5 Simple (But Important) Things I’ll Remember About 2021

I guess 2021 was a bit of a strange year for many of us… Maybe not to the same extent as 2020, but yet another challenging year! I can’t believe it was the year England went into a third national lockdown as it seems so far away now. I couldn’t even go to a restaurant on my birthday, back in January. And a few months later my favourite member of the Royal Family passed away… RIP Prince Philip, it’s never gonna be the same without you (I’m sure the Queen would agree).

If you add to it the fact that our travel perimeter this year was no more than a few kilometres… It couldn’t possibly have been a good year for us. We only had to book a cat-sitter 2 evenings in total for the entire year! And both times we went to a hotel relatively close by, just to disconnect from home. I can’t tell you how much I miss travelling (and writing about it).

But despite all that, I still feel 2021 has been a blast and I can’t think of any better reason to write a new post on the blog after such a long absence – If nothing else, it shows I’ve been busy! So many amazing things happened this year that I feel it’s important to take the time to reflect today.

1. Lockdown allowed me to up my cooking skills and change my bad habits for good

We all found a different way to keep busy during lockdown. This unexpected extra time was spent in the kitchen for me. January is usually an ideal month to commit to new resolutions (that I usually don’t keep) but this time I took it to the next level: I decided to follow Veganuary, with the aim to adopt a fully vegan diet.

Needless to say this is not an easy switch! From an omni/carnivore diet (I used to eat a lot of meat and dislike vegetables) to a plant-based diet, the challenge was pretty big. Why would I do that to myself? I hear you ask. Well, I did attempt to explain the reasons behind such a life-changing decision in some previous posts:

Today, not only I’m still vegan and I can proudly say I adapted quite well, I’m also convinced it was the best decision I’ve ever made. For the environment and for the animals obviously, but most importantly for my health: no more stomachaches! I even cooked a vegan Christmas meal for the first time a few days ago and it was great to know I wasn’t going to feel bloated afterwards.

Finally, the weight loss goal that I set myself in August 2020 was reached in March 2021… While most people were using lockdown as an excuse to put on weight, I did it the other way around. You can read all about how I lost 25 kg in less than 8 months without hitting the gym, if that topic interests you. Spoiler alert: it’s all about nutrition.

2. I left the “old me” behind to become the best version of myself

It’s great to reach your objectives, but then what happens? When it comes to weight loss, it’s super easy to go back to square one in no time. So you can guess where I’m getting at: weight management is by far the most difficult step. When you lose a big portion of yourself (the unwanted part), you need to embrace the new version of you. So this is what I’ve done:

  • I went through my entire wardrobe and removed all the clothes that became way too big (so rewarding!) – Donated them to clothes banks: win-win
  • I also let go of my long hair for a short haircut – Gave 30cm to Little Princess Trust charity: another win-win

I was ready for the next chapter of my life, feeling lighter… physically and mentally.

3. It was always about moving forward, not looking back (or only to be proud)

Talking about new beginnings, lockdown encouraged us to move to a new place with more rooms so we could work from home comfortably, with our own office each. It looked like it was becoming the “new normal” and frankly, I’m not gonna complain for not having to take the tube twice a day like before…

I started a new job right after moving in to our new pad, it was a stressful time as I quit my previous job end of 2019 to go travelling… What feels like an eternity ago! I feel for new mums coming back to work after a long maternity leave (although my come back was probably easier, as at least I don’t have to raise a child at the same time).

In a way, it was great that I could smoothly get used to my new active life without any commute (thank you lockdown) but on the other hand, it was a bit odd not to meet any colleagues in real life… Until 2 months after I joined. I see work differently now and even though it can get quite busy, I have a much better work-life balance and a better definition of my priorities.

