Saturday, 31 December 2016

Cards Lately ~ October to December 2016

For the last Cards Lately post of 2016, I only have a few cards to share with you because I've been unwell and unable to make any cards. I was lucky that I had already planned these cards at the beginning of the year. Looking back I wish I was more organised. But there is only so much you can do when planning ahead.

Anyway. Here are the last 3 cards I made in 2016.

I again have stuck with my goals (see post HERE) and used what I already had in my craft stash. I'm hoping I can stick with my challenge next year.

Till next time

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: Cards Lately

Monday, 12 December 2016

Holiday Wish Lists? Gift Guides?

Its that time of the year where we are surrounded and bombarded with even more Adverts, Gift Guides and "Sales". We see on average 1000's of advertisements EVERYDAY. Trying to persuade us into spending a lot of money on things you most of the time don't really need. And just because its Christmas there is more. I thought by the time we got to December I would have done a full 180* on what I thought about Wish lists, Gift Guides. I had it all planned at the end of last year. To do Blogmas again and have at least 3 gift guide posts. Well. after a year of living a Zero waste, minimalist lifestyle. I do and I don't have the same view on these posts.

I will admit the first gift guide I did on my blog was for a competition. I wanted to win one of the items. Then the rest because I thought it was what you had to do because its what bloggers seem to do. Especially around Christmas time. It seems every blogger / vlogger does a guide or favourites post. Even though most of them are sponsored posts (not mine). I find it quite difficult to believe if it is something people actually want or need Or are just getting paid to post a few items on their blog. 

I'm not saying don't read or watch these posts. Some are quite informative. I'm just getting a bit fed up with all the advertisements. Every where you look now days we are bombarded with them. I have read somewhere (can't remember where) we actually see on average 5000 ads a day! At first reading that I thought REALLY 5000?!? but then I really thought about it and I suppose it does really depend on your lifestyle, we really are surrounded by them. If you purchase daily newspapers and magazines they are full of them. Billboards, bus stops, shops, social media, blogs, radio and TV and living in a city all this is EVERYWHERE. My main concern is how much of this stuff that is advertised do we really need ? 

My views have changed on Consumerism. They are pretty much the same as what The Minimalists said

"There's nothing wrong with consumption. The problem is compulsory consumption."
We will always need to purchase Stuff ~ Its just the stuff and the amount of stuff we are purchasing is getting out of hand. Most products are not designed to last anymore and its main design is for landfill. And the companies are taking no responsibilities for the lifespan and afterlife of THEIR product.
I've always been a conscious buyer but now I think more of do I need this not do I want this. Will this product bring value to my life or will it end up being something else that will clutter my life. And more importantly what will happen to this when I no longer need/want it.

I do like Gift guides, they can give you ideas. But. Do they really??? Do you really need what they are pretty much advertising Or more importantly does the person you are buying for REALLY need it.
I am the sort of person that only purchases what that person really needs. I'm not going to waste time and money on something that the person DOESN'T need or want and then probably depending on the item will only end up wasting that persons time.
And do we really have to give gifts to show someone we care????? Especially the more expensive the gift the better!.  
No. No we don't.

So ~ Do I think Gift Guides are good?
I'm going to say Yes, yes to a point. I personally am not going to do a gift guide post. But that doesn't mean I never will. Because I think at the end of the day they are a guide and if the gift guide/wish list is related to a hobby/lifestyle then you might see something that will bring value to your life.
I just think we all (me included) need to take a step back and really think do we/they really NEED this. And more importantly what's going to happen to the gift ~ is it designed for landfill.

Are you just purchasing gifts because we are being told its what we "have" to do???
There are so many other ways, to show someone you care.

What are your opinions on Gift Guides or Just Gift giving in general. I would love to know.

