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Monday, 27 February 2017

Whether you've been blogging for years or you're just beginning to think about launching a blog, blogging can be pretty overwhelming and expensive - if you allow it to be.

Although the most important part of running a blog is the actual writing and the content, when you start to look at your blog in a more professional sense and try to focus on making it grow more, there's a lot more factors to keep in mind.

One of those factors is cost, even though, essentially, it costs next to nothing to write a blog. However, that's not to say I don't log onto 'bigger' or 'famous' blogs and wonder how the hell it's possible to get to a point like that when I'm so skint. 

The fact of the matter is, people do spend money on blogs.

Sidenote: I've always found it ironic how celebrities, influencers and even bloggers can become so big and earn so much money, only to get given nearly everything for free.

But I digress. I manage to blog on a budget and although my blog isn't hugely successful, I manage just fine without a fancy camera or a social media team and you can too.

Here are some tips to running a blog on a budget.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Blogging | Blogging on a budget

THE DOMAIN
Your own domain isn't compulsory. It took me five years before I finally bit the bullet and bought my own domain but being that I still run my blog on blogger, there isn't a whole lot of difference. The main two differences are of course the name - it does look a little more professional being able to go directly to formidablejoy.com as opposed to formidablejoy.blogspot.com, but plenty of blogs go years and years without their own domain, much like I did. The other difference is DA and PA. Domain and Page Authority is the most common way companies look at a blog's status - the higher the DA and PA, the better. On blogspot (and wordpress too, I think), you don't actually have your own DA/PA and any score shown when looking this up will be a (admittedly high) score for the whole blogspot/wordpress site. When you buy your own domain, the authority is yours and yours only. Until then, DA/PA is pretty much worthless, so if you're at a point where you want to start working with companies, then that's perhaps when a domain is essential.

Luckily, a domain is very cheap. I don't host my actual blog, as stated before, it's hosted on blogger so I pretty much pay for the name only and this is through Godaddy. When it comes to buying a domain, the set up can be a little complicated and time consuming, but the end result is always worth it. My domain costs me just £12.20 per year for two years, which is such a bargain. Of course, the price might vary depending on what you want but really when it's that cheap, there's no excuse not to get at least a basic one. It makes all the difference - when the time comes.

THE DESIGN
A design of a blog also requires upkeep because of course when people log on, you want them to see a clean and stylish interface which is easy to use. Luckily, many blog designs are dirt cheap and you can even buy them pre-made on Etsy. Until this point though, there are still lots of basic but nice free designs available online. Rather than splashing out loads of cash on a sleek design, it's much cheaper to use a free one and teach yourself a bit of HTML to just spruce it up a bit. Besides, the banner/logo is the most important thing in my eyes and even a beyond basic design can look ever so professional with a nice banner. A lot of people pay for a custom one, but I made mine very easily on Canva. Although I'll eventually upgrade to get a designed one, this one suits me perfectly for the meantime. It is definitely not essential to pay money for a sleek blog design when you can achieve the same effect for free just by a little creativity on your end.

THE PHOTOGRAPHY
Admittedly, photography is a tough subject when it comes to considering whether or not to spend money. My blog is just a lifestyle blog so I don't need a fancy camera to focus on particular elements of foodie photos or to take bold outfit photos. If you do intend to create a fashion or food blog where photography can be quite an important element, then putting some money aside for a camera may be something you want to do at some point.

I do want my own professional camera and if I had the money I might buy one, but in no means do I feel it's essential for my blog. Besides, I'd probably just ignore all the complicated settings and instead use it as a normal camera anyway which of course defies the point.

I literally just use my iPhone and I even have a smashed screen right now. Seriously. I don't even have a home button on my phone. IT FELL OFF. There are so many great editing apps that can make a photo seem like it was taken professionally with an expensive camera when really, y'know, you're just sat at home in your jimjams and pointing a phone at an object. Some useful apps include Picfx, Camera+ and LittleMoments (to add cute elements to your photos), and I also find PicMonkey and Canva great to edit once images are on my laptop. I don't make a whole lot of changes, just sharpen an image, brighten it and sometimes mess around with the contrast/blur the background out. Sometimes I edit in instagram too. That's all there is to it, really.

I'll also mention that sometimes a phone is just best to use overall, especially if you use Snapchat/Instagram stories a lot or if you're covering an event on the go. 

