Participate in Youvember this year to take the stress off of this Christmas.
There's also an international 4-winner competition for huge prize bundles - all you have to do to win is participate!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Fitness Gift Guide

   Christmas is fast approaching, and shopping is well underway. But it's not always easy, is it? Especially when the person you're shopping for has a passion for fitness. What on earth do you buy them? Well, I put together a gift guide of some of the best fitness gifts out there at the moment to make your job a little easier.

Fitness clothing is always a good investment, and you can never have too much! New fitness and activewear can also really help to boost motivation in workouts - buying them a new piece of clothing could actually help to improve their workout, and that's something they'd thank you for!
I love Fabletics because they've got such a unique range of styles. So many of their tops have stuff going on at the back that really makes them scream. I love this amazing Norwalk Tank - it's got an amazing back, but the pattern is also amazing, and the grey tones really hit the spot for me. Plus, the best part about Fabletics, is that by signing up and becoming a VIP, which is free by the way, you can get your first outfit - top, bottoms, and sometimes even a jumper/jacket/bra - for just £22, as long as you purchase within 2 hours of signing up! VIPs also get better prices across the board, so Fabletics is a great choice.

DVDs are a great fitness aid, especially when someone is too self conscious or too busy to get to a gym, or simply can't afford it. Believe it or not, dream bodies can be achieved at home if you know what you're doing! 10 Minute Solutions DVDs in particular are a great place to turn to. Each DVD features 5 separate 10 minute sections - dance DVDs have 5 different dance routines, strength DVDs have 5 different strength circuits and usually focus on different areas of the body, kickboxing is a mixture of the two and so on. There's something for everyone - even mothers-to-be! The 10 minute sections are easy to follow and fit into their day, and it's also makes a great warm-up for more advanced fitness freaks. They're informative, enjoyable, and just easy enough to encourage you while still offering a challenge. 
I love the Dance It Off and Tone It Up DVD - 3 10 minute dance routines, all of which are very different from one another, one includes an introduction to abdominal isolations, while the final 2 10 minute sections offer resistance band workouts, one for the upper body and one for the lower body.

New yoga mats are great for the yogi in your life. They come in so many different designs and can be used in a variety of different workouts - not just yoga and pilates, but also for body weight training, offering a non-slip surface for planks, push-ups, abdominal reaches and so on. They come in a range of prices, from £10 from USA Pro to £75 from Magic Carpet Yoga Mats. They're a must-have piece of kit, and you can never have too many! Several yoga mats are easier to utilise than several sets of the same weights.
I love this prosperity mat from Gaiam. I've had my eye on it for some time and I WILL get it at some point. Gaiam mats also come with a free downloadable yoga workout, and Gaiam also sell kits with a yoga mat, block and bag to get people started.

But it's important for both you and the recipient to realise that there's nothing wrong with a little bit of indulgence at this time of year as long as it's not over done. Keeping away from boxes of chocolates while everyone else is nibbling on them can get people really down in the dumps. It's far better to have a little something good than nothing at all, and this stands for everyone.
I love this luxe chocolate box from Hotel Chocolat. 43 gorgeous chocolates in Christmassy flavours, including mulled wine! Everyone needs a little indulgence!

Are you shopping for your lady? Because there's nothing better than a little bit of lingerie. Losing weight can really do wonders for self confidence in the nude, and some gorgeous lingerie can really help make her feel even more gorgeous. It might sound cliche, but at the very least, I find it's true.
I love this Clara set from Bravissimo. The black and gold is so festive and so elegant, and comes in D-J cups. Plus, for every bra you buy from Bravissimo you gain 1 reward point, and once you've collected 10 reward points you can choose a free bra up to the value of £30! I love Bravissimo, because they

A personalised gym towel - I know I want one! It's one of those essentials that would make a really thoughtful gift, not to mention something that they would notice over and over again. Whenever I'm working out hard enough to pick up my gym towel - which is every day, lately - I find myself taking notice of the embroidery detail every time. My mind is so focused on my workout that I'm thinking about nothing else until I stop to take a breather at the end of the circuit, which is when I pick up my towel, at which point my attention is grabbed by the detail. So, suffice it to say, it really would be one of those things they'd appreciate time and time again. That little bit of personalisation is wonderful, too.
I like this embroidered towel by Merci Maman Gifts. Any wording you want in any thread colour!

