What I Learnt from Taking an Instagram Break

Social media is a huge presence in our lives these days, and the more I hear about the dangers of social media for young and vulnerable people, the more I hear of people taking time away from it too. The constant updating, notifications, liking, sharing, and everything else that comes with sharing your life online, can be overwhelming and at times intimidating. Whether you use social media as a simple communication tool, or if it’s part of your business as well, it can become a constant distraction and at times, a source of anxiety. In fact, research shows that the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to suffer from mental health issues. Multiple studies have begun to focus on the disturbing association between online social networking and a variety of negative feelings and psychiatric disorders such as low self-esteem, anxiety, feelings of inferiority and increased symptoms of ADHD (source).

I love instagram. I am a hugely visual person and use it for inspiration, amusement, research, and of course to see what my friends are up to around the world. Being a blogger, and now a PT, it’s expected that I share a portion of my life with the wider world, and even use the platform as a marketing tool for new clients. It can become an integral part of everyday life, and not always in a positive way.

social media, blogger, instagram, mental health

(Credit: Elle Linton)

After a particularly stressful end to 2017, the lead up to Christmas was an anxious time for me. I wasn’t feeling festive, and seeing everyone else’s seemingly happy posts about Christmas plans, romantic getaways and family gatherings filled me with both envy and sadness. Why wasn’t I feeling festive? Why is everyone so happy and I’m not? I’ll freely admit that I got caught up in the endless cycle of scrolling though instagram feeling that my life was rubbish and everyone else’s was great. Now, I know that social media is a tiny snapshot of someone’s life and that it should be taken with a pinch of salt, however, when you’re already in a low mood, it can be hard to find that rational voice in your head.

Feeling low, stressed, and generally overwhelmed, I decided to take a step away from the ‘gram. After a couple of days of feeling a little lost when I opened my phone, I soon enjoyed the break and only returned on January 1st 2018. With a better perspective on things, I now want to share with you what I learned with nearly 3 weeks away from instagram.

1. It’s a Habit That’s Hard to Break

The first thing I noticed when I deleted the app is that whenever I opened my phone, on the bus, tube, when I got home from work etc, the first thing I’d do is go to click on instagram. It’s purely a habit, much like checking the time, and checking my emails, and it took a while to break that. Instead, I’d tap on my favourite podcast, meditation app, or find some music to listen to instead.

2. The Reason I Took Photos Had Changed

I love photography. Since my teenage years I’ve always taken a camera on nights out, birthdays, family events, last days of term, even lazy days in the park as a student. I even took photography as one of my A-Levels.  I love having photographic memories of these events, and have piles of photo albums full of prints. Soon that changed from always having a camera, to always taking photos on my phone. No problem there, but when I deleted instagram, I realised that when I opened the camera on my phone, my thought process was to take a photo for instagram, not to take a photo to savour the memory. My reason for taking photographs had shifted. Over Christmas, I took photos that I wanted to cherish that might never appear on social media. One of my favourites being the three generations of women in my family….ok I did put that one on facebook eventually…but that wasn’t the reason I took it. Not to mention some hilarious photos of me with my nieces. Taking photos should be about the memory, not about the ‘instagram-ability’.

family, social media, women

3. Followers Come and Go

The burning question in your heads if you’re a blogger is probably ‘Did you lose a load of followers?’ – well the simple answer is yes…but not a lot. My following dropped by about 2%, that feels like quite a lot when I’m not a blogger with a huge following in the first place, but I really wasn’t bothered by that. The followers I regularly interact with were still there when I logged back in, my engagement didn’t take too long to return, and I expect most of the loss was from bots unfollowing a seemingly inactive account. Followers will stick around for fresh content from a calmer, less anxious me, and if they didn’t, well I don’t want them following me anyway.

4. Nothing Bad Happened

Taking a break from instagram didn’t ruin my career. I didn’t miss half a dozen events. I didn’t lose all my followers. I didn’t become an online outcast. Nothing bad happened. In fact, I found time and space in my life to meditate, have wonderful conversations with my mum / brothers / friends without the need to check my phone or photograph my Christmas dinner, or ‘insta-story’ our Monopoly game. Not criticising those who do that, AT ALL. This post is not about telling people they should spend less time on instagram. What I want to say is; if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the constant online stimulation, feel that you’re falling into the comparison zone, or simply need to step away from your phone….it’s OK!! If you do take a break, I’d recommend deleting the app to avoid temptation 😉

social media, instagram, blogger, mental health

(Credit: Elle Linton)

My instagram hiatus was exactly what I needed. Now I’m happy to not post for a day or two, happy to not spend half an hour each morning scrolling through posts in bed, and happy in the knowledge that while social media is a part of my life I enjoy most of the time, it’s also something I can step back from when I need to practice self-care. If you’re thinking about taking a break, give it a go!

