STRNGRLS PHILOSOPHY OF TRAINING

I am sure all of us have our own reasons why we train, why we started training and why we have the goals we currently do, like all of you – I certainly do. I have been and still am on my personal fitness journey; and as the years pass by, my goals and training structure change to match the part of my journey I am on. 

Weight and resistance-based training has always been my ‘go-to’ and this style of training has helped me achieve a variety of different goals, from bodybuilding and fat loss to confidence-building and injury rehabilitation. 

So, what was it that originally got me into weight training all those years ago in 2013…

I had suffered a quadricep tear from football, and part of my recovery and rehabilitation programme was strength training. It didn’t involve anything too heavy or strenuous; however, it did involve weight machines and some light free weight exercises. There was an endless list of exercises and equipment, including dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, sandbags and slam balls – just some of the equipment I now use on a daily basis!

After months of learning exercises, and how to utilise all types of weights, I realised how beneficial weight training was, not just for injury rehab, but also so much more. 

Over the last 10 years my reasons for weight training have changed. I have been through phases where I was very focused on bodybuilding and physical appearance, I strived for these goals for many years. However, now my main focus with weight training is purely for the health benefits rather than the physical benefits. I weight train for my mental health and confidence, it helps me to reduce stress and stay focused. There really are so many reasons to weight train, which leads me nicely onto my next point!

What are the benefits of strength/weight training? 

1.    Improve fat loss: the more muscle you have, the quicker your metabolism will work. Lifting weights will allow you to build more lean muscle, and in turn, burn more calories, meaning a reduction in body fat and improvement in weight loss. 

2.    Gain strength without size: women don’t gain size from strength training unlike men; this is due to the levels of testosterone women have compared to men. Typically, young women have about 90% less testosterone than men and because of this, women will develop muscle tone and definition without the size.

3.    Reduce injury and back pain: weight training helps to build stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability which, as a result, helps prevent injury. It can also help with correcting bad posture, and can help to build a strong back and core which will also help prevent any lower back pain.

4.    Build confidence and reduce stress: exercise releases endorphins which improves your mood, prevents pain, and fights depression. Women who strength train, commonly report feeling more confident and having a greater self-esteem due to physical and mental changes occurring. 

At STRNGRL, I’ve moulded this training philosophy that I preach through personal experience and the benefits I’ve gained myself over the years. I have brought strength and weight training forward into each and every STRNGRL client training; whether their goal is to just build on their confidence and come out their comfort zone, challenge themselves in something new, or more of a physical aspect to build strength and reduce body fat. Weight training really can achieve all. 

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THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Power of Social Media This month’s blog is all about the impact of social media, a topic I’ve spoken about in vlogs and podcasts that I recorded back in the summer ‘Fitness Influencers vs Fitness Professionals’. I discussed the differences between the two and what benefits they both give. You can have a listen by clicking on the relevant links below.

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-strngrl-series/id1571044897?i=1000524417656

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5NUTWJKgNCp71J7kyKoISP?si=Ngn5Fj6RRFChRSVv98X_Uw&dl_branch=1&nd=1

Social Media Platforms:

  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • SnapChat

The list goes on… social media is a very very powerful tool and in the right hands can be an extremely useful tool to help you become very successful in life, not only to brand, but also to be educated by.

However, as always, with anything that’s so powerful, which can completely change someone’s life for the better, it can of course also change someone’s life for the worse too.

4 Key Elements to Social Media

  • INSPIRATION – Social Media can be used to gain inspiration for fitness, fashion, entertainment and more. However, there is a fine line between inspo and then playing on people’s
  • INSECURITIES – Social Media can most certainly cause us to compare our lives and develop
  • CREATIVITY – Social media can be used to produce media, videos, reels etc, that can keep us entertained and informed in a creative way.
  • EDUCATION – Social Media can be used to help us learn and educate on topics we are passionate about.

Whether you’re the scroller or the person posting, trying to find inspiration can very quickly turn into beating ourselves up about our insecurities. Looking for inspiration can then turn into comparisons,  which without gratification and acceptance of yourself, if you’re not strong minded can be damaging to mental health.  Referring back to my podcast series on fitness influencers vs fitness professionals, it is easy to get sucked in and buy into a lifestyle that is portrayed on social media, regardless of if it’s any good for us!

