5 Ways To Live A Healthy Lifestyle

In the photo: Notebook & confetti from BlogBox / Postcards from Heleen Van Den Thillart

Something I don’t often mention on the blog, but something I am hugely passionate about is living a healthy lifestyle. Quick story: At 23, I went on a weight loss mission and completely changed my lifestyle from boozing, partying and 2am steak and cheese Subways into yoga, vegetarianism, fitness and healthy eating. In the process I lost 4 stone and developed an interest in health and the science behind weight loss.

Fast-forward a few more years, I completed a Health Science degree with The Open University whilst running another blog that shared my fitness journey and weight loss tips in the hopes to inspire and encourage others. Even though my blog now is more washi tape than weight loss, living a healthy lifestyle is still very important to me and something which I continue to work on daily.

Here are five suggestions which I do regularly to live a healthier lifestyle:

Eat More Plant-Based Foods

When I cut out meat from my diet, I found I was naturally eating more plant-based foods. I found there are plenty of tasty alternatives, my favourites include tofu stir fry, sweet potato fries (insert heart eyes emoji), mushroom burgers, butternut squash roast dinner, veggie sushi, and falafel + salad wraps. Eating plant-based has so many benefits from improving skin and digestion, increasing energy, lowing blood pressure & cholesterol and aiding in weight loss.

I was contacted recently by a company called HealthLabs.com who offer online lab testing to check for a whole range of disorders and deficiencies. HealthLabs.com are the first ever service to offer tests tailored towards vegans and those considering the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Being a vegetarian, I feel that eating a plant-based diet has greatly improved my health and I’m often considering whether I should go vegan. If you are the same, there are simple laboratory tests you can do to check for a range of meat and dairy allergies in their Should I Be Vegan? test. To receive 25% off all vegan tests use the code: BEXA25.

Yoga

Yoga, or more specifically Yoga With Adriene on YouTube, has quickly become a way of life for me. I try to do a daily video if time allows, if not, I’ll fit in a short 10 minute meditation practice. Yoga brings so many benefits both physically and mentally: it tones and strengthens the body whilst calms and quiets the mind. In November, I am going on my very first yoga retreat with the lovely Jenny from Jenny in Neverland which I am super excited about. I’m meeting a blogging friend AND we are doing yoga together, how awesome is that! Click to read: 10 Amazing Benefits Of Yoga.

Get Moving

Get moving but make sure it’s doing something you enjoy. Can you put exercise and enjoy in the same sentence? Personally, I think there is an exercise out there for everyone so keep trying new things until you find what works for you. My current favourite activities are walking, swimming and badminton. I’ve also tried gym and fitness classes, but at the moment, as it is hot, I’m preferring being outside or in the pool. Does anyone else change their exercise routine depending on the weather?

Stay Hydrated

You have probably heard this one a thousand times but it does work. If I make an effort to drink more water throughout the day, I have more energy and I feel more alert. On a biology level, water is good for pretty much everything: the skin, digestive system, cardiovascular system, kidneys, joints and cartilage whilst helping minerals and nutrients get to where they need to go. Our systems do not function well without proper hydration, so drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy.

Remember To Relax 

Last but no means least, taking time out to chill is so important for a healthy lifestyle. Stress can cause all sorts of problems to the body so finding ways to wind down and relax is good for you. My favourite things to do are: having a bath and watching YouTube, reading a book, colouring (why not get yourself a Wellbeing Journal), watching a film, having lunch with my family or just simply having a nap. Click to read: 30 Simple Self-Care Ideas To Improve Your Mental Health. What are you favourite ways to relax?

I hope you have enjoyed my five suggestions to live a healthier lifestyle. What do you do to stay healthy? I’d love to hear from you.

*This is a sponsored post which means I received a product/payment in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own. 

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The Thought Book 2: Book Review & Interview With Jay Mullings

In this photo: Motivational postcards by Katie Abey.

Over on Twitter, I really enjoy posting inspirational tweets in the hopes that it encourages someone and brightens their day. After posting one particular tweet, I was messaged by Jay Mullings, author of The Thought Book 2, suggesting that if I like these kinda things, I should check out his book. Being the impulsive kinda girl that I am, I did, and a short while later I had my very own personalized copy in my hands.

As well as being the author of The Thought Book series, Jay is a blogger and screenwriter (winning 25+ awards internationally) and with a 2019 novel in the pipeline, it seems he always has an exciting & creative project on the go. Jay has written many philosophical quotes, poetry, travel related articles, sports analysis and music interviews. I was excited to read his book and hear some of the wisdom he had to share.