Till next time

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: Trash and or
6 Month update Zero Waste Journey

Friday, 2 December 2016

My Fitness Journey ~ Update, What I've learn't, New outlook and why I haven't been posting lately

You may/may not have noticed, but I haven't posted a 'Fitness Post' since July and I haven't joined in any Yoga challenges, since August. I did start a post in August about my new fitness goals and new workout routine, ( I mentioned in June/July posts, I was looking into changing my routines.) But things changed. I started to feel unwell at the end of July and really struggled with my Yoga in August and then I didn't have any energy to do anything. From September I haven't done any sort of workout :(. Nothing.. September and October I didn't have any energy what so ever, I just slept. 

By the end of October after 3 months of getting worse, not sleeping well, feeling lethargic, no appetite, weightloss (I got REALLY skinny) and rapid heartbeat. I finally got my anxious backside to the doctors and had a blood test. We were all (doctor included) 100% convinced I had a B12 and or Iron deficiency.  

To my surprise and everyone else's my B12 and Iron came back perfect ~ Shocked to say the least because I haven't been taking any supplements for B12. I'm not saying you shouldn't take them. But my levels came back fine and I haven't eaten well the past few months before the blood test. My iron I'm glad is good, I eat a lot of Iron rich foods. Mushrooms are huge part of my diet and potato.

Please check with your Doctor and get a blood test if you think your are deficient in anything. Its not really a good idea to supplement if you don't need it. There are some vitamins and minerals you can overdose on and over dosing on Iron is not good.

I will start to include a B12 supplement into my diet, even though my levels are fine. It doesn't hurt. (Unless you are trying for a baby..Then please don't ~ please check with your doctor).  
I have got myself some Nutritional yeast which is Fortified with vitamin B12 from Holland and Barrett. I will finally get the chance to make a vegan cheese sauce :). Also it is Gluten Free :)

So... What was wrong with me. My blood test came back with a very Low Urea level. My not eating enough plus my Anxiety, which had been really bad, equals malnutrition :(

I really need to up my food and protein intake.

I have always had a small appetite, but mixing that with my anxiety being quite high and having a few active months ~ hasn't helped. It soon catches up on you.

So the past month my main priority has been to increase my protein and overall food intake.

Also I should add that I thought I had gotten to the point where I was eating enough. But I was wrong. I actually filled out My Fitness Pal incorrectly!!!! Because I changed my workouts to only Yoga. I changed my daily activities to sedentary. But because I'm I was quite anxious I should have put Active. Which it now is. If you use My Fitness Pal or any other tracking apps PLEASE make sure you have added your details correctly.

Because of this I was under eating (over at least 5 months) by at least 1000 less calories than I should be. Even though I felt full, my body wasn't getting enough.

I knew I couldn't dramatically increase my protein and food overnight without being sick.  I decided to help increase my protein intake, I looked up protein powders. I needed ones that are Gluten Free and Vegan and less processed. I ended up getting Hemp Protein, from Holland and Barrett.

Obviously, I would prefer to get my intake from real food. But for now because I realistically can't up my calories overnight. Adding a scoop or two to my smoothies until my body (stomach) gets used to the extra food. This would do for the time being. I was only going to use this till it was finished. But at the moment am looking into purchasing other Protein Powders. I need something extra to help me get enough protein, just until I can physically eat enough. Plus I haven't got back into a regular exercise routine yet, so it might take a while. I'm still not a fan of protein powders. Yes, it did help me, I feel back to my 'normal' self. It did help me increase my calorie and obviously protein intake. So my appetite  is coming back. But, I didn't like drinking it. And at the moment its a choice of two evils ~ eating double the amount of 'processed' vegan/gluten free Food or drink a Protein Shake. Either way its processed, but the powder is easier to put into my smoothie. We will see how it goes. If you recommend a vegan and gluten free, protein powder please leave a comment below.

Not going to lie the first few days of increasing my food was difficult, ( not surprising really my stomach had got used to only eating 1000 < calories a day). When I thought I had eaten enough and then again realising I hadn't, was quite frustrating. But adding the scoops of protein powder really helped me reach (or very closely reach) my protein intake. 

