Healthy Living

Summer Goals – Be More, Do More.

So this year, I didn’t set myself any new year’s resolutions. I decided that I didn’t want to make myself a list of things to achieve, a list of things that needed to be ticked off or I’d have failed. Who wants that kind of pressure? Instead, I resolved to throw myself into new opportunities and to maybe push myself a little more out of my comfort zone.  Now, almost halfway through 2013, I feel like I’m doing well. I have definitely welcomed new challenges and made the most of any opportunity given to me: I’m moving out to live with friends next year despite that not having originally been on the cards, I’ve made scary decisions about forging ahead with my plans for the future (more on that later!), and I’ve challenged myself to live more for the moment and more like a 20-year old and not an 80-year old!

Despite this talk of no lists, I now feel as though it is time to write myself some new goals. I have four months of time off university ahead of me and I have so much to do that I can’t let the time just disappear. So these are my aims for the months ahead, they are not concrete or particularly quantifiable but they will give me some focus and make everyday more motivational.

Read everyday!  The thing I miss most during term time is being able to read whatever I fancy. My weeks are consumed by the texts on my reading list, and not all of them are very enjoyable, I’m left with almost no time to read purely for pleasure. So this summer I have a huge reading list all of my own and I will be writing lots of blog posts reviewing those that I enjoy the most.

Make the most of the sunshine. Recently we have been enjoying lots of lovely sun and it’s marvellous. I’m already a little browner because I’m spending every minute that I can outside to make the absolute most of it. What this goal is really about is spending more time outside. I love being outdoors, especially when it’s a little warmer, and I really want to get all of the fresh air and sunshine that I can.

Get set for the future. I won’t go into this one too much as I’m going to write a post about it but I’m aiming to make some more finite plans for my future after graduating, I’ve never really known what I wanted to do but I’m starting to find my feet in the world and figure out what I want in life!

Research. As I am about to embark into my third, and final, year of my degree I now have my dissertation on the horizon. I want to combine two of my interests and explore the ideas about food and self-starvation in literature and this summer is the time for research, research and more research.

Look healthy, feel good, act confident. During exams I tend to eat more and gravitate towards more unhealthy food, I don’t really mind or feel guilty because I have more important things to focus on then, but now that I am finished for the year I’m back to my healthy choices and I’ve started lifting weights again. I have the most gorgeous red bikini and I want to be able to lounge by the pool run around on the beach and feel confident with my body and my own image!

Have fun. One of my closest uni friends, Sophie, is staying here to work during the summer, all of my friends from home are back, Tom is here (or I’m in London) on the weekend, and my sister and best friend, Alice, is here too. Friendships are so important and I cherish every single one of them, this summer I want to make the most of what is possibly our last shared summer holiday and do lots of fun things. Day trips, coffee dates, picnics, nights out, I want to see everyone and just enjoy the time off 🙂

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So here you have my goals or resolutions for the summer months ahead. I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful time, I’m so blessed to have so much. I hope you are all having a really lovely week! I’d love to hear your summer plans! Are you going on holiday? Or doing anything exciting in the next few months?

Sophie x

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Small Steps.

Ah life’s little ups and downs. You learn to take each day as it comes.

This weekend I was reminded of how rich my life is despite anything that may seem to be difficult or draining.

I have a wonderful partner who makes still makes me incredibly happy after almost five years. (Our five year anniversary is in just over a month!) I have the support of a fantastic family who always have time for each other in times of need and when the good times roll in. And I have some great friends, both old and new, there are some lovely people without whom my life wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable.

Recently I’ve been on a slightly downwards sloped hill. My fatigue has been hitting me particularly badly and it just makes everything that little bit more difficult. I wake up every morning feeling sore and stiff and it takes me a couple of hours to feel fully able. It’s tough but I always take the time to stop and think: it could be so much worse.

And it really could.

There are so many people who have huge challenges to surmount in life, so many people who suffer, so many trials that are pushed on people completely outside of their control. I can’t imagine what it is like for those who truly suffer.

