On Having a Diverse Music Taste

Have you ever wanted to listen to a playlist that skips from heavy metal to broadway musicals and back to grime? Well, you’ve come to the right place…

music taste

Hello lovely people!

I’ve been struggling to decide what to write about when it comes to music, because I consider it one of the most important parts of my personality. Seriously, I think it’s up there with being Northern (which is apparently a defining trait when your uni friends are all from Eastern Europe or the South) and a linguist (literally what I do day in day out). I’ve been going to gigs since I was 13, can only give directions across Newcastle using venues, and can almost always be seen walking across Durham engrossed in whatever’s coming through my headphones that day.

Perhaps the best way to start is to introduce you to my taste. 8 years of band shirts will tell you I’m into the alternative side of things, but there’s a lot more to what I listen to nowadays than My Chemical Romance (perhaps one day I’ll talk about my emo phase… and my rap phase… and my metal phase…I’m very phasey). I try and keep up with what’s new across all genres, and as a result have 8 different genre playlists on Spotify, because I am definitely that gal that organises her music library in every way possible.

“remember when I had a rap phase?”

A couple of years ago I went through a massive Kanye West phase, and I’m still ashamed of myself. Thankfully, I have learned that rap is not only concentrated around problematic Trump supporters, but is also filled with some gems. I mainly love rap for it’s social commentary, something which is growing in the UK especially with the rise of grime.

My Top 3: Childish Gambino, Stormzy, Kendrick Lamar

“the heaviest of metal”

I take my role as someone who doesn’t look like a metalhead but listens to lots of heavy bands very seriously. Whilst I now have a few tattoos, blue hair and some ripped jeans, I’d still fit in more at a Courteeners gig than in the middle of an Avenged Sevenfold pit. Metal is such a diverse genre though; I love every single part of it. And for the record; metalheads are the nicest people on the planet, true fact.

My Top 5: A Day to Remember, Enter Shikari, Marmozets, Metallica, Tremonti

“gay shit”

Many people find it very entertaining when they find that I listen to Broadway musicals. When you think about it though, it makes sense. I’m bi, very political and love a good singalong.

My Top 3: Rent, Hamilton, The Book of Mormon

“pop???? I don’t know her”

In the last year or so pop music has wormed it’s way into my library, as I become less of a dick about only listening to songs with guitars in. A lot of it is Latino, true, but I’ve also got some English bops in there. Also, I love badass feminist pop anthems more than anything in the world.

My Top 5: Lorde, Stromae, Everything Everything, George Ezra, Melendi

“GUITARSSSSSS (rock)”

Obviously, general rock takes a very large slice of the pie. I could go on for days about countless bands, but I want to focus on how genuinely diverse rock music is. Sure, you can narrow it down, but if you think about it the spectrum goes right from Southern American rock focusing on biblical imagery to political punks. I’ve been listening to rock since I listened to Evanescence & Foo Fighters on my Dad’s playlists as a kid, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

My Top 3: Alter Bridge, Twin Atlantic, Halestorm

“pop punk isn’t dead mom”

I’m 19 years old and still unashamedly pop-punk. I recently started listening to the bands I used to love again, and I was taken right back to being 14. I mean, I have an All Time Low tattoo for christ’s sake. All joking aside, this is the genre that’s been the most important throughout my teenage years, and I’ll always love it for that.

My Top 5: All Time Low, Moose Blood, Dead! (RIP), Neck Deep, Tonight Alive

“indie trash”

Finally, indie. This is something else that’s fairly new to me by all accounts, as a result of the combination of listening to too much Radio X and being introduced to friends’ music at uni. Indie is feel good, bright, and happy; I love it.

My Top 5: Courteeners, Nothing But Thieves, Peace, We Are Scientists, The Wombats

 

I feel like we’re a little more acquainted musically now. In summary, I’ll listen to just about anything once, and probably enjoy it too. What are your guilty pleasure genres?

 

-Megan, listening to classic pop punk

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University 101; My Freshers Week Story

Hello lovely people!

