Visiting Weymouth & Portland

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Managing a Bad Mental Health Day (or two!)

As I write this post I'm not sure if I'm frustrated, downtrodden, disappointed, determined or what. I think I'm probably actually a concoction of all of those things because for the first time in quite a while I feel like I'm suffering from a 'bad patch' aka my anxiety is being a bugger at the moment and I'm having a little internal battle to stop it from taking back control.

This is the ultimate test for me really, my counselling journey came to an end a few months ago now and I've been on this ride all alone (without my counsellor to turn to I mean, my partner, friends and fam have been incredible) and I've been chugging along quite nicely up until now.

I have zero idea what triggered this anxiety attack. I actually think it might have been the amount of alcohol I consumed at a Halloween party, I don't drink very often now and although I was a nice kind of drunk I didn't consider the effects alchohol could have had on my mental health. I felt drained the next day and by the time I'd driven the 3 hours back down South I was physically and mentally exhausted. Little things were irritating me - a sure sign of anxiety for me - and I ended up devastatingly annoyed and upset at my boyfriend for starting to watch a movie without me whilst I was away that I wanted to watch together. I know. Tell me about it.

I felt really sensitive to comments and I took everything personally and to heart - something I'd not done for a while. The good thing was I now recognised those triggers and am currently doing my best to manage my feelings. I thought I'd share with you some things that are helping me right now.

Acknowledging How You Feel

This is important. My anxiety is hard to explain and hard to justify, I can rarely put my finger on exactly what triggered it so I just have to do my best to accept that and acknowledge that the brain works in mysterious ways (especially when it's tired and in my case from the weekend - hungover).

Don't try to argue or fight the way you feel. The sooner you accept it for what it is the sooner you can put your techniques and tools in place to move on through it so you can carry on with living and loving life!

Try To Rationalise

'Wow Lauren, try to rationalise when I have severe anxiety, good one!' Trust me, I knoooow. It's hard and it's especially hard when you're in the midst of the 'end of the world' according to your anxiety and making sense of anything and rationalising can seem impossible but it's 100% worth a good shot.

Ask yourself whether the thoughts you're having are based on fact or feeling. 9/10 these will be 'feelings'. If you were to ask me on a bad anxiety day you'd think I was Mystic Meg by the amount of made-up thoughts and feelings I'm 'sure' of. I'm actually not sure about any of them because they're all just my feelings, they're not facts.

Trust Yourself

For me, tackling my anxiety pretty much all boils down to the same thing; trusting myself. Trusting that I'm a good person, a good partner, strong, capable etc. I've been through some tough times and I handled them really, really well, so why am I so worried about possibly facing another tough time that hasn't actually happened and may never happen?! Who knows. 'Tis the nature of the beast I think and it has a good way of making you doubt yourself.

Don't Give Up Your Healthy Routine

This is a hard one for me. As soon as my anxiety hits I want to stay in bed all day, eat crap and watch Netflix. It's my happy place and it's comforting, that's fair enough but I also know it's not going to make me feel any better in a hurry.

Stick to your healthy diet, don't cancel that gym class, go to that bar with your friends if you can, in the long run it will help. I find that for me, the guilt of letting myself go just because I'm having a bad mental health day contributes to the way I'm feeling, it fuels the fire! I don't want to give it that power so even if I'm not 100% feeling it I will drag myself to that gym class - give me all that seratonin!

Look at anxiety for what it is, it's a mental health condition (if you will) which does a good job at trying to make us worry about every possible eventuality so it can 'prepare' us for potential trauma or threats. It's not a 'sixth sense' - something I have to tell myself constantly because I'm terrible at being convinced my anxiety is my 'gut feeling' so it must be right! It's not.

The best thing I can do for myself is repeatedly tell myself I've been here before, I might be here again but I made it through before and I'll make it through again. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for so just remember that the next time you're faced with a bad mental health day, week, month or even year. It will pass.

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Monday, 14 October 2019

When Life Interupts...

It's been a crazy few weeks. If you checked my planner you'd see all the blog posts & content I had planned for the last couple of weeks and unfortunately I've not been able to get one post written or uploaded, why? Well, life happened!

I love my blog and I love creating content but it is a very nice distraction from the trials and tribulations that life can throw at you and unfortunately I just wasn't able to distract myself this time, I was needed at home and I was more than happy to let a few blog posts slip by in order to be supportive when I needed to be.