4. Patience is a virtue, things happen when they’re meant to

If 2020 has been frustrating because we couldn’t get married, our big day finally happened in 2021… And it was perfect in every way. I feel like this story would benefit a full post as I have a lot to say to future brides and grooms, but for now I’m just gonna stick to the main points:

  • We got the date we wanted (11th November, Armistice day)
  • We kept the guest list to a minimum (10 guests only, all immediate family) and it was way more intimate that way
  • The timing ended up being spot on, even though I worried a lot that my family wouldn’t be able to come from France (it would have been more difficult a week later…)
  • It feels great to get married with a lean figure – Even if it meant resizing my rings 4 sizes down (not exactly cheap) and find myself a new dress (an online job did the trick)
  • The happy and natural pictures taken by family speak volumes, we didn’t hire a professional photographer

This was also the occasion to be reunited with my parents and my sister for the first time in 2 years. Everyone was in good health too, among the things you don’t take for granted anymore. I’m very thankful for allowing all that to happen, 2021.

5. A new year is a new opportunity to carry over the good things and let go of the rest

Back in January, I kept an avocado seed and attempted to grow some roots from it before planting it in soil. I named him Rodrigo because the avocado was from Brazil. Sorry for the bad picture above but it’s winter and the natural light is pretty bad. But you can see that not only he’s still alive, but he grew well, now standing tall and proud! He was doing way better in summer, he seems to be struggling a bit this winter but I’m sure he’ll make it through.

This is a just a metaphor. I thought he was not gonna last more than a few months but he’s still here, ready for 2022. I did some decluterring in the house yesterday, because I didn’t want to start a new year with a bunch of useless stuff. I’m doing the same with my life, keeping the good bits and getting rid of the junk. It turns out there are so many ways to feel as light as a feather at the end…

Of course we unfortunately have to carry over this stupid virus which doesn’t seem to be willing to go just yet. But well, we got double jabbed and boosted this year, which is quite impressive in that short amount of time. Hands down to science which I feel didn’t receive the recognition it deserves just yet. Anyway, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

No new resolutions planned for 2022 on my end, only to try and be the best I can be! I wish the same to you, and if you have some dreams, don’t forget to turn them into goals. All the best for this new year that I’m sure will be another great one, as we received so many valuable lessons from the past 2 years. Happy New Year all!

Big Girl x

The Importance of Being Happy Single Before Meeting The One

self care singleton

Of course you can meet your Mr or Mrs Right at an early stage in your life, but it’s fair to say it tends to become an exception nowadays! If you’re single and wondering if something’s wrong with you, keep reading. It might just be the timing is not right for you to meet someone yet.

Everyone has a different theory when it comes to love but I personally believe there is no “unique soulmate”. It’s romantic to think there is only one person in the entire world meant to be with you but if it was true, it would be pretty much impossible to meet them in a lifetime. May I remind you we’re currently almost 8,000,000,000 people on Earth? Even if you have non-negotiable criteria such as sexual orientation or religion for example, your chances of bumping into your unique soulmate would be close to zero. This pragmatic approach means you make your own definition of “the one”.

Not the right partner… Or not the right time

I was just about to turn 30 when I ended a difficult relationship. To me, it was a blessing, not a fatality. I didn’t know for how long I was going to be single but at the time it didn’t really matter. One day, a Pakistani colleague of mine told me: “You should get married soon, you’re almost 30 now”. He wasn’t trying to tease me, he said that seriously and with good intentions. He met his wife on his wedding day when his parents thought it was about time for him to marry someone. They simply learned how to grow affection towards each other with time. I told him I didn’t want anyone to choose who I would spend my life with, but he didn’t seem to understand.

In a way, religion is the key to lower rates of divorce. A marriage has a spiritual meaning to religious people that makes them more resilient when working through relationship issues. But arranged marriages are not for everyone, and choosing your own partner comes at a price. Because there is a difference between what you want and what you need, and it’s very easy to get confused between the two. I only knew one thing for certain: if I ever got married, it was only going to happen when I found the right partner, not when it was the right time.

