I have suffered from sleep problems on and off throughout my adult life, but the worst episode I had started 3 years ago and went on until last year. It is so debilitating and exhausting when you can’t sleep and trying to explain that weird ‘trapped’ feeling when your staring at the ceiling at 4am waiting for the sun to come up is impossible. 

Personally, I have decided to stay away from medication and try self care remedies.  I have managed to overcome my sleeping issues myself and although I know these steps won’t work for everyone they really helped me and now I can get off to sleep quickly almost every night. Here are a few simple tips and lifestyle changes that I have made which have really worked for me.

Go to bed earlier.

This may sound strange but this is the thing which has helped me the most I think. My acupuncturist told me that at 11pm we (humans) get a burst of energy and endorphins (this is where the phrase ‘burning the midnight oil’ comes from and why many artists and writers insist they do their best work in the middle of the night!).  We can avoid getting this burst if we are already asleep by 11pm! It might sound like the opposite of what you want to do if you have trouble dropping off but simply changing my regular bedtime to 10.30pm has made a really big difference to my routine.

Sorry, no lie ins!

Everyone’s insomnia is different and I know a lot of people can’t sleep in at all, but with me if I had a day off or late shift the next day I would often lie in until 10 or even 11am trying to ‘catch up’ on sleep. By forcing myself to get up at 6am every weekday for a workout and 8am on the weekends I have established a kick ass routine and by the time the evening comes around I’m shattered from getting up so early so fall asleep easier! You know when parents pack their kids’ weekends full of activities to ‘wear them out’ – well it works for us adults too!

A little bit of exercise every day.

I know it’s so easy to say but doing some exercise everyday has helped me to become a fitter, more active person and has definitely improved my sleeping, and my well being in general.

Stop trying too hard.

On the occasions I do go to bed and I can’t drop off I don’t stress about it like I used to. I leave the room (nothing worse than a deep-sleeping partner’s heavy breathing when you can’t drop off!) and usually have a bath or read a book. It doesn’t take long to start getting heavy eyelids.

ASMR.

This is a new one for me, but in someways has made the biggest difference. Sometimes there are some nights when I just can’t shut my brain off and when I close my eyes my head is buzzing with thoughts and stresses. This is when I get out my Ipad (on low brightness), plug in and listen to some ASMR videos on Youtube. I won’t go into too much detail as I’m no expert but ASMR ‘artists’ create videos using special microphones and sounds to create a sense of deep relaxation, and it really works! It’s sooooo relaxing. These videos have really helped me when all else fails and they have me drifting off in no time.

You can read more about ASMR here.

I do understand that these won’t work for everyone but I really hope that this might help someone – because I know how frustrating it can be! In our busy lives sleep is often the first thing to go and more and more doctors and researchers are proving just how important it is to our physical and mental health. If you are really struggling make sure you ease the burden by chatting it through with someone you are close to or your doctor.

Have you guys found any self-help methods for sleeping that really help you?

There is no denying that the staying on top of your health and fitness regime is HARD during the festive season. For one thing, it’s cold and dark and who wants to get their bum down the gym in those kind of conditions. Secondly, the number of parties and social events in most people’s calanders tend to step up a gear at this time of year meaning more food, drink and general merriment. Bah humbug say my abs.

Here are my top tips for getting the balance right and managing health and fitness without losing out on having fun:

💗 Indulge in moderation. If you deprive yourself then you’ll only binge later. Plus, there’s no fun in being the only one at the party who won’t indulge in a treat. If you want something; eat it. Just eat one or two (or a slice – don’t eat one or two Christmas puddings!!) and use your common sense as to when enough is enough.

💗 Work it off. I tend to work with my body on a kind of negotiation basis. ‘If you eat that baked Camembert you have to do 50 burpees in the gym tomorrow’ and so on. And then I make sure I follow through on my promises! Setting these kind of guidelines ensure that you work off any extra calories which might cause weight gain. I also love sweating it out in the gym after I feel like I’ve over-indulged – it helps get my body feeling normal again.

💗 Watch those proseccos. Alchohol – the invisible calories. And my enemy. I’m not saying don’t drink – just remember to take those few bottles glasses into account when you’re doing your negotiations for the gym tomorrow. On that note, you may not exactly feel like the gym tomorrow. Do not give in to the hangover. Get up, get out, work it off, start again!

💗 Don’t stuff yourself silly. There’s nothing worse than, when you’ve enjoyed a delicious Christmas dinner cooked with love and maximum effort, feeling sick as a dog because you wanted just one more pig in a blanket. Eat by all means. But don’t eat until you feel ill. It’s not good for your health or your waistline.

💗 Be chilled. You might get on the scales on 28th December and shudder a bit. Chill out. It’s normal to put on a few Christmas pounds. You’ll just have to hit the gym even harder in January.

Above all, enjoy yourself and have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. 

Love from,

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I absolutely love ‘what’s in my bag‘ posts. Maybe I’m a bit nosy but I love seeing what others keep in their bags. I’d love to do a ‘what’s in my handbag?’ post, but I’m afraid it’s in no fit state for it’s insides to be seen at the moment! It needs a real clear out and several hundred old receipts and sweet wrappers removed before I can start that one.

However, my gym bag is a lot more organised! Plus, handbags can be a bit samey, but what we keep in our workout kits can vary hugely from person to person. I go to the gym 5 mornings a week so it’s a big part of my life. I also go before work at silly-o-clock in the morning, so it’s important for me to keep what I take streamlined, organised and to make sure I have everything I need. I hope you find this interesting and it might give you an insight into me and my fitness lifestyle.