I’m back in Durham, I’ve rebuilt my pasta stocks and town is beginning to fill up with returning students –  it must be the start of a new term. Those of you heading to university for the first time will be eagerly anticipating Freshers Week, probably feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension. The internet is filled with tips and tricks about how to get the most out of the week, so I thought instead of repeating that advice I’d talk about my experience in hopes that I can give you some peace of mind that it’s all going to be okay.

freshers

Every good story starts with an introduction, so here’s some context to my time as a fresher. I study Modern Languages at Durham University, and my freshers week was in October 2017. Freshers Week at Durham is a little different, as it’s a collegiate university, so most of the events are organised by the college JCR (think student body committee). I’m a student at St Cuthbert’s Society and lived in self-catered halls in first year.

Move-In Day

I arrived in Durham with my parents and then boyfriend who had come to help me move in, and I was terrified. After getting my keys and unpacking I completely broke down on my poor boyfriend, as even though I could not be more excited to start my degree I was very worried about making friends and settling in. But, after everyone left, I picked myself up and told myself it was going to be okay, and it really was!

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My room on day 1 looks so bare compared to how it was at the end!

My favourite story from that day is how I met my lovely Welsh idiot Ffion. She totally catfished me. I was in my flat corridor, when a random girl just turned to me and said “Hey, I know you”. I was extremely confused because I didn’t recognise this person at all. Until she said “yeah I know, I really don’t look like my Facebook profile picture”. Turns out we’d been talking for weeks beforehand after meeting on our college Facebook group chat! We continued bonding instantly, and Ffi became the extrovert I attatched myself to for the whole of first year.

I met the rest of my flat pretty quickly. We were 6 girls of 6 different nationalities, which has always been our little claim to fame. I bonded with my now college wife (more on that someday) Oana because she was wearing a My Chemical Romance t-shirt, and my American buddy Anna because I was belting out Hamilton far too loudly with the door open. You really do make friends in the most random of ways in freshers!

College Events

Each night throughout freshers my college organised a night out and a more chilled night. I went out I think 3 times; to a white t-shirt party (think signing shirts), a subject social and a space party. They were okay, but not really my thing, as I’m pretty uncomfortable going clubbing when it’s with people I don’t know.

 

 

Our white t-shirt party was the first event I went to, and took place in our lovely (and ridiculously cheap) college bar. That was the night when I met my now housemate Callum (you got your shoutout, do I get a pint in return now?). At that point I obviously didn’t know the bar has a card limit, so I ended up buying drinks for myself, Ffion and Callum when we’d only known each other for all of 5 minutes. I’m pretty sure we bonded over music, which makes a lot of sense considering at every party we have now it’s us two who dictate the music.

Durham being Durham, we also had a formal and matriculation that week. It was the first and last formal I left sober, and I’m pretty sure I was hungover throughout the entire matriculation ceremony (that’s the fancy one in the cathedral that makes us officially Durham students). It was also absolutely pouring down on matriculation day, meaning I had my first experience navigating wet cobbles in heels. There’s a reason why you never see me in my formal pictures with heels on anymore!

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Can’t get over how different I look just one year ago! (I’m on the far left)

 

 

That time I cut my finger…

This is the main story I have from freshers week, and the one which still gets told at almost every house party. I cut my finger on a potato peeler whilst washing up, and then didn’t stop bleeding for 2 hours. 2 HOURS! The flat had me bandaged up with my arm above my head for most of that 2 hours, as the porters were largely unhelpful and basically left us to deal with it. Obviously I did eventually stop bleeding, but it was a pretty embarrassing bonding experience with my flat. Pretty sure I didn’t go out that night…

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Final feelings

Freshers week was weird. You’re thrown into a new city with a bunch of people you don’t know, away from everything that’s familiar to you. You spend a week introducing yourself time and time again and having to be up for social events 24/7, something that doesn’t quite work for my introversion. I have some good memories from the week, but I also spent a lot of time sleeping and hiding from the world.

My main piece of advice is not to put too much pressure on freshers week. Yes, if you spend the whole week hiding in your room you probably won’t get much out of it. But, by the same token, if you’re not into going out and partying all the time you shouldn’t have to. Seek out chilled events and chat with people in the canteen instead. Freshers isn’t a universal experience and should fit whatever you’re into, so have a good time!

 

-Megan, listening to Badflower (tiny band, would reccomend!)

 

 

 

 

A Day in York, England

Hello lovely people!

