How I Fell In Love With The Gym Again

You may or may not have noticed via my Instagram and Twitter that I've been rabbiting on about the gym lately. To be honest I've always enjoyed going to the gym since a young teenager; yes I have days where I want to skip going, but I always feel so much better once I've been, so falling back in love with exercise was not too difficult for me. However, there were some things that definitely helped ease myself back into exercising so I thought I'd share them in case any of you out there are trying to get your butt back into shape. My top tips are:

Find a reasonable membership deal
The thing that has stopped me being a member of a gym for the past 2 years since graduating from my undergrad degree has been the cost of gyms- they're bloody expensive. During my Masters in York there wasn't any reasonable gym deals around (the actual uni one was so expensive), so we just never went. Unfortunately I don't actually like exercising outside (unless it's playing football or swimming!), so I flopped massively last year and put on all the weight I had worked so hard to lose the previous year. However, we found an amazing deal for a gym here in Brisbane ($29 for 2 months for a 24hr gym) about a 15 minute drive away and it has been so good. I really advise using Groupon or other similar deal websites to find gym deals near you if money is a factor deterring you from joining (if you're in Australia use my link to get $10 credit for you to spend on anything on Groupon or if you're from the UK get £6 credit using this link). Often these deals are incredibly cheap with a significant percentage discount for the usual monthly fees and waiver things like the initial joining up fee- just make sure the gym has everything you want e.g. for me, it was really important that the gym had entertainment systems for me to use whilst exercising and a changing room with shower for afterwards.

Ensure there are TV Programs on that you're interested in
Unfortunately the only bad experience I have had at the particular gym we have joined is that the big TV's at the front of the studio are locked onto preset channels. Whilst this might be okay during the day, we usually head to the gym late at night when we have both finished work and during this time we have experienced some seriously questionable programs on e.g. "Blokesworld" which is the most misogynistic program I've had the displeasure of laying my eyes on (the actual program description says .."a lifestyle show for the real Aussie bloke. Discover the joys of a roaring V8 engine, a good BBQ, a punt on the dogs and a bit of a perve along the way". The last thing I want to see when I'm working out is a group of bogans getting off on naked poledancers.. so there's that. Now I ensure that I never go during the time this show is on to save myself from the most awkward workout of my life again, and make sure there's something on I want to watch as it really helps time go really fast when you're working out. Some of my gym favorites now include: Celebrity Rehab With Dr Drew, Bargain Hunt, Escape To The Country and Catfish.

Go when the gym was quiet
As I've mentioned we go to the gym late at night which is great as it means the gym is really quiet, and often we are there on our own. For me there is nothing worse than a busy gym, and some we have looked around there has been people actually queing for machines... absolute nightmare- not only is it inconvenient but it would send my anxiety crazy! By joining a 24hr gym and going in the evenings it means you can really concentrate on working out which is really good if you're a little unsure in the beginning.

Enjoy accurate results? Invest in a fitness watch!
I have the Polar FT60 Watch which M got me for my birthday last year and find it really helps motivate me. Being able to track your heart-rate and see your fitness improve, as well as track how many calories you burn (if this is your thing) is great for watching your fitness and weight get closer to where you want to be. I find it is much better than the trackers on the exercise machine as you can track your age, height and weight and pause when you are moving between machines. There's also a function on this watch to target your heart rate to reach your weight-loss and fitness goals which is cool, but I haven't dabbled too much in this function yet.

Made sure you have clothes you are comfortable in
Before we went to the gym I was aware I didn't have any workout tops that I felt comfortable wearing- I like sleeveless tops that aren't too figure hugging when exercising. We headed to Target and I found a top that was perfect for me (and only $10) which I now wear. Being comfortable is important to me as I don't want to be paranoid about any mishaps with clothing whilst I'm trying to focus on completing 10km! Also ensure to buy a couple of pairs of everything- there is nothing worse than having to do washing every day so you can wear the same clothes to the gym the following evening.A pair of comfortable trainers are also really important- I have the Adidas Adizero ones which are so lightweight which I picked up when I lived in York from the DFO- they are so cheap compared to buying them full price! 

