Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Cope With GCSE's

My GCSE time hath come. This gargantuan dark shadow has been looming over me since year 9 and has been coming closer and closer until, bam, it's here. The shadow is, of course, the GCSE shadow (metaphors aren't my strong point). Stress and anxiety levels rocket up at this horrible time, but you've got this! YOU CAN DO IT!
Here are some little tips I'm using to get through this bit:

1) Put it into perspective.
I know this sounds a little harsh, but it's easy to get dramatic over GCSE's (see opening paragraph). Obviously they're extremely difficult and not many people actually enjoy this time, but just think of that gorgeous stretch of Summer and the new and exciting future waiting for you!

2) Have little incetives.
Okay, this may sound a little odd and not very, I don't know... it sounds a little over the top and selfish BUT this really has helped me when I'm feeling all stressed. I've got some things planned for the Summer, ranging from things like getting a nose piercing (yaaay!), to getting a smoothie after my exams, making banana bread and spending the day watching Disney films after my final exam, to just having the weight of all this stuff off my chest. Sometimes just thinking of the massive smile on your f
ace when you think about how free you are in the very near future can make you feel amazing. Just me? Oh, okay...

3) Work hard, recycle your worries.
When you work for an exam, do the exam and come out, that should be it for those thoughts. There is literally no point of thinking about what you COULD have written, how you COULD have made it better, how you COULD have included that thing you saw on the news the other day. Results day is always going to be scary but try not to think about all the things you missed or could have done after an exam, you can't change it and you did your best.

4) Plan yo' time!
I'm not very good at this, so this may be slightly hypocritical here (sorry) but, planning out your day or week or MONTH can help so much. When there's lots to do, planning your day by times or segments can make you feel so calm and kind of powerful. I like to include a bit of meditation in the morning, a nice breakie, one piece of work, lunch, another piece of work, exercise, dinner, relax. Sometimes work at night is essential and exercising for longer amounts of time has to be skipped but I really believe a bit of down time and a little bit of exercise or just general movement can help your brain and your health.

5) Meditate.
This really depends on what makes you feel comfortable of course, but I thought I'd include this because it seems to be helping me masses recently. I like to wake up, do all the morning routine business then get on the mat and just spare five minutes for some guided positive affirmation meditation a day. It makes me feel so calm and peaceful and throughout the day if I'm feeling fluttery and flustery  to just remind myself of some of the positive affirmations included. If you don't want to meditate, just focus on breathing at times of difficulty. Got a question in that geography paper that you have not a clue about how to answer? Lay your feet on the ground and take some deep breaths through your nose. A little bit of deep breathing can often help you feel so grounded (but don't be surprised if the invigilator has to double take to check if you're darth vader). You can also kind of actively meditate, by taking your dogs for a walk, or just going on a lovely afternoons walk or cycle ride.

I hope this was slightly helpful, and please tell me how you cope with exams/stress down below!

Friday, May 22, 2015

It's Simple: Love Yourself!

There are countless tips and tricks to get flatter stomachs, shinier hair, healthier hearts.
We're always told to look at nature, watch less TV, go on instagram less.
But we don't always need these little quick tips and fast fixes all the time - yeah, they can be fun to try out and sometimes you do something that clicks with you and sometimes it doesn't, and THAT'S FINE! (eg. I absolutely cannot stand lemon water in the morning, however detoxifying it may be - it just makes me feel lethargic all day, but, I find 5 minutes of meditation in the morning rocks my day... in a good way... does that make sense?)

Whilst I was just chilling out after a stressful week of exams, some things just clicked in my head. I've spent 16 years being told a lot of STUFF;

We're always bombarded by facts and statistics and simplistic daily occurrences are drilled into our minds, but sometimes I just get this wonderful feeling and all my angsty teenage stresses leave my body, and I've finally realised what it is. It's loving yourself.

When you think about it, if you truly love yourself, everything comes simply. Plant based foods filled with vitamins and nutrients do make you feel better, and look all shiny and glossy, and actually they're often pretty darn enjoyable, so by eating them you're nurturing yourself. Getting a sweat on, or your 'OMMMMMMMM!' on gives you a burst of endorphins, makes you feel better about yourself, and suddenly you're radiating rainbows and unicorns, so by exercising you're NOURISHING yourself. See the pattern? It's not like you're slumping through life, hating what you do, hating what you're being told to eat and just feeling icky, suddenly by caring for yourself you don't have to sob over the NHS food guide, you find what feels good and everything kind of slots into place (note: not everything, that is dazzling it up a bit, but everything that comes from within).

For me, and note that this is just me, getting some weight training in makes me feel strong and confident, doing kickboxing makes me get a rush of endorphins and makes me feel super duper happy, yoga teaches me to love myself and radiate natural beauty and happiness. Eating vegan not only makes me feel fab inside and out, but also lets me love and be passionate about what I believe in. Wearing colours gives me a boost. Baking gives me energy. Laughing and smiling make me feel my best.

