52 for 52 – again!

One of my 2017 Goals was to read 52 books in a year, averaging 1 book a week. I’m pleased to say that I did it!  I’ll share the whole list shortly, but I plan on doing the same in 2018 and I’m really excited about it!

So my question is – what book would you recommend I read?

 

I’m looking for a variety of fiction and non-fiction; but ultimately I want books I can really lose myself in!

Lots of love,

Pippa

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The Comeback Chronicles: January

Well hello there! How’s 2018 treating everyone so far? Is it just me, or has January seemed like the longest month ever? It’s been bleak here in London, and it’s been a tough one for everyone. All that complaining aside, it’s time for a little update:

What’s been going on

Back to work! It’s been much less hectic at my office recently, which has meant that I’ve only been working late one night a week or so. In general I’ve had a better work-life balance, but that has been recently scuppered by a nasty virus that’s been going round the office. I’ve had a weekend in bed, with no exercise and nothing to do with myself – and honestly I’m climbing the walls!

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Fitness

Recent illness aside, things have been going well, fitness-wise. I’ve been switching it up recently, and have been doing 2-4 HiiT workouts a week, combined with 1-2 gentle runs. I have to say they’ve been kicking my butt, and I can definitely feel a difference in my overall fitness and muscles – after only a few weeks. I can’t wait to see how I get on for the next few months!

 

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Running

Like I said, I’ve been running 1-2 times a week – normally once, commuting home from work, and a second time, on a Saturday morning with my friend Ashley and her dog, Otto. Although I never want to actually drag myself out of bed on a Saturday, it’s great to start the weekend off well.

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Food

My main focus at the moment is still to eat a vegan diet – but given the amount of exercise I’m currently doing, I’m being especially careful about my protein intake.  I’m using a variety of different protein shakes, in addition to my usual diet of legumes and veggies. My two favourites right now are My Protein Superfood in Strawberry, and Prana Protein in Chocolate.

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Oh, and protein oatmeal…

Everything else

I’ve been trying to focus – as always – on maintaining balance in my life. I’m still seeing my therapist, and I’m really trying to focus on putting all the pieces back together. I bought a yoga membership, with the hopes of actually making it to a class every once in a while! The ultimate goal is to get in good enough physical shape to be back into running; but for now, I have to find other forms of therapy.

So what about you – how do you strike balance in life? 

Lots of love,

Pippa

 

The Comeback Chronicles: Christmas Edition

Well hello there. Remember me?

It’s been a helluva long time since I posted last. To be honest, the past few months have been really tricky, with work, fitness and my family situation. I’ve been experiencing an ongoing procrastination about opening up again on the blog, and it’s only gotten worse with time. But something has changed. I don’t know what exactly, but I feel ready to write again. I thought I’d start things out gently with the latest edition of the Comeback Chronicles.

For anyone who’s missed it, the Comeback Chronicles was a series dedicated to my recovery and comeback to fitness, after breaking my ankle very badly in December 2016. Part of the reason I stopped blogging was that my comeback has stalled quite considerably. But all that aside, let’s jump in!

 

What’s been going on 

As I mentioned, things have been pretty hectic around these parts. I’ve been snowed under at work, and it’s been pretty all-consuming. I haven’t had as much time or headspace as I’d like for all the other things in my life.

As a side note, the holiday season has been pretty intense too, with work parties, drinks with friends, Christmas dinners and all the rest. Now that that’s all subsided, I can hopefully carve out a little more space in the day for myself.

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Fitness

My fitness routine lately has been pretty haphazard. Some weeks it seems impossible to fit a workout in, in between working late at the office, and actually having time to take care of myself (read: eat and sleep). Other weeks, I manage to kill it with my workouts, and feel full to the brim with motivation. It’s a tricky one. The key for me in 2018 will be to even out these peaks and troughs in my life, and find a routine that works for me.

I’m trying to be more consistent when it comes to strength training, which means (for me) 3 x strength-based workouts a week: lower body, abs, and upper body.  The thing is, when I’m tired and have no headspace, I find it so much easier to zone out and do an hour of cardio than actually concentrate on lifting heavy things. Ultimately though, I know that strength training is going to get me the results I want; and so I have to persist.

 

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Running

Running has unfortunately been my downfall the past few months. I’ve gone through phases of running home from work every other night, to being so injured and in pain that I can’t actually walk. (I wish that was an exaggeration – it’s been a year since my injury, and I still can’t walk down stairs. No lie). I’ve been provisionally diagnosed with burstitis or achilles tendonitis, but I’m awaiting an official diagnosis once I’m referred to a physio. At the moment, I’m running purely for mental health purposes; that means if I’ve had a really terrible day at the office, or things are too much in my personal life, I break the “injury” rule and allow myself to run, even when it’s painful. I know it sounds ridiculous, but sometimes it’s the only thing that will clear my head, and for me it’s worth the trade-off of some pain.

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Food

Wow, that got a little intense back there, didn’t it? Well, the good news is that I’m still predominantly plant-based, and my relationship with food is getting somewhat better. It’s hard to turn off the calorie-counting in my head, but I do try my best to ignore it and get on with my day. My focus for 2018 will be to try to focus on filling my body with nutrients, as opposed to tracking every calorie down to the letter.

