Friday, 27 February 2015

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Another mental health awareness topic you ask? This week it's Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and what better excuse to spread the word about healthy eating and most importantly, healthy living. I nearly forgot about this hugely important week believe it or not. I have been off work the past few days and living like a hermit so to speak. Along with this, there's also the fact that this national awareness week isn't hugely publicised in the media either. But why? Does this mean it is less important than raising money for cancer or comic relief? More on that later...

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the clinical lead for the eating disorders service at work, and I was astounded at what she had to say. Obviously, I knew a lot of the facts already (yes, I did my research), but to hear that women as old as eighty are being hospitalised for various eating disorders was truly heartbreaking. When we think of eating disorders, we often think of young innocent teenagers going through puberty. WRONG. Eating disorders affect everyone, from the old to the young, male and female, black or white. 

So who is to blame? Nobody. Clinical research has found that nobody is to blame for these truly awful mental illnesses, not you or your child, your partner, or the media. Obviously it can be genetic in the sense that if one was to see their parents not eating correctly, this may influence their outlook on food. The media also has a huge part to play in influencing how our children of tomorrow look. The 'skinny ideal' isn't actually that ideal at all. Yet, there is no significant link between this and eating disorders. 

Eating disorders are likely to occur between the ages of twelve and twenty five, but as noted earlier, can also occur in older women/men. There are various signs to look out for, including; loss of appetite, over exercising, making yourself sick or being afraid to eat, many of which I experienced. My unhealthy relationship with food began around the age of eighteen. I remember noticing a change in my body shape - I began to develop wider hips, boobs, and all those other parts men seem to love, but (most of) us women hate. I believe this is where my obsession with food began. I started to work out three or four times a week, and would also calorie count to the point where I was afraid to eat anything remotely unhealthy. I wanted to be slimmer and punished my body as a result. By controlling what I ate, I felt empowered, when all I was really doing was putting my body at serious risk...

Even though I somehow managed to control my unhealthy obsession with food, even to this very day, I have my moments of weakness where I feel I must punish myself unless I have put my body through a vigorous workout. From an outsiders perspective, eating disorders are often overlooked (they are still considered a taboo subject for many)What onlookers fail to understand is that these are serious mental illnesses and therefore shouldn't be treated any differently to any other illness. They are often thought of as being a 'phase', but I know too well, when you are in that frame of mind, it is hard to control your thoughts. My thoughts often overwhelmed me. I wanted that Mcdonalds more than anything but the guilt that came with eating it, was too much.

Remember, there is a fine line between watching what you are eating/working out, and becoming obsessed. The scary thing is the lack of beds and support out there for sufferers. Again this comes down to the fact that eating disorder aren't widely recognised as being mental illnesses. I am showing my support by tweeting something positive about myself after sharing this blog post. I urge you to do the same. Alternatively, if you want to find out more about Eating Disorders Awareness Week click here. Remember you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you back...

What are your thoughts on eating disorders? Have you ever experienced any of the symptoms listed above?

Monday, 23 February 2015

Why every good woman needs a little muscle

Call me bias, call me what you wish, but I stand by my word when I say this - the female physique is much more attractive than any males will ever be. A woman's curves - those hips and a tiny waist just does it for me. No I am not a lesbian, but I appreciate a good body when I see one, which gets me on to today's post - 'Why every good woman needs a little muscle'

I have always been concious of my body from a young age, ever since I starting developing curves of my own in fact. I was afraid, like many young girls of the extra bit of meat forming around the lower half of my body. But why? Was it because of the fact that I was turning into a woman finally, or was it because I began to compare myself to every other woman on this planet. Unfortunately it was the latter. I began to reject what was in front of me. It's only recently that I have started to view myself differently and it's all thanks to the gym, and the new ideal woman that has emerged in the media - the muscular but undeniably healthier female form.

I write a lot about women and health, as you may have noticed by now. It's something I feel both passionate about, and most importantly, enjoy writing about. The problem is, I see tonnes of women about these days who clearly have no idea about nutrition or what it means to lead a healthy lifestyle. Now I am not just talking about those overweight ones, but also they malnourished ones. By no means am I saying I am an expert, but what I do know is that it feels fantastic to be in control of what I eat and actually enjoy working out. An avid gym goer for many years, it's only recently that I decided to alter my routine slightly. Instead of using the standard machines that many women flock to in the gym (the treadmill, cross trainer etc.) alongside some light weights, I now work on building muscle primarily by participating in a variety of weight classes including the classic circuit and legs, bums and tums (LBT) classes. I tend to do these classes up to four times a week and have noticed a significant difference over the last few months. Not only do I look more toned, I am stronger too, something I could only once dream of! 