Friday, 21 November 2014


   Vicky of Vivid Please has boldly branched out by herself and created her own blog, Miss Vicky Viola. Yes, that is her real name. Isn't it epic? With her eccentric smile and incredible taste in fashion she's certain to capture your attention if you're a new reader, and recaptivate you all over again if you're following her on her way.
   Her blog is already filled with her signature style, fashion and crafts, and if Vivid Please is anything to go by, you just know it's going to be brimming with unique and original content, so it's more than worth watching with a keen eye.
   She's an honest person and one anyone would be lucky to call a friend, and her cheerful attitude has a tendancy to rub off on everyone who hears from her.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Warlords of Draenor

   It's World of Warcraft's 10th anniversary this year, and given that the latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, came out a week ago, Seeg and I have been busy playing together. We don't really play many games together, it's really only WoW or Pokemon, otherwise I watch him play all the others, like Assassin's Creed which was also released a week ago, or Dragon Age which comes out tomorrow.
   It's been an interesting expansion so far, keeping a lot of the elements from Mists of Pandaria which I loved, like finding random items like weapons or junk that has been abandoned in the past which can either still be used or just sold for a nice sum of gold, but it's also added new things like the ability to tame mounts rather than just buying them from a vendor.
   It's an exceptionally pretty expansion, but it also holds a lot of interest in terms of the game's lore, which is extremely deep - World of Warcraft stems from the original game, Warcraft, which was released in 1994. Then came Warcraft 2, then Warcraft 3, and then World of Warcraft, the latter of which is an MMORPG rather than an RTS and continues the story more fluidly than the Warcraft games, which focused on the great wars, starting with the first invasion of the Orcs from Draenor.
   World of Warcraft's very first expansion was the Burning Crusade, which took place in 'Outland' - it's little more than a giant floating rock to be honest, and it's what remains of the world of Draenor after a massive invasion by the demonic forces of the Burning Legion. It consisted of a continent made up of 7 zones which all different from eachother, but next to none of which were particularly pretty places. Nagrand was the closest to pretty, but it, too, was in ruins.
   Warlords of Draenor sees Draenor as it could have been had the demonic forces not destroyed the world, though they're still trying to but they're a long way off. As a result, it's pretty amazing seeing some of the zones players levelled through 7 years ago still in one piece. There are a lot of forested areas, but there are some areas that, of course, didn't exist in Outland like the Spires of Arak with - you guessed it - stone spires and thick, dark forests. Zangarmarsh in Outland is a marshland zone with giant fungi instead of trees, a deep blue hue and generally feels alien. In Draenor, it turns out that the entirety of Zangarmarsh was actually underwater, part of the Zangar Sea.

   New character models were released a month before the expansion, updating the models of all NPCs and player characters from the original game to much better models. As time passes, graphics improve and so does their utilisation. While things looked amazing 10 years ago, they look dated now, but sometimes you just don't notice it. Graphics aren't as important to me as a smooth-running game so I never looked too closely at it, but once the new models came out I couldn't believe how bad they used to look. Trolls were my favourite race, and I, of course, played a female, but they always felt unfinished. Still, I loved them, and I thought my character, Daeaye, looked great. But with the release of the new models (which sort of made me go off of some of my previous favourite characters), Daeaye looks simply incredible. Just by updating the character models they've made the game feel entirely new, and with a new expansion again, we're running new content with the new character models and it feels so shiny.

