STRONG NOT SKINNY: HOW TO BE HEALTHY WITHOUT BEING TOO HARD ON YOURSELF

Internet and magazines are full of information about how to get into “shape”, how to lose fat or how to become healthier. It’s all about what you should and shouldn’t eat as well as how you should exercise. In my opinion this advice is too generic to apply for all the people in different age, different metabolisms and different eating preferences.

So, I decided write this blogpost in which I am going to share my views and advice on how women of my age could have a healthy BMI (body mass index) without being too hard on themselves. I am going to share details of the history of my relationship to my body, my metabolism and my current diet and exercise routine. I hope this would bring light to all your minds who struggle to find the right way to start off your lifestyle of health and fitness! 

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My diet has shaped itself throughout the years. I used to be a bit chubby, around 65kg to my 165cm ( 10 stones, 5.4 feet. Now I am 8 stones ) and ever since I was 18 I started thinking and liking the idea of being skinnier but also healthier. I just didn’t understand how to do it. When I was a child, my dad wanted me to do all sorts of sports so I sort of grew to hate it and for a long time exercise didn’t appeal to me. When I was 16 I began studying in this performance arts high school in Helsinki, the capital, and for years to come the weekends were mainly just house parties, later on bars, aka BEER. Beer, snacking, hangover food, you know it. I kept gaining so much weight throughout the years and little did I do to stop it. During the week my meals would be microwave food (my mum didn’t teach me how to cook, cheers mam🤷) or just white pasta or something really unhealthy, easy. Only when I moved to London in the age of 20 I seriously thought “right, this lifestyle is going to stop” and it did.

First and foremost I cut down on beer. After I cut down on beer I cut hangover food cycle and after cutting that cycle I learned to cook properly, to understand what consistent meals were about. Then I even became “pesca-vegan” which means that I cut dairy, meat and chicken etc. entirely but kept eating fish. At this point I understand if some of my vegan readers might get a bit grumpy and feel I’ve got double standards but I have just personally struggled really hard to give up fish. For some people it’s cheese, for me it’s salmon, tuna and shrimps. Taste, yes, but I also haven’t found the equivalent in the veg world that works for me (because of the long list of things that don’t also suit my tummy). I also find that collagen supplements containing fish are the best and cheapest option for me because I’m already spending most of my money avoiding eating other animals and being cruelty free. But more about that later…

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Back to the point. Instead of eating wheat pasta I’ve chosen full wheat pasta, sometimes even gluten free. I love the taste of garlic but it makes me bloat which then makes me then look like I’ve gone back to 10 stone. Mostly garlic just makes me feel awful. Aubergines and beans makes me bloat too but the worst of all is wheat. Cutting back wheat has made me a lot slimmer, happier and more energised. There’s lots of books about how we shouldn’t eat wheat because for some people, especially women, it can cause mood swings, tiredness and even boost depression. I used to suffer from hypothyroidism  , I’ve listed below the symptoms that applied to me using webmd.com.

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Dry hair and hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Greater sensitivity to cold
  • Slow heart rate
  • Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight

So, eating mainly wheat in different forms and lack of exercise just boosted it. This two year process of changing my lifestyle nearly upside down helped my hypothyroidism to get better, and now it’s fully cured. I eat Doritos every now and again – I like the odd Coca Cola too (original as all those preservatives in Diet Coke are worse for your body than sugar, actually) and I have pizza and beer every or every other week. I will do a more detailed post about what I eat, too!

Guys. I’m not saying that I have now fully achieved what I want; I recently joined gym again because I want to be stronger and gain muscle, but I can say I am happy in my body. We make the mistake of comparing ourselves to other women and men without realising that we should all just aim to be within a healthy BMI. If I am honest with you, I resent the darker side of body positivity where people think that being obese is OK. Being obese is not ok, it’s not sexy or beautiful simply because dying is not sexy. Diabetes or cancer is not beautiful. What I’m saying is that normal is beautiful. Curves are sexy. Check out Neva Swartzendruber @ditch__the__diet,  because that’s what I’m on about, that’s what I look up to and wish to see more on social media! (Obviously there are people who suffer from different types of diseases who can’t help their weight-gaining. But you folks know what I mean.)