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Everything else

If you’ve made it this far, you might have guessed that I’m not having the best time, when it comes to my emotional and mental health. The first Christmas without my Dad was always going to be a difficult time, and to be honest work stress hasn’t made it any easier. I’m not coping as well as I could be (and part of that, I have to admit, is the fact that I can’t just take off on a 10 mile run whenever I feel like it) – but I’m trying to take positive steps.

Recently I moved in with two of my best friends, and that’s really helped me emotionally, in that I can always talk to them if I’ve had a shit day. Additionally, I’ve started seeing my therapist again, and whilst it’s slow progress, it’s progress nonetheless. (Side note – quitting therapy two months into your parent’s divorce because “the storm’s over now” is not a good tactic).

All in all, although this year has been a total shit storm, one thing I’ve really improved on is listening to my body and taking care of myself. I take sick days when I’m sick, I don’t run when I’m feeling under the weather, and I don’t drag my butt to the gym after a 14 hour work day, just because I have to. It might not seem like balance – in fact, it seems like a total mess – but I’m gradually carving out space for myself.

 

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Me and my main man

 

All in all, this year’s been a bit of a hot mess. But that’s okay. Life never goes to plan, and sometimes all you have to do is weather the storm.

How are you? How are you celebrating the festive season?

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

Mindfulness: Reading (a lot)

As I mentioned a week or so ago, I’ve been really struggling with increased depression and anxiety, thanks to my parent’s divorce and the breakdown of my relationship with my father. That, combined with an intense work life, has meant an increased need to recentre myself and practice mindfulness wherever possible.

This year I’ve found reading to be absolutely crucial to staying mindful despite in the chaos. Sometimes I find my mind racing at night and really struggle to get to sleep – and so I’ve turned to reading as a nightly ritual. I get all snug in my bed and allow myself at least half an hour to turn off my phone and get stuck into another world.

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It’s really hard to switch off entirely, and that’s precisely what reading requires you to do. You have to stop thinking about your own life, your own problems or even your own social media feed, and just concentrate on something entirely other. For me, it really helps, and sends me off to a nice, peaceful sleep.

Since I mentioned my 2017 Goal to average a book a week, I had plenty of requests to share my reading list. So here you have it – all my books for 2017 so far!

From the guys who wrote Freakonomics, this takes you through how to challenge the status quo and look for hidden connections in the seemingly meaningless.

The absolute pick-me-up I needed in January when I found myself jobless and on crutches – one of the standouts so far.

The autobiography of ultra runner Charlie Engle, from his adventure racing exploits to his wrongful imprisonment for tax fraud.

Hilarious, poignant and thought-provoking autobiography of Trevor Noah, on growing up in post-apartheid South Africa.

An inspiring work of fiction about the importance of finding your destiny in life. A bit sentimental, but beautifully written.

A fictional tale of love, betrayal and identity, set against Nigeria’s 1967-60 Civil War.

The story of love and identity, following Ifemelu; of a Nigerian student who emigrates to the US.

A good insight into the start-up way of doing business and getting quick results by learning to fail and fail again.

A great mix of self-help and memoir, this is a great guide to becoming more present in life, and letting go of perfectionism.

Comical memoir of a 30-something comedian who doesn’t have her shit together any more than the rest of us.

An account of 12 months of goal-driven happiness, including concrete, actionable ideas on how to cultivate happiness in your life.

A short Penguin guide to the Suffragette movement in Western countries, including the female-led anti-suffrage movement.

A lazy beach read- a story of love in adverse circumstances.

A hilarious and charming retelling of Norse myth and legend, brought to life in a wickedly clever way.

A genuinely terrifying profile of Donald Trump by one journalist who has keenly followed the demon’s rise to fame.

Fascinating insight into the Occupy movement, including the recent historical context of the 2008 Financial Crash.

An abridged version of the feminist classic, covering the way beauty standards are used to keep women “in their place”.

A modern sci-fi classic – an ancient civilisation is discovered on earth. The rest is a mystery…

The second Sleeping Giants book – it continues!

Another life-affirming classic from Paulo Coehlo; the premise is about a girl who wakes up from her suicide attempt, but discovers she only has a few days to live.

A collective memoir or the experience of Japanese women brought to the US as brides in the 1930s and 40s.

A collection of the authors favourite and most thought-provoking philosophic quotes, along with a brief essay on why they captured his imagination.

A collection of essays and short stories written by a talented young Harvard student, and published after her tragic death only a few years ago.

An autobiographical account of everything running can teach you about life.

A productivity guide that preaches doing the most difficult and most dreaded task first.

A poignant and gorgeously-written tale of an out of place teenage girl who yearns for a place to belong.

An imagined but entirely possible future in which genetic engineering has gotten out of control, and which there remain only a handful of “real” humans left.

A fascinating historical and anthropological look at humankind’s evolution through the ages, from the Stone Age to the modern day.