However, it’s important to remember that social media is not all bad and it is not the ticket to all mental health issues; it’s a great path to help develop creativity and education. It is forever teaching us new ways to post, edit, and write and we as humans are forever learning new skills, and ways to interact as the internet evolves.

In addition to this, a lot of content that is given and provided is highly educational, and we can learn so much every single day. From workout videos, makeup tutorials, hair styling tutorials, fashion advice, recipe ideas and more… the list goes on.

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, social media is very powerful and can consume minds in more ways than one. My advice to you would be to be careful with who you are following, are they motivating you or are they making you compare and think twice about your own living?

The answer to that question will tell you a lot about how influenced you are by the power of social media.

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The STRNGRL Tracking Philosophy

We’ve all seen physical transformations and they are a great way to visually see the results an individual has achieved. They are also a great advertising tool for personal trainers to showcase what they’ve achieved with their clients, it really draws people in and helps them to see what that specific personal trainer has managed to achieve with their clients, it’s an amazing tool to get those who are insecure about their image or are looking to change, to buy into their services.

However, behind the doors of this transformation lies so much more than just a photo…

An individual’s transformation is a change in a number of different things, including; shape, fitness levels, strength, confidence, adherence, discipline, commitment, nutrition, self-esteem, self-care, self-love, overall physical health and mental health.

This is what you don’t see from the before and after pictures, and every client at STRNGRL achieves so much more than just a physical transformation.

Now here is an example…

 

Meet Sally. Sally’s before and after pictures are incredible, very impressive, in 5 months, she’s lost 50 pounds and the photos show it.

But what you don’t see in pictures are the following…

● The over restriction and lack of nutrition that inevitably causes Sally to feel sluggish, and energyless.
● Sally’s concentration on work has significantly reduced due to tiredness all the time.
● The over training has led Sally to develop a few little niggles and injuries because of the lack of recovery.
● The obsession with weighing herself has caused Sally to become very tunnel vision and selfish, losing sight of the reason why she started her journey in the first place, she is now just chasing a number on the scale. This has ultimately resulted in Sally never being happy with herself / her looks / her fitness.
● Sally’s social life has now been affected too because she is so scared of going out for food and drinks with friends, fearful she’ll gain a pound or two.

Moral of the story…

Before you applaud a transformation, before and after photo, weight loss in general, or thrive to achieve your own before and after photos or weight goal, maybe consider all the other contributing factors, your self-love, confidence, self-esteem and more, all of these are just as important, if not more important then an image.

At STRNGRL, we take photos of our clients to track their progress, we measure our clients to know we’re heading the way we intended. However, these are just 2 of the many other attributes that we measure in our client’s fitness journeys and it is certainly not the most important.

What else do we do at STRNGRL:

● Record and track workouts and specific strength exercises to know our fitness and body strength is improving.
● Educate on equipment, to build confidence in those whose goal is to step foot in a gym themselves.
● Provide a laid-back approach to nutrition that does not end up in daily calorie counting and obsession.

Here at STRNGRL we truly believe a transformation is for life and that all these other attributes are what make up our STRNGRL community. We are here to help you change your lifestyle, not just for a quick fix.

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All about S.A.D – Seasonal Affective Disorder

Okay, so to put it simply, Christmas has been and gone, there’s no more holidays coming up in the near future, and we’ve got to get back to normal and into a routine again. Work, school, training – it all has to be done! However, on top of this the cold and frosty weather is not budging anytime soon, making it so much harder to gain motivation to get back to normality.

– Persistent low moods

– A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities

– Irritability

– Sleeping for longer than normal

– Finding it hard to get up in the morning

These are all signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Yes it’s real!

For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities. With this disorder, symptoms are definitely more apparent this time of year too, and most likely the first element of life that tends to be forgotten or put off is training.

It’s dark outside to leave for work in the morning, it’s dark when you leave to go home. Why would you want to go out again in the cold, dark and wet to go and attend a class or the gym?

Here’s why:

● Exercising regularly, regardless of what the exercise is, is a great way to manage stress levels, whatever the stress may be caused by.

● Exercise helps to pump up your endorphins. It increases the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, making you feel happier and more positive.

● It reduces the negative effects of stress. It can provide stress relief for your body while imitating the effects of stress, such as the flight or fight response. 

