Fitness | Post Summer Motivation

Friday, September 30, 2016

'Bikini body' season is over. Alas, all hail sweater weather season! The time of year where all of our woolly, oversized knits make their way to the front of our wardrobes after being tucked away for the best part of a year. The time of year where tight clothing is a thing of the past. My body is able to enter into hibernation mode until next summer and I no longer need to worry about how many rolls my stomach can produce when sat down as they are safely tucked and hidden away behind my oversized, knitted jumper. 

I think it's safe to say that autumn/winter is the time of year when people begin to become complacent and lazy in regards to fitness. Fitness shouldn't have to be about 'bikini body' season. It should be about doing it for yourself. Keeping yourself in shape because being healthy makes you feel good on both the inside and outside. 
Read on to discover how you can beat the winter fitness blues...

nike fitness flatlay motivation gym trainers

Reflect on your progress
Look back at photos of yourself from this past summer. Did you go on holiday this summer? Flick back through your bikini shots, look at how gorgeous your legs looked, how toned your arms were.. If you've spent a summer working hard at the gym do you really want to lose all of that progress you made just because your body won't be on display anymore? When you're healthier, you usually look and feel happier. And health and happiness shouldn't just be restricted to the summer; let those pictures motivate you to keep it up!

Keep a fitness diary
Every time you complete a workout this season keep a diary to log your feelings before and after a gym session. If it made you feel good afterwards, write it down! If you're not a fan of a diary, post a tweet about your successful session. Just make a note somewhere you will be able to look back on when you're feeling sluggish and demotivated to help remind yourself just how much you actually enjoy exercise and staying in good shape.

Bring it indoors
If the bad weather outside is your excuse for not working out then let the workouts come to you. There are plenty of exercise videos on YouTube for you to have a crack at all from the comfort of your own bedroom. Simply plug your computer in and go. One of my personal favourite at home workouts is with the app 'pump up.' The app allows you to select your location whether that be at home, outdoors or even on holiday! The equipment you have available to you and if you have none, no fear! There's a workout for that too. The app demonstrates the exercises giving you something easy to copy and follow. No excuses.

Boost your concentration
Not only does exercise release endorphins which are scientifically proven to make you happier but drinking plenty of water is known to help improve concentration levels. In the summer this is normally quite easy to keep on top of due to the hot weather making you naturally more thirsty. If you're headed back to school/college/work/university this season then it's good practice to keep yourself hydrated and drink water during your lectures and at home when doing homework/revision. Not only is your health being looked after but your mind will be too.

'The Christmas body'
Heard of the 'bikini body'? Well this season sees the comeback of the 'Christmas body.' The run up to Christmas with Halloween, Bonfire Night and many seasonal food events can lead to a much higher indulgence in junk food than any other time of the year. With such delights on offer, you're more prone to weight gain during this time of the year, which is the perfect reason to maintain your fitness this season. You may not actually lose any additional weight but maintaining rather than gaining due to all of your extra food intake this season is seriously worth it. While everyone starts panic rushing to the gym in January you'll have nothing to worry about as you kept on top of things all season. You go gurrrl!

Do it for yourself
Most importantly, stay in shape not for others but for yourself. In the colder seasons, junk food feels far more comforting than a salad bowl but as the saying goes "You are, what you eat." Give your body junk and you'll feel like junk. Give your body goodness and you'll start to feel good on both the inside and out. 

This season, don't let your diet and fitness reflect the miserable weather outside. Stay happy, healthy and allow your smile to part a way between the dark clouds in the sky. 

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Let's Talk Femcare

Monday, September 26, 2016

In association with Veeda

Feminine care and sexual health are hands down two of the most taboo viewed topics in the world of blogging and social media today. Even in day to day life I feel it's an issue which I need to keep discreet. We say "It's my time of the month." or "I'm on.." God forbid if we were to turn around and publicly announce "Sorry I'm feeling a little unwell, I'm on my period."

I was on holiday with a few friends this month and when we arrived one of my male friends told me he couldn't wait to get into the pool. I said to him "If only..." leading to me then awkwardly having to explain to him I was on my period so it wasn't really convenient timing for me. The topic in turn made him feel awkward and he responded with near enough no response "Oh, I don't really know what to say back to that.. sorry." 

It's quite saddening that in society today that even with our friends the topic of female menstruation is still an awkward topic to discuss. Some of my female friends have told me that their biggest fear each month is either leaking in public or the constant worry that their towel/pad is visible through their pants. I now have a confession to make. You see the above photograph? I'm laughing away in a fairly short, white, skort. Well, I was on my period. I embraced all of the cardinal sins of menstruation. I wore white, I wore something tight and short. But instead of letting all the above worries ruin my holiday, I simply embraced it. 