Seeg and I after hitting level 100, the new level cap for Warlords of Draenor

   It's been great to see the game revived especially with not only seeing an old zone how it should have been, but also seeing famous faces from the three Great Wars still alive and kicking while they'd each usually be dead for one reason or another, such as Durotan, Gul'dan, Orgrim and Grommash, which is another big deal.
   It's also been nice to have some new fantasy to throw myself into. With Christmas sales pouring in I've been too tired to do much writing, so it's nice to have something simple and immersive to do, especially since it's something I can do with Seeg, and I think most people would agree that games are always better when you can share the shocks, the laughs and the adventure with someone else.
   The end of the Assassin's Creed 3 intro, for example.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Road to Workout - 3: Maintaining Motivation

   Motivation is a big issue when you're just starting to work out, and you really have got to take it where ever you find it. Even a year on from this year's resolution alone, I find my motivation slipping. So I'll tell you how I keep myself lifted.

   First there's the obvious: remember that, once you get started with your workout, you do enjoy it. I used to want to give up quite often even when all my workout consisted of was dancing, but when I plucked up the courage and got to work later that morning, I always enjoyed it immensely. It's likely to be the same for you, so remember that, and remember that by working out you are only doing yourself good. Nothing bad in the slightest. Keeping at it will make your future self much happier, too - 'do something today that your future self with thank you for'.
   But when I need an extra boost on top of it, maybe because my workout is at the 3-week point and I've not weighed myself since I started it and refuse to do so until I've finished (it's just how I roll), these are some of the things that I turn to:

1) New workout clothes. I adore USA Pro - all of my clothes and just about all of my kit is from USA Pro. The prices are affordable, quality is through the roof, and the designs are awesome. The clothes are also stupidly comfy and so flattering I'm forced to ask why all normal clothes don't fit so beautifully!
   But the thing is, affordable prices or not, I don't like to waste money. So if I buy myself a new top or a new pair of 3/4s I do not want them to go to waste. I get excited to wear them, and that makes me work a little harder because I know (or think) I look good. Eventhough I work out in my living room while Seeg is still in bed and no one ever sees me. I know it sounds strange, but like I said, motivation where you find it.

2) I took a chance and subscribed to Women's Fitness Magazine. I say 'chance' because subscriptions aren't things I do - in fact, I've never done it - and I worry about the money, but they have a trial of £3 for 3 issues, and if you like it, you subscribe. I did that, loved the magazine, and I've been a subscriber for a year, and had a letter printed. How about that?
   The reason this magazine motivates me is because sometimes it has information and articles in it that can make a big difference because they might tell me something I never knew and is very valuable, or they might reassure me and make me realise that whatever trouble I'm having is normal. In one issue they spoke about 'fat brain' and how you sometimes have days where you think you've gained weight when you look no different, or you simply cannot see the weight you've lost, because your brain can't keep up with it, especially if you've drummed into yourself that you're overweight even despite your hard work.
   It also suggests new products like healthy food to try, new kit and so on, and provides recipes and gym fashion. The slender ladies also help to boost my motivation because I want to look like them, and the fact that the magazine arrives at all reminds me why I'm doing what I'm doing.
   But to top it off, it also gives about 3-4 new workouts in every issue using body weight, dumbells, barbells, kettlebells and so on, and it was Women's Fitness Magazine that encouraged me to try out yoga, as well as giving me the moves.
   It's one of my biggest motivators and gives me a great top-up every month. I'm more than happy to pay £15 every 6 months for that!

3) Want something stranger, far less conventional and ridiculously nerdy? The character models in World of Warcraft are quite old, and Trolls are my favourite race. When they released the unique Boss model of High Priestess Mar'li and I saw her blue abs, quads and biceps, well...that fuelled me for a good 3 weeks. In fact, not only did it keep me motivated, I also worked harder over those three weeks than usual, and saw some better results, too!

