Social Media, That Troublesome Thing

Last night, I was lying in bed, and I found myself stalking my own Instagram. Let me repeat: stalking my very own Instagram. What a curious concept that is. As I scrolled through (primarily fitness or alcohol-infused images of myself), it got me thinking about the abstract phenomenon we have discovered with the rise of social media.

Now, I warn you, these ideas have been hurled around a million and one times before (so if you wish to opt out, perhaps do so now), but I’m in a writing mood, and this just seems to be sprawling from my fingertips.

Instagram; a bizarre space within which we exhibit the best parts of our existence, each attempting to prove our lives to be unquestionably wonderful (whether that  happens to be a conscious decision or not). This may be through the medium of the body we’ve achieved, those we socialise with, or the places we visit, to mention just a few.

IMG-2143

Exhibit A) Major flexing going on. Great lighting. Took the picture again because first time I had my hair up and I wasn’t on that vibe.

It’s peculiar how much of the world revolves around social media. Instagram is, quite literally, at the centre of everything we do (we, being millennials, obvs). Consider the phrase, ‘do it for the gram’; coined by an entire generation (if a generation can be collectively held responsible for coining a term?).

Now, this isn’t a targeted attack at Instagram. My work as a fitness professional is largely reliant upon social media, and evidently, these platforms can be put to good use. I’ve used social networks to connect with people I would never have encountered otherwise. In terms of building a business, maintaining relationships and developing yourself as a brand, Instagram is priceless.

However, social media can become pretty damn damaging, should we let it. Consider the following:

Procrastination:

This relates to a meme I saw last night (it seems my late night scrolling may not have been so mindless after all), stating:

‘Sometimes, when I’m really overwhelmed, I like to sit back, take a deep breath, make a list of everything I have to do and then spend 4-5 hours looking at complete strangers on Instagram’.

This speaks to my soul on so many levels. So many levels, it’s worrying. Social media can single-handedly act to destroy productivity. Time is precious (particularly in Dubai, I mean where does that shit even go?), we need not waste it being inefficient.

Misinformation:

Thousands of people have a very large social media following, and very little education on their chosen subject. It’s genuinely concerning that individuals can have such an expansive reach, with little-to-no factual insight or evidence-based research. I can safely say this is why the fitness industry is an absolute shambles. Did you really do a 30 day squat challenge to achieve that butt, Tina?

Advertisements/Promotions:

This is largely connected to my last point, however it’s related more selectively towards celebrity/influencer endorsements. Skinny teas that upset your stomach to the point of chronic dehydration, and ‘revolutionary’ new diet strategies that suggest we eradicate all carbohydrates (and consequently endure sub-optimal brain function). P.S: carbs are life for the purpose of fitness/performance/overall sanity.

I feel somewhat hypocritical for writing this post, because I’m one of those to blame for posting regular updates, and parading the best part of my day on social media. However, I pride myself on being real wherever possible. Most body-related images are paired with a sarcastic caption, which confirms how great the lighting is, or how high my leggings are pulled up. For example: hereherehere and here.

I can honestly say that I have never edited a picture with anything other than a filter, whether that may be on Instagram, Lightroom or HUJI cam. A little bit of saturation and a smidge of structure to highlight any minor ab definition (I repeat, minor). Never once have I altered the shape of my body, smoothed my skin, or whitened my teeth/eyes (because apparently you can do that now huns).

IMG-5712

Exhibit B) This pic was the result of multiple glasses of rosé and around 30 other failed (yet utterly hilarious due to aforementioned rosé) photo attempts. Editing: Instagram only, NEVER ever photoshop. Lark filter + saturation for tan gains.  Just keepin’ it real.

So, what’s the point of this lengthy and arguably somewhat boring post? Something you’ve heard a thousand times before: be conscious of how you consume the information you see online. Remind yourself that your insta crush probably took 400 selfies, before photoshopping the hell out of her favourite one and posting it. There’s a very high chance that her butt isn’t that peachy and her skin ain’t that flawless 100% of the time (if ever). Take everything with a pinch of salt.

You are responsible for the way in which you absorb information. ‘Unfollow those that make you feel bad about yourself’: a narrative that has been widely adopted of late in the realm of social media. Ultimately, it’s true. Next time you see an image that makes you question yourself, or simply annoys you,  u n f o l l o w  (myself included, I’m fully aware that I can be v annoying).

