I know we’ve got a few weeks yet, but if you’ve got someone special in your life, it’s probably time to start thinking about those dreaded Valentine’s Day plans.

The kicker is, with it still being not-that-long after Christmas, some of us (okay, a lot of us) are still super skint. I don’t often blog about Valentine’s Day, but I’m feeling the pinch as much as anyone right now so thought it would be nice to share some ideas for the day whether you’re skint or not – plus, I’ve got a competition where you can win £25 worth of M&S vouchers!

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BUDGET
If you’re really skint (aren’t we all?) why not forgo trading gifts and instead do something a bit more thoughtful (& cheap). Cooking dinner is always a sweet gesture, but it doesn’t always have to be just a standard dinner. You could cook their favorite meal (add some candles and some nice music to set the mood) or perhaps put together a cheap and cheerful picnic and go and eat it in a nice spot. Alternatively, buy lots of posh looking finger food, throw lots of blankets and cushions on the floor and have an indoor picnic/food splurge whilst watching a bunch of movies.

Food is the way to anyone’s heart, trust me. For one Valentine’s Day, an ex bought me a Happy Meal in bed for breakfast then bought me a bunch of my favourite sweets. I was happy as larry.

Crafts are always a fun way to show someone you love them, too. A handmade card with some beautiful words inside go a long way, or, if it’s more serious, why not make a scrapbook about your relationship? There are plenty of ‘XX reasons I love you’ crafts that can be found via Google too. A jar full of reasons jotted down on scraps of paper costs next to nothing by only spending a few quid on some bits and bobs to make the jar look pretty.

BLOWOUT
Why not put some money towards a nice day out, followed by a hotel stay? There’s always lots to do in London – a sightseeing day is always a lot of fun – but it could also be just as romantic to find some things to do in your hometown – after all, it’s not often we really explore the tourist attractions near to where we grew up.

Finally, if funds allow, why not look into going away for Valentines Day or arranging a surprise holiday for a gift? A long weekend away or a week spent in the sun will benefit the both of you and means some time alone without any distractions. I don’t know about you, but a simple long weekend to Amsterdam would suit me at this time of year. There’s always the option of going further afield too, even if it is later in the year (but you can present your other half with the details on Valentines Day). Places like Lastminute.com, Expedia.co.uk or CLC World Travel Centre are ideal websites to keep in mind when searching for a holiday – and often, they’re available on a budget too.

CLC WORLD TRAVEL CENTRE COMPETITION 
However, if you’re skint like me, I am running a competition in collaboration with CLC World Travel Centre to win £25 worth of M&S vouchers!

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You could put these vouchers towards ingredients for a home cooked meal, M&S’s Dine In For Two promotion or some sexy lingerie. And, if you’re single, enter anyway and just treat yourself 😉

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I am aware that this is the third fitness related post in a row, but I just wanted to check in and write a quick blog post about how I’ve been getting on with the fitness side of things in the past month.

