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!
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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
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20 May 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #52

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^^This image is from Pinterest & also happens to be what I will be doing on Sunday, post-gym^^

Another crazy week down, one more to go until half term strikes...yes! I decided to celebrate my amazing tiredness last night by rubbing my ear and my eye... post chilli chopping. Oopsie! Not recommended people, not at all.

Let's get straight into this post. 

Here are the things I have been most grateful for this week...

1. I am nearly two weeks in to my new fitness plan and so far, so good! I am down 3kgs and a small percentage of body fat, which is awesome and, other than today, my energy levels are amazing! I have finally gotten used to counting macros and cooking/prepping endless meals and the two squares (20g) of 85% dark chocolate I programme into My Fitness Pal every morning, ready for my evening snack, is keeping me going!

2. This week I have been getting all musically nostalgic. It is highly embarrassing telling you what with, but I am going to anyway! I rediscovered Busted's album 'A Present for Everyone' on Spotify, and have been playing it to death (okay, okay, I also bought it on iTunes!). Sometimes it isn't about the people singing the songs, but about what memories they bring back! The songs are as cheesy as hell, but they make me laugh, and remind me of the days I used to work in the gym! 

3. A Boden delivery that actually all fit me! Amazing. Not so good for the bank balance perhaps. I will try and do a mini-haul on my Snapchat this weekend if you are interested. My username is 'lucycarterart' - so add me on and we can chat!

4. Protein pancakes. They sound like they may taste gross, just by the fact that they have the word 'protein' in them, but rest assured, they are wonderful. Magic in-fact! The ones I make are fairly high in calories per portion, but the up-side is that I know what is going into them and they fit into my macros (yep, I am one of the people that says that these days!).

5. Getting time to sit out in the garden with the hubby, which never happens because I am always running out the door or back in the door and up to plan world domination or something. It felt strange to stop, which is strange in itself isn't it?!

In other news:
I cannot stop listening to the track 'Hey Laura' by Gregory Porter. He is great, but most of his music isn't quite my style, but I heard this specific song and LOVED it so much I bought it immediately on iTunes / I am currently lusting after so much sportswear... it is my new love for the programme I am doing (and the amount of time I am in the gym kind of warrants more of a selection huh?!) / In a few days my business website will go live with a holding page (no content) but you will be able to leave an email address to sign up to be the first to know when launch day is coming! I am so excited but also super nervous! In the meantime you can search for 'leaflanestudio' on Instagram and keep an eye open for what is happening! 

Come on down to the comments and tell me what you have been up to this week! I'd love to know :-)
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13 May 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #51

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If this week had a work, it would be 'focused'. I have been super-focused all week on my goals and dreams and am feeling good for having stuck to the things I set myself. I even got out of a warm bed at 5am to go to the gym this morning (I usually get up at 5am for work, but this morning I didn't have to do that!). I joined the eager queue of people waiting for the door to open so we could all pile in and get our workouts done and, let me tell you, it felt all sorts of good driving home at 7.45am, knowing that I had done it!

Onto some of the other things I have been grateful for this week:

1. Fields of bright yellow all around. This time of year may not be so good for hay-fever sufferers but I love the fields of rape seed that are scattered all around at the moment. The other night, driving home from training, the contrast between the grey, stormy old sky and the vivid yellow fields was beautiful.

2. A work get together! One of my favourite work people left for good this week and we had a really lovely, more relaxed day at work to give her a good send off. In the evening we went to a pub and had a good old giggle, which was much needed for all of us sitting around the table! It has been a pretty full on school year thus far and I think getting out with work buddies makes you remember that it's not all work, work, work! I appreciated those few hours immensely.

3. Willpower. If you follow me on Snapchat (my username is 'lucycarterart') you will know that, last Saturday, I started a bit of a health and fitness challenge. I am now one week in and I have not slipped of the track once! I can be pretty darn determined when I want to be... some may call it stubborn! Either way, so far I am doing okay! I am planning on weighing myself tomorrow, although it is not about body weight for me, just about fitting in to clothes and dropping some body fat really. I even managed to avoid all the cake that was in work this week :-) *pats self on back!*

4. This Being Boss podcast episode all about journalling, featuring Katie Dalebout. I was big on diary keeping as a child/teen, I still have some tucked away somewhere at home, but as much as they make you cringe, they can be a useful tool for self-discovery (if you are totally open when you write on the page of course!). I love writing, and have only stopped journalling because of time constraints really, but I have been inspired to start again. Have a listen to the podcast episode for lots of ideas to get started or for a variety of different perspectives on how to use a journal.