Happiness does not exist in displaying the best parts of your life on a grid. Genuine contentment lies in the mundane, everyday stuff. Watch the sunset, spend time with the people you love, read a good book, learn something new. Instagram will only ever be, at large, an idealised and constructed representation of reality. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by information fed to you through the paradigm of a social platform.

Soz huns, that got deep. Love you.

Peace xoxox

Be Selfish with Your Time

IMG_0367

It’s interesting that the word ‘selfish’ has developed such negative connotations. 

Narcissistic.

Egotistical.

Inconsiderate.

All synonymous with a modern perception of ‘selfishness’. What if we were to rethink the value of this trait?

There are never enough hours in the day. Whether our time is being consumed with social media, working our butts off to try and get on the housing ladder, or alternative millennial clichés. Whatever it is that’s occupying our time, it’s doing a damn good job.

Yet, we’re often criticised for saying ‘no’. Well, I’d like to undermine this tendency, and highlight the importance of putting yourself first. 

We’ve all been roped into plans we’re not wholly invested in, quite literally, in these instances, living for others. Of course, we have commitments to people; that’s natural. There will be the odd occasion where we have to do things we don’t want to. I’m not encouraging you to become an asshole.

Equally, I’m not asking you to bail on plans, or let people down last minute. That’s actually pretty shitty. What I’m getting at, rather, is that we should be more inclined to consider circumstances fully, before agreeing to them.

We live in an age of FOMO; a mindset that could ultimately lead us into a mindless cycle of overcommitting to others, should we let it. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’: what’s the worst that will happen?

Happiness will never be extrinsic. That night out probably isn’t going to change your life, and your friends (if they’re decent humans), will still love you if you decide to stay in and catch up on sleep, instead of going to watch that movie with them.

Protect your time, invest your energy wisely. Spend time with yourself, working on yourself, for yourself. Find contentment in your own company. Don’t undermine the importance of a little selfishness.

Why You Should Hire a Personal Trainer

Are you feeling uninspired, demotivated, or a little uncertain of what on earth you should actually be doing in the gym? Perhaps it’s time to get a little outside help.

Hiring a Personal Trainer could be just the kick up the backside you need. Here are a few reasons why…

  1. Motivation

It’s all too easy to talk ourselves out of exercise.

‘I’m too tired, I should probably get some sleep.’

‘Maybe my muscles need (another) rest day?’

‘It’s ok, I can just go to the gym tomorrow.’

Before you know it, you’re three weeks out of training, twenty seven donuts down and that bottle of rosé in the fridge starts to look a little too appealing.

However, if you work with a Personal Trainer, your sessions will be scheduled in advance. That, combined with the fact that you’ve probably paid in advance, should be motivation enough to get ya lil toosh to the gym. In short, a coach will help you to maintain consistency. No more excuses.

  1. Variety

Motivation from a coach extends further than just getting you to the gym. Each session will be structured to your personal requirements (and if it isn’t, there’s a 99% chance that you’ve hired a terrible PT).

It’s a coach’s job to ensure that any training regime is diverse, interesting and enjoyable. An individualised programme is likely to differ somewhat from the training you plan (or perhaps don’t plan) when you train alone. This variety can be crucial in maintaining focus and drive, not to mention helping to avoid plateaus in strength/physical appearance.

  1. Form

So you reaaaaally wanna do a deadlift, but you can’t hinge without hurting your back?

Perhaps you don’t even know what a hinge is…. In which case, it’s definitely time to get yourself some professional help.

In theory, no movement pattern should cause pain to an injury free, able-bodied person. If it does, chances are, you need to fix the way you move. A good coach will be able to assist with cues and guidelines you didn’t even know existed.

For Dubai-based Personal Training enquiries, contact me on 0527421966.

Review: Stemyouth Essence Age Defense System

Last week, I was invited to UAE-based health and wellness clinic, VLCC, to try out their Stemyouth Essence Age Defense System facial.

Stemyouth is an ultra-hydrating, anti-aging facial, which aims to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Now, I’m certainly not an expert in skincare, but putting my lack of scientific knowledge aside, I can confirm one thing for sure: the treatment itself is great.

After being introduced to my lovely therapist, Jabeen, I was taken through a step-by-step explanation of the facial, as detailed in the image below.