● It’s meditation in motion. After an hour-long gym session, a long walk or run, you may often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations as you have concentrated only on your body.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is, it’s easy to steer away from exercise at times where you just want to hide away and snuggle up. But in actual fact, it’s the most concrete way to combat those negative, non-motivational thoughts and routines to get the best out of those winter days and nights. 

Take a look below at my top tips on how to gain motivation to train in the winter months:

● Have the right kit – if you are heading outdoors then you should invest in some good quality winter gym wear. This is a good tip even if you’re just in the gym, investing in some new gym leggings or trainers can really help with your motivation. 

● Book a class or join a club – as blunt as it sounds. The thought of letting the team down and the cancellation fee is great motivation to get you there on time!

● Remind yourself of why it’s important – as I mentioned earlier, exercising on those dark cold days will actually help boost your body’s ‘feel good’ endorphins to help blast away those winter blues. 

I hope this blog post has helped you to feel more motivated to get up and get training this winter, it’s normal to feel unmotivated at this time of year, you’re not alone, but it’s how you combat this which will make you feel 100x better!

 

 

 

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Is there such a thing as overindulging at Christmas?

The countdown to Christmas is on! We have just under 2 weeks to go, and I’m sure you can agree that the temptation is real. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of losing the hope of keeping on top of my diet and nutrition with all the Christmas food and drinks now in the shops. 

Mince pies, chocolates, alcohol, yule log, cheeses, urgh stop it! There’s just so much there to tempt us!

Just to make it clear from the get go, this isn’t a blog giving you top tips on how to resist temptation, in-fact it’s the complete opposite. 

First of all, I want to talk about my experience of depriving myself at Christmas through the years of my eating disorder. 

● I made sure I was only having one chocolate from the roses tin per day.

● I made my own healthy pudding (greek yogurt and sugar-free jelly)

● I avoided socialising with friends and family so I wasn’t put in a position to feel uncomfortable around food and drink that I was trying to resist.

From these experiences I have learnt the hard way what happens when you don’t satisfy your cravings.

Trying to avoid foods you think are bad or unhealthy, and only trying to eat good foods isn’t likely to make you healthier or keep you on track. 

You’ll most likely find that when you tell yourself something is off limits, you’re likely to think about it more often. When you learn to eat what you crave without guilt, you’ll probably find that cravings for unhealthy foods become way less intense.

When you give yourself the ability to eat what you fancy, you will be able to follow a balanced diet without food fixation, helping you to have a healthy relationship with food. 

My main advice to you over the festive period is that your happiness of enjoying the Christmas break far outweighs the satisfaction of the discipline you kept throughout. 

However, I can also understand the constant battle that causes guilt over this time. So, here are a few things that you can be aware of to help you know that you’re doing the most to keep healthy and happy.

● Maintain your main meals, and regular eating times (this is important generally in any circumstance). Don’t skip meals to help with hunger levels and fuel the body for daily activity.

● Think about macros – it’s still important to gain the best nutrients from main meals as well as those treats here and there. Proteins help the body build and recover, carbs help you to fuel and function the body and fats help you to absorb nutrients for cell function. 

● Get your steps in – keeping active is key, at least you’ll give yourself more of a chance to fight back on the calories consumed!

So, I’m going to leave my latest pre-christmas blog on this note…

Make sure you enjoy the mulled wine, have that mince pie you’re eyeing up, and go back for seconds on the roast potatoes. Life is far too short!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Lots of love, 

Steph xx

 

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Discover the truth of obsessions

Obsession – what’s the definition, it can be quite broad. Essentially it is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. Normally we can relate this to tangible things, cleaning, shopping etc.

But there is clearly a difference between obsession and OCD. Let’s not get that mixed up. OCD is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours to extreme levels, which is where the diagnosis comes in.  

Personally, I haven’t been diagnosed with OCD. However, after being diagnosed with an eating disorder many years ago, I wanted to touch upon the subject of calorie counting, calorie burning, and the obsession I had of the two.

So, where do I start? Calorie counting – it’s harmless right? 

It can be a great way to track your progress in fat loss and keep you more mindful of the quantity and quality of food you’re consuming throughout the day – and yes this does work! Afterall, fat loss is achieved through a calorie deficit, so, how do you know if you’re in a deficit if you don’t count? 

