I want to write a bit more about health and fitness and the things I do to keep fit. One of those is going to the gym. I usually go about 2-3 times a week and mix it up with different types of exercise. Going to the gym for the first time can be daunting for so many reasons, especially if you’ve not been before. I wanted to write a bit about being prepared what to expect and what to bring. First up what I actually take to the gym with me. I have a gym bag permanently packed, so I can just grab it whenever I have time to go. Here’s everything I take to the gym with me.

A big waterproof gym bag

I got my lovely Cath Kidston foldaway weekend bag in the sale. It’s absolutely perfect as a gym bag as it has a waterproof lining and big comfortable strap so it’s easy to carry around. I love how many prints they do these in too. My advise when choosing a gym back is get the biggest bag you can, as you always need more stuff than you need. I often need to take a full change of clothes, as I go straight out from the gym, Sio I need lots of room for all my things.

What to pack in a gym bag

Gym membership card

Can’t get in without one of these! Don’t forget your membership card!


My gym requires you to bring your own padlock. I have a strong one, which you put a code into, I prefer this to having top carry a key around with me, especially when I go to the pool.

Headphones and phone holder

I always listen to music when I’m working out, I have lots of different playlist, but I love listening to rock music as it makes me run faster! I have some noise cancelling headphones which I got in Sainsburys. I like to block out the rest of the sound in the gym and get into my own zone and these are perfect for that.

What to pack in a gym bagGym VestLeggingsTrainersHeadphonesWater BottleArm Band (links to similar products)

Gym clothes and trainers

I usually wear a pair of gym leggings, a top with built in sports support, with a t-shirt on top and a pair of trainers. Perfect for working out and staying comfortable. I usually get my leggings in Sainsbury’s as they are really high waisted and very comfortable. Sainsburys fitness clothing also comes in larger sizes, so is much more inclusive than a lot of other brands. My sports tops are from Nike, I love how supportive they are and they keep everything where it should be when I run.

What to pack in a gym bagHigh waisted bikini (reviewed in this post)

Swimming costume, flip flops and towel

If you want to go for a swim, or just use the spa area or sauna (if your gym has one) then you’ll need a comfortable swimsuit or bikini. At the moment I’m using my Boohoo one. I always wear flip flops to the pool and spa area and carry a water incase I get thirsty. I don’t have a specific towel for the gym, I just grab a clean one from home and pop it in my gym bag before I leave.

What to pack in a gym bag

Nice shower things and shower cap

I always try to take nice products to the gym with me, so I can have a little pamper. It’s a nice way to reward myself for working hard. I’ll either pick up mini products when I see them, or use things I’ve got in beauty boxes. Mostly I use the Rituals Hammam range, as it’s perfect for after working out. I also bring my Anatomicals Boob Tube shower gel as it reminds me to check my breasts for lumps every time I shower. I always pack some spare hair elastics and a shower cap, as I don’t always wash my hair at the gym.

What to pack in a gym bagMake up bag and top Primark – Sandals

Change of clothes

I always pack a completely fresh set of clothes and underwear for after my shower. I usually go to the gym in the morning, so I pack everything I need to look nice for the day. If I go in the evening, I’ll just pack some comfy leggings and a t-shirt in my gym bag, as I won’t be going anywhere else that day.

Hairbrush and Make up

I keep my full set of everyday make-up in a make up bag, so I can use it at home, or just grab it and pack it on gym days. I’ll only take it with me if I’m going somewhere else straight after the gym.

What do you pack in your gym bag? If you’re new to the gym, I hope you find this post useful. I’d love to do more gym and fitness related posts, so if you have any requests, let me know.

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We talk a lot about self care these days, and that is a very good thing. It seems obvious to look after ourselves, but with our lives being busier than ever, filled with more stress and the constant pressure to have it all, self care is very important. It’s not all about candles, pamper time and long baths, although these are all important. Self care can also be about taking responsibility for your life, making it run more smoothly and less stressfully. I thought I’d share a list of both small and big things that I so to make mylife more happy, less stressful and generally easier.

Self Care - Everyday Ways to Make Your Life Easier, Better and Happier

House Plants –

This may seem like a strange place to start! But last year I started filling my home with lovely plants. Firstly they look lovely and bring a little of the outdoors inside. I love green things and being outside, so having some greenery in my home just makes me happy. They really lift a room and add a lot of character. I also put them in places where clutter can build up. In a house with 4 people living in it, people are always putting things down. Putting something nice on table top of shelf stops people doing it!

Self Care - Everyday Ways to Make Your Life Easier, Better and Happier

Ultimate Bathtime –

One thing I try to do every single evening is make time for a nice bath. I actually went years not doing this. I used to have a quick bath or shower every morning for about 5 minutes and that was it – on with my busy day. When I got ill last year, it was one of the things I started doing to make myself feel better and now it’s very rare that I don’t take that break in my day.