Being unwell and being unable to do anything made me re-evaluate my fitness goals. And it opened my eyes to what really is important.

And That is my overall well-being and Nutrition

Yes, I've always known eating well is the most important thing, I mention that a lot. Food is Fuel. But I knew deep down because of the weight gain my main focus was to just get rid of the fat and get back to the weight I was before.  I knew my diet was clean, full of fruit and veggies. I have never had much of an appetite, I have said on here a lot, my main problem is not eating enough. And Nutrition is a very vital role. I thought I got to the point where I was eating enough, but by my blood test results I obviously wasn't getting enough. And it shows you can study and research all you can but if you fill out your details incorrectly that isn't going to help :/ .

I have over the past few months really started to pay more attention to my body ~  All what happened has really been a huge smack in the face to be more mindful.

I'm not going to dis any diet or say what you should or shouldn't eat. Even eating a Meat based diet you can not eat enough and be malnourished .

But I will say, make sure you are eating enough for your lifestyle. And more importantly the right Nutrients. Hitting your calorie and protein marks on a junk food processed diet is not going to do you any favours.

Once I have got my calorie and protein levels back up and they are consistent. Hopefully feeling 100% better I will start to incorporate exercise back into my lifestyle. At the moment, I'm being active, but just household duties active. Nothing extreme.

Focusing more on my overall wellbeing and by re-evaluating my goals I realised that I have learnt so much during my journey over the past 4 years and as you read above still learning :).

I'm not at the end of my fitness journey, I love fitness, I believe we should all do some sort of fitness daily. Just because I have lost all the weight and back to where I was before. Doesn't mean I should stop. This is a Lifestyle. Health and Fitness should be everyone's number one priority in their lives. If we don't take care of ourselves how can we care for others?

Like I mentioned above my main focus now is my overall well being. I will still be active. Yoga ~ every damn day :) and I will do the occasional 'fitness' workout (squats, push ups, lunges, arm weights), because they are great for your mind and body. You need to get your blood pumping :).

In case you are new to my blog. I started my fitness journey in 2012, after I got over my withdrawal from the medication I was on which lead to my nearly 4 stone weight gain. Nearly 4 years later and 24.8 kgs lighter. I have lost all of the fat I gained. I should note before the weight gain I had always been active and at a healthy weight.

I often get asked for tips and advice on how I managed to lose the weight. So I thought I would share with you what I have learnt to achieve my fat loss. Please note this is what I have found that works for me. I am not a qualified Dietitian or Personal trainer.

  • Diet
Don't Diet , It is a lifestyle change. Diets, They really don't work. You need to learn about portion control and listen to what your body needs. These Fad Diets don't help you do this. Eat Clean, by which I mean cut out Processed foods, they are full of salt and sugar. Eat real food.  Don't deprive yourself of anything you want to eat. Don't feel guilty if you eat something 'bad' or you want a 'Treat' , you will only end up binging. One meal won't ruin your progress.
Listen to your body, Are you hungry or just thirsty. Have a glass of water.
Cravings, wait 10-20 minutes. They don't last long. I started to really pay attention to my body, when ever I had a little treat. For example when I had a bit of chocolate, I started to notice how my body was reacting to it ~ a Sugar spike. Fast heart rate and felt sick :(.
That's when I realised it was true, once you take the processed food out of your lifestyle your body goes back to its natural state and you can really see what processed food does to your body. Eventually the cravings will stop. Plus really noticing the effects stopped me from eating them.

Also learn to make your own food from scratch. Especially 'Treats', you will realise how much sugar and rubbish is in those 'Treats' and you will learn how to make a healthier alternative. And they taste so much better.

Homemade Gluten Free Pizza

Be mindful and present when you eat. Digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing your food will help stop bloating. Eat slowly, this will give your body enough time to tell you when it is full. So you don't over eat.

