Sunday, 18 March 2018

5 years of All Things Beautiful | What I love about it and why I keep on blogging...

I cannot believe that it's been five whole years. This week marks five freaking years since I spontaneously created this little space after discovering the Blogosphere, one lonely night while sat in bed in uni halls, feeling incredibly homesick and absolutely desperate for an escape from reality. Back then I was a somewhat timid 19-year-old girl, who was scared of the future and the changes that would come with it. Today I feel empowered, determined, and at 24 years old I'm more confident and headstrong than ever before. 
It's true that, like me, the Blogosphere has completely evolved over the years. It's gone from something that only those who were really involved in it knew about, to an incredibly fierce industry that has taken the media by storm. I'm the first to admit that when I first started I was worried about telling my "non-blogger" friends about it. Was it weird that I spent my spare time writing about makeup products and showing off the clothes I wore, whilst speaking to random people I'd never met over the internet and obsessing over flatlays, hashtags and all things marble? Fast-forward five years and now some of my friends blog, others are obsessed with certain YouTubers and too many to count follow some of my fave bloggers on Instagram. 

It's also true that, like many others who started out in the "early days", I feel that blogging has lost its personality a little. Long gone are the Sunday evening Twitter chats and the mirror-posed-selfies showing off your latest Topshop haul finds. Today it's all about that minimalist aesthetic, professional photoshoots and a feeling that unless you have 10k followers and beyond that there's no point in bothering at all. I've definitely felt like I can't keep up with the beast that the Blogosphere has become, and last year I questioned whether to pack it in completely; but this blog has been with me through the highs and lows of my first steps into adulthood, and I want to continue documenting my journey and following the journeys of others for years to come. 

That's the reason why I still blog. I blog because, to me, this little creative space is an outlet for me to express, reflect and record everything that's going on in this whirlwind that I call life. In five years I've written about my struggle to settle in university, my homesickness, my dissertation stress, the happiness I felt when graduating and being accepted onto an MA course. I've taken my first steps in my chosen field. I've written about my internships, how this small-town Welsh gal took on London life. I've expressed my joy at how I finally kickstarted my career within the media, how I moved into my own place in Cardiff, how I strived to succeed in my job, and how, now, I'm ready to take the next step and buy a home of my own. It's been there through every high and low, every milestone, and I don't quite feel ready to say goodbye to all of that yet. 

Blogging for me is no longer about the opportunities, the need to grow my platforms, or the chance to make money. I've never wanted to become a full-time blogger, and I doubt whether I'd even enjoy it anyway. For me, blogging is all about sharing my thoughts and feelings about a particular topic, or during a particular time in my life, and the aim is to share in the hope that I will help someone else one day who is struggling or is in need of a boost in some way. 

This time last year I was questioning whether I should even continue blogging at all. Honestly, I feel like 2017 was an incredible year of growth and change, but I did lose myself a little along the way, and in 2018 I vowed to keep on blogging and to channel my creativity in any way I could. I'm so glad I did. Writing has always been such a release for me, and to be back writing, photographing and reading regularly has fuelled my creative passions and has allowed me to find that tiny piece of me that went missing again. 

So there you have it. Five years, nearly 600 posts, countless events, one television interview, a shift from beauty to lifestyle, and host of amazing new gal pals who I've met along the way. It's been a blast and long may it continue... 

Lots of love. xoxo

Sunday, 11 March 2018

8 lifestyle changes I made to feel body confident again.

About three years ago I overhauled my diet and lifestyle. I went from living off the typical student diet of microwave meals and vodka, to fuelling myself with veggies and learning to love exercise again, and I managed to shift the pounds I'd piled on at university and felt the most confident I ever had in the process. I no longer felt self-conscious. I pushed myself by attending different gym classes and I actually fell in love with running. I got interested in nutrition and worked hard to nourish my body. I felt so much better, physically and mentally, and enjoyed challenging myself.

It was a wonderful feeling, but as my studies took over my life in 2016 and I started a new job where I was constantly away from home in 2017, my healthy lifestyle fell by the wayside a little. I still continued to work out near enough to five times a week and tried to make healthy choices where I could, but it wasn't as much of a priority and honestly I was left feeling a little deflated. 2018 was the year I vowed to get back to feeling my most confident, and by making the following simple lifestyle changes over the past few months I can happily say I'm there again.

1. Move more

Have you realised just how much time we actually spend just sat down? Sitting in the office, sitting in the car while driving or commuting to the office, sitting down when we go out to grab a coffee at lunch time, sitting down in the evening after a busy day of being sat down. I pretty much spend the majority of my day sitting on my arse, without even wanting to! Since the new year I've vowed to move more.

