I may have mentioned – I am not a runner.
This year, however, I set myself some goals. Initially, I wanted to be able to run a mile without stopping. I know it might sound a bit ridiculous, but that’s how unfit I was.
My second goal was to be able to run 5K continuously.
For me to actually get to this goal, I knew I had to train. And for me to train, I knew I had to set an actual, tangible goal that forced me to train. So I signed up for the Newcastle Race for Life.
I have done the Race for Life probably three of four times over my teenage years with my mum. But we always set of jogging, then walked a bit, then jogged. To be the person I wanted to be, I had to run the whole thing.
Surprisingly, the first time I got on a treadmill, I ran a mile. Not easily, but I didn’t stop (I must have had a big coffee that day). Getting passed that one mile was a physical and mental battle. I started running a mile a few times a week and planned to build it up from there. A few weeks before the race I went to Thailand, and all exercise completely ceased. There was too much pool to lounge by, sea to kayak and delicious food to eat. Once I returned from my blissful trip to Thailand (see photos here), I still hadn’t ran past the two mile mark, and I was convinced that two mile run was a complete fluke.
One afternoon my boyfriend declared that on that Saturday we would run for an hour down by the river. I managed to barter this down to 45 minutes, but I was convinced even that this was impossible. I spent the rest of the day thinking about the scenarios in my head, and how I would persuade him to go on without me as I collapsed half way through. I had never run this far in my life; I had always got off of running at school, and walked around cross-country when the teachers weren’t looking. I did not feel prepared.
The sense of achievement after we had completed a 5.6K run that Saturday in the morning sun along the Quayside – what a feeling! I did not stop; I did not give up when I struggled, I continued running up what felt like the steepest hill ever. From this point I knew I would be fine the following Sunday for the Race for Life. Once you get passed that mental barrier telling you to stop, you can keep going as long as you want. This goes for many things, not just for running.
Self doubt seems to be a theme underlying this post, and something I am aware of and working on. When it’s something you’ve tried to accomplish but never quite made it, it does seem unattainable. But maybe it’s because I have never fully stuck things out before getting bored or committing to defeat. At least now I have proved to myself that if I don’t stop running, I will reach the goal I have set for myself. I know I have the ability to achieve; I just have to put in the work.
I’m so glad I had my boyfriend as a trainer, and a motivator – I might have quit without him! He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He ran slow to stay by my side and convince me not to stop. I know it wasn’t a smooth ride, and it took us a while to understand we weren’t starting off in the same mind-set, we got there and he continuously helps me to achieve big things (I know its only a 5K run, but it’s big for me). The same goes to me overcoming my fear of doctors/needles when I got my immunisation for Thailand. It was my first injection since childhood; I’m so proud of what I have overcome this year – so far.
The most important part of this post is not the training, but the day itself and the money we raised for Cancer Research. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t emotional. Picture me alone crying in a field. Okay, I wasn’t fully alone, but I stood (minus my phone) surrounded by hundreds of other strong women listening to the stories of those we have lost to this awful disease. Reading the signs pinned to the backs of shirts detailing the reason they run is enough to make anyone shed a tear or two. But I also felt extremely empowered; I am here beating my own personal goals on my own, with all these amazing people, joining together for a common cause to raise so much money for a charity that is so important in everyone’s lives. If I ever wanted to smile and cry at the same time, it was during the build up to this race. Once everyone set off running, there was such a feeling of comradery, and all the marshals were so encouraging – at every corner someone else was cheering you on, not mentioning the crowds that lined the sides of the track to cheer on loved ones and strangers alike.
I managed to beat my best time, sprinting across the finish line in 31minutes. A wonderful, but sweaty feeling – I always thought runners high was a myth!
Thanks to all the support of my friends and family, I managed to raise £185! The Newcastle event alone raised around £114,000 for research on cancer at the Newcastle based hospitals and research facilities. You can still donate here to this amazing cause.
Until Next Time
NYX is such a talked about brand in the YouTube and beauty blogging community, and I had tried out a few bits a few years ago that I had picked up from trips to the US. So I was very excited when I heard that a NYX counter was coming to my local Boots store (and that I was living in the city this year).
I was reading reviews and blog posts around the wide web on the best products to buy from NYX. I wanted to be prepared for my trip to Boots, knowing hoards of teenage girls will be crammed round the lipstick stands. I’m glad I did my research.
