My Clothes Were Making Me Fat

One of the best things about losing weight has been being able to walk into a shop, see something I like and buy it. At my biggest, I could only fit into a few certain shops and so I normally always avoided shopping because I knew it was pointless.

But one thing I have struggled to change is wearing baggy clothes. I never considered myself overly self-conscious even at my biggest – sure I didn’t like the way I looked but I didn’t let it stop me from doing anything. But looking back I suppose I was and still am to an extent because of how baggy my clothes were. I always thought having clothes that clung to my fat was horrible, yet when I think about it I was the same size regardless of whether my clothes clung or not.

I recently went through my wardrobe with the help of my friend and sister and threw out about 90% of my clothes, donating the good quality clothes to charity and binning the clothes that had seen better days. Even then I had very different opinions to my friend and sister about what was too big and what should be thrown away. But I’m slowly learning that wearing baggy clothes can actually make me look bigger than what I am and some clothes should be a tighter fit. When I go shopping I can still struggle to pick the right size and usually get a friend’s opinion to make sure it isn’t too tight or too baggy.

Hopefully I’ll continue to lose weight and learn over time what suits me! I thought I would finish this post with a small comparison of the size I used to be and a photo of myself and sisters at my sister’s graduation. I know the angles are slightly different and my sister’s robe hides me a bit but I am so pleased with the progress I have made so far!

 

4 Things I Have Learnt On My Placement Year

A conventional nine to five job might not be for me
My placement has been my first experience of a traditional nine to five job office job and whilst I have enjoyed my job and got on well with my team I don’t know if it is what I aspire for in the future. Knowing my placement is only for a limited time has been helpful on days when I feel unmotivated as I know I will be going back to university soon. However, the prospect of graduating and having a mundane office job where I sit at a desk all day staring at a screen fills me with dread. I still don’t have an answer when people ask me what I want to do with my life but I’m learning that I shouldn’t be in such a rush to figure it out. I have plenty of time to explore different avenues, make mistakes and learn along the way!

I want a job that incorporates creativity
I decided to begin blogging as my job didn’t have enough creative elements. Whilst I build websites with my team in numerous different languages there are guidelines we must stick to and our content management system has limitations with what it can achieve in terms of design. Blogging has allowed me to write content on different topics and I have been lucky enough to borrow a camera from my manager, learning more about photography. Trying new projects in my spare time has shown me I would love a job that incorporates creative elements. I would love to learn more about design with Photoshop and other programmes and continue to improve my photography.

I want to go travelling
I look forward to exploring different career paths in the future and hope to one day find a job that I love. But before I enter the world of work for good I’ve decided I would like to go travelling for a year or maybe more. I have been in education my whole life so I think embracing the freedom that comes with lack of structure or restricted holiday times will be exciting.

Every person I have spoken to has told me to go for it either saying they had the best time of their lives or they have always regretted not going. Realistically I don’t think I will ever get a better moment in my life to be able to go travelling. When I graduate I will have little responsibility holding me back. I haven’t made any concrete plans so far but I think Australia and New Zealand are on the cards with some stops around South East Asia as well. I would also love to explore some of America as I loved New York when I visited. For some reason the thought of having an apartment in Brooklyn and getting the subway into New York City each day sounds incredible!

A positive attitude is imperative
I have worked with a range of people over placement year from all walks of life who are motivated by different things. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is how valuable a positive attitude can be. In every job there will be frustrating aspects whether it be mundane admin jobs or software not working correctly but it is how you react to these situations that matters most.

In my second year of university I frequently focused on the bad aspects of my course allowing it to overshadow the parts I enjoyed and I definitely think my productivity and efficiency was affected. Being exposed to negative attitudes on placement year was a bit of a wakeup call for me. Moaning about something not working isn’t going to fix it. Arguing with people who cannot change the situation won’t lead to a different outcome.  I have become more aware of how my attitude can affect others and affect the motivation of my colleagues. Whilst some have called me naive and told me my positivity will fade over time, I hope I continue to take a more positive and efficient approach in my final year of university and into my career.

If you liked this post you may also like What The Interview From Hell Taught Me or Employee Of A Month!

