Monday, 2 July 2018

Sexy Monday - get ready for compliments

Although it feels to me now that the changes I’ve made in my lifestyle are small, over time they all add up of course. I regularly receive lovely comments from friends and family saying I look well, that I’m ‘glowing’ or asking if I’ve lost weight (not sure about that one as I haven’t weighed myself in ages).

If you make these little changes then people will start noticing, maybe not right away, but they will. I went through a phase of feeling like I was getting these comments almost daily, it was amazing! 

I’ll use this post to go through what I’m focusing on at the moment in terms of health and beauty, and hopefully I can give you a few ideas to get you glowing too.

Let’s start with nutrition as I believe what we eat is the most important factor we can control to achieve optimal health:

 - still mostly vegan 
 - no alcohol
 - very very few fizzy drinks
 - one, maybe two coffees a day, in the morning
 - lots of fresh fruits, salads and vegetables

I’m also going to try intermittent fasting, where you limit your eating to between ten and twelve hours per day. Sounds pretty easy and it works with our natural circadian rhythms. I’ll let you know how I get on with that.

Fitness:

 - I’m in training for a 10k run in September, but please don’t think I’m some amazing runner, I’m probably the slowest person you know (honestly). But I like running in that you are only really competing against yourself, an improvement is an improvement, and that’s fab.
- I’m prioritising doing yoga and meditation most days, probably nine out of ten days I’ll do a short yoga flow from Gaia and a ten minute meditation from my Calm app. The combination of these two things really calms me down and gets me in a good headspace for the rest of the day.

Beauty:

- although I’ve chatted on here before about fake tan, I’m now moving into a more minimalist phase with my beauty regime. Partly this is to cut down on my plastic use, but partly I want to focus on honouring the skin I have and taking care of it, rather than trying to change it in any way.
- it’s a heatwave here in the UK at the moment, and while I love the sun I’ve been really careful to wear sun cream when I know I’ll be out for extended periods. I always, always put facial sun cream on before going out for a run. Freckles are cute and I love mine, but they are a sign of damaged skin and I want to protect my skin as much as is practical.
- I’ve ditched foundation! This is a biggie. When I’m going out I’ll put concealer and mascara on but that’s kind of it and it is so liberating. My skin can breathe and it has definitely improved considerably since not wearing foundation. Healthy, moisturised skin will look beautiful so if you have problem skin at the moment I suggest you try going without foundation for a while, your skin will be so happy.
- I’m trying to cut down my plastic use, so once I run out of something I’m going to try to do without. Coconut oil is a lovely moisturiser (use very sparingly) and places like Lush have lots of plastic-free, natural products, which must be better for your skin than the chemical-laden products we find on the high street generally.

So there we go, did any of these resonate with you? Let me know in the comments.

Let’s chat soon,
SSV x

Friday, 22 June 2018

Vegan Friday - using less

In today's Vegan Friday I want to discuss the reasons why we all could do we thinking about how to use less, particularly when it comes to substances harmful to the environment - that's plastic.

We only have one planet earth, and her resources are dwindling because of the actions of humans. Think about it, if humans didn't exist, this world would be in much better shape than it is now. Nature, left to her own devices, is adept at creating an equilibrium through which the status quo is maintained. Change happens, of course, but usually very slowly, and for very different reasons that human-created climate change.

When I think of all the plastic that ends up in our oceans, eaten by innocent birds, fish and mammals, I literally want to weep. How did we get to the stage of caring so little about looking after our planet? This article makes the shocking statement that if we continue as we are now, plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050. 

Just think about that for a moment.

If you are vegan or vegan-curious, there are probably many reasons behind your decision. Compassion for animals will come into it, but also trying to stop contributing to climate change caused by animal agriculture will be there somewhere too.

These ideals and goals align so perfectly with trying to reduce our plastic waste that it's a logical next thing to think about once our diet is cleaned up. How can we use less plastic on a daily basis?

