Liam J Havard

Lifestyle and fashion.

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Monday, 21 August 2017

Body Image and Social Media

Hey Treacle,

It's been a while since we've last spoken. I know, I know I'm terrible. Life got in the way a little but hey I'm back in action now and for this post I wanted to talk about the relationship between body image and social media. It's something I'm quite passionate about and I can without a doubt say social media (SM) effects all of us in one way or another and when it comes to body image the results can be disastrous.

For many including myself SM creates pressure to look a certain way. It creates unrealistic expectations about body image. It's hard to not react negatively to SM at times when all you see is images of people with 'perfect' bodies. When you're scrolling through Insta and see post after post of guys and gals with ripped abs and a sexy booty you sometimes can't help but think 'I want that'. It's a normal reaction. The same goes for images seen on Twitter, Facebook and more.

It's tricky, right? You can't avoid it - unless you decide to delete all of your SM accounts and live under a rock. But for most of us, that's not an option. And really you shouldn't hide from it as there's no need. The goal here is to put things into perspective and think realistically. The images you're lusting over are not all black and white even though it seems like that. Let's break this down.

1. These people showing off their extreme bodies have gone through a lot to get them like that and maintaining them is just as hard as getting them to that extreme. If you haven't thought about this, think about how strict their diets are and how much they exercise. It's more stress than necessary but they do it for the purpose of looking 'good'. They don't eat doughnuts and their life is counting their steps. Where's the fun in that? Do you really think they're enjoying life to the full? Probably not. So although it seems like they have the perfect body it doesn't mean they have the perfect life. A well sculpted body doesn't = a happy life. Something to remember.

2. For some of the people in the images staying fit, healthy and lean is their life. Literally. They may be endorsed by companies or work with companies to look that way. Think fitness bloggers and athletes. Their job is to workout consistently and eat a certain way like their life depends on it because in a way it does. They have to look like that to make the dollar. You however don't. You shouldn't let the images bother you because hey your job isn't to look like that!

3. It doesn't take a genius to know that images aren't all what they seem. With photo editing tools readily available to all of the public from the likes of Instagram editing to Photoshop, free to paid for, anyone can get their hands on these tools. And with photo editing comes a layer of fakeness, right? Those photos you see everyday aren't all that they seem.

Those abs you see, well how do you know they weren't added in? That booty, how do you know it wasn't just expanded? Those biceps, how do you know a little lighting didn't make them pop. My point is you should take what you see with a pinch of salt because you don't know these people and what they are capable of. This stuff happens so don't let it get you down because what you're seeing might not be reality so don't wish for something that isn't real.

4. The images you see thrown at you from every angle is just one ideology. Just because the media is saying that type of body is the most beautiful doesn't mean it is. They're just one entity with that viewpoint; they don't define everyone else's interests and attractions.

What needs to change is how you see your body. You need to learn to love yourself because you are your own person and you should do you. And I'm not saying it's easy, heck I'm no expert in self-love but you've just got to remind yourself that you're beautiful because you are. We all have our insecurities so it's not easy but you should remember the divide between reality and social media images. Don't let it get you down because that shit ain't worth it. Now go flaunt it!

Liam x

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Headspace: Take 10. What I thought.

Mediation, we've all heard about it but do enough of us do it? The benefits of it are said to be amazing including lowered stress, better concentration and feeling happier. I decided I would test out these ideas by giving meditation a try. Headspace, an app that guides you into the practice offers what they call "Take 10", a 10 day guided meditation course for free. I took it for a whirl. Here's how I found it.

Source: here.
The goals:
  • To lessen my anxiety
  • To feel less stressed
  • To feel happier
  • To test meditation as a coping mechanism to calm me
The reality:

So I went into this whole thing with an open mind and not much expectation. I've done meditation once or twice before but that is literally all, I could never commit. This time round I was ready to take 10 minutes out of my day for 10 days and see what happened. 

I downloaded the app and did everything I was told to do by the man guiding me via voice through the Headspace app. His name was Andy. He was nice. He explained the process of meditation, how it would make me feel and how to get the most out of it. Good info needed for inexperienced meditators like me.