Your attitude towards life matters

Before meeting Mr Right, I was single for almost 3 years. I’m convinced this period of my life taught me so much about myself that I was finally ready to meet him. I kept saying I would rather be single than with the wrong person and I meant it. I had a lot of fun, made new friends, went to many parties without holding back, I flourished and I finally felt connected with myself. My level of self-confidence increased, I felt free of drama and didn’t miss the arguments that happened regularly in my previous relationships. You can’t control when you’ll meet someone who will make you want to settle. But you can definitely choose to be happy until you do. It might happen later than you anticipated but chances are your relationship will be more likely to be a success story.

serenity when alone

Why it’s important to enjoy being single

  • You learn a lot about yourself and discover how you deal with situations on your own.
  • The way you react to any life event is not influenced by anyone else.
  • You learn new skills because you can’t rely on a partner to split tasks.
  • You’re more likely to regularly form new friendships rather than falling into a routine.
  • You get to understand better what you want, need and value in life.
  • No one is holding you back: you do what you want, whenever you want to.
  • You can take the time you need to heal over things and fully embrace your emotions.
  • Being single doesn’t mean being lonely, you learn how to enjoy your own company.
  • You have more free time that you can spend with friends.
  • It’s way better to be single than in a toxic relationship destined for failure.
  • You can focus on your own happiness and it’s okay to be selfish!

Being married and wishing to be single is the worst situation you could be in. Hence why it’s so important to make the most of your single period, so you can learn enough about yourself to eventually settle with the right person. It’s important to have a clean start for the next important chapter of your life!

A few tips on how to be happy alone

To get you started:

  • Don’t compare yourself with others.
  • Detach yourself from social media – a detox might be needed.
  • Let your mind wander without distractions, and see where it takes you!
  • Enjoy travelling and discovering new places on your own (if you have the time and budget), or simply sit in a coffee shop and soak in your surroundings.
  • Go for a run or hit the gym regularly, endorphins are known to make people feel happier.
  • Go outside and spend time with nature, feel the breeze on your face.
  • Dance like no one’s watching to your favourite music! (neighbours permitting)
  • Self-care is an obvious one: linger in a bath, make yourself a face mask, give yourself a proper break.
  • Always dreamt of doing something creative? Just do it! Now is the time to step outside your comfort zone. Enrol in a class if it’s easier, plus you’ll meet new like-minded people.
  • Make plans, fill that calendar up with cool and exciting stuff!

In the long run:

  • Don’t get yourself stuck in a routine. Shake things up by reorganising your space, declutter, find new places to go to, etc.
  • Nurture relationships with family and friends: take the time to have meaningful conversations with them.
  • Pay a lot of attention to your health, whether mentally or physically. Make sure you have a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.
  • Make long-term plans and ask yourself where you want to be in 5-10 years, personally and professionally. What do you need to do to accomplish these goals?
  • Write down all the things you feel grateful for in your life…

Your relationship status is not what defines your happiness. If you want to be in a happy relationship, you first need to be happy on your own. Love yourself first so you can truly love someone else. It could also be that you realise you’re happier on your own than in a relationship, and that’s a choice you’re fully entitled to make. But don’t fall into the trap of listening to what society (and social media?) think is best for you!

Big Girl x

Are You a Dreamer Or a Go-Getter? Let’s Find Out!

dream catcher

A goal without a plan is a dream. We all have dreams… But how many of them turn into reality? That’s right, unless it’s planned, it’s unlikely to happen. You could argue they could come true on their own, but I wouldn’t rely on luck too much these days. I’m a big dreamer myself, I regularly daydream about many things: a future promotion, a future celebration, a future success of any sort… I think the main thing is actually to be aware you need to turn these dreams into goals in order to make them happen. One of my dreams was to get healthier and feel great in my own skin. It took me some time to put a solid plan in motion. But once I started, I became unstoppable because I was focused. I lost 25 kg in less than 8 months and achieved my goal.

