New Year, New You – New Year, New Mindset!

As part of my ‘New Year, New You’ series this month I’m asking bloggers to share their plans, tips and resolutions for 2016! 

Today is the turn of Amy from Under the Surface who will be discussing New Year Resolutions, how to decide what they should be and how to have a happy and healthy 2016!

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I’m here to talk to everyone about New Year Resolutions. Resolutions are goals that people set themselves to complete in the course of a year and they are usually set on the 1st January. A lot of people set themselves relatively healthy and vague goals such as ‘this year I will be healthier’ or ‘this year I will get fit’. Those goals sound great and I want, with this post, to ensure that everyone is setting themselves achievable and healthy goals that will benefit your life in some way.

Firstly, when thinking about New Year Resolutions try to think of what is currently negatively impacting your life and set a goal to change that before adding in another aspect of your life. For example, if you are turning up late to work repeatedly or spending too much money then set yourself goals to fix those aspects of your life before incorporating healthy food and workouts as well  which are unlikely to help what is already negatively happening on a daily basis.

Please note that eating healthy, working out and all the other goals you may have set yourself are great and should be worked towards also. However, to feel the true benefits of a new year then focus on ridding yourself of the negative in your life and that alone will make you feel better. It may not be 100% where you want to be but it is a step in the right direction and after achieving these goals then you can incorporate eating less chocolate, going for more walks or anything else you may fancy.

The 1st of January has gone by so if you are setting yourself resolutions then it is likely you have done so by now. Take this time to look back on those resolutions and ensure they are achievable and that they truly will make you happy. If not, ask yourself what is truly making you unhappy and focus on changing that instead. You don’t have to set yourself a hundred goals or resolutions if you don’t want to. Just one achievable goal will have a tremendous impact.

Tweet me your goals at @Hadh0peAmyBlogs and let me know how your goals will change your life for the better!

Amy is an 18-year-old lifestyle blogger from Scotland, UK. She enjoys writing about various topics that she is passionate about including mental health. Other topics include book reviews, product reviews, personal posts and opinionated posts.

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You can read her blog over at: https://hadh0peamy.wordpress.com/ or give her a tweet @Hadh0peAmyBlogs

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A Dream to Dance

When I was at secondary school, I absolutely loved to dance. It was one of the first extra curricular activities I joined, alongside studying music, it was my passion.

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Along with my friends at school, we attended early morning dance classes and practiced through our lunchtimes for annual dance performances and took part in once in a lifetime opportunities. Part of this was encouraged by our wonderful dance teacher, a woman so passionate about her dancing that it was inspirational and motivational to watch her perform – it made us want to have that same passion and she was why I think we were all so committed to attending those classes.

Along with school classes, I also attended a theatre school every Saturday called Theatre Train. I had trouble with my confidence so not only did this assist with this issue through drama, but we also enjoyed an hour of singing and an hour of dance. In 2006 I had the opportunity to perform at the Royal Albert Hall as part of a celebration called ‘Songs of the Century’, an incredible experience and certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity! To find your local Theatre Train group make sure you check out their website by clicking here.

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It wasn’t until my third year of University that I started to notice pain in my feet. There were days that I would struggle to walk to the main University building, less than a mile from where we lived. I took tablets to cope with the pain, but it got to the point where I just could not cope anymore. I visited my GP, who suggested I keep an eye on it and if the pain worsened to return but ultimately that I may need surgery. It was at this time that I started to use a splint on my big toe of my right foot, which I realise now has hindered my progress and caused more damage than good. Throughout this time, as I had been diagnosed with bunions I researched further into what they are. I always thought they were some sort of gross fungal infection!! Never realising they are actually to do with the main bones of your foot. As shown by the diagram below it is basically to do with the joint where your big toe joins the main part of your foot. Sometimes, due to bad footwear or other genetic problems, the joint ends up jutting out at an angle. This often is pain free and many go throughout their lifetime without experiencing any pain at all on the joint. In some cases however, it can cause significant pain similar to the feeling of arthritis where the joint becomes stiff and achy. This was how my feet ended up.

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In Summer 2012, I noticed the pain at this point was getting excruciating so headed back to the doctor. He put me on a course of Ibruprofen to ease the pain and referred me to my local hospital for xrays. I saw a surgeon who said they would need to operate and insert metalwork to straighten out the bones in my right foot. In November 2012, 3 years ago, I had my first (and what I thought at the time, my only) operation on my right foot. It was a day surgery which meant I could arrive in the morning, have the operation and be sent home the same day. It was a quick procedure performed under general anaesethic and I was on my way home by 5pm that day. As it was a simple procedure the healing time was fairly quick and 6 weeks later I was back at work.