How you feed your body is the most important thing to get a healthy body. You can never out train a bad diet

  • Exercise
I don't need to workout excessively. Remember to just be active and get your heart rate up.  Looking back there were quite a lot of months where I didn't do much and only a very few where I worked out twice a day. The most progress I noticed was when I only worked out for 20-30 minutes a day and that was only a Yoga workout.  Find a workout that you enjoy and it will keep you active.
I enjoy Yoga, Walks and bike rides. If I'm feeling lazy (my body wants to move) I will do a little 20-30 minute fitness workout.

If you don't enjoy going to a gym or you find it difficult to find time to workout. Well. You don't need a gym or set a time to work out. Household duties, Gardening, taking the stairs, park your car further away and getting off the bus a stop or two before yours. Are great ways of getting a good workout. You can fit some sort of exercise into your daily routines, sometimes you just need to get a bit creative ;) .
  • Core and Posture
This should really be mentioned in the above. But I believe you really need to focus on having a good posture and a strong core. Having a strong foundation really helps not just in fitness but in everyday activities and your appearance.

  • Drink a lot of water
I aim for at least 2 litres a day, that can be more or less depending on how active I am on that day. I have a blog post HERE about the benefits of drinking water.  The only thing changed is I now drink out of a 1100ml stainless steel bottle instead of a plastic one.

  • Mental Health
Take care of your mental health. Looking after your mind is so important. Its where it all starts. All the above points will help you get / stay healthy.
I know some of you are probably thinking you have heard the quote

Healthy Body ~ Healthy Mind
Which is true, you feed your body the right nutrients and move daily you get a healthy mind.
You are what you eat!
But... I believe its more Healthy Mind, Healthy Body. You sort out what's going on up in there and your body will follow.  You need to change your attitude. Be Positive. Focus on what you can do.
You need to 'workout' your mind like you would do to improve a muscle.
I believe you do need to do daily practices / exercises for your mind. To keep it strong, healthy and positive.
Here is what I do:
Meditate for 10-30 minutes
Get plenty of sleep
Fresh Air, even if its just opening a window
Practice Gratitude
Be Mindful and Present 
If you would like to know more about my mind exercises, contact me / let me know in the comments below and I will do a separate post for them.
My whole attitude towards health and fitness has really changed over the past 6 months. I believe practicing mindfulness and meditating is to 'blame' for this :) I just want to take each day as it comes and make the best decisions for me and when it comes to fitness, just focus on improving each pose. Yes I would love to be able to do the splits and a handstand. And yes I will be really excited when I achieve them.

I'm just not focusing on goals, the final result. I know the pose will happen. I need to focus on the foundations :)

I'm not sure if I'm going to be doing monthly Fitness diary posts anymore. I think I will just see how it goes. Maybe I might change them to a 'life lately' post. Which will be what I've been up to each month, which will include Fitness, Health, Mental Health, Zero waste etc. If you follow me on Instagram @donnaukx you will know the things I'm interested in :). Let me know if you are interested in that. I know one thing I am really missing. The monthly yoga challenges. I'm really looking forward to starting them again.

I'm going to leave it here. This has been a long post, I hope you can take something from this and have found it helpful. Do you have any tips you have found really helpful on your fitness journey? I would love to know. Please leave a comment below.

Till next time ~ Stay Healthy

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: Yoga & Anxiety and or Meditation 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Countdown to Christmas

If you didn't know and or you are new to my blog. My Mr and I have over the past 11 months changed our lifestyle to live (aim for) Zero Waste.
I have always tried to get into the Christmas spirit and got an Advent Calendar to countdown to the 'big day'. This year I did have a little dilemma ~ knowing how much waste (packaging) is involved in an advent calendar. I decided not to get one. But, I still wanted to find something, that I could do. Just to get into the festive spirit.