Get into the habit of doing a mixture of weight and cardio so you don't get bored
Something which I never did before when I went to the gym was use the weights area- I got into the routine of using the stationary bike, rowing machine, treadmill (occasionally) and cross-trainer. Now I use the stationary bike, cross-trainer, rowing machine, bosu ball and always use the weights. It gives you a break from doing full-on cardio all the time, and I actually think it is a lot more effective for toning up- I can already notice a difference just after a few weeks of doing it.

Stick at it for a couple of weeks
This the one of the main ones for me, although it is hard at first, I can guarantee after a few weeks of going you will start to feel so much better even if the scales haven't changed. I feel so much more confident now than I did a month ago which sounds ridiculous, but exercising really changes the way you feel about yourself. Now my mind is never occupied with the thoughts of "if I exercised I'd look so much better", instead, my thoughts are more "I don't look how I want to look, but I am doing everything in my power to change it, so for the meantime I can accept this". It really is life changing for me, and low self-esteem coupled with anxiety can really make life extremely lonely, but since exercising again, I have a new found of confidence.

What are your tips for falling back in love with exercise again? How do you motivate yourself?

My Female Childhood Rolemodels

The other day I was thinking about who I looked up to when I was growing up. I definitely struggled finding people I identified with- I spent most of my spare time playing football or sardines with my friends who lived on my street (who were all boys), or playing The Sims, Theme Hospital or Rollercoaster Tycoon with my girl group of primary school friends, who to be honest, were all pretty nerdy like me. We all liked reading Jacqueline Wilson and Philip Pulman books, collecting pogs and going swimming. None of us were particularly 'girly' and I was definitely into sports in a big way (I was insistent along with 2 other girls in year 5 and 6 to be allowed in the boy's football team in primary school). I wasn't into Barbies, Polly Pockets (although I did have her mansion and camper van which were quite cool), Boyzone or Atomic Kitten.

It's funny as you grow older you find yourself reminiscing and remembering things in your past and it's really allowed me to see the random characters and people that shaped me growing up. I really hope if I ever end up having a daughter of my own that she will be exposed to alternative role-models aside from the mass commercialised toys that seem to dominate chilren's lives these days. I will forever be grateful for my parents allowing me to pursue and be interested in anything I wanted, without any gendered stereotypes shaping what was pushed onto me. Looking back, these are probably the 4 role-models that shaped my childhood the most:

Lara Croft
Lara Croft was and still is my role-model. I dread to think how many hours I spent playing Tomb Raider over the duration of my childhood. Locking the butler in the freezer anyone? I even went as far as purchasing a set of green and blue camouflage trousers and crop tops. I looked borderline ridiculous but they were my favorite outfits ever! Yes the films are crappy, and the story behind Tomb Raider has changed significantly over the years, but she is always portrayed as confident, athletic, intellectual and independent- basically what I still aspire to be!
Tracy Beaker
As I mentioned, me and my friends loved Jacqueline Wilson books and would always borrow them off each other. Some of my favorite books were The Illustrated Mum, The Dare Game, The Bed and Breakfast Star and The Lottie Project. To be honest I can't actually believe she's still publishing books- what a hero! Tracey Beaker always resonated with me as she was strong willed and had big dreams despite her upbringing, and of course, she was into football like me! FYI you can check Jacqueline's website book library here and reminisce about all the books you read!
Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice was someone I looked up to a little later as a young teenager. She was intellectual and although quite judgmental (which I think we all are!), she was also witty and bold. She went against the will of her mother and Katherine and followed her heart. She also questions Darcy which takes great courage as a female in the book. Her flaws made her really identifiable and just goes to show that following your heart is always the right thing to do. As you can probably tell, I still love her now!
Hermione Granger
Probably one of the most common role models among women my age, but she's a good egg. She's intellectual and always has good intentions. She always puts 101% effort into everything and I admired that in her character. Books are cool, people! And knowledge is 1 million percent power.
Eliza from The Wild Thornberrys
Probably slightly weird, but I LOVED watching The Wild Thornberrys. Eliza was pretty fearless, and I loved how she was happy to just go on her own adventures. It reminded me a lot of me and my best friend in France during the summer holidays making tree houses, running through corn crops and pissing French farmers off when we ruined their straw hay bails! Anyone know if it's still around?

I'd love to know in the comments who your role models were growing up! 

