Thursday, 21 June 2018

How Exercise Helped Me To Become Relaxed, Stronger & Fitter

How Exercise Helped Me To Become Relaxed, Stronger & Fitter by UK Lifestyle Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Exercise has helped me to become more relaxed, stronger and fitter after an accident several years ago that left me in a lot of pain and gave me nerve damage.  I have regained my sense of self and changed my life in the last couple of years and becoming more active has certainly helped with that.  In today's post, I'm going to give you a little insight as to how.

I'd lost all of my strength and couldn't left things that are relatively light such as a pan of water or the kettle, plus my grip was affected which mean that lifting these things could be dangerous too.

However the impact wasn't just physical as my mental health was affected badly which is something that I still really struggle to speak out about.  For a long time following the accident, I felt as though I had completely lost who I was and although I feel like I'm more me now than I have ever been, I'm definitely a different me.  I've come to realise that your experiences in life shape the person you become.

Years of being on medication for the physical pain had a negative impact on my mental health because the tablets made me feel exhausted.  The more tired I felt, the less I felt as though I could cope which exacerbated the mental health issues and made everything worse.  It was time for change.

I saved up and hired a personal trainer to help me to gain the knowledge and techniques needed to lift weights to help me to rebuild my strength.  I was living on my own most of the time and needed to be able to do everyday things like lifting something heavy, turning to talk to someone without setting my neck off in pain and ultimately get a bit of confidence in myself back.

After keeping up with it consistently for months and realising the benefits not only to my strength but to my well being by having an hour long social media break twice a week, I decided to join the gym.

I was nervous at first but quickly found my feet and started to love it.  Being active helped me to raise my fitness levels, give me some of my strength back and confidence in my own abilities. It also gave me vital time away from the online world and a much needed break from my phone.  When you work online, it can feel as though you're working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and you never get a break from it.  Going to the gym or for a swim and having my phone off for that time gives me a chance to switch off, relax and focus on the present; each stroke, each step, each lift.  I love it!

The same goes for being more active in general really.  I absolutely love going for walks around where I live and, as daft as it sounds at 29, I use the Pokemon Go app for extra encouragement.  I park further away from places now, walk into town and walk to the swimming pool.  My life is more active now than it has ever been in my adult life and the positive impact it has had on my outlook, fitness and most importantly, wellbeing has been amazing but none of it would have happened if I'd let me size get in the way of me going.  Sure it was daunting but the more I went the more confident I became and the positive impact on my life was definitely worth it!

How Exercise Helped Me To Become Relaxed, Stronger & Fitter by UK Lifestyle Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Now that I've felt the happiness that becoming more active has brought to my life, I want to share this message with others in case it could help them too.  Don't let your size hold you back from benefiting from exercise, especially the mental health benefits.

The outfit that I'm wearing in this post is my Scarlett Two Piece Lounge Set in grey from CurveWow (If you use the discount code whatlauraloves10, you'll save some money on the site too).  I often wear this tracksuit when I'm on my way to go swimming.

When my boyfriend finishes work, he often comes to mine and we walk down to the pool, go for a 30-40 minute continuous swim and then relax in the sauna and steam room for 10-20 minutes. Then I have a shower but take my time to pamper and look after myself too with shampoo and conditioner, a hydrating body wash followed with a condensed version of my skincare routine and a body moisturiser, all from small sample sizes that I've saved from goodie bags and freebies at beauty counters.  My trip to the gym or swimming is a relatively short amount of time out of my day but does me the world of good and I feel so chilled afterwards.

What is your favourite way to exercise?  I'd love to know how it has helped you in your life!
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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Are you BBQ Ready This Summer?

WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Lifestyle Blogger

Summer is here – at last! Which means that the smell of BBQ’s is in the air and one thing is for sure, it’s certainly contagious! Having a BBQ means getting all your friends and family together, eating and drinking the long, summery evenings away and enjoying the sunshine with those you love most.  However if you're the one cooking and hosting it can also mean lots of preparation and hard work…

With the World Cup being on as well as Father's Day, we had a BBQ over at my Dad's house last weekend (you can check out what I wore above- everything is linked at the end of the post).  My dad is a self professed King Of The BBQ with king prawn and shrimp skewers and ribs from Antony Worrall Thompson's barbecue book to name but two dishes.  There's always so much work that goes into one of my dad's BBQs but he has it down to a fine art now from the food and cooking to the garden decoration and seating.