In my ‘10 achievable resolutions post for 2017‘ last year, I mentioned that in past years I tended to set more general goals such as ‘be more healthy’ and that for 2017, I’d chosen specific ones like how I wanted to take up a new fitness class and go swimming more.
However, as well as those specific goals, I personally decided to continue with the goal of being more healthy and trying to be more fit. This is a goal I’ve tried to work on a little for the past year or so too as I believed I was happy with my body, but felt I wasn’t healthy: I didn’t do a lot of exercise, I ate a lot of junk food etc.
I slowly made progress with little steps – eating more healthy and homemade meals etc – which is good in itself, but I have to admit, I got to a point where I was becoming really self conscious about my weight. Although I wouldn’t say I was massively overweight, I realized I wasn’t thin or healthy either.
I didn’t make a conscious decision to change this though, as I felt I was taking the right approach. I don’t believe in dieting and I knew that by aiming to be more fit and healthy and by taking on some more healthy lifestyle choices, in the long run it would benefit me.
Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fitness | Fitness in January | New Year's Resolutions
Anyway, in January, I decided to get a bit more serious (or fun) about it and mix it up it a bit. Rather than just consciously choosing to eat a healthy meal sometimes and working out when I felt like it (like I had done in previous years), this year/for 2017 I decided to genuinely begin to eat more healthy and try new exercise classes.
Although I decided I wasn’t going to be hard on myself, I made a plan to mix it up so I do at least one exercise class each week (and a different one each week, if possible) as long as money allowed, try and walk more (even if it means pacing around my living room to hit my step goal most days of the week) and, again, generally eat more healthy. 
This month, I feel I’ve done particularly well.
The healthy eating part has been super easy what with taking on Veganuary of course. I’ve been eating a lot more vegetables and, er, lots of potatoes, which doesn’t seem like a big difference but has really evened out my meals. I’ve gone from eating barely any vegetables at all to having them with nearly every meal for a start.
As for the fitness side of things, I’ve also been pleased with my progress. I’ve taken on a new fitness class each week, and here is a general look at what I’ve been up to:
WEEK ONE
My sister and I saw in the New Year (sort of – we’d planned the walk for January 1st but had to reschedule when it p*ssed down with rain!) with a long walk up Dunstable Downs. It was a beautiful fresh and frosty day – we took the dogs (and my neice of course), had a long gossip and treated ourselves to a delicious hot chocolate with soya milk (for me) and coffee (for her) afterwards at the cafe overlooking the scenery. We also flew a kite! This week, I also finally tried Pound Fitness. I absolutely loved this, but typically it’s the one class I’ve been unable to find the time to return to so far!
WEEK TWO
This week I stuck to the one fitness class (which was my original plan all along, but I actually accidentally spent some of the month doing two fitness classes per week instead of one!) as I was headed to Centreparcs that weekend and knew (well hoped) we would do a lot of walking there. This week, I chose Pole Fitness, which is conveniently pretty much across the road from me. I’ve actually done pole classes before and took three or four lessons last year which was fun, but this one nearby made much more sense to me, as I won’t be wasting petrol money to get there and can’t cancel due to traffic or anything like that. It was really fun – the class was small and intimate so we got a lot of one-on-one time, but my god the bruises I developed afterwards were worrying!
At Centreparcs, we didn’t do any specific walking (I’d envisioned long, relaxing walks through the woods when instead we spent a lot of time partying), but did do a lot of walking since the pool was about a fifteen minute walk away. We didn’t do a lot of swimming either, but with lots of time spent on the rapids and waterslides (then me almost falling asleep hungover going round and round the lazy river on the last day), I’m still counting it as a win.
Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fitness | Fitness in January | New Year's Resolutions
WEEK THREE
Last week, I met my sister for a Zumba class with Fitness Milton Keynes, as I had some vouchers from the MK Blogger Network Christmas Party. This was super fun and the lady who ran it was so friendly and energetic – I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to try a Zumba class either! I’m in two minds about taking this class again though. I absolutely loved it, but being in Newport Pagnell, it’s a little out of my way, especially as I’ve just joined my local gym which also runs Zumba classes. My sister really enjoyed it too though, so I think I’ll probably look into attending the class maybe once a month when my sister does. 
I also did another Pole Fitness class and have pretty much given in to the fact that I’ll likely be continuing this on a weekly basis too, as I enjoyed it so much! I feel like I’m really learning and acing some of the moves this time around.
WEEK FOUR
Finally, this week, I took another Pole Fitness class. I had hoped to take up another class this week with my local gym, but just haven’t had the time. Instead, I’ve tried to make it up by trying to hit my 10,000 step count more this week (so far, I’ve nailed it on three days, which is impressive as a couple of those days saw me working from home and not even leaving the house), and working out at home (I started the 30 Day Squat Challenge, god help me!).
So, although I’m not pushing myself to work out every single day, I feel like for the month of January, I have made some really good progress so far. I feel like I’ve incorporated enough fitness changes in my life so that they can be realistic lifestyle changes in the long run – I feel that there’s a good chance I can stick to doing at least one exercise class per week and trying to hit my step count as much as I can.
Keeping this long term and seeing this progress as a lifestyle change rather than a new year fitness regime which sees me pushing too hard and running out of motivation far too soon has really helped me stay on top of keeping fit this month and I really hope it continues.
I also believe joining the gym may help. I didn’t plan to join a gym, but my local gym has a deal on where it is cheaper at the moment up until March, so I figured it would be a good time to try it out. It’s a gym I hadn’t been to until now and it’s really nice with a little coffee shop area. The classes are more varied (although they do book up quickly), and membership includes entry to the swimming pool too which is nice as I want to start swimming more this year too.
I may not keep my membership after March – this is something I’m going to see about – but in the meantime, I’m really enjoying taking part in the classes on offer. Next week, I am already booked into yoga (straight after Pole Fitness!) and Zumba. I’ll be booking another Pound Fitness class next week too.
So overall I feel like it’s been a realistic success in January, and I really hope I can keep it up!
How are you getting on with your fitness goals, if you have any? Let me know with a comment!
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I’m not usually one to jump on a fitness fad bandwagon, as I don’t believe in quick and easy or overnight results. 

