Letting Shit Go

Funny story, two recent posts on here were on the same two subjects I wrote about when I started this reincarnation of my blog three years ago. It's made me realise how much my life has changed in the last three years but also recognising that those posts (in fact, this entire blog) were the start of a new phase in my life.

With that in mind, I decided a few weeks ago that it was time to let go of the one last thing from my 'old' life that I'd been holding on to - my food & fitness blog.

(You can blame Facebook for this post, it's always bloody Facebook that sends people into a spin, isn't it?)

The On This Day thing threw up an old blog post from a good 5 years ago, back when I was well into health & fitness or, to be perfectly honest, obsessing about food and overexercising in a desperate attempt to not gain any weight. 

I'm not proud of this, but I'm also not embarrassed because I'm a firm believer that you cannot get to point C in life without going through A and B, so without all that I wouldn't be where I am today. However, I decided it was time to take that blog out of the ether.

I'd hate someone who was having a low self-esteem, or bad body confidence day to find that blog and think that's the life they have to craft to feel better about themselves because 1) it's impossible, as I hid so much from my posts, especially the damage dieting was doing to my mental health and 2) because being that obsessed about calorie intake, calorie burns and maintaining a small dress size is no way to live a happy life.

I feel like I can say that now from a point of wisdom. I've been bigger, I've been smaller, I've come to just be. Size now means nothing to me. Weight means nothing to me. Calories mean nothing to me. 

Because none of these things matter to who YOU authentically are

When I was a lot younger (around age 16/17) I had bundles of self-confidence. Some of the teenage girls I associated with didn't like it, they thought I was big headed, but I just liked the way I looked. I can't remember what dress size I wore then (my guess is 14-16) but I didn't really worry about it. I wore what I wanted, I ate what I wanted and I exercised a few times a week. All in all, I felt great about myself.

Then in my twenties, Weight Watchers happened. 

As much as I felt appreciative at the time for what that diet club did for me, I no longer feel that way. It tied my self-esteem and self-worth to a number on a scale. In fact, every diet since has done the same. Diets ruined my body confidence. I only ever felt worthy if I kept within a weight range, or ate a certain way, or exercised a certain number of calories off. Food had a scary power over me; it was reward, it was punishment, it was guilt, it was something I couldn't be trusted with.

Fucking food! The stuff we use for fuel, fun and health. I ruined it for myself by believing some dumbass faux-health dogma. And you know what the worst thing is? These diet clubs now have the audacity to market themselves as 'healthy eating' and 'healthy lifestyle' clubs. But they weigh you every week when you attend? GET IN THE FRIGGING SEA.

Diet mentality taken almost 2 years for me to shift. You thought losing weight was hard? Trust me, losing diet mentality is harder, and I have a short memory. Everyone has their way of doing it and what works great for one person might not for another (like a diet, LOL, IRONY ALARM) as it's a very sensitive, personal thing and therefore all you can do is listen to yourself. Trust your intuition. Not Points or Syns or whatever the fuck else you call them. Not using Fitbits to track your every move and dictate to you how much you're allowed to eat today. 

Just listen to you. Your body really does know best. It won't stuff you full. It won't starve you. It will ask for exactly what it needs.

Listening to my body meant I had to gain weight. 

Weight gain for me was the most terrifying thing. It was the worst thing. I couldn't think of anything worse than gaining weight and people commenting on it. 

Newsflash: I gained weight and no one has commented on it. 

I thought I'd feel so ashamed of how I looked and want to hide.

Newsflash: I think I look great. In fact I have more body confidence now than I've had during my whole adult life.  

I thought I'd never be able to eat well or exercise as well if I gained weight, I'd automatically be lazy. 

Newsflash: I eat what my body needs, wants and I exercise better now than I've done for years, on my terms, with no fitness trackers, and just for fun. 

Basically, I had to rewire my brain and remove all this negativity about weight gain and fatphobia and body image. I had to go back to 17 year old me and live on her terms. It's the best thing I've ever done.

No one cares what you look like. No one cares that you eat clean. No one cares what you weigh. No one cares how many calories you burned today.

But if you care SO MUCH that it's stressing you out and you lose hours per day thinking and/or worrying about it, it ruins your holiday or weekend away and makes you no fun to be around,  you might want to take a step back and go talk to someone about it. 

So, my old blog has been made private. I'm not hiding it due to fierce embarrassment of that part of my life, I can't hide it, it was who I was, how I felt and what I did to myself for YEARS. I'm really proud of the writing I did, I just don't like the content. That content is not me. Turns out, it never really was.