My travel posts have been few and far between recently, because as I said in the August Edit, I just haven’t been anywhere. But eventually sitting inside your house and doing nothing all day gets really dull, so myself and my friend decided to take a trip to York a couple of weeks ago. This is what we got up to!

york

We arrived in York at around 11am, after a couple of hours of driving and a shuttle bus. I don’t usually opt for park & ride schemes as I find them a little cumbersome, but this one was too cheap to say no to in comparison to the extortionate city centre parking prices. I know you all love a good parking-based money saving tip, that’s what you came to this blog for right?

York is much like Durham. It has a cathedral, cobbled streets and a river running through it, so I felt very at home. More importantly, its traditional vibe means the city has absolutely beautiful architecture. It’s definitely one to just wander around and see what you can find, whether that be the ancient city walls or pretty side streets. The big attraction of the city however is York Minster, an extremely impressive looking building. We didn’t pay to enter the Minster, but it’s worth walking into the area before the box office to check out some of the stained glass windows, which are just stunning!

 

I wish I’d had more time to check out the city’s coffee shops, as there were some awesome looking espresso bars and places with locally roasted beans. I’m a bit of a coffee nerd, it has to be said. We did make time for lunch however, at the cafe attached to the Lawrance Apart-Hotel. It’s vibe was a little more corporate than I tend to prefer, but the prices were surprisingly acceptable and the staff very friendly! I had a mozzarella, pesto and tomato panini (vegetarian cafe staple), while Thomas opted for a bacon sandwich, which was commended for it’s value for money!

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I took a picture of my food! Am I a real blogger now?

Our main love in York however was the bookshops – God bless my bank account. The city is full of amazing second-hand bookshops which have books on everything from the history of Unilever (one of Thomas’ choices) to the specifics of what the communists were up to in Paris during the second world war written in French (no prizes for guessing that was one of my purchases). We spent a good couple of hours wandering around these places and uncovering some real gems. I’d highly reccomend Ken Spelman Bookseller for their second-hand stuff and Minster Gate Bookshop for their bargain basement (£3/4 for brand new novels? Yes please!).

 

It’s not just bookshops that York is great for though, it’s the shops in general. If you shy away from the high street you’ll come across some really quirky independent places with really friendly staff. Of course The Shambles is included in this; York’s famously narrow medieval street which is lined with some of the most fabulous smelling food shops ever! Just off The Shambles there’s also a lovely market which was again nice to wander around.

 

In conclusion if you like walking around and looking at pretty things, York is for you. For the bookshops and cafes alone I’ll definitely be making a return very soon – it’s so worth the trip!

-Megan, listening to…. actually nothing for once – THIS IS A FIRST!

 

 

 

University 101; Money Tips for the Broke Student

Hello lovely people!

It’s a running joke within my friendship group that I am the “Spreadsheet Queen”. Seriously, I have an Excel doc for everything, whether that be my annual finances or our house dream to buy a full Guitar Hero set up (definitely not procrastination during summative season or anything…). Armed with my spreadsheets, excessive budgeting and savvy spending I’m about to give you some awesome tips for how to save money as a student.

uni 1010

1. Budget as if your life depends on it

For most of us, university is the first time we have to budget just to live. Whenever I budgeted pre-university it was because I was saving up for things like my first car, but at uni all I’m saving for is the really fancy brand of toilet paper. I like to set aside a couple of hours at the start of the year to lay out all the money I have coming in and all the money that automatically goes out on things like rent, bills and food. That way you can work out what you have left each month for pints and pitchers. It’s important to log everything you spend so that you can keep on track, and review the budget every month and term.

2. Shop smart

If you go to the nearest supermarket to do your weekly shop chances are you’re going to be paying through the roof for it, especially if you’re in a city-centre (I’m looking at you Tesco Metro…). Take time to find the cheaper places. For me, that’s doing the bulk of my shopping in Aldi and heading to a local fruit & veg shop for the extras (shoutout to the one on North Road in Durham, would highly reccomend!). By doing this I rarely spend more than £20 a week on food, meaning more beer money.

3. Meal prep for days

A staple of every student house is the Tupperware cupboard. Your freezer should be rammed with boxes at all times, because what’s the point in cooking only one portion of a meal? It works out so much cheaper, not to mention quicker, if you bulk-cook in advance. This also means ordering a Chinese is much less appealing, at least most of the time.

