A What Bag?

Part 1:

For my Birthday my Sister decided she’d treat me to a new handbag. Now, that’s something I’ve been able to say before. But this bag was different. This bag was special. This… was an O bag.

Until my trip to Bulgaria last month I had no idea what they were. I’d never heard of them nor seen one. The night we arrived at my Sister’s home I noticed this unusual bag sitting in the hallway. The next morning I noticed it again and my curiosity grew stronger. It was unlike any bag I’d ever seen before. The more my Sister caught me eyeing up her cream and brown O bag the more she knew I secretly wanted one for myself. So towards the end of the holiday she did something crazy.

“Ann, get yourself to the Mall and get yourself an O bag. Choose whatever combo you want and I’ll pay for it. It’s your birthday soon after all… I know you want one.”

So, that’s exactly what I did. I jumped in the next taxi, made my way to Paradise Shopping Mall and headed straight for the O bag Store. And there they were…

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There were so many colours, variations, sizes and materials to choose from. They had just about every colour you could imagine as well as different style straps, charms, patterned inserts, plain inserts, woolen trims, furry trims, pom poms and pretty much anything to make your bag as personalised as possible. Whatever you wanted, they’d have.

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I would’ve gone for something wild and wonderful but then I thought to myself, if this is going to be my new favourite bag that I’m going to be using every day then it should be something that’ll go with my everyday looks. Black on black? Brown on beige? It was hard to draw a line between where boring ends and subtle and stylish starts? But I got there in the end… and here it is:

obag

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I chose the O-bag Mini in pale grey, a black faux fur trim (that’s unbelievably soft), real leather long handles and a simple black canvas insert. My luxury, Italian, one-of-a-kind handbag, was perfect.

I love my sister for introducing O bag to me but it’s also kind of annoying as it’s kicked off a new craze inside of me. I’m always looking for new ideas online for ways in which I could make my O bag different depending on the occasion/outfit/season. For example, Spring is upon us and I’m thinking of taking off the faux-fur trim and swapping the black handles for the baby pink chunky ones. Then, when Summer arrives I could invest in the short, white rope handles and swap the black insert for something lighter, more colourful or perhaps patterned. That’s what’s so great about them. They leave you with that room to be creative and to think outside the box. The bag is never ‘finished’. There’s always the opportunity to add to the journey. The story is never-ending.

The online shop isn’t that great as they have limited options compared to what you’d get in the physical store. So, if you’re curious about them or maybe even thinking about getting one yourself (but don’t fancy travelling to Bulgaria to the shop in which I designed and bought mine) then fear not- because there’s two O bag stores in the UK. One in London and the other in Birmingham. So, the next time you’re in either of these two cities, make sure you pop in and have a look!

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Part 2: What’s Inside

1.My Purse

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Unfortunately River Island are no longer selling this gorgeous purse I had given to me for Christmas. However, if you’re anything like me and love your River Island purses as much as you love your embroidery then check these two similar alternatives out:

River Island Purse 1
River Island Purse 2

2. Mini Handbag Smellies:

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Because I hate the thought of scratching my full-sized perfume bottles I always pop a mini version in my bag for when I need a top up. This handy sized bottle came with a Flowerbomb gift set I bought from FeelUnique.com last year and it’s still going!

3. Moisturiser

I think it’s really important to keep your skin moisturised and so I keep my Nivea cream with me at all times. It has a subtle smell and isn’t too oily. Perfect to use as a primer as well as body/hand cream.

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4. Healthy Snacks

Keeping a couple of energy bars in my bag is a must. I tend to get hungry quite often, whenever and wherever so having a snack at hand is a great way to keep feeling energised and not grabbing a less healthy alternative while I’m out and about

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5. Makeup Bag

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My makeup bag literally stays in my bag and comes with me everywhere I go. It’s from Oysho, one of my favourite underwear /pajama shops. They sell the prettiest cosmetic bags around (as well as great gym clothes and gorgeous slippers!) In my bag I keep a mini Mac mascara, a small sample tub of my studio sculpt foundation, my chunky kabuki brush from Eco Tools (which takes up a lot of room), a chap stick and my go-to Velvet Teddy Lippy.

6. Notebook

dsc00444 Because I’m old school I always like to carry a notebook with me. I like to make to-do lists regularly and, if my phones on low battery and I want to remember something, I’ll scribble it down using pen and paper, like old times, rather than typing it into my notes. (Blond Amsterdam is another favourite brand of mine introduced to me by my Sister)

7. My Trusty iPhone

Not much to say about this one other than it’s defo staying in my bag when I’m behind the wheel. £200 + 6 points? No thanks. dsc00452

Thanks for reading and make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!