3 Things to Do, and Not Do, in the New Year

You can’t escape the new year barrage of emails, marketing, tweets, and spam regarding resolutions and new year plans. Growing up, I’d always make New Year’s Resolutions, varying from keeping my teenage bedroom tidy (failed every year – sorry Mum), or doing 100 sit ups every night (unaware of how properly to train my body), to cooking from fresh every night (and failing in the first week). I’d forget about them by February and probably make the same ones the following year.

These days I don’t make resolutions, but I do think of what I’d like to achieve over the year. Yes, that might seem like a New Year’s Resolution to you, but taking away the pressure of sticking so rigidly to something makes it a whole lot more encouraging, besides, labelling something a ‘fail’ if you don’t achieve it isn’t the best way to start a year in my eyes!

new year, 2018, blogger, fitness, lifestyle

(Photo: Elle Linton)

This year, I’m sharing with you 3 things you might want to do instead of making hard and fast resolutions, and 3 things you perhaps shouldn’t do as the new year begins.

DO review your personal goals

You might have 1 year, 5 year, 10 year goals etc. As each year passes, maybe take a look at your progress. Are they still SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic, time-framed)? Do they need adjusting? Maybe you want to change your direction entirely…that’s ok too. Write them down, or not if that’s too much pressure for you.

DO think about what you’re feeling, not what you’re doing
So many ‘resolutions’ are centred around doing new things. Joining a gym, going running, drinking less coffee, more water etc. This year I want to focus more on how I’m feeling instead of what I’m doing.

Feel more confident. Feel more settled. Feel happier. Then look at what you can do to feel these things. If getting more confidence means gaining strength then by all means join the gym. To feel more settled, I plan on logging into my Headspace app every day. To feel happier I’ll plan to see my friends more, or go on long walks when I’m feeling low.

DO have a clear out

There’s no time like a new year to have a clear out of your clothes, kitchen cupboards or under stair storage, right? It’s quite refreshing to start the new year with a clean, tidy house, and you can also do your bit for society by sending all your unwanted items to your local charity shop.

DO NOT feel the need to reinvent yourself

That includes crash diets, detoxes and anything that includes the words ‘New Year, New You’.

DO NOT pile on the pressure

A new year can seem daunting, especially when all over social media you see celebratory year-end round ups, all those ‘In 2018 I’m going to….get married, become a Mum, travel every continent, get my dream job’ proclamations. The pressure to say something profound, or have a grand plan can build up and become overwhelming. Take some time away from social media if needs be, remember that people choose what they post, sharing only a snapshot of their lives.

DO NOT disregard the previous year

Good or bad, you can take what happened in the previous year and learn from it. None of that ‘good-riddance 2017’ – even if it was the worst year of your life – find a tiny sliver of silver lining. If it was a tough one, then focus on the strength you had to get through it. If it was fuelled by heartbreak, try to remember positives, did your situation bring to light the support of a particular friend? Force you to make new friends? Never just throw last year into the trash pile, there’s always something that can be salvaged.

new year, 2018, blogger, fitness, lifestyle

(Photo: Elle Linton)

So there you have it. Not ‘resolutions’ in my eyes, but things to think about. What ever 2018 holds for you, I hope it’s an amazing one. I’m sure there’ll be ups and downs, that’s what makes life interesting, right?!

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The Wellness Gift Guide 2017

*Not a sponsored post, apart from being a Sweaty Betty ambassador, I have no connection to any of these brands.

It’s that time of year when your inbox is flooded with gift ideas….Gifts for Her, Gifts for Him, Gifts for Teens, Gifts for Your Loved One etc etc. But what about gifts for the wellness warrior in your life? Be it your yoga bunny bestie, your personal trainer partner, or simply someone you know loves to look after their mind and body, everyone deserves a treat this Christmas.

I’ve actually not started my Christmas shopping yet, which is unlike me, so in order to give myself a little kick up the backside, I’ve compiled a little list of some ideas for you, ranging from stocking fillers to more extravagant surprises. Take a look, and get shopping!

