January In Review – What I’ve been loving, doing, and my favourites!

Hi Everyone!

I can’t believe that January is already over, that went really quickly! This month has been a very busy one, with new years resolutions, starting school again, the end of one semester, and being well into the Cross Country Season. In this post, I’m going to share with you what products I’ve been using a lot this month, and what I’m loving. And I’ll also share what’s been going on in my life, and what’s coming in February. I hope you enjoy!

What Have I Been Loving?

Over the Winter Break, I made a conscious effort to start using more natural products on my skin, as I have really sensitive skin and I see a lot of benefits when I simplify what I use on my skin and use natural products. I already use natural make-up and cleansers (I wrote about them in this post if you’re interested) but I picked out a natural body wash and toothpaste, and I’ve been absolutely loving them!

DSC_0246

I wanted to make the change to a natural toothpaste because I realized how silly I was being, I care so much about what I eat and if it’s good for me, yet I was putting chemicals and artificial flavours into my mouth twice a day without really registering it. I was worried that this toothpaste would taste weird, but I’ve actually really been enjoying it and it doesn’t taste too bad.

DSC_0265

I also wanted to simplify the kind of body wash I use on my skin, and I’ve been noticing really good things since I started using this one. I usually get very dry skin during the winter, but this soap doesn’t seem to dry out my skin as much. And it smells amazing!! I did buy a natural shampoo and conditioner (from a different brand), but it was making my hair dry and coarse, does anyone have any recommendations?

DSC_0262

I started using a toner on my face and it’s been helping my skin a lot. It acts as an extra cleanse, and it helps reduce your pore size before you put on any makeup or moisturizer, which makes sure less bacteria gets into your skin. I still don’t have completely clear skin, but I have been noticing a huge difference since I started using a toner. I got this one from Clarins, and it’s the special one for sensitive skin, but they have lots of different options for different skin types. Do any of you use a toner, and if so do you see a difference?

DSC_0261

Another thing that I’ve been using a lot this month is my sleep mask and spray. I had never worn a sleep mask before this year because I always thought they were such a hassle, and I didn’t understand why someone would wear one in their own house? But let me tell you if you have a struggle falling asleep you need to invest in one of these. I’m a really sensitive sleeper, so once I see some light shining through my curtains, I’m immediately awake. During the week that’s okay because when I wake up, the sun isn’t really up yet. But on the weekends it’s very annoying because I can hardly ever sleep in past 7am because I find it too sunny. This sleep mask has been a lifesaver! Not only has it been allowing me to sleep for longer, but also I fall asleep much quicker now because once I put on my mask, my body knows that it’s time to fall asleep. I also got a new sleep spray over the break, which is meant to calm and relax you before you turn off the lights and go to sleep. I’ve been using a spray for a few years now, and I really recommend them, they create a nice environment and help you fall asleep more easily.

DSC_0184DSC_0188

One of my new years resolutions was to stress less and to start practicing meditation. And I’m proud to say that I have been sticking to the meditation part! No matter how stressed I’ve been getting during the day, before I go to bed, I make sure that I do a little bit of meditation so that I can relax and unwind. Insight Timer is a free app, and I have to say it’s my favourite meditation app out of all the ones I’ve tried. It’s kind of like a meditation Spotify, you can browse through hundreds of guided meditations for different amounts of time, and for specific things such as stress, or compassion, and pick which one you like. You can also freely meditate with a timer for as long as you want. I know meditation doesn’t sound like the coolest way to be spending your evening, but it really only takes 5 minutes, and it’s really helpful to me.

DSC_0243.jpg

Another really big part of my year so far has been my planner. I know I’m a nerd. But I love being organized! I make endless lists, plan out every hour of my day, and every day of my week. Before I got my planner, I did this on sticky notes and it was a bit annoying because I didn’t have them all in one place, and I didn’t have enough space to make notes. So I did a LOT of research to find the PERFECT PLANNER, one with a monthly view, and a page for each day where you can plan out your day by the hour, as well as a daily quote, and a place to write your daily goals and gratitude. I have literally been living through my planner, and it’s been taking a lot of stress off me because I don’t have to remember everything anymore. I got my planner from The Day Designer and I can not tell you how much I love it! Be sure to look at theirs if you need one for 2018.