4. Pre-drink hard

If you’re alcoholically inclined like most of us, predrinks is your friend. Unless your local is as cheap as mine (£2.30 a pint!! I stan The Swan) it’s almost always cheaper to pick up a bottle of spirit and make it last for the week’s nights out than drinking in bars or pubs. An added bonus is that you get to pick the playlist and can start the night in pyjamas; it’s a no brainer.

5. Packed lunches are for the cool kids

If you have a long day of lectures or heavy study day planned make sure you’ve brought your sandwiches with you. This avoids paying the often hefty prices charged in uni cafes, and is often the healthier approach too. During exam season this year me and my friends set off to the library with a coffee in hand too to avoid the lure of Starbucks on the way (then ruined it by going to the pub on the way home; we tried).

6. Don’t forget to save

Eventually, your phone is going to break, your car insurance will need to be renewed or your trainers will fall apart. Just because you’re at university it doesn’t mean that you don’t need emergency money, in fact you probably need it more than ever. Even if this means a little bit of your loan put aside each month or saving a portion of any Christmas/birthday money, it has to be done.

7. If you need it, get a part-time job

I’ve been working pretty much since it was legal for me to do so, meaning not having a term-time job in first year was a really odd feeling. I topped up my loan over holidays however, returning to 30-40 hours of full-time work each time I got a break from university. This approach works for some, others might prefer to work one day a week alongside studying. It’s important to decide early if you need to work, and how you’re going to fit it around university if you do need the money.

8. You do not need brand new stuff, however much capitalism is trying to make you think so

This goes for clothes, uni books, plates and so much more. University reading lists can be long, and if you pick them all up from a bookshop you could end up spending hundreds (which could be spent on more pints). My favourite formal dress was £3.50 from a charity shop, my favourite skirt was £2. You’re also living more ethically this way too, and saving the planet is the coolest thing you can do.

 

Follow these tips and you too can just about avoid being in your overdraft. People often ask me how I afford to go travelling and to gigs so much as a student, and this is part of the reason why. I’ve always been a saver, so uni is no exception.

-Megan, listening to the Daily Mix Spotify has somehow generated entirely in French for me (do I admit now or later that I adore trashy Europop)

My Experience At Truck Festival 2018

Hello lovely people!

Around a month ago I made a 350 mile journey down to Poole (yes, I drove 700 miles on my own, yes I am mad) to visit some of my travelling team, aka the legends who visited Berlin, Prague and Budapest with me. After a few days of beaches, pub grub and a Spoons night, we made the trip to Hill Farm in Oxfordshire for a little festival called Truck. Here’s the lowdown on a weekend of bands, beer and brilliant times.

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Thursday

After arriving at the campsite, complaining a lot about how difficult it is to carry 22 cans across a field in 25 degree heat and fighting over putting the tent up, we were set for the weekend. Our first band was Jaws. I was surprised at how little I actually knew of their music, but they were awesome nonetheless. They have the perfect balance between chilled songs and more upbeat stuff, meaning they were an ideal setup for Peace, who were the main reason I pushed for Thursday entry. As you’ll know if you’ve read my post on 2018 releases, their new album is a favourite for me, so I was excited to see them play a lot of tracks from that. The set was made for dancing, and weirdly, even moshing! I was surprised that some of the best pits of the weekend came from an indie band, yet the feel-good energy carried those of us used to heavier stuff.

 

Friday

Friday was a chilled start. I wandered around the festival site a little, and caught a couple of awesome smaller bands called Mint and Magique, because everyone needs a break from drinking every now and again. The music really started with Little Comets who I really need to listen to a bit more, considering they hail from Newcastle. After a nice little set we waited around for what I really wanted to see on Friday – Circa Waves.

I’ve loved Circa Waves since I saw them at Leeds in 2015; they are the ultimate feel-good summer band. Perhaps what I loved more though was their heavier stuff from the second album; they’re starting to find a new identity and you can tell it fits so well with their stage presence. I found myself in another moshpit (what can you do?) and loved every second of how high-energy it was. We stuck around at the main stage for Coasts, another band whose music is made for dancing.

By the time Moose Blood’s set rolled around it was absolutely pouring down. I was drenched, but I couldn’t have cared less. MB are a very important band for me, as they’re the music I’ve turned to when life has gone sour for the last few years. There was no better feeling than being truly and genuinely happy listening to them with some of my favourite people in the world; I’m pretty sure I was beaming the whole set. I even converted another friend to the lovely world of pop punk moshpits, which were as always filled with energy.

