The real cost of being a girl…

360, that’s the average number of weeks a women will spend on her period in her lifetime. If you were to do that time consecutively that’s nearly 7 years. Nearly 7 years of our lives on our period. As if it wasn’t bad enough that we have to deal with the fluctuation in hormones, the change in our bodies, and the inconvenience of actually bleeding consistently for up to seven days, but we have to pay for the privilege! To continue with our day to day lives and being general badasses we have to use tampons, sanitary towels, menstrual cups etc. Not only do we have to pay for these things, we have to pay tax on them too since they’re not considered a necessity. I’d put my life on it that it wasn’t a woman that made that rule!

Some states have been working to change this, but most still have to pay. My fellow family and friends in the UK still have to pay this premium too, even though it is a reduced rate of 5%. The good news is though, we are living in an age where change is absolutely possible! In 2015 Canada removed tax on feminine hygiene products after an online petition received more than 10,000 signatures, this sparked arguments around the world and India also scrapped their 12% tax on sanitary napkins in 2018, along with Australia who finally won an 18 year campaign to get rid of the 10% tax on feminine products.

Unfortunately, the tax that women have to pay, just for being women, doesn’t end there. There is such a thing as the Pink Tax. No I’m not kidding, or being dramatic. Studies have shown that the cost of being a woman literally is higher than that of a man. The New York City department of consumer affairs did a study which proved that girls toys and accessories were 7% more than boys, and clothing 4%. Women’s clothing came out 8% more than mens clothes, and personal care products, a whopping 13% more expensive for women! It doesn’t stop there, as seniors women can expect to pay 8% more for home health care and other related products than compared to men of the same age. The results showed that women’s products cost more than men’s 42% of the time!! And men’s products cost more that women’s only 18% of the time.

If that wasn’t enough to shock you, check this out. In one of the studies they did they found a red “My 1st Scooter” aimed at boys for $24.99, at the same store, a pink “My 1st Scooter Sparkle” for EXACTLY the same scooter but just with some added glitter for $49.99! When the store was confronted about the study they claimed it was a “system error” and shortly after it was removed from sale all together. 

In 1994, a study of gender based pricing in California showed that on average women will pay a “gender tax” of approximately $1,351 per year more than men for the same services.

More awareness needs to be made about this subject, this is 2019 and buying tampons and sanitary towels shouldn’t be considered a luxury. At the end of 2018, Nevada became the tenth state in the US to eliminate tax on sanitary products a long with New York, Florida and Illinois. 

100 years is a long time, that’s how long it’s been since women were given the right to vote, and we’ve come a long way but not far enough, we still have a way to go. So let’s keep making noise about it! Help me spread the word and build awareness about this. 

You always want what you can’t have.

How many diets have worked for you? I’ll be honest, I am not really one of those people that tries the latest diet, be it, low carb, low fat, high fat or doing two shots of apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper and lemon juice while doing a handstand?! But when I was younger I did try a few meal replacement diets like Slimfast and Herbalife, and lets be real, there is no milkshake on this earth thats going to replace any of my meals again. The thought of having two shakes and “one healthy meal” per day, to me now, sounds outrageous! How can someone sustain enough energy from essentially one meal, even if its 1,000cal?! But my journey with food has been a bit of a complicated one. Dieting is difficult because we need to still eat food every day, its not like quitting smoking or giving up alcohol. You can’t just go cold turkey and cut it out. We still need to eat, so finding that balance can be really hard mentally, but thats exactly what you need, balance.

When I was around 22, I did a bootcamp class and took part in a 21 day challenge. Your body naturally can build a habit in 21 days. So for three weeks I was very restrictive with my food, I cut out all caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar and processed foods. I remember someone trying to get me to eat a piece of cake, and I was so determined to stick to this plan I wouldn’t do it, and got really annoyed with the person trying to make me eat it (this still bothers me actually as it makes no difference to the person trying to get you to eat something whether you do or not). This was partly because this was leading up to a photoshoot but also because I was curious to see what my body could do. 

