WHY YOU SHOULD'T BE WORKING OUT

August 10, 2017

According to society's norms, a sixpack and slim, lean legs are necessary to be happy in life. If you don't work out at least five days a week, then who even are you? Can you be healthy without seeing muscle definition or if you haven't smashed that last 5K run? When I was reading up on this topic and watching videos about exercise and how we feel pressured to be the fittest version of ourselves, something clicked. And no, it was not the sixtieth ad about those silly fitteas that will never work for anyone or the twentieth free workout plan (for a month!) that would make me stronger and leaner than a bikini model. 

Why do we care so much about looking a certain way and how healthy is it really, to spend six hours in the gym every week, scanning our own bodies for imperfections we have yet to change? I probably won't be the first to admit that I was afraid of losing my abs when I quit exercising like a mad woman, lifting weights until my back started aching or running until my body broke down. I have been there and yet until I realized how unhealthy these habits were, I never really cared enough to actually do something about them. 

For years I knew exactly what my body was telling me and it was so easy to ignore the signs, to continue to push myself until the bitter end. About two and a half years ago, I took up running and I was very serious about it. Every other day I'd shove on my running shoes, no matter what the weather was like, and I'd run until my lungs were aching and my legs were feeling like lead. It only took my body six months to break down. Running 10K every other day raised my cortisol levels, disturbed my hormonal balance and I haven't had my period ever since. Believe it or not, but even after that, I continued to search for new exercise methods. Yes, I did yoga every morning for five months, but it just wasn't enough. Whenever I was on holiday, I'd frantically search for ways to move my body. A swimming pool would mean I'd do a hundred laps every day, city trips were great for walking and thus, moving my legs and keeping them strong.

I did workouts in my bedroom and dorm room daily after school or uni and when that got too boring I started running again. I never thought about giving my body a break, because I might've just lost my strength and leanness. And, as the story repeats itself, I broke down again. I felt physically drained and I was constantly tired. I'd get out of bed, make myself look presentable and feel ready to get back to sleep. Now, this is what people call an 'exercise addiction' and funnily enough, society supports it. 

I look lean, you can clearly see my abs, I don't have any fat on my body (or barely any) and, according to people on Instagram, Facebook, any social network whatsoever, and even newspapers and magazines, this is healthy. I'm driven, I care about my body and my BMI is on the lower end of the scale. Now you've read my story, heard about my rather dramatic fitness journey and possibly reflected on your own exercise routine, do you still think society's norms on fitness are healthy? 

I wanted to voice my opinion on this little blog of mine and raise awareness about this topic. No matter how benign that ad for fittea might be and the portraying of fit people all over social media, it's not always without consequence. You should only be doing exercise because you love the way it makes you feel, not how great you look or how you'll feel once you've shed some weight. Listen to your body, it's much smarter than your ego.

MINIMALISM 101

July 21, 2017


I'm not fully comfortable yet with calling myself a 'minimalist', but something was stirring inside of me and I figured writing a blog post about my journey to minimalism and tips I wanted to give you would harm nobody. I'll just temporarily forget about the 12 pairs of shoes lurking at me in the corner of my room. There is no easy way to minimalism, it's a journey just like every lifestyle change is. You don't throw away half of your belongings without taking the time to let your decision sink in thoroughly. Also, minimalism covers so much more than just reducing your belongings to a suitcase of clothing, memories and other stuff. Yes, there's the 'what I own' category, but reducing your waste, your negative footprint on the planet and lifestyle minimalism that comes into play. 

THE GOODS

First things first, the basics. Something you'll probably already know is the 'only keep what makes you happy and what you really need' rule à la Marie Kondo. I can honestly say that I got rid of half my closet, the materialistic memories, and objects I really did not need. Clothing items that didn't make me feel comfortable or pretty I easily donated to secondhand stores and charity shops, others I gave to my friends and another pile went directly into the bin. The memory box was another thing I had to tackle, but last year when I visited our friends' school in Congo, I donated 60 teddy bears to the children (I can't even believe I owned that many). Other things went, yet again, in a donation bag or I gave them to friends and family. Last, but not least, do you really need that many items to decorate your house or room? Donate, sell or give them away. 

REDUCING YOUR NEGATIVE INFLUENCE

The biggest lifestyle change for me wasn't going vegan, heck no, that was the easiest thing I ever did. I loved animals, I cared about the planet and I wanted to improve my health. To me, going plant-based was easier than doing five push-ups in a row. Trying to live zero waste is an almost impossible task, considering supermarkets like to wrap a ton of plastic around each carrot, apple or oat. I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm not. I try to buy items in bulk, at zero waste shops or in wholesale markets where I use reusable bags for veggies and fruit. It's not easy, but it's worth it.

 LIFESTYLE MINIMALISM

We tend to be so focused on everything else, the past, the future, our phones, that we often forget to live in the moment itself. We're always longing for that something new, exciting or mind-blowing and the present doesn't seem that wonderful anymore. Try to not schedule every second of the day, leave some time to relax and sit back, enjoying the sound of your surroundings, reading a book or drinking a cup of tea whilst doing nothing else. One of my friends made a lovely video all about lifestyle minimalism which is definitely worth a watch if you're interested.

This minimalism 101 was short and sweet, so if I didn't cover something, mentioned incorrect things or if a certain part was too short, let me know in the comments so I can elaborate on things or fix them if necessary. XX

FLOWERS IN SAN QUIRICO

July 16, 2017

At least one outfit photo session is necessary when in Italy. Although I've been living in the same pair of shorts for over a week now (yes, they have been washed multiple times, don't you worry.) because of the strong afternoon wind in the Val d'Orcia. Being a bit risky, I fancied wearing a skirt for this outfit post. I combined the short flower-printed skirt I bought in San Francisco last year (H&M) with my trusty old croptop and comfortable sandals (both Topshop). Although I don't like both brands for offering sweatshop clothing, I found it even worse to throw these pieces away. The backpack I'm wearing is new and from Matt & Natt, which is a vegan, sweatshop-free Canadian brand specialized in making quality backpacks and shoes. 

One of the things I love the most about the Val d'Orcia is the picturesque little towns with adorable streets and even more adorable people. It isn't touristy, at all, which makes it even more beautiful and peaceful. I definitely recommend reading my last travel post with some must-visit places if you're considering a trip to Italy. More posts will be following soon, so keep an eye out on them! I've got only two more days until I'm heading home *sad face*. I'm spending these last hours laying by the pool, trying to beat my pr as I swim laps across the pool and I'm trying to write another 5K words for my fantasy novel.  


TRAVEL WITH ME: VAL D'ORCIA (PART ONE)

July 8, 2017

It's a Saturday evening as I'm writing this, I'm exhausted from our long walk in the (almost excruciating) heat and just generally being active in 40°C. But hey, I'm watching the sun set over the hills of the Val d'Orcia and I just had a delicious vegan pasta pesto so I have no reason to complain. Apart from the fact that I tripped over and ended up on my right side on the stony road. I'm bruised and blue, but still alive. 

I've gathered travel inspiration I'm excited to share with you and hopefully, you'll be even more excited to plan a trip to Tuscany. The place my mom and I are staying at is a little house in Contignano I found through Airbnb and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's tiny, but seeing as we're constantly out the door there's no reason for renting an expensive house. We're renting a car for the next twelve days (of which three have already passed - sad face) and we'll be cruising through the valley. 

RADICOFANI

First things first, we did a little road trip yesterday and got through four villages in one afternoon. Our first stop was Radicofani. The things in this gorgeous little town you have to visit are:
- The Fortezza; take the stairs to make the tower seem even more impressive after suffering through a rather sweaty climb. We did not visit the fort itself, but if you fancy a walk through it'll cost you about €4 per person.
- Pane e Companatico di Cesaretti Silvana; a baker who is very passionate about her bread, worth a visit if you're hungry or just curious. 
- Have a little stroll through the streets of Radicofani and embrace the authenticity of the village.


 
CASCIANO DEI BAGNI

Wander through the little village and enjoy the breathtaking views over the valley. Other than this there isn't that much to see, but it's always fun to discover new places when in Tuscany.



CETONA

Cetona is a larger city (with a supermarket!) where you can find several restaurants to eat out. Outside of the city you can find Suzie's Yard, a farm where the best organic olive oil is made. We didn't have the time to visit the farm, but if you have the time be sure to check it out. 

 
 SARTEANO

My mom was excited to have some ice cream (not vegan, sadly) at a bar called Diavoli in Sarteano so we headed towards the village. I was exhausted by that time so I caught up on some rest whilst she had her daily dose of sugar. We walked around the city for an hour before deciding we were hungry and needed a proper meal. Italians eat rather late (around 7 P.M.) and my metabolism isn't used to this, which means I get hungry around six. Thus, we survived off snacks and a soda for me whereas my mum had some wine. The restaurant where we ate a delicious meal, which I would 100% recommend, is called 'Chiostro Cennini'. They even had an accidentally vegan option! Also, may I add that the bread is freshly baked and served warm and crispy? *drools* I also wanted to share the gorgeousness that is the sunset in the Val D'Orcia.

