OpenMove by Afterskokz

I get asked all the time what I listen to while I’m running and what headphones I use to listen with. I struggle to run without listening to something and lately it has been podcasts over music. I can get lost in a podcast, especially a funny one where as I just focus on running to tempo with music and can still kind of keep track of how long I’ve been running for and how far is still to go if i’m just running to music.

My main concern while running with headphones has always been safety. With social distancing during lockdown, it made it harder to just run on the pavement. I found myself jumping onto the road to give room to walkers. Doing this meant that I had to be more vigilant and aware of my surroundings, to be able to hear traffic all around me.

I also noticed that since the start of lockdown SO many more people have started to run. This is so amazing! I love that the running community is growing and that I get a chance to share something I love with more people.

This week Aftershokz launched their newest headphones- OpenMove. They are a new entry level pair of bone conduction headphones. They’re the perfect pair for if you have been intrigued by the technology or fancy trying out bone conduction headphones for the first time. I was lucky enough to get to try the headphones, I wore them for the first half of my ultramarathon and here are my thoughts.

They’re super light (29g to be precise) so you barely even feel they are there. They also stay in place so you don’t feel them bouncing around whilst you’re running. The bone conduction technology means that they are open ear headphones… this means that you are fully aware of your surroundings as there is nothing covering your ears, they sit just in front sending mini vibrations through your cheekbones. I felt confident jumping on and off of the road where I needed to knowing that I could hear what was going on around me.

I have the slate grey but they come in three more colours- alpine white, elevation blue and himalayan pink. Some other product perks are that they boast a 6hr battery life and are waterproof- great if you love running in the rain like me.

You can find the product on the Aftershokz website here.

I can’t wait to hear how much you love them too.

Char x

* I was gifted this pair as part of the Aftershokz Shokzlab testing programme. All views are my own.

Chocolate Mint Protein Cake

ANOTHER recipe, gosh I’m good to you! This time it’s cake, even better! This is another recipe that does not require flour since I know how hard it is to find.

This cake is perfect post long run or if you just fancy a slice of cake really. If it was totally up to me I’d smash a whole triple layer chocolate fudge cake all the time buuuuuuut I also know I wouldn’t feel so good doing that. So enter, it’s lower calorie, lower sugar, higher protein alternative.

This recipe made 8 slices in a standard circular cake tin.

Ingredients

  • 2 x 40g sachets of Kendal Mint co Chocolate Mint Protein
  • 200g Readybrek
  • 1 egg
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100ml oat milk (or other milk/milk alternative)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • optional milk chocolate chunks

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius
  2. Grease your cake tin, or line with greaseproof paper
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl
  4. add your egg and oil and mix together
  5. add your milk and combine
  6. pour mixture into your tin
  7. I studded mine with broken dairy milk mini bars (optional)
  8. bake in the oven for around 12-15 minutes or until a knife pressed into the centre comes out clean.
  9. enjoy!

I particularly enjoyed mine with a dollop of greek yoghurt and may have eaten it for breakfast a couple of times too!…

There’s nothing wrong with a big fat slab of cake, this is just means you can have MORE! and who doesn’t want more cake?!

You can use ‘charlotteclarke10’ for some cheeky discount at Kendal Mint co too! (don’t say I don’t treat you)

I can’t wait to see your creations, I’d love if you tagged me on Instagram too!

Char x

How I Afford My Running Kit

*disclaimer- this is not a sponsored post. This post is not endorsed by any of the stores/brands mentioned or linked. I am just sharing what has helped me in the hope of helping you! *

It’s no secret that I’ve started taking my running more seriously over the last 6 months. I ran competitively at school, continued running a bit through 6th form and uni and then *poof* the love went and I stopped. A year ago my life dramatically changed and I started running again as something for me and my dog to do together in our new place of living. Boom! The love was back but the problem was, I had no real running kit anymore. I barely had any activewear at all left to be honest.

When I moved a year ago, life also got a lot more expensive. A new flat with higher rent, more driving, an anxious pup going to doggy daycare as we risked eviction from our new place when I was trying to leave her alone. All of this means I have very little expendable income. When I say very little, I mean very little. Like, debating how much I need/want Netflix some months and thats only £8.99 that would be saved.