You can read more about Jay and his creative projects over at The Written Mirror and on social media: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Even though it seems like Jay is a busy guy, he still made time to write a personalized note inside my book in my favourite colour, PINK! I was really touched by the sweet and thoughtful message. The book itself is packed full of inspirational thoughts designed to inspire, motivate and lift your spirits. I love that you can just open up a page at random and read something positive on topics like growth, self-belief, confidence, individuality, perseverance, overcoming obstacles and reaching your full potential. As this is exactly my kinda book, I thought it would be cool to add in a little interview with the man himself.

Questions for Jay:

Hi Jay, Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. So my first question is: describe yourself in 3 words.

Enigmatic, Truthful and Creative.

What has been your proudest achievement so far?

Wow, I’m like Ryu in Street Fighter; as soon as one challenge is complete I begin setting the next one. Hard to choose, but I guess it would be winning The Barcelona Film Festival in three consecutive years for three completely different screenplays. Tree House (Coming of Age TV Drama), Feminunity (Feature Length Film) and The Boys Are Back (British Comedy).

Wowzers, those are some pretty big achievements. If you wrote an autobiography, what would the title be? If it was made into a film, who would play you?

Truthful Fearless Creativity – Denzel is getting a little old and I’m more handsome than Idris (just playing). Truthfully I like a few actors the most suitable would probably be Daniel Kaluuya I think he would be able to put himself in my shoes a bit better. Although John Boyega would most likely mirror my accent the best.

Hopefully I’ll be reviewing a copy of Truthful Fearless Creativity in the future. Describe your perfect day?

Haha well it starts at night and stays dark until I say when! Seriously though, I’d say warm with a gentle breeze for the weather. No traffic, not a single red light on my journey. Free parking, deserted tennis courts and my first serve working. Come home to my place tidy as ever, curry goat and rice for dinner. Strawberry cheesecake for dessert, some PS4 games I wasn’t expecting on the store for free! 12 year old Single malt whiskey on my wind down and a decent movie with sweet and salt popcorn. How’s that? Okay I’m not done, 3 hours of crystal clear writing and a neck and shoulder massage with some sweet reggae music in the background. PERFECT!

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE. Yes please! A massage with reggae music sounds proper chilled, I like your style. This sounds like an awesome day! If you could invite any famous person around for dinner, who would it be and what would you cook them?

First of all why must I cook? It’s my dream coming true so dammit they better not come empty handed! My first answer would be Bob Marley! I don’t know what exactly he eats but we’d work it out. If it’s someone alive, I’m going with Missy Misdemeanour Elliot and she gets whatever she likes to eat no problem!

Ha ha! Good answer, maybe you and Bob could get a takeaway! What advice would you give to others out there who are thinking of writing a book but don’t know where to start?

Jump off the cliff and worry about landing later. Honestly, you can paralyse your own growth by not taking the bull by the horns so to speak. Start writing, start thinking about form and when it’s good enough; then you worry about publishing, agents, so on and so forth. Get on with writing and start teaching fear to obey your commands, if you let it grow it will never let you go…

Great advice! As you are also a blogger, can you share any tips on how to stay motivated and inspired? What do you do when you are feeling stuck for new ideas?

Yeah sure read my blog! Ha! Staying motivated is less about force and more about observation. Learn the depths of your own thoughts and feelings. It will tell when you can press forward at max power and when to nurse it through. No one is 100% on all the time but you can still be productive if you understand how to channel these feelings. The second part of your question; I can’t relate I’m never stuck for ideas. Not even joking I almost have too many at once. Books, Screenplays, Blogs, Clothing, Films etc. If I was to run out of ideas I would go back to the beginning of my old ones and flesh them out more or write the counter to them.

Sounds like there is always something exciting happening! And finally, if you could tempt people to read your book by sharing just one thought from The Thought Book 2, which one would it be?

Ha! You do like to ask these tough questions. There are so many good thoughts and perspectives in The Thought Book 2 and instead I think what would be nice is for you as a reader Bexa to do the honours. Is that cheating? I don’t think so! On a serious level, I wrote it with the people that are reading it in mind. It’s less about ME and so much more about YOU! Those thoughts helped ME but what really would swell my heart, is if they somehow helped YOU! That’s why I give a unique inscription and page dedication to every book I sign. People have said I have an almost psychic level ability to pick ones that mean something to them.

I hope this helps Bexa! Can I just say thank you for extending the courtesy of inviting my onto your blog and also for your kind support. This blogging community is really amazing and it is even richer for having a beautiful soul like you aboard! Keep up the great work and thanks again!