To kick start your dining al fresco this summer, I'm going to share some helpful tips and ideas of how you can get your garden BBQ ready this summer.


LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING
You want your guests to stay as long as possible, right?  Well, just because it gets dark at the end of the evening doesn’t mean you all have to say goodbye. Some well placed garden lighting will show your guests that they don't need to leave early.  LED garden lights are really popular right now as they create a great atmosphere as well as save you a fortune on your lighting bills. You can check them out here.

Make sure you have adequate lighting on your tables and around your seating areas too. Got some empty jars and a few tea lights? Why not make your own lanterns by painting the jars in different colours.  Candle light is always great for setting a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere – ideal after a busy afternoon in the sun, drinking, eating and having fun.  Whatever holder you choose, I'd really recommend citronella candles because they deter flies and other bugs which can be so annoying when you're sat outside trying to enjoy yourself!  I've got some for my balconies from Home Bargains.

For the darker areas of your garden you could also try some solar powered garden stakes or fairy lights.  These will look great on summer nights as they will illuminate the plants and garden paths.

ADD SOME COLOUR
If you’re planning your BBQ in your yard or your garden is just a little boring then adding a splash of colour can make a huge difference.  Think brightly coloured planters and plant pots; you could paint these yourself or head to your local garden centre or discount home store as you'll always find something to pick up there.  You could even up cycle your existing garden furniture and paint it a bright, summery colour to make a really positive first impression and a great focal point in your outdoor space.

TAKE A SEAT!
If your garden furniture has seen better days then you could invest in a new set, especially if you're going to be out in your garden a lot this summer as you'll definitely get your use out of it.  There's loads of options available on the high street, online and on retail parks so check out your local discount home stores and supermarkets to see what you can find before you splash out.  Making sure your guests are comfortable is important so ensure theres plenty of seating and provide picnic blankets to sit on too.  I always find that lots of outdoor cushions go down a treat too, as will providing blankets and shawls to cover up with, should the evening become cool.

CLEAN & MAINTAIN YOUR GRILL
Check your BBQ the day BEFORE your guests arrive and make sure it’s clean and useable. Many of us are in the habit of opting to clean the BBQ the next time we use it… which sometimes means a year later!  Plan your BBQ menu and try to take note of everyone’s preferences – especially those with allergies like myself who can't have dairy. Now all you need is to put your drinks on ice and wait for your guests to arrive.

Happy BBQ-ing beauties!

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Monday, 18 June 2018

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The statement jacket is vital to any wardrobe.  It can completely transform your look, taking it from great to fabulous in an instant.

When you're heading out of the front door, your jacket may be the last thing that you pull on but its one of the first things that other people see making it a make or break piece when creating a first impression.

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

When you're curating your wardrobe and putting together your outfits for the day, don't leave your jacket until last; it should be as integral to your outfit as anything else that you're wearing, often even more important than other pieces.

Someone once told me that when you go for an interview, wear a brightly coloured, well fitting jacket to make a lasting first impression so that once you've slayed your interview, you'll standout and be memorable against even the toughest competition who also slayed theirs!


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

For me, while patterns and prints have been all the rage in previous years, this summer its all about the bold, blocks of colour when it comes to statement jackets.

For me, the Simply Be Double Breasted Jacket with Gold Button Detail is the ultimate colour blocking piece for summer.  It's oversized, bold and a piece that gets people talking for the right reasons.


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The striking green colour adds a statement to any outfit and those gold buttons are the most gorgeous pop of metallic colour, complimenting the green hue perfectly.

Green is one of my favourite colours as an adult, despite the fact that I never actually liked the colour at all as a child.  It's funny how your tastes change as you grow up isn't it?


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

One things for sure, a double-breasted blazer will NEVER go out of fashion.  The shape is a total classic, oversized or otherwise and that makes it an investment piece for your wardrobe that you'll be able to pull out year after year.

The quality as you'd expect from Simply Be is great and I find the fit perfect too.  This jacket can be worn buttoned up which feels too restrictive for me, open which is usually my preference and also over the shoulders which I'm actually swaying more towards... there's a couple of jackets that I've started to wear in this way in the last month or so which is causing me to believe that my tastes maybe changing.  I usually would leave that look to the Fashion Week attendees but maybe I can rock it up in Newcastle too?