5. My new trainers (finally!). I must of tried on a thousand pairs (okay, four!), but in all seriousness, why are trainers more like socks these days? For someone with wimpy ankles, like me, I need support and something that can look after me whilst I am leaping around the gym like a mad woman possessed! I ended up with the Nike Air Theas, and I adore them!

In other news:
I posted a bit of a long post about bravery verses perfection this week... did you see it? Tell me what you think in the comments below the post / I have gotten slightly addicted to the BBC drama 'Undercover' and have been binge watching the episodes to catch up on iPlayer. I don't think I actually understood what was going on until episode three but, in my defense, I was painting at the same time! / I have been loving the May Photography Challenge I am doing on my Instagram! Jump on over there to see what I have been posting / The hunt commences for suitable summer clothes. I sat at work the other day, sweating my... ears off and just thought 'holy moly, I have no summer-appropriate clothes really... I will never get organised will I?!

I hope you guys have had an incredible week and have an even more wonderful weekend. Come and have a chat in the comments as always!
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12 May 2016

CHOOSE BRAVERY OVER PERFECTION

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^^Quote taken from podcast Raise Your Hand & Say Yes Episode 86 | Draw by me^^

*Apologies in advance for a bit of a long post!*

I've been a bit quiet on the talking-about-my-business-to-be front recently and, whilst that is largely down to being rushed off my feet, it is also because of something that has been coming up for me recently, psychologically speaking, over the last few weeks. The thing is, because I spent some time writing posts, in this very space, about 'not comparing yourself to others' and 'staying positive', it felt somewhat hypocritical to suddenly write something that contradicts previous thoughts. But then I figured that we are all human, and we are all susceptible to having times where, no matter what, we just feel a bit... overwhelmed by things. Also, sharing these thoughts can sometimes be useful to you (I hope!) so I thought I would drop my recent brain-funk here for you! (It ends well though!).

Since having coaching with the very lovely Gemma Sands last year, I have gotten far better at recognising something that could be potentially harmful to my progress/motivation and, therefore, I am less likely to let the small things wear me down then I was before. 

However...just because I recognise something, it doesn't always mean it is water off a ducks back!

Last weekend I found myself in a state of total creative frustration and full on anxiety. What started as a teeny negative thought in my mind about my capability to do one little thing, soon snowballed into thoughts like 'I am totally inadequate compared to other people', 'I just don't have enough talent/skills to do this' and 'why am I trying to do this, I can't do this!'. 

Why did this happen? 

For the most part it happened because I am going through a huge learning curve in setting up a business, which I have never done before and, for some unknown and totally illogical reason, I expect myself to know everything now if not sooner! I place the expectation on myself that everything I produce must be 'perfect' first time, even if it is something that I have never done before.

Having sat back and thought about things for a while I popped on a couple of podcasts to help distract my busy mind and, as often happens when you throw your troubles out to the universe, the first two podcasts that played on my list of saved episodes were covering the very subject I was struggling with.

By coincidence, the first podcast was one of Gemma's, from Free to Flourish Radio, titled 'How to step out of your own way'. In this episode, Gemma talks about ways in which we hold ourselves back. When I listened to her listing out things we all say to ourselves at a time of negativity, it really resonated with me! Gemma is fab at providing positive techniques to help turn around these thoughts and remain as positive and productive as possible.  However, it was the second podcast I listened to, by Tiffany Han, called 'Letting Go of Perfection', that made me jot down the quote 'Choose Bravery Over Perfection'. Like Gemma, Tiffany was discussing the idea that having of a vision of perfection was what was preventing us stepping forward and getting out of our own way, rather than having the dreamy outcome people expect it to have (it is actually very destructive and paralysing).

