Training for a 10K Race: Wait, again?

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll know that in the middle of last year, I decided to take up running. This was partly influenced by my boyfriend but it was something that I had wanted to do for a long time and I didn’t really know where to begin. Luckily for me, he was more than happy to come running with me, teach me how to run properly and be my support system.

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(Back at my first official 5K race: The Connswater 5K)
Through my running, I’ve taken part in about a dozen parkruns, quite a number of my own personal runs with various distances, mini run club runs, a charity fun run, a 5K official race and a 10K official race. While I documented my running journey of building myself up to a 5K race, I didn’t do that as well as I had hoped for the 10K and that’s one big regret of mine. Not so much for the blog, although I would have liked for it to worked as inspiration even just for one person; it was more so for myself because I would have liked to see written progress of that process too.

Being the romantic that I am, for Valentine’s Day, I signed us both up for the Titanic Quarter 10K race happening at the beginning of April. He told me that he’s done this particular race before and because it’s in a newly developed part of the city with views of the water, it’s a really nice backdrop for a run. He didn’t know I was signing us both up but he seemed really pleased that we would get to run together in another race, and this also means going out on more training runs together whenever we can.

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(I don’t stop to take photographs too often on a run but on occasion, it’s nice to take a breather)
My plan of action for the build up to this race is pretty simple. If you follow me on Instagram, more often than not, I post my runs on there so I plan on still doing that and additionally, I’ll be doing a blog post every two weeks talking about them more in-depth. I don’t want complicate it because running shouldn’t be complicated so why make my blog that way?

I hope you’ll follow me along on my latest running journey because it’s something I’m very passioniate about and I love that I can share it with others too. While you’re here, you can catch up on some older running posts too:

Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run.
Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Last Minute Training.
Training for a 5K Race: Race Day!

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SS: Sunday Saves (#86) Valentine’s Day.

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Good morning everyone and welcome to another edition of my Sunday Saves. Today I’m focusing on Valentine’s Day because it’s coming up soon, and I wanted to share some blog posts that I have came across over the last week. There’s one for everyone, not just for the loved up or the single folks.

1) Mummy Style (Writing A Love Letter To Yourself)

Renee’s post about being herself is such a lovely read, whether you have children or not, I believe we can all relate to it in one way or another. She talks about feeling different after having children but making sure she still looks after herself. She has written up a list of ten things we can all do to make sure we look after ourselves which includes buying new pajamas (which I need to do!) and lighting new candles (because who doesn’t love new candles).

2) Natalie Leanne (Spending Time Together for Valentines)

If you’re looking for cute Valentine’s Day inspiration on how to spend the day or evening with your partner, you should read Natalie’s post. She’s teamed up with Henry London to talk about their watches but towards the end of the post, she gives ideas on what to do, so whether you’re interested in cooking a nice meal at home or treating yourself a massage, there’s something for everyone.

3) The Fearless Love Coach (One Reason Why Your Guy Moans About Valentines)

Admittedly, when I clicked on this post for the first time, I was expecting it to be a post based around men hating Valentine’s Day because of the money aspect. I was very surprised about when I read in fact, really had nothing to do that. Special occasions like Valentine’s Day, birthdays and Christmas; unfortunately whether we want to admit it or not, there is so much pressure on men. They want to make it special, they want to treat their partner and they want them to be happy. I personally never try and put pressure on a significant other because I’m a very simple woman who likes something that comes from the heart, and if that’s a card with a lovely message, then I’m happy. I never thought men would feel so insecure, it’s definitely an interesting read and it might even make you question how you approach these subjects in the future.

4) Ashleigh Jane (Caring For Your Valentines Flowers)

Flowers are cute and adorable, there’s no denying it. Whether you’re buying them for yourself or if they have been bought for you, I love either scenario. They brighten up your room and depending on what flowers you buy, they smell lovely too. In order to keep the prettiness alive, you need to look after your flowers and Ashleigh has some very quick tips to help, if you’re not too sure how to look after them properly.

