Be Body Beautiful by Lucy Mecklenburgh

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I don’t think I’m alone in thinking January is a great time to consider a healthier lifestyle. You’ve overindulged over the Christmas period and are ready to give your daily diet and exercise plan an overhaul or perhaps you’re even wanting to start from scratch. I’ve not picked up any particularly bad eating habits over the years but I certainly don’t eat as well as I should so I’ve decided to add more fruit and vegetables into my normal food consumption and up the amount I work-out. My self-motivation can be a little lacking at times so I decided to look for some assistance in the form of a book or DVD and came across this book written by Lucy Mecklenburgh.

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What drew me to this one was the great mix of information about nutrition, delicious recipes and useful exercise plans. Instead of just dictating what you should and shouldn’t be eating, it gives lots of explanations as to why and what it means to your body. It provides weekly food plans, suggestions on things you should add and take-away from your mealtimes, and generally makes you think about what food you’re putting into your body.

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It then goes on to explain exercises you can do in your own front room, with step-by-step guides on each. It sets challenges that are easy to fit in to your daily routine and means you can work up to more difficult exercises as you progress.

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It’s help me think more carefully about each meal of the day and the snacks I eat in between. I’ve had the book nearly 3 weeks and I’ve already started eating healthier breakfasts such as blueberries with natural yogurt or a cherry tomato and onion omelette. Even though I didn’t need the book to tell me to make that change from my usual sugary cereals, it was definitely a motivation.

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I haven’t been following it religiously, but I’ve been cooking at least two new recipes each week to see which ones will become a regular part of my diet. Another thing I love about the book is the mix of veggie and meat recipes. It can be difficult to cook for both me and my fiance with him being a meat eater and me not, but I can cook lovely, healthy things for both of us from the one book.

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The last thing I’ve loved about the book is finding out a little more about Lucy and realising how down-t0-earth she is, which makes her very relatable. I haven’t read every single word, but what I have read has made me realise there are plenty of people out there who, like me, aren’t just changing their diet to lose weight, but want to maintain a healthy lifestyle and generally get a bit fitter. I’m looking forward to trying lots more recipes and seeing some improvement in my fitness.

What I’m Watching

TV Shows - January 2015

Yes, I’m staying active through January, trying to work out as much as I can, but there’s nothing better through these last winter months than curling up under a blanket with a great TV show. I like a whole lot of shows, covering a whole lot of genres, and try to keep up-to-date with them as much as I can, so these are just 5 of my favourites right now, in between a few others like Bones, Scandal and Revenge I’m still keeping up with.

How to Get Away With Murder

This has been my favourite new show of the latest season, bringing so much tension and sass in with the legal stories of its main characters. Viola Davis is fantastic and I loved its switching between multiple stories to really keep you guessing through the first half of the first season. Its second half starts again tonight and I can’t wait to see the impact the actions of the characters will have on the rest of the season given the cliffhanger nature of the last episode. I haven’t watched a crime drama that centres around the legal side of cases for a while, so this has been a nice change of pace and is the part I really enjoy most about the show. How long it’ll last, who knows at this point, but I’m ready to be in it for the long haul.

Hannibal

This one gets quite grim quite often and is by no means an easy watch, but is so slick and intense that I can’t help but stay tuned. It is smart, disturbing and fascinating in equal measures and is unlike anything I’ve watched before. This show is unique in that we know who one of the main serial killers is right from the go, with some of these characters being so familiar to us all, but it’s woven so well into different story arcs that it never gets boring and still feels entirely fresh. I haven’t read anything about the show, given that I’m only coming to the end of season 1, so I’ll be interested to see the turns the stories will take, but I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m all caught up and have to wait with everyone else for new episodes.

Broadchurch

I don’t watch many UK shows, simply preferring what’s shown in the US, but this one is turning into something special. I’m only part way through the first season, while the UK is into season 2, but the murder mystery in the small town it centres around is such a great watch. With great acting and everyone a suspect, it really shows how far reaching the effects of horrific crime are, and the reactions and suspicions of the residents feels so close to the truth. I’m really interested to see where this one goes and who will eventually turn out to be the killer, trying my very hardest to stay away from the spoilers as I go.