Thank you so much Jay! Of course, there are so many thoughts I love, but this one is my favourite: 

If are impulsive like me, you can grab yourself a copy of The Thought Book 2 right now by clicking here. Don’t forget to check out The Written Mirror and follow Jay on social media: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook to keep up to date with all his latest creative projects.

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August Treatbox

The first time I received a TreatBox was last month, when I did a fun collaboration with Lisa from Lisa’s Notebook. You can read my post here and Lisa’s post here. As I loved the idea of a box of surprises arriving through my letterbox at the start of the month, I treated myself to the August box too! (Sorry Student Loan). Anyway, it was worth it, and on August 1st, a huge bundle of tropical themed goodies including 10 happiness cards (I’m such a sucker for inspirational quotes) arrived.

TreatBox is a monthly subscription box which contains a mix of surprises; anything from inspirational quotes, stationary, home accessories, jewellery, edible treats, beauty products, exclusive products designed by TreatBox and so much more! The idea was started by Zoe back in 2016 and it has since grown into a team who are passionate about creating boxes filled with love and awesome products.

Inside the August box: 10 Happiness Cards, Shobu Bath Bomb, Anatomicals Face Mask, Lunch/Cool Bag, Tropical Notebook, ‘You Can Plant A Dream’ Pencil and Today print (exclusive to TreatBox).

TreatBox is a bit like a lucky dip just without those naff prizes. The first product which I spotted was the Anatomicals Botanical Purifying Tea Tree Face Mask which seemed very green and very appropriate considering the tropical theme. This botanical purifying face mask is an individually packaged soft cloth facial mask and contains tea tree extract to deliver unsurpassed moisture and nourishment to your skin.

Anatomicals sound like a fun and friendly brand: Our ingredients are all free from animal testing – We think fluffy bunnies are cute enough without Anatomicals products or ingredients. It’s just us humans that need a bit of help sometimes! All of our formulas are also paraben free. Good choice, TreatBox! 

The second beauty product is a pretty genius idea if you ask me: a bath bomb for the shower! It’s designed by Shobu – two busy mums (Leanne & Shelley), who wanted that wonderful at home spa experience but didn’t have the time to soak in the bath. I received Breathe, a careful selection of Eucapylptus, Rosemary & Peppermint to help on those days when you just need that little bit of help to breathe easy.

It’s recommended to be used in the morning to clear your head to start the day. Eucalyptus is known for opening up the airways, whilst Rosemary relaxes the muscles to enable Peppermint to help you stimulate alertness for clarity and focus. Sounds perfect! Check out their full range of shower bombs here.

My personal highlight of this months box is the 10 Happiness Cards. These are an instant reminder that we should just breathe, relax and slow down. They are beautifully designed by TreatBox and I absolutely love the splash of colour and positivity. They are ideal for sticking on your desk, fridge, wall, wherever! I think they are also the perfect size to use as bookmarks too.

My favourites are: ‘You gotta nourish to flourish’ and ‘Let’s root for each other and watch each other grow’.

Inspirational cards and a pretty notebook! This is my dream box! Everything in this box is so green, gorgeous and vibrant. This is another product created by TreatBox and isn’t available anywhere else, so even more reason to subscribe! It’s such a beautiful notebook, it almost seems too nice to write in.

TreatBox say: “No notebook is complete without its partner in crime! It needs it’s own pencil of course” These pencil quotes vary, and I love mine – You Can Plant A Dream is so motivational and it’s PINK! 

If that wasn’t enough goodies, TreatBox have also included this lush tropical leaves lunch box/cool bag. It’s such a pretty little bag and would be ideal for days out or taking to work to keep your lunch chilled.  I’m loving this months theme, tropical, cool and refreshing – it’s perfect for the summer!

TreatBox say that self-care is not a privilege, it is a necessity. Every item in this box is made especially for a bit of ‘me time’ – whether that is treating yourself to a home spa, writing or drawing in your pretty notebook, feeling inspired with the happiness cards or simply taking time out to enjoy some fresh and tasty food. It’s great value for money, the August TreatBox has a RRP of over £25: a one off box is £12.96 and you can save even more money by selecting a 3, 6 or 12 month package.

