17 June 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #56

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^^Top left: Our little bear refusing to let me read how to calculate my macros for the next phase of my eating, thanks Gizmo! / Top right: See point one below for details! / Bottom left: This mornings post-training breakfast omelette / Bottom right: How gorgeous it is when there is greenery everywhere and a heavy sky... call me strange :-)^^

Guys, we are only a couple of weeks from July... what?! The school holidays are just around the corner and there is that excitement in the air that summer brings. 

In all honesty, this week has been a very solemn, sad one. There has been bad news all over the place and, whilst I had a good cry about something that happened on Tuesday to a lovely family, I had to be reminded of how fragile life is. As a colleague said to me this week '... hold those you love very tight to you...' and she is right, take nothing for granted. 

On a happier note, I am mid-way through my training programme (if you missed previous waffling, I am currently training with Olly Foster) and I am definitely seeing results, but more on that later. It has also been a week to catch up with friends and have many a laugh over dinner, thank you H.

Here are the other things I have been grateful for this week:

1. Healthy dessert find! This is not an amazing recipe, or anything I am some kind of genius in creating, it is just something I found to top up my macros post-training! Get yourself some Fage 0% fat yoghurt, some frozen raspberries and some honey, chuck it all in a bowl and give it a mix about and you have yourself a gorgeously yummy pudding. Seriously, if you have never had frozen raspberries straight in yoghurt (no defrost needed!) you have to have it. It feels like a total treat. 

2. Baby squirrel watching. Out the front of mum and dads house they have a whole variety of bird feeders that are regularly visited by a squirrel. Recently it has been bringing its little one along and teaching it to eat from the feeders (and eat the feeders themselves when they are out of food!). I have never seen a baby squirrel before and I have to say it is the cutest little bean. It hops about in the trees, whilst it waits for its mum to feed, and leaps about like a stunt man from the feeders to the trees (missing fairly frequently and free-falling to the ground!).

3. Stormy skies against the bright-green Wiltshire landscape. I know that everyone whinges about the rain (and the sun, and the wind bla bla bla), but I am a huge fan of the weather (bloody hell that sounds ridiculous!). You know what I mean... I hope. Those heavy, heavy clouds that are full of rain and look menacing and dramatic and remind you that you are a little dot in an amazing universe. This time of year, in juxtaposition to the skies, the fields around where we live are displaying fifty shades of green and look stunning. I adore the contrast of angry skies and bright colours you see!

4. My new shower gel. I know it probably seems crazy to talk about a shower gel, but you have to try this one as it smells so heavenly! When we were doing our ever-so-exciting food shop last week I branched out from my usual body wash and tried the Original Source Sweet Apple and Vanilla moisturising shower gel. Usually I spend zero time worrying about what I use in the shower as I am not awake enough to notice, but I am just here to report that this one is amazing :-)

5. Seeing some adjustments in my physique, following six whole weeks on my new programme. I honestly don't care about my body weight, as it is my clothes/psychological state that is my greatest concern when I start any programme but, for what it is worth, I have lost eleven whole pounds of weight, put on an unknown amount of muscle and dropped roughly five percent body fat. So far, so good. I am loving it but this last two weeks have been quite hard for me. I seem to have settled down again now, but I was craving all the food at all times of the day for a while there and I was beginning to think that my willpower could not hold up. But, here I am, starting week seven and ready to see what other results I am going to get!

In other news:
Joe and I have bought an ever-so-romantic DVD set to watch this weekend. The Hannibal Lecter trilogy is ours people... :-) / I am addicted to listening to Coldplay's most recent album / You may have seen it on my Instagram, but I am currently loving Twinings Salted Caramel Green Tea (I promise it is not sickly). For me it makes a lovely change to peppermint green tea, which will always be my favourite, but when my sweet tooth has woken up from a nap I crack out the caramel one! /  I am lusting after a Chanel nail polish (I cannot spend £18 on a nail varnish so am determined to find a dupe!). The shade I am coveting is called 'Espedrilles' and it is a beautifully vibrant orangey-red.