Episodes

I suppose this one feels like a UK/US crossover, considering the diversity of the characters/actors, but I find it incredibly funny and can get through a ton of episodes at a time because it’s just so easy to watch. Matt Le Blanc was one of my favourite actors in Friends, and he really outdoes himself in this show. The show is currently on its fourth season, but we’re only into season one, so we’ve got some way to go and I look forward to seeing how it develops and where it takes his characters. It’s a fish out of water story and the differences between American and British people is highlighted in only the funniest ways, so I really find it a joy to watch. Bring on the next 3 seasons, I say.

Pretty Little Liars

This really is my guilty pleasure and, no matter how hard I try, I simply can’t stay away from it, especially now that it’s on Netflix and I can get to it straight away. Yes, it can be absurd, and its stories have been stretched pretty much as far as they can go, but it’s still incredibly addictive and pretty tense at times. We all have our own theories on what’s going on, and I for one can’t remember most of the stories and characters from previous seasons but I bet all of us watching are just watching and waiting for the truth to finally be revealed sooner or later. Yes, I’m totally above the target demographic here and should have finished watching shows like this a long time ago, but I can’t help it and I don’t think I’ll stop watching til this thing ends! Who knows when that will be!

Instagram Updates: September – November 2014

After the excitement of our holiday to Mexico and our engagement in August/September, we were able to celebrate with all our closest family and friends in October with a party. Both mine and my fiancé’s birthdays followed with trips to the seaside and lots of valuable time spent with the family. We also looked forward to a lovely first Christmas in our first home together, putting up our decorations as early as we could get away with.

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Hen / Bachelorette First Steps

Hen Party Tips

Planning a hen / bachelorette party is a big ask of someone, especially if it’s a weekend long celebration or if travel is involved, so it’s best if you can get organised as early as possible. A large portion of the preparations for my own event is sorted, now that we’re about 3 months out and it’s been pretty easy so far. That’s because Hana, our mum and myself have been upfront about getting everything organised nice and early (we booked the hotel back in October), so there have been lots of discussions about what things we can do, how much these things will cost and who wants to be involved. Here are a few tips if you have your own party to plan, whether it be for yourself or someone close to you.

1. Date

Before you start anything else, ask the bride-to-be for a time when she’d like to celebrate her last days as a single woman. She may want it to be a certain distance from the wedding itself or might have to choose a time that is convenient to take time off work. She’s the main person in all of this, so her schedule should be looked at first. Then figure out if it’s going to be a one-night celebration or whether it will take place over a weekend, which seems to be more popular these days. You’re getting all the basics down here, so that when you have a guest list, you have as much information as possible to give people.

2. Location

Once you’ve come up with the dates, it’s time to start looking at locations. Is there a specific city that the bride-to-be loves, or somewhere that she’s always wanted to visit. She might choose somewhere local, or somewhere that you have to travel to, but I’m sure she’ll have some ideas about where she’d like to go. If you’re stuck for ideas, try looking at cities not too far from where you live and look at the activities, restaurants and bars in the area – you want to have plenty to do and lots of choices for food and drink locations. But remember, big cities are likely to be more expensive, so maybe try a comparison of 3 different places and weigh them all up.

3. Cost

You don’t need to nail down all the details at this stage, but having a rough idea of accommodation and travel expenses is a good place to start. There will be those that simply cannot afford to go away for a whole weekend, and you have to be okay with that but, in general, as long as you give people enough notice, they can usually put some money aside each month to afford the trip. If you think people may struggle, suggest paying instalments to a designated member of the group, so that it’s more manageable and one person can then be in control of deposits, etc. If you plan on undertaking any activities while you’re away, get a few quotes, so you know where you are with total costs. Factor in meals too.

4. Guests

Now is the time to get some guests on the invite list. Asking the bride-to-be for a list and some phone numbers or email addresses is a good place to start. Start a Facebook group to get everyone talking and for an easy way to post details to everyone en masse. Now that you have a date, location and rough cost, people should be able to tell you pretty quickly whether or not they’re able to make it. If you need to make any changes to the details, do it as early as possible, so as few people as possible are impacted. But remember, the bride to be is the most important person here, so run all changes by her to check that she’s okay with everything. You’re almost there!

5. Activities

Decide on whether you want to take part in organised activities, or whether you’re going to be a bit more relaxed with your plans. This will depend entirely on the bride-to-be and her preferences, so make sure she is consulted on the major decisions. If you want to take a cocktail making class, or have afternoon tea, enquire early with your dates and group number, just to ensure you’re not disappointed closer to the date when things are booked up. Look for unique activities that people won’t have done before and things that the whole group can enjoy. Sure, you can still take part in the traditional hen party games, but why not take a ghost tour or take a baking class too?!

How I’m Getting Fit & Healthy

How I'm Getting Fit

So, we’re a few weeks into 2015 now and I’m sure many of you are still having a go at your new year’s resolutions – and good for you. Making healthy choices was one of my main aims for 2015 and I feel like I’m really embracing some of the ways that I can do that. My main focus was to get a bit healthier, maybe even shedding a few pounds to feel better in myself ready for all the exciting things going on in the coming months. How people get fit and healthy is super personal, so I don’t expect anyone to follow my lead, but I also thought it might be helpful to tell the start of my story, in case it motivates any of you to make some small changes.

1. Activity

I’m not a natural exerciser – I get bored running, find machines tedious and really need something to keep me motivated to work out. This is why I find workout DVDs so helpful and enjoyable. I have a routine to follow, encouragement along the way and I can do it from the comfort of my own home, so I can’t use bad weather as an excuse not to exercise outdoors. I picked two specifically, and have thoroughly enjoyed working my way through one so far – the other, titled ‘Intense’ is something I’m building too, when I feel like I’ve picked up the basics. I’ve also been working out with the boy at home, as he’s been coming up with weight workouts that we can do together to music. Both of these have been such a great start to getting fit and I look forward to the workouts now, instead of dreading the journey to the gym. At the moment, I’m working out 3 times a week, which works great for me, but I think as my fitness level grows I want to increase that to 4 or 5.

2. Eating

I’ve never been one to undertake faddy diets, choosing to stay pretty healthy in what I eat, but recently I’ve been slipping. I think the biggest factor in that over the past couple of years is buying a house and having to make more of an effort to make our own meals, which takes some getting used to. When I read about the ‘fast diet’ I was intrigued. The health benefits, as well as weight loss, include improving blood pressure, cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity, so I thought I’d give it a go. I’m a couple of weeks in now and, although I’m not weighing myself, I feel better in myself and think I’ve lost a pound or two. This wasn’t my ultimate goal, it was more about how I felt, so I’ll see how the weeks progress. I’m making healthier choices outside of my fasting days too, so I definitely think it’ll be beneficial to me. It won’t be for everybody though, so read up about it (try here) before making any decisions.

3. Support

I’ve been using a couple of apps to help count my calories on my fast days as well as using a pedometer app to see how active I am in general. Having the technology to support my goals is something I’m finding really helpful, as I find it’s keeping me motivated. Plus, I think it opens your eyes to the choices you’re making – if you see how many calories are in a certain food, you pick something healthier, if you haven’t taken many steps in a given day, then you’re more likely to take the stairs on the way out of the office. Little changes like these can make a big difference.

4. Goals

I feel like the best way for me to stay motivated with a new health plan like this is to have goals that I can work towards and a timeframe to achieve them in. I’m lucky enough to have a wedding to strive for this coming June, but I also have a dress that I want to wear for my hen celebrations in May and a honeymoon coming in October, so I’m working to several goals throughout the year. The goal will not be a certain weight loss for me, which might be different for you, it is to feel more comfortable in different kinds of clothes, or walking for a few miles without feeling tired. I feel like working towards these goals and setting myself these milestones allows me to focus more clearly on what I want to achieve and to really strive for that when I’m feeling tired and less motivated.

Like I say, everyone does things differently and these tips won’t help everybody, but this is just my story and I wanted to share it with you. Good luck to everyone who is working towards similar goals this year – we’ll get there!

Scrapbooking Inspiration

We’ve been scrapbooking sparingly since about 2005, when we made a little book to commemorate the time we finished school, went to Walt Disney World and were really first discovering digital photography. It was a while after that that we discovered Project Life, and started again with displaying our photos in a fun and interesting way (see our progress here), having just put photos into regular albums up until that point. I’m always looking for ways to make my scrapbooking more appealing to me, as my tastes change and the photos I’m taking evolve and there are a few blogs and websites that keep me going back for inspiration. Here are a few of the styles that are catching my eye, and I’m hoping to adapt my own style to take on a few of these amazing ideas.

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