A List of Every Job I've Ever Had

I always find it really interesting to find out the different career paths of people and how they got to where they are, so thought I would share my employment history thus far! Throughout my life I've pretty much always had a job. Financially I've always been pretty independent from my parents so getting a job was always something I wanted from a young age. Although there's been some hurdles along the way,  I've learnt so much from all my jobs. Please let me know in the comments the best and worst jobs you've had! I'm nosey like that :)

1. Babysitter
This is the first proper job I remember having aside from cleaning and gardening I used to do for my parents when I was really young. I used to babysit my neighbour's children most weekends. It was a pretty good job, although it wasn't very reliable and often the person I would babysit for would phone up last minute expecting me to be able to babysit which was difficult. Whilst I love children, and for the most part they behaved, one had pretty difficult behavioral problems for someone so young as me to deal with which ultimately made me dislike the job. It was also expected that I would look after neighbours kid's who would come over whilst I was babysitting too which was always a little awkward. Overall, this was a good job and I would advise any teenager to do it as it is great pocket money, but it was difficult!

2. Nannying
Every summer me and my family would go to our holiday house in the South West of France and I would babysit and nanny children who were also there on holiday (and sometimes French children whose families we knew). This was a great job as it meant I could pay for petrol and outings without spending any of my savings whilst I was there. The families I worked for were really nice, and most had multiple children which meant I got paid more. I had this job for pretty much every annual summer holiday in France. However, one of the best things about nannying French families was unlimited access to...Orangina!

3. Sales Assistant at a bakery
Unfortunately this was probably my worst job that I've ever had. During my gap year before stating university I needed to save money to travel to Australia. At the time, there were NO jobs at all in the place that I lived- it was pretty horrendous. After finally finding a job advertised for a shop down the road from me where I could walk to work, I was ready to nail the interview. I was successful in the interview, however they placed me in the shop in the city centre of the city I lived.. this meant I couldn't any longer walk to work and would have to drive which was a real pain as one of the main reasons I applied for the job in the first place was because it was so close to home. However, what was worst about the job was the management. One of the team leaders would make advances to some of the younger girls including myself whilst working there, and the management as a whole was so poor that there wasn't the support there to complain (the irony was his girlfriend worked in a shop opposite the on we were working in!). The working conditions were awful too- everyone was overworked without having sufficient breaks, and as the shop was in a bus station without heating, it was freezing and they wouldn't let us wear jumpers. In three words: WORST JOB EVER! However... I think everyone should have a stint at working in retail. It makes you appreciate just how hard people work, and teaches you so many life lessons!

4. Team member at an award winning museum/attraction
Whilst at university I worked at a local museum/attraction on Sundays and doing the odd evening shift for events, especially around Christmas. The role involved so many different things; catering, ticketing, operating a ride simulator, doing tours, working in the gift shop and working in the planetarium and giving presentations. The job was never boring, and I really liked it aside from the evening events which were at times extremely stressful and sometimes finished at 3 in the morning (which wasn't great when you had uni or you had to drive back home during the holidays which was 2.5hrs away!). However, in terms of experience it was an awesome job as there were so many roles you had to undertake. I actually took this job over a John Lewis one I was offered.. so that goes to show really how good it was.

5. Customer service assistant at a supermarket
I had this job whilst doing my Masters degree in York. It was also a great job, although sometimes I found the hours a little long (16 hours per week) when trying to fit in all my studying, but something had to pay the bills! The working times were also pretty poor- on Saturdays I worked from 6am to 2pm which was always a struggle on those cold winter mornings, and on Sundays I worked 3pm-11pm which I found exhausting. The weekends were always the busiest times in the store (it was a small convenience store), so we were often overworked. However, what made it good was the people I worked with who were great and I am still friends with now and the fact it was just around the corner from where I lived so I could walk there!

6. University tutor
When I arrived in Australia I was pretty keen to get started with a job and I managed to score myself a university tutoring job conducting seminars, marking assignments and giving lectures. This was the first job I had relating to my university degrees and I really enjoyed it in comparison to my previous unskilled jobs, which made me realise I definitely chose the right degree and that I never want to work in retail ever again! Unfortunately I had to leave this job due to my visa working conditions after 6 months, which was a shame as they offered me another job there, but i'm hoping to take this up once we have sorted my next visa out. Another great thing about this job was that it gave me the experience to be able to run my own little successful business once I left. 

