Mental health, it matters.

As this week draws to an end, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share how I’ve really been feeling lately.

This week was mental health awareness week. A week that means so much for so many, a chance to break the stigma, a chance to talk, a chance to try to understand, a chance to admit it’s okay to not be okay. And although I think it’s incredible how far the world has come in terms of discussing mental health, we’re not quite there yet. It’s still very much a taboo subject. It’s something that I’ll admit I still feel quite vulnerable discussing.

At the start of this week I wanted to share my story of my past, and of my battle with my own mental health. My fight with my eating disorders, to my anxiety that has held me back time after time. But the truth is I wasn’t ready to share. I can try to convince the world around me, I can try to convince me. But the truth is sometimes I’m still really not okay. And this week I wasn’t. Which is why I want to share my story now. But not a story from the past, my life right now. I like to think that I am strong, or try to be at least. I don’t show my emotions to anyone really, but this week I know I’m not okay, and that’s okay.

A few weeks ago I fell ill with a suspected chest infection. I’ve had a cough for about 6 weeks and felt I needed to do something about it. That this isn’t right. After realising after taking antibiotics that this was not an infection things have become a little more challenging. No one knows what’s wrong yet, a few words have been thrown about but we are still no closer. But this has been the hardest bit, which has made me realise I’m not as strong as I thought. The doctor mentioned the word cancer. It hit me hard. The probability is very, very minimal but the bit that was harder for me? The fact I was given steroids to help. The second he mentioned they can cause weight gain, I spiralled. Automatically re-thinking what I eat, a thousand thoughts through my head. Old tendencies, old diet tricks. Then it really hit me. I was more scared of gaining weight out of my control than I was of having cancer. Reading that sentence I just wrote makes me feel so disappointed so angry at myself. Because its the truth.

But it’s my mind. My mind that has been through so much. I overthink every thing in life. For so long I thought it was just what everyone did? But it’s not. That’s my anxiety. That’s the little voice of self doubt always there. The one that says they don’t really like you, the one that says you are just not good enough for anyone of anything, the one that says what if you just disappeard would anyone notice? This voice for so long controlled me.

I was discussing mental health with a friend the other day, she mentioned that anxiety and depression is becoming more and more common. That you hear about it so much more than you every used to. And I made a point, a point which I personally think is rather accurate. Just five years ago, mental health was never discusssed. I remember telling people about my eating disorder after diagnosis and so many people not understanding, almost not believing me. ‘You’re not skinny enough to have anorexia or bulimia’. ‘You’re skinny but you don’t look ill’. Eating disorders are usually related to as a physical health problem not a mental health. But the reality is they all start with the mind The reason I think we hear more people opening up about mental health is because we are getting there, we are in tiny, minuscule portions, chipping away at the stigma. More people feel more comfortable discussing mental health because so many more people are opening up. So many are saying do you know what it is okay not to be okay.

I would like to think I’m regards to my mental health that I’m just treading water. I have days where I’m swimming, days where I’m drowning. But mostly just treading. I’m not on any medication, but I do try to practice self care and positive thinking strategies. This is something I haven’t been coping with this week. Taking steroids to help with my physical health has actually made my mental health take a u-turn.

This week a famous celebrity, in my opinion abused her power as a ‘role model’ to hundreds of thousands of people, by promoting an appetite surprisser. I spoke about how disappointed I was briefly but the reality it was I struggled with it. I was really triggered by this. I felt for 16 year old me, popping raspberry keotonez and obsessing over step ups to burn that extra pound. And all I could think was how many 16 year old girls saw that ad and genuinely thought it was a good idea. And then it struck me how many men or woman or children saw that image and thought yes, this could work for me. And that scared me. How could someone with so much social media power abuse it so thoughtlessly?

For a few seconds this week I’ve felt like 16 year old me. Wanting to curl up in a ball, wanting to just stop, wanting to just feel the weight drop off. And it’s so toxic. So this weekend I’ve tried to be more mindful. I’ve tried to focus on positives, I’ve tried not to overthink silly comments. Just telling myself I am worthy, I can do this. Writing down the little achievements. And it regards to social media? I’ve stepped back a little, I’ve given myself the space to focus on reading other people’s stories, taking in others experiences.