5) Atwater Village Therapy (Why Relationship Goals Are Dangerous: Five Reasons It Isn’t A Competition)

This last post isn’t focused on Valentine’s Day but I feel it is important to still talk about relationships. We all go through them at some point in our lives and each of us has our own different experiences from them. We’ve all heard the phrase “relationship goals” right? I know that even in the past, a previous relationship was “goals” to some people, and I’ve even said that fictional characters had “the perfect relationship”. I believe this article really hits the nail on the head and it goes in depth about much more than just changing your mindset about a relationship being perfect. Vanessa talks about unhealthy relationships, why some people choose not to be in relationships and why being in a relationship is not a competition. A must read for everyone.

That’s all from my Sunday Saves today. If you celebrate the day, then I hope it’s lovely, and if you don’t,  I hope you have a great Wednesday anyway. Thank you so much for reading.

My Reverse To-Do List.

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Today I wanted to talk about something  I do when I struggle with my mental health. It’s not for everyone; it won’t work for everyone and it might not even sound like your cup of tea, but that’s okay too. This is just what I do to try and get myself back on track if I’m feeling a very heavy mental struggle, I call it the “reverse to-do list”.

What’s a reverse to-do list?

For me, this is a list that I write down everything I do throughout the day, except I don’t do it all in one go like a normal list. I write it down as I’ve finished the task. The reason for this is because when you write it down when you have finally finished the task, you’re celebrating a little win each time whereas if you write a large list of what needs done that day, it can become overwhelming and de-motivating.

Over the last few months, I have began to have very depressive episodes and if you know me or even just follow me on social media, you’ll know I like to be productive and plan activities, especially over the weekend. However, when a depressive episode hits, even getting out of bed is a struggle. (I haven’t been diagnosed with depression but having done my research on symptoms and signs, as well as mentally living and feeling the way I do sometimes, that’s why I call them depressive episodes.)

One Saturday I woke up at 7am because I wanted to be up early to get ready for the local parkrun that morning. Everytime I sat up, I had to lie back down because mentally, I was being pushed down. I tried and tried and I just couldn’t get up, I was still lying there at 11:30am and it was torture. Wanting to be productive, wanting to get on with your day but not having the mental strength, it was frustrating. So after a few hours of feeling like I couldn’t move, that’s where the idea of the reverse to-do list came in.

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If you’re not feeling great or you don’t want to put a lot of pressure on yourself, I would highly recommend trying to do this for yourself. The simplest tasks such as getting out of bed which are deemed as normal, can be quite overwhelming so you can even add that. Brushing your teeth, making a cup of tea, washing your face or even changing out of one pair of pajamas into a fresh new pair, is really all it takes.

Here’s an example of one of my reverse to do lists and because I started to write this list, I achieved more with my day surprisingly. This isn’t the case every time but on this particular day, I didn’t expect to change my bed clothes or meditate that evening.

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Obviously as a disclaimer, I’m not going to write pretty lists when I’m feeling like I can’t get out of bed. I write them on my phone, usually in my Evernote app and then later on that evening if I’m feeling better, I write them out neatly with my nice pens (Doing this is very therapeutic). It gives me a sense of accomplishment seeing that I was productive during the day, even if I felt like I wasn’t at first.

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I find this is something that really helps me and if you have anything else that I could do in addition to this, please let me know. I love trying out new techniques to see what works and what doesn’t (for me). Thank you for taking the time to read this! 

SS: Sunday Saves (#85) Affirmations.

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Good morning all and welcome back to my first Sunday Saves of February! This week I’ll be discussing affirmations and recently, this has become quite a powerful tool that I’m incorporating into my mindset and because of this, I wanted to explore it more and open it up to anyone who has ever been interested in finding out more about this technique.

1) Tiffany Nicole Forever (Affirmation Mindset – How To Create A Mindset Equipped For Affirmation Manifestation)

A post to get us started on this subject is this one from Tiffany Nicole. I know when I first read it, I remember thinking back to when I first heard about affirmations a few years ago, and this is what I came across. I heard positive and negative things from other people online and I wasn’t too sure how to implement this into own life. Coming back a few years later and researching further into this practice, it is very uplifting and quite freeing and using Tiffany’s post, she gives you a brief overview on how exactly affirmations can work if you put the work in.