Here are a few ideas:
  • buy a stainless steel water bottle to keep water with you instead of using single-use plastic bottles
  • use a reusable coffee cup to avoid takeaway cups
  • take your own bags to the supermarket
  • avoid buying anything wrapped in a ridiculous amount of packaging - try to buy loose vegetables rather than pre-packed (could you take your own muslin bags to the supermarket for these?)
  • take a set of cutlery out with you to avoid plastic single-use sets
  • try a shampoo bar or a solid shower gel to cut down on plastic bottle use
  • try to find wooden washing up brushes, clothes pegs, chopping boards etc.
  • would you be willing to use a bamboo toothbrush? Or a metal razor?
When plastic was invented in the early 1900s it was hailed as a wonder-material. Strong, durable, it was perfect for so many uses. Now, it has become a victim of its own success, it is too durable and stays in our environment potentially forever.

What can you do to cut down your plastic use? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Approaching six months sober

Happy Sober Wednesday!

I cannot actually believe that I'm approaching six months without alcohol. I can now truly say that it gets easier with time.

I've hit the point now where I feel comfortable saying 'oh no thanks, I don't drink' with confidence rather than a bashful 'I've given up drinking for now', which only invites more questions.

Saying 'I don't drink' has a similar feel to saying 'I'm vegan' in that there is power in those words and the more I say the words, the more I affirm it to myself and the stronger I feel in my convictions. 

It's a win-win.

Now that I'm a comfortable, self-assured non-drinker, I'm wondering what other steps I can take to take me further on this journey towards a healthier me. How I can clean up my diet further and exercise more consistently.

Something else I've been thinking about recently - inspired by the YouTube channel Pick Up Limes - is minimalism. 

I'll chat more about this in this week's Vegan Friday as it's arguably more relevant there. I love the idea of living as gently as possible on this earth, reducing waste and reducing my plastic use.

If you are just starting out on your sober journey - you are doing a hugely brave thing and it will be so worth it. Your eyes will be opened in a way that they just can't be when alcohol is in your life. Here are a few changes I've noticed:
  • I've become more comfortable in my own skin, and I have stopped wearing foundation the majority of the time.
  • I've saved plenty of money, that I put aside each month to save up for travelling. I've already booked a holiday in Turkey in October and I am so excited already.
  • My life has fewer 'dramas' now there are no drunken arguments, drunk texts or drunk actions that I regret later.
  • I am much less anxious than I used to be. I think this is caused by sobriety but also from doing yoga and meditation most mornings.
  • I used to drink to make boring conversations more interesting, now, if it's really that bad, I go home for an early night. But most conversations can be saved by good conversation, I'm better at that now too.
What changes have you noticed since you stopped drinking? Let me know in the comments.

SSV x

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Sober Wednesday Ponderings

I haven't had any alcohol for the past 156 days. For almost half of 2018 I've not touched a drop. 

Being a sober vegan can be strange when you're out there in the real world. Especially around now in the UK when people are starting to have boozy barbecues on hot sunny days. Being prepared is a huge part of dealing with this. Taking your own vegan snacks and non-alcoholic beverages with you is a good start, but as well as that you do need a certain degree of resilience, because people can and do make comments. You're no fun any more, you're getting boring, go on, you can have one! Talk about killing the buzz.

The best defence I've found against these comments is to just brush them off and make sure you have a really fun time anyway. Lead by example and people will see that you don't need to drink to be the life and soul of the party. When people see you glowing with health while snaffling all the healthy food at the party, they may find themselves inspired to take a leaf out of your book and start making their own changes.

Drinking is so engrained in our society and our culture that it takes effort to go against the grain by showing that we don't need alcohol to have a good time, to celebrate good times or lessen the blow of hard times. By staying sober you are setting an example to inspire others, we set an example to children and young people that sobriety is awesome (remember when everyone thought smoking was cool?!).