The thing is mental health is often sidestepped for importance, as the focus is hugely on physical health whenever the question of health is brought up. But they should both be seen in the same way, which they rarely do. I get health trolls constantly telling me I’m unhealthy, and yes my BMI is obviously higher than others, but I lead what I believe is a average healthy lifestyle. Although even if I didn’t health is so personal, mental and physical. No one has the right to judge you. I run, I eat a massively varied diet and yes sometimes my portions are a little big. Share bag? All for me! But I don’t worry, I don’t worry about eating the cake, enjoying the cuppa. But back in my bad days when I was 18? I was considered to be at a healthy BMI, but I was smoking 20 cigarettes a day, binge drinking at weekends, and eating tablespoons of mayonnaise as I’d have no money left from my self destructive lifestyle.

My mental health is now my priority. I know life is all about the balance but you need to do what’s best for you. You need to find your own methods of coping. For a lot of people medication can be amazing, it’s okay, more than okay. Personally it doesn’t work for me and that’s also okay. I’ve spoken about it before and I find running is amazing for my mental health. I think everyone has different methods of self care. And sometimes it is more than just a bubble bath at the end of the week. Sometimes it’s getting help when you need it, seeing a doctor, speaking to someone or even just letting it all go.

I think what I really wanted to get across from this blog is that you really are never alone. There is always help, always someone to speak to, always someone who can relate, always someone to listen.

Adding Spring to your step in Pretty Polly.

Okay so first off let’s throw it back, when I was around 15/16 years old, I loved going to the Clothes Show Live in Birmingham. I was into fashion, shopping and runway it was the perfect day out, and it was there I discovered Pretty Polly. Their tights were everything I wanted, quirky, pretty and fun! But after a change of direction in my life, and with online shopping still being a bit scary for 16 year old me… My love for PP had tragically ended.

Until… A couple of weeks ago when the team from Pretty Polly contacted me, I was so thrilled to collaborate! The thing is with this blog is I always want to be open and honest, I love to work with brands that I love, and think you lovely lot will too. But there was one question on my mind, did Pretty Polly do my size? Did the brand cover the plus size community? My questions were soon answered as I received a few lovely pairs from their curve range that were perfect for jazzing up day to day work wear! Their range has a good size scale and there are so many different unique styles and patterns.

The first pair I put to use we’re the suspender look tights, I received these in their ‘one size’ and to my surprise, the fit was pretty good with no sliding down or rolling over. I then paired these up with a cute pair of their sparkly socks to enhance my work wear. When matched with a little skirt and flats this was an outfit I can wear any day of the week, plus its comfy but also super cute for Spring.

The second pair sent to me were a little more edgy than I’m used to. Fishnets you say? Absolutely, and I’m converted. With a pencil skirt and pair of flat shoes this is a quirky look for day to day, although I chose to pair them with a pair of killer heels for a more naughty, date night look. These also came in their ‘one size’, and the stretch and the quality of these tights is incredible, with no worries of catching or tearing at all.

And last but certainly not least, the most retro, the most classy, the most right up my street tights. The nude, back seam tights. These came in the size M/L and if I’m honest I could have sized up for comfort. But the sheerness, the softness of these tights? Just wonderful. And the back seam? Ever so vintage.

Pretty Polly has a pretty detailed size guide, ensuring you can find the right pair for you straight away. Although I wasn’t too keen on their size guide including weight as a measurement I do think their height and size guide is very helpful. Starting at XS to a XXL. So there we have it, my round up on tights for thicker thighs.
Have you tried Pretty Polly? What do you think of their hosiery? Let me know in the comments! As always I will link the below.x

Although I was gifted the lovely hosiery for this blog post all opinions are my own.

Pretty Polly Curves suspender tights.

Pretty Polly Fishnets

Pretty Polly Back seam tights.

One foot in front of the other, with support from Panache.