Anna Vitality

x


It’s My Birthday

It’s the 28th February 2017, my 23rd Birthday, and after opening my pressies, going to the gym and coming home to make my dad and I a stack of pancakes (yep, my birthday landed on Pancake Day -be jealous) I started to think about what look to go for for dinner tonight. I decided on my usual jeans, boots and pretty top combo with a very elegant long white coat and for makeup I chose to go for a bronzed, caramel look with a bold lip, using some of my new makeup given to me today.To find out how I got my look, keep scrolling…

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So, as I do every day, after washing my face with some Simple Facial Cleanser I moisturised with my go-to Nivea cream. Then, as always, I waited five to ten minutes for it to soak into my skin before applying any makeup or primer. I then squeezed a small amount of my favourite All-In-One primer by The Body Shop onto my index finger and distributed it evenly over my face ready for my foundation.

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With my Eco Tools Kabuki brush I then applied my foundation which is the Mac Studio Sculpt in the shade NC40. To contour, I used these Barry M chubby sticks that I bought recently from the supermarket (and have used every day since). I tend to use the dark one to crete a shadow just underneath my cheekbones as well as on my temples and forehead and then the light one I use to highlight my brow bones, the tip of my nose, my cheek bones, jaw line and chin. Before moving onto eyes I dust some of my new Mineralise Skin Finish Bronzer (by Mac in the colour Global Glow) over the contoured areas to bring a peachy golden shimmer to my face.

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For brows I used a Rimmel eyebrow pencil in a dark brown colour and, because I don’t particularly like using a brow gel, I simply used an old-ish mascara to go over them which is a great way to hold your brows in place if you’re like me and aren’t fussed on the gel formulas. I then opened my brand new eye shadow palette given to me for my birthday (by best friend Elena) which had me pretty excited as I love a good eye shadow pallette. It was the Unlimited Basics palette by Urban Decay and I used the warm beige colours not only to go with my new ombre hair but also to complement one of my favourite Mac lippy’s in the colour Persistence. I then used my new High Impact mascara by Clinique to finish off the look. And voilà. There you have it. My birthday makeup look.

With my new O-Bag in hand (yes, an O-bag), I jump in the car with James and my parents and we made our way to my favourite restaurant, Miller & Carter, for my Birthday meal. And that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this blog guys and make sure you stay tuned to read my next blogs all about this mysterious O-Bag and my new favourite makeup items….

Anna Vitality x

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My Top Workout Apps

Whether your goal is to lose weight, become fitter, or to complete your first half marathon, these five apps are for SURE going to help you get to where you want to be.

Map My Run Trainer:
Ok so, I’ve been using this app for the last two weeks to help me plan when my cardio days are and to basically help to improve my overall stamina. It creates a training schedule organising where your rest days, short workouts, interval training sessions and long runs fall and provides you with runner’s tips which are great when it comes to what to eat and how to take care of your muscles after a run. Just what you need, eh?

Nike Training Club:
Thinking about investing in a personal trainer? Well, don’t. Seriosuly. Don’t. Just download this app and you’re good to go. It has all the expert guidance and fitness tips you need as well as providing you with the motivation you need to really get fit. Like Map My Run, it too has personalised training plans that will help you get to where you want/need to be. Not only that but it also has workout videos that help with posture, form and general guidance.

8fit and Fitocracy:
To be honest, these two apps are both equally as effective and engaging when it comes to workout plans, ideas and nutritional advice. I recently downloaded both and with 8Fit I even went for the premium verison (as it has a 30 day free trail). I find that they’re both extremely personnalisable and are both great when it comes to needing that little bit of extra motivation.

FitStar by FitBit:
This one basically helps the FitBit lovers among us to get the most out of our gadgets. It syncs with your workouts, suggests new exercises and pushes you to the limits, encouraging you to work that little bit harder. Nice.

Womens Health:
I’m a big Women’s Health fan and tend to buy the hard copy magazine on a monthly basis (I’m quite old school and like to flick through the pages and have it look nice on my desk.) However, if you’re a busy commuter, on the go all day or want to make the most of your iPad or whatever tech you may have then the W.H app will suffice for sure.

Daily Yoga:
This coaching app is something different. It provides newbies with the basics of yoga, introducing them to various classes, scheduled plans and meditation tracks. It was put together by eight different yoga experts and offers more than 100 yoga/meditation exercises and has 500 poses for you to practice and try. With soothing music and all the tutorials you need you literally could well be taking part in the finest of yoga classes on a tropical beach in Hawaii….kind of.

So there you have it, my top favourite fitness apps.

 


PCOS & Fertility

Women with polycystic ovaries and fertility problems:

  1. Do not release an egg (ovulate) regularly
  2. Have ovaries that contain many small cystic structures, about 2-9 mm in diameter

How does normal ovulation work?

In a normal menstrual cycle with ovulation, a mature follicle – which is also a cystic structure – develops. The size of a mature follicle that is ready to ovulate is about 18 to 28mm in diameter. About 14 days after ovulation the woman would be expected to get a period if she is not pregnant. The key difference between polycystic and normal ovaries is that although the polycystic ovaries contain many small antral follicles (also referred to as resting follicles) with eggs in them, the follicles do not develop and mature properly – so there is no ovulation. This is why women with polycystic ovaries don’t ovulate regularly, hence one of the syptoms of PCOS is irregular periods.

Can women with PCOS conceive?

The good news is that the chance of getting pregnant with polycystic ovarian syndrome using fertility treatment is increasing by the year due to new treatments and drugs being discovered which can aid ovulation. The real question for women under the age of 35 with PCOS, is not so much ‘will treatment help me?’ but rather ‘which treatment will work best for me?’

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Treatment options:

  • Clomid (clomiphene citrate or Serophene) is an oral medication that is commonly used for the treatment of infertility.
  • Femara (generic name is letrozole) is also an oral drug which can be an effective fertility treatment for women with ovulation problems, or for those with unexplained infertility. This medication is in a class of drug called aromatase inhibitors. Femara has also been used to treat certain cases of breast cancer.
  • Injectable Gonadotropins: these are the next option when oral medications, such as clomid and femara fail to result in pregnancy. However, because there’s a substantial risk for multiple births (of triplets and higher) injectables for PCOS are being used less often.
  • Metaformin is a relatively new method of treating women with PCOS. Like Clomid and Femara it’s an oral medication which has, until now, been traditionally used to help control diabetes. Then, it was figured out that metformin could be very effective way of treating polycystic ovarian syndrome. If it does not work alone, it’s commonly combined with Clomid to induce ovulation.
  • Lastly there’s In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which many of us have heard of. The large majority of women with PCOS that didn’t get pregnant with other treatments will be able to get pregnant and have a baby with IVF.

B U L G A R I A

19.01.17

Having two sisters living in Amsterdam was cool. Having one sister still in Amsterdam and the other now with a ski slope on her doorstep is even cooler.

That ski slope is Vitosha, a dainty magical mountain on the outskirts of Sofia. It takes fifteen minutes to get there… Fifteen minutes of creeping under mysterious silver trees towards the clouds, fifteen minutes of glitter-like flakes falling sleepily through the air, settling gently on our windscreen, fifteen minutes of taking in some of the most Disneyesque surroundings as we made our way to the slopes.

Arriving at the top, to a place called Maslovitsa, was the first excitement. Introducing the piste to the boyfriend was the next. Now, I’ve skied for years. I could ski before I could ride a bike.  James on the other hand, until last week, had never before seen a snowy mountain in real life, let alone be at the top of one, let alone be about to ski on one. img_4122

Being the avid skier that I am, I obviously wanted to be ‘Instructor Anna’ for the day. But my dreams were crushed when sensibility arrived in the form of my big sister Tamarra. “Sis, you do realise that’s not a good idea, don’t you? It’s like teaching your partner to drive- never works… ooh I know- How about I teach him?!?”

So (because I knew she had a point) I meekly pushed my irritation aside and ‘Instructor Anna’ had to take a back seat. However, just two hours later, the only black man on Vitosha Mountain  neatly glided down the piste. There he was, cool and controlled, skiing.

So, after a few runs together with the Sis, Dad and James we decided it was time for lunch. Ok, so ‘lunch’ in Bulgaria isn’t quite ‘lunch’ as we know it. They like their stuffed vegetables, their cold yogurt-like soups, they love their pork and not to mention their oddly shaped meatballs (which are basically sausages but they call them meatballs I think just to confuse people.)

So, for lunch, we have some elongated meatballs at Aleko Hut, the only cafe in Maslovitsa. Inside, you can’t really tell if someone is being deliberately rude, if their cat just died or if they’re having the best day ever. Emotionless faces filled Aleko Hut, and probably most of Bulgaria. My sister informed me that “that’s just how they are here” and that “they really are lovely people” which I’m sure they are, they just clearly don’t know what smiling is.

It made me think then about how different cultures can be. At home, if you were to slam down a customer’s hot chocolate receipt on the counter in front of them, as if you were angrily swatting a fly, you’d probably get the sack. It terrified me. He backed away, yet held my gaze, with no expression on his face whatsoever. “Blagodarya” I mumble, trying to show him that yes I may be a tourist but I have learnt ‘Thankyou’ in your lingo so please don’t kill me, before heading back to my meatballs.

On a good note, for all of us to have ‘lunch’ (-that’s myself, Mum, Dad, Sis, James and my niece Hayden) along with five hot chocolates and a few rums it cost around 20 Levs, which is about eight quid. For that price I think I can put up with the ogre behind the bar.

The week that followed such a fun first day entailed; go karting, adopting a stray Husky for the night, watching ‘Split’ in a Cinema where you get complementary champagne and popcorn upon arrival and have the comfiest recliner arm-chair with a swivel table (all for half of what we pay in Cardiff), a trip to the local shooting range and feeling like I was on a scene from Taken, Virtual Reality Gaming, and last but not least, buying a puppy.Yes a puppy.

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Blu was her name. She was literally that doggy in the window and was the sweetest thing. She wasn’t your typical hyperactive bouncy ball of fluff. She was a calm and cuddly baby Husky who needed a new home.

Bad news struck when, after a trip to the doggy clinic, the vet told us she had Parvow (a fatal disease which explains why she was so unexcitable and sleepy). Cut a long story short, we had to leave Blu with the vet as she had to stay for a minimum of six weeks for her treatment, and we planned on going back to the shop to get our money back, which by the way was only £100- for a HUSKY! We started to think that maybe the shop knew she was ill and that’s why, amongst the pug, the scruffy terrier and the King Charles spaniel, she was the cheapest.

To our surprise, when we went back to the shop to explain what had happened, Blu’s sister had taken her spot in the window. Debatably, what we chose to do next was the right thing, and so, to save breaking my niece and nephews hearts, we went home with Blu’s sibling, whom we named Bowie. I couldn’t stop thinking about poor Blu. What if they don’t go ahead with the treatment now as they know she doesn’t have a home to go to? What if she doesn’t get better? What if she does get better but no one will want her as she’ll no longer be a puppy puppy? James and I seriously want to go back to Bulgaria purely to re-buy Blu and bring her back to Cardiff..

Anyway, the days went by and little Bowie was fitting in just well into her new home.

On our last but one day we drove to Borovets to show James an actual ski resort. I’ve been before but this time it was even better. The pistes weren’t too firm, nor too loose, there were tonnes of different runs to chose from, and there was more than one cafe that sold only Bulgarian meatballs.

What a trip. Who would’ve thought you could fit so much in to one ski trip. Albeit, this was a bit of a  rollercoaster of a holiday, another ski trip some time soon is definitely on the cards. You never know, I may just come home with a Husky.


Escaping depression

As the suns warmth touches my nose and my golden retriever dances with the leaves, I think about what it is that makes me happy. I think about my jogging route. I think about what I’m doing today. I think about what I’m going to tomorrow. I think about what I’ve done. I think about last year. Thinking is definitely something I over-do. I over think everything… Especially the last year.

Heath Park Run

Break up’s are never nice. ‘Exhausting’ would probably be the most appropriate word to describe mine. Not because of why or how it happened, but what the months that followed entailed. I not only hit my lowest weight ever since high school, being 7.8stone, but I developed acne, sleep insomnia and anxiety. Sounds pretty horrible right? And it was. But now, a year and a bit later, I’ve come to believe that it may have been just what I needed. Not the spots, the weight loss or the sleep struggles but the overall feeling of being weak, both physically and mentally, to a point in which a part of me rotted away.
And I needed that to happen. I needed that part of me to disintegrate as that was the part of me that caused my relationship to do the same.

At the time, only one person knew what it was I was going through. You’d think that person would be me. But It wasn’t. It was him. I had no idea what was eating away at me. I just thought I was struggling with my degree or that my hormones were bouncing off the walls. Boy, was I wrong. It wasn’t until I pushed away the only person who was always there, the only person who could see what I was going through, that I could see it for myself. I think I had only come to terms with it because I no longer had someone to vent to, to cry on, to drain, to push away. I had to hit the lowest point before I could touch the bottom, push off, and slowly but surely swim up.