A week-long trip to Center Parcs with Rob and my family was meant to inspire a lot of content for the blog but in reality I very much needed it as a break from my phone and I just needed to spend time with my loved ones, to recharge and rejuvenate a little.

I'm hoping I will get the chance to visit Center Parcs again soon in order to create the content and share with you what an amazing place it was, we got up to so much including archery and falconry.

I'm already back on it though and I'm looking to create some great content over the next couple of weeks including a brand post with Big Potato Games (because if Autumn/Winter aren't board game seasons then WHAT ARE?!).

Apologies for going quiet over the last couple of weeks but I'm sure all of you can understand - thanks for sticking with me and keep an eye out for some awesome content coming your way!

xo Lauren
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Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Visiting Weymouth & Portland

I think I've really underestimated how good for you a weekend away from the hustle & bustle of everyday life can be and you really don't have to travel far around the UK to find some absolutely beautiful locations for a night or two to make you feel like you've travelled further and had a proper break!

Luckily in the South of England where we live we're only a couple of hours away from some of the most beautiful stretches of beach the UK has to offer so at the weekend we booked an AirBnb, packed our bags, loaded up the bikes on the roof-rack and headed down to Weymouth for the night for a little adventure.

We arrived on Friday afternoon around 1pm and we were so lucky to have incredible weather for the whole duration of our mini-break, the sun was shining and we couldn't wait to offload the bikes and get going but first we checked into our AirBnB. We chose a lovely static caravan (for nostalgia's sake mainly, neither of us had stayed in one since we were children) and it was perfectly clean, had a large seating area with a big TV, two bedrooms & a shower-room/bathroom.

After we'd checked in we got straight on the bikes and began our ride into Weymouth town centre, the caravan park we stayed in was a little distance from the town, perhaps a 10 minute drive but cycling in took us about 40 minutes along the coastal path to avoid cycling down the main roads - we took a couple of wrong turns on the way but it was worth it for the sea views!

We got lunch from Fish n' Fritz which is #1 in the Weymouth area and it didn't disappoint - we sat and ate our battered sausage, chips, curry sauce (for Rob) and gravy (for me) on the beach before we hit up the arcade! After lunch we cycled back a shorter route through town and chilled for the evening as we wanted to be up early the next day to keep exploring!

On our second day we had quite a lot planned, we wanted to head over to Portland Island which is adjoined to Weymouth by a single bridge in and out, there's a lot to do on the island and we will definitely be making a return visit sometime soon to stay on the island.

We parked in Chesil beach car park which was popular but has a lot of spaces, we then cycled across the very windy bridge to Portland marina, we cycled along the promenade to our first destination; Portland Castle!

I'd made a note to visit the castle before we left for the trip so knew it was definitely a must-do for us as we love history and it's an English Heritage site so if you're already a member you're in luck! We're not so entry was £7.50 each for us.

Portland Castle was one of Henry VIII's gun forts & was then turned into a house later down the line so it has a LOT of interesting history, especially surrounding it's time as a defensive fort. The tour is very good with a free audio guide, lots of posters to read and interactive features as you make your way around. You can do the tour at your own pace & as we liked to stop and take in the sea views & the odd picture it probably took us around 45 mins-1 hour.

Note: if you're cycling around Portland like we did, there's nowhere near the Castle to safely lock up your bikes so we were allowed to keep them inside the Castle grounds just outside the reception window so they could keep an eye.

Next stop on our trip was the Castletown D-Day Centre, we only found out about this place from a poster we saw on the beach the day before but wow I'm so glad we discovered it!

Rob is a huge history buff with a particular interest in World Wars so we were really looking forward to going back in time for an hour or so and this attraction did not disappoint. Entry is £7 for adults with family and concession tickets available and it's worth every penny.

The D-Day centre is fully interactive which is incredibly cool, you can get in the majority of vehicles, hold guns, try on helmets and backpacks and there's plenty to read about as you go round. There's so much to see and do there and we really enjoyed our time there which you can see from the photos we took!

Note: Don't miss heading up to the German bunker on your way out for some more interactive displays and some Nazi memorabilia - it's a real step back in time!

We absolutely loved Weymouth and especially Portland Island and I'm already excited to head back there next spring/summer again to explore more of Portland Island!