After an hour of ultimate relaxation, including a head, shoulder and hand massage, my skin felt amazing; fresh, firm and hydrated.

Before: IMG_0312

After:

IMG_0314

At 22 years old, you may be questioning why I’m sampling anti-aging facials. But with a family involved in the beauty industry, I’ve been taught to be proactive, as opposed to reactive with my skin. Living in the UAE, it’s all too easy for sun-damage to negatively impact our skin. Stemyouth is an ideal treatment to counter dehydration caused by the sun, helping you to maintain healthy, balanced skin all year round.

I visited the Nad Al Hamar branch, so it was a long drive, but totally worth it! Not to worry though, if this isn’t a convenient location for you, VLCC also have clinics in Dubai Marina, Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Qusais, amongst other facilities across the UAE.

Cost: 500 AED per treatment.

Recommended: 6 sessions at 10-15 day intervals for optimal results.

More info: https://www.vlccwellness.com/UAE/en/

Review: Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes

If you live in Dubai and you’re searching for the ultimate cheat meal, look no further. Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes, located in Jumeirah, is home to the most monstrous grub you could ever imagine.

We’re talking American-sized portions of the most dense, delicious and downright nawwwwwti food. This New York eatery is everything you could want in a cheat meal (and a whole lot more).

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 22.32.58

The Milkshakes:

Feeling brave? I hope so. Imagine the biggest and best milkshake you’ve ever seen… And then multiply that by a million. Stick some FULL SIZE snacks on the side of the glass (quite literally – none of this ‘miniature’ business), and jump right in.

The verdict: creamy, velvety, and totally worth every single sugar-laden calorie. If food could deliver you to heaven, this would be the one (in regards to both its tastiness and questionable nutritional value, oops).

We tried ‘The Cookie Shake’ and ‘Brooklyn Blackout’ (pictured below). I’m not sure what was more difficult… Deciding which drink to order, or overcoming the sugar high and consequential food coma caused by this demon of a shake. If you’re in Dubai, you’ve simply GOT to try one. No questions.

IMG_5232

The Burgers:

Admittedly, I didn’t actually eat one for myself. You’re probably wondering why the queen of burgers would go to a burger joint and only order a milkshake. Well:

  1. Have you seen the size of those shakes!?
  2. Only I could be stupid enough to go to Black Tap on a whim, just moments after having eaten a lunch of two chicken breasts and a whole load of sweet potato fries. Cheat day at it’s finest.

Although I can’t comment on how the burgers taste, one thing’s for sure… They look UNBELIEVABLE. Juicy, cheesy and super fresh.

15589813_746365312198006_8434038647780177276_n

No doubt I’ll be back soon to check them out for myself. Next time… On an empty stomach.

Find Black Tap in the Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel.

Making the Most of Your Workout

As a Personal Trainer, I come across plenty of people attempting to lose weight, but going about it in the wrong way. I’ve come up with a few tips to help you make the most out of every workout.

1) Plan Ahead:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again). Getting to the gym with no session plan will lead to time wasting, and plenty of it. Arrive with a structure to follow – it’ll make your session a whole lot easier. If the machine you want to use is occupied, switch up the order and come back to it later. At least the session will be written down for you to see, so there’s no danger of mindblanks… We all know it happens!

2) Form:

Completing an exercise with bad form can make the movement much less effective, not to mention the extent to which it increases risk of injury. Deadlifting with a rounded back, or squatting with excess anterior (frontal) tilt places severe, unnecessary stress upon joints. To ensure you know how to perform exercises correctly, I recommend visiting a reputable website (such as bodybuilding.com), where you can watch a video that demonstrates perfect form. This will help you to gain more out of every movement.

3) Ditch the Phone:

You know as well as I do that taking a phone to the gym is the ULTIMATE distraction. Yet, we all still do it! Whether used for selfies or Facebook stalking, a phone simply isn’t helping you to get results. In order to maximise your time in the gym, leave the damn phone in your bag. You’ll survive without it for an hour…I promise.

Now it’s time to put these into practice. Enjoy!

Working Out When Sick

Exercise is fab; there’s no denying it. We all know that by now (unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past decade). However, in this post, I want to address the flip side of the coin, and identify why exercise isn’t always the right thing to do… Specifically, when you’re ill.

