Why I’ll Never Be A Successful Blogger (And I’m OK With That)

There is no denying the fact that the blogging scene these days is HUGE. With that growth we’ve seen so many bloggers reach the dizzying heights of celebrity and wealth all from typing away on their laptops in the privacy of their own bedrooms and it’s incredible but I will never be one of them. It’s not something that I feel competitive about, and even though I would like to grow a little bit and reach some more people each month, I’m happy for others to take the glory. They’ve earned it after all.

The reality is I was so late to the blogging party. I was around within the body positive movement back in the day on Tumblr and I had quite a big following etc but when it came around to applying for jobs after university I decided to delete that account. I have regretted that decision since but the account featured nudity and I was confident enough at that time to front it out or explain it to potential employers. We all know that nudity isn’t sexual but one of the major issues feminism and body positivity is trying to address is the fact that it’s assumed to be. As a young person struggling to find a job that account was just a potential for another stress that I did not need.

The blogging world is constantly developing and changing. Gone are the days when you could post a rant of solid text and it would get hundreds or thousands of views. Imagery and beautiful flatlays are all the rage meanwhile – Visual creativity is not my bag. I’m talking photography and graphic design etc. I want my words to do the talking. That’s not a diss towards bloggers who base their work on their photography, it’s just that’s not my strong point at all. At this point I don’t even own a working camera other than my phone and I have no access to any editing software. If you’re here for the pictures you’re going to be disappointed.

My lack of access to decent technology is definitely another reason I won’t be “successful” as well as my lack of any kind of organisation. I am literally the worst at organising my downtime and finding time to write on a regular basis. Everyone is always saying the key to blogging success is consistency and I feel like I’m the least consistent blogger out there. It just can’t be a priority between working full time, looking after an elderly needy cat, taking care of my own health, physical and mental while trying to keep on top of household chores. It easily slips down the to do list and forcing oneself to sit down and write detracts from the enjoyment somewhat.

Blogging is a hobby for me and it’s allowed me to meet so many great people so I’m not mad about the fact that it’s not going to become a career and I’m not going to change the world. I know that I’ve helped a lot of people, many of them have gone on to become close friends, and that’s a huge reward in itself. If in the future it leads to opportunities to experience new places and things I won’t turn my nose up but I’m at peace with the fact that the likelihood is it’s never going to happen.

V ❤

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Intuitive Eating – The Ins And Outs

Intuitive Eating seems to have become a new buzz phrase on the Internet with people using it alongside tags such as “Flexible Dieting” or “If it fits my macros”, or my personal favourite “I eat intuitively while doing intermittent fasting”.  It seems that most people don’t know what intuitive eating really is. I’ve decided to write a little series outlining what it is, how you can do it and the benefits/draw backs of it. I’m not a dietician or a nutritionist. I embarked on my own intuitive eating journey a few years ago and have been aided along the way by the Intuitive Eating Handbook.

We are all (bar people with certain illnesses) naturally born intuitive eaters. If you think about it logically animals in the wild are intuitive eaters and humans are animals. When we are babies we ask for food when we are hungry and also sometimes for comfort, that’s a natural thing to do. As we start to grow up and learn about food and meal times etc that intuitive part of us is often forgotten about and the intuition is dulled/unlearned. We learn instead that we should eat x amount at set times and that certain foods are bad and others are good. This is when our relationship with food can become problematic. Ignoring, or not being allowed to address, our hunger cues when they arise can lead to bingeing which can then lead to restricting to “make up for it” because we’re taught to limit what we eat and it breeds a viscous cycle of weight gain and loss and our bodies don’t know if they are coming or going.

The premise of adopting an intuitive eating approach again as an adult is NOT for weight loss, although that may occur as a result, rather it’s to heal that relationship with your body and lead a healthier life as a result. We all have a set-point weight. That is the weight that we are genetically programmed to be and the weight that our bodies will fight to keep us at. If we are chronic dieters swinging from our lowest weights to our highest weights, naturally this will impact on our relationship with food, our body and our self image. Equally if we are a chronic overeaters, ignoring our fullness signals and gorging on foods we deem to be “bad”, our bodies will be uncomfortable physically and our mental health will be negatively impacted. Through intuitive eating, registering our hunger and fullness cues and honoring them, over time our bodies will return to and maintain our set-point weight. The bit some people still struggle to get their heads around is that their body settles at a weight, they are eating well, taking part in exercise they love but are still “overweight” or bigger than they think they should be. Unfortunately our genes and biology didn’t factor in that they would be forced to adhere to an arbitrary formula. They also don’t factor in “body trends”. We’re not designed to change shape every time the fashion changes.