I’ll usually put a few drops of bath oil in my bath, but sometimes I have a bath bomb and a face mask and have a proper pamper. I have a few special products that are just for me. I often watch some Youtube while in the bath or listen to an audio book, for some ultimate me time. It may seem hard to fit this time in and as someone who doesn’t stop all day I get that. But really it is worth making time for.

Long Walks and Runs –

When I was in my teens I got into the habit of walking my stresses away. I had a horrible boyfriend and things were not good. I used to just walk for hours and think my way through things and it did help. After I had Jess and didn’t drive at the time we used to walk everywhere, it kept me fit and was really good for lifting my moods and making me feel good. When I was 23 and passed my driving test, I kind of got out of the habit of walking. I still went to the gym and went running but not in the same way.

In the last few years I’ve started going for really long walks in very beautiful places. I’m lucky that I live near some gorgeous places to go and run and the fresh air and pretty views really lift my spirits. There are some really good apps such as iFootpath, which I use to find nice walking routes. Obviously don’t go anywhere too secluded and keep safe! Exercise can be a great way to have a bit of time to yourself and put a bit of self care time in too.

Self Care - Everyday Ways to Make Your Life Easier, Better and Happier

Being Organised and Having Routines –

Not all self care is fun. As an adult looking after yourselves involves taking responsibility for keeping on top of important things. From paying bills, to keeping your house in order putting things off and struggling is awful for having balance and calm in your life. The same goes for routines, things are much easier when you know what needs doing when. If you have routines for the boring things it can be much easier to make time for treats, rest and things that make you happy. I’ll often watch organisation videos on Youtube to give me ideas and keep me motivated. I also get up early and get the majority of my housework done before taking Lila to school, so I can start my day with less on my plate.

Pamper Time and Looking After me –

The best part of taking care of yourself is absolutely having a good old pamper. If you want to be really good to yourself, set aside an evening and set yourself up the perfect relaxing night. I like to put clean sheets on the bed, run a bath, put a face mask on, listen to an audio book while I soak in an indulgent bath bomb. I bring a smoothie and some herbal tea up with me and don’t move for an hour. It’s so important to just stop, and a bath, pamper and early night are a great way to de stress.

Self Care - Everyday Ways to Make Your Life Easier, Better and Happier

Listening to Records –

Having little rituals for stressful moments, can be a great way to calm down and find your centre. I love to brew a cup of tea, put one of my favourite records on and have a few minutes to relax and listen to some music. I also love the tactile quality of vinyl, I’m not surprised that people love records and record players so much, despite being able to just listen to music on our phones.

Spending Time with Friends –

Good times with good people are an essential part of looking after yourself. As someone who works on their own from home and spends a lot of the rest of my time with two children, I sometimes get a little lonely, bored and generally just starved of adult conversation. Luckily for me I have been blessed with some absolutely amazing friends and family.

In my 20s I slowly started to get a slightly smaller group of friends. This is quite normal as you grow up and your life changes. Now I’m 32 I am so happy to say that all my friends are people who have a positive effect on my life and I’m so much better for knowing them. We support each other, make time for each other and motivate each other and spending time with them, or just having a chat on WhatsApp is an excellent tonic. From a self care point of view, have friends who you can be the truest version of yourself with, the good the bad and the honest!

Self Care - Everyday Ways to Make Your Life Easier, Better and Happier

Making Time to do Things you Enjoy –

Our lives are busier now that they have ever been and it can be hard to schedule in time for things that you enjoy. This is why I find routine and organising so liberating. It allows me to make a little time for me. Being happy and living your best life, is good for the people around you too, and there is nothing selfish about putting your needs high in your priority list.

As a mum and wife I make sure that not only Rob and the girls do a lot of their own things, but that I do too. We make it work. These can be simple things like, walks, reading books, trips to museums or watching some TV. Rob, goes to football matches, fishing and the pub, Jess goes horse riding and to slime conventions and all sorts of other interesting things and Lila likes to go to the farm and park and play with her Barbies, she also love to bake and do paintings.

Self Care - Everyday Ways to Make Your Life Easier, Better and Happier

Appreciating What you Have –

There’s a lot to be said for having an attitude of gratitude. When we slow down and really take a moment to appreciate the small things it’s impossible not to see the blessings all around us. I’m all for keeping a positivity journal. Everyday write down 10 things that you have enjoyed, that made you happy and that you are grateful for. A hot cup of tea, a nice walk, the sunshine, a text from a friend, how pretty the trees and the flowers are, a successful day at work or school etc. The possibilities are endless. Appreciating what we have can also be applied to our lifestyles and possessions. We live in a very consumerist world, which is great, but rather than feeling sad about the things we can’t have, look at the things we do with gratitude and appreciation.

