Lifestyle Change

Up until I was 15, I used to regularly go to dance lessons, normally around four times a week and for hours at a time. My life was constantly on the go and time after school was always dedicated to my hobbies. Unfortunately 15 was the age that I became interested in other things – mainly friends, makeup and boyfriends, rather than hobbies. It became a drag to go to them – it was precious time lost away from my friends – and so I gave it all up.

When I was at college, one of my friend’s sisters ran a zumba class, and me and a group of my friends used to go weekly. We did this all throughout our second year of college and we even went for a swim afterwards. But again, this tailed off, particularly when it got to the point where we all left for uni.

While at uni, I barely did any exercise. I told myself I didn’t have the time, when really, what I meant was that I wanted the time to binge on netflix and drink a lot of alcohol on nights out.

Now I’m well into my second year of working in a full time job and I’ve found myself realising that I can no longer can get away with not doing anything. Not only is it bad for my physical health, its bad for my mental health. I’ve had a stressful year and I’ve realised that the only person who can change and manage that stress is me. I’ve read so many articles about the importance of time to yourself and about exercising, but it’s only the last month or so that I’ve really kicked myself into action.

I’ve majorly surprised myself with just how much I’m enjoying my newfound appreciation of exercise. One of the things I was apprehensive about was not having enough time in the day to do it. I work between 8.30 and 6 and only get home at 7, by which point I just want to chill on the sofa and relax. So that’s why I’ve fitted my workout into my lunch hour.

I’ve been really lucky that there’s a gym literally round the corner from my office. It’s inexpensive, really friendly and there’s a great choice of classes. I find that I can’t just go to the gym and work out. I need an instructor to motivate me and a bit of variation. I’ve started doing spin classes, weights classes and toning classes and I feel absolutely brilliant.

My energy levels are up, my routine feels settled, I’m more motivated and I actually look forward to going to the gym. This time, I don’t feel like it’s just a passing fancy. I actually want to stick it.

One of my colleagues has been kind enough to create me a meal plan for the last week full of protein and veg, and I’ve really enjoyed that too. I think that because I’m enjoying it, it doesn’t feel like hard work or too much effort. Who knows what I’ll be saying in a few months time but for now I’m loving my new routine.

Have you ever made any lifestyle changes? How’ve you found it?

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Old habits die hard

When I turned 18 and was finally legal to drink at a bar, I never knew what to order. I’d always turn to one of the people that I’d be with and ask ‘What are you having?’ and then I’d um and ah and then would choose exactly what they were having, even if I didn’t know what it was or if I wasn’t sure I’d like it. The reason I started doing this was genuinely because I didn’t know what to order, but there’s also a small part of me that knows that I did this because I didn’t want to order the wrong thing. And that’s just ridiculous. Why should what you order at a bar define you as a person? I know it doesn’t and to be honest, I know the people that I was with at the time wouldn’t have cared whatever I’d ordered, but to me, it was a big deal.

It occurred to me recently that the way I ordered at a bar when I was 18, was equivalent to the way I make my choices in life. I tend to be an indecisive person who struggles to make a decision, because I don’t want to upset other people with the choices I make. If someone asks me if I’m free at the weekend, and I know I don’t have definite plans, I’ll agree, and then immediately regret it because secretly, I wanted the weekend to myself after a long and stressful week. If people I know are talking about trying a new restaurant that’s recently opened, I’ll nod along and say I’m up for trying it too, even though I actually don’t know if I like that sort of food, and would be just as happy at the place that we’ve been to before. It’s become clear that I tend to be a bit of a people pleaser, who’s terrified of doing the wrong, socially unacceptable thing.

Breaking a habit of a lifetime takes a while, and I’m pretty sure that when someone next asks me if I’m free at the weekend, I’ll start frantically trying to think of how I can fit it in, but the point is that I’ve become aware of it. I want to be a bit more decisive and I want to make a decision that’s solely based on my wants, rather than because I think it might please someone else.

So the next time I’m at bar, I’m going to order what I want to, just because I want to, even if everyone else is ordering beers and I feel like I’m ordering too fussy a drink. If someone asks me if I want to try the latest Thai restaurant, I’m just going to be honest and say that it’s not really my thing.

There’s always going to be times when putting other people’s opinions and needs ahead of your own is the right thing to do, but on the other side of the coin, your opinions and needs are just as important. And it’s fine to admit it, both to others and to yourself.

Christmas

I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas already! I feel like I’ve blinked and suddenly found myself on the 22nd of December.

It’s been a busy month to say the least. There’s been two Christmas party, trips to the Manchester Christmas Markets, meals out, family get togethers, and even a pantomime last night!