Some critics of intuitive eating are skeptical of the fact that theoretically you can eat as much as you want of whatever you want, however if you are truly listening to what your body needs you are not going to want to eat junk food continually. Not because junk food impacts upon the way you look but because it impacts on the way you feel. Our bodies want fruits and vegetables, starchy foods, proteins, fats and water. They want food that energises and fuels them. Over time, when you allow yourself to eat whatever you want, you will learn what food makes you FEEL good.

Once you get your head around the fact that you’re eating well to feel good on the inside, which leads to feeling good on the outside, your attitude towards food and your body really shifts. A mantra that’s been swimming around in my head a little bit lately and I want to share with you is “eat to exercise, don’t exercise to eat.” This really struck a chord with me as I used to exercise to burn off x number of calories whereas now I’m thinking to myself, I’m hungry so I need to eat before my workout so I’ll feel strong and enjoy myself. The change is incredible and that transfers across to your mood as well.

In the next part I will outline the key principles to implementing intuitive eating and the effect each one has on your journey. Leave me a comment and let me know if you knew about intuitive eating, would you try it? And if you’re on the journey, how are you finding it?

V ❤

 

Winter Health Kick

Autumn has arrived and winter is just around the corner. The nights are getting longer and the days are getting shorter. Like a lot of people at this time of year my energy levels dip and my mental health deteriorates. In order to attempt to counteract this I’m embarking on a weight-neutral health kick and I thought I’d share with you what I’m planning to do in case it could help someone else and it also might keep me accountable.

Drinking Water – Now I’m never going to be that constantly hydrated person drinking 3 litres of water every day. It’s just not going to happen and I’ve accepted that, however I’m going to continue to make an effort to drink enough each day even when the weather gets colder so I’m not feeling thirsty. Replacing some caffeinated beverages for water is meant to help with energy levels long term as well but the jury is definitely out on that one.

Exercise – Maybe this is true of everyone but in the winter months I seem to do less exercise which may in turn lead to more fatigue. This year I have a gym buddy who drives so getting home from the gym on those occasions we go together is so much easier and makes it more likely that I’ll go throughout the winter. On days when I don’t go to the gym, going for walks outside will be my go to activity. I know for maximum effect that’s meant to be done when it’s light however time won’t allow for that so I’m making do with before or after work. (Walking also my main method of transport so I get out and about a fair bit each day and never struggle to hit 10-15k steps.)

Eating Less Sugar– This is definitely the thing I struggle with the most. I’m a complete sugar addict and it’s very difficult for me to reduce the intake of something I love without feeling deprived and slipping in to a diet mentality. If anyone has any tips for this they would be greatly appreciated.

Keeping Up Basic Self Care – Drum roll please… Lately I’ve managed to stick to a skincare routine! Will wonders ever cease?! I’ve also started to keep on top of housework more regularly with the help of a weekly to do list and doing a few tasks each day. Although not technically health kick territory keeping up with these kind of daily tasks is more manageable when broken up into chunks and when these things are not piling up around me I’m told I’ll feel better in myself. That’s the plan at least. So far so good. Plus there’s no better morale boost than ticking off a to do list.

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Embracing A Bed Time Routine – I have been mocked by many a Tinder date about my “bedtime”. I need a lot of sleep and have accepted that and I like to be in bed before 11pm each night however I was advised by a psychologist I was seeing to go ALL IN: Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time everyday. Needless to say I haven’t managed this. I routinely stay up too late or go to bed too early and often sleep through my alarm. Also getting up at 6 on some week days so I can exercise isn’t sustainable as an every day wake up plan so I’m still working on this. If anyone has discovered the perfect bed time routine do let me know.

Using A Sunrise Alarm Clock – I use a Lumie Bodyclock Alarm Clock which simulates sunrise in the morning and sunset in the evening. The idea being that you fall asleep and wake up more naturally. I use it all year round and in all honesty in the winter months I’m still very groggy in the morning and the light alone rarely wakes me up and the back up alarm is required. Ironically in the summer I definitely wake up from the light alone. Some people seem to have great success with these lights so if you struggle in the mornings they are definitely worth trying. Cheaper brands are available, the link above is just the one I happen to have.

That’s all I’ve got planned at the moment but if anyone has any other tips do leave a comment below as I’m really hoping to avoid a bad mental health winter.

V ❤

 

Going Back On The Pill

I ran a twitter poll a couple of weeks ago asking what people wanted me to write about and going back on the pill won out. CW: This post will touch on a few issues that people may be sensitive to including weight and mental health.

