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Sunday, 2 July 2017

WRITING|| Endometriosis.

I’ve been hesitant to write about this topic for months now. Partially because I’ve been feeling shy about tackling a subject that is so important to me. Yet mostly because I didn’t know how to do it justice in one simple blog post. But here goes.
I am 22 years old, and I have recently been diagnosed with endometriosis; a condition which affects 175 million women across the world and is the second most common gynaecological issue in the UK. And for those of you reading this who may not know anything about it – there’s sadly still a certain stigma attached to reproductive issues – the Endometriosis UK describes it as a ‘condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body.

We still don’t know why it happens, if its hereditary, and how to stop it from occurring. The only thing we do know for certain is that it is a deliberating condition with pain so severe that it can knock you out for days on end. The other difficulty is that everyone’s experience is different. Some women who have severe endometriosis have little pain and vice versa. I fall into the latter but remember being reduced to tears in my university library, trying to write a final year essay and being in excruciating pain and frightened because I didn’t know what was wrong.
I didn’t want to write the play-by-play about how I was diagnosed – it’s a familiar story for most sufferers involving several GP visits before being taken seriously – but it resulted in eventually seeing a consultant and having a laparoscopy (key-hole surgery) to get a diagnosis.
As anyone who has the condition will know, being diagnosed with a chronic illness is tough. Knowing that this thing will continue to affect you for years to come, potentially forever, is tricky to get your head around. 
Like with anything in life, people handle diagnoses differently. Some will go out and run a marathon for a charity supporting their illness. Some will educate themselves extensively on natural remedies. Apparently one plant-based diet can help sufferers manage their pain; I’m currently researching alternatives that don’t see my diet resemble a #glutenfree, #tastefree, #funfree food blogger Instagram feed. There's no way in hell I'm cutting out coffee but I should realistically use the excuse to reduce my sugar intake!
Instead, my way of coping is to scour the internet high and low to read about other people’s experiences in the hope that it will make me feel less alone.
Because I am most certainly not alone. But, at times, it definitely feels it. Sufferers are hesitant to talk openly about the condition because we spent years being told that cramps are just a part of life. On average, it takes a woman eight years to be diagnosed and in that period, has to visit her GP ten times before being taken seriously. While it has now been acknowledged that the NHS has to do more to help endometriosis sufferers, it’s not a surprise that we aren’t talking about it openly. Fighting for a diagnosis doesn’t exactly inspire sufferers to speak about life with the disease. But, as someone on the other side, I can’t help but feel the absence of a community of fellow sufferers. There are millions of us worldwide, after all.
No one is talking about endometriosis and its driving me mad. That’s not to say that the charity, Endometriosis UK, don’t do amazing work to help sufferers. I’m new to this community after all. But when I say ‘talking’, I mean really talking. Engaging, sympathising, understanding, listening. For this condition to become more widely understood.  
Sure, there’s been plenty in the news recently. In hindsight, 2017 is a good time to be diagnosed with the condition. There’s more exposure in the media now more than ever. Some better than others, of course. Never have I experienced rage like when I read about this study exploring how endometriosis affects the sex lives of men whose partners suffer from the condition. Somehow this was certified by the University of Sydney. There’s a long way still to go to say the least. But Lena Dunham - my feminist girl crush - is great for using her public platform to raise awareness of the disease and there's a strong presence of 'endo sisters' on Instagram as I've recently discovered.
I suppose I just want to be part of the discussion – to help raise awareness of this condition and eradicate the infuriating stigma attached to ‘women’s issues’. I can’t help but wonder if we’d know comparatively little about a disease that causes men pain and affected their reproductive health. My inner cynic says not.
Which leads me to the present. Now that I have the diagnosis I so desperately wanted – there were times when I questioned if I’d made this whole thing up in my head – I feel kind of stumped. It’s almost anti-climactic, as if I’ve finished reading a novel with lots of twists and turns and am left unsatisfied. I guess I’m just trying to figure out the next chapter.
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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

BEAUTY || Highlight on Fleek.

When a beauty product starts doing the rounds on the bloggosphere, its hard to resist temptation. This time it was the BECCA X Jaclyn Hill Champagne Collection Face Palette. Now that's a mouthful. Cast your mind back to 12 short months ago when the first BECCA X Jacyln Hill highlighter, 'Champagne Pop', was the must-have beauty buy of Summer 2015. It was almost impossible to get ahold of. In my review at the time, I relayed how I somehow managed to grab one that had just come into stock in Sephora an hour before flying home from the US. In other words, it was pure good luck and a total fluke. 

