Thursday, 25 August 2011

How social media has changed my social landscape

I've been online for about 10 years. Well, when I say online, I mean, I've been connected to the internet for 10 years.

I feel I REALLY got online approx 3/4 years ago. Instead of just using it for just research, browsing and emails, I started putting myself online, started my first blog and started making connections with other people.

And how my social landscape has change since then!

Prior to the internet and really using it to connect with people, my circle of friends mainly consisted of people that I worked with. I didn't have much choice about who I worked with then, but luckily there were always a few people who I connected with.

Or I'd meet people through a friend and maybe make a new friend that way.

Occasionally I would go out and make an effort to meet new people and join a group or class. I found that a bit hit and miss.

My best friend has remained my constant friend for the last 20 year (we met in the Royal Navy). I used to moan to her, "Where do I meet interesting people? Where are the people who are are inspiring and doing something different?"

I was really frustrated by not being able to find the people that I wanted to connect with.

And now....

I'm surrounded by those people I so yearned to meet years ago! People like me! People who I can relate to. People that inspire me! People that are doing something different. People that have their goals and work hard. People that are interesting.

Before I went online I kinda thought that you couldn't call someone a friend if you hadn't met in person first. I've changed my mind on that now.

I'm glad to have met in person some of the people I admire who are online, and to be able to call them friends. When I was a 'newbie' online, and still finding my way, these people made the first connection to me and gave me a 'welcome'.

And although I haven't met everyone I want to, I feel that I can call some people friends that I connect with online. The miles don't seem to matter so much when you can chat and share on the internet.

My social landscape has changed a lot. Now it's a lot easier to seek out the type of people that I like, and say 'Hi'.

The type of people I'm attracted to are positive, industrious, rebellious, have goals and dreams and ambitions. They are busy people, as am I, and I take comfort in the fact that I'm working away late into the night, my friends are doing the same thing. And then we'll come up for air and meet up in person and have a good catch up.

They say you are what you eat. I'd also say, you are who you surround yourself with.

When you have friends that inspire and are a positive influence on your life, that will naturally rub off on you. Likewise, if all your friends are negative, woe is me, life sucks types, how is that going to make you feel?

I really find it hard to remember my social life before the net, but I am very grateful to it now, and for all the friends I have made in the past few years. Thank you friends. You Rock!

Say Hello on twitter: @karenstrunks

Saturday, 20 August 2011

7 simple ways to kick start your weight loss journey

 It's just this second dawned on me that it's been a year (practically to the day) since I started losing weight! WOW. I've stuck at this for A WHOLE YEAR!!

Before and After 50lb weight los. What a difference a year makes!

Start Weight August 2010 188.8lbs - Goal weight 138.8lbs reached in April 2011

I have tried to lose weight before, but I haven't kept the weight off. There have been other smaller attempts over the years, but kinda half hearted, or impatient attempts and there were times when I didn't immediately get the results I wanted and gave up.

Now I've got a whole year to look back on, I want to share some of my 'getting started' tips. From my experience weight loss takes patience and commitment and the will to not give up. I threw myself into losing weight this time around and I was more determined than ever, but I understand not everyone can, or will be, so gung ho about it. Often it's the getting started bit that people get stuck on. It's getting the momentum underway. Once that's started, it's easier to keep it going.

Getting started with loss.

What can you do that doesn't seem to overwhelming? How can you get that momentum going? How can you not rush into something and be disappointed and give up? With these things in mind I've come up with a few suggestions, remembering that this is a step in the right direction and the very beginning of your weight loss journey.

Just for one week, try one of the following:

  • Break your meals up. If you tend to eat once or twice a day and have really HUGE meals and fill up with rubbish, try eating smaller amounts 6-8 times a day. When we let ourselves get really hungry we are more likely to overeat to satisfy our hunger. If you eat a small amount every couple of hours, not only will you keep your metabolism ticking over nicely, mentally you know it won't be long before your next mini meal and also you won't get those huge hunger pangs.

  • Join a weight loss club. Take a couple of hours out of your week to attend a local class, whether that be Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Rosemary Conley etc. That might just provide inspiration for you to get your weight loss underway and you may also benefit from meeting others who are doing the same thing, and you might even want to go back again and stick with it!

  • Be a label reader.  Just for a week, get your magnifying glass out and read the small print on all the things you eat and set yourself a goal of only eating food that has 10% or less fat content in it. I once read somewhere, "If you don't eat fat, you won't be fat". Well, that makes sense! Of course we do need healthy fat to survive, but see if you can do this challenge just for one week and then see how you feel.