(There's also the small admin matter of having sponsored posts on there, which I cannot be bothered to declare and therefore making it private is the easiest way to keep it all for my reference but remove it from public digestion.) 

There's been a lot of me changes in the last three years, and as far as this one is concerned, it's for the better. 

You go do you, as authentically as you can. 

Authentic me wears flouncy shirts to work. YAAAS. 

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It's Britney, Bitch

This month sees the ninth chapter of The Bible being published, I of course mean Britney's latest album; Glory.

The Guardian celebrated this by writing an article with 10 of the best Britney songs in it. I don't mean to sound negative, but it sucks, so superfan here ::waves:: is going to write a blog post with a better list.

I have the goods to back up this article; I've been a fan since day one, I've an extensive CD and DVD collection (I might have gone minimal, but I'm not throwing those things out!) and I've been to three (count 'em, THREE) of Britney's world tours. 

No, YOU'RE obsessed. 

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

... Baby One More Time (1999)

The title track of this album is my karaoke song, it's full of cute love songs (I've definitely sang Born to Make you Happy when a bit drunk) and she does a fantastic cover of The Beat Goes On at the end of the album too.

Oops!...I Did It Again (2000)

Stronger. That is all. 

Britney (2001)

I remember playing this album a lot and watching the Live in Vegas DVD of this with my best friend even more. I think I like this album so much because of the positive associations with that dvd. Her cover of I Love Rock n' Roll has is another karaoke favourite, Overprotected was another night out with the girls dancing favourite ... and then there's a I'm a Slave 4U. I don't know what it is about this song but every time I've seen it performed live ... goosebumps.

In the Zone (2003)

This album opens with the collaboration with Madonna on Me Against the Music (and this mix is an absolute banger), there's the 'suicide' video that accompanied Everytime and the legend that is Toxic. Frankly, if anyone doesn't think this is the best pop song of the 2000's, then I'd question your judgement.

Toxic was famously turned down my Kylie Minogue, which made me start Googling songs that were turned down by other artists. Britney turned down Umbrella, which went to Rihanna. Small word, innit?

A greatest hits album made an appearance in 2004, which gave us a decent cover of a Bobby Brown song, sadly the video had K-Fed all over it. Ugh, Britney.

Blackout (2007)

2007 was a rough year in Britney terms and as much as I wasn't keen on this album at first, it's a grower. Piece of Me is a fantastic 'fuck you' to the press and Ooh Ooh Baby is a brilliant sexy dance track. 

Circus (2008)

This album accompanied another world tour so I listened to it A LOT. If the repetition in Womanizer didn't hook you, then nothing can. My top album track is Lace and Leather but as album tracks vary on release locations, outside the UK you can find one called Quicksand, which was orginally penned by Lady Gaga. As much as Gaga now says it's barely recognisable from the track she handed over I think you can still hear her stylistic fingerprints all over it.

Femme Fatale (2011)

Okay, this one I did play to death because I loved it. This showed the start of the EDM phase for Britney and therefore there's a lot of bangers on here. I Wanna Go - banger. Up and Down - banger. Trouble for Me - sexy banger. Then there's Criminal, which was filmed in London, so it has a special place in my heart.

She snuck out 3 at the same time, which as you would predict, is about threesomes (oh you!) and we have to talk about this collab with Rihanna, because ... wow.

Britney Jean (2013)

EDM ALARM! Work Bitch has landed! This is an absolute BANGER (capslock necessary) and was the start of Vegas Residency Britney (a trip I'm trying to line up for my next big birthday in a few years time). I'm very fond of Perfume too, as let's be honest, we've all been that girl at some point in life...

And so we arrive at Glory, 17 years on. At the time of writing I've only heard one track as I'm a good girl who avoids spoilers, and I like to listen to an album in the correct track listing order for the first couple of times (did The Beatles and Taylor Swift teach us nothing?!) so you'll probably get my views on it at a later date.

Maybe in another 9 albums time, eh?

If you'd like a Britney playlist, come have a blast of mine on Spotify. 
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Edinburgh Fringe 2016

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have had no way of avoiding my Edinburgh updates and story posts a couple of weeks back, I went up for a long weekend at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival.

I'd not been since 2013, so this time I wanted to make a longer weekend of it and see as many shows as I possibly could.

