Tuesday, 11 April 2017

My Running Journey So Far - Why It's Been More Difficult Than I Thought

My Running Journey So Far - Exercise, Fitness, Nutrition
This past weekend I set out on a run down at my local park. Gone where the days where it would just be me ploughing through the muddied terrain, the sharp cold working as yet another factor against my mission to be a vision gliding along in the distance.

Instead, I ran through lush fields of green, double taking at the hoards of people emerging from their homes to linger in Britain's dubious warm weather. It was the first time I properly the felt sunshine on my face this year, the first time I left my bulky hoodie at home, the first time I immediately saw my skin changing colour in the baking heat.
My Running Journey So Far - Exercise, Fitness, Nutrition
However, I wish I could have also said that it was the first time I felt like a 'runner' since embarking on this new form of activity in September of last year. But no. Instead of stopping every other minute to catch up with the bouts of freezing air that made it's way so ferociously down my wind-pipe, it was the piercing sun and the sudden heavy sweat that make it difficult for me to carry on.

Despite celebrating the actual process of going for a run, at the end it still felt like defeat. I've had months of practise but I still can't get the hold of it. I thought the initial wave of embarrassment at not lasting long enough would finally be a thing of the past - but the humiliation continues. Sometimes I feel like my legs aren't capable of holding all the weight on my body for such high energy impact. Even with the whole mind over matter thing, I envision myself gloriously crossing some sort of finish line, only to fall a few feet short.
My Running Journey So Far - Exercise, Fitness, Nutrition
I initially thought running was running. I didn't realise the mental foundation behind it. And I know the underlying emotional aspect goes for all sporting endeavours - but I have found it so much more difficult to combine mental and physical strength with this activity. I guess my mental state is weaker than I thought.

I started running because of the way I found my body drastically change after starting a job where I do shift work - going from days to nights to weekends. After successfully combating binge-eating a few years earlier, I found myself coming home from work at 3am and, without thinking, raiding the cupboards and fridge. My mid-section filled out, my cheeks puffed out. I started scaring myself into thinking that a few more pounds would take me up to a size 18, which I once was at my heaviest. I needed a change. Something to shake-up my body and make it listen. I shunned the tried and tested, money-consuming route of the gym and decided to beat the bullet by trying something I dreaded the thought of - running.
My Running Journey So Far - Exercise, Fitness, Nutrition
And it really hasn't been easy. I still struggle to fit it in my schedule. It doesn't help that I'm not programmed to be a happy-go-lucky person of the back. In fact I'm negative, miserable, wallow in self-pity, doubt and insecurity. And when I don't feel like running, I won't. When I have that craving, I'll do everything to satisfy it. I'm obsessive when it comes to all things disadvantageous, but not for quality things that serve a positive purpose. 

I watch many videos of people on their running journeys -  some even going on to run marathons and do incredible things with the endurance and skill they have. I have nothing but respect for them and hope to be like them one day. As for my running journey, there hasn't been much of a journey. It's all been a bit of a plateau. And I know - to all you reading this and chuckling at my attempts to validate why this has been difficult - I'm sure it's a combination of my binge-dieting, my sporadic exercise routine, lack of focus and determination - and if we're being extra harsh on myself, my laziness. But I hope that will change.
My Running Journey So Far - Exercise, Fitness, Nutrition
*Personal images and Unsplash used


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Films That Defined My Childhood

There's nothing more satisfying than a movie you've seen a hundred times as a child... and would still casually watch today after a hard day's work. Many a time, alongside your friendly and familial memories, media sources also help carve out the key to your youth. There are certain films that I look back on and I think wow, I'm so lucky to have been a part of that celluloid experience - such as 1982's Poltergeist, which was waiting for me a few years before I was born. One of my first horror movies that I watched, understood and loved - ultimately paving my huge crush on the scarescome genre. 

Even when there's present day adaptations of my favourite classics, I run like a little girl to the cinema to see if it holds up. For that very moment, I shun my adult existence and embrace all things childish. So without further ado, here are those flicks that had me hooked on the world of entertainment.  

There's always something a little, dare I say it, wickedly thrilling when it comes to an otherworldly creature wrecking havoc on the human race. This classic infused the elements of adventure, adrenaline, love and heroism like no other - making it a favourite for a wide age range and a mammoth audience across the globe. Plus, who else had a little innocent crush on Matthew Broderick after this?

