Being a work in progress isn’t enough.

I always refer to myself as a work in progress. I know where I want to be and every day I move slightly closer towards my goals – even if in reality I don’t move at all. But how exhausting is it to be constantly acknowledging that you’re not where you want to be? It’s not enough. I’m constantly reaching for more, to be more, to be worthy of the love and attention that I need, and of the respect that I crave.

It’s fucking exhausting. And it’s demoralising. And I spend half of my time feeling like I’m not good enough, because every day I call myself a work in progress.

Being a work in progress gives me an excuse – not to do the things that my heart knows I need to do, because I feel like I’m not ready. Knowing I’ve still got a way to go before I’m where I want to be is the perfect excuse that sits behind “not today'”. I don’t make the big decisions that I need to make, because I’m a work in progress. I don’t tell the person that I love that I love him, because I’m a work in progress. I don’t take the jumps that I want to take, because I’m a work in progress.

But something amazing happened last Friday.

I’ve been a longtime user of Pinterest, and still use it regularly. Since I started using it, I’ve had boards dedicated to specific vibes or topics, but I’ve also had a board per year for inspiration – either through words or photography – the first one is 2013. I can look back at the person I wanted to be four years ago, based on the images and the words and quotes that meant something to me.

When I was looking back over my boards, I realised that in part, I’d already become the person I’d wanted to. I looked at the quotes that I’d pinned and realised that, although I could remember why I’d pinned them, I live by some of them now.

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.

This is me. I always get into trouble in Q4, because I have too many holidays that I haven’t taken through the year. My life is full of work – doing the thing that I love – and I live in a lovely flat with my amazing dog, where I feel safe and secure. I’m single, sure, but I don’t feel like I need to escape where I am, so I don’t. I built myself a life that I didn’t need to escape from.

Do it for the holy shit you got hot.

I’d never pin something this cringe anymore, and sure it took me a little longer to get around to achieving this one, but I get this now! I love when media owners don’t recognise me from when they first met me, or when I get out of the blue messages from men I used to know when I change my profile photos… This is a dream. I hate to sound arrogant – but I did get hot!

In the interests of full disclosure, I write this as I’m sitting with no make up on, hair messily scraped back, in yoga pants and a jumper – this isn’t my best look. 

In 2014, I pinned the below outfit (and over the years so many like it!);

This look though

For me, this look was so effortless and chic, and was so far beyond how I could imagine myself looking at the time – but not now. This is literally what I look like on a weekend, but usually with trainers instead! This look really symbolised for me being comfortable in my body and my look, and I know that I am now.

In 2015, I pinned a lot of quotes to inspire me at work, which figures given where I was at the time.

Always walk like you deserve to be right where you are.

This one took me a while. I’ve spent most of my career with the stigma of my young age hanging over me. People have often thought that I was too young to know what I did, or to be able to do what I do. But the truth is that I started early, I got into an agency young and I worked my arse off to get to where I am now, it took years and tears and sacrifice but I’m here. There’s a difference between walking like you deserve to be where you are, and walking with arrogance though – that was one that took a little while to learn.

Work out because you love your body, not because you hate it.

AMEN TO THIS. This one took me forever to learn. For so long I used to treat exercise as a punishment and as a way to hurt myself or my body, to remind myself that I was too fat, or I’d eaten something that I shouldn’t – as penance for just existing. It fucking sucked and this attitude to exercise was a huge part of the reason that I put on so much weight when I was unhappy. I was scared of the gym and of working out because it meant I’d been bad, so I didn’t do it. Realising that exercise was a celebration of what I could do, and not a punishment for what I’d done was a real psychological breakthrough for me.

This attitude helped me find another way of working out and loving my body – yoga – which has by far been one of the most transformative additions to my life over the last two years. Yoga is a way of slowing down, building strength, connecting my brain and body and listening to myself. I know it’s making me fitter, I can see the tone and feel the weightloss and understand the progress that I’m making. Taking time for yoga is an act of self-care, I do it to show my body some love and to celebrate what we can do – it’s never punishment.