This means that I am not in a position to be buying the latest trainers in the newly released colours of the season or a £100+ hydration pack. Choosing to tackle an ultramarathon means my runs are long. Choosing to tackle an ultramarathon in September means my runs are HOT. Both of those factors mean I need appropriate kit at a budget friendly price. I’ve got some tips below if you find yourself in a position like mine or just want to save a few pennies while you’re shopping.

  1. I buy my shoes from sportsshoes.com . I over pronate so I wear a stability shoe. My first pair I bought this year were Saucony Guides £39.99 instead of £119.99. I wanted to be able to rotate shoes so I also recently bought the Under Armour HOVR Guardians £57.49 instead of £114.99. I have also started some trail running so have just ordered a pair of trail shoes, Nike Wildhorse 5 £62.99 instead of £104.99. A total saving of £179.50. MAD!
  2. When you want to try new supplements/ nutrition products have a look around your IG. It is highly likely that one of your fave influencers out there probably has a discount code. Buy samples/ small amounts first. This way if you don’t like the product, you aren’t out of pocket by loads of ££ and you aren’t stuck with a load of product you don’t like and aren’t going to use. Before I started working with Kendal Mint Co. I found an influencer with a discount code and ordered their welcome pack. It allowed me to reduce my spend and try one of each of the products before ordering what I decided I wanted more of. The most risk free way of trying new things. If you want to do the same, my discount code is: charlotteclarke10
  3. You don’t NEED a fancy big brand hydration pack. When I was shopping for mine, the temptation was SO REAL to buy into a big brand and spend £100+. For what? to look like the other runners on IG?! It was actually my boyfriend who said he’d bought his from Decathlon and to look there. £12.99!!!!! They don’t have the exact one anymore but I’ve found one here for £17.99 that is basically the newer version of mine AND it comes with a 1L water bladder included.
  4. Shop around. Do you have an amazon prime account that can get you what you want/need with free next day delivery instead of paying for it from a brand website.
  5. Have a look online for discount codes too. I’m very lucky to work for a University in my full time job so I get student discount. Lots of websites and brands have random discount codes available online. Just have a little look before you place your order.
  6. Have a look for 2nd hand. Places like Ebay and Facebook Marketplace are great. I got my Tomtom running watch for £40 on Facebook marketplace and it does the job! There are plenty of people who have ordered trainers in the wrong size and missed a return deadline so turn to these sites to sell their items. I for one, am keeping my eyes open on Ebay for a pair of Hoka one one trainers because I just can’t afford a full price pair and have no shame in saying that

These are just a few tips from me. It can be stressful trying to work out how you’re going to afford new things for yourself especially when you need them but just don’t have lots of money to spend. I know I am very privileged to even be able to buy things for myself full stop but I thought I would share some things that have helped me and could also help you. The things I have bought for myself have been spread over the last 6 months rather than as and when I fancy something.

I hope these tips help you out and save you a little money like they have for me!

Char x

Peanut Butter Dulce de Leche Tarts

That’s right, look who’s back with a brand new tasty recipe! This one is definitely not a #fitnessfuel snack but rather the most delicious nutty, caramelly, groan worthy sweet treat.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is making the caramel but you could easily make that either the night before or whilst you’re doing other bits around the house. I chose the ‘boil in the can’ method of creating dulce de leche from condensed milk to avoid the need for extra sugar and butter. If you are time poor, there are quicker recipes out there for creating caramel using condensed milk, brown sugar and butter.

I have opted to create my own pastry without using flour because boy do I know how hard it is to get hold of that right now!! I knew I wanted to create these but I also wanted a recipe that you would actually be able to make even if you cant buy flour. What’s the point in giving you a recipe you can’t try hey. So what’s the flour replacement?….READYBREK! I know, crazy but trust me! …. does that mean these count as breakfast….

This recipe made 15 tarts for me. With some extra dulce de leche to enjoy by the spoon…. (don’t tell me you weren’t hoping for that!)