I mentioned being Unapologetic in a recent post, and it applies here too. If you are super withdrawn and embarrassed that you're not drinking or consuming animal products, of course people might think you are weird. If you are prepared with food and drinks that align with your lifestyle then there's no need to worry, smile and enjoy chatting with everyone and people will barely notice that you're not drinking or eating meat.

Sometimes I do think about going back to drinking alcohol. But then I remind myself that I don't need it. And the fact that I still think about it even now shows just how insidious it is in modern culture. Adverts are everywhere. Drinking is socially acceptable everywhere, any time. Greetings cards are plastered with alcohol related jokes and even health magazines talk about mums needing a drink on social media. Have we all gone mad?

Giving up the booze will not only open your eyes to the fact that it is everywhere, it will save you money, improve your health, make you look younger and possibly lead to weight loss. It's kind of a no-brainer. 

If you've taken the plunge or are thinking of ditching alcohol, let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.

Let's chat soon,
SSV x

Monday, 4 June 2018

Making new habits

Welcome back to my blog and welcome to another instalment of Sexy Monday. In today's post I wanted to talk about habits. In my view, people who seem to have this whole 'healthy lifestyle' thing sussed have this one thing in common:

Their healthy lifestyle is made up of lots of different healthy habits.

So in order to sustainably move towards our best, healthiest selves, we need to take a long, hard look at our habits, and see if there's just one little thing we can change for the better. By tackling little habits one by one over a large amount of time, we slip and slide our way to where we want to be. This is sustainable, enjoyable, and realistic. Hurray!

Just remember, tackle one habit at a time - this keeps things manageable and leaves you with a sense of achievement, rather than overwhelm.

Let's take some examples of habits we might want to tweak or change:

Fizzy Drinks

Oh, hi Satan! Carbonated drinks like Coco-cola and pepsi are the absolute devil when it comes to our health. The sugar in the full-fat versions is addictive and terrible for us, and the artificial sweeteners in the diet stuff aren't much better. Add caffeine and you have a recipe for a health disaster. 

They are addictive, they are unnecessary and they are really unhealthy. 

Not sexy. We want sexy.

Replace with ... Water

If you are seriously addicted to full-fat fizzy drinks then maybe have a week or two on the diet version first. Then, the following week, replace every other glass with a glass of water. The next week, stick to water. Add a slice of lemon or lime if you need to jazz it up but we want you to learn to love the taste of good old fashioned tap-water. Get in the habit of always having a bottle of water with you to sip on while you go about your day. I'm thinking of investing in a Chilly's bottle that keeps liquids cold for over 12 hours apparently. Perfect for summer. 


Alcohol

If you are interested in hearing more of my thoughts on alcohol, you can check out the Sober Wednesday series here on the blog. Like sugar, alcohol is an addictive drug and damages our bodies, both internally and externally. If you are serious about your health, quitting the booze will just propel you into a new realm of health, both physical and mental.

Replace with ... anything you fancy!

Ok, I know I was just going on about fizzy drinks, and if you are out at the pub there may not be quite the assortment of non-alcoholic options available, so get what you need to in order to stay away from booze (one habit at a time, remember?).

As my sweet-tooth has lessened over time, I have gone from sugary non-alcoholic drinks (orange juice and lemonade) to plainer, healthier options (water or soda water with ice and lime). If booze is the habit you are going to start with, just get whatever you fancy when you're out and about - try mocktails, get a hot chocolate, or just keep it simple and cheap with water.

Junk Food

A massive genre of food that probably deserves it's own blog post. We all have our weaknesses. The aim here is to pick one thing and replace it with something else, or just gradually reduce over time. Here are some ideas to start you off:

  • Having one sugar in your coffee instead of two
  • If you usually have two takeaway meals a week, try just having one per week for a while
  • Cut an apple into slices and have that instead of an unhealthy snack mid-afternoon
  • Invest in a book of healthy recipes (I've been loving Deliciously Ella) and challenge yourself to try a new, healthy recipe once a week. 
  • Watch some documentaries like 'Hungry for Change' or 'Forks over Knives' for plant-based inspiration

Cleaning up our diets is probably about 90% of the way to living our healthiest lives. Exercise can be seen as the cherry on top. We're talking about adding good stuff and crowding out the bad, rather than quitting the bad and feeling like there's nothing left to eat.