But the issue comes when you begin to answer yes to the following questions… Are you counting calories day in and day out? Do you find counting calories actually consumes a large part of your life? This is exactly where my obsession started.

It typically starts with calculating your maintenance calories using a basic app or platform. You input your ‘normal’ daily food, and then realise some huge changes need to be made to keep in your calorie goal.

At first, I loved the challenge, the organisation and structure of my days, it was a sense of achievement each day knowing I had hit my target goal. But then, the days of which I didn’t hit my target or went over on my calories, led me to feel like I had let myself down and that I wasn’t moving forward. 

Being the self-critical personaI I am, it then eventually meant that I would restrict myself more to get back on track. This could be sacrificing crucial nutrients or avoiding social events and meals out. As well as, finding myself exercising more and more to justify eating particular high calorie foods. 

Being obsessed with counting calories can be a great way to preoccupy and punish yourself for trying to be healthy. When you count calories every single time you eat something, you take what could be a happy, joyous and nurturing experience and turn it into a source of deprivation, stress and negative self-talk. When you consistently force yourself to do hours of exercise strictly to burn off a certain amount of calories, you take all the fun out of the journey. 

I always believedif I stopped counting calories, I’d gain weight, when actually looking back now, it was the loss of control that I feared, and the unknown. Now. I’m not saying calorie counting is bad. As I mentioned at the beginning, it is a great way to find your maintenance calories to know if you’re on the right track, or if you need to reduce or up your calories depending on your goal. 

However, it’s just a GUIDE kids! It’s not a concrete legislation to follow day in and day out. 

The act of counting calories can also potentially cause weight gain too. When we consciously count and limit our calories, our cortisol levels go up. As a result, our appetite increases, we crave processed fatty and sugary foods, and our bodies store body fat. So, the very thing we do to lose weight might have the opposite effect!

Counting calories damaged me on many levels, the obsession, self-criticism, insecurities and controllingness – it became a prison and trap that I couldn’t get out of, inevitably leading to larger mental and physical health issues. I would cut calories, lose some weight and be happy, but then become unhappy again, and decide to cut more calories, and lose more weight, it was a downward spiral. 

If I counted calories, I was disciplined, if I was disciplined, it showed strength. If I was strong, I was achieving what I set out to do? But in the end, it wasn’t just about having a “perfect & strong” physique — it became a way of measuring my worth. At the end of the day, I would add up my final number and it gave me a sense of whether I had a good day or bad day. My self-worth was determined by whether I kept my calories below a certain number or not. I would have achieved that short burst of happiness when it was lower than what I needed, but then I would also punish myself with insults and exercise if it was too high. I felt like a failure if my calories were ever over a certain amount and a deep sense of pride and satisfaction when they weren’t.

This is my journey and I strongly believe that this has moulded me as a trainer as well as helped me with my coaching style towards my clients. A structure that I now swear by and teach all my clients, is a more laid-back approach to nutrition. Avoiding in any way I can counting calories. Quality of food is key and using a technique which educates my clients on the importance of macronutrients, timing and performance-based nutrition is my vision into nutrition.

Now my journey has been tough, but it has led me to be the coach I am today with the strong community of women I have around me. Obsessions affect so many people and it can be difficult to see a way out when you are stuck in it. This is why I wanted to tell my story, to show you that you can come out the other side a lot stronger and healthier than ever before. 

We’ve got this kids ❤️

 

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Discover the effects of music 🎵

Our latest Strngrl podcast episode is all about music; so, I thought I would give you a little insight into this topic in my latest blog post!

After such a great summer, with plenty of festivals, parties and bootycamp classes, I have realised how important music is, not only to training but also on a personal level. 

For me, music is the solid foundation of any type of feel good activity and I strongly believe it always will be. I am always the ‘DJ’ in my friendship group, responsible for the speaker at any parties and I always have a great playlist for the bootycamp sessions and at the bunker – it is crucial! 

But why I find it so exhilarating inside and outside of the gym and training, is what I want to discuss with you. 

Firstly music in a fitness environment… Who has ever walked into a gym or workout studio and not heard any music playing? I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever experienced this. I have most certainly heard some questionable playlists but it’s never completely silent. 