I AirBnB'd again (does anyone use hotels since these things existed? I love AirBnb!) and stayed in a small flat down by the Scottish Parliament.

This was perfect as it was a big walk up a hill every morning, but a big walk down hill after a long day!

Here's the shows I went to:

Bethany Black - (Extra)Ordinary

Abandoman - Life + Rhymes

Mitch Benn - Don't Fear the Reaper

Dolly Wants to Die

Robert Newman: The Brain Show

Brandon Burns and Colt Cabana do Comedy Commentary to Bad Wresting Matches!

The nice thing about Fringe is that you can do a really wide variety of shows, which I did. Bethany does funny, self-deprecating stand up about her life and all the twists she's experienced along the way, Abandoman do improvised rap, with a celtic twist (there was a hip-hop ceilidh, I'm not even joking), Mitch, who I first heard on Radio 4, writes brilliant parody-feel songs about life (and in this case, death) interspersed with stand-up, Dolly allowed the brilliant Helen Monks to tell audiences how stupid somethings in life really are (mashed up with some satire and feminism), Robert did a lovely, heart-warming show about brain science and emotions and Brandon and Colt did exactly what their show title said they would - and I laughed so hard that my face hurt. That deserved a selfie with Colt: 

Everyone loves a muppet face selfie!

Aside from all these brilliant shows, there was tons of other things to indulge in. I went to some amazing places for food and drink, like the super stylish The City Cafe, whose breakfast is enormous and comes with bottomless coffee for £8.50.

I found a Tanqueray Secret Gin Garden, where I tried Jinzu for the first time, with apple and elderflower:

My friend & I spent a lot of time just hanging out it George's Square between shows as it was pretty central and was home to a few venues and bars. A pint of Coast to Coast was only £4.50 and each one was filled to the brim!

There was an impressionist exhibition on at the National Gallery, which could not have been more up my street as I love me some Monet and Van Gogh.

But also Edinburgh is just BEAUTIFUL!

I mean, it's hilly, so you need at least 2 pairs of comfy shoes to rotate. The venues can be far apart, so leave an hour between your shows (not 20 minutes, like I had between Mitch and Helen's shows ...) and you will see 4 seasons in one day when it comes to weather, so bring layers and a brolly.

All hillwalking. Thanks for the cardio, Edinburgh. 

Despite extending my stay longer than last time, I'm going to have to extend my trip longer next time, as there was easily another day of shows I could have done.

Edinburgh, I'll be back next year. For longer, with more shoes.

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The August Round-Up

August is always a bloody belter, isn't it?

I'm so pleased the sunshine has stayed put and that my tv was full of Olympics for a few weeks. I flipping LOVE the Olympics! It's been non-stop gymnastics, weightlifting and horse disco in my house.

My mum came to visit, so it was nice to show her my new place and take her on a tour of my borough. She was able to stay in touch with home via FaceTime when she was at mine and, as we're women who love a charity shop, while we were shopping I found a near-new pair of Nine West platform courts for a bargain price of £20.

We got a new Harry Potter book, well, script in a book. Now I've got to read it and forget it before I go see the plays in March next year for my birthday.

I went on a boat trip down the Thames from Kew with a work Client, it was ace! I'd never been down the Thames on a boat before - so that's one off the bucket list. It was a nice sunny day, there was lots of free prosecco and I was home by early evening.

My housemate and I had a day out at markets; Borough and Spitalfields. Borough was mostly to look at food (and I may have got a bit excited and spent a small fortune on pretty tomatoes) and Spitalfields was for art. However, I fell into Collectif and bought a skirt in the sale. Ooops?

I saw Suicide Squad and couldn't see why everyone had such beef with it. I really enjoyed it (and, unpopular opinion alert, I have seen worse Marvel films). 

I went to the Great British Beer Festival (because I can never spend enough of my time in Olympia), followed by a  long weekend in Edinburgh at the Fringe festival (more on this next month).

Another ridiculous Christmas tree decoration for my mum! 

and now BANK HOLIDAY!! My fridge is filled with chilled beers and I'm going to go shopping and have a big relax. 

Stuff from me this month: 

Do you like my new layout? I'd been wanting to make my blog look a little more professional and all-encompassing for my other work for a while. I didn't want to move elsewhere and I didn't want to pay for a domain, so I decided to throw a bit of money at Pipdig and have a designed template. I look way more fancy now, right?