Likewise, I don’t tend to give in and waste lots of money on products or diets that is promised to work by everyone – I didn’t give in and purchase a Nutribullet (I like smoothies on the odd occasion but can use my Nan’s old hand blender for a fraction of the price!) and although I’ve reviewed reputable teatoxes in the past, you won’t find me running out the door to spend £50+ on a new diet regime.
So when my close friend Briony started banging on about getting a Fitbit, I took no interest. 
Until we went to Reading festival and she whacked up an impressive 120,000 steps (when according to Fitbit the American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps daily for a healthy lifestyle) and I began to consider the idea. It was also when we spent at least two hours walking each day (half an hour from the camp to the arena multiple times a day) without her breaking a sweat and me, well, not sweating but definitely aching by the end of it all, that I thought, ‘hmm. I’d like to be able to do that many steps a day – should the occasion arise – and take it all in my stride like she has done’.
I mean, I’m not as lazy as I used to be and all that walking wasn’t too hard, but I definitely felt it by the end of the weekend. 
Beforehand, I’d also wondered what good just walking can do. It turns out a lot, really.
So I caved and bought one, feeling slightly sick and nervous at spending £99 on something that wasn’t a necessity. I’d never spent that much money in one go before, except for when buying a laptop or that time I went to buy a bikini for holiday and accidentally-on-purpose spent £150 on lingerie in Boux Avenue.
That was back in September (buying the Fitbit, that is, not my shameful splurge in Boux Avenue) and just four months on, my opinion has changed completely and I absolutely love my Fitbit.
Here’s five reasons why I believe Fitbits are worth the money.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fitness | Fitbit | Fitbit Alta

IT’S NOT JUST A FITNESS FAD
..and you won’t use it religiously for one month before shoving it in the back of your drawer. Trust me on this one. I’m the queen of picking up new projects and getting bored after a month or so, but five months on, I’m still using the hell out of my Fitbit. I don’t always log my food (I do around 85% of the time) but I didn’t buy it for that reason. I still use it all the time – I kind of have to without realizing it being that it’s worn around my wrist 24/7 – but I mean, actively too. Nearly every single day I try to up my step count/hit my step goal/beat my friends etc.
IT MOTIVATES YOU
Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to wake up one morning, look at your Fitbit and immediately go on a 5k run – but it does push you and motivate you to move more. I actively try to hit my step goal but there are times when I’ll be sat in on an evening and I get a notification telling me that just 2,000 more steps to go before hitting my goal. I then make a conscious effort to get up and do that, whether it’s taking the dog out for the walk or pacing around the house like a lunatic. Of course without a Fitbit I wouldn’t know how many steps I’ve done, but I can’t say that there’s ever been an instance pre-Fitbit that at 7pm I’ve thought to myself ‘I haven’t walked much today, I better get up and do some form of walking/exercise to keep healthy’. In fact, even if I just get to at least 5,000 steps by the afternoon, that’s enough for me to know that realistically if I move or push myself a little, I can easily hit 10,000 steps that evening.
YOU CAN TAKE ON CHALLENGES OR TRY TO BEAT YOUR FRIENDS
This is the real fun part if you have friends that have Fitbits too. You can set challenges on a workweek or on a weekend to see who gets the most steps and it makes me SO DAMN COMPETITIVE. I’ve beaten my friends a couple of times, but it’s super hard when I work from home. One friend has a child also, so when I check it early morning, she’s already wracked up so many steps! But it is fun, overall. There are also solo challenges, such as NYC 3.1 Miles (which is 8,000 steps). You can set these when going on a long walk and, as you progress, you can see different landmarks via the app. You basically digitally walk a path in NYC, embedded with panasonic photos. I haven’t done one of these yet, but my friend did one for Yosemite Vernal Falls and the photos were beautiful.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fitness | Fitbit | Fitbit Alta