What have you wonderful people been up to this week?

11 June 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #55

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It's the weekend again! Wowzers is time flying by fast in 2016! Here is the UK it has been getting warmer, which is great but, in normal British style, everyone has been moaning about how humid it is! I would suggest the air-conditioned environment of the gym on those days ;-)

What have you guys been up to?

I think I can safely say that the theme of this week has been 'babies'. I'm not trying to tell you something, panic ye not, it is just that everyone around me seems to have their due-date this week and we have already welcomed a few work-babies and still have more to go! People have been busy haven't they?!

On to the things I am grateful for this week:

1. Heavenly early nights. Guys... this week I have been so tired. Those who know me well will testify that I am 'always tired', which is true, but this week even my tired has been tired! When I got home on Wednesday evening I was like a zombie. I fell asleep on the sofa and, finally sick of my constant dozing, Joe suggested we go to bed at 9pm. It was still light out but I just didn't care. We put the TV on and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was gone. All I remember is that it was warm and there was a lovely breeze coming in the window as I fell asleep... it was wonderful. I woke up for work at 5am the next day feeling so much better than I had the day before. Early nights are something to be super-grateful for that is for sure.

2. Dark chocolate and tea. On my training plan I am allowed a couple of squares of 85% dark chocolate to help stem the cravings (providing they fit in my macros of course!). I am also allowing myself one cup of tea (other than green tea) per day and am just loving this little post-training combination. It may sound daft but these little things are what help keep me on track!

3. Seeing the plants that I thought had given up on life growing little buds and opening into beautiful flowers! It is so rewarding when you have been nurturing something and they manage to push on through :-)

4. Bright red lipstick. Top tip: when you are looking and feeling worn out, chuck on some red lippy and it will make you look more awake! My choices this week have been Mac's 'Relentlessly Red' and Revlon's 'Candy Apple'.

5. I am mostly grateful to the kind woman who stopped me having a potentially very embarrassing situation at the gym the other morning. I turn up in a dozy state, somewhere before 7am, and head towards the ladies changing rooms. Just as I was about to walk in a little voice said 'we are in there today' (pointing to the male changing room... and the smallest sign I have ever seen!). I thanked her for saving me the excruciating pain of walking in on men changing into lycra and head into the manly changing area! By the time I had come back down from my workout there were giant signs in place. Obviously I wasn't the only one not to pay any attention to the mini-signage huh?

In other news:
I have been playing 'put the yummy protein bars into the basket (on Amazon) and then take them out again' because I know that I won't be able to resist them once I have them. They are not bad for you if you only eat them sporadically, but I am pretty sure, feeling as tired as I do right now, will mean me not being able to stop until they are all gone! / Several weeks ago I put a new Podcast into my 'favourites', called 'The Becoming', by Laura Jane Williams (the awesome writer behind the blog 'Superlatively Rude'). I had heard great things about it but just had never had a chance to listen to an episode. Last night, on the way home from work I listened to one randomly (I couldn't find the first one so just hit play on the latest!) and, I have to say, I loved it! In a nutshell, Laura is interviewing amazing people about their 'Becoming' or 'how they have lived their lives and learnt to be ballsy and awesome humans!'. I would highly recommend checking it out. Laura also has a book out, which I am so putting on my wish-list (behind those protein bars obviously!) / It is that time of year again where there are the most gorgeous wild poppies popping up all over the place and I adore them. We have one in our driveway which I just don't have the heart to remove because it is so pretty!

That is my week in a not so small nutshell, how was yours? Tell me about what has made you happy this week?

8 June 2016

SELF APPRECIATION

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{Image sourced from Pinterest}

This feeling I am about to talk about has been years in the making. 35 years to be precise.

The feeling I refer to is, for want of a better phrase, 'Self Appreciation'. Not an arrogant, 'aren't I bloody amazing' sort (although, I wouldn't knock that either), but the sort of appreciation that has accepted where you are now and is enjoying the journey of it. Let me dig into this a bit...