DSC_0197DSC_0228DSC_0211DSC_0232

Lastly, because, of course, I need to include a little bit of food in this post. My favourite snack this month has been dates. I know, kind of random right? But in Dubai, we have dates everywhere, and they’re a really nice small sweet snack. I’ve been loving having them because they’re also really good for you, and I’ve been seeing great improvements in my digestion. I usually need something sweet after I eat dinner, and instead of eating a chocolate, eating a date is so much healthier!

DSC_0271DSC_0276

What Else Has Happened This Month?

Running:

If you’re one of my regular readers, you will know that at the beginning of this month I found out I had a stress injury. If you want to know more about this, I wrote a whole blog post explaining my injury in detail, you can find it here. But I’m not going to lie, that really put me off track for the start of the new year. I really love running, and not being able to run made me really sad and upset. I was also scared that all my hard work training would just go down the drain because I had to take so much time off. I was a miserable blob for a good few weeks, and I felt so useless and sorry for myself. But it taught me that in life you just have to accept that sometimes there are things that are out of your control. There was nothing I could do to be able to run, all I could do was work on recovering quickly.

One of my friends also told me something that really helped me stop feeling sorry for myself. Some of my best friends are on the Cross Country team with me, and we all support each other with whatever we’re going through. And my friend who has been injured for a while told me that it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself, but after a while, you have to stop because it just makes it worse. You can have one day to cry and feel bad about whatever is going on, but after that, you need to accept that there’s nothing you can do, and you need to be strong again. And that has really helped me this month , because if I didn’t stop thinking about it, it would have taken over my whole month.

I’ve been working hard ever since I was allowed to run again, and I was selected for the MESAC competition (Middle East, South Asia, Conference), basically a big Cross Country competition. And wow am I nervous! I am so happy and grateful that I was selected, but it’s next weekend and I’m starting to get very nervous. This year I’ve been pretty good at not letting my nerves take over before Cross Country competitions, but this is the biggest one I’ve ever had to compete in, and I’m already feeling nervous. Does anyone have any tips on how to deal with nerves? And how to fuel up before a big race? I would love to hear them!

Semester 1 of School Is Over!

In other news, I’ve officially finished Semester 1 of my Sophomore year, and wow was that intense! Ever since I came back from Winter Break, it has been GO GO GO! With so many things happening, it was kind of overwhelming and challenging, but I’ve had this long weekend to relax and prepare for the next semester. I wrote a long post about it on my Instagram (@Little.Miss.Expat) yesterday, so take a look at that if you’re interested.

60 Followers On The Blog!

This month I hit 60 followers on my blog which is crazy!! I’m so grateful for each and every one of you that reads my posts and supports me. It’s amazing to think that I started this all from scratch almost 7 months ago, and it’s come this far. I love writing for you guys, and I hope you enjoy my content! I’m almost at 300 followers on my Instagram too, so hopefully when you read my February in Review post, I’ll be celebrating 300 Instagram followers!

And that wraps up my January in Review blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading about what I’ve been using, and what’s been going on with me. Did you like this post? And do you want to see monthly posts like this one? Please let me know!

See you soon!

Little Miss Expat

Follow my Instagram – Little.Miss.Expat 

Follow this blog – Click the button on the homepage

Like me on Facebook – Little Miss Expat Blog

Like this post – Click the button underneath this post


Recovering From a Running Injury – And Making My Dream Team!

Hi Guys!