IT TRACKS MORE THAN JUST STEPS
You can also track your water intake, your sleeping patterns and what you eat. Tracking your food is similar to MyFitnessPal, but it’s super useful because you can set specific goals to lose, gain or maintain weight. I find it really hard to understand how many calories you should eat depending on your workout each day in general, and Fitbit does this for you. You can set a goal of, for example, losing 2.0 lbs per week by lowering your calorie deficit, and then when you log your food and exercises, it lets you know how many calories you can eat for the rest of the day. If you have a specific goal in mind, it really takes the complication out of it all. 
IT WORKS
Since using my Fitbit, I have lost 1 stone and five lbs gradually and in a safe manner. Although my biggest loss has been since going vegan, I am still super happy with the results because I am losing the weight bit by bit, rather than in one big go. For example, my friend explained that she often diets, loses a lot of weight quickly and then puts it back on again, but by walking more with my Fitbit, eating more healthy and taking up some new year fitness classes, it’s clear to see that the weight I am losing is coming off safely and due to a long-term lifestyle change. Fitbit has kept me going; I didn’t buy one and immediately go running every single evening and dieting but by making slow but gradual changes over the course of a few months, I have slowly become more comfortable in myself and all around more healthy.
Which, I think, was my overall goal when I decided to purchase my Fitbit!
Of course, different things work for different people, but I think at the very least, a Fitbit is a great way to simply just get walking and out of the house more – which can never do any harm really. 
Have you got a Fitbit or would you ever consider buying one? Let me know!
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I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again – one of the biggest motivators to get me to work out is stylish/cute sportswear! 

Even if my hair is a mess, I have no makeup on and I’m the only one in the gym with no one to see what I’m wearing, if I’ve got a cute slogan top on then I feel good.
Half the time, even when I’m at home and feeling like crap, if I know I have a new cute top to wear, that’s what motivates me to go and workout so at least I get use out of it!
Now that we’re well into the new year, I’ve been eyeing up some new sportswear I’d love to treat myself to. Here’s my sportswear wishlist.

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ONE
I don’t normally pay much attention to sports pants; as long as they fit then I’m good. I already have two pairs of pretty simple ones with a couple of pops of pink, but I really like this pair by Tesco from all places! They’re a bit more bold without being too in your face and would go perfectly with just a plain work out top.

TWO
I absolutely love this zombie themed slogan top, by Fitness Freaks on Etsy. I’ve actually bought one of their tops before (another zombie slogan top), and think it’s quite relevant as well as stylish. I don’t know why I love zombie slogan tops so much; probably because I’m usually the only one wearing anything related to zombies and plus it works well/gets me in the right frame of mind when I’m running with my Zombies, Run app.

THREE
This is another slogan top which is basic but cute too. It’s quite versatile and I’d probably wear it lounging around the house too. I think it’s the type of top I could pair with leggings and trainers and just wear out regularly without anyone thinking I was on my way to or fro the gym. Plus, for only £8.99 from New Look, it’s a steal.