After the three weeks finished, I was the smallest and fittest I had ever been, I had been pushing myself to attend the bootcamp classes 5-6 times a week and had been eating fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. But since I had restricted myself so much, I was so ready for a “treat”. The problem was, one treat wasn’t enough, I gorged on biscuits and crisps like they were about to run out. I had take aways all the time and ate whatever I wanted, and I wanted everything; after all, I “deserved” it!

After the first photoshoot came more photoshoots, and by this time I was aware that my body was changing back to what it was before and then some. I felt uncomfortable with the weight I was putting on but kept eating the “treats”. So I went back to what worked the first time. I did another 21 day challenge but this time I cut out all sugar, even fruit, I only allowed myself, I think one banana the whole three weeks. And sure enough that worked, I curbed that weight I had been gaining and managed to take off a bit of the damage I had done for the photoshoots. But it wasn’t the same, and I knew it wasn’t right. And after another three weeks of desperate restriction I was craving sugar more than ever. 

When I was done with the photoshoots, I was very unhappy with my body and my lack of will power, I had moved to London where I didn’t know too many people and amongst some other family troubles, very quickly and easily fell into depression. I would hide away at home in my bedroom with food. I would go to the shop and buy everything, I couldn’t decide if I wanted sweet or savory, so I would buy it all. Cakes, biscuits, crisps, sweets, chocolates the lot. I knew it wasn’t right so I would hide it in my bag so no one would see, and run up to my room where I would eat everything until it was either gone or I felt physically sick, and even then sometimes I would keep eating. 

There was a lot of emotion involved in this eating. There was sadness, and loneliness, happiness in the moment, but then guilt and shame, angry thoughts full of self-hatred, embarrassment and misery. I felt pretty helpless at the time, but I did recognize I needed to get help, I needed to make a change. And for anyone reading this that can relate, there is help out there, and it will get better. I tried a lot of things on my own after realizing pure will-power wasn’t enough. I tried exercising more (until I realized it is impossible to out-train a bad diet), I tried buying the healthier snacks/treats, I even tried hypnotherapy which worked for me for a little while but then things went back to the way they were. I went to the doctor and was prescribed anti-depressants. I hated the thought of taking them but this situation had already been going on for long enough, so I took them. I was referred to a counselor, which I found I didn’t really gel with. But I ended up finding one of my own, which I paid for. There is a world of difference between a counselor you feel comfortable with and one you don’t. I know not everyone has the funds to do this but there ARE other ways, explore different options that are within your means or even think about if there is something you can sacrifice to be able to afford it. Is your weekly take away more important? Maybe it is, but take a look at how you can make this work in your situation. I believe everyone can benefit from therapy, if you get the opportunity to talk to someone, take it!

Ultimately, I moved to a new area and my whole world changed, I threw myself into a new job and ended up loosing weight, this really helped me with improving my relationship with food, and falling in love with exercise again. I loved it before but during that time it was more of a chore. Since starting Crossfit I really love it more than ever, it really is true that it becomes so much easier when you discover what it is you enjoy. 

So fast forward to now, I go to a local Crossfit here in NYC, and I’m not on a diet. I eat what I want, when I want and if that includes cakes, ice cream and biscuits, so be it. I don’t reward myself with food, and I also don’t punish myself for having a “treat”. I’m not obsessing over it either way. As for my mental health, it’s a work in progress, I have good days and bad days, just like everyone else. But ultimately I’m doing pretty good. I have an amazing support system around me and I have a lot of love in my heart. 

If you can relate to any part of this post just remember you’re not alone, and it will get better. There is no healthy “quick fix”. A balanced diet includes nutritious food, it includes protein, carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables and fat, it includes cake, and biscuits, it includes, sweets and crisps, and anything else you want, in good proportions. Life shouldn’t be about restriction, there are times when that might be necessary and thats ok, but if you’re obsessing about it, its not healthy any more, and that goes both ways; restricting and over-indulging. Being healthy is as much mental as it is physical, and if your eating is disordered you should definitely seek help about what the root cause is, and how to get a handle on it.

