I've been very keen to promote positive messages and advice along with my standard posts recently, but you may have seen I have dropped off of the radar a little again. Being diagnosed with Bipolar Type II was actually the best thing to happen to me earlier this year, this is because it finally gave me an understanding of my illness and how I can get to grips with it (you can read my mental health story here).

I always worry when I write posts like these, people will assume I'm attention seeking or glamorising mental illness, as sometimes I do write about it humorously and in a more light hearted way... along with the fact, 99% of the time I come across a happy and motivated person. I just want to clarify this isn't the case, I just want to spread my story as I know it has already helped others seek help (I actually received over 100 emails/messages/texts after I shared my original story, and I have tried my best to reply to most of them, however please feel free to resend if you would like a chat - it was nothing personal if you didn't receive a reply, I was just a little overwhelmed with the response). I only wish I had known and understood what I was going through sooner, rather than later, just so I would have been able to manage it better from the beginning. 

Because this is more of a fitness post, and may interest you lucky humans with a regular-ly working, happy brain, I'm going to keep the mental health side of this pretty short, but I will write a full post/series on being bipolar and ways I've learnt to cope, with advice for what to recognise in people who may be suffering undiagnosed and advice for outsiders trying to understand or assist a loved one going through it (this post did touch on it a little though).

Fitness wise, if you have me on snapchat, you'll know I'm in the gym day in, day out. I do go everyday, which to some is excessive - but for me it has been the best way to keep my mind positive and feel better in myself, along with giving my life routine and helping with feelings of loneliness. I decided I liked the 'thick'/strong physique, and with my work out routine it seemed to be an attainable shape my body naturally turned to with exercise and a healthy, but not restrictive, diet. I can safely say, for the past few months my weight became less of an issue as it ever has before, and my positive days amounted for much more than my slumps and the days where I struggle to get out of bed or do anything. I knew I was gaining muscle... so my figure was changing, and I'd given up counting calories, with the pretences I work out 1-2 hours everyday and don't go overboard with food, so it didn't bother me for once as I was healthy and happy. 'Skinny' had always been my goal and for once I was happier reaching new fitness goals instead of shrinking my body, being body positive and well in myself. I preached this, which is why I'm ashamed to admit for the past few weeks I haven't taken my own advice and have reverted back to old habits, with my mind constantly playing games with me with how I see myself.

As I've mentioned before, I can get an ocean filled of whale size compliments, but one little sea urchin insult and it manages to eat all of the whales and be left there looking at me. Haha, I don't know where that analogy just came from, but basically what I'm trying to say is, even if 100 people told me I looked great, the 1 person who picked out a flaw would play on my mind far more.
Focusing on positivity is one thing I've really been wholeheartedly trying to do, so when recently I had an upsetting situation where somebody/some people were mocking my weight and 'big thighs', I decided instead to look at is as a positive and use it to motivate me for a healthier diet, and upping my exercise even more. I know I have big legs, it's what I wanted, it's what I've worked for... but to be hearing it used as an insult when talking about me completely changed the way I saw my legs and I began to question my figure and weight again. I know I've had comments on here saying they're 'sick of me talking about my weight and I know I look good' (shoutout to that lovely and understanding anonymous comment!) but I wholeheartedly am just trying to be honest here, and help share what I'm going through to help and educate others.

To start with, as I said, I used the insults and knock in self esteem as a positive excuse to get on track with my nutrition and to push my boundaries a little more for some new results, but that particular insult kept eating away at the back of my mind, telling me to prove to them I can have slim legs and I will. That hadn't been my goal at all before, I was happy and healthy working out and eating well, proud of my strong physique. Back again I found myself constantly in front of the mirror, taking photos from different angles and grabbing at everything which disgusted me with myself, a nightmare of what I had managed to work past from before. It was almost like a switch had been turned off, most foods suddenly disgusted me and eating frustrated me in general, finding myself yet again going to extreme measures if I had eaten something I regretted. It isn't glamorous, it isn't impressive and it isn't how I want to live again, especially since I was ignoring my own advice I'd given to others as the biggest hypocrite going. My body confidence had been stripped away from me in one foul sweep, and it took that to lead me to revert to a mechanism I'd used to deal with it in the past. 

