I have basically spent every weekend this summer wearing this pair of shorts. I love them and I love how I look in them.
They haven’t always been shorts. They were once a pair of jeans that I cut off when I got bored of them. My Mum suggested I’d cut them too short. I probably rolled my eyes at her.
Once upon a time I used to be self-conscious about wearing short shorts. As you can see, I have quite big thighs and a fair bit of cellulite. But I love my legs. Why? Because they mean I can WALK and RUN and CYCLE and DANCE and a whole load of other things that I am so grateful for. And the more I wear shorts, the more I like how my legs look in shorts.
Other women, including those with much thinner or more muscular thighs than me, have told me how lucky I am to be able to go out wearing shorts. Everyone can wear shorts. Like those widely shared instructions on how to have a bikini body (have a bode, put a bikini on it), my guide to wearing shorts are basically to just fucking wear the shorts. Yes, the first time (and maybe the next) requires some bravery. But it soon feels normal.
And today? I’m wearing shorts when I haven’t even shaved my legs in several weeks. Shocker.
These are things I’ve done this week:
- Discovered where my nearest Hobbycraft store is.
- Played about with beads and pins and polystyrene balls.
- Watched Guardians of the Galaxy.
- Bought a new bike.
- Bought a superior bike lock.
- Learnt how to play Werewolves.
- Picked a new housemate.
- Become the owner of a pair of skinny jeans that don’t have an elasticated waistband.
- Made a bake-off inspired cardamom, coffee and pistachio swiss roll with my friends.
- Learnt that it’s cardamom and not cardamon.
- Crocheted a lot.
- Discovered that blush wine is a thing.
- Learnt that I like blush wine.
These are the things I haven’t done this week:
Last week I asked my sister what she was most looking forward to doing when she moved into her new house. She answered straight away: “Eating dinner in the bath.”
Her words came back to me today and made me smile, partly because of the absurdity of her answer and partly because of what it represented. Having dinner in the bath is really living life on your own terms: doing something other people think is crazy just because you want to.
This week I had lots of things that I thought I should do. It was supposed to be a quiet one, time to catch up on sleep, do my laundry, clean, tidy, write and reflect. But as soon as I arrived back in Oxford on Sunday night I received a text message: do you want to go for shisha? Which of course turned into shisha and wine and a late night.
On Monday night I ended up having a pub dinner and conversations that lasted until it got dark. On Wednesday night a throwaway remark by a friend – “I haven’t had a whisky sour in ages” – saw us camped out in a cocktail bar for most of the night. I returned home and collapsed on my bed. “Oh shit,” I thought as the room span around me. “I needed to do that laundry.” But it turned out I didn’t, because I wore a running bra under my work clothes today and nothing bad happened.
I have a nasty habit of trying to schedule every moment of my life in advance. I plan, I make lists, and I turn down fun to cross things off them.
This week has shown me that I can relax a little: not plan anything, not set expectations. Wonderful things can happen when you leave space for a little spontaneity. You’ll still do the things that matter (that laundry is in the washing machine as I type) but there’s a lot of things that don’t.
I’ll get more sleep when my friends aren’t in town. I’ll write when I feel inspired, not when I feel I ought to. This might lead to more infrequent blog posts but they will be the ones worth reading. Or it might not, because you don’t know what will happen when you leave space. It is okay to do whatever the hell you want to do in the moment, even it that’s eating dinner in the bath.
You don’t have to do something extraordinary for it to be wonderful. There is magic in everyday things: a story, fresh flowers, a smile.
This week I’m remembering that I don’t have to quit everything and go travelling to have a great life. Happiness is much more about perspective than circumstance.
One of my housemates volunteers with a community theatre group. They needed help painting some of the set so I gave up a morning to help. I’d genuinely forgotten how calming I find it when I am absorbed my something creative for a few hours. I drew and painted this board of cogs, and felt so much happier because of it.
I went to Henley Regatta and got to wear a hat (I didn’t actually wear it with that checked shirt). I fitted in much more than I thought I would, which will teach me for being such a reverse snob.
At Cowley Road Carnival we chose mask making in the family craft area rather than daytime drinking in front of the stages. Had much more fun.
I moved rooms in my house. I now have a sofa! And room to spread out all the blankets I crochet.
My bike wheels were stolen. Bastards. But now that it’s my main method of transport, I was toying with the idea of using the money I made my selling my car to invest in a good bike. I guess that decision has now been made for me.
One of the things I daydream about is being a lifestyle blogger: with regular posts, more photographs, more writing about my life and so on. The limiting belief that’s been holding me back is “nobody is interested in my life.” But as one of my friend’s pointed out, some people do in fact read lifestyle blogs. More importantly, if this is something I want to do then I should do it regardless of whether people are reading or not. But obviously, it would be great if you did.
I’m going to cease being self-conscious and self-censoring, stop taking myself too seriously, and start sharing more of my life with you. There’s going to be:
1. More crochet! And other crafty stuff.
3. More life musings!
5. Plus anything else that gets me excited.
Hold on to your hats folks…
I signed up to the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Programme because I felt as though my sugar eating was out of control, and didn’t think I could get it under control on my own. I had tried to quit sugar without any support but always lapsed after a few days, and by lapsed I mean “binge ate a whole box of Thorntons chocolates and then beat myself up about it”. Having the structure of a programme was helpful, as was spending money on it. I was keen for the cash I’d parted to be an investment in my health, which meant that this time I took it much more seriously than those previous half-hearted attempts.
These are some things that I learnt:
1. It’s good to be forced out of your routine and try different things. Using the recipes provided in the meal plan expanded the repertoire of meals I feel confident preparing, and introduced me to foods and combinations I would not otherwise have thought of trying. It made me realise that I had been stuck in a food rut: eating the same things each week. I like my habits and routine, and the thought of having something other than my usual cereal and soya milk unnerved me a little bit. Now I have a much more creative approach to breakfast and eat a variety of different options throughout the week.
2. I don’t need sugar. This might seem like stating the obvious, but it can be difficult to remember when you’re in the midst of a craving. I don’t think I’d ever not given it to a craving before, so it was a good discovery that they do go away if you ignore them, and get less frequent if you can get into the habit of ignoring them.
3. But I do want sugar. I must admit that I have had a few lapses. I was tempted into buying a cone of icecream when I was hanging out with a group of friends for my birthday. Usually, I would feel really guilty after eating ice-cream and also not be able to stop. This time, I found that I was satisfied by a couple of scoops. I really really enjoyed the icecream but it wasn’t followed by the usual pang of guilt because I knew that I didn’t need sugar, hadn’t had it for a couple of weeks, and was equally able to not eat it for a few more. I will never give up sugar entirely because I want to have the occasional treat. But making it just an occasional treat has been much better for my headaches, my mental health and my enjoyment of it.
So while the programme hasn’t made me quit sugar, it’s made me feel much more in control of my eating. While I doubt I’ll ever be completely free of disordered eating, I’ve found that staying off the sugar is managing to break the cycle of binge eating and purging. For me, this programme has been much more about improving my mental rather than physical health. Even though I have actually put on weight, cooking healthy things from scratch has made me feel much more in control of my eating which is in turn making me feel much better about how I look. For this reason, I think paying for the 8 week programme has been a pretty wise investment, even if I haven’t used the meal plan much since about week five.