If you’ve overcome a battle, or are still fighting and want to share please reach out in the comments below or find me on Instagram. It all starts with a conversation.

Are you where you “should be”?

When you were younger did you think you would have it all figured out by the age you are now? Are you having a quarter-life crisis? Maybe you just drank a whole bottle of wine and cried into a pizza, before devouring the whole thing and binging Making a murderer on Netflix? Or maybe all your friends are getting married or having babies and you’re still struggling to find a date for your plus one? Welcome to my life!

Every day at my job in the restaurant I get asked “So what do you ACTUALLY do?” I try not to get offended when people ask; as hard as that is. I want to say, “thats ACTUALLY none of your business”. What I really say is “I’m still figuring some stuff out” which is true, but frustrating nonetheless. 

Society teaches us that we should grow up, choose our career path at age 18 and continue to work in that chosen career until we retire at 65 ish. And for women you should add in there by around 30 (give or take a few years) you should have some children, with the guy you met around 7 years ago and will have married.  

If this looks similar to your life, well congratu-fucking-lations! Good for you, but in this day and age, you’re the minority, honey! Times have changed and this just ain’t the way it goes for most people. Everyones journey is different. There is no right or wrong time to do something. There is no rule book that says any of these things should be done, by a certain age, or at all for that matter! This is your life and don’t let anyone else’s judgey opinions make you think otherwise. 

I think its important to remember that no matter how perfect other peoples lives seem, it doesn’t matter whether it actually is or not; because their life is none of your business, just as your life is none of theirs!

Below I’ve reposted an infographic, created by startup blog Funders and Founders which demonstrates how some huge names didn’t even start learning in their field we now know them for, until well into adulthood. 

Vera Wang was a figure skater before she entered the fashion industry at age 40.

Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his big break until his role in Spike Lee’s – Jungle Fever in 1991 at age 43!

Henry Ford didn’t create the model T car until age 45. As he once famously said:

“If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”

Henry Ford

So if you’re still struggling to find the right career path, or feel as though you haven’t saved enough money, or worried you haven’t found your person yet, these are your steps you have to take to get there. 

No matter what society says, what people say, there is no time line. This is your journey and every single step is important, the good and the bad. It’s shaping you, everyday. Its helping you make decisions about your life and your path. 

You are in control, you are calling the shots, and you’ve got this!

So the answer is yes! YOU are exactly where YOU should be!


Are you ready for Blue Monday?

Since 2005, we have been able to put a name to the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday. A U.K.-based psychologist, Dr Cliff Arnall created “Blue Monday” around 14 years ago to describe the third Monday in January, which he claims is the saddest day of the year. He came up with this after creating an equation that took into account the weather, average amount of debt a person has after the holidays and their ability to pay it off, the time elapsed since Christmas, peoples average levels of motivation, having to return to work, and how long it took people to break their new years resolutions. 

The holidays are done, the weather is cold and dark, you possibly overspent on Christmas gifts and probably over ate at Christmas dinner, and now you’re feeling the pinch, in more ways than one. You’re three weeks into your new years resolutions and maybe you’re starting to slip up because, you know what, shit is hard! Well Blue Monday is coming, whether we like it or not, so let’s suck it up and figure out how to handle it.

First things first, it’s important not to beat yourself up, that won’t do anybody any good, but recognize there are things you could tweak and figure out a way to make that change possible, being realistic.

Think about the things that are bothering you and write them down, now thinking about each one individually, think about how, you can improve that situation. Don’t rush it, think about it logically.

Now I’m not saying if you’re looking at loosing weight you need to be going to the gym 6 days a week and only eating 1,000 calories a day, or if you need more money you should get a second job, I am talking about realistic changes in your life that are manageable.  And it’s important to take your time with this, to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

The most important thing to remember is, its going to be ok. There is no time cap on your new years resolutions, and even if you wanted to loose 10lb in January and instead you’ve gained 4, ITS OK! The fact that you’re recognizing there is something that needs to be addressed is the first step. 