Lauren xo

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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Clean Eating Peanut Butter Energy Balls

This post features products kindly gifted by - these are marked with an asterisk (*). 

There's always this tricky amount of time between finishing work around 5pm and starting my gym classes around 6ish where I need to fuel up for my gym class but also definitely dont have time to prepare or cook anything remotely substantial - that's where my beloved peanut butter energy balls come into it!

These lil guys are ridiculously easy and quick to throw together (and even more ridiculously easy to eat because they're so delicious). They're the perfect fix for some protein and energy before doing any exercise or just when you want a snack throughout the day. 

Ingredients (makes 12 balls):

  • 85g creamy/smooth peanut butter
  • 60g dark chocolate chips (or milk, whichever you prefer)
  • 128g oats
  • 60g chia or Organic Shelled Hemp seeds* (i've used 30g of each in this recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons of Raw Wild Flower Bulgarian Honey* - I can't tell you how GOOD this smells.
  • optional: handful of dried fruits (I was kindly sent some Dried Cranberries* but left them out this time round to keep the size of the balls smaller!)

How To Make Them:

  • Place all the ingredients in a bowl (told you it was easy) and stir well to mix them together. 
  • Place the mix in the fridge for 15-20 minutes so they're easier to roll. 
  • Roll the mixture into 12 bites (or however you want to make depending on the size you want 'em) and store them in the fridge until you're ready to scoff them!

Benefits of Hemp Seeds:

I've added Organic Shelled Hemp Seeds* to this recipe because they're just so damn nutritious for you and these are a few reasons why:
  • great source of protein
  • high in fibre
  • full of vitamins and minerals including magnesium (which will make our bodies very happy!)
  • rich in fatty acids

About BuyWholeFoodsOnline

One of the things I love about BWFO (besides their HUGE selection of organic and whole foods obvs) is that at heart they are a family-run business start from really humble beginnings with founders and cousins Arthur and Joe setting up shop in their shed!

Having outgrown each warehouse and location they moved to due to the growing success of the business they finally settled in a whopping 25,000 square foot warehouse in Ramsgate in 2016 and that's where they've been ever since!

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Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Hello Fresh: The Pros & Cons

Years after the rest of the world have tried it, we finally decided to give Hello Fresh a go, hurrah! Or maybe not so hurrah? I have majorly mixed feelings about Hello Fresh after giving our first recipe a go earlier this week and thought I'd share my thoughts with you all and basically just weigh up the pros and cons of Hello Fresh.

So for those who don't know, Hello Fresh is a recipe subscription box which sends you 5 pre-packaged fresh meals in all the right measurements and amounts for you to cook yourself by following their simple instruction card.

We definitely had a mixed experience with our first Hello Fresh box and I wanted to share my thoughts on the Pro's and Cons of ordering from Hello Fresh.

CON: It's quite pricey for what it is

Not to start off on a negative note but this is one of the main reasons why we decided to try Hello Fresh, to save money on our weekly shop. The good news (which, sorry, doesn't warrant its' own PRO bullet point) is that you can get lots of discount codes online for your first box but after that it comes in at around £41.99 for five meals, so that's not including weekends for us. When we thought about what we'd need to add onto our 5 meals (things like treats, snacks, lunches etc) it didn't make our weekly spend any less overall.

PRO: The recipe cards are simple to follow so everyone can have a go

We take it in turns cooking in our house but it does mean that there are certain meals that we've nailed individually and have become our signature dishes so we don't share the recipes for these and as I'm out quite a few nights a week I have to plan meals for our weekly shop that Rob is confident at cooking whilst I'm out. With Hello Fresh anyone can grab the ingredients and pick up the easy-to-follow card so no worries about having to leave instructions or being restricted on what you can plan for meals.

CON: If there are ingredients missing you could be stuffed

We tried the loaded beef mexican wedges recipe last night and it turned out delicious - thankfully that's because I had a carton of passata and some garlic granules in the cupboard because the package was missing the passata and a garlic clove. If i'd not had any passata in then we'd not have been able to make that recipe at all so that's slightly frustrating. As someone who likes to plan and prep I find it a little tricky to put my food shop/plan in someone else's hands!