Ingredients:

  • Filling:
    • Caramel: one can of condensed milk
    • Manilife Deep Roast Peanut Butter
  • Pastry:
    • 400g Readybrek
    • 100g caster sugar
    • 125g softened butter
    • 1 egg
  • Topping:
    • Milk or Dark chocolate

Method:

Caramel:

  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil
  2. Place the can of condensed milk in the water. Ensure the whole can is covered with water. (If the can has a removable label, remove this first.)
  3. Simmer uncovered for 3 hours. Keep topping the water up to keep the can covered.
  4. Set aside to cool.
  5. Open the can ONCE COOL to reveal a delicious gooey dulce de leche!

Tarts:

  1. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Grease your cupcake/muffin tin and set aside.
  3. In a bowl rub together the softened butter and Readybrek until combined in a crumb consistency.
  4. Add the sugar and egg. Combine together to form a dough. The consistency wants to be mouldable but not super sticky. (If you need to make it firmer, as a little more Readybrek. If you need to make it softer, try adding a little milk.)
  5. Roll out onto either a floured or ‘readybrek’d’ surface until around 3mm thick.
  6. Cut into circles using either a round pasty cutter or if like me, a wine glass (haha)
  7. Place into your prepared tin, pressing into the edges
  8. Bake for 4.5 minutes, just the pastry.
  9. Remove from the oven and carefully press the mixture back into the edges if it has swollen.
  10. add a layer of Manilife peanut butter to each pastry case
  11. top with a layer of your homemade dulce de leche to fill to the top of the pastry case.
  12. Place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  13. Remove and allow to cool. Remove tarts from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.
  14. Melt your chocolate and either drizzle on top or cover the top.
  15. Place in the fridge to set.
  16. Enjoy!
  17. Ration yourself so you don’t eat them all in one go!

I hate to blow my own trumpet…. but honestly these are incredible. You WILL NOT regret giving these a go. EVERYONE is making banana bread right not. Don’t be like everyone else, make my tarts instead. I am yet to make a lockdown banana bread and I am proud of that and I aim to keep it that way.

I would love to know if you make these and if you do, how you get on and what you think of them!

Happy Baking!

Char x

Salty Deep Roast Peanut Butter Flapjacks

Here I am coming back at you with a delicious new flapjack recipe in collaboration with Manilife Peanut Butter. Boy is this a gooden.

These are the perfect pre or post run snack to either give you that pre run energy boost or post run replenishment. Or…. if you’re anything like me, an all round the clock snack because they’re irresistible.

I mean, just look at that texture….

This recipe made 12 flapjack bars for me.

Time: 10 mins to prepare. 14 mins to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 300g oats
  • 125g salted butter
  • 125g sugar (I used 75g caster and 50g light brown muscovado for a deeper flavour)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 3 tbsp Manilife deep roast peanut butter
  • a couple of pinches of salt (optional but delicious)

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to around 180 degrees celsius
  2. Grease your tin/dish or line with grease proof paper. (I find greaseproof paper more successful for getting flapjacks out of the tin and allows them to cool quicker out of the tin)
  3. Melt your butter in a pan
  4. add sugar and syrup until it’s pretty much all combined
  5. add your peanut butter in to melt into the liquid
  6. Turn the hob off, add your oats and mix until combined
  7. Pour into your prepared tin/dish
  8. Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt on top
  9. bake in the oven for around 14 mins (check at 12mins) It wants to be nice and golden on top but still soft as it will set more as it cools
  10. take out and allow to cool
  11. slather more peanut butter all over the top and sprinkle a little more salt on (optional but delicious)

Tah Dah!

Easy peasy. A delicious nutty oaty treat perfect as I said as a pre run boost or post run pick me up.

Enjoy!

Char x

Let’s Start over; Hi, I’m Charlotte!

After yet another break away from my little space here on the internet, I am back and feeling more positive and ready to go than ever.

I felt like I lost my identity for a while. I didn’t feel like my posts or stories were worthy of an audience. The fire has been lit again inside and we go again.

Those of you who have been following me for a while, thank you for sticking by my on thing extremely winding journey I am so grateful for you. Those of you who are new here, hello!