It seems that the current trend is coming off hormonal contraceptives in favour of natural alternatives. There’s many a blog post and Youtube video doing the rounds at the moment detailing why someone has stopped taking the pill/had their implant removed, so why have I bucked the trend and started taking it again after a few years off?

Why?

My hormones have gone crazy. That’s the long and short of it. My cycle was reaching around 50 days on average and when my periods did arrive they were making me really unwell. On top of that I have no sex drive whatsoever, my skin is a mess and I’m slowly but surely becoming as hairy as my cat.

Because I have a history of migraines, my blood pressure is smidgen high and I’m slightly overweight the combined pill is not an option for me so I have returned to my old favourite pill Cerazette. It’s one of the safest pills on the market in terms of at risk groups but definitely mention any specific risk factors you have to your doctor as there may be something that suits you better. As it is the mini pill it’s unlikely that it will help with any of the additional hormonal symptoms I mentioned above, but what it will do is stop my periods. Everyone’s body is different and some people spot/bleed regularly on Cerazette but for me I get no period or bleeding whatsoever. This also means that I avoid the fortnight of pain and discomfort before my period finally make an appearance.

Hormones are very fickle things. The last time I came off Cerazette after a couple of years my periods settled back in to a regular routine of every 35 days but since early this year they have been getting more and more irregular and other hormonal symptoms have been worse than my “normal”. There’s no clear reason why. Yes, I’ve been mentally unwell this year but I have spells of ill health every year and it’s never affected it before. The doctor suggested changes in weight can cause these issues but over the past couple of years it’s the first time my weight has been stable in a long time. Blood tests and ultrasounds, historically have always come back normal so we no longer try to treat the problem just the symptoms.

The Experience

I started taking Cerazette just under a fortnight ago and so far so good. No bleeding or spotting since my period finished. The doctor I saw warned me that our bodies can react differently to medication that we’ve used before but fingers crossed the results will be the same this time.

In terms of side effects I’ve had tender boobs which seems to be improving now but the most noticeable thing has been increased appetite. I wake up every morning really hungry and it continues pretty much all day. At first I was finding it really difficult to deal with while still eating intuitively but not wanting to put on a lot of weight and cause myself more hormonal issues down the line. So far it seems to be working out OK. I’ve actually lost 2lbs which means I’ve returned to my normal weight.

A lot of people notice a difference in their mental health when taking contraceptive pills. It can go either way. I wouldn’t want to categorically state that this is because of the pill but I’ve been far less anxious recently. That probably has more to do with the fact I’m not having to go to CBT anymore but either way it’s a bonus.

Would I recommend Cerazette?

This post is not an endorsement for birth control or Cerazette. Taking a hormonal contraceptive for whatever reason is a big decision and should definitely be discussed fully with a Doctor/Pharmacist first. There are so many different options out there and some may be more appropriate for you than others.

Do you use a pill at the moment? Have you had any side effects (good or bad)?

V ❤️

Goodbye May, Hello Summer

The last day of May has arrived and here in Aberdeen it is feeling particularly summery. It’s been a funny old month for me personally, professionally and in my blogging life. I feel like I’ve packed a year’s worth of ups and downs into one month and I will be glad to see the back of it in a lot if ways.

Looking forward to June there are a few things that are happening for me and the world in general that I want to share some thoughts on.

June is my birthday month, on the 7th I’ll turn 26. In my current mental state my birthday is filling me with dread rather than excitement, not least of all because I have no plans to do anything to mark the occasion having accepted the fact that everyone will be too busy etc and it’ll just be a massive flop. I know part of this is my mental health but also partly from my experience of trying to organise any kind of party or social gathering over the past couple of years.

Next week Britain goes to the polls again. This time it’s a General Election and hopefully we will be saying goodbye to May in another sense. I know it’s a really slim chance but we have to hope that people will actually show up and make it known that we’re not happy with the status quo. The big concern is that many Scots won’t see the bigger picture and continue to vote SNP in this election which will hamper Labour’s chances of any kind of majority. Watch this space.

The most important event in June is Orange Is The New Black Day which this year falls on the 9th. If like me you have already booked the day off work to binge watch prepare to be shook. I’ve read some of the media relating to it and I’m unsure about the way they have planned this season – it sounds like we will definitely be left wanting more ASAP – but it will also be a binge watch dream.

On my blog in June you can expect lots of body positive content, a couple of period positive posts and I have a fitness post planned. I won’t be posting daily. Hallelujah! I haven’t quite figured out my schedule yet but I know I won’t be posting again until the 4th.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you are most looking forward to in June.

V ❤ 

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Where are all the friendly adults at?

I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for ages and a conversation this morning was the kick up the butt I needed to make it happen. So the big question is why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?