Healthy Lifestyle Update #4

April has a been a mixed month in terms of pursuing a healthier lifestyle and weight loss. It was my birthday so that meant I gave myself some time off and enjoyed meals and drinks with friends and family to celebrate my 21st. I have only recently got back on track so am currently still feeling slightly guilty for all the unhealthy food and drink I have eaten. However when I reflect on the month as a whole, I have eaten healthily and managed to continue the low carb diet. My total weight loss is now 4 stone exactly which meant I hit my fifth bag of sugar this month!

Five Bags Of Sugar Ben Redgell

This month I got bored of my diet, particularly with dinner. Cereal for breakfast doesn’t particularly bother me as I’m normally in a rush to get to work so grab a quick bowl then head out the door. Lunch always consists of salad which admittedly is really boring some days. Usually it consists of lettuce, baby spinach, tomatoes and cucumber – sometimes I will add chicken if I bother cooking it the night before but normally it is just the four main ingredients. Generally though I don’t struggle too much at work because I know I don’t have unhealthy options in my bag or in the cupboard that I can go grab, which removes the temptation.

Although dinner gives me the most options as I have the time to prepare what I like, I was preparing the same few meals most days which got a boring. I didn’t look forward to dinner, it was more something to get out of the way and to satisfy my hunger. Whilst my meals didn’t taste bad I was getting bored of having the same thing over and over again so I went out and bought a load of different herbs and spices which I have been using on a trial and error basis. My current favourite is paprika and garlic chicken or turkey steaks. My dad has also been helpful in trying to get a range of vegetables for me in an attempt to vary my diet. I have also been having fruit with yoghurt and a bit of granola chucked on top for pudding quite a lot which I’ve enjoyed.

Unfortunately I haven’t been back to the gym. I’ve wore my knee support for a few weeks and was icing my knee regularly and it has started to improve. But if I still overstretch it, bend it or put it in a slightly different angle it tells me off. I fell up the stairs the other day chasing my dog because I was going too fast and must have been at a funny angle and it gave way leaving me to faceplant.  It’s frustrating knowing I am paying for a gym membership which I’m not using but I don’t really want to go to the doctors because I feel like they will just tell me to rest it and ice it which I already know. If anyone has any good tips on how to get your knee back to normal that would be great! I think I need to stop being lazy and walk the dog more because at least then it will be moving and hopefully strengthen back up over time.

A mixed bag this month really. I still feel fat and its hard knowing there is a hell of a long way to go until I hit my goal but at the same time I know I am making steady and consistent progress and just need to persevere. I’m sure everyone gets days where they feel like this sometimes when trying to lose weight so I’m not worried. Some days I feel a lot slimmer and I loved being able to buy my shirt for my birthday in a 2XL rather than a 3XL. Oh well, onward and upwards!

See you next month for another update!

Divorce: A Guide For Parents & Couples

Nearly five years ago, the day after I got my GCSE results, my Dad sat the family down to tell us he was filing for divorce. It didn’t come as a shock as I knew the family dynamic wasn’t healthy but I will never forget that day. Seeing my Mum cry at first made me angry, agreeing with her that they should try marriage counselling before jumping to divorce. I also knew it would mean moving house which was the hardest part for me to come to terms with. I had lived in that house all my life, it was all I knew and I didn’t want to let go of my home. Once my Dad had told me I left the house to process everything and soon realised I was happy they were getting divorced, nothing was going to save their marriage.

I thought I would write this post for anyone who may be struggling with their marriage, considering divorce or going through divorce at the moment. Of course I have never gone through divorce myself but hopefully someone may find it interesting to see it from the perspective of a child who was old enough to understand the process and decisions involved.  When I tell people I am happy my parents got divorced a lot of people seemed shocked but it was the best thing for my parents, two sisters and me.

Remember to take care of yourself

Filing for divorce isn’t something to be taken lightly but sometimes it is the only logical option. Whilst you may have children to consider, remember to think about what you need and your current happiness and wellbeing. Think of how much you change over a number of years. The person you are in your early twenties is going to be different from how you are in your thirties, forties, fifties and so on. Your interests, morals and priorities will change and evolve as you get older which is perfectly normal. Your husband or wife will change too and sometimes they will change in similar ways allowing you to grow and adapt with them. But in other cases they may change differently and you may find you don’t align anymore which is perfectly acceptable and normal. Sometimes life will take us down different paths and people sometimes end up on different journeys, wanting different things.