For a regular gym-goer, like myself, it’s hard to avoid the media-driven ‘no-excuses’ mentality towards fitness. It’s more than likely that your home page on Instagram is riddled with inspirational quotes, workout videos, and a whole load of perfectly formed bodies (not that you should be comparing yourself to those anyway…). The struggle is very much real: trust me, I get it.

But despite what we are conditioned to believe, it’s important to realise that exercise isn’t always the solution. Yep, I really did just say that – shocker, I know. Now, I want to make sure my message here is very clear: I am not, in any way, trying to discourage you from working out. My point is that there is no shame in skipping a workout if you are feeling genuinely unwell.

sick-woman-in-bed-with-a-cold

Rest may just be exactly what the Doctor ordered… Here’s why:

During strenuous exercise, the body undergoes hormonal changes, and is placed under significant stress. Blood pressure is elevated, heart rate will increase, and breathing becomes quicker and deeper. These adjustments place a physical strain upon the throat and lungs, pushing the body outside of its comfort zone.

In usual circumstances, these reactions contribute to improving our overall fitness. However, when you’re unwell, your immune system becomes weakened whilst fighting to overcome the illness. Therefore, the excess stress that exercise places upon the body will only operate to inhibit, and thereby elongate, the recovery process.

So there we have it: it’s critical that you allow your body the time it needs to recover, before engaging in anything arduous.

I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again: please don’t read this post selectively and assume that I’m promoting a reduction in activity levels… In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Exercise is the most incredible, uplifting activity, and I can’t recommend it enough. Your task as an individual is to determine those times when you are genuinely unwell, and then allow your body the rest it needs. If it’s just a little sniffle teamed with a lack of motivation, get up, get out, and smash a workout… I promise you’ll feel better after!

The Big Move: Dubai

Hi friends. So, this post is a little different. I won’t bombard you with health-related information, and I’m not going to give you a recipe. Instead, this one is aimed at connecting with you lovely lot.

I’m currently on the lookout for a job as a Personal Trainer, but I’ll also be setting aside some time each week to work on my blog, and I’ll be more consistent with creating new content on here… I promise! If you’re looking for more regular updates, you can follow my adventure on Instagram (@charlotte_shelley), Snapchat (charshelley), or Twitter (@charlotte_shell).

I’m so excited to immerse myself within Dubai’s fitness industry. Judging by previous visits (and some top notch Instagram stalking), the health and fitness scene out there has much to offer. It’s pretty damn enticing for someone like me.

So, here comes the bit where I need your help… I don’t yet know many people in Dubai, so I’m looking to connect with others, and particularly those with an interest in health and fitness. Whether you may be a Personal Trainer, a blogger, or someone who just really loves a spin class, I would love love love to meet you.

We could train together, and maybe even teach each other a thing or two about fitness. If you want to get in contact, or perhaps you have a friend in mind that may be interested, either pop me a message on Instagram, or contact me on this email address: charlotteshelley1@gmail.com

Big love X

My Shopping List Staples

Shopping can be confusing at the best of times, especially when you’re trying to make healthy choices. I receive a lot of questions regarding nutrition, and I’ve already put together a rough food diary, which you can view here. I thought it would also be useful to create a list of my cupboard/fridge staples, to perhaps make your trip around the supermarket a little less faff. Here we go:

Fruit:

  • Bananas: I am quite literally bananas about bananas. I use them for everything – smoothies, baking, topping rice cakes and peanut butter. You name it, a banana can do it. Plus, they’re rich in potassium, and a source of quality carbohydrate, ideal either pre or post workout
  • Frozen Berries: buying your berries frozen means that you get a lot more bang for your buck… In more ways than one. When berries are frozen, their nutrients are sealed in, thus they maintain a higher nutritional value than their fresh counterparts, which have been bumped about during the journey from field to fridge. They’re also a lot less expensive, and last for ages in the freezer. Great for adding to smoothies, or topping your porridge
  • Avocado: you may be inclined to call it a vegetable because of its savoury taste. Butttt, avo is a fruit packed full of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, potassium and fibre. I start almost every day with the amusingly basic breakfast of eggs and avo, and I’m not bored of it yet

Veggies:

  • Sweet Potato: dense in vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron, sweet potato is a quality source of carbohydrate, with a valuable nutritional profile. Added bonus: it makes everything taste better
  • Cucumber: chop into sticks and munch alongside a fresh pot of hummus – you have the perfect snack! Did you know that cucumbers contain silica, the mineral responsible for promoting good nail-health? Well, you do now
  • Spinach Leaves: phytonutrient central, with anti-inflammatory properties. Spinach helps to maintain healthy eyesight, and its an absolute overall winner