Maybe you’re struggling with some bills after the holiday and not sure how you can get them paid off, think realistically, is there a Starbucks you could go without for a month, or maybe you could bring a packed lunch to work, meal planning is a great way to save on impulse buying when you’re hungry. Plan ahead before you even go to the supermarket, make your list that corresponds with your meal plan for the week. This will ensure less impulse buying in the supermarket and once you’ve done your meal prep, less impulse buying that take-out (which might also help if you’re also struggling with loosing a few lb’s).

Possibly your new years resolution is to loose weight and you’ve been trying to go to the gym but just not enjoying it, is it because you’re not sure what to do? Maybe consider a few personal training sessions or classes, or something I used when I first started working out was LDN Muscle (these guys are incredible with their fully comprehensive guides to nutrition and exercise, I still have their Bikini Guides on my phone and will refer to them if I’m in the gym on my own, I cant recommend them enough). Or maybe the gym just isn’t for you, maybe there is a sport you can try that will keep you active in a different way that will be more enjoyable for you. 

“By an inch or a mile, forward momentum is the only requirement”

It also may be helpful to write down how you’re feeling, even if you’re not off track with Christmas debt or new years resolutions, even if you don’t normally keep a diary, take a few minutes to write down what you’re feeling. Its amazing how much better, just getting it out of your head and onto paper can make you feel.

Remember you’re not alone, millions of people are feeling this way around this time of year, so much so, we made an official day out of it. So as the Sunday scaries sink in, and Blue Monday is approaching, stay focused, don’t beat yourself up, and keep moving towards your goals even if you choose a different path. 

As my mum would always tell me, “this too shall pass”.

Overnight Oats.

Overnight Oats

I think my favorite meal of the day is breakfast, as bad as it sounds more often than not I am too busy to cook dinners at home, and when I do its normally something easy thrown together, or I just eat out! Guilty! But the real struggle is making sure I’m still eating something that is going to be nutritious and healthy, something that is balanced and filling enough that it won’t have me reaching for snacks a couple of hours later.

My main go-to is overnight oats. This is so easy to throw together in 5 minutes and especially if I know I have a busy or early start, this super filling and wholesome breakfast is great on the go as well!

There are so many different ingredients you can add to this, I am going to give you the basic one I do mostly and maybe I’ll do another post at some point with more of a variety of flavors. I got these cute mason jars that are perfect for this, they’re 16oz but any jar or even Tupperware will work as long as it holds 500ml. 

Also I should add, I don’t consume a lot of dairy, so essentially this is vegan but you can totally use dairy milk and yoghurt and it will taste equally as good, and just use maple syrup instead of honey, I go between the two but mostly honey for this basic recipe.

Please let me know if you give this a try and what you think. Or if you have a go-to recipe for your oats! I’d love to hear about it.

Overnight Oats with Chia and Berries

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

My favorite, super simple, go-to, on-the-go breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 2/3 cup of almond milk (i use unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1/3 cup of yoghurt (i love so delicious coconut milk yoghurt)
  • 1 tbsp honey/maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries
  • Small handful of nuts

Directions

  1. Combine oats and chia seeds, add milk, yoghurt, honey and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Pour mixture into your chosen container and add frozen berries.
  3. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours
  4. Chop nuts and add before enjoying!

2017, 2018, 2019 ready or not here I come!

Studies show that we are only born with two innate fears; falling and loud noises. As we grow up we are influenced by our surroundings and culture and might develop fears of things like snakes, spiders or the dark. But as we become adults we start getting scared of different things, like, do I fit in? Can I do this correctly? Or what if I don’t succeed? These fears are so very real and go hand in hand with things like depression and anxiety. These fears can build to a point of overwhelm and by not trying to overcome them, the answer is always going to be “no you can’t” or “no you won’t”. 