Hands up who else wanted to be Matilda as a little kid?... And even now? I'm sure all of those arms are firmly up in the air. This tale of an intelligent little girl, who discovers some incredibly envy-inducing magical powers, which help her battle her egocentric parents and evil headmistress make up a large portion of my creativity today. True story - I once got in trouble for trying out the mixing and matching of lotions scene at a family friend's house. Safe to say, they weren't pleased. My bad. 

I was so thankful to be introduced to this daringly unique takes on the horror genre so early on. It's films like this one that have my expectations for horror raised high and why I usually walk out of a lot of similar movies unimpressed. Needless to say, this flick called out to the darker psyche of myself - even as a child. The acting, the story line, the directing (Eurgh, M.Night.Shyamalan, you're a genius!) and the twist at the end were mind-blowing. Safe to say, the scene above, where a terrified Haley Joel Osment reveals he sees dead people, is one of the most remembered scenes in this genre's history. 

This film happens to be an Indian classic. It made everyone laugh, cry, inspire and hope. Truth be told, I'm not big on Bollywood movies nowadays. The nineties and early noughties set such a high bar for me when it came to Indian movies, that the present day industry just doesn't hold up in comparison. And this is one of those gems that was faultless. Shah Rukh Khan is my life idol. If you aren't familiar with him, I strongly recommend watching his movies. It shows that charisma is everything. 

My ultimate favourite Disney spectacle. And the reason why I adored this so much was because they looked like me. I'm not saying I look like a princess, but other than Bollywood, on-screen projects with people of South Asian descent were few and far between. It felt incredible as a little girl to see that people of a darker skin-tone were internationally celebrated. 

My FAVOURITE movie EVER! I feel like this is the movie that most defined my childhood. I even got a little teary eyed when I visited the Jurassic Park section at Universal Studios in Los Angeles last year. From the acting, adrenaline-enducing directing, the locations, the suspense and the musical score, the movie is untouchable. 

As a child you can't go wrong with a feel good movie about cheeky children who want to cause mayhem. Once again, this Bollywood movie set the bar high for the industry in terms of its flawless acting and undeniable chemistry between icons Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla. Must have seen this movie a hundred times! 

Probably not something you equate with childhood innocence. But this heartbreaking true tale of a ship going under was ultimately adapted as an epic love story. It taught me what romance should be like this and how someone's memory can live forever. Even back in 1997, I though the nude scenes were beautiful, the soundtrack gave me goosebumps and all the elements combined would make for an iconic movie for years to come.



Tuesday, 7 February 2017

My Favourite Wanderlust Travel Vloggers

Flying The Nest Favourite Travel Vloggers
Thanks to today's day and age of digital media, travel is more available to us than ever before. Hundreds of influencers turn on the camera everyday to capture their adventures around the world before sharing it with an unknown audience sitting at home. In return, us viewers feel more fulfilled in our ambition to see the world. 'It's not just me who wants to book a one way ticket and escape,' we think as a result of these exquisitely packaged videos. Our travel plans become more solidified, more validated and more attainable - And here are those wanderlusters who awaken that realisation in me. (Picture above from Flying The Nest)

Flying The Nest
Flying The Nest Favourite Travel Vloggers

I was doing research for an upcoming Trek America trip more than a year ago when I stumbled on these two cuties. Jess Valentine and Stephen Parry operate under their endearing travel brand, Flying The Nest. And watching them from their Alaskan trek vlogs to their recent exploration of their own backyard Australia, I have fallen in love. These two started on a one year trip across the globe in February 2015 and haven't looked back in terms of their travel endeavours. They make the perfect tag team for their high and lows. Their vlogs are fun, honest, quirky - and for an engaged couple, not as PDA possessed as one might think. This single girl thanks you! 

Fun For Louis
Fun For Louis Favourite Travel Vloggers

This one heck of an adrenaline junkie originates from my own back yard - the borders of UK's Surrey and London. It's such an incredible thing to witness a man who has racked up such a cult following and been numerously touted as the 'King Of Travel', living his dream in an action-packed, awe-inspiring and educational way. No opportunity goes unmissed from him. The sense of wanderlust from his vlogs is strong and I'm always left wondering if he ever sleeps! Always chirpy, loving life and respectful of other cultures, he certainly lives by his motto - Live the Adventure. So dedicated he is to travel, that he even made the brave and risky journey into North Korea last year! 