The other day a few people at uni commented how chirpy and positive and perky I always am and it made me realise how good I am at presenting the majority of the world with a happy front. It’s not really a facade, I am genuinely quite a happy, optimistic person. It’s more my way of keeping life going, of not giving in to my condition, of getting on with the world.

So I will continue smiling, continue saying hello to everyone I meet, continue enjoying the simple things in life and getting excited at the smallest positives, and just continue feeling lucky that I get to be the way I am.

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I hope you all had a brilliant start to the week!

Stay bright and chirpy for me 😉

Sophie x

Life Lately.

Wow. Things have been so busy for me for the past couple of weeks. I have an insanely long pile of reading to do, I have a presentation to write and give next week (ahh!) and I have an essay to write for next month. Oh dear…

Luckily I have lots of great stuff going on too so I’m just about managing to keep my head above the water. Tom is coming to visit this weekend and we haven’t seen each other in three weeks so it’ll be lovely to be reunited and be able to spend some time together. I went to see Les Mis (again) last night with a friend and we both cried (again), it’s such a moving film, each song is so rousing that you can’t help but get emotionally involved with the story. If you haven’t seen it yet I definitely recommend it, even if musicals aren’t really your thing, my mother isn’t keen on musicals and she loved it. My most exciting piece of news is that I am going to be moving out in September! For those of you that don’t know, I transferred to a uni closer to home this year so that I could live at home to make life easier for me because of my condition. However I’m going to get the best of both worlds in my final year, I’ll be in my hometown which I find easier to get around, I’ll be close to home, but I’ll get to live with friends and experience the typical student life. I’m really excited to make the move and get on with my life with my uni friends 🙂

I thought I’d do a photo recap of life lately, with everything going on I’ve not had much time to stop and blog or take proper photos so here is an Instagram summary of the past week or so!

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My current addiction: hot chocolate | Roast chicken Sunday dinner | Starting the morning well

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Pasta, my saviour | Floral beauty | More chocolatey goodness of the drinkable sort

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Last week’s baking fun | Homemade pizza | Fresh lunch

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Sunday lunch – chicken and mushroom pie | Heavy reading | A fruity start to the day

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Smile | Sunlit tulips | Healthy dips for lunch

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Cooking dinner for the family | Quinoa, courgettes, red peppers and onions | Sleepyheads

What have you been doing lately?
How is 2013 shaping up for you now that we’re in February?

Sophie x

Currently…

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Reading…

So much! I have an absurd amount of reading to do for my course at the moment, it’s really difficult to keep up. At this point in time I am working my way through George Eliot’s Adam Bede which is good but hard going – it’s almost 600 pages long. I’m also reading Thomas More’s Utopia as well as rereading Jane Austen’s Persuasion and dipping into some poetry from the Romantic era. Phew! So I’m afraid I’m not reading anything for leisure at the moment, I just don’t have the time.

Listening to… 

I recently discovered The Lumineers thanks to my sister, Alice, and I’ve been really enjoying their songs, especially Ho Hey. I’ve also been listening to soundtracks quite a lot lately because I find it difficult to work whilst listening to music with vocals. My favourite is undoubtedly the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack composed by Dario Marianelli, it is just so beautiful. If I sit and listen to it I can picture every scene and it definitely evokes an emotional response from me.

Watching…

I haven’t been watching loads of TV recently because some of my favourite programs have just finished. I am loving Africa with David Attenborough although the last episode is this week. The footage of the animals in their natural settings is simply amazing and it’s fascinating to watch. I also love a bit of New Girl and Vampire Diaries for some light entertainment to distract me from my work 😉 Plus a new series of Food & Drink has started (this week’s episode is on BBC iplayer) and it’s presented by Michel Roux Jnr so it’s extra good in my opinion!

Drinking…

Heaps of hot chocolates! They are my go-to drink at this time of the year when it’s so cold and often wet. My favourite way to make them when I particularly need cheering up is with a spoonful of nutella and then cream and mini marshmallows on top. So so comforting.