Why is this? Now this is where it gets interesting… Research indicates that music helps us to not focus on the physical sensations of fatigue, particularly during lower-intensity exercise. So to put it simply, music distracts us from the physical and mental pain of tedious exercises. Of course this can vary from person to person, and fitness level does play a part, as well as the genre of music… I don’t think listening to classical music whilst running or lifting weights would quite have the same effect.

Listening to music whilst exercising is also proven to reduce your RPE. RPE stands for your rate of perceived exertion, it’s a term us PTs use! It basically means us looking at our clients and estimating on a scale of 1-10 how they seem in terms of breathing/heart rate etc or how the set was performed. Music helps to reduce RPE, due it’s distraction. 

Another interesting point, which I hadn’t really thought of before is that for some people the lyrics or tone of a particular song or genre can identify and match an emotional state. The beat and melody may not actually be as important as the lyrics and story. I found this so interesting, and when I think of it, it is definitely something that I do subconsciously. I guess that is why I always go for empowering house music, the lyrics and stories are always positive, happy, confident and optimistic. 

There’s also the Psychological Effect that listening to music can have on us.. exercise or not! There could be a specific song that takes me back to a point in time, a memory, a moment, good 

or bad. This can have an effect on your thought processes and your behaviour, which can create a shift in your hormone levels. Our serotonin and dopamine levels work hand in hand and are responsible for how we feel in terms of pleasure. It also helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting. Dopamine production is key in helping us release endorphins (that happy feeling, I always mention we get during exercise), music can have the same effect. There have been numerous studies over the past decade that have shown that participants who listened to music (which they deemed “pleasing” to them – specific to the individual) had higher levels of serotonin. 

So boom! There you have it kids! Music and exercise is such a powerful cocktail, making you feel the best you can feel! 

I can use this as another justification for my partying lifestyle – festivals, raves and house parties! Music always makes me feel good and helps me to have a little break from reality! Some turn to sports, some like reading, going to the cinema, playing computer games, cleaning etc. Well, for the reasons I have just stated, music and exercise is my go-to. Within my journey, the hurdles that I’ve jumped and the barriers I’ve overcome in my life, music & exercise have saved me, it has brought me out of dark places and helped me feel happiness again.

I hope that music can do the same for you. 

Listen to our latest podcast episode to hear me speak more on this exact subject!

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-strngrl-series/id1571044897 

Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/2qy93OrVUl1mNtuvvYWAYC 

I hope you found this blog helpful and will enjoy our podcast episode, let me know what you think!

 

Continue ReadingDiscover the effects of music 🎵

All about PCOS

What it is and what you can do to manage it

Back in 2012, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This is a complex condition that affects how your ovaries work and how your hormone levels balanced. PCOS is linked with a resistance to insulin and raised levels of testosterone. They say that the exact cause of this is unknown, but I know exactly what caused mine – my extreme weight loss. Most women begin to notice common symptoms in their late teens or early twenties.

What’s the difference between Polycystic Ovaries and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

I have done so much research over the years to try and find a simple answer to this question. However, I still remember to this day, a nurse explaining it to me in the simplest way possible ‘‘Polycystic Ovaries you can see, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome you can’t’. I know this statement is pretty basic in scientific terms, but to me this made sense. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance; whereas Polycystic Ovaries are harmless follicles – the follicles are underdeveloped and unable to release eggs due to PCOS, which means ovulation does not take place.

What are the common symptoms of PCOS?

Irregular / absent periods caused by an imbalance of hormones

  • Difficulty in getting pregnant
  • Excess facial and body hair
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair on your head
  • Oily skin
  • Acne

The symptoms an individual gets will differ from case to case; however, my main symptoms are absent periods and acne.

 How can you manage PCOS day-to-day?

Whilst there’s still no cure for PCOS, the condition can be managed day-to-day with the right lifestyle choices (including a healthy diet and exercise) and medication, if needed.

PCOS is insulin and testosterone-driven condition. The increased levels of testosterone and insulin resistance can ultimately lead to weight gain, especially around the stomach area, and insulin resistance can also result in other health problems such as type 2 diabetes.

I want you to all know that if you are going through this, please don’t let the above information scare you, it’s okay, there are ways to manage this. Weight gain can be managed with a few simple lifestyle changes, and your insulin sensitivity can be improved with a healthier diet, to balance your blood sugar levels.