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Workout Essentials

Gym towel – total essential if you are going to work HARD and get SWEATY!

Nike gym gloves – also really important if you are lifting weights of any size; callouses are not nice.

Phillips Bluetooth headphones – I literally can’t work out without my music blaring in my ears and I can’t be dealing with wires they get in my way. I love that these are white too they look awesome.

USA Pro hair bands – the best hair elastics for workouts; they hold my ponytail for an entire workout without needing fussing or redoing, plus the patterns and colours are so cool.

Digital sports watch – for timing exercises, rest periods or just keeping an eye on the time, having a digital watch is pretty essential for me in the gym.

Beauty Bits

After my workout I usually have a quick shower and shoot off for work, I only carry a few beauty products but they all do their job and are perfect for beauty on-the-go.

Molton Brown mini shower gel – the most compact shower gels I’ve one across, and they smell divine.

Clarins satin smooth body lotion – winter dry skin BE GONE! I use this on my hands too.

Impulse body spray – much lighter and less bulky than a bottle of perfume but still keeps me smelling nice!

Liz Earle instant boost skin tonic spritz – essential for rejuvinating my skin and making me feel awake and ready to take the day!

The Body Shop Seaweed Oil moisturiser – a lightweight cream which works wonders on my skin.

Cotton Wool

Makeup

I hardly wear any makeup to work – I work with kids so it’s not like it would stay perfectly on my face anyway! And plus, I simply don’t have the time in the morning. But I do keep two things in my bag at all times just incase.

Bare Minerals liquid under eye concealer – for the tired eye days.

Burts Bees lip balm – this keeps my lips hydrated even in this weather.

Miscellaneous

Workout print out – I find deciding what workout I’m going to do in advance and having a print out of it helps me to focus in the gym and waste less time wandering around.

Pen- I like to write down my weights/ times on the workout sheet to try to improve next time.

Gym card

Phone – occasionally I feel the urge to take a gym selfie!

And that’s it! How about you? I’d love to know what’s in your gym bag!

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Do you know what? This is something that has been bugging me for a while now so I am going to write a blog post about it.

We, as women, are all blessed with difference. We have different hair, skin, eyes, faces and body types. Body type is something which is highly debated in the media and what is a ‘desirable’ body shape for a woman can change seemingly from day to day.

I used to really, really stress over my body. A few years ago I was feeling down about my weight and how I looked. So, I decided to change it. A combination of regular work outs and cleaning up my diet resulted in me losing two stone of body fat. HOWEVER, even though I had lost a fair amount of weight, I still did not have the leggy, slim, super model body I was dreaming about. This is when I realised that I was just not built for that kind of body. I am 5ft3, stocky and although I’m now fairly lean I’m definitely not what you’d call skinny. I’m just not built that way. The more I worked out the stronger I became.

Strength in women is something that comes with quite a stigma. I love progressing my weights every week at the gym and I get a real thrill out of lifting heavy, as I know many girls do. But I often get women (and men actually) asking me things like, ‘Aren’t you worried about getting too muscly?’ and ‘Oh, I don’t like really muscly women. It’s not attractive.’ Um, I don’t care. I don’t do it for you. I do it for me. I like being strong and I’m proud of my muscles. And also – would you say that to Jessica Ennis?? Or any of the other super inspirational and STRONG female athletes? No. Why does a woman have any less of a right to be and look strong than a man, based on what society believes to be ‘attractive.’

I am lucky enough to attend a gym which is bursting at the seams with super strong women who lift in the free weights area and put some of the guys to shame which is really inspiring. But I know a lot of gyms aren’t like this. I hate the stigma attached the women using the free weights or working out in the ‘men’s area’. What rubbish!

So, I guess the moral of this rant blog post is; LADIES, be proud of your strength.  Don’t let anyone, male or female, dictate what is or isn’t acceptable for you and LOVE YOURSELF tall, small, slim, curvy, muscles, no muscles, body builder WHATEVER. You’re amazing.

GIRL LOVE



Quite often, these days, my workouts are rushed. Now that I’m teaching full time my days are long and my midweek gym sessions are squeezed in at 6.30am before I get the bus to work or quickly on the way home before tea and eastenders! I usually concentrate on having long sessions on Saturday and Sunday  (at least 1hour) where I work specific muscle groups like legs or upper body – but in the week it’s usually a 30 min full body blast. Therefore I need to do a workout that works my whole body and gets my heart rate up quickly – no messing.

There are benefits to this kind of workout and although I’m not exactly an expert on all the technical stuff I know that doing high intensity exercise and getting a good sweat on, even if it’s for a short period of time, can burn just as many calories as a longer session of lower intensity.

So, here’s one of the workouts I do in my 30 min blast sessions. It takes roughly 20-25 mins which gives me a bit of time to warm up before and stretch after.

Completely 10 reps of each exercise in a circuit. Then move on to 9 reps of each, 8,7 etc descending until you finish with one of each.

PUSH UPS (picture A)

BURPEES (push up + jump up picture B)

BOX JUMPS (picture C)

TRICEP DIPS (picture D)

There is no set rest period in between circuits – I just do it as quickly as I can with a few short breaks for water etc. 

Trust me, this is a total killer, whatever your fitness level. It’s hard but worth it – and such a sense of achievement when you’ve completed it! You can put in any exercise to this format to change it up and work different muscle groups.

Let me know if you give it a go?!


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