  • Vegetable load! Whatever you have for lunch, dinner, (or even breakfast if savoury) fill half your plate with vegetables. Be really generous! You don't want a few peas shoved in a little corner, give the veg pride of place on your plate. That will help fill you up and of course give you less room for the not so great food, plus you will be soon brimming over with even more vitamins and minerals.

  • Cut out the processed food. Set yourself the challenge of eating unprocessed food for a week. As someone said to me, you don't find sausages growing on trees! Eat more naturally and eat food as it comes (without the added fat, chemicals, E-numbers, preservatives etc)

  • Cook for yourself. Take control in the kitchen. Ditch the ready meals, convenience food and take-aways for just 7 days. Short on time? Cook once, eat twice/thrice! It saves ££ too. Bonus!

  • If you don't buy it you can't eat it! Don't bring food into the house that you know won't help your waist line and health. If you are really hungry you will find something to eat in the kitchen, but hopefully you'll have healthier alternatives to turn to. And on that note, don't go food shopping when you are hungry!  
Don't feel you are depriving yourself if you don't have junk food XY or Z. In fact you are depriving yourself if you DO have XYZ. You are depriving yourself of nutritional food and vital vitamins and minerals which your body will thank you for.

Food cravings exist and what I used to tell myself when they struck (before my taste buds changed) was that I already know what cake/crisps/food of choice, tastes like. What's new?!

Challenge do you know what you can achieve with weight loss if you don't try? :)

Say hello on twitter: @karenstrunks

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Weight loss update, bra saga and new dresses!

I've been suffering with quite a bad cold this week, and I've been feeling quite fed up with it altogether. It's really slowed me down and my normal bounding energy has taken leave. I've hardly got anything done, I've barely been out of the house (and I'm going a bit stir crazy!) and I've hardly moved an inch.

What's that saying? Feed a cold and starve a fever? My appetite this week has been HUGE!! It's really taken me by surprise. I don't think I've felt actual hunger since I started losing weight but this week it's like I couldn't eat enough! Weird.

So, I've listened to my body (as I have throughout my weight loss) and ate more. Larger portions. Sometimes second helpings. I'm guessing as my body was fighting off germs it was asking for more vitamins/nutrients? Just my theory.

The result this week, weight loss wise, is I have put on 3lbs. To be honest, I was expecting it to be around 7lbs. Honestly. I haven't done any exercise and the most strenuous thing I did was take the rubbish out. How do I feel about putting on 3lbs? OK. I've been ill, these things happen.

I've still kept just under my goal weight. I'm happy here and with my maintenance overall, but just because I've reached goal it doesn't mean my weight loss journey has ended and I'll write more about that another time.

3lbs gain this week! Still under goal weight. Just!

I enjoyed a wonderful day out in Solihull with my Mum last week (pre illness).

I hate to say it but it made for a much nicer shopping experience compared to one I had in Birmingham in July when we had a day out. I came home from that day in a really bad mood. Why? Countless unhelpful and unfriendly shop staff.

It started off with my search for new bras for my new figure. I went to Marks and Spencer first, asked two members of staff for help with fitting, only to be told to come back later in the week as I had to make an appointment. I asked if I could just be quickly measured so I could get an idea of roughly the size I needed and was told no. I asked if I could just borrow a tape measure to measure myself in that case and a particularly grumpy member of staff begrudgingly whipped the tape around me and told me my size. I was the only person in the changing room with two members of staff, neither of which wanted to do anything to help. Some people just love to say 'no' and that was the case here. One of them could have spared a few minutes. Needless to say I left.

Then I went to House Of Fraser. Luckily a lady was happy to measure me and she provided me with a few bras, but it was busy so she could only help me for a little while. At least she tried to help in the time she had. I must have tried on about 15 bras. None of them looked or felt right.

I went to La Senza. Short staffed. 10 bras later, no joy.

I went to Debenhams. I almost begged for someone to help me at this point, but it was the same story as M&S. Two members of staff in the changing area, chatting away with each other, but both too busy to help me.

I came away empty handed despite trying on about 40 bras that day and can say that every member of shop staff I encountered was unhelpful and grumpy. The only person that was actually friendly was a lady at a food place in the Pallasades. I don't expect much when I go out shopping, just a bit of help without an attitude.

But back to Solihull! What a difference. The shop staff there were lovely in every shop! It made for a much nicer time altogether.

My mum had got a head start in the shops and had already bought me a present. This white jacket. I wouldn't ordinarily go for a white jacket, but I actually really like this one. Makes a change too.

New white jacket. Thanks Mum!
We ended up spending around 4 hours in House Of Fraser! There were so many bargains in the sale and I tried a ton of clothes on and had a break for a bite of lunch.