BANANA BREAD PORRIDGE RECIPE

June 10, 2017



Seeing as my life currently revolves around studying, trying to be active (despite feeling exhausted from sleeping extremely bad) and food, it would be only normal for my next post to involve a recipe featuring oats. They make me feel so energized and healthy, I basically survive on having oatmeal for breakfast. I would usually make my porridge with fast-cooking oats, but seeing as I woke up really early I decided to take my time to prepare a delicious breakfast. So, for this recipe, you can use any type of oats (just beware that the cooking time will differ) or use steel-cut oats, like I did.

BANANA BREAD PORRIDGE FEAT. STEEL-CUT OATS


This makes two servings.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup soymilk*
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1tbsp maple syrup
- handful raisins
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1tbsp chia seeds
- optional toppings

Instructions:

- Start by boiling the water and add the oats. Stir in maple syrup, cinnamon, raisins, half of the banana and chia seeds.

- Let the mixture simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the soymilk.

- Once the oats have cooked for 30 minutes, divide the mixture between two bowls and add the other half of the banana and your preferred toppings. I used shredded coconut and almonds slices to decorate the porridge. Enjoy!

* If you're not very fond of soymilk, you can use other plant milks. However, this will change the taste.
** You can make this in batches and store the porridge in the frige for up to two days.
*** Any type of oats would work with this recipe, just beware that the cooking time will differ.


SELF-ACCEPTANCE

May 17, 2017


The number of times I've been wanting to write a post like this one is pretty much countless. But, body confidence and accepting your body is so important yet so threatened by media and bodily disorders. You'll most likely recognize the words 'goals', written underneath some fitness guru's Instagram post, showing off his or her abs to possibly motivate you to start working out or get a gym membership. However, I'm hoping they're well aware of the possibility to trigger eating disorders and making people believe it's possible to have the exact same body by following their workout plans. 

Every body is different and therefore, every person will look different following the same diet and workout plan. Getting fit is not a goal, it's simply a lifestyle change one should only make if done for their wellbeing. Don't go to the gym to get skinny and don't do diets, they don't work. If you'd rather go on walks a couple times every week, then skip the gymming and do whatever feels good. As long as you're moving your body you'll be lengthening your life. I personally find it incredibly fun to come up with new workouts, both at home and in the gym, as a way to relax yet challenge myself. I've always set challenges because it's just me. 

It makes me sad, knowing many girls and boys are ashamed of their bodies because they're not according to society's norms. Stretch marks, birthmarks, scars etcetera, they're all perfectly normal and they make you who you are. I used to be ashamed of my birthmarks, heck, I was even planning on removing them only a couple months ago. Thinking people might find them ugly and weird when in fact, they're part of me and I was born with them. Treat your body with a little more love and a lot less hate. Accept whatever you don't like about yourself and focus on how you feel. Don't force yourself to workout when you don't want to. Don't strive for happiness, but build your life around the things and people that make you feel happy.

One of the things I did to make me feel better was donating the clothing I didn't like or didn't make me feel confident enough. I also unfollowed and unsubscribed to accounts on social media which made me think I wasn't good enough when in fact, you're always good enough and you should be proud of the person you are today. Fiercely step into the future and build a world you love. 

I want you to remember this message: your thighs are allowed to touch, it's perfectly fine to unzip your pants after a satisfying meal, not every piece of clothing isn't going to fit your body shape and your body is YOUR body. Don't get yourself down because you're not perfect, there is no such thing as perfection. Just do you.

HAPPY EASTER & VEGAN POTLUCKS

April 16, 2017

Last Friday, I hopped on the train with a giant chocolate cake topped with more chocolate and biscoff crumble, headed to my friends' house and met up with the loveliest, most kind-hearted souls. Sat around a table, filled with delicious food (and heaps of chocolate), we talked about everything and anything. It's absolutely crazy how strangers become almost friends in such a short span of time. To be honest, I didn't even know it was possible to connect with a bunch of people so quickly. A couple of hours later, I had to get back home with a happy belly, filled with chocolaty goodness and pasta. Here's a little video I made that day. Happy Easter, bunnies! 