Getting Up Early –

When Jess started at her new school in September our morning routine completely changed. I’ve always been a night owl and used to stay up way too late and get up at the last possible minute to get everyone out of the door. Now I go to bed at 10pm and get up at 6. Both seem early, but where I’m losing evening hours I’m gaining morning hours where I feel fresher and more rested and I have time to dedicate to setting myself up for a happy and productive day. I try to get most of my housework done first thing, so I have free time in the day to work and I’m not too busy in the afternoon when the kids get in from school. This is such a great way to stay on top of everything.

Self Care - Everyday Ways to Make Your Life Easier, Better and Happier

Getting Enough Sleep –

This is probably the single biggest way to change your life. Not only is everything better when you’re rested and your body is working to it’s full potential, but it keeps you healthy, happy and is one of the best ways to look and feel your best. This year I have worked really hard on improving my sleep patterns. I get all my best ideas late at night, I’m the worst for watching ‘one more episode’ before bed. I used to live on about 5-6 hours sleep a night and now I go out of my way to get 8. Getting more sleep has changed everything for me.

Be a Good Person –

By the time I’ve done all the practical things I need to do like cooking, cleaning, washing, working, mothering and looking after me, there really isn’t much time to put some good back into the world. I do really try to make the people in my life feel happy and loved too I love giving my spare time to people and helping out where I can. I think it’s good to be proud of the person you are and try as much as possible to be the best version of yourself you can be. Even small things like leaving nice comments on people’s pictures or giving someone a smile, or just everyday nice manners can not only make other people feel good, but also make you feel good too.

Self Care - Everyday Ways to Make Your Life Easier, Better and Happier

Self Care Your Way –

Self care can mean a lot of different things to different people. I hope some of the things that have worked for me, will be helpful to you too. I’ll probably think of a few more things once this is published, but if you have any advice, opinions or things to add, feel free to add them in the comments. What are your top self care tips? I feel like I can always learn, grow and get better so positive advice is always welcome! What things do you do to make your life easier, better and happier.

For more posts like this check out the Health and Fitness category on the blog.

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I recently mentioned in a blog post, that for health reasons I needed to lose weight. Quite serious health reasons and ones that need to be taken seriously. I’m very body positive, in fact I’d go as far as saying I really do love my body most of the time, despite the many changes babies and life have put it through. In myself I am happy to stay a size 14 or be smaller it’s OK. But this is something I have to do. I’m not 100% sure putting it out there on here is the best thing to do, in case I fail. I hate words like fail and weight loss and losing weight and all these negative terms that make me want to run away and hide! I think I think I need to say that I’m working on making my body healthy and getting better.

But on to what I’m actually trying to talk about. I absolutely completely hate diets. Like really loath and despise them! This is just a me thing, I love hearing about other people success stories with Weight Watchers and Slimming World and things that have worked for them. I have seen people change their lives and have very positive outcomes from responsible plans like these.  But they are not for me. I have a lot of pressure in my life already and adding another thing to keep on top of and manage and organise does not take me happy.

Every time I’ve ever followed a diet, even if I’m enjoying the food and it’s going well, it makes me start to lose my mind a little bit. I hate attaching guilt to food and feeling bad if I eat too much cheese or have a treat. I also already eat a pretty healthy diet, I cook lovely home made food, I get more than my 5 a day, I eat healthy snacks (mostly), I drink water and don’t have too much caffeine. My weaknesses are cheese and savoury snacky things and if a doughnut is put in front of me, I will eat it.

Luckily, I absolutely adore exercise. I love running, walking, swimming and have recently started going to classes at the gym. I’ve tried yoga, pilates and spin classes and I’m really enjoying them. So my plan is to exercise almost every day if I can and to just keep an eye on what I’m eating, but not follow a specific plan. Healthy eating is really important to me and rather than focussing on cutting calories or not eating certain foods, I’m going to have fun discovering healthy choices, creating new recipes and eating absolutely delicious healthy food. But very much on my own terms and to my own rules.

I’m not going to be hard on myself if I eat something indulgent, I’m just going to move on and have a healthy rest of the week. I’m not going to feel guilty or go crazy or put too much pressure on myself. I want to be healthy and happy. The two things go hand in hand. I’m going to make my body healthy and get better without punishing myself and I’m going to look on this as something I am doing to be kind to myself, because it is a positive things and I don’t need words like loss and fail to get there.