The difference between dreams and goals

A dream is something that inspires you. It’s something created from your imagination, most of the time related to the future. A dream is like a wish, or a hope something will happen someday. You can be or achieve anything in your dreams, nothing is impossible in your mind.

A goal brings you down to reality. It’s something tangible and concrete, with a plan to make it happen. Its costs you time and energy, your imagination won’t be enough. The difference seems super clear! But then why are they often confused with one another?

This is key to understand why so many people never accomplish their dreams. They just forget to set clear goals for themselves. How to make the distinction between dreams and goals:

  • Dreams allow you to create whatever your mind wants, regardless of what’s actually possible
  • Dreams give you an easy escape from the real world, instantly
  • Because dreams are imaginary, they don’t produce tangible results
  • Goals require you to take action, in a specific and consistent way
  • Goals have deadlines and they require hard work
  • Because goals are based on reality, they produce results

So how do you make sure a dream can be turned into a goal, and then into a reality? Reaching a goal is a matter of effort and focus, it’s a conscious decision. Below the well-known S.M.A.R.T. technique in order to set the right goals:

  • Specific – Set up a nice, firm and objective goal that is unambiguous in nature.
  • Measurable – If you can measure it, you can easily see if you’re on track or if you need to adjust your plan.
  • Attainable – Take into account your current situation and set realistic expectations for yourself. If it helps, break down your goal into smaller ones!
  • Relevant – Don’t ignore the social conditions and current events in your life which may go against your goal. It will save you a lot of frustration.
  • Time-based – This is when you want to achieve your goal by, like your own time limit.
don't doubt yourself, just do it

Are you more of a dreamer or a go-getter?

You’re a dreamer if you:

  • Use the word “someday” rather than more specific terms
  • Allow yourself to go on exciting adventures when you close your eyes
  • Prefer getting lost in your imagination rather than face reality

You’re a go-getter if you:

  • Have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish
  • Break things down easily into practical steps
  • Know what you want and are determined to be successful

One might come more naturally, while the other requires more conscious cultivation. We can all be either, depending on the situation. The idea is to ask yourself if you’re more of a dreamer or a go-getter for a specific thing you want, not in general. For example, I’m a go-getter when it comes to my own health but I’m also a dreamer when it comes to moving to Singapore. One day… Maybe!

Why dreams are as important as goals

Goals can change your life. But before they do, dreams are what inspire you. They are the starting point, this very first step which is absolutely crucial. If you make sure you don’t stay stuck at that stage, dreams are actually very important too! Don’t be scared to dream big… As long as it’s something you can turn into reality. Visualise your objectives by closing your eyes and imagine how you would feel once you’ve achieved your goal. Having a dream also contributes to your wellbeing. Plan it out as if it’s going to happen. Personally, I think taking the time to dream is what makes the difference when it comes to overall happiness. Take the chance to just sit and dream, let your mind wander, breathe and let yourself relax. And then simply remember this: if dreams don’t usually come true… goals do!

“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

Suzy Kassem

So which of your dreams do you need to change into a goal?

Big Girl x

What If I Told You 2020 Has Been a Great Year?

I know we won’t really look back at 2020 thinking “What a great year!” but if we look at how much we learnt from it, I would say it wasn’t such a bad year in the end. As today is (finally?) the last day of the year, I thought it was time to reflect and try a different outlook on what’s now almost behind us. When I started this blog, I was very frustrated by how much the pandemic impacted my plans. Today, I’m glad I managed to use the second part of the year the best way I could possibly have. Let me go through why I think 2020 has been a great year on reflection.