In the week I'm making a conscious effort to walk to work when I can, and at lunch time I've been dragging my colleagues out for a stroll in a bid to get my steps up and to get some fresh air in the process. Even a half hour walk leaves me going back to my desk feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the day. On the weekends I'm also making an effort to get out and get walking. Living in Wales means I'm surrounded by beautiful places to visit, but I've really been enjoying walking through Cardiff and all the city parks over the past few weeks too. I seriously underestimated just how much of an impact simply walking can have on your life. It's so good for your body and mind.

2. Don't deprive yourself

This is another thing that I've noticed has had a huge impact on how I feel and my visible results too. I try to stick to a pretty similar meal plan each day - a decent breakfast, lots of fruit, a light lunch and a snack before I go to the gym, before my evening meal - and most days I avoid sugary snacks (especially now as I've given them up for Lent!). But I do allow myself to indulge every now and again. I used to try and deprive myself of eating anything that is considered "unhealthy", and it made me very "food conscious" and would often leave me feeling incredibly guilty if I did give in and eat it anyway. Food should not make you feel this way. Now, if I fancy a slice of garlic bread when I'm out for dinner I'll have it. Likewise, if I want a handful of mini eggs to keep me going when I hit a wall in the office then I do. I find myself making healthier choices because of it. Heck, I actually find I work out better the day after I've eaten a giant pizza the night before; carb loading and all that!

3. Get enough sleep

One of the main things I wanted to stop in 2018 was the feeling that I had to go out until the early hours and get drunk in order to spend time with friends. I think moving to a new part of the city, starting a new job and meeting new people meant there was a lot of socialising going on, and it actually left me feeling pretty crap, both physically and mentally. Since practising the art of saying no, and kicking my FOMO to the ground, I've been resting more on weekends, have been getting early nights and I honestly feel so much better for it. I am one of these people that needs at least 9 hours of sleep to function well the next day, and honestly I love waking up on a weekend feeling fresh after a decent night's kip and ready to take on the day. My general heath is a lot better, and I've been able to train harder too. 

4. Keep your workouts fresh 

My favourite way to work out is to attend fitness classes at my local gym, and over the past few months I've really enjoyed trying out the different classes that Pure Gym Cardiff has to offer. I've been lifting heavier weights, which is the best stress reliever IMO, and I've also been getting my butt back into running. I fell in love with running a few years ago, but pretty much stopped going out over the last year as I was so busy with work. Now though I try and do a longish run (5k or more) at least once a week, and mix them in with my workouts. It means I never get bored, and I'm really excited for spring so I can finally get out in the evenings again.

5. Eat out less 

I'm a sucker for dining out. I love going out for meals, but in a bid to save money and to look after myself a little better I've reduced how often I go out for dinner and am eating home cooked meals instead, and I feel a lot better for it. I probably do dine out at least once a week most weeks, but I don't mind so much now that I'm not going out as often on the weekends. I've also enjoyed getting more into cooking meals that I'd usually eat out at home. I feel far less bloated as I know exactly what's going into the meal, and it's a great way to boost my (mediocre) cooking skills too.

6. Drink more water/less alcohol

This also came as part of my bid to look after my mind a lot more, and the benefits have also been great for my body confidence. I've only been out for drinks about three times this year and generally I feel a lot less tired and groggy. I'm not itching to eat badly after a night out, I'm getting far more sleep, I'm able to train a lot harder int he gym, and my skin is so much better. My mood has also improved ten-fold and it just feels nice to be me again.

7. Give yourself something to aim for

2018 was also the year I decided I would run a half marathon, having said for about two years that I wanted to do one and never actually getting round to doing it. So, in January I signed my mum, myself and my uncle up to run the Cardiff Half Marathon in October and it's really given me the boost I needed to get to the gym, especially on those early mornings. I love setting goals, and I'm quite determined when it comes to achieving them. Admittedly, I'm rather terrified, but October is a fair bit away so I have plenty of time to get my distance up. I'm not worried about timing, I just want to complete the race without stopping or walking. I'm also doing my first ever 10k race in two weeks time, so I'm excited to get out there and see how I get on!

8. Remind yourself of how well you're doing

I think it's always easier to put yourself down than boost yourself up but I'm making a real effort to think positively and to applaud myself for the changes I've made and the results I've gained. Looking back at where I was and realising how far I've come is a great motivator, and I also love seeing and supporting other gals who are doing the same thing. You go huns!

Lots of love. xoxo

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

I don't have a "blogging niche", but that's okay.

I was scrolling through my old posts on my blog earlier, as I often do when I'm feeling a little nostalgic, when suddenly I had the strangest realisation. 

I'd read through a travel post, followed by a post about interiors. I'd shared a rambling post all about why I'm embracing Instagram, accompanied with my attempt at "Instagram-esque" outfit shots (cue looking into the distance as though the photo is completely candid when in actual fact I've planned to take snaps all day and that's the only reason I'm wearing makeup), and next up was a post about health and wellness. Four completely different posts, written by little old me, and it hit me. 