And trying to get my hands on this limited edition palette this time round was hardly much different. In fact, it was pure luck that I happened to be picking up a nail polish in Space NK a few weeks ago when a woman next to me at the checkout was buying 'Champagne Pop'. It popped into my head then and there to just enquire as to whether they would be stocking any of the new Jaclyn Hill Champagne collection, fully expecting them to say no especially as it had all sold out online at Sephora. To my surprise, my local store was getting just 20 palettes in and so I hastily put mine and my sister's name on the waitlist and found myself there a week later at opening time to pick up my goods. 
Boy oh boy is this palette worth the hype. If any of you reading this loved 'Champagne Pop' then this palette will not disappoint. Like with all BECCA products, each highlighter and blush is so intensely pigmented that I can see this lasting me a long time. Which suits me because at £48, this palette certainly not cheap. However, although on the more expensive side, a single BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfecter retails at around £32 in the UK which does mean that you're getting plenty for your money in this one palette. 

 Moving onto the colours themselves because I'm pretty impressed with the range. Most specifically, I'm reaching for 'Rosé Spritz' (above, top left) on an everyday basis. Its something a little bit different for me because I'm usually very into my neutral pinks if I even wear blusher at all. 'Rosé Spritz' on the other hand is a dusty pink luminous blush with golden undertones, effectively making it a highlighter in itself. Combined with 'Champagne Pop' dusted over the top and you have a very glow-y make-up look all ready to go.
'Prosecco Pop' also deserves a shoutout here as it is effectively 'Champagne Pop''s older sister - inspired by liquid gold, this highlight has serious umph. I personally like mixing the two highlighters together to create a more understated, glow-y look.
(Left to Right) Rosé Spritz, Amaretto, Pamplemousse, Champagne Pop, Prosecco Pop
If I'm being totally honest with myself, I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of the shade, 'Pamplemousse'. Its one serious bright coral that I can't see working quite so well with my extremely pale complexion. With any of this shades, you only need the lightest of hands. The first time I applied 'Rosé Spritz' I got a little excited by the prettiness of the colour and ended up looking like a rag doll. Never again!
Apart from living in constant fear that I'm going to drop it, this palette has been a huge success round these parts. And from what I've gathered, my sister is a pretty big fan too. Although they're few and far between, with any luck BECCA will make these colours part of its core collection. Either way, my highlight is sorted for the foreseeable future! Summer make-up is sorted.

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

STYLE || The Work-Out Wardrobe.

In keeping with my marathon announcement post on Friday, I thought I'd swiftly follow it up with a post all about where I've been investing my money when it comes to activewear. Because you know me, any chance for some shopping and I'm in. I know a lot of people will scoff at the idea but I genuinely find that I'm more motivated to work out when I have a nice pair of leggings to slip on or a pretty top that holds everything in place. Because sometimes the gym can feel like a chore and if investing in a funky pair of leggings helps me get there in the morning then I see no problem!
Since starting this crazy marathon journey back in January, I've come a long way not only in my training but also when it comes to fun and practical places to shop.

My first find was a good 'un. It's actually pretty embarrassing just how much I fan-girl over Anna of the wonderful blog Vivianna Does Makeup - she can recommend just about anything and chances are I'll go out and buy it. Not just because the products are usually stellar and totally worth it anyway but also because we have very similar taste in make-up and clothes. So yes, that's my justification. In the days after I signed up for the marathon, I was perusing the internet for some trendy sportswear which is harder to come by than you'd expect. Anyway, I remembered that Anna does her monthly Fitness Files and thought it'd be a good place to start. Approximately two minutes later, I had found the fab website that is Fashercise - a site that carefully collates the best of fashionable sportswear. To be honest, as beautiful as all the pieces are, they are largely well out of my price range. The perils of being a student and needing to eat. But to my delight, I found an amazing pair of leggings (below, left) that were reduced from £85 to £25. You can only imagine my excitement and I forked out my card details pretty swiftly. As I skimped on delivery, I was also so impressed that my leggings arrived the next day free of charge and came beautifully packaged and with a motivational note from the founders of the website (all documented on my Instagram feed, of course). As they went into sale almost six months ago, my exact pair are no longer available but there are a very similar pair here. These ALALA leggings are such great quality, they hold everything in place as I'm running along, and I love how the mesh detail just makes them a bit more interesting.
Speaking of another Vivianna Does Makeup-inspired purchase, my next pair of leggings are my newest edition (below middle). The tale behind these isn't quite so embarrassing as I've worked on and off for WHISTLES for the past three years so these fab leggings had been on my radar for quite some time. But it was this post that Anna did in collaboration with WHISTLES X FRAME that convinced me that I needed them in my wardrobe. Turns out I'm not the only one who almost instantly buys whatever Anna recommends and soon enough these were sold out online. Dammit, should have bought them when I first saw them. Yet, as fate would have it, when I went into store today to discuss my holiday hours there they were. Better yet, they had gone into sale. I couldn't purchase them quick enough and have been living in them ever since. They are honestly the comfiest thing and the combination of grey and pink means that they'll go with just about everything in my wardrobe. Fan-girl moment over but these have really captured my heart.