I want to make it really clear that this does NOT mean you have to start taking part in the next FAD diet ‘craze’, this is not going to do you any good. Extreme restrictive dieting is how I developed PCOS in the first place, this will only hinder your management of the condition due to the nutrition you’ll be depriving your body of.

How can training help?

We all know there are so many benefits, both physically and mentally, from exercising regularly. As mentioned above, increased levels of testosterone and insulin resistance can cause you to carry extra weight, but reducing your body weight by just 5%, can really make some significant improvements to your symptoms.

Personally, what I find really helps me, both physically in managing my symptoms, and mentally, is strength training. We all know I LOVE this type of training. Strength training is a great way to regulate the testosterone levels in your body, the higher levels of testosterone is what can cause acne and thinning of the hair, so by regulating this hormone balance with weight training, this should help to manage these symptoms better.

If you know me, you know I am really not a lover of cardio, give me a dumbbell over a running machine anyday! However, needs must, and HIIT training is a great addition to your training program if you suffer from PCOS. The quick, rapid and continual change of movement along with your heart rate continually ranging from higher bpm to lower, can play a massive part in improving your sensitivity to insulin. I aim to get in at least two 20-30 minute HIIT sessions per week. I do this to help me manage my hormone imbalance, but the mental effects are also great, I always feel so good after, those endorphins release right out of me!

What do I base my food intake on to help me manage my symptoms?

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to use energy from the food you have eaten. Lots of women with PCOS are resistant to the effects of insulin, therefore, there is more glucose left in the blood to compensate.

I have a feeling you are all expecting me to say that you have to eat lots of veggies, high protein, low carbs, and low sugar treats. To a certain extent, this is absolutely correct; however, I am a huge believer in carbs!

The only thing I tend to go by to help me manage my PCOS is The Glycaemic Index (GI). For those of you who don’t know what this is, this is a ranking system that shows you how quickly blood sugar rises after eating certain foods. Due to the insulin resistance that PCOS causes, the release of carbs are important to regulate and incorporate low GI foods within your diet to help reduce your symptoms. See some examples of low and high GI foods below:

High GI Foods (meaning these foods aid in your blood sugar taking less time to rise)

  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Potatoes

Low GI Foods (meaning these foods aid in your blood sugar taking longer to rise)

  • Certain fruits and vegetables
  • Pulses
  • Whole-grain foods, such as oats and brown rice

So kids, if you need more education on the types of foods that fit your dietary needs, look up The Glycaemic Index.

I hope you have all found this blog helpful. I think it’s so important to raise awareness of conditions such as PCOS, I know so many women suffer from this but it is not spoken about enough. I’m always only a message anyway if you want any more advice. Take what you need from this strong girls. I’ll see you all soon.

Steph x

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Travelling Solo

So, I am writing this blog from sunny Tenerife. I have decided to come on a solo trip for the first time – I’ve been longing to do this for a while and I thought this was the perfect place after coming here with family a handful of times. This was the perfect opportunity to FINALLY get some time just for me, after what has been a crazy year and a half.

Everything has been super fast-paced back at home with work, lockdowns and restrictions. At home, I also have other holidays booked (with friends, which would mean the holiday is a lot more wild), social events with friends and absolutely no ‘me time’ in sight at all.

I find that to really get some time for me, I have to take myself away from all distractions. I am far too easily influenced and undisciplined to say no. However, when I take myself out of that environment, somewhere I know there will be no distractions – tada, I have some me time!

I’ve also learnt from being around such a mixed group of friends and family, who also have busy lives – if I wait for others, I’ll never go anywhere. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own happiness. Up until now, this isn’t something I have allowed for, so, here I am, going solo and doing me!

I have found it scary travelling alone, especially as I have never done it before. But, to me, growing old without experiencing everything you want from life is even scarier.

You’re never alone when you travel, I found that out as soon as I got on my flight. I have to admit I was worried that if I didn’t travel with friends or family, I’d be alone. But it turns out you make so many friends on the road, which definitely wouldn’t have happened if I was with other people.

I’ve also found that it has been a great way to learn how to survive with no one else having your back, who to trust and how to find your way around.

For me personally, the greatest reward of solo travel is personal growth. Being on my own is a true test, seeing as every single day I am surrounded by people, whether that be friends, clients, gym members or my housemate.  So learning to become a little more independent, confident, and in tune with my emotions is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone.