I have absolutely no blogging niche. 

None. I'm not like those gorgeous fashionistas, sharing outfit snaps that look like they've come fresh out of Elle. I can hardly call myself a travel blogger, when I manage to get away about 3-4 times a year. I love fitness and wellbeing, but I've always been too nervous to snap photos of myself in the gym. I can't even call myself much of a beauty blogger anymore, even though I do still enjoy sharing a review from time to time.

I realised that I don't actually come under a "category" anymore, and I wondered for a second whether this was a good thing. Should I try and steer myself down a particular avenue, try to focus more on integrating myself into one part of the blogosphere? Or should I continue to post about whatever weird and wonderful idea I have bubbling in my head, whenever the need to write and release arises?

I guess that's what lifestyle blogging is all about. It's about writing about your life, and it doesn't matter whether that means sharing what product your putting onto your face, what food your stuffing into your face, or the places that made your face smile and your eyes light up like fireflies on a late summer's evening. 

It's about you, and having no niche whatsoever is absolutely fine. 

One of my previous posts discussed how I'm no longer wowed by the latest beauty product to hit the market and, while I'll never stop spending on clothes and shoes, I'm now far more invested in making memories. I enjoy writing these rambling posts as much as I enjoy reading them, and I guess that's my niche. I'm a rambling blogger, putting into words on a page whatever thoughts are in my head that day, and that's the way it's going to stay.  

Do you think you need a niche to make it work in the blogosphere?
Lots of love. xoxo

Friday, 2 March 2018

The empowerment through saying no when you're very much a "yes" person.

One thing I vowed to do this year was to take better care of myself, both physically and mentally. You see, I'm very much a "yes" person. I'm always keen to try new things, and visit new places. I love having a diary that is filled to the brim with events, social gatherings, work commitments and planned workouts, and I definitely thrive off being busy. But I'll also confess that I'm a bit of a people pleaser. I do worry what people think, even though I wish I didn't, and I hate the thought of upsetting people, which sometimes has me running here, there and everywhere in a bid to keep people happy, when all I really want and need is a night in with nobody but the Kardashians to keep me company.
The lead up to Christmas was crazily hectic for me. I was seriously busy with work, and there were social gatherings aplenty to attend, which would often result in me staying out until the early hours and spending the next day next to the toilet with a headache from hell. There was also just a lot going on in this little brain of mine, and saying yes to everything and everyone eventually left me feeling like absolute sh*t, and I wound up catching the flu and being bed bound for a week over the New Year period. 

It was almost the kick up the arse that I think I needed to finally admit defeat, and to accept that I can't always say yes to everything. It reaffirmed that I really need to start prioritising my health and wellbeing over people pleasing, and I decided that it was time to start saying no to things and events that I didn't actually want to go to. 

So, that's exactly what I've done. Since January I've started to say no more, and there really is something truly empowering about it. There's something pretty great about opting for a Saturday night in, where I'm tucked under freshly washed bed sheets by 10pm, rather than a night of downing unnecessary and unwanted shots at some shit, overcrowded club. There's something even greater about waking up on a Sunday morning, feeling fresh (and admittedly a little smug) as I head to the gym while everyone else is posting sorry Snapchats about how dead they feel.

I've said no to nights out, no to events where I'd end up spending lots of money and am already questioning whether I want to go, no to social gatherings when I know one of my favourite gym classes is on that night. I've said no to unwanted alcoholic drinks whilst out for dinner with friends, no to staying out late when I really want to go to bed, and generally I've just ensured I put myself first sometimes. 

It's funny because most of the examples I've listed revolve around alcohol, and the FOMO I used to get if I ever dreamed of missing out on a night out, that always begins with playing drinking games like the Ring of Fire and ends with me waking up on a Sunday morning wishing I'd never bothered. I feel like since the start of the year I've really started to prioritise the things I like to do, rather than what everyone else expects. 

Since realising the power of saying no, I've been really focusing on my fitness. I finally feel happy and confident in my own skin again, and I've pushed myself into training for a 10k run and even signed up for a half marathon in the process. I've had the time to be more creative, and have got back into blogging and writing, and many of my weekends have been spent wandering around Cardiff and taking pretty photos for the 'gram (if you know, you know). I've started saving for my own place and any money that would usually be spent on going out and keeping people happy is now going towards a new home. I've made more time for friends, family and myself, and generally I feel so much happier, healthier and far more content. 

Of course, this doesn't mean that I'm never going to say yes to anything ever again. My diary is still full of scheduled events, meetings, catch ups and things to do, but now they are events I've said yes wholeheartedly to, and ones that I'm really, really excited for. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's good sometimes to say no. You can't always be the life and soul of the party, and sometimes putting your health above your hectic schedule is needed.

Lots of love. xoxo