FOUR
I have to admit, I’m actually getting to the point where I’d be comfortable working out in public with a cropped top like this. Sometimes when you’re getting sweaty a top simply just doesn’t do it, sticking to your skin and not cooling you down etc. I love this versatile crop top from Peacocks and I really like the straps too. 

FIVE
Finally, another slogan top, this time from H&M. I actually love H&M’s sportswear range and find it’s always really motivational as well as stylish. A lot of the range is filled with slogan items, but none of them are corny which I like. This one is super versatile, although I have to admit, I don’t think anyone will believe what it states on the front, haha!

So that’s my current sportswear wishlist, although in hindsight, I’ve picked lots of grey’s and black’s – I should have gone with a couple of items to add a pop of colour! Still, it means the range is super versatile, most of it goes together and nothing on the list is particularly expensive.

What do you think? What’s on your current sportswear wishlist? Let me know!

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So, it’s safe to say I’ve struggled a lot this week.
I’ve found that in between feeling sick (nearly everything I’ve been eating I’ve been puking back up again) and being so busy, I haven’t had much chance to meal plan or buy vegan specific food.
In my last post, I actually left off at Monday, so this post for this week will be a bit shorter.
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TUESDAY 17TH
Today I started off well with some vegan pancakes which did not go well and, later, some plain toast, which luckily I managed to keep down. So far, so vegan…until around 1am when I was starving and had to give in and have a Mars bar, with nothing else light and/or vegan in the house. What a fail.
WEDNESDAY 18TH
Wednesday was avocado on toast and I met my dad for dinner. I don’t know what was going through my mind, but well aware that nachos are vegan as long as I don’t have the cheese, for some stupid reason I associated the fact that tacos are very similar to nachos and would be the same. I got to the pub and was so hungry and hyped up for tacos that despite the fact they come with cheese and lots of meat, I ordered it anyway. I only had a small bit of meat, but I felt horrible afterwards because at the very least I could have gone for something veggie. Still, this made me feel unwell nonetheless, but I was at least able to keep it down. I blamed feeling unwell for my mistake.
THURSDAY 19TH
Thursday I was determined to get back on it and had (vegan) pancakes for breakfast and, for dinner, vegetable grills with mixed vegetables and garlic breaded mushrooms. I had a late supper of avocado on toast too. 
FRIDAY 20TH
Friday was another bad day for me as I had such a busy day, I skipped breakfast. I went out to visit my sister and we went for a long, long walk to the foresty centre, and for lunch I had a cheese and onion toastie with salad and crisps. The crisps were vegan, as was the salad obviously, but the cheese and onion toastie = not so much. Still, at least it was still veggie.
SATURDAY 21ST
Finally on Saturday I managed to get a proper shop in and get my head back in the game. I was sure to pick up lots of vegan treats and light food, like oreos, Chipstix and Nakd bars, but I couldn’t find any courgettes for my beloved stuffed courgettes! I filled myself up with a mushroom and garlic pasta though and had some packets of Chipstix as a snack.
I think I’ve been terrible this week, but with having such a volatile stomach, I could have done a lot worse. I must admit, I’ve been trying to choose some food to settle my stomach, regardless of whether or not it’s vegan and I finally seem to be feeling a bit better.
I have taken solace in the fact that I haven’t given up completely and where I have had non-vegan meals, it’s not been on purpose. For example, when I was out with my sister, I’d skipped breakfast and there were no vegan options on the menu, so I chose the nearest thing to vegan. So there have been a few slip ups here and there, but none intentionally.
There have of course been many points I’ve been tempted to pack it all in and drive to McDonalds since, y’know, I’ve already slipped up, but I persevered!
Saying that, my sister commented on how well I looked which made me feel good! I hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks and she pointed out that apparently my skin was glowing, my hair looked good and I’d lost weight – so that was nice!
Now that I’ve got my final big shop in I should be okay. I have plenty of supplies so if I’m absolutely starving at night and it’s too late to cook, I have snacks that are vegan luckily.
There’s not long to go now – only ten or so days – and I’m determined to be 100% vegan this last week! Wish me luck!
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