Exercise

Ah yes, the aforementioned cherry on top of the healthy lifestyle cake. Again, the key is to keep it realistic and enjoyable. Find something you love, it doesn't have to be crazy intense, if you love walking, do that, if you love yoga, do it. Maybe you get a kick out of strength training and want to build some muscle, whatever you fancy, just make a start. Yoga is what I enjoy the most, along with walking and running. I also like strength training once in a while too. 

Others may prefer team sports, in which case there is probably something going on in your area, whether it's netball or rowing, it can be a fab way to meet new people and a combination of social and physical activity is never a bad thing.

Remember that diet is 90% of the battle, so as long as you are moving your body in some way, it doesn't matter too much what you choose.

Some people find it helpful to wear a fitness tracker and to try to hit their activity goal each day - this is the one I wear currently.

Like anything, it's all about balance, go in too hard, too fast, too soon, and chances are you'll pick up a nasty injury or just burn out and lose enthusiasm. So take your pick and let me know how you get on.

So that's it for this week's Sexy Monday, let me know in the comments which habit you are trying to change on the road to living your best life?

Chat soon,
SSV x


p.s. some of the links in this post are affiliate links that help keep this blog up and running. Thank you in advance for your support.


Friday, 1 June 2018

Unapologetically Vegan

It's Vegan Friday!

Today I wanted to chat with you about coming out and saying to people that you are vegan. I've been playing with the whole 'vegan at home, vegetarian when out' mantra (which is a fab start and don't get me wrong I'm proud of myself) but there's always the in-built excuse of eating dairy when I'm out because, hey, I never said I was 100% totally vegan.

For me, this feels like a cop-out, but it's coming from a place of wanting to stay honest. I feel like I can't say 'I'm vegan' because sometimes I do slip up, sometimes I'm working away and a meal has been ordered for me that has dairy in it, sometimes I'm hungry and under-prepared so I grab the first thing I find that's veggie.

Let's look at the actual definition of the word Vegan for a moment:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

This definition is from the Vegan Society, more information can be found here.

See how it says 'as far as possible and practicable'? A vegan lifestyle is never ever going to be perfect, so there's no need to hold back from saying 'I'm vegan' because you're not a perfect vegan. There are no perfect vegans. We don't need to apologise for the ways we slip up, the important thing is that we are trying.

I'm treating this as a reminder to myself that it's ok to tell people that I'm vegan even though I may still slip up sometimes. Affirming it to myself and others will hopefully keep me even more accountable to stay on this path. I feel another vegan documentary coming on soon...

There's something else too, there are all those sayings and stereotypes about the militant vegan and how we are always pushing our opinions down people's throats. I think part of my reluctance stems from not wanting to be seen under that light, but from this point onwards I'm going to try to stop caring about that. If people ask, I'll tell them, otherwise, I'll keep my mouth shut and get on with living my most compassionate life.

A youtuber I follow was recently talking about being unapologetic and that totally resonated with me. Why am I apologising for trying to do a good thing? So that's me, folks, unapologetically vegan. The only person's approval I care about is my own. The only standards I hold myself to are my own. Others can have opinions, sure, but they are none of my business.

When people remind us of all the ways in which our lifestyle is not vegan, it says more about them than us. I love the way people tease me for having leather shoes and bags (that I bought ages ago) while chowing down on a beef burger. Actually I don't love it I find it difficult, but when that happens in future I'll just think 'unapologetic' to myself and carry on as I was, doing my best. Showing with my actions that I do give a shit about this beautiful world that we live in.

Do let me know your thoughts on this. Did you find it easy to make the switch to 100% vegan? How do you deal with people pointing out your vegan inconsistencies? I would love to know. Let's chat.