Reading this back, it kind of sounds like I'm tooting my own horn (is that a saying? Is it appropriate in this context?) but this whole love yourself isn't always the case. Only until very recently, I must stress, have I really realised this and actually opened up to what lovely health and lifestyle gurus are always talking about. I still get days when I feel the need to wear leggings and a giant jumper to cover up my belly, and I still sometimes feel crap even after eating lots of fruit - but it's okay, it's a constant journey and it feels great just to be present, notice my feelings and try to make myself feel as happy and healthy as possible, whether I do that by drinking a green smoothie with some rice cakes or by eating a vegan piece of chocolate cake with Swedish Glace icecream (throw back to last night...).

So just try it, either forget what you deem to be an "imperfection", or work it. If you're gonna get shot down, take that thing and OWN it. I've always been super self concious of my nose, but finally I will stop trying to hide in and getting haircuts that are "suitable" for a big nose - I'll cut my hair however I want, not hide behind my glasses and y'know what? I'm getting a nose piercing! I couldn't care less if I was drawing attention to it anymore. Find what makes you feel good and start really loving yourself.

What makes you feel fab, free and fearless (gosh that was cheesy)?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fortify Cafe, Maidstone Kent - Review

I woke up, did some sweaty yoga practise and made myself a mean bowl of hazelnut porridge.
Tunes playing loudly, mum, dad and I all drove off to Kent for the day as dad had work there; quite a few hours later, we were all hungry and needed some good old plant based fuel. Where did we go? Fortify Cafe.

Fortify Cafe is a small, gorgeous and unique cafe which is 100% vegan. The ladies working there were lovely, the place was clean and really cute. One look at the menu, and the indecisive beanie had a meltdown.
"Should I go for the falafel and tomato chutney grilled sandwich or the sweet potato quinoa bake or the seitan kebab or should I go for something else? Do I want a sandwich? Maybe I don't.. Should I have the soup instead? Are we gonna have cake too? Do I need to pace myself? WHAT SHOULD I DO?" Yeah, it was a pretty tough time.

In the end I went for the homemade falafel and tomato chutney grilled sandwich which came with some salad (with the yummiest dressing, could've done with more of that it was so good!) and some crisps (which dad ate, "sneakily"). I also had the mango, banana and orange smoothie, which was a whopper, and later had the raw carrot and walnut cake.

The sandwich was deeelish. The flavours just went hand in hand perfectly, and it was really hot all the way through and filling and just lovely! What I also loved about this cafe was that it's the perfect mix of healthy and not-so-healthy. Sometimes vegan cafes are filled with "happen-to-be-vegan" things like white bread, and sometimes they kind of just appeal to the health nuts, which is great, but this felt like a perfect blend. My mum and I are both fully vegan so obviously this cafe was a massive excitement, but even though my dad loves fish, milk and cheese, he could not stop going on about how much he loved his mint "lamb" seitan kebab! Even the day after he is reminiscing about the lovely flavours!
my sarnie and opposite mums' cashew cheese and sausage sandwich which we all loved and nabbed a bite of!

one happy, sleepy and makeup-free beanie. Who needs to look nice when there's food.
dads' "kebab"
The smoothie was divine, but the cake I wasn't as keen on but that is purely because I have quite a sensitive stomach and I find processing a larger amount of raw foods and fats is really hard and makes me feel really tired, but the flavour was lovely.

I can't wait to go back again, which is annoying seeing as I don't live anywhere near it, but if you do (or if you don't!), please visit Fortify Cafe and give it some plant based love!

PS. The almond milk flat white. Just try it. You'll thank me (HOW DO THEY MAKE IT SO FROTHY?!)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Superfood Cacao Protein Smoothie!

I confess.

I eat chocolate every day.

The other day, I was reading this article about how cacao is slowly killing us because it's got a load of stuff in - hmmm, I didn't buy it. Yes, over consumption may be bad for us but a little bit can't harm you... can it? I believe that the pure form of chocolate - cacao - is such a good natural energiser with a ton of antioxidants. And it tastes really, REALLY good, which helps.

This smoothie is the perfect breakfast, pre or post workout snack, afternoon pick me up or even a dessert. I've just guzzled it after a short yoga session to de stress about exams and it has worked a treat, AND boosted my protein intake for the day.

If you are a vegan, or even vegetarian or don't eat dairy/animal products, you probably have experienced people saying you won't get your protein. I get this on a weekly - sometimes daily occurrence and it pisses me right off. There are countless websites and pictures that show you you don't need beef and milk to get muscles and stay healthy, so I won't bore you but basically, us veggies aren't always nutrient deficient. That being said, if you are looking to get some girl gains, or guy gains, it doesn't hurt to oomph up the protein with a protein powder. I know, the two dreaded words for someone trying to eat completely plant based! But it's okay - there are alternative protein powders that are basically just ground up versions of the original form, for example hemp protein powder!
If you get the good, natural and unprocessed stuff, it's just ground hemp seeds which makes it easier to pop into whatever food you want. Some people say it's got a grassy taste, but I like it and don't notice any weird flavour but there are also pea proteins, rice proteins or even soy proteins. I would just say it's best to stick to what you know and get the natural stuff. If you do eat dairy, just give the whey protein stuff a second thought - sometimes those powders contain nasty ingredients that upset your body.