For the longest time I thought maybe it was just me. Maybe I’m quite simply not likeable, I’m opinionated, I’m loud, I have a really annoying laugh – I’m not really selling my friendship here. Yet, the more I speak to young people I realise it’s not just me. Unless you work with a lot young people, you have children or you play a sport or you’re a student the chances are you have the same problem.

Remember the days when you would just go up to another human, engage them in conversation and strike up a friendship, job done? Fast forward to adulthood in 2017 where if you so much as smile at someone you don’t know you will be viewed with suspicion. In the modern age the logical way to meet people would be online which is great and very fruitful. I have made so many friends online since I started blogging, all over the country and beyond, but it’s not so handy when you’re looking for someone to go out for brunch with next Sunday. Now I know you’re all about to chime in with “there’s an app for that”. You don’t have to sell me on the app in question however typically, in this neck of the woods, it’s dead.

I made one lovely friend through the app (hi Sacha if you’re reading) but we’ve both spoken about this challenge in Aberdeen to meet people to socialize with. I joined a book club thinking that it might help in this regard. All the women are lovely, we have great chats when we meet up but they are all married/in long term relationships, some of them have kids and again they don’t really have the time for other social commitments.

The good news is that if you live in a larger city there are probably more opportunites to meet people through events, clubs, meet up apps and through other friends so all is not lost. In the meantime I will make more of an effort to socialise with my friends who are still around and try to keep in touch with others as best I can.

Have you struggled to make friends as an adult/since leaving university? Let me know what you did to meet people in the comments.

V ❤

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What is the #TBRathon & Why am I taking part?

The #TBRathon is the “to be read” readathon hosted by the loved Taryn from Sunlitlibrary or Novel Paradise Blog. Like most people I have a to be read pile that if stacked up would probably be twice my height so from 27th May through to 2nd June the aim of the game is to read as many of them as possible.

Between working full time and daily blogging I’m setting my target at 3 books with the intention to make a good start on the 4th. The books that I plan to read are:

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. This is a story about David and Leo, David wants to be a girl and Leo wants to be invisible. They go to the same school and start to become friends and it’s one of those the truth will out stories. I’m not really selling it but I’m only 165 pages in and I’m hooked. It’s also endorsed by Amnesty International so that’s always a good sign. I had started this book before so I picked it up at about page 35.

Love You Dead by Peter James. Again this is a book that I’ve started and failed to finish previously. I think I’m about 100 pages in but I may have to go back and re-read a bit to get in to the story. This is the 12th book in the Roy Grace series and I’m such a big fan of them. It’s a police procedural where each book focuses on an individual case but they also have a running story through the whole series where Roy’s wife Sandy went missing years before and new leads will crop up etc.

The Two Week Wait by Sarah Rayner. I have no idea what this book is about or if I will like it. It’s one of those books that you pick up really cheaply from a charity shop and then it just sits there for years. It looks like it’ll be a quick chick lit type thing.

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. As you all probably know I’m really in to intuitive eating but I’ve never actually read this so I thought it would be good to read a little of the research behind it and hopefully it’ll help me at the moment. My stressed out brain has been telling me all kinds of things that I “should” be doing.

Are you taking part in #TBRathon? If so let me know what you’re planning to read in the comments.

V ❤

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Things I’ve Learned Through Blogging

The blogging community in the form of the body positive and fat acceptance movement changed my life – that deserves a whole post in its own right – so this post will focus on things I’ve learned specifically since I started this blog, often thanks to the people I’ve met a long the way.

I’ll start with the only negative thing that I’ve learned so that we can finish on a high – competitive women often forget that another woman’s victory is not their failure. Quote stolen from Beyond Before & After.

What I mean by that is that this community has the potential to support and lift each and every member however that’s not always what happens as it’s become hyper-competitive. Not a day goes by where there’s not some kind of drama or aggro on Twitter and it can often feel almost hostile. I’m lucky in that a couple of larger bloggers have really supported and encouraged me from the start and I have a few people who I can DM when I’m feeling disheartened but I know that others are not so lucky.

That aside, blogging has enhanced my life in so many ways and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that I’m not alone in my views. Aberdeen is a small city and it’s really hard to meet people here. There are very few events and I’ve spoken before about the fact that most of my colleagues are significantly older than me with kids etc and have very different views to me. Through blogging I have met people who I hope will be friends for life and even though they live a long way away it’s good to be able to share ideas. It turns out that I’m not the only one who rages at body shaming fitness marketing or the fact that other young women don’t vote. And there is strength in numbers.