We finished the night with Friendly Fires, Friday’s headliner. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of their music, so I left early in favour of avoiding the rain. We ventured back out to a disco tent after a lot of few beers later on, which was surprisingly enjoyable!

 

Saturday

I woke up feeling a little worse for wear on the Saturday, which caused the start of many morning naps for the rest of the weekend, oops! After sleeping off the hangover we ventured out to The Nest to watch Lady Bird; a Slaves-esque up-and-coming Kent punk duo. These guys get the award for most energy of the weekend, as considering it was only 2pm in the afternoon they were fully riled up and powering through a big set. Afterwards I popped into The Barn to see The RPMs, a tiny band I saw supporting We Are Scientists last year. This might sound a bit patronising, but it’s so nice to see them finding their feet within music. Last time I saw them they seemed very young and played mostly acoustic stuff, whereas now they have a definite confident stage presence.

Most of Saturday however was spent at the main stage. My smaller artist highlight of the day was definitely Tom Walker. Armed with a guitar and small backing band he really captivated the crowd, with one of my favourite new voices of 2018. I’d even argue he performed better than the much bigger Jake Bugg, who I’m decidedly not a huge fan of. I find Jake Bugg very overrated, as his performance had no real charisma or power to it for me.

Everything Everything were the most confusing set of the weekend. I didn’t really know them at the time, and upon listening to their very odd lyrics I was nothing but baffled. I also had to stand through an hour of watching 15 year olds try and pit to music that just isn’t designed for pits, and after 5 minutes of circles collapsing in on themselves being amusing it just got plain annoying. I will admit however that now I love this band; I just didn’t give them a chance at Truck.

George Ezra closed the night, and I was pleasantly surprised. I shouldn’t like him at all, as he’s textbook pandering pop artist trying to look like the boy-next-door. The difference is that with George Ezra it feels completely genuine. He has an amazing voice and has written some total bangers. I also enjoyed how he interspersed the songs with stories about how and why and where he’d wrote them, which was a lovely personal touch. The crowd was very family-oriented too, which is always lovely to see.

 

Sunday

Sunday began by popping out at midday to watch the Oxford Symphony Orchestra, who played everything from your usual classical to Meatloaf and Abba. Classical music is my guilty pleasure, and so despite the absurdness of an orchestra on the same stage as the Courteeners, this was a great start to the day.

It was a quiet day, which meant by the time The Amazons rolled around I was actually quite drunk as a result of the combination of being able to finish off my weekend alcohol and having nothing else to do. From my slightly hazy memory The Amazons really proved themselves with this set, as even though they haven’t been around too long songs like “Junk Food Forever” had a great reception.

I was supposed to go and see The Magic Gang next, but decided instead to drink more eat dinner. I then headed out to see We Are Scientists, who did not disappoint. I think my favourite thing about this band live is how they interact with the crowd; there’s always time for a bit of banter in between songs. They played a good mix of old hits and a few from the new album, and due to my slight drunkenness I was properly belting out every word on the second row. Sadly I had to leave the set early, but not without good reason. I ran back to the main stage to meet my friends for Courteeners, who were quite frankly, fucking awesome. I spent the entire set dancing and doing a lot of shouting in a very Northern accent, aka my two favourite things in life. GOD BLESS THE BAND.

As Courteeners played “What Took You So Long?” (tune), fireworks were lit behind the main stage, and here lies my one of my favourite realisations of the weekend. I had driven hundreds of miles to stay with people I’ve only known for a year, and had been genuinely and completely happy the whole time. I never thought I’d be here this time last year. My phone was off, social media was far away, the music was insane and the company even better. Some of the stories are definitely not blog-friendly, but it’s safe to say Truck this year was a life highlight.

 

And afterwards I got even drunker and went to watch Kurupt FM, a parody grime act. I do not remember most of this set, but do remember being sat down in a camping chair by my friends afterwards to sober up. I’m a classy gal, what can I say?

 

If you take anything from this post, take that Truck Festival is a genuinely lovely little festival. Their lineups are shockingly good for a fairly cheap price, the vibe is amazing and you always feel safe onsite. I would definitely return, and may even do so next summer.

