Small steps

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To those of you who know me well, you may be a little bit shocked about what you are about to read: for the last month or so I have been exercising.

Inspired by a blog post I read on Away From The Noise which was entitled The Smaller The Step, The Greater The Progress, I decided to begin my own health and fitness strategy. I’ve always gone through phases in the past where I’ve decided to exercise or diet, but I’ve usually done too much at once and given up after a few days. This time I decided to take it one small step at a time so that I could slowly get into a routine and progress slightly further everyday.

It started in January when I decided that I was going to drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day. I managed to do it for about two weeks, but then once I started to become busier and had a week away in London for work experience, I soon realised that it wasn’t always achievable. I did, however, get used to drinking more water each day and I could definitely feel the health benefits from it. My head felt clearer and I was getting a lot less headaches, so that was great.

I continued trying to drink a decent amount of water everyday (I now aim for around 1.5-2 litres a day) and decided to take the next step with my health and fitness plan; this time I would tackle the exercise part, and this is where I feel like I’ve really achieved. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I’m pretty lazy and would usually laugh at the thought of going for a run or to the gym, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I’m doing a lot of work for uni at the moment and I thought that exercise would maybe help to relieve some stress and give me a break in between work.

I knew that if I just let myself decide how much to workout each day, I wouldn’t get very far and would soon enough give up like I had before. With it being January at the time, a lot of people were talking about different apps and websites that they had been using so I decided to download the 30 day abs and 30 day squats apps.

I started off slowly completing just 15 sit ups, 5 crunches, 5 leg raises, a 25 second plank and 30 squats . . . and to be honest I found this pretty difficult, especially the leg raises! I stuck to the apps though as much as I could (I missed a few days but have caught up) and started to add more workouts alongside them so that I made sure I was working out different parts of my body. Yesterday I finished my 30 day challenge by doing 150 squats, 125 sit ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises and two 60 second planks (I managed to do 100 seconds at once the other day, but really struggled with it today due to a strained muscle), as well as a cardio routine.

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It may not be much and I know that I still have a long way to go, but for me this is a huge achievement. I never thought that I would have the willpower to actually stick to it and I have to say I’m on the way to getting addicted! The first 10 days were probably the most challenging, but after then I started to get into a routine and could already start to feel the benefits. I feel healthier and have a lot more energy; something which I didn’t have much of before! I liked using the 30 day apps as each day you get to tick off what you have done after each activity. The sense of achievement I get everyday after completing my workout feels great and it’s definitely helping me deal with stress and get through my final year of uni! I’m going to start running and swimming with my flatmate, and now just have to hope that I manage to keep up with my workouts now that I’ve finished using the apps!

I didn’t take a ‘before’ picture, as at the time I didn’t really want to take a photo of my stomach! I’m wishing I had now though so that I could see the comparison. The picture on the left was taken a couple of weeks ago, and the one on the right was taken yesterday. I can see a little bit of progress, but that could just be me! I think I’m starting to see a few little abs trying to come through. . . just got to stick to it now! I’m also starting to get muscles in places I didn’t even know existed!

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I’m already on my way to achieving my next goal – my diet. I’ve told myself that I’m not going to diet, but am just going to be sensible about what I eat. I love food too much to give it up! I have cut out my most favourite thing in the world though, which is crisps! But oddly enough, I’ve found that my attitude to food has began to change as I’ve been getting fitter and healthier; I don’t want to eat junk food all the time and when I do I feel awful about it afterwards! I really think that the idea of taking small steps to progress really works, and would definitely recommend people to try it!

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The internet overreacts to Victoria’s Secret advert

Over the last couple of weeks Victoria’s Secret, the well known American lingerie company, has been under attack on social media because of the advert for their new bra. The advertising campaign for their new product, named the ‘Body’ bra, featured a handful of the glorious models each wearing a different form of the product, with the words The Perfect “Body” sprawled across them

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I understand where the criticism is coming from and how this may upset some people, but personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I read an article claiming that this campaign is going to cause eating disorders, low self esteem and negative body image, which I think is taking it too far. I therefore feel it is important to point out a couple of things…

Firstly, the campaign is not directly calling the models’ bodies perfect. It is referring to the bra itself, which is called the ‘Body’ bra. The aim of the new line is to ensure that there is a bra for every need – for example perfect coverage, multi-way or racerback – which is clearly shown in the advert; they are stating that it is the perfect bra.

Technicalities aside, yes, Victoria’s Secret models do have amazing figures. They’re underwear models, what do you expect? For the last few years now I have watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and though I may be envious of their beauty and bodies, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for them. They work extremely hard to maintain their figures, involving eating a healthy and well balanced diet and exercising frequently. Candice Swanepoel, in an interview with vogue.com shares how she finds that “100 minutes of nonstop action every other day” to be a good way to stay in shape. Her exercises include a range of toning, cardio and shaping which show her dedication to being a healthy size. As well as informing us of her exercise technique, she also explains that when it comes to her diet, she doesn’t cut anything out. She says, “I actually focus on eating more protein and carbs to build a stronger body”, dismissing any criticism of how the models may not eat a healthy and balanced diet.

I believe that instead of ‘bodyshaming’ women, the advert could actually instead promote being healthy, and should provide women with role models to look up and aspire to. Obesity is becoming a huge problem in our society, with 64% of UK adults being classed as overweight or obese. I fear that the issue is not being appropriately addressed, with fears of upsetting or hurting people by explaining how it is important to be a healthy size. In my opinion, our society is becoming too politically correct, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to say something without being told that it is no longer acceptable to say that.

An online petition was made against the Victoria’s Secret campaign, asking them to change it and provide an apology. While the company as yet has not released an apology (and why should they?) they have unfortunately, in my opinion, changed the advert, and it now reads “A Body For Every Body”, which if you ask me, is a bit of a mouthful.

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