#325. 2016 goals: One month (and a bit down)

13 February 2016

Li, a NYC and Edinburgh lfestyle blogger updates on her 2016 goals and resolutions

I do quite like January. Being all cozy in the house, chilling in front of Netflix and taking some evenings just to hibernate and gather your thoughts for a fun year ahead really is the best. But I am enjoying the lights getting subtly lighter and the promise of Spring being on it's way again. (I say that, but as you are reading this it is -16 in NYC!)

I honesty can't believe it's February already. Time seems to be rushing away from me and I feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, constantly chasing my tail.

With that in mind I thought an update on my 2016 goals, one month (and a bit late) down was a little overdue.

Goal 1. Make fitness and health an essential part of my life and of my daily routine

Generally getting my butt in gear to tone up, exercise regularly and make healthy food choices. Why?Because it makes me feel good, confident and strong and my skin looks awesome. What's not to like? I chatted about this a little here

How'd I do in January?
I started well with healthy eating as Robin and I decided to follow the Whole30 program as a kick start to our 2016 goals. It focusses on eating whole natural foods for thirty days, making you think differently about what you are putting in your body and then slowly reintroducing foods again. We have been planning our meals ahead of time, eating so much delicious food and generally feeling a whole lot better for it. Yesterday was our last day and although it was hard at the start (I wanted to eat ALL THE FOOD), we got into a rhythm and ended up really enjoying it. I'll do a little post about the Whole30 itself soon.

Exercise was a slightly different story. I had been exercising a little bit before the new year but not as much as I had been earlier in the year, so starting back up after Christmas was hard and tiring and a bit demotivating as I felt all the way back at square one in terms of my fitness level and strength. Your fitness really does drop off quickly when you prefer to be a sloth! But I have been scheduling myself onto classes through Classpass, 2-3 times a week and have been working through Kayla Itsines' bikini body workout plan, which I am really enjoying and it is starting to feel like a routine. Hurrah! There is a good mix of cardio, strength and LISS workouts which make it completely time manageable. I do feel sorry for the neighbours though, hearing me thumping around doing burpees through our paper thin apartment walls.

Goal 2. Read more

I used to read so much as a kid but don't anymore. Little Li would be so disappointed. I want to get lost in a good book again the way I used to

How'd I do in January?
I'm really proud of this one as I am doing well so far. I have started a list of books I would like to read this year as a starting point and an actively making time for reading. I've already read Orange is the New Black and the Opposite of Loneliness and have been working my way through Big Magic, which is so inspiring. The lovely Charlene and I have also started a little book exchange to encourage us both in our goals and we have chosen the first book we will be reading which is exciting, so I can't wait for it to arrive so I can get stuck in.

Goal 3. Travel

Life is too short and I have a huge travel bucketlist so I better start ticking some of them off

How'd I do in January?
We didn't do too well last month as we didn't actually travel anywhere. Oooops. But we have a list of all the places we want to visit this year and have started pencilling in dates. We had friends over to celebrate New Year with us, so the start of January was a lot of fun showing them around the city and discovering new places as tourists ourselves, so maybe that counts. NYC is such a big city and there are so many places to explore and discover. We have booked flights home in April for my Dad's 60th birthday and a pal's wedding and are also going with a group of friends to the Poconos at the start of March for the weekend. We have lots to be looking forward to but my goal for the end of February is to have other holidays and travel plans scheduled and make travel in 2016 a priority.

Li, a NYC and Edinburgh lfestyle blogger updates on her 2016 goals and resolutions

Goal 4. Get happy

Actively try and be happier

How'd I do in January?
I feel this goal is going really well. My moods have been a lot more consistent since I have been on the Whole30 and my outlook is a lot more positive. I have been reading a lot of books, doing some soul searching, having long and regular catchups with friends, planning fun things, applying for interesting jobs and spending time relaxing which I think has been working wonders. I really enjoyed writing my first gratitude list for January and am looking forward to doing more of these. I also invested in The Happiness Planner and have been filling out my goals for each day as well as what I am grateful for last thing at night. Reflecting on the day is a nice thing to do before heading to bed, as I go to sleep positive. 