In other news, I became a member of the lovely nerdy team over at STACK this month. They're kindly re-posting all my geeky posts to their readership. If you're a fan of that side of my stuff do head over and say hello, they have podcasts and blog posts and unboxing videos  -  it really is a one stop shop. 

Stuff from the netz this month: 

Instagram Stories. As someone who limits the social media apps on her phone (I only have Twitter and Instagram) I was chuffed to see the arrival of stories. I love them! It's so nice to hear what some of my followers actually sound like. I use them lots so if you don't follow me on there already and want to see more from me, you can find me here.

Light is the New Black. A big book of woo, but I occasionally like to dip my toes into the world of woo and see what's new. This is a really nicely written, easily read book, full of positive enthusiasm and good mantras. Very woo-woo, though. Let me know if you could handle it!

Bridget Christie's Book For Her. This was my Audible pick this month and it's a very funny book about feminism. It's totally written in Bridget's voice and therefore perfect for an audio book.

Tarting up photos with Prisma because, dang, I'd make a great graphic novel character.

(I've been reading a lot of comics this month).

August has been very busy and very expensive. I was almost down to fumes in the run up to payday. I was counting down the hours! Having no money meant lots of early nights and gym classes, as they're already paid for. Turns out my gym does a great Wednesday night Zumba and Friday night Yoga. 

September is no quieter than August, but far less expensive. So far in the diary I can see rugby, a huge comedy gig, a tv show preview, another trip to the theatre and my friend Martin is taking me to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey because I've never seen it and that is terrible. Apparently. 

We'll see how it goes. Catch you next month. Enjoy the long weekend. 
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Great British Beer Festival 2016

My favourite festival of year, hands down, is the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia. 

Yep, that is pink beer. More on that in a moment. 

If you're new to my blog, or my drinking habits, this is the flagship event in the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) calendar. It's the home to over 900 Real Ales, Ciders, Perries and International Beers for 5 days a year. CAMRA have beer festivals all over the country all year round, but this summer one is always a highlight of the season for me. 

Here's how I approach it: 

I book the day off work when I want to go. Ideally I go no later than the Thursday, this is because by then there is a risk that some of the ales will have already sold out (there was an incident this year where one of the Fuller's ones sold out in 45 minutes - and that's one from just down the road in Chiswick) and also Thursday is traditionally hat day. I left my headgear at the mercy of my Twitter followers this year: 

... decision made. Lots of people enjoyed saying 'Hello Kitty' to me because of this. 

Mew :)

Next, I go out for brunch. This is basically the same tactic as lining your stomach with something decent before you go out on the lash on a Saturday night. Not that it's an event where you drink like that, but when I'm in for the day and trying lots of different ales, I don't like to do that on a delicate tummy. Bill's in Ealing was my chosen brunch venue this year. 

Then it's down to Olympia for 1pm to crack on with the event. I know, I told my friend Martin I'd be there from 1pm and he basically sent me the Whatsapp version of this: 

Look, it's not like I go in there and sink pints. This is a marathon, not a sprint and also 900 DRINKS TO CHOOSE FROM. It takes me 10 minutes at each bar to make a decision.

The bars are usually split up around the two large floor halls in Olympia into regions of the UK, then Europe and further overseas. The cider & perry bar has it's own space too. You're basically visiting a bar with 30 beers on that you have to select from. It's worth buying a £2 guide on the door so you can easily seek out tasting notes and alcoholic volumes to you can make a decision before getting to the bar. 

I drink halves in these events, it means I can try more beers. You can do pints, or even thirds, it's all up to you.

So here's my beer list for the day: 

Alongside that little lot, I was also trying the beers that all the guys bought in my group. I swear there was a Belgian one that tasted like the nicest red wine you could ever dream of. Yes really, I wasn't trashed. 

Oh, really unhealthy food happened too. When in Rome ... 

I had a very long day. I was done with drinking by around 7.30pm, but I stayed socialising until 9.30pm and my feet were dead. I was very thankful to get home and get into bed. 

I always keep my festival glasses, you can hand them back at the end of the event at get your £3 deposit back, but I like keeping them (I have nine now! One from every year I've been since moving to London) plus the next day it's good to have something to drink big glasses of water out of! 

My standout beer for this year was the pHuchsia from the London Brewing Co. Partly because of the name, partly because of the colour and partly because it was a mild sour raspberry beer, and sour beers really are my thing this year. 

Quite glad I only do this once a year, though, it's a pretty hardcore day! I'll be ready for another go next summer, though. 
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