At 25 years old I thought I knew all there was to know about periods. I was wrong. Through blogging I have learnt so much about my own body and the different menstrual protection options out there. Since going cruelty free I’ve become so aware of the companies that distribute mainstream pads and tampons but through blogging and in particular Eco Fluffy Mama, I have learned that there are alternatives. I have since switched to a menstrual cup and I am about to try cloth pads and already know that I won’t look back.

Most recently blogging taught me to believe in my abilities more. I’ve always loved to write, mostly for myself but occasionally for other people yet I never believed I was that great. I once missed out on a job I really wanted and the reason they gave was my writing. Maybe it just wasn’t their style or it didn’t suit their business, but it really knocked my confidence. This month I have received so many compliments on my writing, including today when I received a lovely message praising me for the fact that despite posting every day I have kept the quality high.

Have you learned anything through reading blogs or writing on yourself? Let me know in the comments.

V ❤

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Progress Not Perfection – Self Care Goals

Today I did a scary thing, tomorrow’s blog post will be all about it, but having that hanging over me for a while among other things has made this month a bit of a write-off. I know what you’re thinking, I’ve blogged every day, held down my job, looked after my crazy elderly kitty and you’re right. But that doesn’t mean that other areas of my life haven’t suffered as a result.

I’ve been terrible at self care in the most basic sense like eating healthily, drinking enough water and getting enough good sleep. I’ve missed three of my closest friends’ birthdays – Tamzin, Cat and Kirsty if you read this I’m really sorry – and if you’ve been waiting on a reply from me on Facebook messenger you’re still waiting but as I’ve done the scary thing now and going forward it’s just a waiting game I figured now is as good a time as any to create an action plan for the next week/month.

  1. Drink 2l (or there about) of water a day. This one should be achievable especially now the weather is getting warmer but sometimes I forget to drink anything until lunchtime when I’m exhausted/anxious.
  2. Eat 3 meals a day. Usually I’ve still been managing this but for example today I didn’t eat anything from breakfast until 4.30pm and then squeezed in my 3rd meal at 8.30pm.
  3. Get in to a bed time routine. It’s not very exciting or sexy but tossing and turning then eventually falling asleep to Seth MacFarlane and co’s dulcet tones at 1am is not conducive to a productive day.
  4. Spend an hour every evening doing something not related to internet/blogging. This one may be a challenge especially as I’m at work all day so my evening is full of writing blog posts, reading and commenting on others’ posts, tweeting, scheduling tweets etc etc BUT I think it’s really important to have some genuine downtime.
  5. Do a 30 minute clean every day. Like most people when my mental health is rubbish my flat becomes an absolute disgrace. I found a really great “quick clean guide” on YouTube by chance that I will be sharing on the blog within the next few days and it’s really motivated me to be proactive.

I will do an update next month on how I am getting on. The most important ones but probably the most difficult will be the sleep and relaxation. Fingers crossed I will have good news.

Do you have any self care goals at the moment? If not, would you consider setting some? Let me know in the comments.

V ❤

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Surviving The First Week Back

This week I went back to work after my “staycation” and what a shock to the system it’s been. At this time of year a lot of you will be going on holiday and then have the horror of the first week back so here are a few tips to make the transition easier.

Note – this is a do as I say not as I do situation because I’ve been a disaster this week. My inbox is still a mess, I’m over committed due to this blogging everyday in May challenge, and due to this stress/new and exciting anxiety symptoms my head is all over the place and my to do list keeps growing.

Get organised for the week ahead the day before you go back. I didn’t do too badly at this one. I did laundry and made a pot of soup that would do 4 lunches meaning I could go out for lunch on the Friday or take something else. I probably should have done better and arranged dinner as well because I’ve ended up having cereal for dinner twice and beans on toast another night because I’m not getting home until late and I’m WIPED.

Clear your emails as soon as you get into the office – Have a quick skim read of each email, marking it as read and flagging those ones you need to action. Often there are a lot of junk emails clogging up your inbox and making it look more overwhelming than it is.

Catch up with colleagues on anything you may have missed early on in the day. This saves you having last minute things landed on you and can help you plan your tasks for the day/week ahead.

Be kind to yourself – It’s not possible to catch up on a week or two’s worth of work in a couple days so don’t expect yourself to.

Keep your first week light on social commitments – Planning a couple of things to look forward to is always nice but don’t over commit. I’ve been so tired this week that I’ve had to cancel some of the few plans I had. I had planned a couple of gym sessions including my usual social one with my gym buddy Megan, however my body (and mind) were just not up to it.

Most importantly try to enjoy it. You’re back refreshed (in theory), have hopefully had a chance to de-stress and perhaps come up with some new ideas or better ways to do things. If your week back is really terrible, at least it’s not long until the weekend.

V ❤