 

-Megan, definitely not listening to the Truck playlist and definitely not being extremely nostalgic

Shuffle Songs Tag

Hello lovely people!

I was tagged in the “Shuffle Songs Tag” by Katie & Harry over at Nerds, Numbers, Natterings. I’ve seen this doing the rounds for a few weeks, and I won’t lie I’ve been waiting for someone to tag me ever since (attention seeking? me? never…), because it is right up my street. Essentially, you have to put your playlist on shuffle and write about the first ten songs to come up.

Now, I have a lot of playlists. I’m talking like a good 30. Thankfully I have one entitled “ensemble”, which consists of pretty much everything I’ve ever listened to. Let’s dive in!

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1. Brianstorm – Arctic Monkeys

Back in the good old days of Arctic Monkeys, before Alex Turner turned into a beardy vegan wanker (yes I still love that joke). I remember this being absolutely mental when I saw them live, and I still love it 5 years later.

2. Fear of The Dark (Live at Donnington 1982) – Iron Maiden

I was raised on bands like Maiden, Sabbath and Whitesnake, so this is no surprise. I rarely listen to Iron Maiden’s studio albums; it’s just something about the nostalgic energy of their live albums that I love. This comes from Download Festival way before it was ever called Download, and there’s every chance that my Dad was there in the crowd that year. Fear of the Dark will always be a classic.

3. Suzanne – Creeper

Why don’t Creeper have more albums? This is the song I actually discovered them through, and it’s such a great single. Fast, catchy, and a big built-up chorus; Creeper are bringing goth punk back and I’m here for it.

4. Sockets – Slaves

This takes me right back to a sweaty Cumbrian venue in late 2016. From memory Slaves opened with this song, starting 45 minutes of total adrenaline and insane moshpits. I don’t listen to much pure punk, but this is an exception.

5. Any Port – Dead!

I’m still completely gutted that these guys split up a few months back, because their debut album is one of my favourites of the year. I managed to see them live back in March, and almost didn’t go as I was so sick with a flu that felt more like the plague than anything else, but I’m so glad I did now. Any Port is a tune, even though they’re gone you should still give the music a listen.

6. Kathleen – Catfish and the Bottlemen

Kathleen reminds me of summer 2016, mostly spent with an old group of friends going on our first adventures with our own cars. It’s feel-good, summery, and just outright lovely.

7. House on a Hill – The Pretty Reckless

I love this song almost entirely for it’s spoken introduction – “They have created a repressed society and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests with the annihilation of consciousness”. It’s all about how powerless we are as people against those who control us, and I think it’s crazy that this song was written in a pre-Trump world.

8. Something From Nothing – Foo Fighters

This is actually one of my least favourite Foos tracks, but I think that’s because I don’t have the same emotional connection with their newer music than with the songs that have been around my whole life. I do really love the groovy pre-chorus riff though.

9. Poison in Your Veins (Live) – Alter Bridge

I’m glad these guys came up, because it gives me an opportunity to shout out an extremely underrated band. This song is live from the O2 Arena, and shows off the beautiful combination of Mark Tremonti’s lead guitar skills and Myles Kennedy’s extremely unique voice. Seriously, if you love rock even a little bit, give them a listen.

10. No Roots – Alice Merton

Honestly I just like this because it’s catchy af and Radio X played it so many times when it came out that I learned all the words in about two days. No shame.

ensemble

So, that’s it! I could keep blabbering on about my favourite songs for days on end, but that’s for another post. Let me know what’s top of your playlist in the comments.

-Megan, shuffling through my main playlist (wow no shit Megs)

My Fitness Journey (aka how I got fit with minimal effort)

Hello lovely people!

Today I’m going to be talking about fitness! Us bloggers don’t spend all our time writing you know. I recently posted some progress pics over on my Instagram, and received lots of positive feedback from followers, so I thought I would explain how I went from couch potato to working out up to 4 times a week.

At the start of my third term at university I decided it was time to make positive changes in my life. I’d recently made the switch from part catered to completely self catered, meaning I had much more choice over what I ate and when I ate it. This meant two things; I could eat healthier and fit working out into my life more easily. Combined with my new-found need to become the powerful and successful woman I’d always dreamed of being after a year of some pretty dark times, I was set to get my life together.

