Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Sober Wednesday - how to start

So I've been chatting a lot on this blog about the journey I'm on, trying to make my way slowly but surely towards living my best life. 

I have now been free of alcohol for 135 days. Things have definitely settled into a new way of being and I'm loving being teetotal. In fact, sometimes I wonder how I ever managed life when I was drinking. 

But what if you're at the start of your own journey? What if you've been thinking about quitting booze for a while but never quite jumped in with both feet? 

It's natural to be anxious about what lies on the other side of sobriety, or any big lifestyle change that we make in order to stay (or get) healthy.

My advice would be to tackle one thing at a time, one little habit, and instead of just cutting it out, try and replace it with something else.

So when it comes to drinking, if you usually have a glass of something in the evening while watching tv, get some really indulgent, rich hot chocolate to have instead, that way, it's still a treat to look forward to.

If you just want to moderate your drinking while you're out, start by having singles rather than doubles, or make every other drink a soda water (I love drinking soda water in pubs, because it's usually free and it looks just like a gin and tonic - so you don't get questioned about your life choices when you're just trying to have a good time).

Do something to treat yourself with the money you save by not drinking. This is huge as drinking is bloody expensive. What ever you like, fresh flowers, facials, massages, trips away, give yourself a break and enjoy treating yourself.

You could get an app on your phone that counts the days since you last drank alcohol - this really helped me in the beginning, firstly because it also tells you how much money you've saved (over £400 for me now) but also, it would feel crummy to have to reset the timer to day one, so I have just kept going.

Get on instagram and find your sober tribe (I'm @sexysobervegan) - having updates from other sober men and women is brilliant and opens our eyes to the possibility of full and exciting lives away from alcohol.

Obviously if you have a bigger drinking addiction than this I would always suggest seeking professional guidance. One of the bravest things a human can do is ask for help. Especially this week during Mental Health Awareness Week. Please don't be afraid to reach out.

If you're thinking about quitting booze or you have already, let me know in the comments. Let's do this together.

Chat soon,
SSV x


Monday, 14 May 2018

Sexy Monday - reset.

Welcome to another Sexy Monday post!

You will be pleased to know that I ventured into the gym today for the first time in three weeks. Wow I didn't even realise it was that long. If you read my post about that particular gym trip you'll know that I had a little meltdown and ended the workout early in floods of tears. Yikes.

I concluded that I've been pushing myself too hard and that I need to take it a little easier in order for the gym to be a sustainable habit for me. Mr SSV is a personal trainer but today we just worked out together, so it wasn't as intense, I didn't do as much as I usually do, but I really enjoyed it and would be happy to do a workout at that intensity more than once a week, so my overall work will increase, and I'll enjoy it more: win.

Here's what I did today:

Warm up:
5 minutes on the rowing machine - average pace was 26.3 seconds / 500m

Deadlifts:
40kg - 3 sets of 10

Bench Press:
20kg - FIVE SETS OF TWELVE FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!! I'd never even done four sets of twelve before today so I'm really, really chuffed with that.

Tricep Pushdowns:
8.75kg - 4 sets of 16 and a 5th set of 20

Stretches

I'm so stoked about my bench press today - honestly - when I first started going to the gym with Mr SSV I was squeezing out maybe four or five reps per set and now five sets of twelve! YES!!

Coming back down to earth now, I also weighed myself for the first time in three weeks, deep breaths:

91.1kg

I'm obviously not happy about this as it's higher than my starting weight when I first started this blog! I'm going to try not to beat myself up too much about it and just think about why this has happened and what I can learn and change going forward:

  • I enjoy more easy-going strength sessions so I will start doing these at least twice a week
  • yoga and meditation are happening most days and I'm really happy with that
  • logging everything on myfitnesspal isn't sustainable 
  • I want to refocus my attention onto eating lots of plants 
  • I am going to eat out less 
  • I am going to eat less takeaway food (vegan does not equal healthy when it comes to takeaways)
  • I am going to cook more from scratch
I do realise that quantified goals are better than vague 'less' and 'more' goals, but that's what I'm starting with for now. The whole point is that it's sustainable, this journey is for the rest of my life, I'm not after overnight change, just a gradual change of course towards a healthier future. I turn thirty this year and looking after myself is a big priority.

Wherever you are, I hope you have a wonderful week, I'll see you back here in a few days for Sober Wednesday.