I am currently super excited! If you read my Instagram post yesterday (@Little.Miss.Expat) you will already know what I’m talking about. I’ve been selected to run in the 2018 Cross Country MESAC competition!!! For those of you who don’t know, MESAC is the Middle East and South Asia Conference, which is basically the big sporting competition we get to compete in. Ever since I joined the Cross Country team, my dream has always been to qualify to be able to run in this competition, but I honestly didn’t think I would make the cut till maybe my Senior year of high school? But here I am, a Sophomore, celebrating going to MESAC! In this blog post, I’m going to tell you about my injury, how I recovered from it, and how I made the MESAC team, stay tuned!

How Did I Get Injured?

Well, It’s actually a kind of embarrassing story, but I want to be 100% real with you guys. So about 2 months ago I was on a field trip, doing an obstacle course in Bounce (which is a trampolining center). And I hit my toe on something, it just felt like I had stubbed my toe, so I waited a few minutes for the pain to go away. But the pain never went away, and my toe started swelling up and hurting even more. I asked the nurse to take a look at it, and she didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with it, so I carried on and ran at practice later that day.

I had a successful practice, and my toe had stopped hurting a bit. But when I got home and took off my running shoes, my toe had turned purple, it had started to bruise, and I couldn’t bend it. I asked someone to look at it, and we were positive that I hadn’t done anything serious such as breaking it. So the next morning I went out to my 6am practice and ran with it. I carried on like this for a few weeks, running through the pain because I didn’t think it was anything serious. But what I didn’t realize at that time was that because I wasn’t really putting any weight on my toe when I walked or ran (because it was painful), I was sort of limping and shifting all my weight onto my ankle rather than throughout my whole foot, which turned out to be very bad.

The breaking point came during the Winter Holidays when I was walking around 10K a day because I was on holiday in Europe, and then I would go back to our hotel and run another 10K as my workout for the day. After one tiring day, my ankle couldn’t take it anymore, after I finished my run I couldn’t even put weight on it. I’ve been sore before, but this was a completely different feeling, and I knew that there was something was wrong.

I took a break from running for the rest of the holiday and booked an appointment with a running doctor for when I came back to Dubai. By this time I was itching to run again because 1) I love running, and 2) I felt like I was losing all the fitness that I had worked so hard for. When I went to the doctor I told her all about my ankle, and she asked if anything had happened to my foot recently, I told her about my toe, but it didn’t even cross my mind that these two could be connected (because by this time my toe was almost getting back to normal).

Now, to backtrack a bit and give you a little bit of history about my body. I’ve only been running this intensely for about 2 years now, and I’ve received a lot of feedback saying that I have a weird running form, or that my ankles stick out a lot when I run. Which is all definitely true, and it is something that I am working on. I get a lot of these problems when I run, because I have double jointed ankles, really flat feet, and I have hypermobility. I never like to say I have all these issues because sometimes I think it sounds like I’m making excuses for myself, but it really does affect my running. There are a lot of really successful runners who have flat feet, and as long as you know how to deal with it, it’s not that big of a deal. But I have hypermobility which means that my joints move around more than they should be able to, which also goes hand in hand with being double jointed. For example, when I’m running my ankles move from side to side, and it’s hard to control them, which affects my form, makes it easier for me to get injured, and also wastes my energy. These issues have always been things that I’ve had, but nothing that has ever really affected me that much, until this injury.

So when I saw this doctor, I told her about all these problems I had, and what she told me is that I was very close to having a stress fracture, because I had been running when my toe couldn’t take any weight, and because of that, my ankle had been compensating by supporting me and taking on the extra weight. And because my ankles are very weak and I can’t control them as much as I should be able to, it was making it even worse. She referred me to a physiotherapist, who I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks, and we came up with a plan on how to get back on track.

How I Got Back On Track

My physiotherapist gave me a lot of strengthening exercises and tips on how to build up muscle around my ankles so that this wouldn’t happen again. And we discussed gradually getting back into running and practicing with my team again. But honestly I was a mess, I love running, and it’s my outlet for stress and it just makes me happy. I had been off running for about a month at this point and I was miserable. To be completely truthful, I cried almost every day because I just wanted to run, and also because I really thought that there was no chance that I would be able to run fast enough this season to make the MESAC team.