I was searching on Instagram on the # Journal ~ I've been doing this a lot recently, since I got back into Journaling, to get ideas for my pages. I came across this great idea from @smooth_lettering 

Everyday up to Christmas day. Write 1 thing that you are Thankful for. And on Christmas Day look back at all things you may / may not have taken for granted.

I personally think its a great way to remember that Christmas isn't about giving, or giving yourself treats (which you should be doing all year round.) This time of year can for some get really stressful and whatever your meaning of Christmas is, we all need a little reminder sometimes on what we do have.

Do you have an advent calendar? How do you countdown the days till Christmas?

Till next time

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: Yoga & Anxiety & Meditation

Monday, 10 October 2016

Meditation (My views and Advice) ~ Mental Health

I firstly want to say ~ I'm not an expert in Meditation. These are my views and advice on what I have found works for me.
I started trying meditation a few years ago. I would just sit or lay down and clear my mind or at least try and clear my mind and focus on my breathing. I personally didn't really see much benefit from it. Unless I practiced before I went to sleep and most of the time I would end up having a good nights sleep. Which is good. But with all the other benefits I kept reading about. I just kept thinking this obviously isn't right for me.

5 months ago my anxiety started to get bad again. I kept getting guided again towards Meditation. Like I said above I've never really seen much benefit from it. So I didn't bother with it. Until, someone I followed mentioned an App called Headspace ~ Its a Guided Meditation app for your phone/iPad . I had never heard of guided Meditation and the app was for FREE so I thought why not give it a go. What have I got to lose.

(I should quickly add this is not a sponsored post ~ everything I have mentioned and going to mention is what I have found :) ) 

Here is a little video from the guy who is behind Headspace

Why 10 minutes each day can change your day - Andy Puddicombe

Well...This app gives you 10 free days of  10 minutes guided meditation.
(Then you have to pay for the rest, and that's a lot of ££££. But the 10 days you get free are worth checking out.)

My first experience of being guided was: the first few minutes of me thinking OMGeee how am I going to sit still and focus for 10 minutes. Yep my anxiety got a bit bad at this point. I struggled with 10 minutes. But I was so shocked at how quickly the 10 minutes flew by.

I carried on and everyday I gave myself 10 minutes with this app. 

During a part of the 10 minutes, you are supposed to let your mind wonder. Just let it do what it wants to do. Don't force anything.

By day 5 for me. For the first time in, I really don't know how long. During this part. 

My brain was QUIET !

So quiet, I actually got really emotional. I couldn't believe I actually took control of my mind.

It felt AWESOME.

The rest of  my 10 days was so relaxing I couldn't believe how great it was.

I'm not saying my Anxiety is cured. I still have it. But Meditating is really helping me to feel calm and its giving me more control over it.

After finally seeing the benefits, I started to search for other guided meditations. And Kino, If you have been following me you would know I mention Kino a lot. Kino organizes the yoga challenges with Kerri. On YouTube channel Kino shares her Guided Meditation practice.

I have started to use her videos for my guide. The videos where Kino is on the beach are so relaxing. I really recommend you check them out.

So I have obviously realised I must have been doing meditation wrong before. I just needed a bit of help to start off. I have been trying to meditate without a guide but my mind wonders off too much. I think I need to stick with the guide for now. Until I get more control over it.

Its only been a few months of guided meditating. Some days I do find it difficult to fit it in. Lately I have been making more of a conscious effort to fit in 10 minutes everyday. But, to be honest with you, I do look forward to it.  The best way I find to meditate is either in the morning before I get out of bed or before I go to bed. But really anytime is great.

What I said above. I'm not an expert in Meditation and these guides might not be right for you. But I really do recommend you give it a try. In the first few months of practicing I'm seeing the benefits. It took me 5 days to actually witness the benefits. It might take you less or even more. We are all different. There is no harm in trying. What have you got to lose? 10 minutes? What will you use the 10 minutes for:  Stress and losing control OR Calm and taking back control :).

It is worth a go.

Do you practice meditation?