SSV x

Friday, 11 May 2018

Vegan Friday - vegan options are yummy

Happy Vegan Friday!

As you may know if you've been following these blogs for a while, I'm getting pretty used to keeping my diet vegan at home. My biggest challenge is keeping it vegan when I'm out of the house. But, more and more places seem to have lovely vegan options so it's starting to feel like there's really no excuse any more.

Yesterday me and Mr. SSV went to Pizza Express, one of my favourite places to eat. Their new menu clearly states which dishes are vegetarian and which are vegan. We started by sharing some olives, then I had my favourite, dough balls, for a starter. They were happy to replace the garlic butter with garlic oil, which was just as delicious. This was followed by the Vegan Giardiniera pizza - the only vegan pizza on the menu. Don't get me wrong it was absolutely delicious, but I was left wondering which other pizzas could be veganised by using their vegan mozzerella... I might try to have a different pizza next time.

To drink, I had some elderflower presse, which was lovely, it's definitely my current favourite non-alcoholic drink when I'm out.

It would be amazing if Pizza Express could maybe offer a vegan salad and/or pasta dish as well as the vegan pizza. However, I would still highly recommend a meal here for vegans or those who are vegan-curious. The options are delicious and I definitely didn't feel like I was missing out on anything.

In other news, one of my Bank Holiday weekend tasks was to cook a new and interesting vegan dish and chocolatey dessert. This was so fun and worth doing. I do get into a rut sometimes of salad wraps for lunch and pesto pasta for dinner - delicious but slightly repetitive.

I made a dish from Deliciously Ella

I also made these chocolate brownies from Jamie Oliver's website - these really were absolutely amazing!

I love making a list of fun things to do during time off. I will definitely be making more Deliciously Ella recipes in the future - it was nice and easy plus I already had most of the ingredients in the cupboard, which is a huge plus.

I hope you have a lovely weekend. Let me know about your vegan adventures!

SSV x

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Sober Wednesday - preparing for Summer

Happy Sober Wednesday!

So the sunshine over the Bank Holiday weekend was absolutely amazing, wasn't it? It did get me thinking though, in the past one of my favourite summer past times would be sitting in the sun, sharing a bottle of wine with friends. I do feel sad that I won't be doing that any more, but I just need to find a new thing to look forward to when the temperatures rise.

I think any drink that is served chilled is fab in the sun, I made smoothies for me and Mr. SSV this weekend, they were nice but didn't quite hit the spot for me. Something more like a mojito would have been better, a non-alcoholic one, obviously, or a mango smoothie like they make on the beaches in Thailand...

The fact is, we don't need alcohol to enjoy the sun, and we don't need to drink alcohol to spend quality time with our friends, we are just so entrenched in the habit that it becomes difficult to imagine one without the other.

I love the idea of going away to a hot country and having a sober holiday, appreciating the mornings, having more energy and savouring the local food. I have tentative plans to go to Turkey in October but dates have yet to be finalised. I'll keep you posted.

What are your plans for staying sober when summer finally arrives?

Let me know,
SSV x

Monday, 7 May 2018

Sexy Monday - enjoy some time off

Hello and Happy Bank Holiday Monday!

Here in England it's a beautiful, warm sunny day and I'm spending it doing... not all that much actually. My day so far has consisted of:

  • breakfast in bed
  • yoga
  • meditation with Calm app (highly recommended)
  • finishing my current audiobook
  • sitting outside writing
  • not doing any work. At all.
Just for today, let's be really kind to ourselves. If you can, take the day off. Emails will still be there tomorrow, everything you're worrying about will still be there too.

I'm officially giving you permission to give yourself this day to do exactly what you want. Days like this keep us energised and refreshed ready for when it's time to get back to work. And I don't know about you, but I'd like to work to live, rather than live to work. 

So whatever you'd like to do today, go for it. Obviously, given the vibe of this blog it would help if these activities are nourishing and enriching, but stay gentle with yourself. Taking care of yourself like this is so important. I don't want to get to later life and lament the fact that I was just working all the damn time. 

The rest of the day will involve:
  • making some vegan chocolate brownies that I've never tried making before
  • starting a new audiobook (Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell)
  • playing the piano
  • making a start on a bucketlist - things I want to do before kicking the bucket, so to speak
  • sitting in the sunshine and being grateful for the good in my life
  • maybe, maybe, going for a little jog in the sun, but no hard feelings if I don't find the time
  • cuddling my cat
What are you up to this Bank Holiday Monday?