Women with muscle was once considered taboo so to speak. It's only recently that women are starting to 'jump on the bandwagon', and that's all down to its popularity in the media. 
 Clearly there are some women who overdo it (think Jodie Marsh), but there are a whole lot of women who do it well. Some of my favourites can be found on Instagram. I don't believe in aspiring to be like celebrities as they often have unachievable and unrealistic lifestyles, so to give you an idea of my #fitinspo I have listed five of my favourite people to follow on Instagram right now:



These women sure know what they are doing in the gym and treat their bodies with respect, something all women should aspire to do. Remember when building muscle, it's still important to find that balance between eating right and working out. Don't get me wrong - it is not easy. It requires a lot of persistence but once you start to see the results, you will start to wonder what on earth you were doing before you discovered lifting! A word of advice - don't be afraid. Muscle isn't something that forms overnight and you aren't going to end up looking like popeye (yes I was worried about this too at first). Up your protein, 
cut down on the carbs and work that ass off - you won't regret it.

Do you use weights at the gym? What do you think of women with muscle?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Laser hair removal - Is it worth it?

Alongside getting my eyes lasered, I have also been undergoing laser hair removal over the last couple of months (I haven't won the lottery I promise). After suffering from ingrowing hairs for many years, I decided enough was enough; it was time to eliminate those hairs forever. Not only do I have fairly dark skin, I also have coarse dark hairs (I take after my dad), and had previously tried everything; from waxing to epilating, to hair removal cream, before taking the plunge and opting for permanent hair removal. 

I am now on my last session (out of a total six), and I can honestly say - I wish I had done it sooner. I think the main reason why it took me so long to decide to go ahead with the procedure was because of the hefty price tag often attached to so many of the big names in the laser hair removal industry. However, after speaking with a former colleague of mine, I was reunited with the marvels of Groupon. I love a good bargain, and couldn't believe how cheap some of the offers were on here. In the end, I booked a six course treatment for little under £100 at Miss Couture in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham (which is amazing if you compare this to the likes of the Harley Medical Group or Sk:n). I didn't expect luxury and must admit, I was quite apprehensive on my first visit, but I can assure you; the end result is just as good as any other. The clinic itself was just like any other beauty parlour, and offered a whole host of treatments including botox, waxing, facials and so forth. The staff are extremely friendly and instantly put any doubts to the back of my mind. 

The treatment itself takes five to sixty minutes (depending on what area you are treating) and overall is fairly painless. Obliviously there are various discloser forms to sign beforehand and precautions you have to take, but apart from that, it is similar to going for a wax. Since attending Miss Couture laser clinic, I have noticed a significant difference as the weeks have progressed. The hair is almost non existent and ingrowing hairs are now longer a concern for me. If you are reading this and want to find out more, then why not have a look for yourself. The website has just been revamped and offers courses from as little as £300. Click here to find out more.

Have you ever had laser hair removal? What are your thoughts on the procedure?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Kebub restaurant review

This was my second visit to the 'famous' Kebub in West Bromwich, and again it succeeded in satisfying my needs. After visiting with friends a couple of weeks back, my parents decided they too wanted to try out the popular Turkish restaurant in town as tweeted about by Mr Lord Alan Sugar himself.

I am a big fan of trying out different cuisines, and there is no doubt about it - this restaurant certainly puts Turkish grub on the map. Putting a healthy spin on kebabs one could say, Kebub offers a range of meat dishes alongside various tasty sides. These include home-made chips, rice, natural yoghurt and mixed veg. The menu itself isn't exactly extensive but there's enough to suit everyone's tastes. I went for the mixed grill again as I like trying a little bit of everything. Included in this dish was a variety of meats including delicious pieces of chicken, succulent shish kebab and spicy chicken wings, alongside two beds of rice and finely grated salad. For a cheeky side, we went for the home-made chips which are to die for! I can't say I am a huge fan of chips but these were definitely worth the extra calories! To accompany our meals we were presented with a range of tasty dips including garlic and herb and hot chilli. I also treated myself to a glass of red which went down a treat!