In The Frow
In The Frow Favourite Travel Vloggers

Everyone's favourite fashion girl who's worn everything from purple hair, grey hair, high street and designer. But she ends up being a doubly whammy in the world of social media stars in terms of her envy-inducing travel vlogs. Constantly jet-setting across the world - from personal holidays to trips with brands - Victoria has a certain skill in leaving her viewers lusting for more. And I've met her a few times before and you can take my word for it when I say, she's a girls' girl. Charming, sweet, beautiful and genuinely interested in the people and world around her. In today's ever-changing world, she's a power woman who's always giving off the message that you can have it all too if you work hard enough. Oh, and she certainly does it in style!

Hey Nadine 
Hey Nadine Favourite Travel Vloggers

A captivating concoction of femininity and tomboy touches. Nadine Sykora is the girl that can doll up the nines with you during a night out in New York and go camping for days on end in the Australian outback with no drama and fuss. This is what I hope to be as a traveller hoping to explore the world more - the best of both worlds! The other thing that I love about her is that she gets to the point. There's no umming or ahhing. Her tips, tricks and advice videos are well-researched, a honest result of her experiences and clearly formulated to make your life easier. She has a firm and clear voice that leaves you confident in her advice. A well built brand and a well-deserved one

Sabrina Chakici
Sabrina Chakici Flying The Nest Favourite Travel Vloggers

This beauty is more of a fresher face on the travel vlogging scene. She has a sensational blog Clutch and Carry On and has recently made the transference to our YouTube screens with her recent Australian road-trip. I actually became familiar with Sabrina when she won E!'s UK and Ireland host competition in 2015 (a contest I too unsuccessfully entered) and you can tell her TV ready delivery lends her the perfect helping hand with her entry into the online YouTube market. Watch this space on this rising star!

Lindsay McCormick 
Lindsay McCormick Favourite Travel Vloggers
Another fresh face in the world of travel vlogging. For me, Lindsay is kind of like the female version of Fun For Louis. I found her through her impressive 'How To Travel The World on $30 a Day' series, where she used her previous film-making skills to craft very compact, yet jam-packed videos on her worldwide travel adventures. What's special about Lindsay's travels is that she's a keen advocate on steering off the beaten track and going places where few tourists would go. She comes across as intelligent, unafraid and possesses impressive street smarts that haven't failed in getting her through dodgy situations in the past. Plus, her storytelling and narrative ability is next to none! If you're new on the travel vlogging scene, I highly suggest Lindsay's highly addictive series to get your appetite whet. 

Em Sheldon
Em Sheldon Favourite Travel Vloggers

Em is a sweetheart. And loves to travel. It's so easy to tell that when you look at all of her social media accounts. And the reason why I enjoy her travel content so much is that she is unapologetically humble in her worldly pursuits. She captures what is actually there and doesn't rely on fancy camera tricks, filters and anything else that would give her editing a leg up. And in a way I find her the most relatable. She's still trying to navigate her way through life as a twenty-something, who isn't going to settle for anything less than her dream life of jet-setting across the globe.

Raya Was Here
Raya Was Here Favourite Travel Vloggers

Raya is my list's resident boho gal. She lives in maxi dresses, skirts, flowy tops. And in terms of her travel videos, her relationship with Louis Cole (Fun For Louis) may have given her profile a boost, but as a standalone YouTuber her content is just a strong. For Raya, you can certainly sense that she's seeking something greater out there. Flying to different places around the world isn't for the sake of another trip that looks 'cool'. She taking her time, soaking it all in and making herself a better person from it all. And I commend her for that. When you're travelling you're always bombarded with so many variables, that sometimes you never truly have the time to 100% take in what you're witnessing. 



Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Positives I'm Taking From The Chaos That Is Donald Trump

Donald Trump Muslim Ban Women's March
Merely two weeks into his Presidency, Donald Trump has managed to divide the world in a way that we initially thought, was humanly impossible. Myself, along with many others, thought we had come further than this. Even as a UK born and living citizen, I feel the sting. How the hell did an unqualified, misogynist, arrogant individual, who'll do anything it takes to live up to the notoriety, become the leader of the free world? How? How could those people who voted for this creature of injustice do this to themselves?!