I first started blogging back in 2013/14 when I returned to the Professional Dance Industry after my 2nd heart operation. It was more of a portfolio kind of blog talking about jobs, shoots, rehearsals and all that I encountered as a professional dancer, model and some TV work I did too. It was actually more of a way to keep friends and family happy and informed with what I was doing. I’d perhaps post a beautiful sunrise photo on facebook on my way to set at 5am and I’d get so many ‘where were you going?’ ‘what were you doing’ comments that I couldn’t talk about in some cases due to NDAs until the work was released. So I set up my blog and everyone knew that once I could talk about it, I would and it would be here.

I then left that world and got into health and fitness blogging. I was preparing for my first bikini competition, I was vegan and I was sharing it all with you. I was working towards my Level 3 Personal Training qualification and reviewing classes, kit and places to eat and train over London. I used to create lots of recipes from scratch and write them to share with you.

A few years passed and I had a great time doing this and then I stopped the bikini competitions and changed my place of work and with that I also lost and drive to write about what I was doing. I entered into a relationship that evolved to be something I would never wish on anyone else.

In that relationship I lost who I was, I lost my voice, my power and spent 8 months explicitly being told by my partner to be scared of my partner. So that’s how it was. In that relationship I deleted my entire blog content, I didn’t feel like the same person anymore. ALL of my hard work over the years, gone. (believe me, I regret it now). I overhauled my blog and it became a space called ‘Adulting…’ It was a place for me to write about navigating adult life. I felt like I had nothing else to talk about. I was injured after a bad fall so I wasn’t training. I needed an outlet but I didn’t feel interesting. I posted a few times and then left it.

After 8 months or fear, being shouted at until I was shaking and unable to stand, my things being thrown in the street, the promises to change, it all exploded one night and enough was enough. I packed up my life and moved out of our home with my puppy with nowhere to live and I’ve never been more proud of a decision in my life! I’ll talk about it a little more another time but I did self refer for help with my Mental Health following this. I received treatment for PTSD to help me move on with my life and not take this experience and how I was treated into a future relationship.

I’ve blogged a little since then sharing parts of my experience. The trauma didn’t end there. My previous post to this one, The one with the inappropriate Airbnb host’ goes into just one of the awful experiences. I wanted to share some of my struggles to normalise talking about these things so that people don’t feel alone in their experiences.

Now we are here. Whilst I am back and seemingly starting over, my blog will now be a mixture of all of the entities it has held the form of. I am LOVING training so much again and am training for an Ultramarathon at the moment. (Fingers crossed it still goes ahead!) My fitness posts shall return documenting some of my journey and helping you with yours. I am back baking and writing recipes so those kinds of posts will return too. I have had such great feedback from my recent posts on here and Instagram where I have spoken about my mental health, being open about therapy and that it’s okay not to be okay. I will continue posting about this and together we can normalise this kind of conversation. Fitness, Food, Wellbeing.

I’m in the last year of my twenties, I am happier than ever and am so happy to have you here for the ride with me.

Lets go.

Char x

The One With The Inappropriate Airbnb Host…

Hey guys it’s been a minute. Let’s chat. Grab a cuppa and get comfy because this is not a quickie.

In order for me to tell the story as clearly as i can, there is some scene setting to start and then we’ll get stuck in.

Why am I telling you this story?
1. Everyone deserves to feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, leave.
2. I still can’t believe this happened
3. When I’m telling this story it doesn’t sound real but believe me, it was.
4. Things like this must happen far more than they should.
5. Airbnb handled this so well. If anyone reading this ends up in a similar kind of situation, please know that you will be taken seriously in reporting it!

Okay, here goes…

To give some context to the situation and why I was staying in an Airbnb; On the 2nd of June 2019, I left my partner who I was living with and escaped the abusive relationship. It was something I had threatened to do before but it was a decision I couldn’t have planned for actually making. After an explosive couple of days I had to leave. I had to leave right away. What this meant was that I had nowhere to live. I was able to stay at my Parents’ immediately but it wasn’t a commutable distance to be able to keep my job. I ended up finding a new flat to live in pretty quickly but it wasn’t available to move into for another 5 weeks. In the final week prior to the big move, I booked an airbnb that was cheap, had great reviews, commutable distance and would allow my puppy too. Here’s how it went…

The title of the listing was ‘A Palace’ … I should’ve picked up a vibe there but apparently I like to ignore red flags. The listing doesn’t exist anymore so I can’t give exact details of how it was described but I know it was listed as the kind of place where people airbnb a spare room in their house and the host stays there still.