Overall, this is a lovely little find in the heart of West Bromwich, and one I will definitely be returning to in the foreseeable future. If you are a lover of meats and want to get your mid week kebab fix, then I would certainly recommend you checking this out. I can't say  I am a lover of kebabs usually, but this restaurant offers  freshly cooked food and for a great price too. One thing I was particularly impressed with was the extremely friendly staff who offered a great service all night long (they even opened the door on our exit!) A word of advice - the restaurant itself does get fairly busy so I recommend you book in advance if you do fancy stopping by. 

Have you visited Kebub? What do you think of Turkish cuisine? 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Time to Talk Day - Living with a mental illness

It's a weird feeling being depressed. That feeling of emptiness, loneliness. I can't say I have ever been exposed to such intense emotions before, but after a terrible break up last year I reached rock bottom. July 2014 - the month my relationship ended for good. The heartbreak, the anguish, the sadness. I often cried myself to sleep - not just because of the break up, but because of the torment, the sheer torture my partner had put me through for so long.

Yes, I was in a very unstable relationship and many of you reading this may feel no empathy, but if you haven't been in a similar situation, then it is difficult to understand. There was a time when I would once mock girls who would run back to their partners after they had cheated on them, or even abused them for that matter. I saw this as a sign of weakness rather than strength but let me tell you - it takes a lot of strength to keep going back there - there is only so much pain one can expose themselves to. After finding myself in a similar situation, I now understand the  mental strains a relationship of that sort can have on a individual. 

Talking about mental illnesses can be difficult. I never understood what it meant to have a mental illness before I met my ex partner who suffered with a personality disorder, but here I am two years later working in mental health (the sheer irony). Since then I have been passionate in my bid to get people talking about mental illness. In fact, I never thought I would pluck up the courage to write something like this, and so openly too. But if I can make a difference to just one person's life by sharing this post, that would make me a very happy woman indeed. 

If there is one thing working in mental health has taught me; it's the vast about of mental health issues out there, and the sheer amount of us suffering and not reaching out to anyone. Many people don't realise how closely intertwined both our physical health and mental health are. It makes perfect sense though -if you are ill in hospital, obviously this is going to have a drastic effect on the way you are feeling mentally. We all know too well that the government aren't investing enough money into mental health services. This often takes a back seat in comparison to acute Trusts. However, this is an issue that is being addressed and  will 
hopefully improve over time.

Last week on 5th February it was Time to Talk day, a national event which encouraged the nation to start talking about mental health, whilst challenging those stigmas often attached to mental health issues. Being able to promote such an important event was incredible. I got to talk to so many different people, some of whom had suffered previously with mental illness, and others who were intrigued to find out more. 
Sometimes it is the little things like starting  a conversation with a stranger which really help. I know I used to struggle when speaking about my depression as this is something my family never understood. Again, this comes down to not being able to relate to the situation. My father is very old fashioned in his beliefs and would often laugh off the idea of me being depressed.

Generally, I have always been a happy girl, very outgoing and sociable, but the chemical imbalance in my brain for that year or so during my relationship was very concerning. It was so easy for me to slip back into that depressive mode where staying in the house seemed a better option than venturing out. I grabbed onto the highs and tried to eliminate the lows but it's easier said than done. Sometimes your thoughts are your worst enemy. The only way forward was to keep occupied, to think positively. Positive thinking breeds positive actions. I know how easy it is to sit and feel sorry for yourself - I have done that many of times. It's about getting up and starting to make those positive changes which is the hardest part. Remember, you are never alone. Whether it's your family, friends or even a professional, there is always someone to help.

If you want to find out more about Time to Talk day, then click here and join in the conversation.

Have you ever dealt with a mental illness? What do you understand about mental health?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Laser Eye Surgery - Is it worth it?

On Friday I decided to take the plunge and get my eyes corrected (hopefully forever). Laser eye surgery is something I had been considering for a while, but for various reasons, had never actually gone through with it. This included not being financially stable, but more significantly; the risks involved. It's only recently, since starting a new role and speaking with various individuals in my office who had had it done, that I decided to go ahead with it. I booked my consultation at Optical Express in no time, and after little persuasion put down my £400 deposit. But why now you may ask? Obviously the money plays a big part in it - I can afford to use my savings now I have a regular income, but the main reason behind my decision lies in the fact that I am going travelling in April for a year or so.