PRO: There are lot of different boxes to choose from 

Whether you're vegetarian, trying to stick to a high-protein diet, cooking for 4 or cooking for children Hello Fresh offer a wide selection of boxes and they even offer a quick-cook box with recipes that take 20 minutes or less to prep and cook which can be great if you're in a a hurry each evening!

CONS: The recipes aren't low-fat enough for us 

This will of course differ from person to person but recently we've been loving Slimming World recipes and although soured cream and full fat cheddar tastes real good I know in the long run it's not going to be much good for my waistline!

Personally, I don't think that we'll stick to Hello Fresh going forward, it's been great to give it a go and experience it and the meals have been delicious but I think for us planning our meals and doing a weekly shop each week is just easier for us and cheaper in the long run!

If you're thinking of giving Hello Fresh a go then have a google for some discount codes, some are offering 50% off so this is the perfect opportunity to trial it out!
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Monday, 9 September 2019

The Ordinary Skincare: Is It Worth The Hype?

I posted on my Instagram a few weeks ago that I'd treated myself to a few products from The Ordinary range and said that I'd give you a review once I'd given them a go properly so here we are!

I've never been great at skincare or looking after my skin (despite having really awful breakouts during my teenage years so I know I'm a bit silly) but over the last couple of years I've really begun to take some care over my skin and invest in some great products to give it a helping hand.

The first great thing about The Ordinary products is just how affordable they are, they're available on the Boots UK website and when you compare them to some other brands in the same area they just come out tops really on great reviews vs cost and affordability. 

I have started out my collection with three products which I'll go through below in more detail but I had a very small checklist of things I wanted these products to tackle, they were pore-minimising, smoothing, evening out skin tone, keeping my skin blemish-free and reducing any hyper pigmentation. I spent a lot of time looking at reviews and descriptions of each product, as you'll see they're named after their solutions so it's really important to see what will work for you.

Their website is super informative though and it helped me massively to find a small collection of products which would work for me and my skin. Below is what I opted for, please keep in mind I have quite blemish-prone, combination skin. 

Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%, £8.90

I knew when I was looking through all The Ordinary products that I wanted a Vitamin-C product. I have quite dull skin and it could sometimes make me look really washed-out and even poorly as it really lacked any brightness or glow! 

This product is a brightening serum with an antioxidant to reduce signs of ageing and even out skin tone  - bingo! Ascorbyl Glucoside is classed as one of the best Vitamin C derivatives and this is a solution which is water-based so easily applied and doesn't feel harsh at all on my skin.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5.00

This product is a dream come true for oily skin. It targets breakouts and minimises pores by regulating the amount of sebum (oil) that your skin produces. Its' two main ingredients Niacinamide and Zinc are two of the best blemish-battling ingredients out there so for me it ticked a lot of boxes!

I've found this solution slightly sticky initially but this soon wears off and I can really feel the smoothing effects, my skin doesn't feel at all oily when I use it but it definitely doesn't dry my skin out by any means either, so winner winner!

Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, £7.00

The final product I opted for is one that targets hyper-pigmentation. If you're not sure what that is, hyper-pigmentation can be any dark patches or spots on your skin, for example they're quite common on the upper lip (which can sometimes give the awful illusion of a moustache) but can show up anywhere. This product has a high potentcy of Alpha Arbutin which tackles these tricky spots to reveal more even, younger-looking skin!

I've 100% noticed a difference since using a combination of the above in my daily routine, my skin is so much brighter and I've gone many days without wearing make-up now due to how much more calm and even my skin-tone is looking. My dark spots aren't as noticeable at all and my skin just has a much healthier look and glow about it. 

Make sure you use the brand's handy regime tool to work out which products you can and can't miss, when to apply them and what they're good for!

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Sunday, 8 September 2019

Learning To Be Honest With Myself (and others!)

It's a funny thing, honesty. I like to pride myself on being an honest person, I'm very open and don't have any difficulty usually telling someone how I feel about something as long as I still be kind and polite about it but actually when I thought long and hard about it there were some times that I really wasn't very honest and it didn't do me many favours.

I'm not talking about lying or cheating or anything like that, I'm talking about the times that we're not super honest with ourselves and maybe the small lies or fibs we tell others to fit in or to feel like we belong.

When I first met my boyfriend I soon realised we had different interests and hobbies, he was big into heavy metal music and extreme sports such as mountain biking. I was a self-confessed nerd who liked graphic design and YouTube and the amount of exercise I did when we first met was zilch so I soon worried that we'd start to realise that we didn't have much in common.