2) Axtschmiede (The Power of Repeated Affirmations)

“You can expect something to change over night.” We’ve all heard that phrase, right? That’s exactly how affirmations work. You can’t just say something positive and have it happen straight away. This post from Axtschmiede explains just that; affirmations are a tool to looking at life from a different perspective and if you’ve spent half of your life thinking negativity, you won’t just change that in a day or even in a week. Your choice of words and phrases as well as your subconscious mind are all talked about in this post, which I think is essential if you want to look deeply into this practice in order to understand how and why you want something to change.

3) Tampa Bay Mom’s Blog (How I Used Positive Affirmations To Overcome My Negative Thoughts)

Diana’s story is very relatable because all of us can remember when negative thoughts either get in our way or tell us that we can’t do something. I loved reading her story because not only did her negative thoughts affect her, they also affected her son and I believe that’s something that we don’t think about enough. Our attitudes, our mindset, our perspective on life, it can start to rub off on those around us but it’s never too late to make a change, especially if you want it to.

4) Ellie K (12 Positive Affirmations for 2018)

I wanted to add Ellie’s post into this post because she can give you a few ideas on what affirmations look like and how you can cater them to part of your life you want to improve on. “I start a new chapter every day”. Let’s take this for example; this could be for a fitness goal, starting work on a new project, wanting to have a better morning routine or simply trying to be more forgiving towards yourself so you give yourself a fresh slate every day. Affirmations really can be anything you want them to be depending on how you want them to positively change your life.

5) I Take Success (Power of The Sticky Note)

Last but not least, I want to finish on this post by Stacey. I personally like to say my affirmations out loud during a meditation to weave them into my thought process but everyone will work differently. Some people might not want to do that so she gives quite a simple piece of advice, write it on a sticky note and have that near you to remind you of your mindset. Whether that be on your fridge, on your favourite coffee cup, on your computer desk or you could even do it as a background on your phone (even though it’s not really a sticky note at that point); it’s all about that constant reminder and keeping it in your head.

I hope you enjoyed reading today’s blog post, I really love my new style and format to this series because I’m coming for all different angles on the same subject, but if you have any feedback for me, please don’t hesitate to find me on the socials to let me know. 

What I’ve Learned From Being A Vegan For One Year.

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The magical first day of the year marked my one year anniversary of becoming a vegan. Over the last few months, I’ve written a number of blog posts about my vegetarian story and why I became vegan but today’s post is about what I’ve learned over the last year transitioning to this lifestyle.

Research is key.

I have always been the type of human who researches to the point of no control. I’m very heavily interested in finding out the maximum amount of information about a subject I’m interested in and veganism was no different. Now, thankfully I have scaled down my researching skills because I don’t have time like I used to, but I wanted to be well informed about what I was taking on. If you have read my other vegetarian and vegan posts, you’ll know that I cooked vegan meals for quite a few months so I wasn’t exactly going in at the deep end with Veganuary. Admittedly, I looked more so at what foods I could and couldn’t eat, and what little secret ingredients I had to keep an eye on rather than the animals issues surrounding veganism. I did over the next few months start to look into this.

Explaining myself isn’t always necessarily.

I quickly learned that I had to judge certain people very quickly when the subject of veganism came up. There’s a saying that goes like this: “You’ll know when someone is vegan because they will tell you.” In my experience, the fact that I’m a vegan has been brought up more by others than it has been by me. I’m really fortunate that the people that I choose to surround myself with, are genuinely interested in the subject and if they ask a question, they’re not doing it in a cruel way to make a joke out of it. I don’t mind answering questions about this way of life to people who are genuinely interested but I’ve learned that some people just want either make a joke out of it or are simply looking for an argument. It’s up to you how you handle those, I walk away because the way I see it is, it’s me living this life, not them.

I became more creative with my cooking.

There’s nothing more satisfying than cooking a meal from scratch when you know exactly everything that has went into it, because the majority of the time when you take the time to cook a meal, it works out healthier too. I was vegetarian for almost a year before I became vegan so I was mainly cooking vegan meals for the most part, so I knew what my staple meals would be. My boyfriend is a meat-eater and he loves cooking too so he would say himself that it’s helped him improve his cooking skills because he has had to find new recipes so they can be suitable for me. He has made lasagna, spaghetti bolognese, falafel and sweet potato burgers, just to name a few and he has said that you don’t lose any flavour with a meal just because it’s vegan.