We communicated a lot between booking and staying. He insisted on pretty much daily messages and a couple of phone calls too and that was even before I arrived. I figured he was just trying to be a good host and have everything ready. It did feel a bit weird and I told one of my work friends but he had 14 5* reviews so who was i to argue with that and I did’t think too much of it.

I arrived after work on Monday 1st July. I entered the property, was greeted by the host and shown around the property. Here’s where the first alarm bells started ringing. Turns out, it was a one bed property. He rents out the room on Airbnb and he sleeps on the sofa. The bedroom, like any normal bedroom, didn’t have a lock on it but the only other thing upstairs was the bathroom- which we would both be using. I went and collected the rest of our stuff and settled in for the night.

He had made us dinner, an eclectic mix of pasta twists, stir fried vegetables and siracha. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for him preparing dinner. He offered me a drink… of neat vodka… It was around 6pm on a Monday evening. When I asked if he had anything to go with it, he offered water. I set the glass down and didn’t pick it back up again.

Anyway, we sit down and we’re chatting. He’s around 60 years old, recently divorced after 40 years, 3 children (who i imagine are at least my age!) He tells me he doesn’t use Airbnb for the money, that he has plenty of, but for the company. He also told me he was looking for a ‘nice young lady’ . My initial thought was: Shit, am I auditioning for this role right now?! He asks if I’m single. I quickly and briefly said how I’d just come out of something pretty horrible and traumatic and certainly wasn’t looking.

He tells me he’s really spiritual, does predictions and could he predict something for me…sure. He tells me not to say anything so that I’m not feeding into his telling. He goes: […] ‘At around 13/14 something bad happened, you were abused.’ FALSE. […] ‘Your boyfriend at around 18, he fucked you up’ FALSE. I tell him he’s wrong and he replies ‘No, he had two sides, he messed you up.’ Now imagine how uncomfortable I’m feeling.

Next, he needs to call his friend so he asks my permission- It’s your house, call your friend. A few minutes in and he’s handing me the phone… to talk to his friend…who I don’t know. Who hasn’t asked to speak to me. THE most awkward phone call.

Next, we FaceTime his neighbour. I don’t really need to say more on that. Weird.

It gets to about 9pm and I make my excuses to go to bed. He pulls me into hug me and goes ‘Oh good, you’re a hugger too!’ … dude, I didn’t really have a choice. Not long after I’ve gone up, he messages me from downstairs asking if Bonnie is asleep, if I have internet, if I’m asleep. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well.

In the morning I get up and go to work like normal. I delay heading back to the property until later that evening and take Bonnie for a nice walk. I get back and he’s made dinner again, he’s also bought us a bottle of wine. He says he’s taking us to see his neighbours so that Bonnie can play with their dog. IT’s all a bit awkward and then we come back for dinner. I accept a small glad of wine not to be impolite but refuse any more on the numerous attempts that followed- just incase I had to make an emergency exit.

After dinner of course the conversation leads back to him asking about if I’ll go back to my ex etc and if I’m looking for anything. No and No. He goes on to tell me how he doesn’t think that my current job is my passion. He says that I should be in the Art industry, painting and that he can make that happen for me…He also tells me how he wants to go to Bournemouth with me and Bonnie at some point.

He goes to the bathroom, so I go to wash the dishes in an attempt to then escape to bed. He comes back downstairs and he places his hand on the middle of my back and says thank you. His hand just lingers. I feel gross. I try to make my excuses to go to bed and he goes ‘But I made you jelly!’ I assumed he’s made up a big bowl and was going to serve me a portion but he opened the fridge and there was just one small bowl. He sat and watched me eat the jelly. All I could think was- What’s in this jelly?… I finish the jelly, wash up the bowl and get ready to head to bed.