Now we're past the 'why let it affect your day and attire' argument let's move onto ways of keeping our lady areas happy and healthy during this time of the month. I was recently contacted by the team over at Veeda; promoting only 100% natural and organic period towels and tampons. Veeda, translating as a combination of 'Vida' the Latin/Spanish word for 'life' and 'Veda' the Sanskrit word for 'Knowledge'; was an initiative surprisingly set up by two men. After noticing their female friends struggle to find many natural sanitation options and those that were available, were expensive; this led the two men to set out and change that. 

Another confession. Tampons have never really been my best friend. I'm fairly forgetful and always have the worry that I'll forget it's there and then it would have been left in too long and with all the fears of Toxic Shock Syndrome, beginning my periods at the age of 13 I think I just scared myself away from the mere thought of tampons. This however, is where Veeda are able to reassure nervous girls and women out there like me. 

Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by a bacterial infection which can attack the major organs. Resulting in kidney failure, collapse of the lungs and can even run the risk of cardiac arrest. Research has shown that almost 50% of all occurrences are associated with high-absorbency tampon use. Even though medical science and knowledge of such diseases has improved massively within the past couple of decades, the risks are still just as high as they were in the 1980's. Viscose rayon found in conventional tampons has been proven to promote toxin productions which can ultimately lead to TSS. In today's society, 1 in 100 women shall be affected by the disease. 

Using only natural ingredients, all Veeda products including tampons*, towelsand liners are free from chemicals, wood, synthetic fibres, additives and pesticides which make all 3 options the purest and most hypoallergenic products available to you on the feminine health market today. Additionally helping to reduce the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Everyday tampons which have made household names in our homes, are in fact made from blends of bleached cotton and/or synthetic products which may contain: Dioxins from the bleaching process, pesticide and herbicide residues, synthetic chemicals, artificial fragrances and dyes. All contributing towards a higher risk against TSS. 

Research has highlighted that there has never been a case of TSS when using 100% cotton tampons. And this is just why Veeda are promoting the education of all young girls and women to be aware of the importance of feminine care. And not only do Veeda tampons consider the importance of all natural ingredients but they consider the importance of comfort too. This is why the Veeda tampon is designed to expand width wise to fit comfortably to your shape and seal in your flow. Additionally a thinner string is used to avoid leaks.

Through using the towels and tampons myself, I am able to confirm that Veeda truly do place comfort and care at the heart of their products. The feel of the organic cotton in both the towels and tampons truly does feel softer and of a higher quality than the leading high street brand. As I mentioned above, I wore a short, white skirt and I did not suffer with any leaks nor visible panty line. If you're a woman with a heavier flow then have no fear, Veeda provide a colour coded absorbency chart in line with their tampons/towels to help make you aware of which product is right for you:

Absorbency of 0g-6g

Absorbency of 6g-9g

Absorbency of 9g-12g

Absorbency of 12g-15g

When it comes to disposal, Veeda have even considered the importance of biodegradable packaging. The towels and liners and made from a form of Biofilm packaging which breaks down in 6-12 months, making this much more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, the tampons themselves are 100% biodegradable making this a trio of products that are truly unstoppable both inside and out. 

To discover more about the brand including their mission, advice on tampon application and prices check out: 
Veeda tampons and towels are available for purchase in Boots stores nationwide.

Have you ever used organic femcare before?! Help to spread the message of femcare positivity in the comments below and let's educate a nation!post signature

DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored. Any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been sent to me for review. All opinions however are my own.

My First Flying Experience

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hello, my name is Toni and I am 19 years old. Almost 20, in fact. And as hard as it may be to believe, I really did only experience my first ever flight this past month. And this is that story, of my very first experience...

It was around this time that I remember shuffling into a mini bus with my group of friends as we were ready to depart for the airport. The motorway journey to the airport flew by quite fast and with all my friends having flown before, they were undoubtedly excited and prepared for what to expect. I, however was freaking out on the inside. My ears were already popping on the motorway and so I dreaded how they would react against both the air and cabin pressure of a plane. 

Upon arrival at the airport, we could see some planes ready and waiting in the terminals in the distance. My first words were "They aren't as big as I imagined them to be. I'm quite disappointed." I felt quite silly for saying this once I became up close and personal with them a mere three hours later. 