Hemp protein powder contains around 30 calories per tbsp with 5 grams of protein and 13% of your daily iron intake - HAPPY BEANIE, RIGHT HERE! And let's not forget that depending on your milk of choice, that'll give you a boost of protein, as will the peanut butter - it's fab! Adjust this recipe to your dietary requirments by all means, but this is it:

  • 1tbsp raw cacao
  • 1tbsp hemp protein powder (right now I'm using this brand)
  • 1 cup of almond/soya/hemp/rice milk (I used half Rude Health almond milk, which is more like rice milk and half alpro unsweetend almond milk - rice milk makes it super creamy and sweet)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 1tsp of peanut butter (I use this brand - also, boost up to 1-2tbsp if you want, it depends if you want a creamy shake or a more peanut buttery shake. Also use any nut butter you desire)
  • opt: 1tsp of maca powder
  • opt: 1tsp cacao nibs to top
Blend and drink! Happy vegan gains everyone!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Doing What ACTUALLY Makes You Feel Great

How often is it that you find yourself eating something just because you don't have much time, or you've just read about its' amazing health benefits? How often are you participating in something and feeling bored, angry, or uncomfortable?

I'm on a journey to feel my best. It's a constant journey but it's always changing and turning and there are always new innovative ideas - some of which I find are crap and don't work for me and some are amazing and can't believe I haven't done them before.
We're always learning and being taught something, anything in our lives.

Recently I have noticed myself doing things that actually don't make me feel great - they're just silly little things, but sometimes they can make my whole day feel off-ish (off-ish? You get what I'm trying to say).
Tuesdays  and Thursdays are my big gym session days - exercise has completely and utterly changed my life and way of living and thinking, but after those two hours a girl's gotta refuel. I have to cook for myself on those days, but my original plan had been destroyed by the fact my dad had eaten the dinner I had prepared (it's okay, I forgave him... just) so instead I had steamed brocolli, half an avocado and marinaded kale salad. I love greens (hence the name) and absolutely ADORE all of those things with all my heart, but I wasn't in the mood for it after that gym session. I really wanted something hearty, like chilli and brown rice with salad or a big sweet potato, but instead I thought to myself "this is healthy, just eat it." and ate it. I enjoyed it, but after I didn't feel great. I felt low and icky so I had some raspberries - I wanted a bowl of rice puffs with banana, but instead ate raspberries. Come midnight and I was feeling really, super... manky, to be honest.

Listening to your body is SO important. Hunger signs can vary from rumbling tummies, sudden anger, feelings of violence, light headed feelings, etc. And sometimes we've got to listen to our bodies DEEP DOWN to find what makes us actually feel good. How good do you feel after eating fast food? Great because it's been a lovely experience? A bit lethargic? It goes the same with anything. How do you feel inside? Emotionally? Internally? I just had a big mug of cacao rice milk warmed up because although I wasn't hungry, I just felt like it, ya know? I got that feeling! And this doesn't mean that we should go and get a massive chocolate bar when we're craving things but it's about tuning into yourself and your feelings. This just sounds really stuck up from me, but after years of guilty feelings about eating and OCD tendencies, I'm ready for a change.

I think listening to yourself is so important. Somethings in life are just essential and although they may not be fun, we just gotta do them. But some things that are there to make you feel great about yourself and others can make you feel such horribly negative feelings. I'll give you another cheeky little anecdote; I have thought since year 9 that I loved running. But recently before running, I've been feeling all fluttery; not the nice flutter of excitement before going to my favourite class at the gym, but the scared-of-failing kind of flutter. When running, I felt a bit sick and extremely weak. There were no euphoric feelings in my body, only nasty thoughts! But exercise is there to not only keep us healthy and fit, but also be a release and make us feel AMAZING, which is the way I feel after aerobox, pilates, yoga or cycling, but just not running. Like I said at the beginning people are always changing, so my feelings may change with time, but listening to my body and going home early and doing some yoga was the best idea. And sometimes I'll catch myself doing something like freaking out over something really stupid like a bug, for example, and letting it ruin my mood.

It's time to take control - you are so special and unique, so take care of yourself and do what makes you feel great!

Ooh, and one more thing - practising gratitude can change so much. Just listing three things you're grateful for in the morning or at night, or simply really being present and taking in when someone has been nice or done something lovely can make you feel really amazing.

Also, welcome to my new blog! On the about page I'll be explaining a little more about this but please hang around and invite your friends! I hope you enjoyed this post (albeit it was a little scruffy...) and if you have any suggestions for other posts please comment them below!