I was about to leave for Thailand, and as the over packer that I am (I like choices) I was looking for a palette that would be more of an all-rounder that allows me to cut down on the amount of products I take. I don’t wear much make up on holiday, only for the occasional meal out. I love the holiday glow that my skin gets, and makeup is rarely needed. However, holidays are also the best time to try out new products. You have lots of time to try things out, you’re really testing the product in the heat and humidity; and if things go wrong, no one there will have to see you again!
So when I read about the NYX Go-To Wanderlust palette – perfect name too – I knew this was the product I would make a beeline for when I got to Boots. Initially I was drawn to the beautiful gold and pink tone eye shadows (I love rose gold!), which swatched lovely, with high pigment. I loved that there was the neutral browns to contour the crease; the staple of an eye shadow look. I did have reservations about the bronzer and blusher however. The bronzer seemed quite dark, but I thought with a holiday bronze I could make this work. The blush was quite a bright blush with a more peachy undertone; which I also thought was definitely more suitable to the holiday look than anything else I wear here on a daily basis.
I took no other eye shadows, bronzers, blushers or highlighters on my trip to Thailand, and this worked so well! It’s such an easy, smart product that covers most of your needs when it comes to that holiday makeup look. I will admit, I don’t think I would wear the bronzer or blush at home, unless for a strong contour or bright summer look. They are both very pigmented and the product goes a long way. But if these colours match with your skin tone, or the look you like to go for, then this is perfect. I didn’t feel like I needed much of a bronzer when I have the holiday tan anyway, so I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The eye shadows are also beautifully pigmented and I still reach for them quite often.
One thing I did not expect – this is the best highlighter I have ever used!! A colleague commented one Monday morning – “What was the highlighter you were wearing last Friday? I forgot to ask but it was beautiful!” Its that memorable! I am lucky to have some high end highlighters such as Laura Mercier, and a Clinique stick highlighter. No other highlighter I’ve tried is as incredible and glowing as this one; and that is a very bold claim to make. I did not expect to find a stand out highlighter in a palette of all these products, but this is now my go to highlighter. I would carry around the palette just to use the highlighter.
The palette itself is £14 from selected Boots and if I’m honest, I would probably pay it just for the highlighter, considering its better than all the high end ones I’ve tried. But to have all these great quality eye shadows, this beautiful highlighter, and the ease of having all these products in one place, it’s definitely worth this price.
Let me know what you think of this palette, and also comment below on any other great multitasking palettes you’ve tried. I really want to find some more that work this well if not better, for my traveling later this year
Until Next Time
Have you ever seen those photos of people lounging by their infinity pool, overlooking the beaches you only see in paradise? The hotel rooms bigger than peoples own apartments (mine!). The luxury you can only dream of…
Well I dreamed it.
Then I experienced it.
If you’re looking to experience Thailand from the luxurious setting of your cushioned sun lounger overlooking the sunset on your private beach; healthy fresh food and individually tailored fitness programs; and amazing treatment from the moment you land in Thailand – then you need to book your stay at the Amatara Resort and Wellness Spa now.
As soon as you’re dropped off at the hotel, you are greeted with a crowd of smiling faces and an open view out to the ocean across the infinity swimming pool. Someone hands you a flower, and brings over a refreshing towel and some spiced ice tea while you lounge on the sofas waiting to check in. After 18 hours of travel, the last thing I wanted to do was stand and wait at check in. I’m so glad I had arrived at the Amatara resort, where check in is completed on the sofas overlooking the ocean while you acclimatize to the heat and humidity.
After you’ve checked in, you are driven to your room on the golf cart and given a tour of your room – yes, you need a tour, there is so much included in your room!
Leaving me with the complimentary Ipad and the magnetic key to my room, I was free to enjoy my room fit for a Queen.
Besides the flat screen TV, automated blinds, and in closet light that turn on when you open the door – even the air conditioning was fancy touch screen with numerous dials ones around the room so you could turn down the air-con without having to leave the bed. The bed itself could have slept four people comfortably so if you need a break from your spouse, this is the place to stay- you could sleep all night any never see them. The bed faced the flat screen TV mounted on the half partition wall that separated the bedroom from the bathroom/dressing room; whilst both looked out across a ceiling to floor, room length windows to the ocean. The view when you pressed that button and the blinds slowly rose, was breathtaking – straight out of a James Bond movie. I had to pinch myself every morning!