Over the next year or so and despite the surgery, the pain lingered and on some days it was even worse than before. I went to my new GP based in London who referred me back to hospital. In March 2014 I had my appointment at Charing Cross Hospital, London. Whilst initially I had been referred for my left foot the surgeon took a look at my right foot and ultimately told me that it needed to redone as the initial procedure had not worked. They carried out some X rays and had found that the main bone of my foot was actually splitting due to the pressure of the bunion. It was at this time that they gave me crutches and I spent that March through to December 2014 using them. In July 2014 I had my operation and spent the summer recovering. It took a long time to heal. I had a cast on my leg and was in a wheelchair for 6 weeks. I promised myself I would never take walking for granted after experiencing this.

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I am currently awaiting hospital treatment to begin on my left foot which will again involve surgery and two months waiting for it to heal but this time I feel ready. I feel like I know what to expect now and I do feel some comfort in that. I do feel pain every day. It’s uncomfortable and frustrating but something I have learned to live with. Some days are better than others and I notice it is at its worse when it is cold and raining outside (which I can often tell before even opening the curtains some days!)

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As for my dancing? I would absolutely love to be able to dance again. Contemporary dance was my absolute favourite and I am starting to slowly work on my core strength to be able to attempt to dance in this way again one day. I definitely still dream of it. I have got to the point where I am visiting the gym on a weekly basis with the hope to join a dance class once my feet feel strong enough. Fingers (and toes!) crossed!

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This post has been submitted as an entry into the Dancewear Central competition. Dancewear Central is the UK’s number 1 dancewear specialist and provides a fantastic range of dancewear for all ages! There are lots of amazing deals on the site, perfect for dancers including up to 50% off 1000s of products on the site and free delivery on orders over £60! Make sure you check it out by clicking here.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

Slim Fast Challenge Review

A few months ago Slim Fast sent me a diet plan to review as part of their Slim Fast Challenge. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write it – partly due to not having the time but also being indecisive over whether I would write it at all.

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I have only ever dieted in the last couple of years. I don’t have a problem with dieting but I just don’t want to be an advocate for dieting and I don’t feel like I want to diet. I would much rather be happier, healthier and exercise more in order to lose weight rather than be restricted to certain amounts of food, points systems and fasting methods. I’m not saying those are bad options, many people I know have trialled these various ways to lose weight and they have been successful. They’re just not for me.

As to why I was indecisive over writing this review was contributed to by a number of factors. Before experiencing the Slim Fast diet I admit that I purely thought it was a fad; a money maker and I did question as to whether I should take part in the challenge at all. I do not regret my decision at all, I’m glad I tried it! It was fantastic to find that there was such a huge range available and I didn’t have to stick to just milkshakes all the time (which I wouldn’t have necessarily minded as I am a huge milkshake fan!) The challenge was easy to follow with the 3 snacks, 2 replacement meals and 1 balanced meal and meant I was able to plan each day in advance with the numbered products on offer. I did find a lot of the products were very sweet. I absolutely love sweet things so I did enjoy them but it could get a bit tedious for someone who is not keen on sweet tasting products.

I decided to complete the challenge two weeks prior to going on holiday to Mykonos for a girls holiday aiming to lose a little bit more weight before a week in the sun and I found that this was perfect timing for me. I took delivery of a huge parcel filled with Slim Fast goodies. From milkshakes to milkshake powder, chocolate bars to tortilla chips and pretzels. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of products available and regularly see these on offer in stores such as Boots and Superdrug so are easy to stock up on. It was interesting to see how the products that regularly I would have eaten as a treat every so often, were now products that I had to eat on a daily basis as part of the plan. Products designed to keep energy levels up throughout the day.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage the whole two weeks of the challenge. I did try and religiously stuck to the diet for a week, however it just wasn’t for me. I suffer from IBS causing painful cramps, which for the past few years by being more careful with what I eat, has calmed down significantly. I found sticking to the Slim Fast products for that first week quite painful. I either felt full or extremely hungry with no in between and constantly bloated with a nagging pain. So this was one of the couple of negative things I found about it and it was the sole reason I was unable to continue for the whole two weeks – my body just did not suit it. Believe me, this isn’t the same for everyone. Slim Fast is a global phenomenon so it must be working for some people and not all body types are the same!

Despite this uncomfortable feeling I did enjoy taking part in the Slim Fast Challenge and yes I did lose weight! To be honest, I couldn’t specifically tell you how much, it was enough to notice a difference although I have been also exercising quite a bit more so that may have contributed also. Looking at images of me in May and July to compare I can certainly tell a difference.

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                    May 2015

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            July 2015

I am sharing this review as honestly as I can so please do not let my experience put you off entirely! If you are looking for a new diet plan to try then yes, certainly give Slim Fast a go! It is always worth trialling these things as the thing you are least expecting to suit your body (and your bank account) might actually be a solution! Although definitely stay away from those dangerous diet pills you find online – they are definitely not the answer!!!

Have you tried Slim Fast? I’d love to hear what you thought of the plan.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

A two week plan of products for this review were provided by Slim Fast.