It will be tough

Divorces aren’t a barrel of laughs and there is a lot to consider. If you have children, explain to them it isn’t their fault and answer any questions they may have. In my opinion, if they are old enough to be able to understand the situation it is best to be honest with them as they will have witnessed your relationship and know if things don’t seem quite right.

Getting help from legal experts can make things easier as they can try and ensure the fairest outcome is met. However this can be expensive so if you can settle smaller details between yourselves calmly then this can be a good way of avoiding huge solicitor bills. However in some situations this won’t be possible and it is better to have legal aid to help you understand the process and resolve any issues you may be having.

Divorce may also mean you have to move house which is a stressful and often long-winded process. (I might write a post with my experience and tips on moving house in the future, let me know if it is something you would like to see.)

Remember the good times

If you are going through divorce or have gone through divorce you will know that it isn’t an easy time for anyone. For some people it can be hard to take that final step and decide to end their marriage, even if things haven’t been right for some time. It will be hard but try and remember the good times you had as a couple or family. You may have explored different countries together, had children, made new friends, moved out for the first time together. All these things still matter and are special even if you have grown apart or fallen out of love. Don’t focus on regrets or what you would have changed.

This is a new chapter, embrace it

What’s done is done and above all you were married to someone you loved at the time and got to make some great memories together. Try and view your divorce as a fresh opportunity. Both of you will have the chance to try new things and be happy again. Take time out for yourself, if you want to explore new interests or hobbies go for it. Set aside the previous chapter of your life and consider what you would like to achieve in this new era. A person, divorce or your past doesn’t define you. Take time to grieve and process the situation and then being focusing on your future.

If you liked this post you may also like to read all about how my Christmas traditions have changed since my parents got divorced!

What Do I Want To Do With My Life?

I recently watched the Fresh Meat finale and it made me think about university, my degree and what I want to do with my life once I graduate. The finale was infused with the humour that has graced all four seasons but also encapsulated the bitter sweet moment of the character’s finishing university and starting new chapters in their lives. This got me thinking about my own experiences with university and oddly made me dread the day all the exams, dissertations and coursework is all said and done and we move out for the last time. I haven’t always loved university but it is sad to think my final year of university may be the last time I spend time with certain friends I have made along the way.

Instead of looking at graduating as a step into uncertain times without security, I’m trying to see it as a time of potential where I will have different opportunities to try new and exciting things. I am planning to go travelling for a year once I finish university and have been using my placement year as a chance to save money. I haven’t fully decided where I want to go but I think it will be the perfect time to see new countries and cultures before coming home and deciding what career path I focus on. Part of me really fancies the idea of moving to New York for a year. There is something about having an apartment in Brooklyn and being able to get the subway into the city that really appeals to me.

Unexpectedly, my placement year has caused a major shift in what motivates me. I used to be very motivated by money thinking financial freedom would automatically make me happier. Whilst I think having money can give you more access to certain experiences and activities, my placement year has shown me it is not the be all and end all.  I have realised a job I enjoy that offers new challenges and experiences has a lot more value than I first anticipated. Every job will have elements that won’t be thrilling but I hope to find a job that has the right balance.

I’m learning it is okay to not know exactly what I want to do with my life and have my career path set out and decided. I think there is a lot of pressure put on young people these days to make decisions about the rest of their lives before they’ve even got a chance to try different things. The year to come will involve a lot of planning for travelling once all of university is said and done but for now I will finish my placement year and focus on my degree and worry about my future later.

If you liked this post you may also like Employee Of A Month or What The Interview From Hell Taught Me.

Healthy Lifestyle Update #3

March has been a good month and I’ve carried4 bags of sugar on taking steps to a healthier lifestyle.
My total weight loss is now 3 stone and 3 pounds which means I have hit my fourth bag of sugar. The other day I was looking through old pictures and I found two pictures of myself and my friend Alice, one taken in December 2015 and one from the middle of March. I struggle to see changes but I think it is one of the first times I have noticed and was proud of the slight changes my body has made. Whilst I have a long way to go, I was surprised that my face looks slimmer. Hopefully, as I continue my journey I will lose weight off my bulbous nose too!