I have spent my whole life, from the earliest of ages, looking at myself and hating what I saw, feeling inadequate, stupid and like my opinions and ideas really don't count for much. Running parallel to those destructive thoughts has been the 'dreaming of being someone else' saga, someone; thinner, more intelligent, taller, funnier, cuter, less awkward (insert endless lists of other hopes here). I think it is safe to say that we all do that, but the question is why? Why waste time on that when we don't have a lot of time anyway.

What we should be doing right now, and every day, is enjoying our own damn journey. It has taken me so long to realise that sculpting my own life, just the way I would like it to be, is all part of the fun. Sometimes the 'fun' is effing difficult to see, like when my coach asks me to send him photos of my flabby physique, but I am learning that I am working on changing that part of me that makes me slightly mad and that is why it is special. I am pushing my body, achieving things I haven't done for a long time, and I wouldn't change it for the world. This last year, rather than looking at another girls body and thinking 'why don't I look like you' and feeling a pang of the green eyed monster, I just think 'wow, she's beautiful' and then get back to my own training and my own goals. If offered the chance to swap bodies with someone else I would have to say a big, fat 'no'. 

Working on launching a business is another example. I didn't approach it for years, choosing to spend way too much time worrying about what could go wrong and how other people are doing so well that I would probably fail. How does that make any sense at all? I have learnt so much by just moving forward, reading business blog posts, listening to podcasts and actually doing the work. Do I have a lot more to learn? Hell yes, ridiculous amounts, but that is the point! 

Being more productive, setting goals (short and long term) and making yourself accountable to something or someone, is the way to start accepting yourself for who and what you are. Sitting still and just day-dreaming about the life you want, whatever this may be to you, is going to lead to comparison, overwhelming lists of reasons why not to do it and self doubt.

I can say, hand on heart, that I would not swap places with a successful business owner who is super fit and super happy and has everything she needs. I am loving my own journey, as cheesy as that sounds. I am discovering so many amazing things and people and enjoying feeling the emotions that come with it (the good and the bad).

Hopefully this makes some kind of sense. Let me know if you are in the same head space as me and tell me what you are working towards in the comments, let's spur each other on!

4 June 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #54

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{Image sourced from Pinterest - I love this quote so much. Every step counts, no matter how small}

Question. Why do weeks off work go by so damn fast? Just thought I would throw that out there for us to think about! It has been one of those weeks off where we have tackled a million and one little jobs that we have been putting off for a while. It sort of feels like I need another week off to actually relax now. I even got to the gym at 6.30am during the week (and 7.30am on Friday morning too!).

I had a rather 'Monica' moment on Monday, when I said to Joe 'I think I am going to clean the oven', and five whole hours later I had blitzed the whole house and it was sparkling... needless to say, I was exhausted. I am a freak who likes to start a week off in a clean kind of way!

What else has made me smile this week?

1. We had a successful trip to the Southampton branch of Ikea on Tuesday and I am super happy that we managed to sort out half of our bedroom furniture and move the chest of drawers that was in our room to the spare room. This meant that we could finally destroy the orangey (very cheap Argos) chest of drawers we had in there that was barely even qualified to be a chest of drawers. I didn't realise how long it takes to actually sort a house out. We have been here for about three years and there are still things that need doing to make it more homely, but I guess it doesn't spur you on when you are renting as much as it would if you owned the place! I also managed to rescue a slightly damaged plant from Ikea. The little guy I bought had a damaged leaf and, where most normal humans would have put him back, I took pity on him and brought him home. He is now all settled in my office.

2. Watching Coldplay do a live set. I wasn't actually there obviously but, by the magic of television I was able to wish I was actually there! Coldplay are one of those bands that I love hearing play live (although I am yet to be at a concert... one day) but I don't always enjoy listening to their albums. Visually they are so inspiring and this most recent album is so colourful and brightly designed live... it was pretty darn good!