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I personally exercise 4-5 times a week, after work. 3-4 times a week I do different muscle and weight training; abs, butt, back, biceps, triceps… Then 1-2 times I week I do cardio between 15-30mins. I vary everything because in order to lose weight or gain muscle you need to keep your body surprised. You also need to listen to your body. Push yourself, but don’t make yourself resent working out. Keep going but know when to stop, or to do less today and more tomorrow instead. Focus on your heart rate. I know you want to just blast it on the treadmill but go on the cross trainer instead, do an interval training and keep your eye on that HR. In order to burn fat, you need your heart rate to be 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Again – vary it.

PS. I have recently been accepted to be a brand ambassador for the fitness clothing brand Just Strong. Just Strong’s motto is Strong Not Skinny which is exactly what we should all aim for. I love their clothes, they are so comfortable and so hip. To know what I mean, you can use my discount code NELLIYLI10 to get 10% off of your orders!

PPS. You can do it!!!!

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Highly Sensitive Personality – What does it mean?

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Whistling. Loud plastic bag rustling. Loud laughing. Echo. Someone chewing gum. Rustling. Whistling. Laughing. Eating sounds. Baby crying. Children screaming. Eating. Rustling. Panic.

That’s a start to how someone like me could describe what it feels like to have a highly sensitive personality. There is multiple kinds of sensitivity – on this post I’m breaking mine down into three parts. First of all, I am sensitive even to the slightest of sounds, noises and smells. Especially when I am tired. Walking into the canteen at work with a bunch of people laughing loud or shouting makes me so distressed I could cry (but I’m too embarrassed to do so!). Someone chewing loudly or placing their coffee cup loudly on a saucer repeatedly can result me leaving the room and fragrance department in department stores can make me physically sick. I swap seats on the bus if someone behind me has got a bad breath because boy, do I smell it. But I don’t really tell anyone about this. I cope with it; I have to. It sounds so stupid but it’s huge to me and many, many people.

According to hsperson.com being highly sensitive means

  • Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population–too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.
  • It is innate. In fact, biologists have found it in over 100 species (and probably there are many more) from fruit flies, birds, and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’. To learn more about this, see Research.
  • You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
  • You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.

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So then, the middle bit of HSP is the level emotionality that people similar to me feel. It’s the very deep emotionality. It’s the ability to adapt to someone else’s energy or vibe in order to understand them and match their mood. It’s almost the ability to read someone’s mind or thoughts or simply how they’re feeling by analysing their body language, their movement, even the slightest change in their tone. The emotionality makes me want to make sure no one gets disappointed, that people I care for are happy and pleased. It has taken me a long, long time to learn to put myself forward and say no simply because being too kind doesn’t take you far.  It has resulted me saying no to a lot of people, to a lot of relationships and mistreatments and also me being happier. But HSP means quite a lot of crying, too, because a lot of scenarios feel so bloody overwhelming. I’ve got my own demons that follow me from time to time because I am too deep in my head, analysing people’s behaviour as well as my own.

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The last part of having HSP is social tiredness. Most of the time I can’t be social. It’s exhausting when all I want is to be silent and observe, or withdraw completely, but I have managed to surround myself with people who understand that I don’t like phone calls, at least surprise ones; they need to planned well in advance so I can mentally prepare myself to a longer talk. Don’t get me wrong, I want to speak with people I don’t see often. Sometimes I just need to gain strength to be able to talk. Most of my friendships are based on once-a-week-meetups anyway which suits me perfectly! (Plus with Joe I can be around the clock without feeling exhausted!)

I hope this would raise more awareness regarding Highly Sensitive People and I’m also hoping that people like me could feel comfort knowing that they’re not weird and they are not alone. ❤

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I’M BACK / April

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Hi all my lovelies!

My sincerest apologies for not posting anything for at least a month! I officially moved to York in the end of January and ever since the move been extremely busy socialising, networking and… working…  I’m also missing last year so, so badly!!!!!

Alongside of my day-time job in retail I have been trying to set my business up as a Fashion Photographer and I’m glad to announce that it’s getting there more and more every week. I’ve had the pleasure of becoming friends with makeup artist Sonia Schofield  and working together in shoots. All of April I also had an exhibition in a restaurant called Angel on the Green!

Moving to York hasn’t been without it’s struggles. I’ve had to judge hard who to fully trust in this new city where I sometimes feel I stick out as a sore thumb! I am happy to say that I’ve met so many amazing people already, especially due to the recent York Fashion Week and am looking forward to see what is going to happen in the future.

