Friday, 23 August 2013

And in the end ...

I'm going out on a lyric from The Beatles and a quote from a Timelord. Would you expect any less from me?

Dear readers, the time has come, today I'm plunging this blog into retirement.

Shut up Vampire Weekend, I give a f*ck about it. 

Don't panic, it will still be here in cyberspace (the url stays for now, but will revert back to a blogspot one next spring), but I won't be updating it any more. All the posts are staying, so you can hit up my archives at any point you wish. 

It's been wonderful writing this blog. I've met so many other people from the Healthy Living Blog universe over the last 3.5 years and gained so much from every single person, reader, blogger, and commenter immeasurably;  I've learned lots, written lots and I've learned about writing lots - it's probably been the best hobby that I've invested my time in and I've never gotten bored of it.

So why am I leaving it to gather cyber-dust? I  feel like I've come to a stopping point on this particular course of my writing life. The good news is that I have another blog already in the making; it's a lifestyle blog, so as much as I will be talking about food & fitness on it, it will no longer be my primary focus. I've learned that I can write about so much more than that (and talk about it too - the YouTube videos are still going strong!). I'm going to try to encorporate more aspects of my lifestyle into my writing, to give me more things to write about and regain the passion that I once had for being creative. I started to feel a bit labelled by my blog, and as lovely as the label of Healthy Living Blogger is, I feel like I can do more. I want to do more. There's so much more. Give me more!

I'll link you up when she (I appear to have already given the new blog a gender, oh dear) is ready for public consumption - hopefully within the next month. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll be the first to know when it all kicks off. 

Thank you so much for reading, commenting and supporting me on this adventure. I hope you're ready to come on the next one with me too. Allons-y!

"So where do you want to start?"

Alex xoxo

Friday, 16 August 2013

You start to see the world a little differently ...

... when you turn it upside down.

Ain't got no cares, I ain't got no rules, I think I li-i-ike living upside down
Paloma Faith's Upside Down could be the soundtrack to my August because I feel like that's the way I've lived my life this month, universally speaking it's been rather impulsive and crazy. It's been brilliant. I don't often talk about what I do in lifestyle-terms on here, but as I've got nothing gym-related to talk about (as my membership has gathered a lovely, thick layer of dust this month) then I'm going to start filling your bandwidth with tales of my adventures instead - my blog is having a regeneration in the next month and will be becoming a lifestyle blog - this post is a bit of a taste of what's to come - get comfy!

I'm only spending one weekend at home in August. ONE. Out of four. What have I been up to? EVERYTHING!!

I started the month with a weekend in London with my girlfriends. Yes, I know I live in London, but when they come down to visit we set up camp in a hotel. I like staying in hotels in my own city, it feels like a little adventure. We set up camp all the way over by the Tower of London, which is the opposite side of the city to me and therefore a totally new adventure!

It was just a girls weekend full of lunches, gossip and, of course, cocktails! The nerd in me had a particularly pleasing weekend; I finally saw Tower Bridge being raised to let a boat through (Hooray!) and I visited Fenchurch Street Station, so I have finally been to all the stations on the Monopoly Board (Hooray! - yes, I know I need to get out more).

Group selfie in a lift, well done Rachel!
The next weekend, in one of my impulsive moods, I got on a plane to Edinburgh to go experience some Fringe action.

Why didn't I steal this glass? Oh hindsight ... 
What a terrible drama graduate I am, I've never been to the Fringe! Disgraceful. I'd never even been to Edinburgh, in fact I'd never even got on a plane alone before - this was a total adventure! 

Catching rays in Bristo Square
I had a great time in this beautiful city. The sun shined, the people smiled and chatted, coffee came in tandem with shortbread biscuits, I met a funny Aussie guy and saw his show all about his obsessive love for Doctor Who, I walked down the Royal Mile and my senses were assaulted by music, singing, human statues (can anyone see these without quoting Hot Fuzz?) and ALL THE FLYERS EVER, I drank beer and ate Mexican food, I laughed a lot. Generally it was a pretty awesome time in a whole new place.

Excellent life mantra!
The Drama grad in me is now wide awake and stamping her feet at missing out on this for so long. I've told her we can go back again next year, which seems to have mellowed her for now. I'm very choosy about which cities I fall in love with (so far only 4, London being one of them)  but I'm giving my 5th spot to Edinburgh. Even on such a short trip it felt magical, and it really is incredibly beautiful. I must go back MUST.