The conversation goes like this:
Him: Can I ask you a question?
Me: Suuuuure
Him: a personal question?
Me: Okaaaaay (like you can ask but I can’t promise I’ll answer)
Him: Would you be interested in a relationship?
Me: No, Nope, not at all. ( I try to play it off like he just asked me generally rather than if I wanted to enter a relation with him)
Him: Please don’t look at or think of me any differently now!
*silence*

I head upstairs and into the room incredibly conscious that my door doesn’t have a lock on it and at some point, he’ll be heading up to use the bathroom…I barricaded the door with mine and Bonnie’s things, sat on the bed and cried. How is it that I’ve left a man and a house I don’t feel safe in and then found myself in this situation?! I call my mum crying. We decide I can’t stay there. I book a room at a travelodge and pack my things. Mum’s still on the phone and I’m still crying, I head downstairs and say that something has happened at home and that I need to leave right away. Bonnie’s run downstairs and he shuts her in the garden while I’m getting the rest of my things together. I come downstairs and I’m loaded up like Buckaroo- SO MANY BAGS. I’ve got Bonnie’s lead in my hand ready to attach her, she’s still outside. He tells me to put everything in the car and then come back for her- no chance! I was going in one trip and not coming back, never mind leave my dog with him. ‘So you want her?’ -YES YOU WEIRDO GIVE ME MY DOG! As I’m clipping Bonnie to her lead, he tries to take a bag off of my shoulder- ‘Let me help’ I didn’t want him coming to my car with me so I said no and tried to give him his keys back. He embraces me in another hug , his head resting on my shoulder- he’s not letting go. I’m pretty hysterical at this point and try pushing him off, thrusting his keys at him and make my exit. I figured if I’ve forgotten anything it’s gone now, I’m never coming back.

I quickly leave in the car and the pull over nearby to try and compose myself before driving more. Instead of staying in the travelodge, my friend from work says I can stay wit her so I do that instead of being alone. After I leave he messages my twice. He messages twice more the following morning telling me to ‘keep in touch’. I don’t respond, so he tries calling. I don’t answer.

That day I reported him to Airbnb. That part of their website is a bit of a click through rabbit warren but we got there in the end. I submitted my initial report and awaited their response.

They were fantastic. Someone from their team called me, allowed me to talk and was really understanding and empathetic. They continued their investigation. They ended up refunding my entire stay- I’d booked 4 days but only stayed overnight for 1. They also compensated my travelodge booking and the host’s listing was removed. I felt like I was listened to and taken seriously; two things that you worry about in disclosing something like this especially since he had 14 5* reviews. I am now questioning if they’re even legit.

I have stayed in an Airbnb before with a host and never had a problem so never imagined this would unfold.

The moral of the story is: put your own safety first, stay vigilant and if it doesn’t feel right, get out and report it.

I’m so glad I hadn’t had another glass of wine that night so I could leave when I needed to.

If any of you reading this have ever experienced anything like this at all, I am so sorry. It really is truly awful and I wish situations like this didn’t happen.

Char x

Homemade Chicken and Peanut Butter Pupcakes

Something a little different from my recent posts but i thought I’d turn my hand to baking little Bonnie some homemade treats. He has been losing her little mind over my attempts and quite literally hop, skipping and jumping all over our apartment in excitement.

I figured they’re SO unbelievably easy to make that I’d share my own recipes with you so that your pups can lose their little minds too!

Remember, these are treats and should supplement your pups daily food intake, not replace. But also that if feeding a few of these treats, you should reduce their other meals slightly too to counter.