HIIT WORKOUT FOR ABS

April 9, 2017


With the days getting sunnier, your tan gradually darkening and loose evening dresses in prospect it seems almost impossible not to start working out. I don't know about you, but I love getting out my workout gear when it's hot and sunny. I wanted to create an effective ab workout to get you fit (not just for the summer) and let you sweat out those oxidants. It might seem like such a hassle to get out and get moving, but once you've finished your workout, you'll feel so much happier (and healthier!). I don't do 'bikini bodies', instead I try to focus on how I'm feeling and how energized I am to face the rest of the day.

The outfit I'm wearing is something I tend to grab when I'm heading to the gym or rolling out my yoga mat for some ab and HIIT training (high intensity interval). A comfortable sportsbra (yes, even flat-chested girls should invest in a sportsbra), a colorful top, leggings, and sneakers. Despite my minimalistic intentions I somehow seem to be building an unnecessarily large workout wardrobe. But hey, anything to get me motivated, right? Anywho, let's get to the workout itself!

PS: You can download a 'tabata' app to guide you through the workout.

HIIT CIRCUIT FOR ABS
total: 15 minutes
repeat 2 times, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest
needed: exercise mat, skipping-rope

Rope skipping
Crunches
Rope skipping
Side crunches (switch sides in the second round)
Rope skipping
Bicycle crunches
Rope skipping
Mountain climbers
Rope skipping
Heel touches
Rope skipping
Reverse crunches
Toe touches
Rope skipping
Flutter kicks



If you need more rest in between, try setting your timer to 15 seconds rest but try to do the exercise for at least 20 seconds. If you want a more advanced version, keep the 10 second rest but move for 30 seconds or more.

FAUX LEATHER & GOING SWEATSHOP-FREE

April 2, 2017

I'll admit, I feel über cool wearing this faux leather vest, especially when worn with my Doc Martens and tight jeans. My dad kept asking me where I left my motorbike (very funny, dad). Though I'm not as comfortable with being photographed, especially in public (yes, I'm aware that could sound totally wrong), but I ignored the weird stares from those who were passing by and focused on my mom and her rather good photography skills. I felt bad not posting outfit photos on a style blog so I changed up my oversized sweaters for a fancier outfit. The shoes, however, are still the same and I really need to change up my shoe game.

Something else I wanted to discuss was wearing clothing that isn't sweatshop-free. Aside from being vegan mainly to fight animal cruelty, I don't want to be a hypocrite and wear items that were made in large factories, treating their workers like sh**. I'm new to the sweatshop-free life so I need to inform myself more as to which clothing brands are good quality and not made in the disgusting factories and I could use your help if you know more about this. Please shoot me a message if you'd like to introduce me to new brands! Have a lovely day!

jeans: H&M // blouse: Forever 21 // shoes: Doc Martens // jacket: Vero Moda



BEAUTY STASH BITS AND BOBS

March 26, 2017

I'm not exaggerating when I say a beauty-related post or haul was long overdue. These last couple months I seem to have transformed from a girl who loves shopping quite a lot to someone who prefers saving money for larger purchases or food (I won't lie). I'm slowly reintroducing cruelty-free beauty products into my beauty stash and when I say slowly I am - once again - not kidding. I bought the face masks in Budapest (travel diary coming soon, sorry peeps!) which was about a two months ago yet the Rituals products are only a week old.

Consciously shopping will make your wallet happy and makes it so much easier to only buy the things you really need/desire. I'm still on a minimalist mission, but I wish not to rush things and hastily throw stuff I still need away just because I don't need it right now. Anywho, let's get into the haul.


The first thing I got were two facemasks, both cruelty-free and vegan. Sadly I can't tell you whether I like them or not because I haven't been able to try them out (yet). I bought one from hej organic and the other one is from Douglas naturals. Both these products can be found in a Douglas store. Whilst walking around in the store I bumped into a chapstick I was eager to try out (from Douglas naturals). So far I really love it! It makes my lips feel soft and hydrated. 



The other products are both from Rituals, namely their Rituals of Sakura deodorant and conditioner. Both products are also cruelty-free which is amazing! How much I like them? I can honestly say I keep repurchasing the deodorant simply because it smell like pure luxury and it feels as if you've just taken a foamy bath. The conditioner is, not surprisingly, gorgeous smelling and makes your hair feel soft and shiny. Get your hands on them asap, I'd say!

Are you creating a cruelty-free beauty stash or are you planning on minimalizing your belongings? I'd love to know!