When in Rome ...
This weekend I'm away again. (I know, right?) After a jolly day at my favourite festival of the year -  the Great British Beer Festival  - where I drank ALL THE ALE: 

All hail to the ale!

I'm just about to hop on a train to Hull to have a weekend of outrageous fun with my best friend, Dani: Apologies Instagram, you're about to get whacked by the Queens of the Glamourous Selfies!

We're both a little older now, but just as glamourous!
One last thing! Laura at Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish shared this picture on her Facebook page, which I then shared on mine. I'm so in love with it that I have to share it here too - it sums up my thoughts on body confidence and body image entirely:

What I've been listening to in August: 

//Upside Down ~ Paloma Faith // A Place Called You ~ Emma Stevens // Hey, Soul Sister ~ Train // Inside Out (Remix) ~ Imelda May // Lifetime ~ Jack Savoretti // Lightning Bolt ~ Jake Bugg //

I'll be back when I'm stationed in one spot for longer than five minutes. Byeeeeeee! x

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Cat and the Christmas Tree

I get super blogger bonus points for having the strangest titled blog post ever; especially given what the subject of this post is about.

I wanted to write something about my history of binge eating. It's something which is now (thankfully) behind me and therefore I feel like I'm able to write about it. I know people who have suffered with it, people who still suffer with it and I wanted to share my experiences of being a binge eater and how I learned to cope with it, deal with it and finally, walk away from it. I recognise this can be a very sensitive subject for some people, so if you want to read no further then that is perfectly acceptable; such honesty is not for everyone at all times, but I feel like I'm ready to be open about this topic. 

I think I'd always been a bit of a big eater, I have clear memories of being able to destroy an entire packet of Chocolate Digestives in one sitting, or a 2 litre tub of ice cream - and this was when I was a teenager! It started as an occasional thing (a treat, I guess, I loved rewarding myself with food despite not being a dog) which evolved into a weekly thing. I didn't think anything of it at the time but looking back now I can see that these were my jumping off points into the sea of binging.

I didn't notice it again until I was in my early to mid twenties, when I discovered I could kill a boring Sunday afternoon by baking a cake. Guess what? I'd eat the entire thing afterwards all by myself. At the points I remember this clearly I was at my lowest weight and yet every Sunday I would have an almighty cake binge. So despite losing 5+ stones I was still psychologically struggling with my old eating habits.

I binged infrequently, but I binged to the max. Even when I first moved to London it continued. I'd got it down to about once every few weeks by that point (which I was really pleased with), always when I was alone in the house and usually early in the evening. I could put away SO MUCH FOOD in a short space of time that it's alarming. I once wrote it all down afterwards, well, as much of it as I could remember.

The scariest thing? I couldn't remember what I'd eaten. Even if it was 20 minutes ago. My binges would last around 15 -20 minutes and I would just mentally shut down. By the time I was done I would come back into reality and just see the massacre of empty wrappers and be feeling very, very sick. I never purged, I just binged myself into a haze. Sometimes when I came to I'd have wandered from the kitchen into a different room in the house. This is seriously scary stuff.

I decided to do something that I'd never done - I told someone. I told my boyfriend (as he was at the time) about the binges as I wanted to come clean and make myself accountable for my behaviour. Obviously, if you've never dealt with such things and have a different relationship with food to my all-loving-earth-shattering-mind-consuming-lust for the stuff, then it's difficult to understand why it happens. So I tried to explain - and this is where the cat in the Christmas tree comes from, it's the only metaphor I could explain myself with.

Oh. You're home. Early. Hiiiiiiiii. 

I used to have a lovely, fluffy black and white cat called Tabbitha (or Tabby, if you want to be her buddy) when I was growing up. She was the most well behaved cat ever. EVER. We lasted about 6 years with her not attacking the Christmas tree (as cats seem to love to do) until one year she just went batshit crazy, knocked it over, fused the lights and broke the baubles. Naughty cat. She never did it again, it was like one day the sparkly bits on the tree all just got a little too much for her and she had to have it. All of it. ATTACK. RAAAAARRRGH! This is how I chose to explain binging. I don't do it for ages (at the point of explanation I could go a couple of months without incident) and then one day SNAP! I must have ALL THE FOOD. Then I don't ever want to do it again. Until the next time ... 