I think my point here is that I want to enjoy it, treat it like a hobby and have fun. Not feel drained and guilty and half starved. Thats not well and thats not healthy. I also don’t want to aspire to be anything other than my best and most happy self. I would also really appreciate that if I do lose weight people don’t tell me I look better than I did before. I am just as good at this size as any other, I will just hopefully be a healthier more well version of the one I am now. I would absolutely love to hear people thoughts on this post and to hear anyone else experiences of doing this in a kind and positive way, without stress.

Please read my other post on this topic to put everything into a bit more context.

Outfit Details: Dress – Tu Clothing (from last year)

Bangles – Vintage

Shoes – Hallie Sandals – Hotter Shoes (current season)

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I am very lucky to have a pretty healthy relationship with my body, and luckily it is not something that causes me much upset. However I am currently on a fitness and possibly weight loss journey and there are a few things I wanted to talk about before I write about that. Firstly a little background on my body and it’s journey to where it is today.

I spent most of my life very thin.

I was always a very naturally thin child and teenager. I was lucky growing up to have reasonably big boobs, a little waist, flat tummy and I’m quite an average height. My body is something I was very lucky to grow up not worrying about too much. When you are thin, it is incredible how mean people can be to you about it. This is possibly the only thing that ever really bothered me about my figure at a young age.

My First Pregnancy.

When I fell pregnant at the age of 19 I absolutely piled on the pounds, I don’t to carry my babies lightly! When I had Jess aged 20, I gradually lost the baby weight by walking everywhere (I couldn’t drive back then). I was also completely skint. I went back to work when she was only 4 months old and basically didn’t have much time or money to eat much. I also had an absolutely horrible stressful time around then. This was when I got to my all time thinnest. I was comfortably wearing a size 6 and although this didn’t bother me, when I look back now I don’t even recognise myself.

Finding a Comfortable Weight.

Things got so much better for me as my 20s went on and I found myself at a comfortable size 8-10. This felt like a natural weight to me and I could eat what I wanted, exercise a little and felt very happy and comfortable. I did desperately want another baby though and it took a whole 2 years before I fell pregnant with Lila. Just like my last pregnancy I put on a lot of weight. It didn’t bother me too much as I fully expected to be back in my size 8 jeans after a few months.

After My Second Baby.

I don’t know if it was being a bit older, having a completely different lifestyle or just being happier, but I just didn’t lose much weight. It was so much harder the second time. Since having Lila my weight has gone up and down a bit, but I am at my biggest now. I’ve pretty much been the bigger to smaller end of size 14 since Lila was born, which is fine. I still feel gorgeous and sexy and I have filled a wardrobe with beautiful clothes that fit my body as it is now. There are bits I am self conscious of, like my tummy. there are clothes I wish I could wear, but don’t suit my figure. But I still love my body.

Needing to Lose Weight.

I think I could have comfortably gone on exactly how I was forever, until I got unwell last summer. I was diagnosed with Intracranial Hypertension a condition where your body produces too much spinal fluid and this put pressure on the brain. I started getting very bad headaches and pain behind my eyes and went through quite a horrible time really. I don’t really talk about a lot, because I like to just live my life and get on with it. I might write more about it all at some point when I’m ready. One of the things that is constantly linked with the condition is weight. Most of the people who suffer with IH are overweight women. So one of the things I really need to do to help myself is lose some weight.

Time to Begin.

I have always been very active and generally eat quite healthily. I find diets very emotionally stressful and draining, so for me I want to lose weight gradually by cutting out bad things and making healthier choices. I have also recently gone vegetarian (more about that in another post soon). Mostly I’ve been upping my exercise. I absolutely love going to the gym, walking, running and swimming and over the last few months I’ve been working on getting my fitness levels back up top where they were when I was younger. I’ve also been to a few yoga and Pilates classes and I love them. I feel like I’ve laid the foundations now and I’m ready to start my weight loss journey. I don’t want to lose much and I don’t want to be as thin as I was. But I want my body to be healthy and to work and to be happy.

Loving my Body and Being Kind to it.

I love my body, but part of loving it is being kind to it. I can love it when it was small, when it was big, when it was making my babies and now when it needs work. I do want to write about exercise and food and the steps I’m taking to get well again, but I also don’t want give the impression that there is anything wrong with the way I look now, or how bigger women or smaller women look. This is my body and this is about me looking after me and taking care of me. Most of all it is about health and not size.

It’s weird because I started this blog when Lila was a baby and I was a similar size to the one I am now. I have so many pictures of me as size 14 and obviously far fewer from before. I spent the first 25 years of my life as a size 10 or below and the last 7 as a size 14. I am excited to see where my body will take me over the next few years and I’m looking forward to being able to run faster, swim further, lift heavier weights and stretch to my toes and beyond!

I hope you don’t mind coming on this journey with me! I think that by putting it out there I might feel a bit more motivated to get on with it and put my best foot forward.

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