Something that she said really hit me, because I know it something that I do; she talked about a difference often (but not exclusively) seen between men and women, when reacting to something that just has not gone right in a process. The majority of the time, where a man may say 'something has gone wrong with the process I am doing here' a women will often say 'something is wrong with me' (because a process isn't working). Hands up to this guys, I often say this, mostly in my own head, but I do it! Please don't think I have us ladies down as some kind of weaker sex here because, I promise you that is not the case at all, but I do agree that a lot of us can look to our skills from a personal aspect and see something we know less about as a weakness in our personalities.

The thing I was trying to do recently was really frustrating me. That morning, I had taught myself to do something fairly complex, and was super happy with myself. Move on to that same day, but a few hours later, I was trying to do something else, and failing to get it to do what I wanted. My thoughts turned to 'why are you even trying to do this?' / 'you are useless at this!' / 'everyone else is so much better that you are'... even Joe said to me 'but you were really happy with what you had done earlier, you are just learning something new!' - point proven!

This may all sound very dramatic and, yes, it may well be, but that is because it is very important to me, hence the ridiculous pressure I placed on myself. The lesson I have learnt from my weekend of technical breakdown (and two awesome podcasts)? Perfection is a myth. It doesn't exist, not really. We are fed the manufactured idea of perfection, so we strive for it, but it is not even a real thing!

To do list:
- stop judging yourself based on the success and achievement of others.
- look only to your own journey and remain goal focused.
- put energy in to what makes you happy (and your own ideal).
- work as hard as you can and don't give up! (Don't be afraid to ask for help either).
- self care is key (this is something Gemma said to me over and over again...I hate it when someone is right!).

(If you made it to the end you get a gold star! Thanks for reading!)
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6 May 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #50

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{Image sourced from Pinterest | Original found here}

I was planning on putting up a bit of a different post today, but figured that I would throw that one on here on Sunday, as I know many of you like this regular Friday one! I will keep the negative point of this week brief and say this: my tonsillitis is back. Can you believe it? Tonsils 2 / Lucy 0. Other than that though, it has been a pretty good week; let's focus on all the things I have been grateful for this week (minus gammy tonsils!).

So, let's dig into this week shall we? 

1. Finally having a few hours free to meet up with my lovely buddy Helena. I have mentioned her here countless times before (we are actually friends because of this blog!). We get together every now and again for some dinner and I always leave feeling like my face is tired from all the giggling. This week was no exception. Our main focus of conversation? Holy socks, pants (mens pants specifically) and smooth ankles (if I told you I'd have to kill you, sorry guys!). It goes to show that sometimes you meet people, via the internet, who turn into life-long friends and who are equally as loopy as you (sorry H, you know it's true though!).

2. Pressies from Euro Disney! The Year 8 students went on a trip, with the teachers obviously (!), to Disneyland Paris last weekend. I got bought two cute presents. A little cat key-ring, Marie from the film 'The Aristocats', and, more randomly, a Minnie Mouse skipping rope! Love them both!

3. Warm croissants. As I start my new training tomorrow (with or without tonsillitis damn it!), I allowed myself a special treat on Wednesday morning, when a colleague brought in a warm tin of treats! I haven't had a croissant for ages! It was so good! 

4. Amazingly inspirational women. I am not going to write more about what I am talking about here, as that is going to be in the post I put up on Sunday. Needless to say, the universe sometimes hands you what you need to feed your soul, right when you need it. Stay tuned for Sunday for more on that!

5. Photo challenges! I saw, on Pinterest, a cool May Photo Challenge, and decided to do it on Instagram for this month and, although I am only a few days in, it is giving me a nice creative challenge and making me think outside the box of pictures I usually post. It has also meant that a couple of my IG buddies have jumped into the challenge with me, which is all kinds of awesome. Helen, from Seasidehelen and I are basically twins, posting similar things and I am loving the conversations that sparks up with these types of posts. Head on over to my Instagram for more!

I hope you guys have all had an amazing week and have an even more wonderful weekend. Don't forget to add my username (lucycarterart) to Snapchat, if you have it, to see some very random stuff during the week! Also, I would love you forever if you would give my Facebook Page a like too :-)
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