September is almost over! It’s hard to believe – the California sunshine is still shining bright on most days.
This month has been filled with some wonderful adventures. From weekend trips to revelations and accomplishments, it’s been an eventful beginning to the autumn.
trips & adventures
On the first weekend of the month, I took yet another trip to SF. The Saturday farmers’ market on the Ferry Plaza was a feast for the senses. Flowers, exotic mushrooms and weird granolas all around.
It’s only 19 hours, I kept telling myself. 19 hours of travelling and you’ll be in heaven. It was daunting, super exciting and completely surreal to think I would be taking this trip all by myself.
About 3 months ago, it was time for me to submit my placement preferences as part of my MSc in Health Economics. It didn’t take long for me to put Sacramento at the top of my list. The promise of sun, guacamole, and an impactful project to work on was all I needed to convince me. When my allocation was released and I read “UC Davis” next to my name, I couldn’t believe I’d be spending three whole months in sunny California. Me? Who’d never flown for more than 4 hours? Impossible.
I started planning right away and hoped to God I wouldn’t miss anything out. My visa application was particularly painful, but I don’t think anybody’s ever enjoyed applying for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. It’s an administrative procedure that requires you to answer really obscure questions about your religious affiliations and pay large amounts of money to attend a 2 minute interview at an embassy, and maybe shed a few tears of frustration along the way, but you know what? It was worth it! My passport came back in the post a week later (because yes, they take your passport!) and I frantically finished packing up my life, sat my last ever exam at York, sold my furniture and tried to get some headspace before this huge adventure.
Happy July and happy summer! It’s been a busy month, filled with some exciting changes and revelations. Read on to find out! 🙂
This is definitely easier said than done if you’re edging on compulsive shopping, which many of us do without realising. It looks good on the mannequin, or it seems useful at the time, but when you get home you realise maybe you didn’t need it after all. Or you use it once and then it gathers dust at the back of a cupboard. I’ve done a lot of work on myself to reduce my attachment to stuff, but I’ve always been frugal, so it hasn’t been excessively hard for me to be more selective in my shopping. I had run out of summer clothes to wear and so went on many more shopping trips than I would have in the past, and most of the time, I went home empty handed. It’s life-changing to walk out of a shop knowing you didn’t feel pressured by the shop assistant, having carefully thought through any purchases (‘is it useful’, ‘is it durable’, is it worth the price’, ‘will it match my style’…).
Holiday season is upon us once more! I’m super hyped becauseI have actually planned a couple of trips this year, which means my suitcase will be more than just a weekend bag for a few days spent with a friend. Or will it? Is packing a huge suitcase, 5 pairs of shoes and both a hair straightener and curling iron really necessary?
Having less is seriously cool. I’m no longer worried about stuff not matching in my wardrobe, or that pink jacket I never wear: if I’m not using it, I’m not keeping it.
But then comes your exotic trip, and you think you need the entire asos swimwear department to survive it. (Just a piece of friendly advice before we start: you don’t.) I take more long weekend trips than weeklong holidays so I’ve become accustomed to packing a small carry-on and making the most of what I bring! Here’y how you can apply underpacking to longer holidays like I am this year!
1. Think ahead
If you’re not one of those people that starts packing or thinking about packing at least 2 weeks before you leave, start now. Honestly, this is a huge help – ask yourself where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing and how often, think of what you already have and what should be replaced or bought for the occasion. I’m leaving for Italy in a couple of days for a super casual poolside reading and city exploring break. Realistically, only 3 scenarios are likely: a day out, for which I’ll need some comfortable, functional and breathable, a day at the pool, for which I’ll need swimwear and a cover up and a classier option for the evening to wear to a nice dinner. My make-up and hair routine can be adjusted accordingly by increasing the intensity rather than the amount of products used. Instead of just slapping on some mascara and eyebrows, I might spend longer on some eyeliner or contouring. And then there’s the airport days, where you should think of wearing something comfortable and layerable, for example the only thicker jacket you’re bringing in case of colder weather, and to keep yourself warm on the flight, over a t-shirt you can wear on a city day later on. Write it down, draw it out, whatever you need to do: just think!
Oatmeal, porridge, whatever you wanna call it. One thing: treat it like risotto.
Oats are like the perfect middle-ground between incredibly indulgent and incredibly nutritious.
I was probably born with a spoonful of oats in my mouth. Wherever I was, at home, at school, on holidays, oats always made an appearance. Except my oat consumption has changed drastically since those dairy and microwave days. I actually used to pour cornflakes on top of my porridge. That crunch was everything. Now it just comes in a different shape (i.e. spoonfuls of PB)!
I love the YOGABODY Yoga Talk Show podcast. Every week, I look forward to the latest episode; the range of topics covered is so broad I’m guaranteed to learn something new. A couple of weeks ago, the topic of discussion was life balance and the causes of adrenal fatigue. It’s not a sexy topic, but it’s an important one.
I’m 21 and I truly believe our generation is seeking balance, or at least trying to tip the balance in favour of their well-being as opposed to reckless enjoyment. More than ever we are seeing turmeric lattes and superfood açai bowls and cool yoga studios. Public figures are healthy cookbook authors and instagram yogis and fitness ebook writers.
And yet so often it’s an all-or-nothing affair. You’re vegan or you’re not. You’re a yogi or you’re not. You’re healthy or you’re not. And you only ARE if you take things to the next level. You a raw vegan, and practice 90 minutes every day and always drink your lemon water in the morning. I’m not sure why there is such an obsession with perfection, but let me tell you, it’s not perfection you seek. It’s balance.