Dreaming of…

The summer. I’m always like this at this time of the year, I long for blue skies, sunshine,  picnics, holidays… I want to be able to go outside without having to bundle up in multiple layers of knitted clothing, and to sit in the park and read without feeling like my nose and fingers are frozen stiff. I’m dreaming of ice cream cones at the seaside in June, of picnicking by the river in July, of cocktails under a parasol in the balmy evenings of August…

Loving…

My new NARS blush in Douceur which is just lovely dusted onto the apples of my cheeks. I’m also loving having the time to experiment a little more with cooking, last week I made pizza, this week I’m going to try a new dish of courgettes and quinoa. I love spending time in the kitchen cooking dinner for me and my family, cooking can be creative, fun, and I find it rather therapeutic.

What are your currently-s?

Sophie x

Recent Goings-On.

The last month has been so busy with the start of uni that I’ve found myself rarely reaching for my proper camera to spend time capturing photos. I take quick snaps daily with my phone and Instagram them but I just can’t lug my big camera around everyday. I have taken a few photos here and there though and I thought I’d share those that haven’t made it onto the blog so far. My life has been up and down with health and work and resting these past few weeks (read more about the health situation here) so blogging has been a little sporadic, I still love this community of wonderful people and your support is amazing!

On Saturday my mother and I took a little trip to a nearby farm which is both a working farm and a lovely little set of shops – clothes, toys, food, flowers, homeware and a little cafe. It’s so cute, especially around Christmas, we go every year so it is full of childhood memories. Aren’t these little piglets adorable?

Although I don’t like that it’s starting to get chillier and it’s dark in the mornings, I do love the beautiful colour of the autumn leaves. The changes in season are always my favourite times of the year, autumn brings with it rather gorgeous scenes. I love the trees that still have some green but then have a gradient of colour from the green to red.

If you follow me on Instagram (loveliveandlearn) then you may have seen that I did some extra special baking this weekend. As I mentioned the other day, my next door neighbour has just had a baby so I offered to give her some time with the baby and I had five-year-old Ellen round to do some baking! We had so much fun as she is just the sweetest little girl and we made some rather pretty biscuits. She especially liked adding the sprinkles 😛

My lunches have often looked like this for the past couple of weeks – eaten on a tray whilst I read or work. This particular lunch was lovely, pumpkin and apple soup, with crackers and cheese. Such a comforting autumn meal 🙂

Lastly this little ball of fur has been my companion everyday since I started at uni. Because I’ve been feeling exhausted and very weak recently I do most of my work on my bed so that I can rest at the same time. Poppy always comes and curls up nearby which is somehow really comforting!

So, a bit of a random, mixed post. I hope you enjoyed reading anyway!

What have you been doing recently?
What do you love about autumn?

Do you have a favourite comforting, autumnal meal?

An Update.

It’s been quite a while since I opened up and gave you all an update on how I’ve been doing for the past couple of months so I thought it was high time I wrote a post on it all. For any lovely new readers, if you’re interested in my condition I suggest you read this, this and this (if you don’t want to read it all then the last link is the most informative!) first so that everything makes a bit more sense.

As most of you will know, I recently transferred to a university closer to where I live so that I could move back home in the hope that it would give me a better chance to both do well in my degree and to recover. The move has been a lot easier than I expected, I’ve adapted to being home and losing my independence was a reasonably small sacrifice, and my first few weeks of studies have been going well. I was so nervous on my first day – petrified I’d get lost and unsure about how my classes and the people at uni were going to be! However it turns out there was no reason for my nerves, the lectures are really interesting, seminars are fun, and the people are just lovely.

In the last month and a bit I have been into various doctors/hospital appointments, sorting things out, having checkups, going to CBT sessions, and working with my physio. The outcome is fairly mixed which I suppose is to be expected. We already know that they will not be finding out the cause of all of my issues anytime soon and therefore won’t be finding some kind of “magic wand” cure. That sounds depressing but I’m used to that, it’s what I’ve been hearing from nurses, doctors, physios etc for years. But what has me feeling a little down is that no progress is really being made. Maybe that means that I’m slightly in denial, that I am still searching for a cure, but the thing is I want to feel like I’m improving, even if only slightly!