For those glasses and contact wearers out there, you will understand my ordeal. Taking a year or more supply of contacts backpacking isn't ideal. Not only do you have the cost implications, there is also the inconvenience. Along with the worry of misplacing these, you also are limited on what activities you can and can't do. Take swimming for example - this is strictly out of bounds unless you want to run the risk of going blind that is. I can't remember the last time I went swimming properly and that upsets me a little. Wearing glasses in the glaring hot sun isn't ideal either which again means you'll have to resort to contacts. However, contacts are known for drying out and can often become uncomfortable in the heat - a symptom known as dry eyes. 

Now don't get me wrong - the risks involved with laser eye surgery are far higher than any of those associated with contacts. In fact, dry eyes is one of the most common side effects of laser eye surgery, along with glaring lights, both of which I have experienced already. The good thing about these side effects is that they are not permanent or untreatable. I am now using three different types of eye drops four times a day and have regular check ups before I go away, but so far, so good. I am sitting here writing this post five days post of surgery and I cannot believe how quickly I am recovering. Don't get me wrong, the procedure itself wasn't pleasant (more of that later), but right now if you asked me if it was worth it I would say 100%, and I still haven't achieved the full results yet (this could take weeks).

It is common fact that everyone recovers differently. One of the ladies I work with claimed that she had to sit in darkness for two months post surgery, whereas I am back at work and doing just fine. In fact, I was able to use my tablet just hours after surgery. This isn't something I would recommend, but it just goes to show how fast technology is advancing. With Lasik surgery, you are able to return back to work within 48 hours which is just incredible! Most people who qualify for laser eye surgery are eligible for this type of surgery, which not only offers faster recovery, but also claims to be pain free. Lasek on the other hand (the other type of surgery) requires a much longer recovery period (2-3 weeks) and is said to be much more painful. Luckily I qualified for the most advanced surgery on the market: Lasik iDesign, with guaranteed 20/20 vision. 

I must admit, my initial reaction after surgery was questioning what I had done. I can't say the procedure was painful as it wasn't, but it was very uncomfortable. I think the worst part  was being awake throughout it all, even though the procedure itself takes little under ten minutes. Your initial reaction to anything entering your eyes is to blink, but this is something you are incapable of doing. This was a real concern of mine prior to surgery, along with something going wrong of course, but rest assured, nobody has ever gone blind from laser eye surgery. Afterwards, I couldn't wait to get home and close my eyes but after an hour or so in bed I felt okay to get up again. Since then I have been wearing goggles to bed each night, and have been extra careful not to get water near my eyes for a week (this includes when bathing or showering). Obviously it's not convenient not being able to wash your hair properly, but you get over it. I don't even mind the fact that I cant wear makeup for a while, I just wish I could work out! Hopefully I will be back at the gym in no time and feeling a little more human!

So overall - a terrifying but incredible experience and one I will definitely remember for a lifetime - it doesn't get much better than that. One word of advice if you are considering surgery - do not be afraid and put it off like many people do. I think I have been treated at a prime time in my life; I am young, have a stable prescription, but most importantly, this will have a huge impact on my future. To find out more or to book your FREE consultation, visit the website today.

Have you considered laser eye surgery? What are you thoughts on the procedure?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The REAL benefits of being single - Valentine's Special

Come on - it's not all bad. I see numerous of these posts - us single girls trying to convince ourselves (and others) that we are fine on our own - we are independent women and don't need a man to make us. So I thought, with Valentine's day just around the corner, I would have a go at writing one of my own. I am calling this:

The REAL benefits of being single

  1. Being single allows one to do whatever the hell they want, when they want, and with who they want. Nobody wants somebody waiting up for them at the end of the night lets face it. All we want to do after a night on the town is face plant the pillow anyway...
  2. You are able to spend money on yourself and whoever else you choose. No 'let's split the bill' or xmas presents to buy for (get in).
  3. You can speak to other guys. This is strictly forbidden in any relationship, even though you've known the guy for going on ten years and used to share a bath in like year 1..
  4. You have so much time to do what the hell you want. Did I mention TIME!!!!!?
  5. You can spend more time with family and friends. One less person to worry about when planning your exciting weeks worth of events. YAY!
  6. You don't have to think about marriage or babies or a mortgage. I am still 18 in my head...Don't talk to me about 'settling' down please!
  7. You have time to go off and find yourself. Yes, travelling is a must for us single ladies out there. No point getting too comfortable now. You have another 40 years plus of work. That in itself is enough to bring on a mid life crisis.
  8. You have more time to go to the gym and work on that sexy body of yours.. Yes, us women like to look good for ourselves believe it or not. You can look but you can't touch! 
  9. No more tears or pining. You are a free woman with no emotional ties to any other male on this planet (who are we kidding)...
  10. Remember there's always tinder, or pof if all else fails... 
So there you go. If that's not going to cheer you up on a cold winters evening, then I don't know what will! Here's to being single (for a good few more years at least). Cheers!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bun and Bowl Valentine's Menu Review