I’ve been gradually getting back into running, by first of all not running on consecutive days. Then I started running every day again but I took it very easy, and I didn’t do any hills or stair drills. I’m finally pretty much back to normal, but when I feel my ankle start to hurt again, I stop and take a rest. Because I’ve learned my lesson, no more running injuries for me!

DSC_0154

Listening To Your Body

If there’s one thing that I have learned throughout this whole experience is how important it is to ‘listen to your body’. For a sport like running, you’re so dependent on your body, and pretty much your whole success in the sport depends on how fit your body is. I made the mistake of running through the pain and not listening to my body when I should have, and I paid the price for it. If I had just listened then, I wouldn’t have ever got that injured. But now every time I feel a pain that I know is related to my injury, I make sure I stop if it gets too much, and treat it in the way that I should. Your body is your temple, and we should be doing everything we can to keep them in pristine shape!

 

DSC_0120 2

I’ve been stretching and foam rolling after running, to keep my legs healthy and strong.

DSC_0106

 

So What’s Been Happening?

Last week was our hardest race of the season, which is a 5K run up in the mountains in Hatta. I was really nervous because this was the first race I was allowed to run after recovering from my injury, and I felt like I wasn’t as fit as everyone else, and I definitely hadn’t done as much hill training as the rest of my team. I did my best to stay calm before the race, and I just went out and performed my best. Last year when I ran this race I came in 4th place, so originally my goal for this year was to be able to get 3rd place and medal individually, but obviously after being injured this goal had pretty much deteriorated. But I was able to push through this race and I did end up placing 3rd overall! I have never individually medaled at a Cross Country meet before, so I was over the moon. I was also crazy happy because my biggest fear was that I had lost all my fitness while I was injured, but I was still able to run faster than I have before and beat my PB from last year.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The Hatta Course

Making The MESAC Team

Making the cut for the big Cross Country competition has always been a dream of mine, even if I was the slowest person out of the 8 that made the cut, it would have always been such an honor to just get picked to run in the competition. I really thought that all my hopes of making the team this year were washed away with my injury, but my performance at the Hatta race allowed for me to make the MESAC team. I’m so happy everytime that I think about it, and I’m so grateful to be running at this event. Obviously, I’m nervous! But I’m going to be doing my best to keep my nerves under control so that I can run my best races ever at MESAC.

I’m still definitely not the fastest runner on my Cross Country team, and I probably will never be. But I’m so proud of where my dedication and strength got me, with running you reap what you sow. If you don’t train or work hard you’re not going to get anywhere. And trust me I know what it’s like to miss out on these opportunities, as I said, this is my first time running in the competition, I didn’t make the cut in years past. But not making the cut doesn’t mean that you failed! It means that you tried your best, but sometimes your best just isn’t enough. There’s always another year to work hard and improve for, and with running, there will always be a new opportunity for you to run faster and push yourself even more.

Wow, that was a really long post! I wanted to share every little bit of what’s been going on with me and I would love to hear your feedback. Have you ever been injured? Do you like running? Have you ever run in a big competition, if so what are your tips? And did you enjoy reading this post? Please let me know in the comments!

See you next week!

Little Miss Expat

Follow my Instagram – Little.Miss.Expat 

Follow this blog – Click the button on the homepage

Like me on Facebook – Little Miss Expat Blog

Like this post – Click the button underneath this post


Running – The Breakdown

Hi guys,

Welcome back to my blog! It has been a stressful past few weeks, but I have finally got down to writing this post, which I hope you enjoy and find useful.

Running. For some, it brings them joy (me!) and for others, they start shaking at the knees when they hear the words ‘run’ and ‘mile’ in the same sentence. My goal? To explain to you a few reasons why I love running, but more importantly to break it down for you and to encourage you to grab a pair of running shoes and get out to the track!