I'll catch you here in a few days for Sober Wednesday.

SSV x


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Sober Wednesday - are we being brainwashed?

Once you've been without alcohol for a certain length of time, for me it's been exactly four months - one hundred and twenty days, you start to notice all the images of alcohol that surround us every day.

Confession time: I watch Made in Chelsea. I know, I know, I got into it when it first started and it's too late for me to quit now. Anyway, not only is it sponsored by Baileys, but in practically every scene someone is drinking. Daytime drinking is common, and in the most recent episode one character poured alcohol into someone else's coffee from a hip flask, in a library.

I'm definitely not here to judge, but what kind of message is that sending? These gorgeous young people drinking excessively are being shown as living aspirational lives. People want to be like them, to party with them, to be friends with them. They party all night, drink bloody marys in the morning and then seem to do it all over again. 

The suggestion of course is that if you don't live like that, your life is boring, it's lacking excitement and drama and you need to get out more.

Adverts for alcohol are everywhere, and I only truly started to notice this once I'd not been drinking for a while. The message is clear, drink and you'll have more friends, drink and you'll be more attractive, drink and you'll be more interesting.

I'm here to challenge that.

I ask myself how my life is different now that I'm a non-drinker. Here's what springs to mind:

  • I am clear headed
  • I get way more done
  • I'm more motivated to do work first thing in the day, then the rest of my time is my own
  • I have more spare cash, which I'm using to save up for holidays (definitely NOT boring)
  • I know that I'm doing an amazing thing to look after my skin, my body, and my general health
  • I have become more open-minded
  • I remember conversations with more clarity so I don't hear people say 'I'm sure I told you' anymore
  • I never have hangovers!
  • I never fear looking at my bank statement after a night out
  • I have the mental space and time to actually think about what I want to do with my life, rather than drifting through on auto-pilot
What the alcohol advertisers don't want you to know is that life is better when you're not drinking, it's more full, more alive, your relationships are more meaningful, and your holidays will be kick-ass.

How has your life changed since you stopped drinking? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

SSV x

Monday, 30 April 2018

Sexy Monday - be gentle

Happy Sexy Monday!

For those of you who read last Monday's post, you'll know that, last weekend I had a slight meltdown in the gym. I think everything just got on top of me and the tears came. Apparently it's not uncommon when we push ourselves in the gym, for pent up emotions to come out. 

I confess: I didn't go to the gym today, I did parkrun yesterday (a 5k timed run that takes place every Saturday at 9am) so today I wanted to be gentle with myself and do some yoga and meditation.

That got me thinking, why aren't we more gentle with ourselves? Why do we judge, berate and hate on ourselves for not being the best at everything? I'm tired of judging myself. I'm tired of being nasty to myself and forcing myself to do things I don't actually want to do. I don't have the answers to these questions (unfortunately), but we have the rest of our lives to build healthy lives, let's start gently shall we?

Yesterday's parkrun was one of the slowest I've ever run, but I literally don't care. I was out in the fresh air on a Saturday morning, exercising and doing a great thing for my health. Over time, maybe my time will go down, but I'm not in a hurry any more. Hopefully this gentler approach will mean I actually enjoy it more and will be more able to stay consistent week to week.

Here are some more ideas for how we can live more gently:

  • eradicate harmful substances from our diets (alcohol, overly processed food, too much sugar)
  • eat more whole foods, provided by mother nature
  • walk and take public transport more instead of using the car
  • drink more water
  • move more
  • be grateful
  • limit screen time
  • read more
  • meditate
At the moment I'm experimenting with adding a ten minute meditation to the end of each yoga session I do at home. I've always thought you had to pay for the Calm app, but, as it turns out there are plenty of meditations on there for free, so I'll let you know how I get on with it. I've only done two days so far but I absolutely love it.

So what does all this have to do with becoming sexier, as per my goal at the start of this blog?

Good question.

I suppose my definition of sexy is to be brimming with life, health and energy. Sexy is being comfortable in who you are and loving who you are. If the points I've mentioned today help me in that path, that's pretty fabulous.

Thanks so much for reading, do say hello in the comments or on my instagram. This little blog is so helpful for me as an outlet on this journey. If you're on the journey with me then do get in touch.

Chat soon,
SSV x

Sober Wednesday - how to start

So I've been chatting a lot on this blog about the journey I'm on, trying to make my way slowly but surely towards living my best l...