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So it was about a month ago now that I was ready to attempt my first run. I’d dusted the trainers off and was ready to tackle the first run nerves. I went upstairs to dig my old kit out and I had a moment. None of it fitted. I felt like rubbish. I put my pjs on and had a sulk. My good old shock absorber was pulled, torn and was just too small. It had such a good life and I loved it.

It took me a few days to get over the sulking and get my confidence back to realise I didn’t need that old kit. Bodies change all the time, and mine had. So I went on the hunt, first for a sports bra. I wanted to try a new brand, one that everyone swore by. So I put it out to the internet and after so many recommendations I decided on Panache.

As you all know from one of my previous blogs I love Panache. Their style, their fit! So I was excited to see what the sports range had to offer. How was I supposed to choose?!? So many colours and prints. I was spoilt. I hunted through the Brastop site for so long before I finally decided which one would make the cut!

It was the galaxy print, fun, bright and everything I wanted in a sports bra. It was a little on the pricey side compared to others on the site but I couldn’t resist. I had to see what everyone was raving about?!

So it arrived, I tried it on and it was perfect. The j-clip was fastened and adjusted for extra support and… I cleaned! I cleaned the whole house, up and down, right and left. The stairs, vacuuming, bleaching the bathrooms. And how did it cope? It was incredible. My girls hadn’t fallen out and were well and truly snug and supported.

So then it was time to put it to the real test, I skipped and I ran. Still in their place. There was the teeny tiniest bit of bounce but nothing that I didn’t expect for my 36GG bust! The sports range runs from a 30DD to a 40G. This sports bra is a real winner, my only issue is that it’s hand wash only and if your like me and you can’t be bothered, it can be a real pain if you want to go on multiple runs per week. But I guess that just gives me an excuse to buy another to keep on rotation, and the other styles are so lovely it’ll be so hard not to!

If you fancy giving the Panache sports range a try check out the link below. What Sports bra do you swear by? Let me know in the comments. x

Panache Sports Bra – Brastop.com

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This mum runs…Again!

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Lately I’ve been feeling a bit rubbish. Sometimes I feel as though I’m not doing enough, that I’m not good enough. And no I don’t necessarily mean exercise wise. I mean just in general. Life. Like I don’t feel myself. Like I’ve prioritised a lot of things over my mental health. I don’t know about anyone else but sometimes my anxiety takes over more than a little bit, I doubt almost every move I make. I panic in my mind that I’m failing everyone, I have mini arguments with myself in my head. I feel as though I have no self belief. But one thing that really used to help me was running.

When I was training last year to run 10k it was me time. Time to clear my head. Time to reflect on the day. Time to just let go, not care, and run. And once I ran the race and completed my 10k I gave running a rest. Well more than a rest, I stopped. I hadn’t run since that day. So what was stopping me?

For me the 10k was never about weight loss or fitness it was about the journey. It was  about raising money for a charity that means so much to me. Last week I went running for the first time in nearly a year, I could have cried, it was hard. I’m going to try and run a 10k in a month, in 6 months I’m going to run a half marathon. And next year I’m going to run a marathon. Hopefully London. Why? Why am I doing this? Why now? Since changing jobs I’ve been so busy, I’ve been so, so happy but so busy. For me running does wonders for my mental health. And I’ve missed that. I’ve felt a bit down lately, not myself. Well more than just a little down. I’ve been triggered by a lot of influences around me and I’ve struggled the past month.

The marathon will probably be the hardest physical challenge I’ll ever do. I want to do it, not just for myself but for my child. I want to raise money, as much as I possibly can to help a charity that has done so much for the Cystic Fibrosis community. A lot has been talked about in regards to new treatments being denied by the UK government or put to further discussion and it’s heartbreaking. Treatments that could change my sons life in the long term. So if I can raise anything to help them. I will.

So why running? As a size 18 woman, a lot of people would believe its not my strongest  suit, but I bloody well want to prove that it can be. I’m not stupid, going from not running at all to exercising weekly may change my body shape, my weight might increase it might decrease, and I know I’ll have to be careful that I don’t fall into old tendencies. But I need to focus, this isn’t about that. This is about raising money for an amazing charity, about getting my mental health back on track, about not only completing races but enjoying the journey. This about getting back some me time.