3. Re-feed day! Yesterday was a much required high carb day (thanks Olly!). I had some sweet potato for dinner (and a steak) and have never enjoyed a meal more! Well... maybe I have... there was that burger I had several months ago and those fish and chips in St Ives... but, healthy meal wise...the best!

4. Bright blue nails. I painted my nails with Barry M's 'Damson' nail polish on Thursday evening. It is the most royal blue colour but I love it! I tend not to wear it when I am at work as I know the kids at school get told off for nail varnish so I don't like to rub their faces in it! But I enjoy being a 35 year old with blue nails when I am off work! Go me!

5. Starting a new photo challenge on Instagram. If you follow me you will know that I did a May challenge, alongside my IG friend Helen, but we have both decided to jump in for June too and follow along with one that was on Gemma's feed and I love how different it is! Stay tuned to my IG for more on that, or see the challenge here.

I hope you have all had a lovely week and have an even better weekend! xoxo

2 June 2016

GYM LUST LIST

I am someone who, as a rule, feels so much more comfortable and 'myself' in fitness wear and, because of that reason, I am slightly obsessed with many brands and love finding new things to add to my wish-list! This is my currently one...

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1:: Under Armour training t-shirt with 3/4 length sleeves
2:: Marks and Spencer sports bra
3:: Adidas hoodie
4:: My Protein 'Live, Love, Lift' vest top
5:: Nike Air Max Thea Em
6:: Apple iPod Shuffle
7:: Adidas backpack
8:: Adidas t-shirt
9:: Gym Shark burnout leggings

If you have any gym/workout favourites you would like to share then please let me know in the comments below!

29 May 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #53

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^^ Do you follow along with my Instagram? If you do then you may recognise some of these pictures from the week!^^

1. Finding a super-inspirational fitness YouTuber called Beth Trueman. She is super sweet and easy to watch and I am literally binge-watching her videos! Whilst I am nearing 40 (!) and Beth is only in her early 20's, she is so informative and motivational to watch, for me at least. She enriches her videos with her vast knowledge of nutrition (she is currently studying Sports and Exercise Science) and shares great food options and healthy, macro-friendly recipes. What I am often put-off by with other fitness people is the kind of arrogance that can come over on videos etc, but you won't find any of that with Beth, she is well worth a follow in my book! If you want to read more about her then just hop on over to her website

2. Tea. I have been avoiding drinking a proper cup of tea for the last three weeks, trying to get all the habit-food/drink out of my diet. I have now re-introduced one a day and it is wonderful! I'm British alright, I need my tea! We all know it solves all sorts of problems in life!

3. Finding the film 'The Fault In Our Stars' in Tesco for the bargain price of three pounds! I read the book when it was super-popular and, despite crying my eyes out, absolutely adored the story. I don't ever spend money on DVD's really, but had to get this, so will be watching it in the next few days... swollen eyes here I come!

4. Early-rises. Recently, I have been more energised than normal. Probably because of my new healthy eating plan and copious supplements (!) and I have found myself waking up with a bit more of a spring in my step than normal and loving it. For example, right now, it is just gone 6am and I am wide awake and enjoying the bird song outside my office window while I type. The early morning silence, interrupted only by our feathered friends is something I can't get enough of.

5. An imminent week off. Finally half term has come around and I have the entire week off. As a full-time employee at the school I work in, I don't naturally have all the holidays off, but I have taken this whole week as I felt my brain dissolving in my skull! Joe is off too, which means a couple of days out (Ikea being one of them - woo-hoo!) and also means I can hit the gym in the day time too. I also have a long list of 'To-Do's' for Leaf Lane Studio (have you been over to sign up for my newsletter yet?).

