Thursday, 14 March 2019

The Shift: Women on the force

The Shift: Women on the force
The Shift: Women on the force

As I write this, I’m home after an evening spent in the company of some incredible people. I’ve been given a lot of opportunities as a blogger over the last six years but tonight has left me truly humbled.

I attended the premier of The Shift: Women on the Force, a new TV show airing tomorrow on W channel (which is available via most paid TV subscriptions like Sky etc), and it features women who are working within the police in West Yorkshire. I had the opportunity to watch the first episode in the company of some of these women, plus their loved ones and the production crew, which was an incredible experience.

I’ve been fascinated with the police ever since my dad used to let my sister and I stay up past our bedtime to watch The Bill when we were little and my mum was working nights. As a grade A scaredy cat, I’ve always respected the police and what they do, but tonight, the show took it to another level for me.

The Shift: Women on the force

The show came about when the producer, Dan Clark-Neal, realised back in 2017 that the three top jobs in policing were taken by women, and that this is something that needed to be spoken about more. Having spent 11 years in the force himself before going into TV, he knows first hand about the challenges and rewards that come with being an officer.

I had the opportunity to chat to Laura who is an officer featuring in the first episode. She’s a mum of two teenage daughters who were also filmed as the series doesn’t just show their work, but also their home lives. It really hit home for me to see an 18 year old and a 14 year old sat around a table with their mum discussing what would happen if their mum didn’t come home from work. Having lost a parent myself, it struck a chord, but for two teens, knowing that their mum has a very dangerous job must be so tough, for both mother and daughters. When I was speaking to Laura, she said that she took part in the programme because she also wanted her daughters to have video footage of her – something she realised she didn’t have of her own mum when she sadly passed away.

The Shift: Women on the force

After watching the episode, there was a Q&A session, and it became very clear that mental health was a very big part of the role of the police, both dealing with those with mental health issues and also the emotional impact of their job. 50% of first marriages end when a partner is in the force. Gemma, another officer in the first episode, was filmed shortly after her return to work after being signed off with stress – stress which was caused by being first on the scene to a suicide, but not talking about it. There is an incredible level of respect for and recognition of mental health issues by these officers, especially as they will be the first responders to instances of attempted suicide.

Watching this episode really humanised the officers to me. It’s like when you’re a kid and you think your teachers are some mystical, unflappable creatures that live in school, when really, they’re just normal people. Everyone sees police and sees the uniform, but not necessarily the person behind it who has already done back to back 12 hour shifts all week and have missed their child’s birthday as a result. The amount of sacrifices they make to keep everyone else safe really is incredible.

If you’re into TV shows about the police, I’d really recommend giving it a watch. As someone with the attention span of an overtired toddler (honestly, I’m ridiculous), I can hand on heart say that I watched it with 100% attention, didn’t fidget and not once did I pick my phone up – and anyone who has ever watched TV with me will know that is pretty much unheard of.

If you do watch it, let me know in the comments or tweet me, @GlassesGirl3, as I’d love to hear what you think!


Monday, 25 February 2019

AD: Plus size clothing for the seasons

AD: Plus size clothing for the seasons
It feels like forever since I sat down to write a blog post! How are you? Are you sitting comfortably?

Since my last post, it seems that the weather has u-turned from winter into some weird pretend summer situation and no joke, I saw someone driving down the A64 on a Sunday morning with their roof down. I mean, we may have hit double figures on the Celsius scale but that seems a little excessive, don’t you agree?

Dressing for this time of year is a first class ballache, especially when your commute into work is a 20 minute walk. It’s enough of a walk to get you vaguely warm at this time of year but all that means is trying to dress so that you’re not freezing when you leave but sweating your tits off when you get into work. What an attractive image for you right there.

I’ve put together a bit of a wishlist for both plus size women’s clothing and men’s plus size clothing which is perfect for this inbetween weather. Let me know what you think in the comments!

men's plus size clothing wishlist

Black jeans*

women's plus size clothing wishlist

Denim Jacket

This post is sponsored but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

The importance of reflection

The importance of reflection
empty london tube carriage

When we think about life and achievements, it seems that we remember the milestones rather than milepebbles (can we call a mini-milestone a milepebble? Can that be a thing?). When I think about my life, it seems to be childhood – teenager – university – my dad passing away – graduation – year in York – moved to Leeds – moved jobs. Nearly 27 years and my life phases are summed up into eight key points.