So whilst I build my 2017 board, full of the things that inspire me and remind me that I’ve still got a way to go – it’s been amazing to reflect back on the person I wanted to be, and to realise that in a lot of ways I’m her already.

I guess being a work in progress is only a part of me, the other part of me is already exactly who I wanted to be.

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Why am I listening to what I’m listening to?

Weird title, I know.

But each quarter of the year (so bloody business of me) I create a new playlist on Spotify, then the following quarter, or year, I can go back and bathe in the songs that I loved at that point.

It’s always a mix of old songs, new songs, popular songs and random picks, but I love it. I listen to Spotify’s playlists a lot, Sweet Soul Sunday, The Great British Breakfast, Yoga Girl and I’ll often pick songs from those playlists and slip them into my quarterly! I edit as the months go on, taking out anything I’m not into, and carrying over anything that I’m not done with yet.

I listen to my playlist whenever I need some comfort or something to concentrate to – or to sing in the shower! In all of the songs though, the one thing that unites them is that there’s always a line that I sing with all my heart, and that expresses the exact way that I feel at that moment. So I’m going to share the lyrics in some of my songs right now that explain my soul, because I have a penchant for oversharing and because I want to.

Your words, they burn
I read it twice, the way you write is different
You’re cold, and it’s cruel
Acting like I am someone that you never knew

Léon – Think About You; I stumbled across this at some point on another playlist and fell in love. It just spoke to me, and her voice is just too beautiful.

I wish I had a better excuse
But I can’t even lie you got me
I was busy thinkin’ ’bout boys

Charli XCX – Boys; this song is a totally different vibe to the one before but it makes me so happy and brings all the good vibes. Also it’s totally true for me sometimes, like I get caught in a meeting or with a supplier but I’m just sitting thinking about boys.

And the songs that we sang
They were written for you and me
Melodies on repeat
That’s what I hear when you’re by my side

MØ – Final Song; these lyrics remind me of a really old song by P!ATD where the lyrics that I used to sing as a teenager suddenly made sense in a situation I was in… The songs that we sang, it’s actually like they were written for you and me – even though it was years before.

I know we’ve all got our problems
And it’s a blessing that we made it here so far
And if you lay here in these arms tonight I promise
I promise to take you, take you as you are

Rag’n’Bone Man – As You Are; those lyrics are the one.

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun

The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun; the song that fills me with optimism and reminds me that my ice can melt.

You know I’d stay but I just can’t stand it and
I can feel the warning signs running around my mind

Oasis – Half The World Away; this song though. Absolute dream vibes.

All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We’ll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we’d be doomed

Bastille – Flaws; I’ve loved this song for years – but these lyrics mean so much to me right now when I think of accepting myself and the people I love exactly as we are.

I don’t know how you found me, you found me
The night ain’t over
We’re far from being sober
Surround me, surround me

Léon – Surround Me; found on another playlist, again, but really just singing my soul, again. Completely gives me all the feels.

So there are some words that make me feel things. I’ve been suffering with some writer’s block, so hopefully sharing other people’s words will unlock my brain and let me start writing things again. Fingers crossed.

 

Maintaining my weight loss.

Recently I took myself back to Slimming World after about a year hiatus. I’m going to write a separate post about recognising my self-destructive tendencies and how I’ve learned to deal with them sooner rather than later, but essentially I could feel myself slipping back into old habits and I wanted to stop and get back onto a positive track, so I rejoined Slimming World.

The thing with Slimming World, anyone who’s seen success on it will tell you, is that it actually is a lifestyle change. When you know how it works and you understand what everything’s worth – is it free, speed, protein, a healthy extra or synned – it becomes second nature to make a mental note of what you’re eating and enjoying.

When I got back onto the scales I was terrified, I always am, every time – if I’ve been overindulgent and I know I deserve a gain, if I’ve been super good and know I deserve a loss – there’s so much that can affect what the number is that it’s almost out of your control. That’s why I’ve never had scales in my flat, I don’t want to become a slave to it. But when I saw the number on the scale I was delighted.