As always, thank you so much for reading these musings of mine. If you want to stay in touch some more, I'm on instagram as @sexysobervegan. I want to create a tribe of amazing people, doing everything we can to live our best life, whatever that looks like for you.

All my love,

SSV x

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

How to navigate a wedding sober.

Hello and welcome to another Sober Wednesday here on Sexy Sober Vegan. For today's post I'll be giving you a list of tips and observations from going to a family wedding and not touching alcohol during the proceedings. So if you've recently given up the booze but there's a wedding looming, don't worry, you're not alone, you can definitely do this.

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Drive

If you're worried about slipping, make sure you're the designated driver. This is the easiest way to resist alcohol, you have a ready-made excuse for that soda water you're carrying (not that you need an excuse of course, but this line does get people off your back reasonably easily).

Ask for what you want

If there's bubbly on arrival, just ask what the non-alcoholic option is, decent venues will have a nice alternative (yesterday's wedding offered lovely sparkling apple juice that looked just like champagne). If you ask for what you want in a cheery, happy and breezy way it's highly likely that someone will find something for you to drink.

Enjoy the food

Enjoy the food, completely guilt free. Come on, you're not drinking, at least enjoy the food to the max. The cake will probably be sublime and you have all those extra calories that you're saving by steering clear of the wine or beer. Plus, hello? Dancing burns calories too, and speaking of dancing...

Don't feel pressured into dancing

If you don't feel comfortable dancing sober, just don't do it. Hey, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. I danced a bit at the start of the evening when there was me and literally one other person on the dancefloor because I didn't want to be labelled 'boring' by my family. I hated it. Later on, everyone was up and dancing and it was much easier, I was able to relax and have a great time dancing the night away. If the rhythm gets you and you have to get up and dance, do it! If you don't fancy it, it's ok not to dance.

Leave when you want to

Leave when you want to. By the end of a wedding, most people are drunk and won't really notice if you leave before the night is over. Don't feel guilty for not staying til the bitter end, just say your goodbyes cheerfully and be on your way. My family happens to be huge so the mere act of saying goodbye to everyone takes ages. I spent most of my twenties being the last one at the party, the one who doesn't want to go home, I complained when other people left and broke up the party, and now I'm the one leaving to go home to bed! How times change.

If the day is just too hard and you hate it, just leave. The happy couple will be so busy getting through the day they won't notice (unless you are a bridesmaid/bestman/bride/groom) but seriously, you are your own person and you can do what you want. Go home, get your snuggliest clothes on and watch tv while drinking hot chocolate. If you want.

Shift your focus

Focus on catching up with friends and family and enjoying the day rather than fixating on the fact that you're not drinking. If you don't know anyone there (I have so been there) focus on meeting new people and finding out about them (I mean that in the least creepy way possible, honest!).

Observe and be amused by the drunken antics of others

Relish that moment when you suddenly notice that everyone's behaviour has completely changed after a few glasses of wine. They'll be nursing hangovers in the morning while you can rise and shine with a clear head.

Save your cash

Just think of the money you'll save! I spent £1 yesterday on a sweep-stake and that was it. Wedding venue bars are notoriously expensive and you could spend £50 over the course of a day easily. Not me.

Taxis are another thing you'll save money on. I've been to several weddings with taxi drama at the end of the night, people getting in other people's taxi and having a drunken argument over it. Just drive and rise above that drama. Family weddings are often very emotionally charged anyway so staying away from alcohol makes it more likely that you'll be able to avoid arguments and de-escalate anything that may occur. Nice one.

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So there are some of my tips for attending a wedding, sober. If you have any more tips or advice please do leave a comment below. I've been off the booze for almost five months now so I find it pretty ok, but the first sober social event is scary, and I want to help you through it. Leave me a comment and we'll chat.

SSV x

Sexy Monday - get ready for compliments

Although it feels to me now that the changes I’ve made in my lifestyle are small, over time they all add up of course. I regularly receive...