Treats up to £75

Flo 260 Massage Bar – £7.99

gift guide, christmas, massage roller

(tkmaxx.com)

Whether you want to admit it or not, rolling has so many benefits! For those who don’t love a foam roller, these handheld rollers are a great idea to get deep into those sore muscles. They might not thank you immediately (rolling is painful at times) but they will in the long run.

 

Kikki-K Wellbeing Diary – £21

gift guide, kikki-k, diary 2018, wellbeing

(kikki-k.com)

Not just dairy, but full of inspiration and prompts for a happy and healthy 2018.

 

S’well Bottle – from £25

gift guide, christmas, health, wellness

(swellbottle.com)

I am a massive fan of S’well bottles…I have two! Keeping cold drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for 12 hours, I have a traveller one for coffee and a bottle as above for water. They’re also completely leak proof and come in so many gorgeous designs!

 

Lululemon Run It Out Ear & Neck Warmer – £25 each

gift guide, lululemon, running, christmas

(lululemon.co.uk)

No-one likes cold ears, or a chill down their necks, so these Lulu warmers are a great idea for outdoor training. Buy one, or both for the matching set!

 

Sweaty Betty Gym Clutch – £35

sweaty betty, gift guide, gym, christmas

(sweatybetty.com)

If you’re lucky enough to have a gym just a stones throw from where you live or work, you probably don’t need a huge gym bag to fill with unnecessary baggage. This little clutch from Sweaty Betty is perfect for your gym pass, keys, phone, headphones, purse and maybe a little deodorant for a post workout spritz. I love the colour, and if you are gymming it further afield, then you can simply sling this in your main gym bag to make sure you don’t forget your essentials!

 

Sweaty Betty Velvet Padded Bra – £45

sweaty betty, gift guide, christmas, luxe

(sweatybetty.com)

I’m honestly not sure of the usefulness of a plush velvet sports bra, but I love it anyway! In fact, Sweaty Betty doesn’t even name this a ‘sports bra’ so I vote it gets worn underneath a fancy New Years Eve outfit for some comfort! Maybe this can be a treat for the lovely lady in your life?

 

Cowshed Knackered Cow Spa in a Box – £65

gift guide, cowshed, christmas

(cowshedonline.com)

I don’t know any health and fitness person who doesn’t like a night of relaxation and indulgence. In fact, if you want to earn all the partner / sibling / bestie / housemate points, get home early, run them a bath with this gift pack and treat them to a calming pre-Christmas night in…..hmmmm can anyone do that for me?!?!

 

Indulgent gifts over £75

Urbanears Plattan 2 Bluetooth Headphones – £85

gift guide, urbanears, christmas, music

(urbanears.com)

If like me, you’re (ahem, or the person you’re buying for) constantly listening to music or a podcast in the gym or while running, then the new Urbanears wireless headphones are going to be right up their street. Foldable, and with 30 hours of wireless time, they’ll never be stuck with awful gym music again!

 

Fitbit Alta HR – £129.99

gift guide, christmas, fitbit, fitness

(fitbit.com)

If chunky heart rate monitors aren’t your favourite thing, then the Fitbit Alta HR might be the best gift yet. The slimmest fitness tracker with heart rate technology, Fitbit have designed this in a range of attractive colours. Tracking exercise, sleep, heart rate and the usual steps etc. it’s a great gift for someone who’s either a fitness pro or just beginning their healthy journey.

 

Eastpak Stand Holdall – £200

gift guide, yoga, eastpak, christmas

(Emilie James / Eastpak)

Now this is a big indulgence, but since spotting it on the lovely Emilie’s instagram (@lovaine_james) I have been in love. Eastpak are moving with the times with this limited edition range, which also includes a gorgeous back pack. This weekend bag includes a yoga mat sling, making it the perfect gift for the yogi in your life. Not keen on the colour? It comes in a dark grey/black too.

 

The list could be endless, but I’ll stop there for now. Perhaps this will give you some ideas to share with your loved ones, or help you choose the perfect gift for the fitness fanatic in your life. And hey…..don’t forget your LOVELY personal trainer….treats are ALWAYS welcome. As is chocolate.

 

*As I mentioned earlier, no brand has requested these items to be featured in this post. All views my own.