Before I went back, I looked at the number I’d finished at last time around, the weight I was where I felt comfortable enough to stop. When I re-weighed, I was lighter than I’d finished last time and I was elated.

I’d felt like I’d had a really bad couple of months, I knew that the weight was creeping back on but I was still lighter than when I’d finished! It was a fucking miracle.

But how, when I live alone and work in an industry where lunch is a huge deal, had I managed to maintain a four stone weight loss over a year? I started to think back over the year – and the years that had got me in a position where I needed to lose that much weight! – and tried to recognise and acknowledge the changes that I’d made to my lifestyle that had really made the difference, this is what I came out with;

Moving more

Weight loss is really super easy; eat less move more. Without going to the gym – I wish I had but I just didn’t have the time or inclination! – I managed to tone up and get moving with yoga and walking my dog. On the weekend, Baxter and I walk for an hour twice a day minimum – either around the Quays or to the park or we hop in the car and go somewhere further afield, like the Edge – our ultimate favourite place.

baxter alderley edge
Little Beez on the Edge

So if it’s a huge hike or just a brisk walk around the Quays, I move more than I ever have done, getting that metabolism up and burning off unnecessary chub. This was a real habit change, I’d lived a very sedentary lifestyle before Slimming World and every day I make a choice not to live like that.

Understanding my food

But I remember someone once saying to me that,

You can’t outrun a bad diet.

I’d always had a good understanding of calories, what was in what, how calories aren’t equal etc. but when I’d put food into the context of Slimming World, it helped me to understand how much I could/should have a day. For example, fifteen syns a day could be a curlywurly and three gins with slimline tonic – and if I’d eaten everything else well that’d be absolutely fine. Knowing what speed food was – vegetables, essentially – and that half of my plate should be that, helped me to understand the plate of food that I was eating and my plate composition. For example, I make conscious decisions to often include avocado – which I know is good for me, but I also know is synned because of a high fat content – and when I do, I have it instead of alcohol or chocolate, to keep my balance for the day.

halloumi grilled vegetable salad
A seven syn delightful vegetarian lunch, with halloumi, smashed avo, spinach, broccoli, grilled red peppers and courgette, tomatoes, giant couscous and a rice cracker.

I eat food that’s good for my soul, that has colour and texture – but I don’t deny myself chocolate or gin when that’s what I know my body wants/needs!

Eat the pizza

I love pizza so much it features in my Instagram bio. But seriously, I think one of the things that’s meant I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss is the fierce protection of myself. The horrible truth of my life at the moment is that sometimes I’m feeling sad as fuck and just want to have a pizza because it’ll make me feel better, and you know what – it actually does make me feel better.

Every now and again, letting yourself comfort eat something that’s delicious and exactly what you want is good for you. So don’t feel guilty about it, let yourself enjoy every single bite, don’t think about the syns – just know that it’s not going to ruin your weight loss! One pizza will not make me fat, I just let myself enjoy it, I go to sleep with a tummy full of my favourite food in the world and then I wake up happy to a bowl of porridge with fruit.

Ply Manchester Salami Pizza Northern Quarter
This pizza was absolutely amazing – the salami of the week from Ply in the Northern Quarter

Outside of pizza though, there’ve been times over the last year when I’ve accidentally (read:intentionally) eaten a whole tub of ice cream, or block of chocolate, or McDonalds or whatever it was I was craving. The main difference between doing this over the last year versus the previous years is that I eat the food because that’s what I want at that time. I eat it, I enjoy it, and I let go of any guilt instantly. I used to let the guilt fester, I’d feel bad, I’d eat something else to try and make myself happy, it wouldn’t work… I just got fatter, and got into the position where I had all that weight to lose.