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(This Christmas was my first Christmas as a vegan and it’s very safe to say that my boyfriend knocked it out of the park with what he served.)

I became more open minded.

From practising meditation on a daily basis, incorporating affirmations into my mindset, looking into the minimalist lifestyle and looking further into issues that surround the meat and dairy industry; I have become a more open minded person who is willing to educate herself. While not everyone will understand what you choose to do with your life; whether that is a different lifestyle to them or why choose to meditate, you have to take a step back from other people’s opinions and decide if they matter. Most of the time they won’t. You’re living your life, they are living theirs, and there’s nothing wrong with educating yourself more on subjects you are becoming passionate about or simply interested in.

I became more comfortable calling myself a vegan.

For the first numbers of months, I was very apprehensive about calling myself a “vegan” for two reasons. I didn’t feel like a vegan, yes I changed my diet to a vegan diet but I was still trying to figure out what household products, cosmetics and bath products to transition to so while I was going through that, I almost felt like a fraud saying I was something that I wasn’t. Over those next few months I realised that I’ll never be perfect, I’ll never be a one hundred percent vegan and no-one can be, it’s impossible. What is possible however, is trying your best because as cheesy as it sounds, we’re all learning at the end of the day. My second reason was, vegans sometimes get a bad reputation. You know what I mean; the one who preaches at you every time you eat meat, the one who judges you when you’re sitting in a restaurant, the one who will sit and tell you how you are hurting the environment and the animals, and the one who, will eventually have no friends if they keep acting like that. I don’t believe I’ve ever been a “preacher”; most of my friends and family eat meat and it’s really at the bottom of my list for me caring about that. As I said before, if people let me live my life, I’ll let people live theirs. It’s really that simple. Who am I to jump in and force my opinion down someone’s throat who might not necessarily want it? For those two reasons; learning that I can only improve myself and educate myself day by day, I became more comfortable with calling myself a vegan rather than just saying I eat a plant based diet.

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Being vegan, as cliche as it sounds, has become more than what I eat; it’s a large part of how I live my life and the last year has opened my eyes up to new people, new opinions and given me more of a sense of not caring what people think when it comes to this subject in particular. I hope you enjoyed today’s post and over the next few months, I’ll be sharing more of my vegan journey so I hope you take the chance to read those too.

If you’ve missed any of my posts related around food, they’ll be linked here:
How and Why I Turned Vegan
Becoming A Vegetarian
What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style
So what happened after Veganuary?

SS: Sunday Saves (#84) Veganuary.

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Good morning everyone and Happy Sunday! I hope you have all had a lovely weekend so far! Today I’m back with another Sunday Saves and this week’s theme is Veganuary; I thought it was appropiate since we’re coming up to the end of the month to share other people’s experiences and possibly some questions that non-vegans have. Unsurprisingly, I wrote about my Veganuary journey last year so if you have a minute, you should take a look at that too.

1) One Girl Two Cities (Vegan Diet for January – Half Way There!)

I wanted to share a story from someone who is taking on Veganuary and how they have very openly, admitted their mistakes but also their successes. Kendra (who blogs over on her own website, this is a guest blog post!) talks about being worried about going to a pot luck dinner so she took a meal with her, and she ended up not being the only one there with a vegan option. Also, you NEED to go and see the photograph of her pizza! It’s the biggest pizza I’ve seen, it looks incredible. Towards the end of the post she talks about not knowing what will happen in February and beyond, which I think many people taking part in Veganuary tend to feel the same.

2) Mercy For Animals (Dear Non-Vegans, It’s Not That I Can’t Eat That – It’s That I Won’t)

“Oh, you can’t eat that, can you?” This phrase doesn’t come up too often for me; more often that not someone will offer me food (which is very sweet of them!) and I admittedly say that I “can’t eat that”. For obvious reasons, if it’s something to do with my intolerances, the word “can’t” is the perfect response, because if I do, I get sick. If someone was intentionally floating food in my face, then that’s when I would step in and say that I “choose not to eat it” which in my opinion, is a very appropriate response and that’s why I loved Rachel’s view point on this.