I found a new clothing line that really caught my eye. Yumi. They had such cute designs.

Rainbows and hearts! I didn't buy this one though

I think their range is aimed at a younger age, but I'm going to keep an eye on their site now (and they have some sales on there).

I picked up this dress.

Reduced from £50 to £15
Here's a better photo of it. 

And before we finally left HoF, I managed to get new bras!! And it was SO easy compared to my attempt in Birmingham. A lovely lady helped me straight away and within 15mins I had found the perfect fit in the Freya range. Happy! Whew.

On the look out for a red belt (I can't find one anywhere) I wandered into Oasis and a glimpse of red was calling me over. I'd wanted a dress like this for so long! And it was in the sale. I can't wait to wear it! It's so cute.

And I picked up this striking necklace in my colours.

Since losing weight I've noticed that I'm getting much more into clothes (and getting into them better too!). I don't think the novelty of being able to pick up a size 12 and it fitting has worn off. Okay, not every item fits, but there's a much better chance of something fitting me straight away than before I lost 50lbs. It really makes such a difference! 

And the best news is that RED is coming back into season again. Double whoop!

I'm going to be taking it easy for the rest of the weekend. I've had to cancel my planned night out which I am really disappointed about, but I don't feel qutie well enough. Mind you, I'm desperate to see some friends after a week being home along and ill! Hopefully soon.

Hope you are having a great weekend! :)

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Answering a weight loss question: Has blogging about it made a difference?

Yesterday morning I asked if anyone had a weight loss question.  

Helga Henry asked a great one:

I guess I want to ask what you think blogging about it did that may have helped and if you've tried to lose weight in the past without blogging about it - was blogging the thing that made the difference?
I had to give it some thought. The short answer was yes, blogging about losing weight has made a difference, but to expand...

I began this blog in January this year as I wanted an online space for things that didn't fit into my other online areas, hence the title a bit more of Karen.

The benefits of blogging about my weight loss

Perhaps initially on a more subconscious I made myself accountable. I'm a great believer in the notion that if you write things down you get things done. This was a place to publicly write my goals down, and then 'tick' them off as I achieved them.

I think that by blogging on a fairly frequent basis has made me more mindful in what I am doing. When I write about losing weight, or tweet about it, I'm making myself aware of it and it provides me with a reminder and keeps it at the forefront of my mind.

It also gives me a record of my success in losing weight. With such a lot keeping me busy in life it would be easy to forget what I've done, how far I have come and what I've said I'm going to do. And although I started losing weight in August 2010* I didn't start giving my weight loss a public voice, so to speak,  until January.

I credit this blog for helping me stay on track. That, and also all the support I've received from my friends and followers online. A virtual high-five and a 'well done' really goes a long way to add encouragement.

About 4 years ago I lost weight and stayed at my (then) goal of 10st 4lbs for a month or two, then let it all slip and my achievement was soon a distant memory as old habits took over. I didn't blog about it then. I didn't really speak to friends or family about it. I just did it on my own. This time I'm sharing my weight loss story of the ups and downs and what I am learning along the way. Right now this is my fourth month of maintaining my weight loss and that's a huge improvement time-wise compared my last attempt.

By blogging about my journey, I know that as well as me keeping an eye on my progress, other people are too. How would I feel if I went back to square one after all the "I did it! This feels great!" that I've said, and go "Sod it, I'm going back to the way things were". I'd feel pretty disappointed in myself!! I don't want to go back now I've experienced how much better I feel (and I think I look) since liberating myself of 50lbs. I feel I would be letting myself down.

This blog has allowed me to see the bigger picture and record all the new habits that have been forming. I've kept repeating healthy eating behaviour and through that daily repetition that habit seems to have now stuck.

I get to help a few people along the way too, which is a bonus! Whilst I've been documenting my weight loss I've received emails and tweets asking questions, mainly about motivation. It's great a great compliment to be asked for help, or a kick up the butt (from one reader!), and be able pass on things that I have learnt. I'm by no means an expert and can only share things from my experience and perspective but I'm happy it's been a help to some.

Another side benefit to blogging and putting my weight loss 'out there' so to speak is that some unexpected (but fab!) opportunities have come along. For example I was approached with the view of getting involved with a rather big clothing line. It isn't going ahead now, but it was great to be considered. I doubt that would have happened if I hadn't been blogging about losing weight and talking about my new image.

Thanks for the question Helga! :)**

*Wow, that's a whole year ago!! Although I've said a lot of times that I started to lose weight last August, it's only this minute dawned on me that I've stuck at this for a WHOLE YEAR! When I started losing weight, I really wasn't thinking this far ahead. I was just taking it one small goal at at time. I'm going to continue writing about weight loss. Just because I've reached my goal it doesn't mean I put my feet up. Entering the maintenance phase is very much an going process and needs just as much dedication as losing weight.