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The Decathlon Blogger Community

When I’ve heard friends and bloggers talk about Decathlon, and when I’ve briefly popped into, or passed a store, I’ve assumed its for outdoorsy people and runners. How wrong I was! When I finally looked into the company, I found that not only is their company ethos ‘Making Sport Accessible For The Many’ but they stretch far beyond hiking and running. A multi-brand empire, they cater for all things gym, cycling, swimming, running, trekking and much more. So when I was then invited to be part of Decathlon’s Blogger Community, I jumped at the chance to learn more about the company, and also spread the word about what Decathlon has to offer.

As an introduction to the brand, and as a meet up for the Decathlon bloggers, I recently headed to their Canada Water HQ for an evening of sport and trivia. Aside from having a catch up with some of my favourite blogging buddies, and meeting new ones too, it was a chance for me to explore the Decathlon enterprise.

And what an enterprise it is! With stores in 40+ countries across the world, and 33 (and growing) in the UK, Decathlon has big ambitions for the future. Championing quality brands such as Domyos – for fitness, Quechua – for outdoors and camping, Tribord – for anything water based, and more, their strive for excellence and a wide range of options. As I mentioned before, their company ethos is all about making sport accessible, but they’re also innovative, having won numerous awards for their own products. These include Best Tent and Best Road Bike to name but a few.

The evening itself was a team circuit training session and sport quiz. Did we get competitive?? I’d be lying if I said no, but we’re all sporting people in one way shape or form, so perhaps that was to be expected. Fun times aside, the Decathlon Bloggers Community is as varied as the company itself (famously there are 350 different sports played among their staff), from me the yogi/PT, to marathon and ultra marathon bloggers, active travel and everything in between, check out the rest of the crew on Decathlon’s website.

Stay tuned as I share more about the brand and their products in the future. Thanks Decathlon for including me in your growing community, I can’t wait to get more involved!!

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Be Who You Want To Be At Moreno Boxing

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There’s only one thing I’ve found that literally gives me jelly arms, and that’s boxing. I’ve done a few classes at some of London’s boutique boxing style studios, and I really enjoy not only the workouts, but the obvious stress release that hitting a punch bag can give you. I’d heard of Moreno Boxing before, since Carlos Moreno opened his first studio close to where I used to live in Dalston, but as his enterprise grows, a new location has opened up in Clapham. Last week, I was invited, along with some of my favourite blogger buddies, to try his signature classes.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

Carlos Moreno

Former amateur boxing champion, Carlos Moreno, founded Moreno Boxing in 2015, when he saw a gap in the market where people could get fit, learn boxing the proper, technical way, without the need or desire to enter into any kind of fight or competition. Focusing on teaching real technique instead of ‘boxercise’ style moves, as well as strength training and cardio, Moreno Boxing soon became the stand out studio for boxing training with clients quickly seeing results and achieving their goals.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

Carlos hand picks his trainers and keeps it simple with just two classes on offer at both locations; Technical Intensive Boxing (TIB) and Intensive Boxing Cross Training (IBXT). Us bloggers had the privilege of trying out both classes at last week’s event, and boy did we work hard!!

Technical Intensive Boxing

Armed with pads and gloves, Carlos took us through the proper technical way to jab, cross, hook and upper cut. This class breaks down the movement piece by piece, including how to defend and how the legs help to, excuse the pun, pack a real punch!! Then, working in pairs, we built up some punch sequences, developing our co-ordination, strength, power and agility.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

I loved this class more than I expected to. Learning the proper way to punch, and safely receive a punch on the pads inspired me to look into training further, and incorporating pad work into what I offer as a Personal Trainer.

Intensive Boxing Cross Training

Aimed to compliment the TIB class, IBXT combines classic boxing drills with crossfit style sessions incorporating kettlebells, battle ropes, barbells and much more. A class aimed to not only improve strength but cardio and endurance as well, it’s a super tough workout that trains the whole body.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

Due to injury, I didn’t take part in this class, but wow, did it look like a killer session. I’ve no doubt that anyone attending these classes regularly would see amazing changes in their fitness levels.

The Studios

Equipped with everything you need for a great sessions, Moreno Boxing has a ‘no-frills’ approach to its studios. The new Clapham location has a full-sized boxing ring, crossfit rig and state of the art, water filled punch bags. Both locations provide gloves and pads, and you can purchase hands wraps as well.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

All in all, I was very impressed with what Moreno Boxing has to offer. Just chat to Carlos for a minute or two and you can see how passionate he is about his sport and sharing his skills and knowledge with everyone around him. If you’ve never tried boxing before, then give it a go. If nothing else, you’ll have the immense satisfaction of release the day’s stresses against an innocent punch bag, and leave knowing you’ve had one amazing workout.