Check in time.
Oh boy. This was a long and dreary process. Even though our flight was still over 2 hours away, the queue was certainly a lot bigger than what I imagined it to be. Half an hour later and once my bags were finally checked in, it was time to head on down to airport security. I actually found this to be quite a daunting process. Having to remove my hat, jacket, empty out my bag and place my case on the hold made me feel like some kind of prisoner! But hey, it's all part of the process! Finally, after putting all of my items back on I was able to enter in the world of Duty Free! Clearly every beauty blogger's favourite part about the airport right?! 

World Duty Free
I didn't actually end up purchasing anything in the end but just being able to look around and explore all that was on offer was quite exciting. Instead I treated myself to a Costa, which actually ended up being free as I had enough points on my card to redeem for a strawberry and cream cooler. By this time I was extremely tired as we waited on for our flight gate to be announced as open. Then the race to queue was on! 

This is where I began to feel like I was experiencing rather a luxury for my first flight as I hovered over to the priority boarding queue. Being able to board the plane faster and skip the regular customer queue was certainly a real blessing and the extra leg room on the plane itself was divine. If you're taking a long haul flight anytime soon I'd seriously recommend paying the little extra for this if you can, it's better to be comfortable than cramped! 

Take off.
I was terrified. I'm not even scared of heights but I just had no idea what to expect and I was so scared of the pressure build up I was about to experience on my ears. All I can say, is thank heavens my flight was only 2 and a half hours long because little did I know how sensitive my ears were actually going to be to cabin pressure. I had forgotten to bring some boiled sweets with me which was a serious mistake. My lack of swallowing made it much more difficult for my ears to pop and so by the end of the flight the build up of pressure on my ears was excruciatingly painful. I was in a serious amount of discomfort. 
A young couple sat opposite me noticed this and offered me a polo which was so lovely of them. I thanked them a lot when I got off of the flight and explained it had been my first time flying, the girl offered me some tips including making myself yawn which definitely helped a lot on my flight home. So to the young couple visiting Barcelona on the 7th September, shoutout to you! 

Besides the discomfort in my ears, the view was in incredible. I was lucky enough to have had a window seat on both my outbound and inbound flights. My first flight, as it was a morning flight, meant I was able to see the sunrise through the clouds which is a moment I will never forget. The blend of pink and golden orange tones bursting through the fluffy, white clouds was truly magical. And as clichè as it is, clouds really do look like marshmallows up close. Passing over the Spanish mountains was also another beautiful moment, the clouds appeared to rest perfectly above the cliff faces. I was simply in awe the whole time. 

Once I had landed in Barcelona, my ears were deaf for the next 24 hours. Thankfully, not completely. It was very similar to having water blocked in your ears after swimming. As my ears struggled to pop on the flight I had to pay the price for the rest of the day. 

The flight returning home despite my extra efforts still had its fair share of problems. Unfortunately, the plane was delayed for 3 hours due to an excessive amount of air traffic in Barcelona and further down the skyline in France. In other words, too many planes were in the sky at once and therefore our flight had to take a back seat until the skies were clear. If I had been waiting in the airport it wouldn't have been so bad, at least then I would have been able to explore the shops. But unfortunately for me I was stuck on the plane for 3 whole hours. Thankfully me and my friends had a pack of cards to help pass the time!
This time I was sure to have a packet of sweets on hand for the flight. Werther's Originals incase you were wondering! I yawned as often as I could and I had a drink too. Take off and the duration of the flight was definitely less painful than my outbound flight. However, the last 20 minutes of the flight still affected my ears in the worst way possible and of course, I was left being semi deaf.. again. 

And that was my first time flying. There were ups and downs with incredible views and memories that I'll never forget. I hope you enjoyed reading my little story and if you were old enough to remember your first flight I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below! 
If you have any tips on how to make my ears in a little less discomfort during a flight please be sure to leave that advice below too!
Until next time,

What's your favourite part about flying?!post signature

DIY Polaroid Notice Board

Monday, September 19, 2016

In association with Ocean Finance & John Lewis

This summer, John Lewis and Ocean Finance challenged me to get snap happy and save memories of the world around me using the power of the polaroid. With back to school season in full swing I decided to add a personal touch to this DIY cork board, showcasing a few of my memories from summer 2016 whilst moving forward into the latter part of this year. Want one for your own office?! Then here's what you need to do:

First off, you'll need a cork board. These are usually fairly easy to find and are quite cheap too. Hobbycraft currently have a selection on sale for just £2.50!! Take your cork board and wrap around one layer of tissue paper in the colour of choice. I've chosen blue as it's a colour that works quite well all year round and really let the colours of my polaroids 'pop'. 
To design the polaroid photo wall you'll need your polaroids (of course!), string, wooden pegs and some tape to keep everything in place. Simply measure out a couple widths of string, long enough to reach the back of your cork board, attach to the two back corners of the board and keep in place with a few pieces of tape. Once this is secure, attach your polaroids to the string using wooden pegs. I purchased a set with a diamante finish for an uber simple yet effective added touch. To finish, simply decorate with stickers of your choice and use pins to attach any to do lists or reminders for yourself each week!