2020 started with awesome travels

It would be easy to focus on how the pandemic interrupted my travels and dwell on the fact I couldn’t finish my trip like initially planned. Because of it, I didn’t go to Japan this year. I’ve been before though, and I will definitely go back again – this is where my mum was born after all. Instead I’ll focus on what I was able to do: an amazing month spent road tripping along the east coast of Australia, from Sydney to Cairns. I even got the opportunity to finally go back to Brisbane, where I had so many fond memories from 2006. And after that, we were lucky enough to spend another 6 weeks in New Zealand, which is probably one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. With happy memories I will carry for the rest of my life, 2020 didn’t start too bad!

It opened my eyes on the urgency to save the planet

What would seem like bad timing may have actually been a great eye-opener for me: I was in Australia during the bushfires that caused a lot of damage on the planet and wildlife. It also reminded me that some sunny countries like Australia don’t get as much rain compared to what we’re used to in Europe, therefore they have no choice but to make constant efforts to save water (which we may take for granted elsewhere in the world…). I was already starting to question our impact on climate change when the pandemic happened. If anything, it confirmed how urgent it has become to take responsibility on our actions and their consequences on the planet. It is quite simple: if we don’t do anything and keep ignoring the facts, there will be nothing left to see for the next generations.

My health & wellbeing became a priority

Focus on mental health

I never got to know myself better than this year. I usually don’t panic easily, I know what I want and (maybe more importantly) what I don’t want in life, I have a strong temper and sometimes strong opinions on things I feel passionate about. I like to be organised and plan everything so I can keep my head on my shoulders. In short, I’m a control freak. That’s probably why the level of uncertainty caused by the pandemic hit me hard. I lost all sense of anticipation, torn between a naïve optimism and a desperate need to stay hopeful, struggling with the feeling of being completely helpless. But I learnt how to deal with this uncertainty, I overcame my new anxiety and faced my fears in a way that developed new strengths in me. I’ve found that my patience, resilience and courage have grown. Thanks 2020 for this life lesson.

… But also physical health

An invisible killer threatening the most vulnerable people was all it took for me to prioritise the right things. I knew I indulged myself too much during our travels, I needed to do something to avoid falling into the category of those who have “existing underlying health conditions”. It freaked me out so much that I gave myself 3 clear objectives:
1 – go back to a healthy weight by the end of the year (below 68 kg according to my BMI)
2 – eventually aim for 60 kg (I’m 165 cm tall so this is roughly what I need to be at)
3 – keep a sustainable and improved lifestyle that will guarantee I will never have to lose so much weight ever again.
But one thing at a time. I’ve been focussing on the first objective this year and these are today’s figures:

I use the app VeSyncFit to track progress
All data is now in “green” (= healthy)

I wouldn’t usually share publicly such information about me, but I’m hoping it would inspire someone else on the same journey. On Sunday 2nd August 2020, my weight was 84.80 kg and today, Thursday 31st December 2020, I’m at 67.55 kg, which means I lost 17.25 kg in only 5 months. My BMI came down from 31.1 (obese category) to 24.8 (healthy category). My body fat went down from 37.9% (way too high) to 28.2% (acceptable). I also lost almost 15 cm around the waist, where you store the most dangerous fat that can significantly increase the risk of chronic diseases. I’m happy to be starting 2021 on a healthy base, because 2020 put me back on track. That’s my first objective smashed! Now I’m ready to tackle the next two.

I identified who I really wanted to keep in my life

It’s either make or break

Being locked down with a special someone, even if you picked that someone to be your partner for the rest of your life, could be a challenging situation for many couples. No wonder why the divorce rate has increased drastically in 2020! It does make me wonder how long people stay married without really knowing each other. You only get to know someone fully when you travel with them, but our recent 6-month trip was never a test for us. We knew what our families and friends still needed to see: we were never meant to break. Being stranded abroad was a stressful experience but it only made our relationship (even) stronger, staying at home together was always going to be a piece of cake in comparison. If we couldn’t tie the knot in 2020, we’re determined to make 2021 our year.

I cut off ties with toxic people

It’s always easy to identify who you really want to keep in your life: some close family members, your partner, some of your best friends, kind people who make a difference, etc. But what about people who don’t deserve you / hurt your feelings / bring you down with their negativity and/or judgmental behaviour / don’t make any efforts to stay in touch? My tolerance level decreased because I realised I didn’t have to accept the unacceptable, I don’t have to forgive easily either. Raising your standards when it comes to relationships is an excellent thing, it’s so important to surround yourself with like-minded people. Of course there are always going to be people you’d rather detach yourself from but can’t: some family members or even colleagues… Just keep in mind kindness is contagious. Oh, and I also deleted my personal social media accounts. Freedom!

My conclusion on 2020

Looking back, I can’t really say it’s been a bad year… I used to blog between 2007 and 2017 but had to stop eventually, because I didn’t have enough time for it anymore. 2020 gave me the extra time I needed to start this new blog and it’s been a powerful form of therapy to help me heal from my wounds. Now I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. 2020 has changed me forever, in a very positive way. I’m ready for 2021, bring it on!

Have you turned the negatives into positives too? What learning(s) do you want to apply in 2021 and onwards?

Big Girl x

Poll Results: Your Favourite Topics on the Blog

[Poll Results] Your Favourite Topics on the Blog

Last month, I asked you to vote for your favourite topic(s) on the blog, multiple answers were allowed. First of all, thank you to everyone who voted! It showed me that all categories and topics I love writing about are relevant to you and that matters a lot to me. It’s also interesting to see that no specific theme really stands out: the 5 of them received more or less 20% of the 134 total votes. Today’s post is the perfect opportunity for me to recommend my own top 3 articles for each category. Let’s go through the poll results below!

1. Mental Health wins with 21.64% of votes

I think this year has put a strain on mental health, which at least has had the positive consequence to make it less taboo – it has become a very important topic in our every day life! I have so much to talk about on the matter, how mental health changes our behaviour and how to prioritise wellbeing before anything else. Self-preservation is not selfish, it’s absolutely necessary to be happy and let go of what we can’t control. Within this category, I would recommend reading the 3 posts below:

2. Weight Loss is a close second with 20.90% of votes

According to the posts that received the most likes so far (featured on the sidebar as your favourite posts), this is the most popular category by far… It surprised me it didn’t have the majority of votes on the poll but it was very close! After reviewing the blog, I decided to put weight loss and mental health categories under a more generic one: health & wellbeing. It makes more sense as they can be very intertwined, one can influence the other and vice versa. The 3 posts below are my personal favourites:

3. Environment is just behind with 20.15% of votes

This is a huge topic for me as it’s probably the one which made me want to create this blog in the first place: how to help save the planet. I think 2020 has been the year many people started to open their eyes about how quickly we’re destroying our environment and how it’s still time to act before it’s too late. Good news is we have a lot more control than we think on all this, starting with our diet. It turns out both our own health and the planet are strongly impacted by our food choices. If you haven’t already, see these 3 posts for example:

4. Travel is next with 19.40% of votes

You could argue this category is less related to self-improvement compared to other topics but to me, it is strongly linked. My most recent travelling experience had a big impact on the way I see things now. I believe travelling unlocks new parts of our brain that remain closed if we never get to see the world with our own eyes. Being on the road for several months on the other side of the globe was an experience that changed my mindset forever. Throwback to my 2019-2020 adventure with my own top 3 below:

5. Relationships is last with 17.91% of votes

The fact that this category is slightly less popular didn’t surprise me as it could be a bit more niche, especially wedding-related topics. I fully appreciate that my followers are not all (if any) currently planning to get married so it’s more difficult to relate. But this is also about other sort of relationships: family, friends, the rest of the world… Below 3 posts that are personal but yet very relatable:

Are you surprised by the results? Is there a post (or several posts) you particularly enjoyed reading? Let me know in the comments!