The other highlight, which was definitely something that tempted me initially when I was looking for hotels in this area, is the free standing bathtub overlooking the bay and the large colonial style balcony that hangs within the jungle.
The room also comes equipped with a Nespresso capsule coffee machine, free green and black tea with free milk in the fridge, as well as small snacks such as dried fruit and chips which get replenished everyday. Although don’t leave them out, the ants love them too!
The little ad-ons which made the room that little bit extra special, besides the robe and sturdy flip flop slippers, was the beach bag you can take when you want to lounge on the beach or by the pool. They also know that mosquitoes are a problem, especially during monsoon season in Phuket. Therefore, they provided a mosquito kit so that you are fully prepared, and don’t need to bring anything with you. They provide a room plug in, a small bug spray to carry in your bag, jungle strength spray and an actual spray to kill bugs if you find them in your room. This didn’t happen to me luckily, I only really got bitten when I was out and about in the evenings.
They also stock up the bathroom with luxury shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion; as well as your own mini Colgate toothpaste and toothbrush! You really don’t need to bring anything except sun cream, which can be quite expensive here. You also have to be wary when buying cosmetics here (sun cream included) as they might have whitening agents in them that bleach your skin. Just like many Westerners like to have that fresh “healthy” tan, many countries in Asia think lighter skin is more beautiful.
Now I can only judge this based on breakfast, but the food at the Amatara is to die for! I am so glad I got breakfast included with my room booking, as one of the only downsides of this hotel resort is that the food is quite expensive. But you do pay for quality, and if you like to treat yourself on holiday, then this is the place to do it!
I loved waking up and knowing I was going for my morning buffet. You also got a choice off the al a carte menu, made to order fresh for you. The staff at breakfast ( and the whole hotel in general) were so attentive, especially when breakfast was very quiet, which I’m not sure I liked; it felt like I had my own staff. The waitress would take your tea and coffee order, and place your napkin across your lap whilst you decided on your choice from the al a carte menu. I felt so bad that they had tucked me in with my napkin, I didn’t want to get up to go to the buffet; I felt like a child needed to be excused from the table. It’s the little touches that made this place great.
The buffet was never overcrowded and there was always a full range of food on offer. You also had a mix of local Thai cuisine and Western food, such as croissants, muffins, and toast. There was hot food like noodles available, as well as your choice of fresh fruit, salad, homemade coconut muesli, cereals and jams. You could order a smoothie to help jetlag, or that hangover from the night before, and they also had fresh juices on offer, such as watermelon, mango, chlorella and iced green tea. My favourite was the Donut Tree and the fresh honey that ran straight off the honeycomb!
My favourite breakfast dishes were definitely the Feta scrambled eggs on sourdough bread with avocado salsa. I’m still craving this, and I’ve tried to recreate it a few times. If I was fancying something sweet I would choose the Buttermilk Pancakes with banana, roasted macadamia nuts and maple Syrup. The Wild berry waffles with preserved lemon mascarpone and wild better compote were also to die for. I needed more holiday days to eat these all over again. So if Amatara could send me the recipe for these, that would be great!
There’s a lovely balcony that wraps round the restaurant for you to enjoy breakfast overlooking the sea, but by that time of day I was already too hot to be sat outside fully clothed, and the mosquitoes were very annoying so I usually chose to stay inside in the air conditioning and close access to the food.
As the food and drink is quite expensive in the hotel, I always ventured out of the hotel about a 5/10 minute walk along the esplanade to the local restaurants and shops. You can also hire scooters cheaply from next door to Kantary Cafe to explore restaurants a little further afield, although there is enough in walking distance. If you do decided to head out a little further, you must try the Treetop Cafe, opposite the Radisson Blu hotel. They had so much more choice here for vegetarians, and I’m sad I only found this on my last night. Their spring rolls with plum sauce are perfect, and I finally found Tofu Massaman Curry I’d been looking for all week. We often went to Kantary Cafe for lunch – pizza were as cheap as £4, and you have to try their coconut ice cream! My evening meals consisted mainly of stir fry vegetables and rice, or stir fried Morning Glory
There’s a lovely balcony that wraps around the restaurant for you to enjoy breakfast overlooking the sea, but by that time of day I was already too hot to be sat outside; so I usually chose to stay inside in the air conditioning and close access to the food.