I'm not a DIY queen in the slightest and so this is such an easy yet cute way of vamping up your office noticeboard. If you do recreate this please feel free to tweet me any photos of your designs @ClarkeCouture  or use the hashtag '#toocouture4school'. 

A polaroid camera is something that has been on my wish list for the longest time. As an avid photography buff, this quirky and updated vintage find is something that everyone should own for holiday snaps and days out alike. You're able to take a moment, capture and print it all within seconds. It's rather quite magical to watch the film develop before your eyes. 

The FujiFilm Instax Mini 8* is available to purchase from John Lewis for just £64.95 which features a 2 year guarantee, 10 shots of film, one set of batteries and a hand strap. This truly is a bargain price to pay for memories which are certainly worth saving. 
When setting up the camera simply slot the batteries into the holder, open the film pack and place into the larger holder at the back of the camera. Once this is slotted in correctly do not open again until you have used up all of the 10 shots of film otherwise the film may become over exposed to light leading to damage and your prints producing plain white shots. 
The camera itself is extremely easy to use, simply push in the panel button by the side of the lens to switch the camera on. The lens settings shall then light up orange, highlighting the recommended setting dependant on the lighting within your location. This added feature to the camera makes it super easy to produce high quality shots time and time again. 
Visiting Barcelona this month was believe it or not my first ever holiday abroad and being able to capture these moments forever in time on my polaroid made my trip a whole lot more memorable. From now on, I'll be sure to always have my polaroid on hand for any future trips and adventures.

Do you own a polaroid? Where's the craziest place you've taken some snaps?!
Until next time,

Shake it like a polaroid picture!
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DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored. Any products which have been sent to me for review have been marked with an asterisk (*). All opinions however, are my own. 

Make-Up For On The Go

Monday, September 5, 2016

When searching for beauty products, the ultimate goal is to discover something that not only works well but lasts well too. Staying power is super important to me as a consumer. It would be completely pointless to spend £50 on a foundation that by midday has become patchy and melted halfway down my face. For those unfortunate incidents where your make-up is looking a little lack lustre by 4pm, these are the products that have got you covered...

Beginning with the product which is the most likely to wear off throughout the day: Lipstick. Our lips are faced with a string of dilemmas each day; eating, drinking, kissing... maybe? For top ups on the go use NARS satin lip pencil, its velvety feel and precision applicator make this the perfect substitute for quickly adding some colour back into your lips. For a cheaper alternative try Maybelline baby lips. Packed with moisture and a fairly decent pigment too, you simply cannot go wrong. 

When it comes to topping up your highlight, cream products are the way to go. There's no need for a brush or a beauty blender as you can simply dab onto the skin using your fingers. Benefit high beam features a nail polish-esque applicator, making this super convenient to simply dab on, blend and go. Alternatively the Topshop glow cream's convenient size makes this handbag friendly and cheaper on your belt. Not to mention it adds the prettiest pink iridescent glow to the face. 

Now we've got our glow back on, it's time to rejuvenate those puffy under eyes. Concealers with doe foot applicators are perfect for on the go touch ups. My personal favourites are the Urban Decay naked and Collection lasting perfection. Both options are perfect for lifting and brightening the under eye area. Simply use the applicator to swipe under the eyes and gently blend in with your fingers.
Of course, if you've re-applied your concealer, you're going to need to set it back into place. Unfortunately, an easy to blend liquid infused product is just not going to work here but thankfully that's where powders with built in brushes come in. I will admit, I'm not the biggest fan of brushes included with face compacts. They shed, a lot. But there is one that makes the exception. Benefit porefessional agent zero shine in its travel friendly tube features a soft brush at one end and a capped lid to easily dispense a drop of the product into and then dab onto the face; preventing excess use and product wastage. This powder adds a light to medium coverage to the skin as well as blurring pores and mattifying the skin. It's a true winner for travelling in my eyes. 