Big Girl x

The Power of a Good Sleep Routine on Your Health & Wellbeing

If you’re also a night owl and (used to) have a long commute to work that forces you to wake up earlier in the morning, you understand how difficult it is to get the right amount of sleep every night. For that, the Government telling us to stay home with the pandemic has been a blessing: the opportunity to spend more time in bed! I remember how it always used to be a struggle for me to wake up early in the morning, I wish I could be wide awake before my alarm clock even rings and get up feeling fresh but it’s simply not the case. We’re not all equal when it comes to our ability to fall asleep but focusing on getting a good sleep routine is essential for our mental health, weight management, mood etc, basically our overall wellbeing.

The importance of sleep

Sleeping is as important as breathing, eating and drinking, it plays a vital role in our mental and physical health. The connection between sleep and health is very strong: if you don’t sleep well, it will impact your health, and if you’re not healthy, you will not sleep well. It could quickly turn into a vicious circle: lack of sleep => tiredness => difficulty coping with daily life => low self-esteem => feelings of worry and/or stress => lack of sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. A good night’s sleep can facilitate weight loss too. Associated with a lower stress level, you can double your chances of slimming down. Sleep patterns affect weight loss.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep

A lack of sleep in the short term can happen easily to anyone, but it’s more the long term impact you need to worry about. It can affect your mood, energy, concentration levels, relationships, and your ability to stay awake and function at work during the day. Poor sleep can make it much more difficult to cope with relatively minor stress. A lack of sleep can cause depression, anxiety, symptoms of mania or hypomania, and can also reinforce schizophrenia or aggravate symptoms if you already have ADHD. On top of all that, poor sleep dramatically alters the way the body responds to food: it’s a major risk factor for weight gain and obesity because it can increase your appetite and therefore increase your calorie intake. It can also decrease your resting metabolism and cause cells to become insulin resistant.

How you can improve your sleep

The Mental Health Foundation recommends “HEAL” as the 4 pillars of good sleep: Health, Environment, Attitude and Lifestyle. You can download their “how to sleep better” guide here for free.

Personally, I find useful to use a sleep tracker to look at my record in the morning. I use an Oura ring because their reports are very well done, below some screenshots of my sleep record last night as an example (click on images to enlarge them). They give you a score out of 100 (over 85 is considered optimal), based on different contributors. You can see on the graph I seem to have been awake just before 4am… 2 options: my bladder or my cats. But overall I’m doing pretty good with my sleep.

There are 4 sleep stages: one called REM (rapid eye-movement, also known as “active sleep”) and one called non-REM, subdivided in 3 stages (including light and deep sleep). Overall, it usually goes in cycles through each stage of the sleep but you spend the majority of the night in light sleep. Based on data gathered from Oura users, deep sleep represents on average 13-23% and REM 20-25% (it can vary widely by individual). These 2 phases are extremely important for good recovery.

If you struggle to fall asleep

Meditation can help, as well as other techniques used to fall asleep in no time. You can find some illustrations in this useful article from Healthline. If you think you have insomnia (like about a third of the global population), maybe you need to check if it’s actually the case by doing a sleep self-assessment here, it will also give you some do’s and don’ts to treat insomnia yourself. But if it’s more serious, you should get help from a professional.

Extra tips

Since I’ve had the chance to this year, I’ve been focusing on my sleep a lot lately. I make sure to wake up and go to bed at similar times every day (including weekends) and I have a light dinner early (around 6pm) to leave plenty of time for digestion before bedtime. If I feel tired during the day, I make sure not to nap so I can sleep better at night. I try to relax and avoid big screens just before going to bed but sometimes 2 little fellas are not cooperating: my cats get more active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk, like other crepuscular animals. But they also contribute positively to my mental health so it compensates the occasional sleep disturbance. Overall, I’ve never felt better!

Have you been getting enough sleep lately?