Next up is a fairly obvious sportswear destination. LuluLemon has a fairly large cult following amongst gym bunnies so this by no means a discovery store for me. I really like their simple, practical aesthetic and everything I've ever owned from this brand has lasted so well. I have a pair of running leggings (not featured in this post) that have lasted me a good five years and still going strong! So although LuluLemon is absolutely on pricier side, their workout gear is good for investing in if you have the cash to spend. Having said that, I got both these funky pink leggings (above, right) and this pretty pastel top (below, bottom left) on sale for a pretty reasonable price... I forget how much exactly but I usually draw my limit around the £40 mark for any single item.
Next up are workout tops. As a reasonably flat-chested gal, I live in strappy tops with built-in bras - because life is too short to struggle with cripplingly tight sports bras if you don't have to. I have to say that my the black Puma workout top is one of the best things out of all my sportswear - it's so easy and lightweight and goes with everything. I bought it off Amazon on a whim for around £15 and I have certainly got my money's worth as I find it really comfortable and flattering. An absolute winner in my books.
My Nike Dri-FIT Knit also deserves a shout-out here. One of the pricier items on this list, I got this alongside my trainers for my 21st birthday. I'm not sure how much I buy into the technology behind this one because I always end up a sweaty mess whatever I'm wearing - marathon training will do that to you! But its great at keeping me dry and warm when I'm running outside and for that it makes a great addition to my work-out wardrobe.
And now onto my favourite bit: loungewear. Because what could be better than curling up into an oversized hoodie after a tiring session in the gym. Nothing, I tell you, nothing is better than that feeling of total simultaneous exhaustion and comfort. My current favourite sweatshirt is none other than the Urban Outfitters 'Daydream Believer' top that I managed to snag just before they all sold out online (but still available here) - F.Y.I. you can get free next day delivery if you order in store, I was very impressed. The comfiest oversized fit combined with a quotation from the cracking tune by The Monkees means that this item has secured a firm place in my fashion favourites, both in and out of the gym.
There's not much to say about my Budapest Marathon hoodie... it is also grey and oversized and secures me the bragging rights to say that I'm actually training for a marathon. Plus, I look really super cool next to my two best friends who also have the exact same one. Some might think its a bit naff, personally I know that I'll cherish this little momento for years to come. Oh and the bragging rights, all about the bragging rights. 
And to wrap up this very lengthy post (who knew there could be so much to say about a few pairs of leggings?), I thought I should probably touch on my trainers. Seeing as they are single-handedly the most important piece of kit when it comes to training for a marathon. To be honest, this is tricky to advise on because everyone's running style is so different and all I know is that these work wonders for me. I ended up choosing the Nike brand as some of my running friends had their shoes and highly recommended them. I would advise going into store and trying on a variety of styles to see what works best for you - yes it feels ridiculous to be running on a treadmill in the middle of a store but this is what determines what shoes are tailored to your foot. You can tell that my pair (Nike Air Zoom Elite 8) have had a lot of wear since I got them for my 21st back in March. Yes they weren't cheap but this a good pair of trainers is where you should really invest your money - a cheap, rubbishy pair will only do your body a world of damage. The test of a perfect pair of running trainers? It feels like you're walking on clouds when you slip them on. 
So there you go, everything you could ever need to know about my gym-wear preferences. Honestly, I could talk about this till the sun goes down but I'm going to leave it here. As with anything I set my mind to, I have now become an expert with how to shop for it! But like I said earlier, with all this cool garments, I'll never be at a loss for motivation.

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