Thanks to Eliza and Healthy Living London for organising a great event. It was so great to catch up with some of my favourite blogging buddies over healthy treats from The Urban Kitchen and Borrow My // Blender, as well as have a great workout.

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British 10k – A Spectator’s Point of View

Being a fitness blogger that doesn’t run, it’s not very often that I’m invited to take part in races, so when a lovely email came along from Virgin Sport British 10K, my first instinct was to decline politely as always, explaining that my joint condition doesn’t allow for high impact activities such as running. Then I got to thinking, my boyfriend is a very keen runner, having run half marathons and 10Ks in the past, and I’ve never actually been to watch a major race in London, so I suggested that he run in my place, and I write about my experiences as a race spectator…so that’s what we did!

virgin sport, british 10k, running

A Word on the Race

Now, even though I’m writing from a spectator’s point of view, it’d be a bit silly of to not mention Cyrus’s experience at all! So here’s a little insight into his race, and how we found the whole process from start to finish line.

Pre-race, Cyrus’s had a rather early wake-up call, being in one of the earliest start pens. We headed into a very empty Central London, spotting other runners on the tube, race numbers at the ready, bleary-eyed supporters clutching coffee cups as they gave up their Sunday mornings to watch their loved ones run around Westminster (I was one of them too).

As we got closer to the bag drop area, things started to get busier, but everything was clearly sign posted, with specific areas for dropping belongings relating to race number. As I understand from other bloggers who have done these races, the long toilet queues are inevitable, but staff were on hand to helpfully move people to other queues that were shorter, and everyone seemed fairly jovial despite the early start.

During the race, Cyrus reported a decent number of water stations, essential considering it was 25 degrees and getting warmer by 9am, and a clearly marked route taking in some of the great London scenery.

virgin sport, british 10k, running

From the Sidelines

After dropping Cyrus off at blogger hospitality, I made my way to the main spectator area at Trafalgar Square. An hour or so before the race was due to start, it was still largely empty save the entertainment sound check, a couple of early bird charity cheering stations being set up, and one or two faithful family members setting up camp with coffee and bacon sandwiches….yep, that was me too!

Virgin Sport had set up Fan Zones, with a nifty little route between each location to make seeing the runners at different stages easier for spectators – or ‘spectathletes’ as they like to call them. Complete with live music and entertainment, they made the day a fun-filled event for the whole family.

virgin sport, british 10k, running

My biggest fear, despite being right at the front of the fence, was that I’d miss seeing my other half running past. I had no idea how spread out runners would be, how the tracking would work, or even his exact starting time. The Virgin Sport App allowed me to select Cyrus’s race number, and those of some other blogging buddies I knew were running, and supposedly follow them on the app using their trackers. Unfortunately, both myself, and the girl I’d got chatting with next to me who was trying to track her husband, couldn’t connect properly to the trackers. They didn’t seem to activate properly until 5k, we were standing at 4k!

Whether our internet was a little sluggish, or the trackers were having trouble activating, all of the people I were following were reporting as ‘Waiting to Start’ and suddenly kicked to life around the 5k mark. We were waiting at 4k, and luckily I managed to sport Cyrus, purely by watching race numbers that were in the same starting pen letter as him, and by roughly knowing which pacer he’d be running with. After that, his tracker worked perfectly, allowing me to follow where he was on the route, and meet him after the finish line.

Despite this little glitch, being a spectathlete was great! Once the runners started going past, the crowds increased, cheering was abundant and everyone was having fun. Virgin Sport made it easy to negotiate the closed London roads with a special route for the spectathletes to follow. Getting back to the bag drop was simple, and the day was done!

virgin sport, british 10k, running

Many thanks to Virgin Sport for allowing Cyrus to take my place, and for a super fun race day. We were lucky that the weather played ball and provided us with a gorgeous, sunny morning and Cyrus ran a very respectable 46.55 minutes!! With his very cool new bling around his neck, we headed for a well deserved roast dinner and then home for a little nap. All in all, a Sunday well spent!

virgin sport, british 10k, running

If you’re thinking about entering a Virgin Sport event, go for it! And if you’re a spectator, do go along and enjoy the atmosphere, it’s very exciting when your loved one runs past. I was so excited to cheer for Cyrus, I forgot to take a photo!! Luckily, a free race photo captured his race perfectly.

Thank you Virgin Sport!

My boyfriend received a complimentary place in the British 10k in return for this post. All views my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.

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