The strangest thing is, since I've given this disorder a bit of a comedy persona it helped me cope with it better. It made me look at it from an outsiders perspective (which made a nice change from being all up inside my brain all the time), try to understand it better, watch for my trigger signs as well as having someone there who could go 'oh, is the cat eyeing up the shiny stuff again?' which would  stop me pacing around the house and make me laugh a little bit. It's not trivialising the problem as such, but in a way it is, and that's exactly what I needed in order to help me realise how ridiculous my own behaviour was - I needed to point and laugh at it. I accept that this is not for everyone but to me laughter has always been great medicine.

It didn't fix me, not even close. eating better also went a long way to curbing my habit. I make sure I eat enough, right and frequently so that I'm not starving the moment I get home from work (when the majority of my binges happened in recent years) that way I can't be tempted. Getting my blood sugar in tip top form has been a key, so I've learned when my body responds best to certain foods (carbs are better for me first thing in the morning and later on an evening but best avoided at lunch and so forth). 

Whilst I've been writing this post I've been trying to think back to when I last binged. I honestly cannot remember; my best guess would be well over 2 years ago, which is pretty incredible. 

I'm not writing about a cure. Hell, I don't even know if I've seen the back of binging entirely (I hope I have), but I feel like I've developed a coping mechanism and network to help me deal with it if it does reappear one day.

I suppose the best thing I can advise to anyone struggling with this is to tell someone, try to be honest, don't be afraid or ashamed; just voice it. My triggers are always there; I just seen them for what they are now ... 

... naughty little kittens.  

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Summer of Fun: July

Lazy blogger writes blog post shocker!

I did warn you all that I would be busy this summer and it shows no signs of letting up, but here's how my brilliant July went. 

I've been doing lots of walking. Lots and lots. My Fitbit is going batshit crazy with number crunching, but when the weather is so beautiful I find it hard to hurry home after work, so I go for a huge walk around the parks of West London.

Sunny weather has meant the return of the maxi dresses and the Fitflops - not only are these the most comfortable flipflops ever, they're helping me tone up with every step, and mine are sparkly too!

I went to go see my friend Alison for Pimm's in the sunshine. She bought us a bottle of Blossom Hill Vie to have with dinner that night, which I was first introduced to at the Vitality Show back in March. It's delicious, low alcohol (5.5%) and only about 350 calories for the whole bottle  - yes, the whole bottle. Fetch me another!

I met two of my old work colleagues and great friends for champagne one Friday after work at Searcy's champagne bar at St.Pancras station. Nothing ends your week better than a cheeky champagne snifter!

I've been managing my weekend indulgences by getting myself back on track quickly on Mondays, drinking lots of water to flush out all the booze, rehydrate me and make me feel human again (there's only so much you can achieve with Lucozade Sport on a really dirty hangover!)

I also went back to my old manor, Worcester, this month with my best friend Dani. I hadn't been back since I moved to London in 2007, so it was like a lovely memory-filled adventure.

We went to my favourite Real Ale pub in the world (The Dragon Inn), went to a friends 30th birthday party and just had a really fun girly weekend. I even managed to replenish my stock of peanut butter-based treats!

The heat sent my appetite into freefall, but I quite liked the freedom it gave me. I stopped eating at meal times and just ate whenever I felt hungry; as it turns out I like breakfast at 11am, lunch at 3pm and dinner at 8pm. I think my stomach may have moved to a different timezone!

The heat has cooled a little now (albeit I'm informed it's coming back tomorrow) which has meant I've been in the mood to drink red wine again. I find red wine loses it's appeal in hot weather, so as soon as the air cooled I treated myself to a bottle of Chianti. Every mouthful reminds me of Florence, I cannot wait to go back there in November.

Yes, I found pistachio Lindt too. And yes, it is amazing. Go buy some and thank me later. I also discovered that this was a magnificent combo when watching Hannibal (oh man, if you've not been watching this show get it on demand, it's just wonderful). Chianti seems like the right choice for Dr. Lecter, right?

August is going to be even busier for me, so apologies now for the radio silence. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram if you miss me too much, I'll be back with some more food/booze/adventure updates when I get a spare moment.