I took each day as it came starting with day 1 which was probably the hardest day. The first few days I was pretty distracted to be fair. I don't know if you're like me but my mind wanders off like no bloody tomorrow. PIZZA. FRIES. DISNEYLAND. PUGS. ZAC EFRON. You name it, I think it. You get where I'm going with this; I think...A LOT. But Andy assured me that if I was thinking a lot during my meditation time not to worry because each day I practice meditation it will lessen. Phew I thought. There was hope for me. But nevertheless the first few days were tricky.

The one thing I wasn't liking about meditation to start off with is how I was giving my mind time to think about my worries. If anything, I wanted to run away from them and not give myself time to think about them. Why in the heck would I want to do that? Are you crazy Andy?! But heck I soldiered on in the hope meditation would calm my fears.

As time went along and we moved onto day 5 I could see I was getting a little less distracted, not enormous amounts let's be realistic, but a little is better than none. I started to appreciate the practice of meditation more and taking time out for as little as 10 minutes a day to clear my mind. It was a good feeling. I did still occasionally get distracted during my zen time thinking about veggie dogs n'all sorts but the time I wasn't thinking about them I was calm. It was great. I was actually feeling calm, for real. This was a big deal as I am the least calm person you'll ever meet. Heck Andy was doing a good job.

In my final few days I realised meditation was really a skill to hone. It wasn't easy just sitting there for 10 minutes everyday trying to think about nothing, it really took patience. I did it though. By the end of the 10 days I enjoyed meditation and looked forward to my Take 10 sessions, it was great. I knew what I was doing towards the end and relied less on Andy's guidance because I knew what to expect and I brushed up on my meditation skills by then.

Remaining thoughts

Headspace was enjoyable and gave me some clarity and calm in my life, but I wouldn't say to a drastic measure. It offered me calm a few minutes out of the 10 minute session and a few minutes after the session, but that was about as far as it went. I think if I were to subscribe to the app and keep practicing meditation it would be more beneficial because I would have practiced how to meditation properly for the full benefit. Overall I found the whole process of meditation and using Headspace good but you need to have patience with the process because the benefits don't come into play overnight.

Have you used Headspace before?


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Top vegan food to order in Yo Sushi!

Yo Sushi! I can't quite get enough of it. Cheap, quick and tasty and you can order as much as you want without the waiter looking at you funny because you only get little plates. Keep it coming I say! Really good food that is Asian inspired and there's plenty of these restaurants about to dine in. I never really change my order here because what I normally order doesn't get old. You can't say that about many dishes! Here's what I order when I visit Yo Sushi! and what I recommend you try out too.

1. Vegetable gyozas

To start off with why not try the vegetable gyozas? Only a small dish but enough to wet the appetite. The gyozas come as a set of three and are full of flavour like soy and ginger. You're sure to want to get more as it's so tasty and really tastes like what you'd hope good Asian food would taste like. They're always piping hot so if you have the willpower, give it a minute to cool down.

2. Cucumber nori 

Next, try out the cucumber sushi which is a set of 6 small seaweed rolls, sushi rice and small pieces of cucumber. Light and refreshing and great with soy sauce. A little on the sweet side, but not overboard.

3. Vegetable firecracker rice

A personal favourite, the firecracker rice packs a kick sure to give you a foodgasm. No really. Packed with flavour and mild heat, the dish comprises of sticky rice, carrot, spring onion, sesame seeds and more. Moist and fulfilling, the dish is sure to put a smile on your face. Try at least two of these dishes if you want to feel full up.

4. Vegetable yakisoba noodles

To end the dinner date, try out the vegetable noodles, a perfect comfort food. Packed with ginger as well as spring onion, carrot and red pepper. The meal is a party in your mouth. I'd suggest to keep a napkin nearby as it is a little on the oily side though, but totally worth it.

And that's what I highly recommending eating. Who said finding tasty vegan food was hard?! Let me know below what you order at Yo Sushi! when you go. As a massive fan of the food, I'd love to hear.


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Prezzo: Review

It was in a recent visit that I went to Prezzo to eat out. Full of expectation as the new restaurant opened nearby and ready to eat to my heart's desire. How did it go? Well... *awkward pause*

I always go to new restaurants with an open mind but I always have a level of expectation. I like basic customer service, a clean setting and good relatively inexpensive food. I don't think that's too much to ask. Well on this recent visit to Prezzo (which I've never visited before) I got only one of my expectations fulfilled: the cleanliness. As for everything else, it was an utter disappointment.