What makes this stunning jacket all the more wonderful is that 30% of the purchase price is donated to Breast Cancer Now so if the popping shade doesn't lift your spirits, the feel good charity donation certainly will!

When wearing a jacket as statement as this, I think its best to keep the rest of the colour palette fairly neutral with your outfit.  For me that means monochrome but that black and white doesn't need to be boring.

The Simply Be Sleeveless Ruffle Top for starters is a great twist on a plain black top.  It's pretty, girly and perfect for summer.  Effortlessly pop it on with jeans, denim shorts, printed culottes or work trousers or tuck it into a skirt and you've instantly given your everyday look a fun twist.


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Then theres the Simply Be Chloe Distressed Skinny Jeans which are quite simply, a dream come true.  I've been wanting to wear a pair of ripped jeans for years now but I could never find any that fit me well enough; I'm so much larger around my tummy than on my legs that to be able to find jeans to fit my tummy means that I end up with the look of wide leg pants regardless of what leg style I choose.  However these Chloe jeans have totally changed the game for me as they're actually proper skinny jeans and fit more snuggly on the leg all the way down to the ankle than any other skin jeans I've had.

They're super soft and really stretchy so they feel as though they moulded to my body and they're so comfortable, I feel like I'm not even wearing them.  So they're mega comfy, actually skinny... what else?  They're ripped to perfection in all the right places; nothing revealing or silly and they look awesome when they're on.  Then there's the fact that they're white.  Oh man do I LOVE white jeans, they look so lush on, especially in summer and even more so when I'm tanned.  Just check out this WhatLauraLoves Instagram photo as evidence!


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Put all these pieces together with the addition of my fave espadrilles of the summer from River Island and you've got one killer outfit.  The green statement jacket makes everything POP dontcha think?

SHOP THE POST- use code WLV10 for discount on all Simply Be orders except sale & outlet.

Simply Be Double Breasted Jacket with Gold Button Detail // Simply Be Black Sleeveless Ruffle Top // Simply Be Chloe Distressed Skinny Jeans- Regular Length // River Island Espadrilles // Gold Fever Hair Extensions fitted by HJ Extensions


Do you have a statement jacket in your wardrobe?  What colour would you love?  How often do you wear green?

*Thank you to Mark at My Digital Life for taking these photos, you absolute legend.
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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Making My Rented Apartment A Home While Saving To Buy


Returning home after a long day at work, running errands or socialising is one of my favourite feelings in the world.  It's coming up to a year since I moved into my apartment and the comforting feeling of being home only gets stronger.

As an anxious person, I don't cope too well with having lots of mess, boxes piled high or disorganisation around me.  I'm easily overwhelmed and the more stressed I get, the less I seem to be able to get anything done.

I knew that when I moved into my flat, I'd need to get as much sorted as I could as quickly as I could and that's exactly what I did.  I did loads of research online to find the highest quality essentials for my bedding and kitchen but for the best possible price and with the help of some friends, I painted, cleaned, utilised what I already had and put everything away as best I could.  Within 2 weeks my apartment felt like a home and over the last year, I've slowly added to the decor and furniture.

Soft furnishings have helped a great deal.  It was really important to me that I had a comfortable place to sleep and a sense of escapism in my bedroom so I invested in my bedding and created a hotel room level of comfort and visual aesthetic in my bedroom, you can read about that in this post.  Little finishing touches such as photographs in frames, throws and cushions, candles and fresh flowers made all the difference to my space and really helped to give me the comforting sense of home.

Quality for the best price has been very important to me throughout this process because while I'm on a budget, I'm buying for investment because these pieces are going to be with me for a long time.  I'm renting the place that I live in right now but I'm saving as much as I can so that one day, I can buy my own property.  I want my apartment to feel like a home and I'm so happy there but I would like the long term financial security of owning my own property eventually and I'm working so hard to achieve that goal.