When it comes to the face, there's one part which can really make or break your make-up look: The brows. They really do frame the face and bring your entire look together. For those disheartening times when you're travelling abroad or doing a lot of errands in a day and your brows have slid halfway down your lids, you need a quick fix. Benefit gimme brow is my ultimate go to for taming my brows and putting them back into the place whilst additionally adding texture, colour and volume. If you have a little bit more time on your hands however, then Benefit ka-brow will be your brow travelling best friend. Featuring a brush within the handle, this makes this product perfect for touch ups on the go. Simply dip the brush into the pot and gently glide the cream formula onto the brows to shape, fill and define.

And if like me you tend to suffer with dry skin, by midday your foundation has decided to sink into all of the cracks and fine lines of your skin. Thankfully, there's a quick on the go solution for that too! I like to carry a travel sized version of the MAC Fix+ to quickly add some moisture and life back into my face with just a couple of sprays. It's like magic. 
Are you more of an oily skin sufferer? Then make your ultimate hand bag essential Benefit license to blot, a mattifying balm stick designed to blur the appearance of pores and visibly reduce sweat and oil build up upon the skin. 

What are your must have on the go beauty essentials?!
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Why It's Okay To Not Live In Student Halls

Friday, September 2, 2016

September marks the beginning of my second year at university. When I get asked which university I'm attending, people often find it odd that I stayed in my hometown. University for many is a time to spread your wings and leave the nest as you begin to develop your independence and venture out into the adult world. Which I can completely understand. But it's when people tell me that because I am living at home that must mean that I'm missing out on the complete university experience. And so, if like me you are beginning university this month and have chosen to stay at home; this is why it's okay not to live in student halls...

Making friends
The thing people tell me the most that I'm missing out on by staying at home is making new friendships. But I've found that this isn't necessarily true. Like most schools and colleges, universities tend to start the year with something known as an 'ice breaker'. You'll typically be told to share to the class your name and a little fact about yourself to help everyone get to know each other better. From this you'll begin to learn a little more about everyone's individual interests and meet people which you share common ground with. You'll be sure to go from the two shy kids on the front desk to the ones giggling every lesson in the back corner in no time.

Aside from nervous first day introductions, universities tend to offer a wide range of clubs and activities for you to partake in throughout the year if you so wish. These extra curricular activities are such a great way to meet likeminded individuals and friends for life.

The freshers experience
Undoubtedly the biggest thing about starting university is of course, the one and only 'fresher's week'.  And if you aren't living in halls how could you possibly experience this to its fullest?! For around the first month or so of university, leaflets are handed to you from left, right and centre as you enter its gates each morning; by your fellow students trying to make themselves some extra, much needed cash. Each leaflet typically promotes an upcoming club night aimed at freshers and so, have no fear.. Being out of halls doesn't mean you'll be out of the loop of parties too! 
I personally am not the biggest of drinkers either, 9 times out of 10 I'd rather choose a cosy night in with a hot chocolate and films instead of a night on the town and so for me, rather than viewing it as missing out on the experience; I'm saving so much more money instead!

And speaking of money, when I did the maths it's safe to say that my finances would be pretty dire if I had chosen to move into university accommodation. Having to pay for my own rent, food, toiletries, university essentials and a social life on top of all of that... I've no idea how you students survive! Don't get me wrong, I contribute to my upkeep at home but I'm spending no way near as much as I would be if I was in halls! I've known some individuals (naming no names, of course!) that have been lucky to enough to have their parents offer to pay their rent and so they have the entirety of their student loan to spend freely as they wish. I however, was not in this kind of position.
If you realistically think your finances would struggle by moving into university accommodation, then seriously do not take the risk. It's better to be safe than sorry.

The peace and quiet
One of the biggest off puts for me about university was 100% the noise. I need my cup of coffee and my sanity in my quiet office at home to ensure I get my work done. A house full of rowdy students was just not the environment I could have been in and achieved the grades that I did during my first year. I didn't just sign up to university to party, I wanted to work hard and achieve the best that I possibly could. With the peer pressure of being asked to venture out most nights, the stress of living in a messy apartment and my overall inability to concentrate surrounded by others. I would have inevitably failed.

No matter where you choose to spend your university experience, make sure that it's the right thing for you. Everything happens for a reason and you'll no doubt enjoy an experience that is catered to you. I know some people that are living at home and travel an hour by train to make it into university each morning but I also know others living in halls that are having the time of their lives. Everyone is different and you'll fit right into university one way or another.
I hope that this post reassured you somewhat if you're about to begin university and have chosen to stay at home. University is a daunting experience for all but just remember that everyone is all in the same boat as you and you will make friends. 
2016 Freshers: Good luck, stay safe and have lots and lots of fun.
Until next time,

Are you headed to university this month?!  
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