A memoir / non-fiction work on the issue of race, in the context (mainly) of 21st Century Britan. This work certainly highlights the lack of cultural education received in the UK – specifically to do with the injustices and atrocities committed by the British Empire, and the legacy this has left.

A no-bullshit guide to everything that’s wrong with clean eating, fasts, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the logical tricks that leave us buying into them.

The premise: one Ghanian sister sold into slavery, the other married off to a British slaver; we follow the atrocities and legacies of slavery as they trickle down through the generations.

A soothing, cosy book on the magic of getting your shit together, your house in order, and your life how you want it.

A tale of a married couple’s struggle to have children – beautifully told, and set against the background of political unrest in 1980’s Nigeria.

A heartbreaking work about a girl caught in a state of limbo after a life-threatening car accident – great if you need a good cry.

The true story of Olympic Legend, eccentric and all round gentleman Emil Zátopek, struggling with his role in post-war Czechoslovakia. A truly inspiring read.

A concise but thorough account of how Western foreign policy (specifically British and American) has screwed over the Middle East and created a breeding ground for extremism.

The continuation of Homo Sapiens, this work takes a look at humankind as we embark on our voyage into the world of amortality, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

In case you weren’t counting, I’m on 36 to date, which makes me approximately two weeks behind. But fear not, I’m catching up!

In the meantime, please send me your recommendations! I’m always looking for new reads to get my nose into! 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

2017 Goals: Checking in

Given that Summer is officially over, and we’re now heading into the tail end of 2017, I thought it would be a good time to check in on the goals I set for myself at the start of the year. To recap, I ended 2016 with no job and my leg in a cast, so I have to say those goals should be taken with a pinch of salt… But anyway, let’s jump in!

A Half Marathon

Sadly, it’s a no from me. Today actually marks the date of the Vilnius Half Marathon, which I was supposed to be running with the guys from London City Athletics. But unfortunately, work and life got in the way of anything resembling a proper training programme.  To be completely honest, I still haven’t really rehabbed my ankle properly, and I just haven’t been in the position to train with the dedication a big goal race deserves.

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A Sub 1:45 Half Marathon

Again, it’s a no from me.

A Sub-45 10k

I have only raced once this year, and that was just to get me back in the running game after an extended injury break.

Move house!

I’ve finally moved house! Yay!! It’s so nice to be in a new and different environment, with flatmates I really get along with – some of my oldest friends, in fact. I’m still settling in and getting a feel for the area, but I’m in a far better place than I was previously.

Parkrun at least once a month

Absolutely not. Unfortunately, in between the broken ankle, the new job and the parental divorce, I’ve been all over the place (literally) and haven’t been able to commit to getting up early on Saturday mornings for a friendly 5k. As much as I would absolutely love to, it just hasn’t been happening.

Take at least one race vacation

No! Sadly, the race vacation to Vilnius just didn’t happen. Boo.

Read 52 books in 52 weeks of 2017!

This is the one goal I’m actually on top of! We’re 36 weeks into the year, and I’m on 36 books! It’s been great to expand my horizons in all directions, including modern geopolitics, third-wave feminist thinking and of course, some good old fashioned fiction. If anyone would like a rundown of my book list to date, I’d be more than happy to write a post!

 

Do yoga at least once a week

I’ve been doing more stretching, but to be honest yoga is the one area I’ve really failed to achieve in without a decent excuse.

Explore a plant-based diet

Yass!! I’m 100% vegan, and enjoying it thoroughly! There have been a few stumbling blocks such as craving cheese and eggs when I’m sick and/or hormonal, but I’m learning to cope with those. I have to say I don’t feel restricted in the least, and I’m enjoying bringing my friends along for the #plantbased ride.

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Find a way to give back at least once a month

I haven’t been ticking this off per se, but I’ve definitely been finding ways to give back wherever possible, whether that be through shopping at and donating to charity shops; donating money to charity or just practicing kindness as a daily act.

Up my photography game

I think so…! One of my favourite happy coincides is that running and blogging has definitely opened me up more to the creative side of things, photography included. I love nothing more than snapping beautiful sunset shots on my runs, and I’ve even bought myself a book on iPhone photography. It’s a small passion  but it’s growing!

 

Be able to do a single pull up

Okay I can now do an assisted pull up with around half my bodyweight supported. Not too shabby!

Travel!

I used most of my annual leave this year on taking my mum to the south of Spain. She’s been through such a lot with the divorce this year, that I honestly didn’t give it a second thought. And whilst it’s true that I have the post-holiday blues (especially having realised I only have 2 days annual leave left in 2017), I can always travel next year!

The Mantra: Move Your Frame

Yes! It’s so important to me to keep active every day, whether that be simply taking a walk at lunchtime or doing some quick yoga before bedtime. It makes such a difference to my mood, and helps me make the most of my body!

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All in all, it’s been a tricky year so far, goals-wise. Part of me just wants it to be 2018 already so I can start afresh, but also I know it’s silly to wish away time. I want desperately to refocus myself on a new Big Goal, but nothing has struck a chord as yet. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

Tell me, what were your 2017 goals – and how are you getting on with them? 

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa