointy devices that people like to wave in the air. Umbrellas for example. Why not ban those? Why not ban small children because when I’m out in public, I face more injury from those little buggers not watching where they’re going than I ever have done from someone taking a nice little picture of themselves.

Safety issues aside, I think “The War on Selfie Sticks” is more of a snipe at a generation of boys and girls who express themselves in a way that many view as narcissistic and inferior to the generations that went before.

I see a lot of people rolling their eyes at people who like to take selfies, I see words like vain and vapid being thrown around. There’s a lot of criticism surround the selfie - does it actually empower young girls or is it just reinforcing unrealistic beauty standards? You know the stuff I’m talking about.

There is, most definitely, a group of people that classify themselves as superior because they don’t take selfies, they don’t post pictures of themselves on the Internet and they certainly don’t need a selfie stick.

When I heard about certain very famous museums banning the device, my first thought wasn’t anything to do with what a great health and safety move, oh no, my first thought was that certain institutions are trying to disassociate themselves with a certain class of people and disregard those who enjoy the art of the selfie as somehow inferior.

The thing is, selfies are great - they’re not an indicator or your intelligence and they’re not oppressive or anti-feminist.

I love a good selfie. I’ve been taking them for years and years, since back when Myspace was in vogue and it wasn’t until I start operating the camera that I finally started feeling comfortable with having my photograph taken or sharing images of myself with my friends, family and beyond.

When I started taking selfies, I learnt that beauty is a subjective thing. From some angles I am one of the most stunning things I’ve ever laid eyes on (sorry, not sorry), from others, I resemble an ogre. Realising this made me realise that I’m never, ever going to look the same to everyone on every photo in every situation and just because I’m disgusting when posing with my face down, it doesn’t mean I’m inherently ugly. It was a serious confidence booster for me.

Selfies put the portrayed in the shoes of the photographer. It allows a certain amount of control that you do not get when someone else is photographing you. For me, there’s something empowering about being able to create the ideal image of yourself and share it with the world.

They’ve also become very, very important to my life. I couldn’t run this blog without taking selfies and because I’ve moved so far away from my family, if I didn’t take pictures of myself, there would be absolutely no record of what I look like for the past year or so. Surely everyone enjoys looking back and seeing how they’ve changed?

Selfies also form an important part of relationships for me. Who doesn’t love a good photo of themselves with their other half? There’s often just me and my boyfriend around at times, so a selfie becomes necessary if we want a nice soppy photo!

Selfie sticks enhance all the benefits of selfies I have outlined above, particularly when it comes to photographs that don’t feature just you.

I’m also planning on doing some solo travelling in the future and I know I will be taking a selfie stick because I want to remember myself in that experience and this way I don’t have to fear a stranger running off with my camera.

Personally, I think the ban on selfie sticks is an attempt to stifle a blossoming culture. People are capable of using them in a manner that doesn’t put people at risk and this should be respected. Those who look down at those of us who like to document our lives need to remove the stick from up their arse (no pun intended.)

What do you think? Is the selfie stick genuinely a health and safety concern or do you, like me, think it’s a superiority complex that is getting it banned?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Modern Day Marie Antoinette #2

Outfit Details:
Jacket: Boohoo
Top: Lipsy
Skirt: Boohoo
Boots: Boohoo
Earrings: gifted
Necklace: gifted
Bracelets: gifted, Primark, FitBit

see this post, minus the lipstick, which has been replaced by B. Lipstick in Cupcake

As I explained in last week's outfit post, for a long time, the direction I wanted to take my style in was "Modern Day Marie Antoinette" and this is one of the pastel colour, mildly extravagant blouses I bought as I moved towards this. In fact, this top is one of my favourites ever! Pink and black is my favourite colour combination and I love the ruffles so much. While I much prefer to wear it with my velvet skater skirt, I think wearing it with a midi black skirt works perfectly for the office. I still feel like me, but I also feel professional and smart enough for work. 

What colour combination are you obsessed with?