I broke up from work on Wednesday afternoon, and since then, it’s been lovely to finally take the time to do the things I like doing (mainly eating, reading and catching up on lots of box sets). I think that when you work full time, some of the things that you do for yourself, slip to the wayside in place of hard work and the general ins and outs of day-to-day life.

It’s also been great to spend time with both my family and Rich’s the past few days. With them both living quite a way from us, it makes the time that we do get to spend with them, even more special.

This Christmas is going to be a strange one for me. I’ve lost both my lovely gran and grandad this year, and it’s something that’s really been on my mind, especially with the festive season coming up. I keep thinking about how in the past, Christmasses were spent with them and even about silly things, like the fact that I obviously haven’t received a Christmas card from them or that I haven’t bought them any presents. It’s made me realise that even though Christmas is a time for spending with your family, for a lot of people, it’s also a time that makes them sad to think about the family they once had or who they can’t spend time with over the festive period anymore.

It’s also made me more aware of the people who don’t have friends or family to spend Christmas with, or even a house to spend Christmas in. Too many times in the last few weeks, I’ve seen homeless people spending the festive build up on the streets of Manchester, cold, lonely and struggling to make ends meet. It makes me realise how lucky I am to have my friends and the family that I have left.

For me, this year is all about making new traditions. I’m going to be spending Christmas day cooking dinner for me, Rich, his parents and my mum, brother and sister. A bit daunting when I’ve never even cooked a Sunday dinner – wish me luck! It’s going to be different but hopefully a good different. It’ll take my mind off the hard things that have happened this year, and will make me look forward to the new, good things that will hopefully happen in the new year.

How’re you spending your Christmas? Merry Christmas to all of you, and a Happy New Year – as always, thank you for taking the time to read what I’ve got to say.

Beth x

Change

The last six months have brought about some massive changes. Since April, I’ve left uni, had two jobs, nearly got made redundant and then, more recently, I’ve put the steps in place to buy my first home. It’s been a bit mad to say the least! So much has changed and that’s made me reflect on where I am now and where I was before.

Leaving uni after finishing my course wasn’t a big thing in my head. I didn’t enjoy my last year and I was so ready to leave! The world of dissertations, seminars and commuting was not for me, and in fact, it made me lose my enthusiasm for learning, something which I’ve always enjoyed. It left me feeling down and if I’m honest, really lonely. A lot of my peers were loving uni life and the ups and downs that it brought, but to me, I was most happy when I was at my home or with my friends and family outside of uni. Because of this, I was so ready when it came to my last day of uni that I didn’t really think much of it!

My first few months of post uni life were strange. I took a job as a Marketing Assistant, which I thought I’d love, but it turned out it wasn’t for me. It’s crazy how wrong you can be about something you were so sure about! I thought that entering the world of work would bring back my motivation and love for learning, but it just didn’t happen for me. That (and other reasons!) are why I left after just two months.

Four months later and I’m now doing a job which is completely different to anything I’ve ever done before. My title is ‘Bid Coordinator’ and it’s turned out to be a role that challenges me every single day, but in the sort of way that I like. I get to edit, I get to proofread and most of all, I get to use my creativity. I feel like I’ve learned so much and I feel it’s really given me an insight into the world of work and adult life. It may not have been the career I’d thought I’d be doing, but in fact it turns out to have been better. I know that there’s a wealth of opportunities within my reach and I can’t wait to grasp them all as they come.

Having a job I’m happy with, has led to me feeling more comfortable in other areas of my life too. I feel like my confidence has had a well needed boost, I feel like my communication skills are improving everyday and I’ve found the courage to do the next thing in my life – putting down my roots in Manchester.

When I think of all that’s happened in the last six months, it feels mad that just six months ago, I was sat in the university library stressed and upset because I couldn’t find the words to finish my dissertation. Things have certainly changed, and I can’t complain. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I can’t wait to see what happens next! Watch this space….

Where has the time gone?

As many of you will have noticed, my blogging hiatus has lasted a little bit longer than I was initially planning. In all honesty, I hadn’t realised how long it had actually been. This year seems to have flown by. One minute it was Christmas and I was stressing about how I was going to afford Christmas presents for everyone, and the next thing I knew, it was June, uni was done and I was suddenly in the real world, a little bit lost but also relieved.

So much has happened this year that I don’t really know where to begin. It’s been a difficult year to say the least. I’ve had to deal with things I’ve never had to deal with before, including the loss of a family member, and coping with the stress of my dissertation and my other final year projects.

Instead of going into all the details, I think the best thing for me to do is to conclude that this year has been the year where I feel like I’m learning. I feel like the experiences that have happened so far have been made me look at life in a different way. I’m aware that to some of you that might sound stupid and cheesy, but from my perspective, it’s the truth. 2017 has been challenging, tough, and stressful, but I’m still coping, I’m beginning to feel happier, and I’m understanding that sometimes you need a bit of negativity so that you can find the positive.