In other news:
I am patiently awaiting the arrival of payday which, for me, is the last working day of the month, because I need to pick up a new iPod shuffle for the gym. My last one has just died. Give it full credit for lasting almost ten years though! I have a super big, regular iPod, which I adore as it holds literally everything, but a little shuffle just hooks on to my workout clothes so discreetly and is cheap enough that I don't get precious over dripping sweat onto it! / Speaking of workout music... maybe I am having a mid-life crisis, but I have taken to craving hip-hop music whilst I lift weights. Not sure if this makes me super embarrassing or cool (probably the first one!). Maybe it is the tempo, or maybe it is the fact that they are so angry that makes me lift heavier? / I am working on a new blog header and little spruce up... I am easily bored and like to push myself to create new things so stand by. / I held a six week old puppy, a little Jack Russell named... Jack and it was the most heart warming thing ever! / Gizmo has shunned being in-doors now it is warmer and sleeps in her little outdoor house now... I miss having the bear on our bed at night. I feel like a mother who is anxiously hoping her teenager, who has gone out all night, is okay. Stupid I know. Every morning I find her all cosy and warm in her box, but I worry all night anyway.

What's new for you guys? Leave me a comment below telling me what you have been up to!

27 May 2016

WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON LATELY...

I know many of you like my regular Friday post, 'Five things I am Grateful for this week', and I will still get a round up done for this week, but as I have been relatively absent (other than on Fridays!) I thought I would catch you up on what has been keeping me so busy recently. Grab a coffee, let's chat...

My business has been a huge point of focus recently, and I know you guys understand that completely, you are super supportive and I love you for it. The good news is that I now have a 'holding page' for my site, which allows you to link to my various social media and join a little mailing list so you can be the first to know when I am launching and of all the exciting things to come! I'd love, love, love it if you signed up to the list (click on the picture below to jump over to the site). Although my business is mostly about creating pretty wedding stationary for special couples, I will also be producing other paper products over time including downloads and prints, so definitely sign up to keep yourself in the loop and whilst you are there, why not click on the social media links too and keep a beady eye on me as I develop the products <3

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LIFESTYLE CHANGES
You guys will know, if you have followed me for a while or heard my ramblings on Snapchat (username 'lucycarterart'), that my previous career was in a gym. personal training and teaching classes. I adore training and love pushing my body but ... I have always had issues in terms of hormone balance and losing body fat, so I made the decision to bring a coach on board to help me out. The help I needed was mostly accountability, but also just a little more up to date information on nutrition which, if you like to stay up to date with these things, can be really, really complicated as it evolves so fast and we are fed (no pun intended) so much bull in the media. I must have researched coaches/trainers for over six months and finally settled on Olly Foster. I won't go into detail what his training and nutrition programme involves, but you can hop on over to his website if you are interested. It wouldn't be fair to go into lots of details as his knowledge is so valuable and certainly should be invested in if you are serious about making some changes... for life. I am now one of those people counting macros and loving every minute of it. I am enjoying my new routine of cooking meals (that are all pre-weighed to fit my personal macros allowance) and freezing them in batches so I can pull said meal out the freezer on a night where I am exhausted! So far I have managed to get back into some work trousers that I haven't fit into for at least five years. That felt so good. Needless to say, getting into the swing of this thing took a while, knowing what to eat when and with what etc. It took it's toll a little in terms of having time to post here, but I think I am settled in now!
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SELF-CARE
I know this may seem a pretty selfish reason to not have been making videos or posting blog posts, but I have learnt that it really isn't. With all this busy 'stuff' going on in my life I needed to make some time for myself. This mostly involves me taking naps at random times of the day as I have certainly felt exhausted (role on next week when I have the whole week off of work!). On my new training programme I have been doing four days in the gym, including Thursday evenings and Friday mornings (6.30am). Whilst I am loving the routine and getting up early, I am really noticing the tiredness creeping in. I have taking a bit of a step back from worrying about what isn't getting done in terms of the blog otherwise my mental health would take a hit and, for once, that is pretty good! I try and chill out when I can, even if it is just sitting out in the garden with Joe for half an hour or pottering about the house. Having no particular agenda for an hour is good for my crazy-busy brain.

Anyway, please always know that I am still here and I really do try my very best for all you guys as you mean the world. Don't forget to check out my Instagram feed to stay in touch as, no matter what is happening, I am always over there!

Have an amazing weekend everyone xoxo