I think it really hits you when you wake up and it’s just you. It’s up to you and only you to decide what you want to do, where you want to go and when you want to do it. In that moment of freedom, you really find yourself. You can test your limits of what you like and don’t like, there’s no one to pull you in any direction or override your reasons. Want an ice cream? Get an ice cream. Want to leave a bar? Leave. Want to sleep? Sleep all day girl. The world is your oyster!

However, I do understand that travelling solo isn’t for everyone. Maybe you don’t have the confidence, maybe you’re not sure where to start, or you may even just be the kind of person who loves home. But, some advice from someone who is experiencing it right now as you read, travelling alone is a true way to find yourself, overcome battles mentally and become more independent.

I really would recommend that everyone tries out a solo trip at least once; whether that be a weekend away, a two-week holiday or 6 months of travelling to numerous countries. You won’t regret it!

I wanted to end on some top tips that I have picked up from this trip so that if you do decide to go for it you are prepared. Here goes:

  1. Understand and know your strengths: Play these to your advantage and get a head start on finding confidence in a few things.
  2. Be aware of safety: As much as you may think you can hold your own, and make the right choices and decisions, everyone is still a stranger to you. You are thousands of miles away from friends and family and what you know as normal.
  3. Learn the lingo: It’s definitely worth making the effort to learn a few words and phrases. I can tell you it definitely makes ordering a cocktail so much more fun!
  4. Don’t hide: You have the chance to really take in your surroundings, meet other travellers and locals along the way. Be content in your own company, but confident enough to introduce yourself to people when you want to socialise.
  5. Take pictures: This is such an important time in your life. Never forget the memories and trips that allowed you to grow as a person.
  6. Stay somewhere with multiple positive ratings: You need to know you can trust where you’re staying and reviews are the best way to find out.
  7. Stay somewhere with free wi-fi: It’s good to stay in touch with those back home, as well as keep up to date with the real world. Also, Netflix is key.

So, that’s it from me! I really hope you take something from this blog and begin to plan your solo trip to become the very best version of you, in so many ways.

 

Continue ReadingTravelling Solo

Golden Hour

Steph

Sun… Good or bad?

You’ve heard it enough.. sunburns and skin cancer are very much real threats. So yes, whack that SPF on kids.

However, there are also so many positive effects of sun exposure. Soaking up some sunlight and catching some rays can do wonders for you.

Here are four key benefits that the sun can do for your mental and physical health almost instantly.

  1. Get your dose of VitD

The sun is the best natural source of this vitamin, which is also very hard to come by in natural food sources. It only takes 5-15 minutes of sunlight a few times a week to notice a difference. Get outside and expose yourself to direct sun on your arms and face to soak up this necessary vitamin. Vitamin D promotes reduced inflammation and modulates cell growth. It’s needed for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth as it helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. As well as this, it helps support the proper functioning of muscles. Just remember to use sunscreen.

 

  1. Lower Blood Pressure

Heard of Nitric Oxide? Well, this helps brings down blood pressure and improves heart health. Once that sunlight hits, our body releases Nitric Oxide. Maintaining healthy blood pressure can reduce your risks of cardiac disease and stroke. Feelings of relaxation may also naturally bring down blood pressure, so boosting your happiness by soaking up rays also aids in keeping your pressure down kids.

  1. An Instant Mood Changer

Researchers at BYU found more mental health distress in people during seasons with little sun exposure. On the contrary, days with plenty of sunshine were associated with better mental health. The availability of sunshine has more effect on mood than rainfall, temperature, or any other environmental factor.

Feel SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Getting some sun increases your serotonin and helps people with anxiety and depression, especially in combination with other treatments.

  1. Higher Quality Sleep

That mood improver hormone we were just talking about? Serotonin does more than boost your mood. It might also help you get more restful sleep at night. Another key hormone that works hand in hand with serotonin to help promote sleep function is melatonin. The sun also helps your body produce this hormone too! Who would have thought aye!

Suffering from insomnia? Try to stick to traditionally light and dark cycles, getting sunlight during the day so you can catch some zzz’s at night.

Soo Soak up that Sun Safely

Stephie x

Continue ReadingGolden Hour