Goal 5. Be more creative

Plan and spend more time on personal creative projects

How'd I do in January?
Well...not too shabbily I think. I have been colouring in most evenings to relax before bed, which I have really been enjoying and have have been researching photography courses I would like to go on in a few weeks time. This weekend I am planning on heading to an art shop and stocking up on some paint, brushes and a canvas and just seeing what happens. It's exciting. I've also been spending time creating a Radical Self Love Bible with Gala Darling - there's nothing better than tearing fun pages out of magazines and getting creative, writing positive affirmations.

Li, a NYC and Edinburgh lfestyle blogger updates on her 2016 goals and resolutions

Goal 6. Get up early and make the most of everyday

I find it so hard to get up first thing and I am not a morning person in the slightest. I want to make getting up early part of my routine, so I can make the most of the mornings, rather than lazing around in bed wasting precious time. I am always running late and instead I want to ease into my day and create a fun morning routine to set me up properly.

How'd I do in January?
I've been doing not too badly which I am so happy about. I've been using the sleepcycle app and generally I am not letting myself snooze past the time I have set. When I wake up, I have been having a large glass of water and then using the Headspace app for 10 minutes. I have never tried meditation before but I find it really helps me focus and be a lot more productive during the day, just by taking a short stretch of time out every morning. I've also been scheduling gym classes early in the day to help create more a routine and spending time reading inspiring articles over breakfast, with a big mug of tea.

Goal 7. Say yes

Making the most of 2016 and the relatively short time I have in NYC

How'd I do in January?
January was a slight hermit month for me so I maybe didn't do as well on this one as I could have, but February has been a lot better. Two friends and I (one in NYC and one bestie from home) had big chats about this and we are going to encourage each other to do fun things. AWESOME!

So here's my plan and thoughts for the rest of February - bring it!
  • Continue with Kayla Itsines workouts as they are hard but I feel amazing afterwards. They are good for your body and soul.
  • Set aside time every night for some reading and colouring to relax after a busy day.
  • Plan and research some amazing trips and adventures for the rest of 2016.
  • Continue getting up early and having a slow and relaxed morning of exercise, meditation and breakfast.
  • Keep eating well even when the Whole30 is over. It makes me feel so much better!
  • Make mini daily goals and stick to them - they work and help me plan better and be more productive with my day.
  • You are stronger than you think you are. Keep going.
  • Keep planning fun things to do with friends to push me out of my comfort zone. It's worth it I promise. 
  • Book a photography course.

How are your goals going? I'd love to know - update me below.

#324. Outfit: H&M Faux Fur jacket and feeling like a yeti

10 February 2016

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

With Valentine's Day coming up, this post is about love but not in the way you might expect.

I'm sitting writing this with my first love, a big mug of the BEST tea in the whole world. Like seriously. I'm not even kidding. I discovered it out and about at the shops last week and have almost got through the whole box already, it's that damn good.

Tazo wild sweet orange tea. Go check it out. 

You're welcome.

It's that time of year when our bodies and minds tell us to take it easy, chill out and go into partial hibernation. I love getting all snuggly and cozying up in front of Netflix, mug of my new favourite tea in hand obvs, chocolate within reaching distance. But the nights are starting to get lighter bit by bit and the promise of spring isn't too far away.

But what to do when you have to go out in the cold? Cause sometimes we have to. It still is rather chilly with the occasional snow flurries and most of the time I layer up to the max like the mitchilin man. This girl don't like to be cold. 

Which brings me to my second love, as my recent wonderful new purchase is a complete game changer and perfect for those chilly winter nights.

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

I had fancied a good ol' fake fur coat for yonks and so when I came across this one on the H&M website, I was truly smitten. A great and unusual colour, in my size, affordable and completely beautiful, what's not to like? It's also really hard not to just sit and stroke it. Like the wee girl from Despicable Me...IT'S SO FLUFFY!

I enjoy stomping around in it, completely snug and feeling either like a yeti or Penny Lane in Almost Famous. Invincible and cool either way. You should all give it a go as it's pretty epic, feeling like you can take on the world with just a jacket. It feels so glam and with a slick of red Mac lipstick I am good to go and all set to take on my day in NYC. I wore it out for New Years Eve and got so many compliments about it. Everyone loves the yeti.