Ultimately, I managed to maintain weight loss by letting Slimming World change my habits. I move more, I eat consciously – even if I’m having a syn binge – and I love my body regardless.  Every day I make the choice eat well and to move lots. Or I make the choice to not move, to eat the pizza and to buy the ice cream.

But the key there is that I’m making the choice either way because I am the only one who’s in control of my body and my happiness. Every day I make the choice to love myself, however I need to show the love to myself that day.

You owe yourself the love you give so freely to other people.

On resilience.

resilience definition

Resilience is something I’ve thought about a lot recently.

I find that when I’m in an emotionally or physically hard time, I think about what I’ve overcome.

The first time I really recognised my resilience was after a car crash years ago. I should’ve been far more damaged physically than I was, but I wasn’t. My body protected itself at the time and healed. I imagine all that hurt and pain slowly knotting together and covering over with a scar tissue of resilience. When I think back to the accident I feel it all over again, but it’s less painful each time. The bruises faded, the cuts scarred – my body recognised the hurt, but it healed and got me back to myself, albeit with the occasional twinge to remind me that I’m not invincible. When I hurt myself, which happens rarely thankfully, I remember that I’ll heal, that my body can fix itself.

I think about this during yoga, when we breathe into the joints, into the muscles that hurt. That it hurts now, but that my body will become more resilient to this, it will stop hurting and aching and next time it’ll be easier. I ease into the discomfort knowing that I’m building a tolerance whilst building my muscles – knowing that my body’s been through worse and come out stronger on the other side.

But then there’s emotional resilience. Recently I’ve been spending time with people who remember different parts of me – more on that another time – but when they recount experiences that I’ve forgotten it makes me think about how my brain has stopped me from remembering the weeks spent with a guy, or the time one literally picked me up in a bar. I’m often aware of how my brain protects me from thinking about things that emotionally distress me – like the loss of people close to me – but I hadn’t thought about it in the context of men.

When I first truly had my heartbroken I was 21. I held onto that relationship so tightly that I remembered everything with painful clarity. The way he held me, told me he loved me, the cute names he called me, the way he stroked my face and my hair, the day he told me he wasn’t happy, the week leading up to him leaving, the day he left and the look on his face. When I type that now I still get a lump in my throat. It took me an agonisingly long time to get over him, even now I think if I saw him walking down the street my heart would shatter and I’d lose my breath, but I’ve managed to love other people and be with other people since. I am more resilient as a result of feeling that heartbreak so harshly.

I can tell that I’m more resilient as I uncover truths that my heart and brain have hidden from me. Things that it would’ve hurt to remember, I don’t remember. My brain wraps them in this emotional scar tissue for long enough so that when I’m reminded, it doesn’t hurt anymore.

Knowing that I’ve made it through physical and emotional trauma gives me strength. I’m in a situation currently that hurts me daily in an often light, but occasionally severe, way but knowing what I’ve been through leaves me feeling comfortable that I’ll come through the other side. I think we’re like those thirty centimetre rulers that we had in school, we bend and bend and bend under the weight of our problems and pain but then something magic happens – we spring back, stronger than ever, ready to get on with our lives.

Humans bounce back; we hurt, we protect ourselves, we heal and we move on. My heart heals itself with the eternal optimism of the romantic that I am, and I’m grateful for that every day.

The comeback is always stronger than the setback.

Making time for me.

I know right? I’m single, my time is my own, I do what I want etc. but yoga is time when I focus solely on me. Sure every now and again my brain drifts to the heartbreak I’m feeling or the frustrations I have with work or the love I have for my family but mostly I try to focus.

I breathe. I focus on breathing into where it’s uncomfortable, I find strength and ease.

The pose begins when you want to leave it.

On my retreat, my amazing teacher Sasha helped me to develop a personal practice that I could do daily. It’s created to help me build core and upper body strength.

And crucially it’s designed to be under twenty minutes. I do this daily whilst I wait for my porridge to cook, that’s a dead twenty minutes for me usually because I don’t want to do my make up until I’ve eaten breakfast – same for my hair, so instead I yoga.