Ingredients: Makes 10
* 2 eggs
* 1 large tbsp butter
* 2 large tbsp peanut butter (be careful to make sure it is xylitol free!)
* 1 cup Readybrek/ ground oats
* 2 chicken stock cubes

Method
prep
1. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius
2. Grease a muffin tin
make
1. Add peanut butter and butter into a mixing bowl and cream together
2. Mix in both eggs until fully combined
3. Add the chicken stock cubes and mix until full combined
4. Add the Readybrek until a thick cakey batter comes together
bake
1. Divide mixture into the muffin tin
2. Bake for around 20mins until golden
decorate (optional)
* I used diluted peanut butter, so mixed peanut butter with hot water to make a runnier, creamier texture. I dipped the top of the cake in and then grated some puppy chocolate on top (from Bonnies Advent Calendar)

Bonnie when wild for these! They’re human friendly too…. just perhaps not to human taste haha Baking for your pup is super fun and seeing them go wild with excitement is so lovely too. What’s also amazing is that you know EXACTLY what goes into them 🙂

Enjoy!!!

Gift Manipulation and Spending Beyond Your Means

The best gift you can give someone at Christmas is your time.

This is especially true in a time where if you’re not busy all the time and on the go constantly, you’re perceived to not be working hard enough or  not doing enough. When we meet up with friends and family it’s-

“hey how’ve you been?”
“Busy!”
“Yeah me too! So busy!”

… busy isn’t how YOU are though is it and it does not equal productivity or a good use of your time…
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀


This time of year SO many people spend beyond their means and buy presents people don’t even end up using. Or another scenario is you feel bad because the value of your presents exchanged is evidently different so the next year you HAVE to spend more through guilt and apprehension of it happening again….

 
I’m about to speak very honestly about how I’m feeling about christmas, gifting and why.


Last year I was manipulated into spending around 4-5x more on my significant other than they did…. the conversation went something like:
 
Them– “ how much are you planning on spending?”  
Me: ” Oh I don’t know, why how much are you planning on spending?”
Them: “About £500”
Me: “really?!”
Them: “yeah!”
Me: *in my head* Shit i need to up my game..

It was a lot of money, but the conversation was a normal conversation right? You’re probably thinking – Char that’s not manipulation… and you’d be right, it’s what happened next that made it manipulative.

So then the budget was set. I DID up my game. I bought bigger, I bought better. I bought presents to open Christmas day, I bought a trip to take them away. Did I really have that much to spend on one person at that point in my life, probably not no, but I felt I had to because they were, aside from the fact we’d only been together a few months AND I’d just gone big for their birthday.

So when Christmas came around, so did disappointment. Now, I’m not into material things, I recently sold my Apple Watch because that could be money better spent but when you’ve been told you’re receiving around £500 worth of gifts and what you receive is >£100 you’re left disappointed. Disappointed in yourself for expecting more, BUT I think what i was most disappointed in was the realisation that I’d been manipulated for their gain. I hadn’t really experienced that before and maybe I was naive in trusting, I don’t know. Now don’t get me wrong even £100 is a lot to spend so I am not ungrateful, nor am I spoilt, that’s not the message here. (For the last few years, my sister and I haven’t exchanged gifts we’ve instead set aside a day to spend together doing something we really want to do and just enjoy the time uninterrupted.) The message is around the manipulation to spend far more on them than they ever planned to spend- and notice how it was them who initiated the original conversation anyway.


I did bring it up with them at a later date. When I questioned it, they said it was “banter”.


Manipulation. Is. Not. Banter.

I guess this year I just feel a bit funny about Christmas. People ask me what I want for Christmas and I don’t know. The whole thing around buying presents this year, I’d just rather not- I’d rather people just spoilt Bonnie (my puppy) instead. Do I love buying gifts and treating people? absolutely but this year my excitement or ‘festive cheer’ comes not from gifts, but from looking forward to spending time with people I love. I have a generous Christmas holiday entitlement from work so I can enjoy a good break where before as a freelancer and self employed, I’d feel anxious taking more than a couple of days off.


Even more recent events have also just taught me that life is way too precious and our time together is worth so much more than any gift that could be bought.


It is hard, I know, but I strongly encourage you to try and not spend outside your means. Your company is worth far more so maybe arrange a date you can get together with friends and family that you’ve been meaning to see for so long.

People will remember the effort you made to see them, more than the present you can’t afford that you sent them in the post.