I really loved this box and it’s given me all the tropical summer chilled out vibes. Have you ordered a TreatBox? Let me know what you think of the August box in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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The Nantwich Show: International Cheese Awards 2018

On Wednesday 25th July, Shaun and I made the 198 mile trek to Nantwich from Southampton to have a fun-filled cheesy day out. I was invited to the event to provide some blogging coverage of the day and despite the distance, I thought it would be too good an opportunity to turn down. Plus, I really wanted to say ‘my first blogging event was really cheesy’. Luckily for me, my dad occasionally travels to Lichfield for work, so we managed to blag ourselves a lift the majority of the way (thanks dad!) then caught the train up to Nantwich for some cheese related antics.

The Nantwich Show in Cheshire is the UK’s largest one day show with over 450 trade stands, attractions and of course tons and tons of free award winning cheese to sample. The day before The Nantwich Show is the International Cheese Awards. This is where over 5,000 cheeses from all over the world are sampled by 250 judges and a huge selection of awards are presented in various different categories.  So this event is therefore a must for any cheese lover.

7:00 in the morning, looking forward to the day ahead (pre-cheese photograph).

The day before the event, I was sent a press pass, which made me feel very important ha ha.  These were pretty cool and the main perk was being able to walk straight into the show without having to queue.

We were in the showground for about 5 minutes, before Aima Tech Electric Bikes asked to take our photograph next to one of their bikes. They encouraged me to have a go on it, but I decided against the idea due to the length of my dress (ha ha). The cheese awards is no place for knicker flashing.

Instead, here I am posing with one of their flashy bikes. I am sure they are pretty good so long as you are wearing the appropriate clothing.

Shaun wasted no time in finding his dream tractor and insisting I take a photo. (Not really, it was more like go on Shaun, do it for the blog!)

I can never resist taking a colourful flowers-in-window-box photo.

It wasn’t long before we were drawn towards the foodie stalls and in keeping with the cheese theme, we ordered ourselves a pizza. This is from Bare Bones Pizza, a modern van which is now converted into a kitchen that produces Neapolitan style wood fired pizzas. I ordered the Vegetarian (Boneless) with red onion, peppers, sliced tomato and cheese and it was ready in just under 5 minutes and tasted delicious.

After our tasty lunch, we felt re-energized and went for a walk around the showground. There was so much to see and do: there were stalls selling everything such as flowers, sweets, clothing, artwork, crafts, electric bikes, tractors and plenty of opportunities to chat to various charities, radio stations and watch interactive demos like cow milking. 

This is not a real cow although it did fool us when we first spotted it.

This is an actual cow who very kindly posed for his photograph.

It was amazing to be able to get up close to these huge cows. They were having so much attention but seemed pretty chill about the whole thing.

Funny orange sheep which looked like chicken drum sticks.

A few sheep experimenting with blue hair dye. 

The main attraction was the enormous cheese marquee which was home to an abundance of cheeses. We armed ourselves with these little cocktail sticks and set about having the best time sampling ALL THE CHEESE which came our way.

One of my favourites was the Applewood cheese, I dunno if that was because it was one of the first I sampled but it did taste lovely and I did go back for seconds.

A fantastic cheese cake (or cheesecake) by Godfrey C Williams & Sons Ltd who won gold award for this impressive creation.

A tasty looking cheeseboard from Norseland Limited

How much cheese can you fit into one cheese tent?

Each trader was very welcoming and all happy to chat about their cheeses.

I think we must have eaten about 2 blocks of cheese between us by the end. I had never eaten so much cheese in my entire life!

One of the coolest things about the day was discovering that Martin Platt from Corrie (also known as Sean Wilson) is a cheesemaker! I was so starstuck when I saw him, I blurted out (quite loudly) wow, it’s Martin Platt from Coronation Street! to which he smiled politely and said hello.

After Sean left the street he decided to fulfil his lifelong passion of cooking and went on to spend a year training as a chef, working at a number of Michelin starred restaurants. In 2009 Sean started a new venture, “The Saddleworth Cheese Company” with best friend of 30 years Mark Revell. You can read more about Sean’s award winning cheese company here.

The day was certainly full of celebrity and in the afternoon we watched James Martins live cooking demonstration where he cooked a three course meal. I told Shaun to take notes so I’m hoping for something tasty soon…

We finished the day with an ice cream before making our way back to Nantwich train station. Despite a small mishap of getting on the wrong train and nearly ending up in Manchester, we arrived back in Lichfield where my dad was kindly waiting for us to make the long journey home. Overall, it was a fabulous day in the Cheshire sunshine, eating our body weight in various delicious cheeses, celebrity spotting and learning a thing or two on the way.

Have you been to The Nantwich Show? I encourage you to make a date in your diary for the 2019 Nantwich Show and International Cheese Awards and hopefully we will return next year (so long as my dad is working up North again).

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