Big Girl x

2020: The Year I Decided to Start My Blog

2020: The Year I Decided to Start My Blog

We would all agree 2020 is not the best year we’ve ever had… It didn’t start well for me when I was in Sydney for NYE, with bushfires impacting wildlife in Australia and making the sky look grey and grim. Surrounded burning forests affected the air we were breathing in the city, it was not possible to ignore it. That was nothing compared to what followed though, or maybe it was only the beginning of the consequences of human actions on the planet.

It’s only fair I give you a bit of context so you can get to know me a bit better. I quit my job late 2019 without anything else lined up, I wanted to leave the office for a while and follow my free spirit instead. The plan was to travel for 6 months (to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Japan) and then come back to London to find myself a new job and settle back in. I know that nothing usually happens as planned in life, you always bump into unexpected things… But it’s fair to say I didn’t see a worldwide pandemic coming.

Throwback to how the pandemic impacted my plans

18th March 2020

My last day in New Zealand felt a bit strange… The worldwide pandemic was all over the news with an increasing infection rate and I felt guilty publishing pictures of the beautiful landscapes I had in front of me. Unlike in Europe, Kiwis were not yet panicking and although some pharmacies displayed “masks + antibacterial gel out of stock”, most people didn’t behave differently.

19th March 2020

I thought we would be able to stay a few days in Fiji doing absolutely nothing at all, just staying near the swimming pool under the sun with a good book to read and a nice cocktail in hand (away from social media and depressing news). Travelling can be quite tiring and I was really looking forward to this mini holiday in between. It didn’t turn out as planned, obviously. The island saw its first case the day after we arrived and everything shut down in an attempt to limit the spread. What I hoped would be a nice and short break turned out to be 3 long weeks stranded in a depressing apartment near a closed airport where no plane was allowed to take off. The longest weeks of my life, as far as I can recall…

7th April 2020

Who would have thought Mother Nature could be our saviour?? Yep, the only reason why the Fijian Government finally accepted to let their brand new planes fly was to protect them from a strong cyclone coming up… Who better than trapped tourists to help support the costs? I can safely say I never spent so much time in a plane without watching any movies. I stayed still for the entire trip (roughly 20 hours from Nadi to London with a stopover at Los Angeles), didn’t touch anything, didn’t remove my mask, limited my trips to the loo. Also, I barely slept.

8th April 2020

It never felt so good to be back in London. “Home” is where you want to be when the world is in crisis. But it was not the same London I remembered from when I left 6 months ago… It was like I missed the beginning of the story, I didn’t experience the “panic” over loo rolls in supermarkets, I just arrived in the middle of a national lockdown and no idea how to behave.

Stay home 2020

2020: Not so great so far

Fair to say the beginning of 2020 made me want to skip the rest of the year and jump straight to 2021. Back in April I really thought the virus would be gone by the end of the year… Not sure if it was optimistic or just terribly naïve. We’re almost in October now and it’s sadly very much still here. So how long will it last? Who knows. There is only one thing I know: I can still focus on what I can control.

What I can control

I can control the focus I want to give to my health. Many said they’ve put on weight during lockdown, the consumption of biscuits in the UK has increased drastically over the last few months and clearly it’s easy to turn to comfort food to help you cope with emotions. Being unhealthy is not what you want to be though, now more than ever is the time to prioritise your wellbeing. So I’m thinking, why not using my extra time at home to change my lifestyle for good?

My plans for the rest of the year (and beyond)

I’ve been back from my travels for 6 months now and things are not improving anytime soon, this is why I decided to start this blog today. I want to write about various topics related to self-improvement: health topics in general with a particular focus on mental health and weight loss, but also environmental issues and travel.

2020 will be the year I planned to come back to health. I have a current situation (with a BMI at almost 29, I’m overweight), a goal (I want to be back to a healthy 60kg) and a target date (Valentine’s Day 2021 – I’m a hopeless romantic). Stay tuned for updates! 🙂

Big Girl x