Of course I recognised what was going on, part of me didn't care and just wanted to prove people wrong and lose weight the fastest but worse way I knew I could, but part of me deep down knew I've been severely unhappier these past few weeks than I have in ages, and the correlation is very clear. I know I'm not overweight by any means and I'd love to think many people wouldn't bat an eyelid at shaming my figure, but I am goal orientated, so a challenge does help me and I feel like feeling a little more confident in yourself before summer is never a bad thing anyway. As I know, admitting honestly, my mentality had unfortunately been this destructive way to lose weight again, I knew another healthy goal orientated challenge to focus on regarding diet could help instead.

This is where Results With Lucy popped into my mind (I'd read this success story back in January), I knew I'd received an email previously about trying it out, so I followed it up, eagerly signing up to the Beach Body Plus program - a program for somebody more athletically capable, however there are lots of different programs for different results and fitness levels. 

I've not been doing it long enough to judge results quite yet, but I have snapped before photos to compare with for when I'm done with the 4 weeks. I love the structure of it, you have 10 minute work out videos allocated to different days, along with videos of motivation and support, along with a food plan and huge list of recipes to try out. I sometimes have to substitute some of my daily food for a vegetarian version, but there are many vegetarian recipes too. I can't say I'm sticking to the diet plan completely, as I'm not basic white female enough to have time to make over night oats everyday (I joke, I joke) but it's just great to have an idea of daily nutrition, with lots of recipes to play around with. 

At the moment I'm combining the program with my daily exercise, which weekly consists of 3 x hour circuit classes, 2 x 30 min HIIT classes, 2 x hour BLT extra classes, along with a half an hour kettle-bell class and my usual gym sessions (weights, weight machines, HIIT on running machine and cross trainer). I've also gotten back into running, especially since my porker Jack Russell, Fletcher, has recently gained weight from sneakily secret eating (he made a naughty hole in his food bag and took it upon himself to feed himself throughout the day!) so he's been coming on 3-4 8km runs a week with me. However I'm off on holiday next week, and I won't have my classes so the videos will be perfect to do out there. 

I definitely think structure like this and mixing up my fitness a bit, with healthy nutrition, has helped my mind more and makes me feel less inclined to revert to extreme measures as I'm determined to get results this way, still being in control of what I eat and exercise.

I'll be doing an updated post on the Beach Body Plus program with Results With Lucy, once I am finished, so stay tuned for that! And in the meantime the ladies over at RWL asked if I'd share their competition with my readers - it's basically a competition to celebrate the inspiration women in our lives! (I quite fancy a holiday to Antigua so hopefully I can enter too haha!)

The prize is an amazing holiday for 2 to Antigua plus a huge prize bundle from lots of health brands!

How to enter:
Heavy black heart️ Share your inspirational woman and your story as to how she inspires you to be the best you can be on either Instagram, Facebook or Twitter 

Yellow heart Add the #myinspo and @resultswithlucy to the description
Green heart Nominate a friend to share their inspirational woman

As for my fitness clobber, the trainers... I know some of you will be all "What are thoooooooooose?!" or "What the heck, is Charlotte a chav now?" as I've been told they're notoriously chavvy... I personally think they look like they're some futuristic design, but they're actually a throwback running shoe from 1991 and are the comfiest things I own! They're like wearing a wetsuit boot hybrid trainer and definitely a marmite like trainer, but it's a big yes from me. Don't worry, I won't be wearing them with my regular outfits, claiming I'm ghetto, anytime soon. Big thanks to JD Sports for supplying me with some new fitness clothes, also obsessed with these capris as I usually find Nike leggings so see-through, but not these babies! 

*This post is in collaboration with Results With Lucy, but all opinions and wanting to feel good about myself the healthy way and inspire others to do so too, are my own.