Carbohydrates:

  • Oats: rich in beta-glucan – a dietary fibre known to reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the body. I eat oats cold, soaked in water or Rude Health Brown Rice Milk
  • Rice Cakes: the ultimate versatile snack. Top with peanut butter and banana, cream cheese and veggies, tuna and mashed avocado… The possibilities are endless
  • Uncle Ben’s Wholegrain Rice: these microwaveable pouches are easy to cook, and oh so tasty. Great for when you’re in a hurry, and available in a variety of yummy flavours

Protein:

  • Salmon Fillet: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12, selenium, niacin – the list goes on. The perfect protein-packed addition to any meal
  • Cod Fillet: a low calorie source of lean protein, dense in vitamins B6 and B12. Pair with sweet potato wedges, vinegar and homemade mushy peas to make your very own healthy fish and chips. Don’t mind if I do…
  • Eggs: the nutritional powerhouse, containing 13 essential vitamins and minerals, alongside a high nutrient and healthy fat content. I eat so many eggs that one day I may actually become one
  • Tinned Tuna in Spring Water: a readily available, affordable source of protein, and a great option for when you’re on-the-go. I opt for tuna in spring water, as opposed to oil, as this reduces calorie content

Snacks:

  • Fage 0% Fat Yoghurt: high in protein, low in fat. The ideal addition to a post workout smoothie, when fats should be kept to a minimum, to ensure rapid absorption of carbohydrates and protein into the body
  • Full Fat Greek Yoghurt: I buy both full and 0% fat yoghurt, to eat at different times of day. Mix 200g full fat Greek yoghurt with a handful of frozen berries, to create a tasty and filling snack
  • Meridian Peanut/Almond Butter: 100% nuts, enough said
  • Dark Chocolate: the darker, the more delicious… We’re talking 90% cocoa. If you can find raw cacao chocolate, that’s even better

This is by no means a fool proof, all-inclusive list, but I hope that it’s helpful nonetheless!

Review: Fit-Pharm UK

I have two questions to ask, the second of which is particularly important. So listen up.

  • Do you take any form of supplement, such as protein powder, pre workout or Branched Chain Amino Acids?
  • If so, have you any idea what these individual products contain?

If you haven’t already (tut tut), take a look at the ingredients. It’s more than likely that the list is extensive, and hellllla hard to pronounce. Guess what? Those substances are equally as alien to your body as they are to your eyes. We’re talking thickeners, artificial flavours/sweeteners and a whole load of other chemicals. It’s just plain nasty. The truth is, our bodies aren’t meant to take in such densely processed products; it simply won’t recognise them. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

I’m a supplement girl myself. There’s no denying that it’s a quick, easy and convenient way to assist you in achieving your goals. But I’m just not down with the idea of filling my body with the unnatural substances listed above. After all, what’s the point in eating clean, and purposefully avoiding anything artificial, to then consume a whole load of chemicals in the form of a shake? It doesn’t make sense.

I was fortunate enough to stumble across the perfect solution, thanks to my lovely friend Lauren (check out her page here). Praise the Lord – there’s no reason to ditch the supps all together. You can still stumble out of the gym, muscles trembling and a protein shake in hand. The gainzzz are here to stay.

IMG_3237

What is this miraculous solution, I hear you ask? The answer: Fit-Pharm. This is an independent, UK-based fitness supplement and clothing brand. Their ethos is to create clean, natural products, free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. They taste incredible: Fit-Pharm is just a whole different level when compared to mainstream alternatives. The best part? Your body loves these products just as much as your taste buds.

My personal favourite is Vanilla. I’m a sucker for Vanilla ice cream generally, so I use Fit-Pharm Epic Whey Protein to make my very own ‘Nice Cream’ (keep your eyes peeled for the recipe at some stage). The chocolate and strawberry flavours are also deeeeelicious.

I would never promote or recommend something that I didn’t believe in, because that’s just not me. But I honestly cannot recommend these products highly enough. Without Fit-Pharm, I would have stopped using supps a long time ago. Check out their website here, and make the change. You can thank me later.

When purchasing products, don’t forget to use my discount code: charshelley10