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Exercise

My relationship with exercise throughout my life has been, at best, rocky. As I said in a post I made after climbing a mountain recently, when I was in school I absolutely detested PE. My friends and I often purposely tried to derail the lessons (honestly, I feel for whoever had to teach us) if we actually turned up at all. In Sixth Form I improved slightly, signing up to a local gym and going fairly regularly. However, the moment that A-Levels got more intense I gave up, which I still regret now. It’s proven by a whole bunch of science (said like the expert I definitely am) that exercise is linked to reductions in stress levels, mood improvement and better self esteem (source: Mental Health Foundation).

Fast forward to first year at uni. After two terms of a similar “I’ll do it later” attitude, I decided it was time to kick my ass and get to exercising. My college has a cardio gym which was downstairs in my old house (honestly I don’t know what my excuse was when I literally walked past it multiple times a day), and whilst it is pretty badly equipped there’s space for  circuits along with some treadmills and the like. I started going a couple of times a week, and had a pretty standard routine. 20 minutes interval running, followed by a Kayla Itsines circuit (which I somehow found free online).

What helped was that a lot of my friends were joining me on this health kick. Every other day, as much as we could depending upon our schedules, we were in the gym at 5pm. This was helpful for lots of reasons. Going at the same time each day meant that it became part of my daily routine, and felt as normal as going out to uni in the morning. Moreover, I had that added motivation of not only letting myself down, but letting my friends down if I didn’t go. And, after the workout we often ate together, which ticked off socialising!

Towards the end of term I even got into running. One day myself and a friend headed to the gym as usual only to find that the room was locked. We decided not to waste our efforts and went for a run around the racecourse. I was so shocked to find out that I actually enjoyed the run, after having said for years that me and running just doesn’t work. Now I actively look forward to my cardio sessions, who knew?

Diet

As the statistic goes, fitness is 80% nutrition (source: Very Well Fit). I wouldn’t say I ate badly before I started this fitness journey, but there was definitely a lot of carbs involved. I’m looking at you, holidays to France and college menus filled with potatoes.

Cooking for myself all the time made me learn that eating healthy is really not difficult. My main tactic was to do a big food shop once a week, and simply avoid buying the rubbish foods. I learned pretty quickly that if there were no biscuits in the cupboard or pizza in the freezer I definitely wasn’t going to make the effort to walk to Tesco to buy some. An added bonus is that healthy food really doesn’t have to be expensive. Bulk cooking curries or chillis and freezing them is much quicker and cheaper than having chicken nuggets every night.

I’m not saying I’ve given up on unhealthy foods completely. You can definitely still find me necking pints on a Friday night or joining in with pizza & films night with my friends, but it isn’t everyday. These things have become a treat rather than a regular occurence, meaning I actually appreciate them more than I did before too.

4 Months On

I’ve been following this pattern for four months now, to the point where it’s no longer a change for me but just part of my lifestyle. Working out every other day is now a habit, and I’m setting myself goals and changing my playlists/workout plans to keep it exciting. For example, in the last couple of weeks I’ve been aiming to get my personal best for running a kilometre down to below 7 minutes. Today I completely smashed that, hitting 6″52 on my 5km run. I’ve also been trying out some different circuits I found on Pinterest.

Diet-wise, I’ve just recently gone vegetarian. Two of my housemates are vegetarian, and after travelling with them and following the diet for a while on and off I wanted to take the plunge completely. I’ve been officially vegetarian for about three weeks, but I think I could count the amount of times I’ve eaten meat in the last two months on  one hand. My motivations aren’t really fitness based (post coming soon), but I think it’s having a positive effect on my health at the same time.

When I move back to Durham in September I’m going to be joining a gym near my house, and I’m very excited to finally be able to play around in a big gym again. I’m also thinking about joining my local Parkrun, because the course in Durham is in the racecourse right next to my old accommodation, and it’s one of my favourite places in the city. My college wife and I are even going to try out pole fitness, so I’ll keep you updated when I inevitably get injured trying to be sexy and failing as usual.

 

What about you? Do you do a sport, or like me, prefer other ways of keeping fit? Let me know in the comments.

-Megan, listening to the playlist “Your Favourite Coffeehouse”, because I’m too skint to actually go to a coffee shop and write.