Now I’m not saying if you do something out of your comfort zone like, go out with a new group of friends or doing a new activity you’ve never done before, that it will heal your depression or anxiety, but by challenging yourself to try something that you’ve been too scared to do before, it could make you feel more powerful than ever. 

Once you start to challenge your fears, you shrink them. The more you talk about the thing it is you’re afraid of you’re belittling it by every word you talk about it. Tell a friend or even a work colleague what it is and see if they have an experience of the same thing, or maybe they can tell you if they have done it themselves.

Now I know this is much easier said than done, but I wouldn’t be writing about it if I wasn’t doing it myself! For starters this blog was a huge thing for me (I’ve actually been “setting this up” for a little while now, and by “setting up” I mean procrastinating to avoid going live!) Putting myself out there for all to judge was a huge fear for me, but it’s something I am working on, and if I can motivate you to do something that challenges you, I’ll be happy! I am also working on something else this year, which I can’t say too much about right now as it’s still very early days, but it involves public speaking which is something that petrifies me! I will most certainly keep you posted about this and how I do!

One thing to remember is, confidence is key, even if you’re not. I guess that’s where “fake it until you make it” works. For me I feel more confident when I do research and feel more knowledgable or when I openly talk about it, for example telling whoever I am with that I am new to this or why I am afraid, I find by being confident enough to talk about it openly it belittles that big, dark, scary, fear-monster and immediately lightens the load, even just for a moment. Think about it, talk about it; what step can you take to challenge something you’re afraid of? Maybe it’s signing yourself up for that next open mic night, or maybe it’s finally telling that certain person how you feel about them.

Nothing can beat the feelings you get when you face a fear, feelings of excitement, accomplishment, achievement and power! And every time you do, not only do you become stronger, you become more knowledgable, more admirable, more daring! All these attributes exude confidence which, in the right quantity is the sexiest trait of all!

I’d love to know if you’re inspired to challenge yourself! Please let me know what you’re doing. Let’s use 2019 as a year of more personal growth and success. There is enough for everyone!

5 Things I do when I’m feeling low.

I think it’s important to remember being “healthy”doesn’t just mean free from illness or injury. The way things are today its more important than ever to take care of our mental health, with social media “ideals” everywhere we look.

In this day and age, when we’re living whirlwind-100mph lives, it is easy to get wrapped up in other peoples lives, thinking everyone else has it figured out and other peoples lives look perfect. It can be really overwhelming. 

When I start feeling low, these are some of the things I do:

1. I meditate – Meditating is something I feel like I definitely don’t make enough time for every day, but when I’m feeling low I remember I need to make time to be mindful. I truly believe that living a healthy lifestyle includes being mindful, and our mental health often gets pushed to the back burner when we get so focused on eating well and exercising. My brain is often thinking about at least 10 things at any one moment so I find it hard to be present and let go of day to day thoughts. I find using an app helps me focus, a couple I would recommend are Calm and Headspace.

2. I exercise – Exercising is proven to reduce depression and anxiety. I put it in my diary sometimes so I make the time to exercise, particularly a yoga class as I feel that kind of movement really helps my mood. Research shows that even just 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise such as a brisk walk, jogging, swimming, cycling, 3 times per week can improve your mood!

3. I write – I’m not one who journals regularly, in fact I have never considered myself a writer but when I’m feeling low I write down everything that is going on in my life and how its made me feel, this is probably the thing I find helps me the most. I very very rarely even go back and read it but I feel just getting it out of my head and onto paper helps. I guess its like talking to someone but you can be as honest and as raw as you like, and know that no one ever even has to see it.

4. I use essential oils – My mum bought me this little humidifier diffuser so I jumped online and bought me a pack of essential oils, and I use them occasionally but this is something I definitely use more when I’m feeling low or stressed. The ones I find I use most, are lavender, frankincense, lemongrass and rosemary. Sometimes one at a time but mostly mixing a combination.