I created a hyperlapsed video of the flow I do each morning so that I can watch it back and critique myself and my alignment. The flow encompasses sun salutations, lunges with knee kisses, triangle, shoulder stand, plough… My favourites. Also at the end there’s some head stand prep… I’ll get there soon.

Sharing that video gives me mad nerves though.

The video is for me to look back and see how far I’ve come, to check my shoulder stand in particular – and I know at one point you can see my stomach and it makes me feel ill that I’m sharing it. That’s vulnerability right? But I want to share it.

Because getting bendy is my favourite thing in the world, and I do it for me.

I want to be able to do all the inversions and pigeon comfortably every damn day. I can see in myself and in my body the progress that I’ve made over the last year, but I’ve still got a long way to go – the beauty is in the journey. Just the other day when preparing for Wild Thing (u make my heart sing) when Claudia said that we should see if we could touch our neighbour with our toes and I could! Weird, but I’d never been able to before and feeling the space I’d created in my body over the last year to reach that was an amazing feeling.

I do three maybe four yoga classes each week, but personal practice, taking that time in my own space to do the thing that I love is so important. I really believe in spaces having vibes and I think that practicing yoga in my living space really brings the calmness in the mornings and through the day.

May the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me.

~* Namaste *~

Four years ago.

I cannot believe that it’s been almost four years since I picked up little baby B.

My life has changed in huge amounts since I first brought him home. I remember our first weekend together, alone, and when my parents came home I sobbed to my mum because I thought the responsibility was too much and I couldn’t cope and I’d made a mistake. She calmly reassured me that I was a fantastic mummy to him, and he obviously loved me – just look at the way he was looking at me.

I looked down at this little bundle and knew that I’d love him for his whole life.

 

I thought that one day it’d be just me and him and, after a slight, relationship-related detour year, it was. I really didn’t foresee the bond that we’d develop just being the two of us though. He is my best pal, my little boy. We sleep together, eat together, walk together, cry together.

I read a piece by Caitlin Moran recently about her cat dying and she said something really beautiful, “Cats are made of fur because fur absorbs secrets. You can cry into fur. Fur, draped across the heart, will opiate your melancholy. Fur will make you happy again.”

Dogs are made of fur too. Baxter’s fur absorbs all my secrets.

On Friday night, when I got home and cried because my heart was breaking all over again, Baxter knew and he licked my tears and slept as my little spoon all night – only moving when we woke up and he could see that I was me again.

My dog is empathetic. I’ll never forget when my mum had such awful stomach ache – we never found out what it was – and he knew and just sat next to her calmly, letting the pressure of his little body comfort her. When people come round and cry on my sofa over a cup of tea, Baxter knows and he just sits with them until they feel better. His job is to soothe them.

My dog is essentially a leg warmer.

A post shared by Laura Thomas (@_eltee) on

 

I read an article once about how you can tell that your dog loves you, and every way that they described, Baxter does. He leans into me, he looks me in the eye, he tilts his head to try to understand what I’m saying.

He’s quite honestly the love of my life.

It’s hard to balance though. When I got him I was working for myself and thought that I’d always be, and that he’d always be able to come to work with me and that we could spend all day every day with each other. My life’s changed now, so we don’t spend every day together but I know I give him the best life possible. If he’s not at day care (I couldn’t cope without his day care) with his friends, he’s got the run of our bed (our = Laura and Baxter, no wonder I’m single), or he can occasionally come to work with me and see our pals. He lives his dream.

I brought him into the office on Friday and he was so well behaved – it made my heart swell with pride. He followed me up and down the stairs to get coffee, came to meetings where he fell asleep on an AD’s knee and, apparently most impressively of all, slept in his basket, next to my desk, keeping an eye on what was happening outside and was completely chilled about whether I was there or not.

 

Everyone commented on how well behaved he was which was the absolute best. I always joke that he’s office trained, but he actually is. I remember taking the weeks off when he came home – pupternity leave – working from the conservatory as he slept and grew into a delightful dog.