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Here’s one of the shoots Sonia and I have worked together recently. Absolutely adore these clothes by Meiji Designs! What do you think?

More photos here.

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York Fashion Week =  ❤

The first full Fashion Week happened in York this year and it was absolutely fantastic to be part of it for what I was able to! This city is so full of ambitious and creative people, women especially. Goal for next year is to be even more involved! I even got Joe to come with me to some events (and he loved it! :D)

See what happened here . Part of the photos below are by the amazing Olivia Brabbs

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… And this is what our every day life looks like! ❤

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Posts + subjects coming up next:

How to eat to feel good without being too strict

HS Personality – What does it mean?

How I style 

Hello! 10 Things You Should Know About Me

Veganism in the UK

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Believe it or not, veganism and environmental choices are still an issue in the UK. Why? Well, simply because they’re hardly present. It’s been hard to find vegan options in coffee shops or restaurants (unless a vegan restaurant, obviously) and often you have to go to a special grocery shop to find fully vegan meat substitutes (some quorn products still have egg in them). Here’s some UK consumption statistics for you:

• Over a billion farmed animals in Britain are killed each year in slaughterhouses: over 10 million pigs, over 15 million sheep, 16 million turkeys, 14 million ducks and geese, 975 million broiler chickens, 40 million so-called ‘spent’ hens and over 2.6 million cattle

•  2.2 million chickens are eaten a day

I’m not going to even bother about writing how they slaughter animals in the UK (10 million pigs were slaughtered in the UK in 2012 (9.8 million in 2011) Pigs are stunned and shackled before having the blood vessels in their throat cut (sticking). The animal dies by being bled to death. Pigs are usually stunned by an electric current applied by electrode tongs) but let me just focus on the environmental and health stress here.

 Although the UK isn’t the biggest meat consumers in the world (like China), it still carries out a large environmental stress to the whole planet. In case you didn’t know, processing meat worldwide is the top cause for climate change; it’s worse than pollution caused by cars. Eating meat causes overweight and increases the risk of diabetes and several other diseases.

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I think the longer you stick with it the easier it gets. I took my time transitioning because it is a big commitment and I knew it would be for life, which helped make it less daunting because I learned my options going along without too much pressure – as opposed to finding yourself in a supermarket one day with limited ideas/confidence in your options.

– Christina Summerfield, York Vegans UK

But, here’s the good news. According to Mintel.com  Mintel’s Meat-Free Foods UK Market Report finds that over a quarter (28%) of meat eating Brits have reduced or limited their meat consumption in the last six months* (August 9th, 2017). One in seven (14%) adults say they are interested in limiting or reducing their consumption of meat or poultry in the future, “proving that the meat-free movement is no flash in the pan.”

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The City of York is getting there. When I lived in both Birmingham and London, the struggle was real to find anything vegan or vegan but not over priced. In York, meat replacement products cost little less and more restaurants and coffee shops are taking veganism onboard. In a Facebook group of York Vegans UK 50 people out of 70 thought being vegan in the UK is easy, and the rest somewhat easy. 

I would say it’s schools that need to progress more whether that’s in teachers attitudes towards veganism/vegans and their understanding of the reasons for going vegan or in their lack of lunch time options. – – Also colleagues constantly bring(ing) up meat, blood etc. when you are in the room to taunt you. It does seem that veganism is the one lifestyle that everyone is allowed to mock when they wouldn’t dream of mocking someone for their religion or a different culture. I would say it’s really great in York for vegans, much better than in some Europen capitals! We are very lucky.

– Michelle Vpw, admin of York Vegans UK

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Bison Coffee House and Vintage Store on Heslington Road, York began to sell vegan bagels and toasties starting since New Year. Now they have brought vegan brownies on the menu as well as offer fully vegan samosas. On top of their option of soya milk in your coffee, Cadbury’s chocolate for hot chocolates and mochas is vegan too. Bison Coffee is also in the process of getting compostable take out cups and lids. Their customers are mainly students, but people of all ages have been trying out their vegan options, which is amazing news.

“Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little. A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector. There is a deep reluctance to engage because of the received wisdom that it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.

– Rob Bailey, the leading author of meat consumerism reports

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