But if you only look back and think about the chunky life phases, which is so easy to do, you don’t think about the little things you achieved within them and how far you’ve come since. For example, university blurs three years into one time period, but the person I was when I graduated was a million miles away from the fresh-faced 18 year old I was when I started.

It was only recently that I actually stopped to think about how much I’ve personally changed even in the last few years. I remember when I was growing up that I thought that once you left university, that’s it, you’re a grown up and that’s the person you are forever. It turns out that you’re very much still working out who you are throughout your 20s. As much as I scoff that people go ‘find themselves’ on a beach in Thailand, it definitely took moving to a new city, starting a new job and living entirely independently for me to work out who I was. Maybe all it takes is a change of scenery after all?

The point where I sat and thought to myself ‘shit, things have changed’ was when I was on a train to Surrey to go deliver a client training session. This involved a train to London (a fixed ticket so I couldn’t miss it), travelling across London (one tube, one overground) and then a fourth train out to where my client is based, a walk to their office and then two hours of delivering a training session.

Even as little as three years ago, that would have sent me into a panicky spiral of sleepless nights. I spent a long time fearing the unknown and working in a world where this kind of thing is expected as part and parcel of a job meant that I had to boot myself out of my comfort zone. This fear never stopped me simply because it wasn’t an option, but the ride to getting there was challenging and exhausting. I realised that I couldn’t work in an agency without travelling to meet clients. I couldn’t be an expert and a consultant if I’m unwilling to teach people.

It was quite simply fight or flight, and if I wanted to continue doing a job I love, I had to fight to make the situations I feared into a new normal. I may have lost count of the number of times I’ve delivered a presentation on zero hours sleep, but I’ve never not done it.

When I was on the train to Surrey, I realised that I hadn’t been phased by the whole experience. I went to bed the night before and slept through. I got on the train, I went to the meeting to deliver my training and then went home again. And I did that without freaking out, without anxiously triple checking the tube map (LOL probably should have as I stayed on one of them for an extra two stops and had to go back), without feeling nervous when I stood at the front of the room and ran my session.

This may seem like nothing to some people (as y’know, I’m literally just doing my job), but compared to where I was at a few years ago, this is a big victory. I don’t know if it’s because it’s come from experience, more confidence in myself and my abilities (both professionally and on working out which tube to get on), or the realisation that we’re all human and mistakes happen, but it’s a big chunk of worry that I no longer have to worry about.

Normally at the end of my posts, I tend to ask a question and say ‘let me know in the comments’ but for this post, all I ask is that you think about what you were doing a few years ago that scared you that doesn’t scare you now. Or maybe what now scares you and didn’t used to, and maybe thinking about what changed and how you can change it back.

And then, let me know in the comments!


Monday, 4 February 2019

Things I learnt from Dry January

Things I learnt from Dry January
glass diet coke bottle pouring into glass

2019 is my second Dry January. I completed it a few years ago, my attempt last year saw me through to day four (I went on a date and got pretty drunk, I make the best first impressions) but this year, I was determined to make it last.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think that much. I rarely drink at home so my alcohol intake is purely what you see on my Instagram. I don’t really remember seeing my parents drink all that much as I grew up, so I guess it’s a learned habit that even throughout university I didn’t break as I only drank when I was out. I think I’ve always been very conscious of my drinking habits and I’m very aware that I have a bit of an addictive personality, so it would be a very slippery slope to start drinking on an evening, especially as I live by myself.

When I go out, I go from one extreme to the other. I’ve had both great and shit nights out being anywhere from stone cold sober to absolutely mortal drunk, and I’d say for at least 90% of the nights out I’ve been to, they wouldn’t be made better by drinking significantly more or less. Whilst I always judge the severity of a hangover based on how much I drank, I don’t really tend to judge how good a night was based on my alcohol intake.

Going sober for a total of 37 days (!) was made easier by a) being ill on NYE so I didn’t go out and b) being unbelievably skint so going ‘out’ out wasn’t really on my radar. I took January as an opportunity to reset after a really busy end to 2018 and had a whole load of me-time. I had truly anti social weekends that I loved every second of and spent time being in with friends rather than out. I read a book in a day, I watched a lot of Netflix and I really enjoyed weekends that weren’t taken out by a monster hangover. It may sound dull af to some people but for me it was wholesome and time well spent that made my soul happy. This is how I need to spend more of my time as whilst I love going out, staying in brings me just as much joy.

It wasn’t until I was sober for a month that I realised how much of a dent drinking makes to my bank balance too. As I’m always out rather than in when I’m enjoying a drink or two, everything is at bar prices not supermarket, so a casual quiet night can easily be £20, and a night in the pub after work that escalates can be up to £50. If it’s a planned occasion, it can be a whole lot more once you’ve factored in a drunk takeaway followed by a hangover takeaway (don’t judge, we’ve all done it). Once you’ve done that a few times in a month, on top of your other social things, that’s a fairly hefty amount.

By giving up alcohol, I definitely had a bit more lee-way in a very strict January budget (LOL, guess which moron let their annual car insurance renew automatically rather than switch it to monthly payments on Christmas Eve, yep, this gal). It meant that I could buy my sister a decent birthday present, that I got to the end of the month and could still do my usual food shop, that I had petrol in my car and that the day before payday I had money left to do a last minute ASOS order. Alcohol was an easy sacrifice to make to ensure that other areas of my life weren’t that affected by my poor financial management.

Overall, I feel better for giving it up for so long and it’s definitely made me want to cut down on how frequently I drink. It’s not that there’s been a day to day difference really as I tend to drink in large quantities less often rather than a single drink more frequently, but having hangover-free weekends has made me appreciate downtime. I wrote a post about having no plans recently and I think it comes down to that – my mental wellbeing is better when I have headspace and without hangovers and messy nights out, it did me some good. Did I get a bit of fomo? Occasionally. Did I get more jomo (joy of missing out)? I got quite a lot of that actually, as whilst I love going out with my friends, I equally love sober time with them too.

And my final note on Dry January? You don’t lose your tolerance after a month off. I went ‘out’ out on February 1st and I wasn’t the absolute mess I expected to be.

Have you ever done Dry January? Have you tried but not finished? Let me know in the comments.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

Decluttering and buying less

Decluttering and buying less
leeds sunrise

Whilst I wouldn’t count myself as a hoarder, I definitely own a fair bit of stuff. It’s not even because I have a guilt complex about getting rid of things, it’s simply because I buy a lot and don’t think to cull my possessions.

When January came around this year, through absolute fault of my own, I ended up on a very strict budget (LOL, I will not forget to cancel an annual renewal of my car insurance again as seeing that money evaporate out of my bank account on Christmas Eve was zero fun). But being more mindful of my money, as let’s be honest, paying bills and affording food comes first, meant that I had a month without shopping. A month where my ASOS account went untouched and I stopped picking up bits and pieces here and there.

And y’know what, I didn’t die. I didn’t feel like I was missing out, I didn’t feel like I was living without things I needed as to be honest, I’m in a very fortunate position to have the things I actually need. And whilst it’s nice to buy new things, I don’t feel entitled to them now. That’s really what it comes down to, the feeling of entitlement to have what you want, rather than thinking about whether you actually need something.

So whilst I wasn’t buying anything new, I also got rid of a lot of the old. Marie Kondo might be the new Supernanny for hoarding grown ups on Netflix but I’ll be honest, I didn’t sit around asking my clothes if they sparked joy and nor did I thank them as I threw things in the pile of things to get rid of. It’s just not my vibe – a strappy vest is never going to give me a warm fuzzy feeling when I pick it up but that doesn’t mean I don’t need it for layering in the arctic conditions of Leeds right now. But after seeing so much about clear outs online, it nudged me into that mindset and it made me tackle my clothes, shoes and bedding.

Dear Lord, I had so much shit I didn’t need. Who needs eight bedding sets? Absolutely not me, I’m now down to four. I got rid of skinny jeans that are faded or don’t fit (LOL six pairs, gone), dresses that have never been worn and high heels that I know for a fact I won’t wear again. I even said goodbye to the running clothes that have been lurking in a drawer – after I ran my last race, I promised myself I wouldn’t put myself through it again, and whilst I haven’t been running, I still had a shitload of vests and leggings that I didn’t need. Even the stuff that I’ve worn once and loved wearing at the time, why hang onto it if there isn’t another opportunity to wear it? Someone else will be able to wear that dress or top and feel amazing.

I kept the things I wear all the time and I got rid of the things that I haven’t worn in the last 12 months. My drawers now close and I can see what’s in my wardrobe.

And when I say got rid of, the majority of it was donated to the Salvation Army and Yorkshire Air Ambulance who will sell on or recycle whatever is put into the big bins at the back of my local Morrison’s. I still have a massive bag of shoes in my car boot waiting to be donated to one of my friends too. So nothing got put into an actual bin.

Decluttering feels good. Not buying things in the first place? That feels pretty good too. Being more mindful of how much I spend and my budget has made me feel far less worried about my finances and far more in control so it’s a win/win all round. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned selling things on Depop and Ebay in this post, and to be honest, it’s because I’m too lazy. But the upside is that two charities benefited from my CBA attitude to listing things online!

Have you decluttered recently? Let me know your tips in the comments.


Friday, 18 January 2019

In defence of having no plans

In defence of having no plans
peonies from aldi

It sounds like a stupid thing to ‘defend’ but being eternally busy, living your best damn life 24 hours a day and documenting the entirety on Instagram stories is like the millennial generation’s badge of honour. If you’re not chasing your dreams, doing something creative alongside your 9-5, documenting the planning stages of your next big trip on Twitter or getting your side hustle on, it seems like you’re falling behind as that is what everyone else is doing. Or so social media would have you believe anyway.

As a generation, we’re taking the term ‘keeping up with the Jones’ to a whole other level. Our parents had to contend with someone down the street doing one better, we have literally everyone we have ever met, probably some of their mates and then the entirety of celebville to compare ourselves too. We really shot ourselves in the foot with that one, didn’t we?

When you’re flicking between Tinder and Instagram stories on a Sunday evening whilst watching whichever rotation of films that ITV2 is sending your way (usually Bride Wars, 27 Dresses or Bridesmaids, to add insult to the injury as you swipe), it’s easy to forget that everyone is uploading a best bits montage. And that as you go from one person to the next, you’re seeing all these exciting plans which might make you feel a little bit bad about how the only time you put a bra on that weekend was to go to the supermarket and even then, it felt like an effort. What we don’t see is the people who, like us, didn’t do much as there wasn’t anything exciting enough to share. What we’re consuming on social isn’t an accurate representation of the majority and whilst we know this, we don’t always remember it when you’re feeling a little glum as the Sunday blues kick in.

So this is your PSA that not everyone is going all YOLO from the moment they leave work on a Friday and you know what, having a weekend with literally no plans (I’m talking zero commitments), is an excellent way to spend two days.

Right now, I have weekends blocked out in my diary as ‘off’. There’s a red line through Saturday and Sunday in my calendar to remind me to not make to make plans for those weekends and to ensure I take some time out for myself, at least once a month.

They’re the weekends to have a proper break after an intense working week (chances are, it will happen) and my brain is a bit overwhelmed and my mind needs some recovery time. The weekends which come after having had a ton of weekday plans and I know that I’ll be due a social hangover. They’re the weekends where when I leave work on Friday, I know that the only in person interaction I’ll be having with other people is eye rolling in Morrison’s at the people who block the end of the aisles to have a chat (aka, the worst type of people), until Monday.

Weekends like this stop me from burning out. They keep my mind in check. I’m very, very aware of the triggers in my life that cause my head to spiral until I’m in a place I can’t get out of and extended periods of time without a mental break is a big one. This is primarily because if I’m always out, I lose control of the things that keep me grounded and feeling together at home, simply because I haven’t had enough time for both. No amount of fun, exciting, omg plans can compensate for coming home and feeling like I haven’t got my shit together, and not knowing quite what to do next.

Sometimes, you need a weekend of doing sweet fuck all. A weekend where you have time to do your life admin and your housework, but still have time for a lie in and to settle down mid afternoon to binge watch Netflix. A weekend where you can relax without feeling like there’s something else you can be doing.

This kind of weekend is really important to me as it’s time to reset. Taking time to switch off and have a weekend at your own pace rather than on a schedule is a necessary part of my life to keep my mental well-being in check.

So if I say I can’t make plans and you ask why, it could be that I’ve scheduled this time in. Please don’t be offended because you think I’m choosing to alternate between doing my washing and sitting on my sofa instead of seeing you. There is a bigger picture, I promise. And if you did see me that weekend? Trust me, if I need a mental health break, I’m the least fun to be around.

Do you take weekends out for yourself? Would you give it a go? Let me know in the comments.


Thursday, 17 January 2019

My favourite sweet treat swaps on Slimming World

Slimming World snack swaps
slimming world

When it comes to sweet stuff, I’m here for it. I love it. I love chocolate, I love cake, I love ice cream, I love desserts, I love the 400 calories Christmas drinks from all highstreet coffee chains. What can I say, I’m a sweet tooth kinda gal.

That’s not to say that I don’t love savoury stuff (give me a lasagne and I’m yours), but sweet stuff is somewhat challenging to me.

LOL, when I read that opening paragraph, it’s really no surprise to anyone that I’m on Slimming World. I’d like to thank my sugar addiction, alcohol and Dominos for getting me here.

But I digress.

If you’re torn between wanting to lose some weight and being a sharing bag of chocolate for one kinda person (as when it comes to Cadburys, sharing is quite frankly not caring), replacing that sweet hit with other things as you try to lead a healthier lifestyle is a challenge to say the least. It’s a tough habit to break if you’re used to going home and spending your evening with a bag of giant chocolate buttons five nights a week (guilty), but it’s honestly doable. This is me entirely practising what I preach as I’ve found swaps that don’t leave me feeling hard done by.

It’s about portion control, knowing what to ‘binge’ on and when you do just need to reign it in to protect the weightloss you really want.

Here are my favourite Slimming World friendly sweet treat swaps:

popcorn shed popcorn slimming world

Cinema popcorn for gourmet popcorn
I love going to the cinema but the snacks that you can so easily buy out of habit can really rack up the syns. A regular sweet popcorn will set you back 36 syns. That’s unreal. Take your own mini bag of popcorn and pick up a Tango Ice Blast on the way in (which will hit your sweet craving, with a side order of brain freeze), you’ll be just as satisfied. I was sent a load of popcorn from The Popcorn Shed and it’s six syns a bag. I personally love the Pop and Choc flavour as it is an absolute chocolate fix. It’s sweet and delicious and it’s the perfect thing to nibble on during a film - it's the kind of popcorn where a bag is enough to satisfy you as any more would feel like over-indulging. Pair that with a large Tango Ice Blast (up to 5 syns dependent on flavour), and you’re onto a winner.

slimming world hot chocolate with cream

Take out hot chocolate for Options hot chocolate
If you get a hot chocolate from a chain, at best you’re looking at 9 syns for a regular sized drink with coconut milk with no cream from Caffe Nero, at worst, you’re looking at 20+ syns if you go large and add cream on top. Is that honestly worth it? Head home and create your own and you’ll still get that sweet, chocolatey fix. Options is 2 syns for a sachet, made up with water. Add some light squirty cream (3 syns for 25g), maybe a square of chocolate grated on top (3 syns). That’s an 8 syn fancy drink right there.

slimming world fruit crumble

Shop bought crumble and custard for home made
Making your own puts you in control and you make it low syn. I use 40g oats (HexB), 2tsp of Flora light (1.5syns), 10g flour (2 syns) and 1tsp of sweetener for my crumble topping. I’ll then have 100g of apple and 100g of raspberries (2syns in total as they’re cooked). That’s a 5.5 syn crumble. I serve mine with either a custard pot (7 syns) or vanilla quark (Nestle Kvarg, 0.5 syns). Compared to a single chilled crumble pot from a supermarket which is 15 – 18 syns, plus custard or icecream, that’s a decent swap!

slimming world ice cream

Luxury ice cream for high protein ice cream
There are so many low calorie/high protein ice creams out there now that there is no reason not to buy them! I love Breyers, my sister swears by Oppo and the rest of Instagram seems to be a fan of Halo Top. Whichever one you go for, there’s no need to feel guilty about finishing the tub when, for example, Breyers Cookies and Cream is 17.5 syns for the lot. Yes, it may take you over your daily syns but if you want to binge on something, make a better choice than reaching for Ben and Jerry’s – a full tub of Phish Food is 57.5 syns. It’s a no-brainer, right?

slimming world diet coke

Normal mixers for diet
Drinking unnecessary calories seems like a waste so switching from your full sugar mixer to sugar free is a quick win in my eyes. Standard tonic water is 3.5 syns, diet is free, light is 2.5 syns (all per 250ml). A bottle of normal Sprite is 3.5 syns, diet is free. A bottle of normal Pepsi is 11 syns, max and diet are free. Why waste your syns on drinks when you can use them on so many better foods!

So there you have it, my top five Slimming World swaps for sweet things. Thank you to Popcorn Shed for sending me some snacks to try, they’re now a firm favourite of mine!

Let me know your favourite healthy swaps in the comments.

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