Such a sleepy puppy…

A post shared by Laura Thomas (@_eltee) on

 

I brought him into the office with me when he was old enough and he learned to relax whilst I worked, waiting for his walks in the park, understanding how to behave and how to fit into my life. I talk to him as though he’s a human, we have full conversations. I’ve only ever shouted at him once – he ran into the road, I was so scared – then he was so scared so I couldn’t do it again. He’s always been treated with respect and love and that’s what I get back. He is my everything.

Sunday snuggles with little one 😍

A post shared by Laura Thomas (@_eltee) on

 

So Baxter, as the fourth anniversary of our wonderful life together approaches, I promise to keep loving you, putting you first, feeding you good food, brushing you in the evenings when you want to unwind, buying your favourite treats, taking you to the park, chasing you on the beach, sharing my bed with you and scratching your back leg until it stretches as straight as is caninely(?!) possible.

Even when I get another boyfriend, my bed is your bed and you will always be my number one boy.

Thank you for changing my life little Beezy, you’re the one.

Why I wax.

I feel like I have this conversation with all of my female friends and then my best friend Jess told me that I should just write about it on here. So here I go, here are the answers to the questions I get asked all the time and my general feelings about something that is sometimes awkward to talk about.

I love getting a wax.

I get my brows, underarms, Brazilian and legs done every four to six weeks and it’s one of my favourite pampers. Even the Brazilian. I go to a great salon in the city centre where they make me feel completely at ease.

For a brief twenty minutes of pain, I get weeks and weeks of smoothy smooth dolphin vibes and I love it.

The underarms hurt the most, but they’re the biggest pay off at this time of year – i.e. when your legs aren’t out and you’re not in a bikini often. When I think back to how frequently I had to shave and how my wardrobe would need to work around whether or not I’d remembered to shave in the shower, I shudder. Although the wax hurts the most – it’s the place where you see the fastest payback in terms of reduction in regrowth – I definitely have far less hair there now than I used to, so now it hurts less and less when I get waxed. This is where you should all start – nothing else will hurt as much, but it’ll give you the most faith! Now I wear what I want when I want and feel completely confident that I’m smooth AF.

Legs… This is the one that’s barely worth it for me, but I do it anyway. I have really fair hair on my legs, but I hate having leg stubble from shaving. In the summer I know that having my legs smooth constantly will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier! My legs need doing less frequently than anything else because the regrowth is so fine and fair, it takes a week or so of reasonable growth to make it worth waxing! And yes, the girl who does my legs does the top of my feet and toes – NO I’M NOT A HOBBIT – but I am my father’s daughter and I do get slightly fluffy toes. But no more!

Brows are a given, I go for wax and then Raman threads them to tidy them up.

Finally, the wax I get asked about the most. The Brazilian. Yes, they wax your butt crack – but only if you want them to. No, it doesn’t hurt. Yes, I remember the song that was on the first time I had this done – it was Sorry by Justin Bieber. Yes, I made a joke.

When you have this done for the first time, you’ll feel super uncomfortable because someone’s so close to your favourite place but just lie back and don’t look! Just hold your legs in the way she tells you to and don’t feel awkward about it – she’s seen it all before. Make casual conversation – a good topic is what you’re watching on Netflix. The most painful part of the Brazilian is across the top, that’s what hurts, the rest is just awkward and uncomfortable but it’s worth it. Not having to think about shaving or whether you’re smooth when you’ve made that initial eye contact with a good looking boy on a night out… Also, It feels better. It really does.

Also, having tried to wax at home – honestly go to a salon. Read the reviews and pick a good one, it’s worth the extra money to get an expert to do it – she can see places you can’t and make it hurt as little as possible… Veet cannot do that.

I’m not saying that everyone should wax, like it’s your decision and your body – but if you like to be a smoothy smooth dolphin like me, wax instead of shaving and reap the benefits! And let me know how you get on. I’m always interested in a good waxing tale.