So far, as well as temporarily freezing the hiring for federal agencies, dismantling the Affordable Care Act and renewing construction of the North Dakota Access Pipeline, which could severely impact sacred Native American land, here are two other outrageous things he has done:

*He has reinstated the Global Gag Order. The order, also known as the Mexico City Policy, severely limits federal aid to family planning organisations that provide abortions and provide educational information on the matter. Pro Trump voters, congratulations! You're screwed if you, or your daughters, sisters, relatives, and friends need to make a crucial decision on their reproductive health. And unlike the rest of the States who didn't vote for him, YOU'LL be the only ones kicking yourself in the back. 

* He has also restricted immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the USA for a period of 90 days. The United States' refugee system has also been suspended for a period of 120 days. The former Apprentice honcho thinks that his 'extreme vetting' will keep 'radical Islamic terrorists out of the USA.' Oh and he's pretty keen on building that wall too. The thing that strikes me the most about this is how the words 'Muslim' and 'immigrant' are represented as dirty, evil, and holding all of us back. My dad was a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan in the 80's and I'm so proud of what he's accomplished. And my views are the same for all those others who take their new found freedom and run with it.
Donald Trump Muslim Ban Women's March
However, despite all the forces put in place, hoping desperately to divide us, you can't help but marvel at what it has unwittingly achieved in return - such as: 

- It's bringing women together in a way like never before
I honestly couldn't believe my eyes when I saw thousands of women across the globe unite to march for Women's Rights. How the hell is one man going to tell us that our right to choose, isn't a right any more? We shouldn't have to fight for equality anymore, especially by someone of the opposite gender who doesn't know what it's like to be pregnant, give birth and states he 'want to grab that pussy' like it's no big deal.

- It's telling us that we have WAY more support than we initially thought
After hoards of people stood outside US airports, demanding for detainees to be released as a result of Trump's Muslim ban, it brought tears to my eyes to see how they were greeted when finally released. 'Welcome! Welcome to our country!' they chanted. And you could see it in those people's tired eyes, who had been delayed and questioned for hours. They were so thankful - and once again so hopeful. 
Donald Trump Muslim Ban Women's March
- People are putting their personal needs aside and looking at the greater good
As someone who works in the entertainment industry, it pleased me to see artists and performers use their platform to spread their voice over the outrageous Muslim and immigrant ban at the recent SAG awards. As Taylor Schilling said: 'What unites us is stronger than the forces that seek to divide us.' Use any opportunity you can to fight for justice. 

- If we unite together, something good can come out of it
Yes, he has stayed true to his evil words and followed through with a lot during his short time in Office. But look at what we have done in the same time period by fighting back. Those marches across the globe for gender and race equality have not gone unnoticed. How could they? If we keep it up, change is wholly possible. 

I honestly hope the White House and all of the pro-Trump voters come to their senses soon. How can you not WANT to be unified nationally and internationally? I tweeted this the other day: 'I don't know how you can look around and hear all these different languages being spoken and see people who look completely different than you, and not think that's beautiful.' 

Images sourced from Unsplash


Monday, 16 January 2017

TRAVEL INSPIRATION: My Top Six Favourite Holidays Ever

January always seems to add to our bucket lists. The checklist of dreams, goals and hardened flaws we want to overcome gets longer and longer. And one of the main components of our visual wishes is the desire to travel. Along with our innate need to be thirsty in knowledge about an individual our age, living on the the other side of the world, is the the current day popularity of social media prowess - dedicated to the hard-to-achieve message of 'you can see it all too'. But what we need to remember is seeing the world is wholly personal - it's what you make of it, what it does for you, and what you take away from it.

I haven't travelled as much as I'd like to. And at the age of 27, I've only been on two small trips as part of a solo, 'for me' journey. Of-course, longer more fulfilling trips are on the horizon. I have some locations set in mind, from the far-flung and sun-kissed to the challenging and gruelling.