7. Self employed freelance copywriter and proofreader
This is the job I kind of fell into when I had to give up my previous job. I never thought I would be self-employed, but this is the job I have now and I really love it. It gives me the flexibility that I have never had before and has given me another string to my bow in relation to my degree. I'm hoping my little business will become more established as I gain more clients as I have been really enjoying it. Soon it will be coming up to 6 months of being self-employed and it has been amazing!

What is your employment history like? What have been your worst/best jobs?

10 Things I Miss About Living In The UK

1. Feeling cold
Oh sweet coldness. The closest I have got to feeling cold is having to put a proper duvet on the bed instead of a sheet. I bought myself a dressing gown which I'm currently wearing, but who am I kidding? I'm wearing the most summery PJ's underneath anyway! I just miss layering clothes and snuggling up with a blanket and watching TV ya know!

2. The BBC and British TV in general
The UK has always had the best TV programmes I've seen in the world. Over here in Australia I cannot rely on just 'putting on the TV and finding something to watch' when I feel like kicking back. In fact, I hardly ever watch TV over here, instead opting for watching a film or tv series we have on DVD. Some of my most missed programmes are of course, GBBO, Dragons Den, Made In Chelsea (guilty pleasure..), Strictly... the list goes on!

3. The sound of rain
Never thought I would say this, but the sound of rain is something I really miss. On the odd occasion that it does rain, I love just laying on my bed and listening to it. I'm aware I sound absolutely batty, and I honestly couldn't have been quicker to get away from the constant rain in the UK, but I do miss it!

4. High Street Stores
I do miss the diversity of high street stores in the UK. I've yet to find shops here that I really love. H&M and TopShop are pretty few and far between, and most others I find tend to focus on younger teen fashion. I feel like my wardrobe has become SO boring since arriving here; I've been opting for anything at all that keeps me semi-cool in the summer, then jeans and a tee in the winter.

5. Decent Indian and Pakistani Food
Coming from Bradford, I've been spoilt for choice when it came to food. I've yet to find anywhere that even comes close to the curry from home (and the price!). At home I can get my favorite authentic curry, rice, pakoras and barfi for less then ten quid. Here it costs double that and doesn't taste even half as good. I swear whenever I next make it back to the UK I will be running to my local curry house!

6. Chocolate
I never really thought I was a chocolate lover, but the chocolate here in Australia is hopeless. Absolutely hopeless. It tastes odd and just doesn't give me that chocolate fix that everyone requires from time to time! However, I have found these amazing vegan/gluten-free etc 'mintons'. They are amazing!

7. British politeness
However much we get mocked for our politeness, I have actually grown to like it. Australians can be quite brash at times and it's taken quite a long time to get used to, and even now sometimes I get taken aback. M always said he really liked how polite I was, and now I kind of understand why.

8. The NHS
Whenever I travel to any part of the world, I always seem to come back feeling appreciative of the NHS. However much people complain about it, it's bloody good and we're lucky to have it. The Australian system is actually pretty good, although most people opt for private healthcare over here which is still a concept I'm trying to get used to. I've been admitted to hospital in both Tasmania and Mallorca, and honestly the NHS is still up there as the best in my opinion. The first thing they ask you in A&E in the UK is 'what's the matter?' rather than 'can I see your Medicare card please?' when in excruciating pain.

9. The Seasons
However much I love being able to swim in December, I wish the seasons matched the UK. At Christmas, it is supposed to be cold. I wish I could snuggle up on the sofa watching Bridget Jones/Love Actually/ELF/The Snowman etc when in actual fact, there is nothing more you want to do than lie in the spot with the most air con so you don't drown in your own sweat. Now there's a lovely image for you all. Oh and Christmas jumpers. How the hell do you wear a Christmas jumper in 40+ heat!? I'm sorry Australia, but save your sweltering heat for July, not December.

10. Decent fish and chips
I don't eat fish as I'm a veggie and coeliac, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that we discovered the first decent place to get fish and chips. And guess what, it's Irish! Normally over here they don't have proper sea salt and absolutely no vinegar on chips (madness!). Thank god we found O'Connor's! We never even really had them in the UK, but once you can't get something it suddenly becomes an itch you can't scratch until you find it! I'm now thinking about chips, at 12:23am.

What do you miss or would you miss when living abroad? On assessment, 3 of these things are food-related which pretty much sums me up!