The doctors and nurses at the pain clinic seem to be fairly stumped. The woman I saw for my two CBT sessions (I’ve already been discharged) said that there was no need for me to carry on coming as from a pain management perspective, as well as the mental perspective with my psychological relationship with my condition, because I already do all of the things they recommend to chronic illness/pain sufferers. I’ll be completely honest, I’m not sure whether I’m pleased that I’m doing things right, or annoyed that she couldn’t do more…

I know I seem like I’m coping, but coping is a difficult concept. I’m getting to uni, I’m spending time with my family, I’m visiting Tom, and I’m keeping up with my work. But there is so much more that I want to do, and I can’t help but worry about the future.

This worry brings me to the most important change in my medical situation at the moment. The one positive that came out of my final CBT session was that we decided it was a good time to venture into the world of eating disorder help etc.

I have never been diagnosed with one of the big three (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating) but as everyone who is interested with or concerned about eating disorders and food issues knows, there is a lot more to having an eating disorder than fitting into one of those exact categories. Food and body image is something I have struggled with almost constantly since the age of 14 – that’s almost six years now. I don’t feel like I am currently suffering from a proper eating disorder, on the whole I eat pretty well, but I know that on the mental side my relationship with food is far from perfect. It’s actually pretty messed up.

So I’m going to be making an appointment with my doctor and getting a referral, recommended by my cognitive behavioural therapist, to a specialised out-patient centre in order to start seeing someone to help me in my journey to full, mental recovery.

I have to completely honest, I’m scared. I don’t know exactly what to expect but I have a feeling things will probably get a little worse before they get better – I am going to have to delve into memories I don’t want to dredge up and issues that I mostly ignore. But I feel like I’m in a good place, at least physically what with being at home, and now is the time. It’s always going to be difficult to do but it makes more sense to do it before I properly became independent and start full-time employment!

I’m sorry if this post is a little dense to read, and a little intense. I just feel like I owe it to the wonderful readers who always comment and really care about how I’m doing. As well as to all the readers who have been, or are going through, something similar.

I hope you’ve all had a great week!

Have you ever have any CBT? Was it helpful for you?
Have you ever been diagnosed with any kind of eating disorder, or EDNOS? Did you have medical help?
Any words of reassurance or advice for me?

This Week #8.

Oh dear. I can’t believe I only posted once this week… I’m really sorry for disappearing for five days, I’ve been napping a lot this week and just generally feeling shattered most of the time which means I don’t really have the energy or drive to post. I am plowing through and I have now completed three full weeks of second year at my new uni. I can’t quite believe it has already been three weeks, this term is already flying past, in nine weeks I will have written four assessments, have completed my first term of second year and be breaking up for my Christmas holidays! Absolutely crazy.

Despite the exhaustion I am actually ahead on my reading, I’ve done nearly everything for week 4 and I’m just starting William Godwin’s Caleb Williams and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I did do a couple of nice things this week, on Thursday afternoon I met in town with a friend from back at Sixth Form. We had a nice catch-up and it was lovely to see her again after, we hadn’t met in a couple of months. Then this weekend Tom came to stay which was wonderful as usual. Having him with me always perks me up, we went to the gym together on Saturday afternoon and had a great workout. We had a really relaxing evening and made a late morning trip into town for Sunday coffee 🙂

View on the way home from lectures | Blake reading | Home comforts – spaghetti bolognese

Breakfast magazine | Carbonara | Positive inspiration ❤

Vegetables, crackers and humous for lunch | Hot chocolate time | Pick-me-up treats

Vegetable couscous | Autumn leaves | Lemon chicken perfection

Bedtime snuggles | Sunday caramel latte | Bircher muesli brunch

This week I also decided to start my Christmas shopping – it always pays to be organised! The little mid-week indulgent purchases will probably be the last thing I buy for myself this term because I need to save and have enough money for presents. I already have ideas for each person I have to buy for so I’m quite pleased with myself. I don’t really have any plans for this week yet, I just want to write formative assessment, get to the gym three times and try to blog around four times…

I hope you’ve all had a great weekend 🙂

If you have Instagram too then you call follow me @loveliveandlearn to see my photos as I post them!

What have you been doing this weekend?
Any plans for the new week?

Do you do your Christmas shopping early?