Have you ever regretted eating so healthily you couldn’t eat your mother’s apple crumble? Probably.
And have you ever been so careless you regretted eating the entire brunch spread last Christmas? Probably, too.
But did you regret having that one bite of your friend’s pancake stack and ordering the smoothie bowl for yourself? Probably not.
We also mistakingly feel that balance is just a food thing. Balance is an everything thing. Because what is imbalanced in one aspect of your life may be counterbalanced by something else. Balance is something that is advised by yoga teachers, nutritionists and life coaches; not choosing one extreme over the other. It’s a way of life, not a means to an end. Balance should not inspire guilt, either. It’s not because you’re not a raw vegan you’re a bad vegan. It’s not because you haven’t done the whole30 that you’re a bad paleo. Balance for you will look nothing like balance for someone else. But balance is so abstract, don’t you think? It’s an ideal that’s hard to pinpoint, you can only feel it. There’s no common denominator or way of measuring balance on a scale.
So how do you add more yin to your yang, so to speak? Well here are 8 things you can do to bring balance, rather than an extreme of good or bad, into your life!
February has been a beautiful month. I’ve been feeling energised and replenished, rested and peaceful. I’ve tried to reduce stress as much as possible, and I’m proud to say it has improved my quality of life enormously already!
I’m not a winter-lover. I love snow and Christmas vibes, but once January comes to a close, I am ready for spring. I’m ready to see trees and flowers blossom and to wear lighter coats. And put my UGG boots away. But this year, I’m trying to embrace the seasons, and I suggest you try, too! Seasons come and go for a reason, and nature is constantly changing. It’s a cycle of death and rebirth, and we should honour it rather than let it pass us by 🙂
As always, my (slightly) obsessive nature has ensured that this past month’s favourites were very easy and obvious to put together in this post! Let me know what you’ve been loving, I’m dying to know! 😀
I don’t know if it’s because I’m channeling my inner Viking or trying to find a substitute for shaving one side of my head [eek!], but these side braids have been stuck to my head most of the month. Having short hair means you have to be relatively creative in tying it up, and I’ve said goodbye to The Topknot aka that shaggy pile of hair that is not-so-artfully tied up when I’m exercsing/working/doing the dishes to keep my front layers out of the way. Yeah. Not glamorous. These half french braids are way easier than they look, very functional and I always get complimented on them 🙂 Continue reading “february favourites”→
It’s almost Valentine’s. Can you believe it?
Truth be told, I’ve never really understood it! I think I got a card, once. Nowadays, being in a strong and well-grounded relationship means that Valentine’s hasn’t got much significance for us. We have other meaningful times and milestones we celebrate! But I admire those who make a real effort on the day. Buy something nice, take their S.O. for a decadent dinner or better still, COOK FOR THEM!
Food gifts are definitely my favourite kinds of gifts; to cook for me or to gift me something edible speaks in my sorta love language. I’m so easy to please.
But taking me out can be.. complicated.
There you are, sitting in an outrageously expensive restaurant and staring blankly at the 3 mains on the menu. And there is nothing you can eat. Because you’ve been avoiding gluten and dairy and nuts and soy and sugar and and and— Sound familiar?
So. We all know how to prevent this scenario from happening.
a) phone the restaurant in advance and have a lengthy and frustrating conversation about your dietary restrictions (“no, I’m not allergic, it’s just that I’m avoiding it for the moment because…”)
b) cook at home.
Option b) generally wins for me!
I’ve spent some time (not that I mind!) looking for the best gluten + dairy free, real food recipes to cook for yourself or someone special (or print this out and hand it to them. Wink wink.) And I guarantee you’ll have a much better night than trying to eat around the croutons in your overpriced salad.
It’s late at night and I’m thinking about the whole30. I’m thinking about my first whole30 and how I’m still seeking #FoodFreedomForever. And I really feel like I need to take some thoughts off my chest after seeing how much attention the programme has had over the month of January!
I did the whole30 back in September. It didn’t have a happy ending, but it did have lifelong positive consequences. My gut wasn’t happy, but my soul was, and I am so grateful for the experience. I’m also proud I lasted the 30 days without a slip. I know I won’t be doing the whole30 exactly as it is outlined again, but I know that applying the core principles was essential to my mental success the first time around.
But there’s stuff we’re not talking about enough in this community. I still stumble upon whole30ers who just want to “lose weight”. Who think it’s ok to eat almond butter by the spoonful because it’s compliant. Or worse, who stuff dates with almond butter and are cool with that.
No. Don’t be cool.
If these behaviours don’t seem like red flags to you, please don’t stop reading. You need this.
#1. it takes a while to get ready and figure out your boundaries
Now that the festive season has well and truly started, it’s time to get down to business. Because no one ever starts eating Christmas-ey foods on Christmas day. Am I right? Work parties, annual dinners and special editions of your favourite brand names (Cheeselets have become Treelets. How can I resist?) are almost guaranteed to get you in the festive mood way before it’s time!
So, what’s your commitment this year? Is it to stay sugar-free? It totally should be, I promise it is SO much fun. And yes, more than once there has been a lot of cheese involved. Sorry not sorry.
Whatever your motivation, I can promise you that you won’t feel left out. It’s all about that mindset, after all. But really, this year will be my 21st Christmas without any sugar whatsoever, and I’m still standing!