As the food and drink is quite expensive in the hotel, I always ventured out of the hotel about a 5/10 minute walk along the esplanade to the local restaurants and shops. You can also hire scooters cheaply from next door to Kantary Cafe to explore restaurants a little further afield, although there is enough in walking distance. If you do decide to head out a little further, you must try the Treetop Cafe, opposite the Radisson Blu hotel. They had so much more choice here for vegetarians, and I’m sad I only found this on my last night. Their spring rolls with plum sauce are perfect, and I finally found Tofu Massaman Curry I’d been looking for all week. We often went to Kantary Cafe for lunch – pizzas were as cheap as £4, and you have to try their coconut ice cream! My evening meals consisted mainly of stir fry vegetables and rice, or stir fried Morning Glory.
If you are looking for a cheap Thai massage, these can be found at many local shops and spas around the area. But if you want the true Thai luxury experience, Amatara is the place. People come from far and wide to try the Hammam Journey – the world’s first Thai Hammam. The Wellness facilities and experiences at this hotel are second to none and I really wish I had more time and money to experience the other things they had on offer.
I opted to book myself in for the Signature Amatara massage. Before heading to the room, they ask what strength of massage you want, I went for medium as I was flying home that evening. They also let you test out the different scents and essentials oils for you to choose from such as peppermint for rejuvenation and jojoba for relaxation. I chose the Amatara Signature scent; I trusted their expertise and wanted to try their full tailored experience unique to this spa.
The lady who treated me to my massage was amazing, leading me to my own changing room with robe and underwear before washing my feet in warm water with petals. The massage lasted an hour, the whole time I was hoping it wouldn’t end. It’s the most relaxed I have ever felt (I think I even fell asleep at one point!) After your massage, you get dressed and head out to the lobby where you are greeted with warm herbal tea to dehydrate and a dried fruit snack that she showed me how to hold and eat from the leaves.
Hands down, this is my favourite experience in Thailand, and couldn’t recommend it more highly. Even if you don’t stay at this hotel, it is worth traveling too just to experience the spa; and it really is a full experience.
Its not easy to find somewhere perfect, but this place is pretty close.
During my stay I even said that I wouldn’t be able to beat this place for my honeymoon as it really doesn’t get more luxurious than this. That was until I saw the pool villas with their own infinity pools overlooking the bay. I’ll just to have to upgrade at the Amatara.
I loved my stay on Phuket Island and highly recommend Thailand. I cant wait to go back and visit again one day. To check out more photos of my adventures in Thailand, head on over to my Phuket Photo Diary post. Have you been to Thailand and have any recommendations for my future adventures there? Let me know, I’m just waiting to explore new places.
Until Next Time
Anyone who works a desk job knows how quickly the weight can creep up on you when you spend around eight hours a day sat at your desk. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, and our once consistent fitness regime can often waiver when we strive for success in our careers.
This post is not about trying to be skinny, or attempting to lose weight – it’s about staying happy and healthy so you’re feeling at your best! Therefore, I’ve put together my top ten tips that I work into my weekly routine to stop me piling on the pounds during my work week.
Bringing a healthy but delicious packed lunch means you wont be tempted by the hot food deals in the canteen. Try to make a meal plan of healthy but quick lunches for the week, or even meal prep on the Sunday to make your week run smoother. This will stop you grabbing the crisps and chocolate bar on your rush to work.
Keeping healthy snacks on your desk or in your drawer will give you something to grab and munch on as soon as people start tucking into those donuts. Snacking is often done out of boredom or because we can’t resist those sweet treats when someone puts them out; but if we keep a healthy treat close by, we are more likely to make the right choice. Fruit or nuts are often a good choice here, but my favourite would be these delicious peanut butter protein balls, perfect for the afternoon slump but delicious enough to share with your colleagues (they’ll be asking for the recipe, trust me).
Getting the blood flowing with a brisk lunchtime walk is not just a great break from the stressful office environment. This stops you mindlessly eating too much at your desk, and gets the oxygen flowing back round your body. I can’t recommend this enough on a nice day – a great way to get that bit closer to the 10,000 step goal for the day. This is the amount of daily steps the NHS recommends in order to maintain current weight. (Another main tip – skip the lift, and always take the stairs!)