Let's start with the food. Off the very limited choice of vegan food, I ordered the bruschetta to start and the courgette pappardelle as a main. The starter to my surprise was anything but bruschetta. I'm a massive fan of bruschetta and if I'm right it's toasted ciabatta with chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. What I got was two pieces of hard toast with some non-cut cherry tomatoes and a limited amount of pesto. Yum...not. It was a real shame as brushetta is one of my favourite starters to eat in a restaurant. This was not off to a good start. As for the main, it was a pasta dish made up of courgette, cherry tomatoes, onion, chilli, garlic and herbs in a pomodoro sauce. Sounds nice, right? Sadly it was not. It tasted like a cheap microwave meal just with a hefty price tag. It was a shame as I was really looking forward to it. It lacked taste and was very sickly and Prezzo overkilled it with far too much courgette. I like courgette as much as the next person, but there's a limit!

The customer service though, you're thinking that must have been good surely. Well I would have told you about the customer service should I have got any. My friend and I were not only greeted with a grumpy face, but we didn't even get a basic hello on arrival from the senior staff worker. This worker seated us, but did not do it with a smile or show any interest in us being there. If anything, it felt like we were an inconvenience. After he seated us he did not come back to check on how we found our food and there was no basic customer service. A real shame.

Overall a pretty poor visit but well done to Prezzo for being so consistent at ignoring my friend and I and having no manners. As for the food, it spoke for itself. A little more effort put into the food and it could have been something really nice. Let's hope in time Prezzo prove us all wrong and give outstanding service and food. Here's to dreaming!

Restaurant rating: 

What do you think of Prezzo?


Monday, 15 May 2017

Mental Illness is not a joke

From mugs saying 'obsessive cat disorder' on it to be people describing each other as anorexic, the conversation surrounding mental health has taken a turn for the worst. No wonder people have a fear speaking up about their own mental health issues when this sort of conversation encourages people to stigmatise psychiatric illnesses.

Source: here.
Speaking up about any illness is hard for sure, but the thing about mental illness is that it receives a lot of stigma. Who would want to speak up about their illness when they might face some sort of prejudice like this? But where is this stigma coming from? Well I have one suspicion and it's from society's conversation! You hear it again and again; people using mental illnesses as adjectives and as jokes. Silly really. Something like:

"You're so OCD"
"She's so anorexic"
"You're so bipolar sometimes"
"She's absolutely schizo"
"I'm depressed"
"I'm going to kill myself if...happens"

It's this sort of ignorance that encourages stigmatisation. It's this sort of ignorance that proves how uneducated society really is. It's a shame because I'm sure a lot of people don't mean to cause offence but they really do. Using a mental illness as an adjective to describe something is not okay and needs to end. It dumbs down mental illness as being a joke, maybe even made up.

How? Well you're not acting as if you're OCD, you're just being a little more obsessive than normal. That person isn't annorexic, they're just skinny or don't eat much often. No you're not bipolar, you're happy today and were sad yesterday. And no you certainly aren't depressed, you're just stressed or sad - and that unlike some mental illnesses will pass. 

This conversation dumbs down how serious mental illness really is and is so offensive on so many levels. Making comments like this makes it seem like mental illness is nothing, no big deal, like it's just something silly or dare I say cute in some scenarios like being obsessive (OCD). Someone please explain to me how anything about this issue is cute or silly as I can't quite see it myself.

But it gets worse. Not only is the literal conversation bad but now stores have made it into a profit-driven industry. You can buy merchandise like 'obsessive cat disorder' mugs which are an obvious spinoff of someone diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. Nothing about this is okay. These mugs makes a joke out of an illness which faces so much stigma only to add to it as being nothing more than a personality trait. Let's make it clear that mental illness is not a personality trait, it is an illness. Yes you can't see it but it's real. Your brain is an organ just like any other and can get ill with psychiatric illnesses just like another organ can get ill with something else. Please do some research before you go to describe yourself as OCD or depressed like it's no big deal.

Where does the problem lie? Education. If there was proper education on mental illness in schools and the workplace people would understand mental illness as being a real thing and not a way to describe themselves. And if the education was informative, maybe people would think twice before buying into an industry making money out of joking around about it i.e. the merchandise I mentioned.

It's a shame society has come to this. If you feel the same as me, comment below and join in the conversion because #MentalIllnessIsNotAJoke.


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