My third month of a low/no carb diet is coming to a close and I am still fairly happy. Having a treat meal on a Saturday has become a regular thing and involves some type of bread or pasta which is usually followed by a night of drinking with friends. Whilst I have
managed to stick to my diet I have struggled to satisfy my sweet tooth this month as sometimes fruit just doesn’t cut it.

I have been lucky enough to team up with Weight Watchers and try some of their new frozen products. I’m quite strict on my diet and often just assume that anything sweet will be bad for me. However these Weight Watchers Whirls boast being only 75 calories per pot so I was excited to try them. I personally loved the Toffee and Vanilla flavour as I found it rich and creamy whilst my sister preferred the Strawberry and Vanilla Whirl because it was sweeter. I’m glad I have found something that I can enjoy when trying to avoid Easter Eggs and other sugary foods which I don’t have to feel guilty about or do a big workout to justify the calories.

At the beginning of the month I got home from work and decided to stop making excuses and go with my sister to her gym and sign up. I kept saying to myself that I would join eventually but realised that I had no justifiable reason to keep putting it off. Whilst I can’t say I love the gym it feels great knowing  you have done some exercise that day and I think it also improves my sleep. I got a programme set which was helpful to show me that I shouldn’t only be focusing on cardio but should also be using weights too. Each session of cardio is followed by various weight machines whilst my heart rate is still high and I have already noticed certain exercises are getting easier after just a few weeks of going.

Unfortunately over the weekend I hurt my knee so am having to have a week off from the gym to let it rest and get stronger. I never thought I would be annoyed that I can’t exercise but it is really frustrating because I don’t want my progress to slow down. I’m quite suprised with how my attitude towards the gym has changed. I thought I would be self-concious of looking stupid or sweating like crazy but from my first time going I realised everyone is there for the same reason. Who cares if my face is redder than The Incredibles’ super suits or I’m weezing more than Weezy the penguin from Toy Story. I think the gym can be daunting for a lot of people but go for it. Everyone is in the same boat and focusing on their own machine or exercises. If anything, people will be impressed you are doing something to improve your health and fitness.

See you next month for another update!

I was sent this product from Weight Watchers but all opinions are my own. 

What The Interview From Hell Taught Me

Whilst searching for a placement I had a few different interviews with a variety of companies but one stands out to me the most within the process. I left the interview feeling confused, frustrated and disappointed that the position had not been all it cracked up to be. On paper it seemed great but when more details were revealed and once I got a feel for the company culture and the people I would be working with I knew it wasn’t right for me.

I had a telephone interview with the company and the position sounded great, allowing me to learn a lot whilst getting training and hands on experience. I was able to explain my placement year and discuss how I was made redundant but was ready to get stuck in to a new position. I was looking forward to my interview however it didn’t go as I expected.
During the interview I was honest about my degree, the subjects I covered and what I thought my degree hadn’t been able to provide. I told my interviewer how a placement within their company would provide me with more knowledge, experience and confidence however I felt continuously criticised for the lack of marketing within my degree even though I explained it was only my pathway and there were numerous other core subjects I had to study.
I realised I had made a mistake when preparing for my interview when my interviewer asked if I had looked her up on LinkedIn. I was honest and told her I had looked up the company on LinkedIn as well as their website but had not looked into individual profiles. This was met with a comment which I brushed off as I knew  I had not taken full advantage of the information available.
As the interview wore on, I felt more and more patronised. My interviewer told me their partner had never been to an interview and not been offered the job because they take along criticisms and recommendations for the business as well as a SWOT analysis. After telling me this, I was asked if I knew what a SWOT analysis was. (For anyone who has studied business or works in a business knows this is a very simple and commonly used tool.) I had already completed two years of my business degree but felt consistently patronised about the knowledge I held.
However some good came out of that interview. Firstly, it showed me the position and company was not right for me and allowed me to carry on my search. I also learnt a lesson, ironically, about marketing – in particular, self-marketing. The experience showed me you are only as good as you show you are. I had made silly mistakes and should have prepared different examples that I could have given for various questions demonstrating my skills and past achievements.
It also made me consider what people would see if they searched my name on LinkedIn, Google or social media sites. At that moment in time I didn’t have a blog or any other online presence apart from my personal social media pages and it spurred me on to create this blog and improve my LinkedIn. Companies will not recognise your value or know if you are right for the position unless you show them you are right for the job.
Have you had bad interview experiences? What would people find if they searched your name?