I’m not saying running is for everyone because it’s not. I know it’s not my strong point, I’d rather have a cuppa and cake! But the reality is I need to focus on something. Feel like I’m helping. Sometimes I struggle talking about my sons CF, you only ever hear the not so good stories about it. But I get it, you wouldn’t raise money if all you talked about was a happy child who lived a normal life and took some medication and did some physio. The CF Trust make that happen. But I know this won’t be the case forever with Parker.

Last week I ran 3 miles, night after night. I pushed myself more, I ran so many times. And now I’m paying for it. Everything aches, but it’s okay. I know I can push through, I know I’ve got this. I’ve taken this weekend to rest up, but I’m going to use some Monday motivation to get back out there tomorrow evening. I think we all forget how easy it is to let the focus of our mental well being slip. And sometimes it is the small things that can really make a difference. I will continue to share my running journey on social media as the amount of support we give and receive can be so positive and so boosting. Also I want to share some active wear and sports wear blogs with you over the next few moths of my journey, that I’ve found have really worked for me as a plus sized woman. I will enter the London Marathon ballot next month and I’ve got everything crossed I get in. Has anyone started a running journey lately? As always I would love to hear how you’ve found it! Let me know in the comments. x

Deliciously Dairy free brownies.

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Last week I posted a photo on social media of my experimental, dairy free peanut butter brownies of my own creation. I was so surprised when so many people wanted the recipe so that they could try them! Even the girls at work said how yummy they were and wanted the recipe! It’s my twist on Kayla Insines ‘healthy brownie recipe’. Although I do not love her massive impact within the diet industry, and her use of the word health as a goal, she does do an amazing range of dairy free and gluten free recipes. When one of the ladies at work sent me the recipe I had to try it! First I baked them exactly to the recipe but then I got experimental and upped the game to make them extra delicious.

Since finding out I was lactose intolerant, it’s almost impossible to find yummy cakes that are dairy free and don’t cost a fortune!

So here it is, my take on sweet potato brownies.

You’ll need:

1 massive sweet potato

150 ml of melted coconut oil

3 large eggs

4 tablespoons of maple syrup

4 heaped table spoons of coconut sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

120g of self raising flour

2 huge tablespoons of peanut butter

80g of cacoa powder

A few squares of dairy free dark chocolate

Ready, steady, bake!

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I start off by lining a square baking tin with greaseproof paper, and pre-heating the oven to 180 degrees. Then I peel and grate the whole sweet potato into a bowl, then I add the eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, peanut butter, coconut sugar and vanilla extract. Simply mix together until all combined.

Then sift in the flour, cacoa powder, baking soda, baking powder. Mix together gently until brownie mix consistency. Pop in to the oven and cook for about 35-40 minutes. I always pop a skewer through the middle just to check it’s cooked right through. If the skewer comes off mostly clean then it’s ready! They can be quite gooey so I try to let them rest in the tin for about 15 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

When fully cool melt the dark chocolate and drizzle over the top. Once the chocolate has set wal lah! Yummy chocolate brownies that are quick, easy and dairy free. They keep best when popped in the fridge and are good to eat within five days, unless you’re like me and they only last five minutes! Let me know what you think of them if you do decide to bake.x

For when Spring has Sprung? Or maybe sooner! Introducing Panache and Sculptresse.

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Back in January as you may know I was lucky enough to attend the Very Valentines event and as well as meeting some amazing women I also met some amazing brands. One of them of which I have never tried before, until now!

Today I am going to share with you some gorgeous sets from Panache and it’s sister brand Sculptresse. At the event I got to look through some truly beautiful sets and I was intrigued as to what the fit would be like, as the cups looked a lot fuller and a lot more structured to what I’m used to. When I received the sets from the lovely ladies at Panache, I could not believe how gorgeous the packaging was. A cute little box that unveiled an array of goodies!

The first thing I thought when I saw the sets was how much they just shouted all the Spring vibes at me. Which is typical as today I type this from inside a house with the heating full blast and heavy snow outside! The florals, the pastel, the crisp lace details. All gorgeous sets that I couldn’t wait to get my baps into!