If its possible, try not to drive to work. Instead opt to cycle or walk if you live close enough. If not, try to take the bus, but get off one or two stops before you arrive at work to allow you to walk that little bit extra. That small amount of extra exercise will start your day off right, waking you up and providing you with more energy throughout the day.
Having a big healthy breakfast, like oatmeal or eggs, will keep you fuller for longer especially if its packed with protein. Hopefully this will keep the temptation to snack at bay for a while longer and make it less likely for you to go out in search of those unhealthy treats. (starts your metabolism – many people skip breakfast thinking they will lose)
That colleagues birthday cake is not completely off limits, just try to take a smaller slice. Don’t beat yourself up if you give in to temptation, its happens to all of us (daily!). Just see tomorrow as a new day, and come in prepared with your snacks and healthy lunch.
Having someone from work to slog it out in the gym with is great motivation. You have a friend to go and workout with straight after work, and someone who will hold you accountable when they see you taking handfuls of treats from the office kitchen.
The main tip here is really not to join the work tea club, which offers unlimited tea, coffee, milk and biscuits. If you’ve paid to be part of the club, you might use this to justify your hourly biscuit habit. Instead, I have switched to green or peppermint tea, and black coffee. Green tea has so many health benefits – revving up your metabolism to help you burn that fat while you work, aiding digestive and providing many antioxidants to fight disease. I have also foregone the milk in my coffee and limited it to just one cup a day. This eradicates unnecessary calories – am I the only one who has to have a biscuit to dunk with their coffee?
Boredom is definitely they one thing that makes me snack the most. Therefore, if I’m starting to feel myself getting bored, I try to move onto a different work area to switch things up. If you aren’t able to do this, take a break to fill up your water bottle (staying hydrated is great for weight maintenance or loss), or even get up and walk to your colleague to ask that question instead of sending an email. This might also help to reduce stress, which can be a main cause of weight retention, with cortisol causing fat storage.
I’m a big list maker, it allows me to see my goals written down where they feel more attainable. Another idea is to set your background to a photo of your next holiday destination, to remind you of the things you have to look forward to, and how you’ll feel when you’re there and looking your best! Even put a countdown on there to make the long days more bearable.
I hope these tips were helpful, and you can slowly start working them into your routine. Let me know if you can think of any other ideas on how to stop weight gain if you’re working a sedentary job, I am willing to try most things to stay healthy and happy.
Until Next Time
Last weekend I returned from a weeks trip to Phuket, Thailand – and what a breathtaking place, as you can tell by this final photo. I still can’t believe all the amazing things I saw within a week – it’ll take me a few weeks to process. I got to go snorkeling and sea-kayaking; visited the biggest Buddhist temple on the island; hiked the rainforest and visited the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in the National park; wandered the streets of Old Town Phuket; sampled the local delicacies; shopped at the markets and local mall; explored the island from the back of a moped; relaxed in total luxury at the Amatara Resort; had my first Thai massage and experienced monsoon season at its best (with a quick trip to Phuket aquarium).
My main goal of the trip was to be a true tourist and drink fresh coconut water, straight from a coconut. I did it, and there’s photographic evidence to prove it! Excuse the sweaty, no makeup look going on here – this was my second day coming from 15 degrees to double that temperature, wandering around all day in the city heat. But hey, I got my coconut!
The sunsets there are breathtaking, and the people were the friendliest I’ve ever met! The Land of Smiles is certainly true. Their hospitality is impeccable, and I was very lucky to be truly pampered. Getting a Thai massage was hands down the most relaxed I have ever been.
I hope you enjoy these photos and that they inspire your next adventure.
Until Next Time
We headed back to Bamburgh before the water covered the causeway; luckily Lindisfarne is not far up the coast as we were all in need of a rest before dinner. We checked in and rested for a few hours. We stayed at the Victoria Hotel, which is so conveniently located, just up the road from the Bamburgh Castle. We picked the key randomly between two double rooms, and somehow I chose the sea view room right at the front of the hotel (above the flags as seen on the photo below). We had an amazing four poster bed, and the view was great – I could look out to see Lindisfarne whilst I showered.
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