Blogging began as a creative outlet for me, a place to express myself, something that’s difficult to do in reality. It always allowed me to stop bottling things up, something which I know I’ve done for the last few months. So therefore, I’m back. I want to keep my blog going. It was a place to get things off my chest, and I think I need that again. It was also a space where I could share pieces of my creative writing, and as my degree is now over, it’s important to me that I keep sharing those too.

If you have any blogging requests etc, then feel free to comment below, I’m always interested in what all of you out there have to say.

Love from,

Beth x

Third year blues

As usual, university has completely taken over my life. The problem is that this year, I’m not neccessarily loving it. I’m not sure exactly what it is. It’s just not enthusing me in the same way that previous years have and that’s sort of sad in a way, because it’s my last year. That’s frightening in itself. In roughly six months time, I’ll be out in the real world, desperately trying to seek out my first full time job. As much as it’s a scary thought, for me it’s also an exciting thought. It means that I can finally have a little bit more money to do the things I’ve always wanted to do, like buy a house and go on holiday every year without worrying about it. It also means that I get to pursue a career in something that I’m passionate about and that I’ll thrive in. I think that’s part of why I just want to finish already.

The modules that I’ve taken this year are also a bit of a bother. Some of them are not quite what I thought, and then there’s the fact that I’ve decided to major in English Lit to try and open up my career prospects- my Creative Writing has sort of been pushed to one side, when in fact, that’s the part I’ve always enjoyed the most.

Then there’s my dissertation. Oh my god. Don’t even get me started. I know that it’s not supposed to be easy, but I’m really not feeling supported by my university about my project which is such a shame. I’ve had lots of meetings, I’ve spent hours in the library and I’m still not sure where to start in terms of actually writing it. I’m writing mine about feminism and it’s effects on literature through vampire novels. Sort of random, but as an avid Twilight lover, and current Vampire Diaries fan, it’s right up my street. I’ve discovered some new favourites in Let the Right One In and Interview With the Vampire.

The last thing about this year that’s getting me down is in terms of friendships. I feel like those with my friends at uni have become really distant and I’m not sure why. I feel as if I’ve put in a lot of effort without much back, something which is really disheartening in any friendship. I think the main thing I need to remember about this, is that sometimes friendships aren’t meant to last. I take pride in the fact that my best friends have known me for years, and I know they’ll be friends for years to come. I’ve been told not to waste time on people who don’t give you anything back- I think I’ll start taking that advice.

So there you have it. Third year blues. I just need to keep plodding along. At the end of the day, it is only six months. Besides there’s lots to look forward to! I turn 20 in two weeks, and this weekend I’m going to see the Royal Ballet in Birmingham perform The Nutcracker, my favourite. I’m also really loving the Christmas spirit that’s in the air at the moment, I can’t wait to break up for the holidays!

Lots of love and more soon,

Beth x

A city love affair

As many of you know, I used to live in Chester. Chester is a beautiful city in the North West, and it’s the first place I lived entirely on my own without my family or any of the people that I grew up with all of my life. I lived in a tiny room in a old fashioned block of flats, and my friends lived directly across the road. Things like not being able to drive weren’t an issue as shops were a ten minute walk away, and as I lived on campus, it was literally a two minute walk to lectures. For that year, my friends became like a family to me. I think that because of that, Chester always feels like home to me in a way that I’m not always convinced Manchester does.

Although I class myself as living in Manchester, where I actually live is Sale, a small town in the suburbs which is technically in Cheshire. Where I live is very leafy and green, and it does feel more like home to me now than it did a year ago. It helps that Rich is here and that my family aren’t too far away, and I do feel as if I’m putting down more roots now that I have a part time job in the city. But then the other day, I caught the train down to Chester for a night out with some of my friends who live there. And I got that feeling as I were going home, as if I still lived there.

Although I’ve accepted that Manchester is my current home, and I’m happy with living there, I guess a part of me will always love Chester. It has beautiful sunsets, it’s where I met my boyfriend, and it’s somewhere that for a short while really made me happy. What I’ve got to remember is that life goes on, and that Manchester is somewhere that opens up a wealth of opportunities in a way that Chester didn’t. I have a lovely flat with Rich, I get to live the cosmopolitan city lifestyle, and I’m closer to my family and hometown.

I think I need to remember that whenever I do travel down to Chester for uni, which I currently do three times a week, although Chester is no longer my home, it’s still there for me when I want it. It was a stepping stone into my current life, and in the same way that my memories are always within reach, so is my favourite city.

Do any of you feel like this about a city? Let me know.

Beth xx