The first set is the Panache Clara, I received this set in Ivory and in a 36GG and size 18 briefs. The details are incredible on this set, beautiful lace, a gorgeous stretch cup and the softest briefs. This set runs from a size 30D to a 40K and is available in five different colours! This is the one of biggest back and cup size range I’ve come across in an underwear brand and I love it. The briefs run from a size 8 to a 20. The fit is incredible and the quality is beautiful.

The second set I’ve fallen in love with is from Panache’s sister brand Sculptresse. The Sculptresse sets are for the more fuller busted and plus size lady. This one is called Candi and do I have to say much more than look at the florals?!? The print is stunning and the polka dot panels? A match made in heaven! The most perfect colours for Spring (when it decides to arrive!). This set I also received in a 36GG and size 18 briefs. This is one my favourite sets ever. You all know how much I love a floral design! This set runs from a 34F to a 46HH, and the briefs a 14 to 26, so still a wide size range.

And last but certainly not least is Gina from Sculptresse. This set gave me all of the summer vibes, the pastel denim colour, the cute red bow in between the cups, the matching high waisted brief. I was sold. This set was the same size as the previous ones I received, and the size range for this set is a 34E to a 46HH and the briefs run from a 14 to a 26.

One thing I really need to emphasise about Panache and Sculptresse is the fit. The fit is without a doubt the best I’ve ever had with any set. The quality really shows through and the structure of the cups is incredible. The attention to detail is some of the best I’ve seen in the lingerie world. These sets are a little more pricey than I’d usually pay but I can hand on heart say this is due to the quality. Without a doubt I will be popping Panache into my basket when I’m looking for my bikinis for holidays this year… even if it does hit the bank account!

As always I will link these sets below, have you tried Panache? Or their sister brand Sculptresse? Have you fallen in love with the fit? Let me know in the comments. x

Panache Clara.

Sculptresse Candi.

Sculptresse Gina.

Nudes for days… Every day.

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Recently, to my surprise I’ve had a lot of lovely ladies asking me for bra recommendations, often I’m asked about more saucy pieces, and sometimes a good strapless but mostly a good basic day to day bra. One that has good coverage, is good under workwear and most importantly, comfortable!

A couple of weeks ago I received the Rebecca set in caramel, by Flirtelle from Brastop. This is now my number one bra for day to day. With my new job, my dress code is a lot more relaxed than the all black waitressing uniform I’ve been used to, it’s been great being able to experiment with dressing in all my floral favourites. One of the items in question is a white top that I bagged in the New Look sale last month. This bra goes so perfectly underneath, so not to distract from the gorgeous details. It looks wonderful, but what do I think of the fit you ask?

 

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The lovely ladies at Brastop sent me the bra in a 34GG as the cup can sometimes run a little small. Recently I’ve fallen out of love with padded styles as I much prefer a sheer cup for comfort and overall fit. But this bra sits lovely, regardless of the padding, it’s got a cheeky plunge to it with some pretty lace detailing underneath. Also let’s be honest with ‘The Beast from the East’ on the way I need to help cover the tick tack, pointy nips and give the baps an extra layer!

Then onto the briefs, good coverage, extremely comfortable and super soft material with matching lace details. Can you expect any more from every day pants? I received mine in a size 18 and they fit to perfection!

The whole set is currently half price in the Brastop flash sale, and currently comes to £25! The briefs are currently in stock in a size 12-22 and the bra from a 34F to a 40J. Be quick though this sale ends tonight (28/02/18) at midnight!

The gorgeous Flirtelle queen @fairyboobmother, Linzi, has also showed off this look, and doesn’t she look incredible? All bodies are different and all bodies are beautiful. I wanted to show these two images, to show you how different styles look on different bodies. Every body is so unique and so individual. Comparison really is the thief of joy, let’s not compare, let’s uplift and support. When strong women come together amazing things happen.

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As always I have linked this set below, have you tried any Flirtelle sets? What did you love about them? Let me know in the comments x

Flirtelle Rebecca padded plunge bra in caramel.

Flirtelle Rebecca brief in caramel.

Although this set was gifted to me all opinions are my own, as always.x