On Sunday evening, I was fortunate enough to be invited along to a Valentine's tasting event at The Bun and Bowl in Birmingham. I have never been to The Cube before, let alone this restaurant, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Let's say, it didn't fail to exceed my expectations. I have been meaning to get involved with some 'foodie' events for a while now, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to make myself known, and of course, try lots of exciting new foods. Of course, the company didn't go a miss either. The Birmingham bloggers are a lovely bunch, and I was even introduced to some new faces including the lovely Tasha who organised the event.

Once we had settled in and everyone had ordered their cocktails (which were delicious may I add), we got started on our four course menu. Throughout our meal we were taken through each dish by the wonderful owner who was extremely pleasant like the rest of his staff. We also got to enjoy the likes of Frank Sinatra in the background, thanks to the rather talented violinist.

To start, we were all brought out a curious looking appetiser - a 'cappuccino' of mushroom soup alongside a canapé of toast with wrapped salmon, avocado and caviare. I am not a huge fan of mushroom soup, but I must say, this was very pleasing on the taste buds. It had quite a creamy texture and was just the right temperature to drink whole. I would never have thought of putting soup in a shot glass, but alongside the canapé of toast, this worked perfectly. The salty texture from the soup along with the delicate taste of the canapé made this a winning course. But the fun didn't stop there, to accompany our appetisers, we were each brought out a glass of red champagne, which may I add was also delightful. I have never been a huge champagne drinker but this Moet champagne with Strawberry Coulis was to die for. I would definitely try this again!



Next it was on to the starter - oyster served over ice, topped with lemon juice and croutons. Like many of the other bloggers, I had never tried oysters before (I am not a huge lover of seafood if I am honest), but I thought I would be brave and give it a go! I cant say I was filled with joy. I was warned about the texture beforehand, but what I wasn't prepared for was the overpowering taste of the sea! I somehow managed to eat it but I don't think I will be trying it again any time soon. The struggle to get it in my mouth was enough to put anyone off. Yes I did end up nearly eating the shell too, thanks Ellie! However, there was no doubting that these oysters were fresh, and the perfect aphrodisiac for any Valentine's menu.

For mains we were served a 'slider' burger with a side of fries. The burger itself was made with rib-eye steak - so as you can imagine, delicious! It was cooked to perfection too - medium rare with just the right amount of succulence. I felt like I was eating a mini steak in fact! The fresh brioche bun almost crumbled as I went in for the kill - it was very tasty indeed. Topped with sweet caramelised onions, foie gras and of course the classic lettuce and tomato; this was the perfect little burger. For dips we had two sauces; BBQ and a black truffle sauce which were both lovely. The black truffle was my favourite though, I could have definitely done with a bottle of this!


To bring the event to a close, we were spoilt with one more dish - dessert - leaving the best till last some would say. This consisted of strawberries, meringue alongside a mixture of sorbet. I am not a huge fan of meringue, but this was so light and creamy and worked extremely well with the fruit and tangy sorbet. I loved the use of flavours in this dish and wasn't left craving anything else afterwards. The perfect amount of sweetness; the perfect end to a wonderful evening. 

Have you visited Bun and Bowl before? Their Valentine's menu is priced at £30 per head and there are still a few places left if you are still looking for somewhere to book. This includes one starter, one main and one dessert which is pretty good value if you ask me. I can't say I am a Valentine's expert but I wouldn't mind being treated to this exquisite menu on 14th February. If it's tasty food, great service and a relaxed atmosphere you are after, then get yourself down to The Bun and Bowl. I can assure you, you wont be disappointed! To find out more, or to book a table click here.

*Please note: We were invited to this restaurant to try their Valentine's menu. This meal was complimentary and all opinions are my own.


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