5. I listen – When I’m feeling low, I tend not to want to talk about it, mostly for fear of being a burden, which is something I’ve battled with throughout my life. I am a communicator, I like to talk, but for some reason I get this fear of off-loading that someone probably doesn’t want to hear it (which often isn’t the case!). So I listen, I love putting on a certain playlist that either will make me get in my feels and maybe have a good cry (which everyone needs from time to time) or something uplifting which will help me get motivated for the day. Either that or a motivational podcast or audiobook helping me focus my mind on the positives and moving forward.

Some of these things can require a lot of effort, sometimes you know these things might make you feel better but you just don’t want to. I understand, just know that you are the one that has to take that step into making yourself feel better. 

What are some of the things you do that helps when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Or something you have done in the past that has helped?

Maybe you would prefer helping a stranger, or talking to a friend or family member. Whatever your process looks like, I would love it if you shared it, also please let me know if you try any of these tips and if they work for you.

The grass is always greener… on the other side of the pond

One of the things I get asked about a lot is my move from the U.K. to the U.S. Why I moved?  What its like to live in either place? Do I like it etc. in fact I get asked these questions daily. 

Tower Bridge, London.

Back in 2013 I was working as a flight attendant seasonally in the U.K. During my first winter I stayed within the company and worked in one of their call centers selling ski holidays. I was miserable. I convinced myself that I was happy because I was living in London, one of the most amazing cities in the world! But the truth was, I was living a lie. So when winter 2014 came around I was ready to change it up; try something new. I am a fixer, if something doesn’t work or I’m not happy with it, I am quick to make a change (which is possibly also a flaw of mine but heck its who I am). I am so, so lucky in that I have dual U.S. and U.K. citizenship, meaning I can come and go between the two as I wish without the worry of visas etc. I know how lucky I am to have this privilege (although there are downsides to it too, but thats for another post). So after researching cities in the U.S. I decided to go to San Francisco. 

A sunrise I caught one morning on a recent visit to the U.K.

In December 2014 I left for San Fran (another one of the “coolest cities in the world”). I will go into more detail about this in another post but all in all I didn’t love it. So when the summer of 2015 was coming around and I had the opportunity to go back to my flying job in the U.K. off I went! 

A rare day with no fog in beautiful San Francisco. (see the golden gate bridge in the distance)

When winter ’15 came around I was ready to try somewhere else. Having moved to London at 23 on my own and with nothing, and then now experiencing SF, I felt way more confident in trying a new place. When I was deciding places the previous year I had boiled it down to San Francisco or Miami, so it made sense that this year I would try Miami. I should add, I had never been to any of these places before I moved to them by the way, this was the epitome of flying by the seat of pants! 

So December 2015 came and I was lucky enough to be loaned a car by my dads girlfriend, I jumped in the car and I started driving to Florida. In the same situation as I had been the year previous with nothing but a hotel for the first 4 nights I was ready to figure it out. I can’t tell you at exactly what point I fell in love with Miami but it will always have a very special place in my heart. Maybe it was the people I met or the person it made me, who knows. 

The view from my apartment building in South Beach, Miami.

Coming from England, as you probably know we love to complain about the weather! So Miami weather was a dream for me! With sunshine and blue skies and seas surrounding me 90% of the time it was everything I needed! 

New York City.

But two and a half years down the line, and possibly marginally (definitely) influenced by a boy, I made the decision to move to New York City. I’ve now been living here for about two months and feeling good about it. There were many concerns about moving to the city, one being my mental health, which I will go into in more detail another time but I had to make a decision and here I am. There are many pros and cons to city living but I feel in a very different head space to where I was when I was living in London. I love New York City, the culture, the hustle and bustle, the people, you have to have drive and ambition to live in this city, and I feed off of the creativity I get from the people here. 

So, overall, this is where I’m at. Newbie New Yorker, winging it. Settling in to city life again, one day at a time. Currently with no intentions to move back to the U.K. but I never say never.