4) All right, it seems that this list is going to be a bit strange and a bit nerdy from this point onwards. Music is undeniably a motivator, and it does this for me in 2 ways. The first way is if I can't be bothered to do my strength training on an evening, I'll listen to the instrumental version of La Caution's 'La Menthe' - better known as the laser dance song from Oceans Twelve. I listen to 30 seconds of that and I'm raring to go, because I see that guy dancing through the lasers and I just think "shit, I want to be able to do that! Minus the alarm-rigged lasers, though..." and upper body strength is a big, big part of that.
   The second way is, of course, the music I listen to while working out. I use DVDs for the most part, so my MP3 player doesn't get much use, but when it does it's a big booster. When I was doing kickbox fusion back in August, I listened to heavy dubstep with a really fast and solid beat that I could just keep up with while maintaining form, and it really, really made my kickboxing epic. Half of that dubstep was orchestral, too, and so my imagination ran away with me while doing it - the usual, you know? Lots of enemies swarming me while punching the crap out of them and bursting magic around myself with epic music playing over the top.
   But I also have soundtracks that I use for my strength training, most notably Avatar, The Last Airbender. Because I want to get strong enough to defeat the Fire Lord. I also have a few tracks from World of Warcraft I like to do ribcage and hip isolations to for the beat. Oh, if you hadn't guessed, I'm a giant nerd.

5) I find watching something exciting and action-packed to be quite helpful if my workout doesn't involve a DVD and my choice of music is too fast-paced for it, and lately that's been Dragon Ball Z. It's far-fetched, I know, but Goku is basically Japan's answer to Superman, and the whole show is infinitely better than Superman, too. I watched it when it first came to the West when I was about 7 so I remember it being exciting, and I also remember enough to not feel the need to watch it constantly while working out, which allows me to focus my attention correctly whilst still being entertained. They're also a reliable length of time, so as long as I start my workout as soon as the opening credits begin, I don't need to look at the clock unless my workout calls for 30-second countdowns. I'm training to fight alongside Goku, but I've got a hell of a long way to go...

6) Changing my workout every month. That was this year's new year's resolution. Last year I spent months on the same workouts and got sick of them, so this year I decided that I would change them up. It takes about a month to reach a plateau (a plateau in fitness is when your body adapts to the stresses put on it by working out and it stops becoming effective because it's become normal. Increasing weight, changing circuits around or doing something completely new can bust through them) so by changing my workout every month I can avoid hitting any, and it's been quite successful. It keeps me excited because I've done a lot of different ones, my favourites up to this point were Jillian Michael's Yoga Meltdown, Jean Butler's Irish Dance Masterclass, and Shifu Yan Lei's Shaolin Warrior Workout.

   Find what works for you and embrace it. What makes you want to work out? Seeing pictures of people with your dream body? Seeing a dress you want to be able to rock? Reading through your monthly fitness magazine? Or listening to an awesome soundtrack and imagining yourself as the main character? Take what you find and use it, because it doesn't matter to anyone else what you're motivated by. It doesn't affect them whatsoever - not that that means I'm ashamed or embarassed by my own motivation, because I'm totally not!

Next up: When to Weigh

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Youvember Progress - Still Time To Participate!

   How is your Youvember coming along? Not started yet? It's not too late to join in! Just do something for yourself to decrease the Christmas stress - plan a relaxing day out for you and your friends or just you alone, put together a Christmas plan to make sure everything is done in time, start or finish a craft/DIY project you've wanted to forever, take the plunge and start working out or eating right before the Christmas binge, clean out that spare room and finally get that ticked off of your age-old to-do list. As long as you're able to breathe easier and face the Christmas hype with a smile, you've done yourself good.
   And remember that just by participating, you are eligible to win one of the four prize bundles shown below! All you have to do to enter is prove your eligibility. Between November 25th and December 9th, send me an email with either a link you a blog post you've written about your Youvember - how your new workout is going/went, before/after pictures of that once-neglected spare room, the completed craft project, an introductory post to the blog you finally decided to start. Or, if you're not a blogger, just email me a picture and a paragraph about the same thing you would have put in a blog post if you had one.
   Along with your proof of eligibility, you can also state which of the four bundles - Christmas, fitness, craft or feel-good - you'd like to win. There will be four separate draws, one for each bundle, so all 4 winners will win their desired bundle.

   The email address you are to submit to will be posted on the blog on November 25th, and you'll have up to and including December 9th (2 weeks) to email me your entry. It's so easy, and by making the effort to destress and take time for yourself to make Christmas a little easier, you can win some amazing goodies! For full info on the prize bundles and their contents, see this post.

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