One of my favourite things about my apartment are the balconies.  I've only decorated one as of yet but it gets so much use as it opens out from the lounge.  I bought the Tärnö table and 2 chairs from Ikea for the bargain price of £35 and 2 of the dark grey Justina Chair Pads for £4 a piece to give the chairs some added comfort.  This summer, I bought a big citronella candle in a light red glass jar to go on the table and some wine goblets for 79p each from Home Bargains which I'm discovering is a great place for homeware.  I love dining outside but I'm always so worried that I'll drop and smash my crockery so my dad has given me the plastic garden plates and glasses that I'd bought years ago for his house as he doesn't use them.

When I get the extra cash, I'm thinking about buying just one relaxation chair for the other balcony, perhaps one that reclines so that I can sit out there and read when the weather is good.  I like to have a slow morning, write and have breakfast and I think that it would be lovely to create a space where I could do that too.


Now I can use my balcony for dining, drinks with friends and for working on my laptop so it really is a great extension of my apartment for work, play and relaxation.  I really feel the value in having outdoor space and its something that I'm looking forward to having even more of when I buy a property.

I've always fancied the idea of having a kitchen with a living space that opens out onto the back yard or garden and its definitely on my tick list of things that I'm looking for when it comes to buying a home.  I'm keeping my options open though as if I see somewhere that I love that doesn't have the access to the outdoor space that I want then I can always get a quote from a bifold door online designer and create the exact look that I want.

It'll be so amazing to sit out on a patio with some plants and maybe even a BBQ.  The great thing is that I'll be able to take the all of the things that I've bought for my apartment with me and because I've not scrimped on quality and they're precisely my style, they'll suit my next place too.  However for the time being, I'm so happy in my apartment that I'm in no rush to buy anywhere.  When I've got enough money saved up and the right property comes along, it comes along but until then, I'm so happy in my home.  Who knows, maybe in the future I'll move in with my boyfriend!

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Black Slogan Embellished T Shirt With Lattice Detail // Fern Distressed Denim Shorts use code WLV10 for discount (not valid on sale or outlet)

How do you utilise your outdoor space?  Whats your favourite thing about your home?

*This post has been written in collaboration with Direct Bifold Door
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Monday, 11 June 2018

Paul & Joe Skincare Routine Review

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

At long last, I am sharing my review of the Paul & Joe Skincare line with you all.  I say at long last because I've been using it since winter 2016, after meeting up with the Paul & Joe team.  While I had intended to write about it long before now, life got in the way and now I'm onto my first and second repurchase of some of these products!

Paul & Joe are well established in the fashion industry and I've used plenty products from their makeup range too which is inspired by the current seasons trends however this was my first time delving into their skincare line.  The packaging looked simple and clean but pretty and as with everything that this brand produces, A LOT of thought has gone into each and every product.  Nothing is slap dash which I love about Paul & Joe, there's not a hugely extensive product line because each item takes so long to design, create and develop.

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLovesThis skincare collection, inspired by the blue skies and olive trees of Italy, is designed to revive tired and dull skin which mine definitely has been over the last couple of years; its feeling exhausted!  The capsule skincare collection consists of a Cleansing Cream, Facial Oil, Herbal Lotion and Facial Cotton pads, all of which harness the powerful benefits of olive oil, along with powerful formulas packed full of ingredients such as polyphenol, oleic acid, and vitamin E.

A morning and evening skincare routine from Paul & Joe begins with the Cleansing Cream (also available here) which effortlessly removes all traces of make-up, dirt and impurities leaving my skin clean and feeling soft and smooth. Formulated with olive oil, this cleansing cream is rich in consistency and has a super soft, velvety texture that is a delight to apply.  I'm a firm believer that taking care of your skin is like an act of self care and massaging something like this into the skin feels so indulgent!


Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Whether I'm wearing a really light base or a much heavier foundation, it is able to remove it.  Waterproof mascara isn't a problem with this cleanser either; perhaps the olive oil within the formula helps to break down the products.  Either way, my skin is left feeling clean, soft and hydrated.

A little goes a long way with this cleanser.  I use about a 10pence piece amount and massage it quickly between my fingers before applying it to my face and neck in circular motions before rubbing it off with a warm, damp face cloth.  I like to double cleanse at night if I've been wearing heavy makeup through the day so sometimes I'll use a micellar water first (I'm currently using one from Matis) and other times I'll just use the Cleansing Cream twice.