Till next

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: Yoga & Anxiety

Monday, 3 October 2016

How does your Garden Grow ~ 2016

In 2014 I did my first "How does your garden grow" post. So I thought it was a good time to do another one. I don't know why I didn't do a post last year. I didn't grow anything at my home, and if I remember correctly the tomatoes and salad leaves (from my first post) didn't grow :( I only ended up with some Cress. Good old Cress, that stuff grows anywhere.

But, my parents still grew a lot of food. Last year we had some of their Onions, Green Beans and Lettuce. And again they had so much leftover. Which I hate seeing, but the dogs LOVED it :).

Now that I'm more focused on living (aiming for) a Zero waste Lifestyle and my diet is plant based, this year I put in my order ;) They wont be having any leftovers this year especially now that I'm making a lot of my food from scratch. I will get to use a lot of it.

This year we had:

We made a lot of Tomato Sauces with these tomatoes

If your not lucky enough to have your own out door space or know anyone who does, you can grow your own indoors. All you need is a window that has direct sunlight. And something to grow them in.

My little set up at home.

Cress in a tea cup, and I planted tomato seeds and a few salad leaves again in an old Egg carton. ( my little reuse :) )
I planted these at the end of March.

The Cress grew

The tomato seeds sadly didn't grow :(
But. I did plant a few tomatoes and they grew.

Yep you read that correctly I planted a few tomatoes. We had two that went a bit squishy and one started to go mouldy so I sliced them and put them in a pot with some compost and they grew!. Boy did they grow :)

They grew so much, we ended up giving them to my parents to grow in the garden. They over took our window sill.

The Tomatoes now look like this in my parents garden (September 2016)

This  is just half of them. From two tomatoes!! Because its getting quite late in the year and they haven't turned red (yet). We might have to make chutney with these :).

We also tried growing onions from scraps and we had a go at growing a pineapple. Yep a pineapple.. But nothing happened with them. I will keep trying with the onions.

You can grow so much from scraps here is a website I found 25 Foods You Can Re-Grow Yourself from Kitchen Scraps

We might try a few other things like celery and lettuce, I will keep you posted :)

I love gardening, I believe the quote '(S)He who plants a Garden Plants Happiness' to be true. It is so rewarding and satisfying, looking after and watching your garden grow.

Especially if the out come is Natural, Organic, Fresh, Zero Waste, Free food.

Oh and one more thing:

LOL :) I wish this was true :)

How does your Garden Grow? or Your Window Sill :)

Till next time

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: How does your Garden Grow Part 1

Friday, 30 September 2016

Cards Lately ~ May to September 2016

Hello! you may/may not have noticed I've been a bit quiet on a here and a few of my social media pages. The past two months I haven't been well, not going to bore you with it. I don't have any fitness diary posts so I thought I would ease myself back into my little space on the internet with a Cards Lately post.

If you are new to my blog ~ If you are not I'm going to repeat myself  here from my last Cards Lately post

This year I set a challenge to reduce my waste. Blog post Here will explain more.

One of my goals is to use up my craft stash. You know us Crafters we keep everything!  Because of this I have so much stuff. I'm going to try and not print off, and purchase anything new, until my craft stash is empty or realistically nearly empty. Then I will purchase more eco-friendly products.

Since my last Cards post. I have kind of stuck with my goal and used everything I already have. Apart from one card (the Bing card) I had to print out a picture to trace around).
And since I've been unwell I haven't been able to make any cards :( I had to purchase a few cards :(. Not happy about that.

Here are the cards I have made since May:


Hoping I'll be back to myself again soon because I have quite a few cards to make for the next few months, plus its time to start Christmas cards. I really don't like purchasing cards anymore. Especially when I have so much craft supplies.

I'm hoping I can stick with my challenge and only use what I have in my craft stash. With the Christmas cards, this will be my first year of using up what I have and try not to print off anything. Need to put my crafters cap on. We will see in my next Cards Lately what I create :)

Till next time

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: Cards Lately