I've been meaning to write this post for ages, but you know, life. So these photos were taken just before Christmas by my lovely hubby just before we headed out for brunch, which explains the reindeer sunglasses and I was so warm prancing about on our roof, even with it being a minor hurricane outside. What's more this jacket even kept me toasty warm when we had major snow here a few weeks ago. So pretty and practical - bangin'.

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats about her new H&M faux fur jacket and Tazo wild sweet orange tea

I paired my yeti with my go-with-everything American Apparel jeans, black blouse and chunky Topshop boots with glittery socks for our chilled brunch. And finished the look off with my outlet bargain BCBGeneration bag - $30 reduced from something silly like $100 over Thanksgiving Day weekend when we visited Vermont. I love how bright the bag is, large enough for all my necessities and like the sleek chain strap too.

So there you have it, my two current loves... wild sweet orange tea and my yeti. Both are keeping me warm and cozy and will see me through till Spring decides to show face again.

What are you loving at the moment? 

#323. January's gratitude list

3 February 2016

Li Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger chats shares her January 2016 gratitude list

January is always a funny month for me. Sure, it's the start of the new year with a whole 12 months of unlimited possibilities but it's also cold and just after Christmas and I have an innate pull to hibernate in my flat like a bear and binge watch Jessica Jones, Making a Murderer and 30 Rock. But, this is my year of yes and so I had a good mix of seeing pals and some chill time, wonderful theatre, applying for jobs and generally having fun.

I've really enjoyed putting this list together as it reminds me of all the good and happy things that happened over the course of the past four weeks and as part of my 'get happy' resolution for this year, I'll be sharing a list like this at the end of every month.

  • Bringing in the bells with wonderful friends wearing the most beautiful fringed dress and sparkly heels
  • Ordering the biggest pizza I have ever seen
  • Getting a lovely and unexpected email from your Dad that made you cry just a little
  • Taking steps towards my new years goals
  • Volunteering at an exciting theatre festival, meeting a tonnes of new and lovely people and learning a lot
  • Not letting rejection get me down and instead use it to fuel me to keep going
  • Discover an exciting new podcast - Sarah Starrs
  • Starting to receive Gala Darlings Radical Self Love letters
  • Snow! And building a snowman in Central Park
  • Putting myself in a situation completely outside of my comfort zone and doing well
  • Snuggly socks to keep out the cold
  • Discovering The Happiness Planner
  • Planning exciting travels and adventures for 2016
  • Seeing some really exciting and unique pieces of theatre
  • Cute puppy updates from Rosie
  • Long overdue phone chats with friends
  • Falling in love with some cute cats at the cat cafe
  • Realising how much I love colouring in
  • Getting a new hair cut and feeling so fly afterwards
  • Learning to cook pulled pork carnitas and they were the bomb
  • Spending time with new friends
  • I loved Ayden's post on being brave and doing things that scare you
  • An overnight stay in a hotel with a pool and a gym - feeling pampered
  • Setting up an awesome work station out of the flat and feeling like a productivity unicorn
  • New stationary
  • The Netflix series Jessica Jones
  • Bear hugs
  • Red Raspberry tea
  • An interesting take on new years resolutions from Abigail.
  • I want to go to Bruges so bad after reading Katy's post
  • Starting a new exercise regime and walking becoming increasingly difficult but feeling myself getting stronger everyday
  • My new gym tshirt with the awesome slogan - 'Busy getting stronger'
  • Having some free time to start planning 2016
  • Lovely long catchup emails from family and friends
  • Jasmin Charlotte's awesome and refreshing post on accepting yourself
  • Creating a morning routine
  • Surprise flowers from the hubster
  • Setting up a fun book exchange with a lovely new blogger pal to help us both read more
  • Carrot and ginger soup with huge chunks of ginger
  • Sitting quietly reading in a coffee shop
  • Mimi's beautiful photos from the Harry Potter studio tour - take me back!
  • Multi coloured tulips
  • This honest post from Rosie asking is the grass really greener?
  • Laughing along to the movie Sisters
  • Filling my bookshelves with inspiring and motivation books that make me want to be a better person
  • This print which I hope will find it's way to my flat soon

What happy things have happened to you this month? What things would you add to your own gratitude list?

#322. Keeping my new year goals with Boohoo FIT

1 February 2016

Li Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger reviews two items from the Boohoo FIT range

Li Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger reviews two items from the Boohoo FIT range

Li Li, a NYC and Scottish lifestyle blogger reviews two items from the Boohoo FIT range

Keeping fit and working out regularly are things that I am determined to make a part of my routine. I do struggle though and it takes a while for me to form habits. Even though I know that exercise is good for me there is always something more interesting or exciting to do and before you know it I have taken the rubbish out, cleared my inbox, watched two episodes of 30Rock and spent an hour strolling fitness pics on Instragram for motivation and not actually done any myself. Give the queen of procrastination a crown.

This year I really want to prioritise my health and commit to a workout schedule, as I chatted about in my post on my new years goals. Last year in the run up to our wedding I was beastin' it. I felt so strong and confident, able to run for long distances without stopping and actually enjoying it and doing Hiit workouts the whole way through, not taking pass out breaks in the middle. It felt so good. I want to get back there.

With time on my hands over the past few weeks I've come to realise and be more aware of 'me' than I have before. I've been reading a lot, trying to spend some time focussed on myself and seeing what changes that might bring. In the past I wasn't really sure I bought into all the personal development stuff, but I have been learning a lot and so much of it rings true for me, sometimes its scary. It's funny when it takes a total stranger to speak clear enough that you can see those characteristics in yourself. Through a lot of soul searching I've realised that I am not very good at keeping habits for myself but can do things for other people readily and will actively go out of my way for others (see Grechen Rubin for more info). Not that that is a bad thing at all, I enjoy being the sort of person I am. But what that means is that commitments I have made to myself like fitness and working out, tend to fall by the wayside really, really easily. Rubbish! 

A way to help with this though is external accountability, so I have been actively telling people (including you lovely lot!) what my goals are for this year so I won't be as encouraged to break them and will do updates every month. I'm also researching runs around NYC that I can join to keep me training and have signed up to the Night Nation 5km with some friends in June. My glow sticks are ready!

Another thing that I also find helpful is getting new workout gear. It might be a superficial thing, but if I have nice fitness clothes to wear and buy them for myself as a treat, I am more likely to get up off the couch, switch off netflix and go on a run or pop in a fitness DVD or two. I like to look good when I'm working out. Nothing wrong with that.

So when Boohoo got in touch asking if I would like to choose an outfit from their FIT range to review I jumped at the chance. The Boohoo FIT range is extensive, focussing on pieces that you can move in, run in, squat in...you get the picture. But also are fashion forward, making all those gym bunnies jealous and are comfortable, affordable and good quality too. There were so many pieces that I was tempted by but eventually I chose a pair of contract patterned leggings (no longer available online) and this motivational slogan vest. I was hoping to get out and snap some photos of me actually wearing the pieces but the snow sortof took over a bit.

The leggings are thick and stretchy, so are very comfortable and not see-through and I've now worn them out running and doing yoga. I really like the contrast pink piping and the pattern across half the leggings, rather than just a solid colour. They also have a thick waistband so sit high up on my waist which I really like, avoiding any gym embarrassment if they decided to slip down during a hard core running session. (Trust me it's happened!). The two things that I would change about the leggings is the thickness of the piping detail and the material. I find that the piping can be slightly uncomfortable under my legs when I am doing floor work and the material means that my legs get really hot very quickly. Other than that, I think they are great and would highly recommend them to anyone for cute workout gear that won't break the bank.

The vest is definitely my favourite piece though. I love a good motivational slogan and this one is complete fitspiration and damn catchy. It's a strong slogan, so positive, body loving and ace and I was drawn to it right away. The vest is made of cotton so is soft and breathable, perfect for gym wear. The cut outs are a lot lower than I expected them to be so I have to wear another top underneath, but I enjoy the layered look. 

Overall I was impressed with the two items from the Boohoo FIT range that I tried and have already been browsing online for my next purchase. There is just so much choice for whatever type of fitness you enjoy and they are affordable, making a sportwear wardrobe seem a lot more possible.

So, I will keep wearing my new leggings and top to help me keep my fitness goals for 2016. I'll be checking in soon with an update on how things are going. Keeping me accountable ya'll.

Have you got any health and fitness goals for this year?

Disclaimer - I was gifted the top and leggings featured in this pist by Boohoo. While the clothes were complimentary my thoughts on them are completely my own. I really do love them and will be wearing them a lot in my keeping fit quest, so stay tuned.