**Actually Helga answered one of my questions that I had received via an email recently about being publicly active and blogging and getting over online inhibitions. I put the question out there in a tweet, and Helga and Nicky Getgood both gave some good advice, so that'll be an upcoming blog post in the next couple of weeks.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Say hello on twitter: @karenstrunks

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Are you sitting comfortably? Storycamp!

StoryCamp is a time and picturesque space for storytellers (digital or otherwise), independent publishers, those in local government, hyperlocal-land and beyond to meet, share stories and ways and means of telling them.

Saturday 1st October at 11.00am-6.00pm

Where: Who:
Ludlow Conference Centre, Lower Galdeford, LudlowSY8 1RZ Shropshire

If you can see the importance of telling a powerful story to communicate and would like to think, discuss and learn more about how to do this effectively, or share examples of storytelling that has had a real impact, then StoryCamp is for you!

Visit the Storycamp website for more information

Get your free ticket to Storycamp on Eventbrite
My friend and Talk About Local colleague Nicky Getgood is the brains behind Storycamp.

I'm really looking forward to the event. I guess you could say that anyone who uses any social media platform tells their own stories in way, but I'm looking forward to learning more about digital story telling and getting some inspiration and having a better personal definition of story telling, and the varied ways to share those stories.

I've tried my hand at story telling with my Mum as the subject and asked her about her childhood living on a farm in rural Ireland.

Roll on Storycamp! :)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Goodbye July - Hello August - A belated mid year review

With the start of a new month and well into the second half of the year I've been doing some Deep Thinking.

Am I where I want to be?

If not, where do I want to be?

How am I going to get there?

How do I want to spend my time?

Perhaps this is a mid-life review (I have a Big Birthday coming up in October!).

So far this year has been one of the best yet! I've done most of the things I set out to do in the new year (but there's still a few things outstanding), I've learnt a lot, had some amazing experiences, feel I've got a better control on time management (there's still never enough) and I've never been so productive.

What I've realised this year is how much I thrive on excitement and having something to look forward to. It's almost like the more exciting things that happen, the more I want. I'm not satisfied with waiting for things to happen, I try and make things happen. I guess it boils down to having the life I want. I've got no ties (husband to consider/kids) except a mortgage. I feel that I'm in a great position to do all the things that I would like. Also, looking at the bigger picture, I want to have some great memories to look back on when I'm old! :D
But back to now....

July ended on a high with three great events in succession.

Last Thursday I made my way to London town to meet up with my Talk About Local colleagues for the Nominet Awards held in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Talk About Local were short listed in the Nurturing Powerful Local Partnerships category. Unfortunately we didn't win on this occasion, but it was great to be shortlisted and be in with a shot. It was a brilliant night all round. I'm really proud to be working with Talk About Local, doing a job I love with great team members.

Me, Will Perrin, Ellie Stoneley, Mike Rawlins, Clare White Sadly our Nicky Getgood wasn't able to attend the event due to illness and she was sorely missed.

It's always nice to have an excuse to dress up!

It was a 5am start on Friday morning and with just 3.5 hours sleep I made my way back to London for the Birmingham Social Media Cafe event. This is the second event I've run since being handed over the reigns and it went really well. There was a great turn out and lots of new faces too. I'm trying to spread the word and grow the event. If you have an interest in social media and want to meet other creatives and business in and around Birmingham, then this is the event for you! The next event is on Friday 26th August at the Birmingham Town Hall from 10am-midday. Hope you can make it! @birminghamsmc

Bham Social Media Cafe 1
Photograph by Charles Davis

With such a short sleep on Thursday night, I certainly made up for it on Friday night with eleven hours! I needed it and it set me up nicely on Saturday for a full day of wedding photography. Going back to my goals for this year, I'll be announcing my wedding photography services this month.

And now it's August!

I'm actually going to have a bit more free time this month and I'm deciding how to spend it. I'm aware that the month will fly by all too quickly. I'm going to re-view my to-do list and make a plan. At this point during the year I have realised I have reached my limit on the things I can take on, but not wanting to miss out on anything either I've scheduled in some 'leeway' time into my diary should something too good to turn down present itself. The leeway days I've already put in my diary in the last month or so have already proved useful. Before then I was filling each day of the week to the hilt (except Sundays, my day off), and that left me with little room for maneuver.

Here's to a happy, productive, exciting August for everyone! How are your new year goals going? :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...