A lucky escape…

Some people don’t escape it as easy as I did. And I’m not saying it was easy but at least I managed to pull through without medical or psychological intervention i.e counselling. Depression ruined my relationship and, although it got very close, It didn’t ruin my life.

Mental health is something that is nowhere near talked about enough. The word ‘depression’ alone provokes some sort of awkwardness. The stigma it carries seemingly puts people off the topic. Well, with social media starting to raise a little more awareness about it, I think it’s about time bloggers do the same. It needs to be talked about. And I’m starting here.

At the end of the day, I’m running today with a head on my shoulders that motivates me to throw one foot in front of the other. It controls all that I do, all that I love and all the crap that I over-think. My mental strength is… me. It is the core of me and you. Without your mental strength, how can one possible long for and achieve physical strength?

Loving the Outdoors


Fit Bit Vs Apple Watch

“Now, this is your main present” my Mum told me on Christmas morning, handing me a clumsily wrapped rectangular box. My instinct was that underneath this golden gift wrap and tinsel would be, I don’t know, a Parker pen, a jewellery box,  an electric toothbrush perhaps?  “It’s a Fit Bit!” she blurted out, before I was even done unwrapping. “A Fit Bit Charge 2, to be precise. I’ve got one for myself and for your Dad so we can all track our steps and sleep and….” she went on, excitedly.

Now, I had obviously heard of these things but never had it occurred to me to find out about them, read about them, look at them in the store, let alone have one. So, I set up my new gadget Christmas evening and charged it overnight. The next morning I place my  ‘main present’ on my wrist and waited to see what all the fuss was about. Well, I haven’t taken it off since.

My boyfriend has an Apple Watch (you can guess where this is going). We like to compare our fitness devices and see how much exercise we’ve done, how many calories we’ve burned, what our heart rates are etc. and the one thing I particularly like seeing is how much sleep we’ve-wait…”What d’you mean your Apple Watch can’t track your sleep?” Ok, so Apple watches don’t monitor sleeping patterns (unless you get the app that allows you to). No big deal. “I know if I’ve slept well or not, or if I’ve been up in the night for a pee. I dont need some machine on my arm to tell me that” the boyfriend states, defending his precious Apple Watch.

So we go on, comparing how ‘fit’ we are for days and days on end and-wait… “What do you mean you have to charge your watch every night? It’s not like it’s going to die after a day or something…” Ah. Here comes problemo numero dos: It’s battery life. While I can wear my Fit Bit for sometimes up to five days without charging it, James’ £400 Apple Watch lasts on average twelve hours (2-0 to Fit Bit).

“But is your Fit Bit waterproof? Can you reply to texts using your Fit Bit? Does your Fit Bit have a navigator? Can your Fit Bit….” he fights back. Ok, so my Fit Bit is only splash proof while the Apple Watch is completely water-resistant. The Apple Watch is also much more than an activity tracker. It’s a smartwatch. It does a lot, so much so that I couldn’t possible try to jusify its capabilities in one paragraph. It can be more personalised with loads of styles, straps and colours to chose from and even the watch face itself can be altered depending on your mood. However, The Fitbit Charge 2 is undeniably much cheaper and gets down to the nitty-gritty of fitness. Plus, you can also get alerts from your smartphone.

Ultimitely, both the Fitbit and the Apple Watch have many features that will help you on your journey to becoming a fitter you. They both track your activities, they both monitor your heart rate, they both remind you to move, they can both be tethered to your phone, and can both be styled in a way that best suits your personality.

(But… the Fit Bit is better!)


Self confidence

It takes finding yourself. It really does. Until I knew what I wanted from life and where I could see myself in the future well, I was just in a constant state of limbo. I loved art, but also dance, Interior Design but also science, music but also writing….. I had no idea of where I was headed. I had these interests and ideas but something was missing.

No one is you and that is your power

Obviously, what makes one person happy will be different to the next. For me, it was to learn to love myself. That’s what was missing. Self-confidence, self-love.

Ever heard or read the saying “no one is you and that is your power”? It was reading this that helped me edge my way closer and closer to making Anna Vitality.

This Blog is not a hobby, nor is it merely a new business ventur. It’s a snippit into the person I’m getting closer and closer to becoming. And that’s what makes it so important.

Sure, I want it to be a platfrom upon which I can inspire my readers and motivate my followers to keep fit and all the rest of it… but it’s also here to mark a stage in my life and to act as a reminder. A reminder that this is a new chapter. This is me.

This is Anna Vitality.