But, you may be thinking, she’s an expat blogger what is she doing writing about running? Well… you’re right, my goal in starting this blog was to share my experience with other expats and teens all across the world, but I also want to share a few of my passions with you. And running, as well as being one of my passions, is also one of my coping mechanisms and helped (and still helps) me de-stress throughout my whole ‘expat journey.’

Personally, I’d never really had a strong opinion about running until recent years. When I was in 6th grade my family and I used to go out for runs every Sunday morning, but by no means were these very fast runs, just a way to get out and get moving. Thinking about it all these years later I think this is where my love for running started, I didn’t know a thing about running, form, or technique but I wasn’t half-bad. When I moved to Dubai and we started running long distance in PE class I found that I could actually run a mile without stopping, and at an average time. (which trust me, was a huge surprise to me) A year later I joined my first cross country team, and have been running long distance races ever since. In a whirlwind of early morning practices, shin splints, and KT tape, (runners, you will get that reference) I have found something I love doing, that has taught me so many lessons and has introduced me to some of my closest friends. I am no means an exceptional runner, but I think I’m good enough to be able to pass on a little of my ‘running wisdom’ onto you guys today and give you an idea of how to get started.

IMG_1265

 

First of all, the breakdown. Now, I’m no fitness guru but from my vast training experience, I can tell you that you don’t need to have some amazing talent to be able to run. No, in fact, I am actually severely flat-footed and have double jointed ankles that cause a LOT of problems with my running, but I still do it. So, in my opinion, the most important factor of becoming a good runner is self-determination.

IMG_1266

What do I mean by self-determination?

This category covers your mental determination, as well as your training. You see, running long distance is mostly in your head. If you tell yourself that you’re going to go out and crush a 5K run you will! But if you tell yourself that you’re feeling tired and not up for it, you’ll hardly be able to finish a mile. Determination is such a key factor in being a successful runner because once you’re out there on the track, it’s just you, your body, and your mind, and only YOU can determine how well you’re going to do. With that being said, you do have to put in a lot of work to get to this stage. Running itself isn’t actually hard, everyone can do it, maybe not very well, but everyone knows how to run. But it’s the skill of improving and building upon that skill that takes training and determination. Without practice, you aren’t going to improve at all or build your endurance at all. It takes determination to get out there, even at 6AM and run to improve, and that’s one of the biggest lessons running teaches you, how to control and discipline yourself.

How can you start?

One of my coaches once told me that no matter how fast you’re running, you always get there the same way. One step at a time. I’ve been thinking about this ever since because running is essentially a refinement of the same skill. It’s not like tennis or basketball, where there are many different skills you have to perfect in order to win the game (although don’t quote me on that, I hardly know anything about basketball) But with running if you start and keep on going, you will be able to run that mile or 5K and carry on improving. So start it that way, keep putting one foot in front of the other and use your mental strength to push you even further. My math teacher always talks about us building up our ‘brain muscles’ and how by the end of her course we’re all going to have ‘6-packs’ in our brains. Think of this the same way, while running may be a physical sport, you will end up with a 6-pack in your brain before you get one on your abs.

IMG_1267

Where Next?

Running is consistent. You can’t just run a 5K one day, then say you’re done for the rest of the week, you have to keep it consistent and attainable. So even if that means running shorter distances, but doing it 3-4 times a week that’s much better, and will help you grow even more. You also need to take time to enjoy your running, because if you don’t enjoy it then why would you be motivated to do it? For me, running is a de-stresses me, makes me happy, and puts me in a good mood, it should have some sort of positive impact on you as well!

IMG_1268

So remember, while I’m no scientist or coach, I just wanted to share some of my experience with running with you and break it down for you in order to encourage you to get out there and run! This will be an ongoing series, as there are so many aspects I could talk about within running, so be sure to let me know what you would like to read about next and if you have any questions!

Little Miss Expat

Follow my Instagram – Little.Miss.Expat

Follow this blog – Click the button on the homepage

Like us on Facebook – Little Miss Expat Blog

Like this post – Click the button underneath this post