As of now, I have reached my capacity in where I'd like the wind to take me. I'd rather not drown myself in the pressures of cramming what I can into a time-frame I'm not fully aware of. So right now, I'd like to look back on the trips that were special and worth it. I mean, not every holiday is as smooth as a VCSO-filtered snap on Instagram. The lows can be lethal. But the highs when it comes to getting away, is what counts. 

1. America- Cross Country
America travel

Throw the USA's political debacle out of the window and you have a visually, spectacular country. The landscape from one city to the next is so diverse, unique and on many occasions - jaw-dropping.

I knew it would be like that and that's why I didn't hesitate in making it my first solo trip - away from the comfort of family and friends. I booked myself onto a Trek America tour group where I'd be surrounded by fellow travellers with a similar mindset as me.

The West Coast to East Coast journey was a marvel that, at times, I couldn't quite believe existed. Trust me, there's no place that romanticises the road more than America. From the star-gazing streets of Los Angeles, the fiery red sands of Death Valley, the sunset at the Grand Canyon, the small town Texan charm, the music in Tennessee to the history in Washington, D.C - no matter what your views of sensationalised present day America is, don't let it hinder your ability to look past it for the bigger picture.

Read more about my Trek America Trip here and here.

2. Iceland
Iceland travel

A true Winter Wonderland. Probably the country that was most unrealistic, most unattainable and needed more of a 'pinch-me' moment. Iceland is like a beautiful human-being that teases you and plays hard to get. You can look, yes have a cheeky touch, but you won't have her.

I was there for a three days - honestly, a perfect amount of time to whet your senses. I went there with my little brother - jetting in on Christmas Eve, only to be met by the world-renowned geothermal Blue Lagoon spa the next day. Yes, I was swimming in the snow on Christmas Day, Top that! Two days later, I rang in my 25th birthday staring up at the Northern Lights. I couldn't have been more colder in my life but the possibility of frost-bites where so worth it. Complete out of body experience.

Read about my Iceland trip here

3. LA
Los Angeles travel

You hear people who live in Los Angeles complain about it being lonely and hard to make friends - with everyone after their own hustle. And I do believe that is the case - But when you have a week to see the bustling city by yourself, you're met with a completely different experience.

I work as an entertainment journalist, so you can imagine LA was like my playground. From the old school Hollywood touches (the history of the city is like no other - and SO overlooked) to the exciting new age references, the town no doubt boasts a sunny disposition - albeit on the surface at least. It's a city built on opportunity, monumental success and tragic lows - and it's this steely, starry drive that keeps the sun-kissed neighbourhoods relevant and a complete haven for people across the world.

Read about my LA trip here, here and here

4. Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria travel

This was our family holiday of choice when I was younger. I have such vivid memories of Gran Canaria as my dad would go there for business and we'd easily make a family trip out of it. From the hotel shenanigans, making friends with other kids in the swimming pools to heading out on long strolls - going nowhere on the old cobble streets. I also remember, as clear as crystal, watching loved-up teen couples kissing and holding hands, spending - for them - another average weekday by the beach. It made me excited about the prospect about growing up and having a moment like that to myself too. 

5. Canada
Canada travel

We went in the sub-zero temperatures of Winter. The trees were frozen with ice, we were kitted out to the max - but we always returned to the homely warmth of my mum's friend. They grew up together in Pakistan and were inseparable at school as teenagers. Getting married off straight out of school, saw my mum head to the UK and her friend jet off to Canada. This trip, more than ten years ago, was their big reunion. And while I was seemingly unaware at the time of what the trip meant for my mum, it was just as pleasing for me. In a weird way, I enjoy the cold. It was interesting to come from a freezing place as England, to another, which just happened to look completely different. With its open spaces and lush landscape - it was a completely world than the densely populated streets of London I was so used to.

6. Dubai
Dubai travel

I actually lived in Dubai for two years. But for me, keeping up with the lavish lifestyle was a little unattainable - therefore, I always refer to my time there as a 'really long holiday'. And what a 'holiday' it was. There's something magical in going to a palm tree lined school, having everything catered towards the blistering heat and having your average school trips driving through the deserts of the far-flung corners of Dubai. And even though the majority of the city was littered in wealth, it was still an exciting and humbling way for me to experience a way of life miles away from London. I haven't been back since. I would like to go back and see how everything has changed, because if there's one thing you should know about Dubai, it's that it is always changing and evolving - like it's in a competition with its self.


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