Now go and tell someone you love them xx

Finding My Purpose

Here I am, back after a small hiatus. I say small, it’s been months but it made me feel better to say small…

So a lot has happened since I was here last, some of it I’ll share with you at some point and some of it i probably don’t feel so comfortable talking about out loud. I guess for me, writing now is less about writing for the purpose of other people like when i wrote my vegan fitness blog; but rather a way of getting what’s in my head, out. So bear with me some bits won’t be pretty and some bits probably won’t even be interesting but here we go.

I’ve titled this post- Finding my purpose– but if i’m honest, i still feel like I haven’t found it yet.

I’ve had so many jobs in different fields that my CV doesn’t exactly flow or even help indicate what i should be doing. I started out in telesales and retail, then into hospitality, then as a cover teacher in a Secondary school, a Student Services Advisor in a University, a Professional dancer, TV Extra, Model, more hospitality, Fitness Instructor, Athlete, Influencer, Personal trainer and now Student Advisor in a Students’ Union.

When i was living in London, in the early days I wrote a vegan health and fitness blog, I wrote recipes, I reviewed fitness classes and event, I tried to break down assumptions of what life as a vegan athlete was like. I continued this as i first started as a fitness instructor too. I thought I’d found my purpose. To educate, to raise awareness and show that you can be a serious competing athlete in the fitness model world as a vegan. Turns out, that wasn’t my purpose.

I changed gyms, went to a transformation specialist gym. I stopped teaching a bazillion high participation classes and focused on 1-2-1 PT. The idea was that I wanted to be a competition prep coach so this shift was in the right direction. That summer I took an online course called Transitions that was hosted by the Eating Disorder Charity: Beat. I knew I wanted to help people that were struggling. Unfortunately, my PT hours meant that I couldn’t volunteer of an evening or anything. I had had testimonials from old clients saying I’d helped with their mental health and their relationship with food, I knew I had to find a way to incorporate my new training and actively try and help people who were struggling.

Eight months later, I decided to leave that job and I took a job at a Students’ Union as a Student Advisor. I am currently there now and I get to help students every day and I love it. I’m no longer simply someone’s expendable income but rather a key member of staff that students know they can come to when they need help. I thought my purpose was to be a comp prep coach, and now I’m here. So i guess that wasn’t my purpose either.

Just after starting this job I decided to rehome a puppy that wasn’t wanted anymore by their current family. I was living with my partner at the time and he had a dog too. This little puppy was always mine but the idea was she’d be the second dog in the household and they’d keep each other company while we were out at work.

A severe change in circumstances means that it’s now just me and her. We left abruptly meaning we had nowhere of our own to live. Lots of upheaval for the both of us for 5 weeks until we could get into our new place. This has left her super anxious, attached and really distressed if she’s left alone. It;s heartbreaking to know she doesn’t feel safe and confident just in her own company without feeling abandoned. I got a behaviourist in and we’re working on it. Is my purpose to have rescued Bonnie and make sure that she’s happy? I’m not sure if that’s what I was put on this earth to do, but it’s sure as hell my top priority.

We left an abusive relationship and I’ve spoken bits about it on my instagram. My hope is that it might help at least just one other person to get out of a shit situation. I’m also in the middle of counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for the PTSD from that relationship, I talk little bits about that on my Instagram too to try and encourage others to seek help when they need to and that it’s not a sign of weakness. Is that my purpose?

Right now I love my job and feel like I do make a difference, I love my dog and her nature and sure, she tests my patience, she’s a puppy, but my role is to make her happy, I share bits of my life online, that others perhaps wouldn’t, and have had messages to say i’ve either helped by talking about it or that they with there had have been people talking out when they were in a shit situation too that might have encouraged them to get out sooner… I’ve got all of this amazing stuff going on but are those things part of my purpose?

The thing is, I know they aren’t my sole purpose because if I’m honest, I feel a bit lost, a bit empty and a bit like something is missing ever since I started rebuilding my life. I don’t know what the missing piece is or if I’ll ever find my purpose, I just know I haven’t found it yet. I have things I’m good at like my job, I have things I like doing like making sure my dog’s living her best life but I don’t feel like I’ve quite found what it is I was put here to do yet. I don’t know, maybe I won’t, but I’ll keep you in on what I do and don’t find along the way.