My anxiety can make me doubt myself a lot and although being able to code, design a website or a logo and being massively into zombie and paranormal TV shows actually made me a really interesting person, I just couldn't see it myself.

I started to feel the need to like what he liked so I could justify us being together (when really our identical values and principles in life are exactly why we're so happy and are perfect for each other). There were some awful days out where I'd suggest bike rides because I know how much he'd love them which ended with me crying because I was in so much pain from renting awful bikes from little hire shops and forcing myself to keep going when I really didn't want to.

Everything changed when I started to be more honest with myself and to have confidence in my choices and decisions. I started to feel OK with saying 'you know what, I hated that bike ride, I'd rather go somewhere a bit easier where I can ride in my own time and enjoy the views' etc. To no-one's surprise, my boyfriend was absolutely ok with that - and of course he would be, but my anxiety had kind of convinced me he wouldn't be.

Being honest with both myself and him has made things a lot easier, we still go for bike rides now - we just got back from one today actually which is what inspired me to write this post. I tell him how far I'm happy to go and we plan routes together, we take regular breaks if I need them and most importantly we enjoy it.

It can be hard to not want to say 'yes' or agree to things to feel like you fit in or belong but in the long run you have to ask yourself what the benefit of lying to yourself and someone else is? Usually there isn't a benefit and you'll begin to see the benefits when you start accepting yourself and have confidence in your own choices.

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Saturday, 7 September 2019

I Tried Aromatherapy To Help Me Chill The F Out

As someone that's suffered with anxiety for many years, chilling out isn't really something I've ever been good at. It hasn't really mattered what I've done whether it be yoga or meditation, my brain just won't shut the hell up for much longer than 20 seconds and I really struggle to completely relax or switch off.

I didn't quite realise just how bad I was at relaxing until I made an appointment for a lymphatic drainage massage and after half an hour of a fantastic massage my therapist Joanna at TruthPie told me that she could tell that I struggled to completely unwind. I almost felt caught out but she reassured me that she thought another therapy would suit me better; aromatherapy. I'm not going to lie, I didn't really have a clue what aromatherapy entailed but agreed to give a session ago.

So we started by picking oils that would a) be good for stress and anxiety and b) that I actually liked because Joanna said that it can differ from session to session and your body will react differently to different oils depending on what it needs at the time.

The three oils which appealed to me the most were Ylang Ylang (good for relaxation), Myrtle (great for fatigue) and Eucalyptus Staigeriana (which is really useful for easing any aches and pains). Joanna then used a mixture of these for the massage itself.

She spent an hour working these essential oils into my skin in a medium-pressure massage, she worked out some knots and tension in my upper back and shoulders before moving onto my legs individually, feet, arms, hands and then my neck. It was a really relaxing experience although I found my mind still buzzing every now and again but I tried really hard to clear my head and just relax to get the most of the massage.

Joanna gave me a mix of the oils to take home to add to my bath, so I'm really excited to give that a go and see if I feel as mellowed as I do right now as I write this blog post!

If you're thinking of trying aromatherapy then I would 100% recommend it as it's a therapy that's tailored to you, your mind and your body and what it needs. Don't forget that self-care needs to be your top priority and we need to nurture our minds and bodies alike.

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Monday, 2 September 2019

A Day Out At Warwick Castle

Whilst I was having a browse through my emails on Saturday morning, one from Wowcher popped up that caught my eye, 48% off Warwick Castle tickets - erm, don't mind if i do!

I haven't visited the castle for years! I went once as a child on the way back from Alton Towers to break up the journey down South and loved it, I'm a big history buff and have always particularly enjoyed the gruesome side of a medieval castle, those people were savage.

I snapped up two tickets and we headed up on Sunday. The vouchers from Wowcher were fantastic, instead of £30pp we paid just over £15pp which was a whopping discount and they were valid everyday from July until October 2019, including summer hols and weekends which is very rare for a discount ticket usually!

We arrived shortly after 11am and parking was a little way from the entrance, there is disabled parking much closer but the main overflow car park is around a 20 minute walk from entrance, fine for us as two adults but something to bear in mind if you have little ones in tow! The car park also costs £6, you can purchase a token at the entrance/exit or you can pay by card at the barrier.

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