While the pot it comes in isn't ideal when my nails are long, there's a little spatula that comes with it which makes scooping the product out much less messy and keeps it more hygienic.

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

After cleansing, the next step in the routine that the brand recommends is to apply a small amount of Paul & Joe Beaute The Oil onto a cotton pad and sweep it over the skin in upwards motions.  This product helps to promote skin repair and restoration by encouraging a healthy turnover cycle for a soft, firm and lustrous complexion.

It is absolutely STUNNING and quite unusual to find a product that works in this way but in an oil formula, I find.  Please don't get me wrong though, it doesn't feel heavy, oily or greasy at all and it doesn't clog the skin or sit on it.

The Oil is made up of a blend of plant-derived oils which include the ancient olive tree olive oil and olive squalene, which penetrates every cell of the outer layer of the skin, making it ultra nourishing.  It helps the product to reinforce the cellular lipids that enhance the skin’s ability to retain moisture. It is also infused with antioxidants to help maintain the balance of the skin and provide essential moisture.

This is very much one of those have to try it to believe it products.  Everything from the texture to the impact it has on the skin is beautiful!

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Next up, is the Paul & Joe Herbal Lotion which you apply onto the skin after using The Oil and again, with the Paul & Joe Cotton Pads but this time in a rolling pressing motion.

It felt a little strange at first applying this to the skin after an oil but man alive, it works so well.  The Herbal Lotion gives the skin a replenishing boost of moisture and leaves it feeling and looking hydrated, nourished and incredibly smooth.

The ingredients in the Herbal Lotion are plant derived and infused with olive oil, olive leaf essence, lemon fruit extract and organic fennel essence, all of which help to regenerate the skin cells and repair UV-induced damage to the skin.  I love the way that my skin looks radiant after using this and it gives my complexion a beautiful natural glow.

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The cotton pads that I talk about using are the Paul & Joe Facial Cotton Pads (also available here) which work really well with The Oil and The Lotion steps in the routine.  When I first got these to try, I thought that they were going to be really expensive but actually when I came to repurchase them from Beauty Bay, I didn't think that £3 was a bad price at all.

While the products work just as effectively with other cotton pads, these ones are especially good because I feel as though less product is absorbed into the pad and wasted.

They enable the Paul & Joe skincare products to be applied to the skin most effectively and I like to save them for use with only these products.  They're made up of a couple of outer layers with fine fibres that reduce friction on the skin and then they have a soft fibre inner layer which gives the pads a bouncy texture so they don't disintegrate with use. These layers allow the cotton pads to dispense any oil and lotion that has been absorbed into them which means that you're getting the optimum benefits from the skincare you're applying.

Paul & Joe Beaute Skincare Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves


In terms of the Paul & Joe skincare routine, that's it.  3 simple steps with 4 products, if you count the Cotton Pads.  However if I'm using them as part of my morning skincare routine then I'll also pop on an SPF afterwards.

The one that I used throughout the winter months was the Paul & Joe Limited Edition Suncream in SPF 10.  They do have a higher SPF formula however I haven't tried that one although I'd like to as I do usually prefer an SPF 30 or 50 even for in the UK but I think that an SPF 10 is fine for use during the cool months when the sun isn't as strong.

This suncream has a a smooth and creaming formula that leaves the skin feeling moisturised, soft and smooth but most importantly, protected and it prevents redness induced by UV-rays too.  It feels lightweight on the skin and doesn't leave it looking shiny or greasy, or clog your pores which is something I'm always talking about when it comes to SPF; its so important to use one like this that is specifically designed for the face so that it doesn't cause spots.  SPFs are designed to stay on the skin after all so even on days when I'm not wearing any makeup, I'll always double cleanse when I've used this.

Paul & Joe Skincare is available from Beauty Bay and Amazon as well as other shops online such as ASOS and Selfridges but the products go out of stock SO quickly because they're in such high demand.  My best advice is to head to their website here and you will see the stockists linked and you can click over to see if they have the product you're looking for in stock. 

Want more Paul & Joe?  Check out my other review posts:
Pearl Foundation Primer // Mulberry Spice Lipgloss // Autumn Makeup // Spring Makeup

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What products have you tried from Paul & Joe?  What skincare would you recommend?  I'd love to know what you have in your current routine!
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