3) The Foraged Life (How A Plant Based Diet Is Better For The Planet (And You)

Looking for sources and statistics on the impact a plant based diet can have not only on you but the planet? This is your blog post. Rachel talks about water conservation, cutting your carbon footprint and even recommends a number of documentaries to watch if you’re interested in finding out more.

4) Northern Life Magazine (9 Things Vegans Get Asked All Too Often)

Ever wanted to know the questions vegans get asked the most? Jen has you covered in this article for Northern Woman Magazine. Apart from the tofu and soy questions, I’ve been asked every other question which, if someone is genuinely interested, I’d sit and talk to them all about why I turned vegan and what I eat, but if you’re just looking for an argument, you won’t get that from me.

5) Will Flirt For Food (Mushroom and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe)

What a perfect way to end a post than with a recipe. Before I became vegetarian and vegan, chicken curries used to be one of my favourite dinners and since changing my habits, I haven’t had a curry that resembles a chicken curry since. From the photograph alone, it seems like Kaylea’s is very similar so I might have to give this a go.

That’s all for today’s Sunday Saves. If you have any Veganuary or simply any Vegan posts you love, please send me the links on my Instagram or Twitter, I absolutely love reading new posts on this subject. Have a great day! 

Remembering The Grateful Moments in the Gratitude Journal.

Do you remember when I talked about gratitude on the blog? I talk about what it meant to me, how and why I first started incorporating it into my daily routine and one of the tools I have used since beginning this practice. Well in today’s post, I’m going to talk more in-depth about the Gratitude Journals from the Itty Bitty Book Co. that I mentioned in that particular blog post.

If you haven’t seen the journals before or you’re not sure how they work, I’ll show you how. It’s a small little paper book that fits nicely in the handbag (I place mine inside my personal sized Filofax) or if you tend to journal and write in the evening, then it’ll sit very nicely on your bedside table.

Firstly, you make a quick little note of what’s currently going on in your life right now. So you could be starting a new project, you could be feeling a particular emotion whether that be positive or negative or maybe you don’t have anything exciting going on, that’s okay too. You can really write anything that provides a little life overview.

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This is where you can start to think about your three things that you appreciate and are grateful for. As mentioned in my other blog post, it really can anything; a really good cup of tea, a catch up with a friend, having a nap or going for a run. Being grateful doesn’t have to only happen when big life events happen, you really can use the practice in your day-to-day life.

Every few pages, there is a nice change that pops up when it asks you to list three people you are grateful for. While some people may like sticking to the three things list, I like that it is a change of pace because while you may think of things that you do in your life or opportunities that rise up, how often do we look at the people in our lives and are grateful for them? This change of pace allows us to think beyond the things and to the people in our lives.

Every seventh day, you have an extra page asking you to list some of the best things that happen during the week. Doing this is probably the most pleasurable because you can look back on that week and you might not remember what happened on the Monday, but once you read back, you realise how great the start of the week was for you.

Other little pages that pop up ask you about positive news you have heard recently, where you would consider your happy places and little positive quotes throughout too.

Because it’s essentially a twenty one day challenge (because it takes the average of twenty one days to set a new habit), it asks you at the end of those days, what were some of your best moments? That’s when you can look back on your (almost) month and see what really happened. Did you remember that amazing eight hour sleep you had? Did you remember smashing your personal best on your run? It really is about perspective too and that’s something that I have also gained alongside gratitude.

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I used mine every other day to start off with. My reasons behind that were that I have perfectionist traits that crop up and can take over, so the pressure to do it every day and possibly not keep up with it, throws my anxiety very high. I done that for a few months and then I went through a particular bad period (when I could have used the practice to its full potential in all honesty) and I stopped using it. As a perfectionist, I worked very hard not to start a new journal when I stopped using it for a brief few weeks so once I was ready, I used the same one. The only difference was that there was a massive date difference, and I’m proud of myself that I was able to work through that.

So if you’re on the fence about starting a gratitude journals, these little books are great for starting out to see if it’s something for you (Not everything is for everyone, understandably) and I hope my post has given you more insight into the books.

Meanwhile, if you want to purchase some gratitude journals for yourself or a friend, you can find them right here.

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Please note: I am an affiliate for Itty Bitty Book Co. so affiliate links have been in a number of clickable links used throughout.