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Blogging | Blogging on a budget

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Blogging | Blogging on a budget

PHOTO SET UP
Not everyone can afford to have marble surfaces in their house to use for photo set ups! Setting up for a photo can be so fun and creative, just buy using what you've got around the house. Grab a flower from the back garden, or a cute plaque with some nice wording on. When you've got a day free (and some good lighting!) to take some blog photos, it's a really great way to experiment and make your photos stand out.

Personally, I'm sick to death of seeing the same photo set ups over and over again. 

I use my bed cover as a background a lot of the time because it's so colourful without being overbearing.

One of my favourite tips would be to buy a craft magazine. Craft magazines always come out with cute pull out patterned pages for things like scrapbooking and if you're taking photos of something like a lipstick or whatever, these are absolutely perfect to use for a background. 

Don't be afraid to use photos/photo set ups more than once either. I've used the main photo in this blog post so many times but I don't even care. I don't mean take one nice photo and use it on a weekly basis for months on end, but it helps to take a bunch of versatile photos that can be used multiple times. Try different angles and different objects. Some photos you can use repeatedly too - my general rule is never use them more than once a month.

So there you have it - proof that you don't need to have (or spend) lots of money to have a successful blog. If you're looking at blogging in the long run, you will end up spending money on it eventually and there's nothing wrong with that. But one of the biggest beliefs about blogging is that you need a fancy camera and lots of cash to invest just to be successful = however, you really dont.

What do you think? Do you (or would you) invest money in your blog or do you prefer to use tips like the ones I've mentioned? Let me know.

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Online dating is both a weird and wonderful thing.

For some people, it's an absolute godsend. If you're skint and don't have time to go out and meet people in bars, if you're kind of shy in real life or even if you feel that everyone is on Tinder and POF anyway so it's no use trying to meet people in 'real life' then, of course, online dating is your answer.

Online dating has led to some great things. I know friends that have met their serious other halves by logging online and we all know there are plenty of stories about people who have met and gone on to get married by forgoing the traditional way of looking for love.

Then there's the bad, too. The weirdos. The horror stories. The fact that deep down you still wish you could meet someone offline in more 'normal' circumstances.

But what surprises me the most is just how socially acceptable it is to online date these days. Years and years ago, I'd be embarrassed at the thought. I wouldn't tell my friends in the fear that they'd judge me and think I'm not good enough to find someone in real life. But with the rise of Tinder, it seems pretty much everyone has taken a dip into the online dating pool and shared their experiences.

Here are just a few things I've personally learned since giving it a go.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Dating | 8 Things I've learned by online dating | online dating | modern dating

ITS SO HARD TRYING TO 'SELL' YOURSELF
Okay, 'selling yourself' sounds dodge, but when you write that little (or long) bio, you are essentially selling yourself and it's so hard thinking of what to write. You want to share your best parts without giving too much away and with a bit of air and mystery, too. But you also want to stand out. I always feel tempted to put some sort of forewarning like 'don't message me if you're going to waste my time, please' but it always sounds rather rude. And it's so hard to get your profile information to a genuinely acceptable length. I tend to start with the basics (age/personality type/what I'm addicted to currently - aka basically my Twitter headline) and then spend a couple of sentences listing my likes. Then I'll vaguely write what I'm looking for on said website, aka dating-to-see-where-it-leads when really I mean dating-but-I-want-it-to-lead-to-a-relationship, and sometimes I throw in final line like often needing a plus one to snazzy blog/work events. Because yes, in all honesty, if I've been talking to someone cute but we haven't been on a date yet, I have used that excuse more than once, insisting a friend has bailed on me and I need a last minute plus one.

Is my logic sound? Well, I don't think I have the ideal bio, but I think it's the right length and it's the right balance of revealing without sharing too much.

...AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON PICTURES
God, trying to find the perfect pictures to upload ARE THE WORST. It's so easy for guys. For them, it's a photo of: them in a gym, pulling a stupid pose with about fifteen guy mates (and some guys have this as every single photo like mate, how am I supposed to know which one is you?!), standing on top of a mountain with hands on hips, overlooking some landscape and usually a photo with a puppy/baby thrown in. For girls, it's a lot different. You want to use your prettiest photos, but also some realistic ones too because let's face it, you don't always look as amazing and as done up as that glam night out. I also include a photo with a friend, and at least one or two photos that are great for conversation starters. Cue photo of me and friend posing next to a giant c*ck in Amsterdam. I also try and have one full length smart photo, like me in a lovely dress from a wedding or something. I absolutely do not ever use a overly flirty or revealing photo but hey, each to their own. It may work for some people..!

ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
This is a tough one and it took me so long to learn to start listening to my instincts. Even now I struggle. If you're talking to a guy and something seems off then chances are, something is. I've spoken to guys that have been way too over friendly (who have turned out to be f*ckboys), or way, way too flirty for a first conversation (again, f*ckboys), and sometimes even guys that have just been so half-assed with their conversation. It took me ages to realize that yes, they're good looking but no, they're still not good for me. With the swipe-generation of online dating and the fact that it moves so quickly these days, trust me when I say there's really no point making time for these guys. Delete and move on.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Dating | 8 Things I've learned by online dating | online dating | modern dating
My friend got me this book for Christmas as a joke..!

SOME GUYS ARE JUST AFTER ONE THING
Yeah, I mean duh, right, but some guys really are just after one thing, even if they've stated otherwise. It's alarming how many guys are actually after just some online fun (not even real life fun, jeez!) and will try to initiate it after a five minute conversation. No, I don't want phone/cyber sex with a complete stranger thank you very much.

TRY TO BE MORE OPEN MINDED
This one is a given but it's really important to be more open minded when it comes to online dating. I know a lot of it is looks-based, but I tend to try and be as least shallow as possible. There are plenty of guys I've got talking to on these types of websites who, looks wise aren't my type (as in not rocker etc) but have been ever so lovely to talk to. Much of the time, I've had amazing conversations with guys I wouldn't even look twice at in the street (and I don't mean that in an ugly/good looking sense, I'm very much the type of person who doesn't care about looks anyway, but I mean in a sense that looks wise I definitely go for guys in skinny jeans with messy hair etc and a good looking guy who doesn't look like this is probably less likely to catch my eye). In the past, I've gone on to date people for around six months, even though when we first started talking I had my doubts because they weren't my type. So it just goes to show, its never worth logging on looking for a set thing with a set type.

GET THOSE DATES IN, STAT
As stated before, with the introduction of Tinder, online dating moves very quickly. It's because there's always someone else at your fingertips just one swipe away. If you're talking to someone and it's not going as well as you'd hoped, it's very very easy for someone else to pop up and occupy your attention and for the other person to be forgotten about. Another thing about online dating is it's obviously nice to speak to someone and click with them but it's also easy to cover so much in just a matter of hours. If you progress to whatsapp, in just a day you could already learn about someone's relationship history, their goals in life and what their family are like. Which means when it comes to actually meeting up in person, all the basics have already been covered and there's little to talk about. So, if you can, always try and arrange a date as soon as possible, even if it is nerve wracking. Sometimes it's best to just arrange a quick cup of coffee before going your separate ways and then arranging more dates after, because at least then you've got past the online stage and have already met.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Dating | 8 Things I've learned by online dating | online dating | modern dating

THE TIMEFRAME SEEMS DIFFERENT
It's also very easy to feel like things have gone a lot further than they actually have. When you speak for weeks on end, even if you've not met in person or have only been on one date, it's so easy to feel like you're already 'dating' or 'seeing' someone, which means everything that comes after happens quite quickly. If you have a five date rule before sex in general but you've been on two dates and have been speaking for five weeks, you're probably going to want to break that. 

By all means do if it feels right, but keep in mind that things like meeting the parents/labelling yourselves as dating may or may not happen in a quicker timeframe as usual. I find it important to remember to slow things down a bit and just try and remind myself that even if I've been speaking to someone every single day for the past few weeks, it doesn't mean we're seeing each other. It's still early days yet and there's still plenty of chances for it to go wrong - don't put all your eggs in one basket until, y'know, things get to that point in real life.

FINALLY, DON'T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY
No matter what you're looking for online, at the end of the day, just see it as a bit of fun. Don't log on hoping to find the love of your life (even if you might in the end!) and take it with a pinch of salt. It took a while for my head to get around the fact that online dating is just a regular part of our generation now. Go on dates with people you wouldn't normally. If you start speaking to an insanely good looking guy and click well but he's not after a relationship - if you're comfortable with it, say f*ck it and go on a date with him anyway. It might lead to more. It might not. 

At the end of the day, even the bad dates will give you a funny story and will help you learn what to avoid in future. And online dating is also a great way to get back to basics and check in with YOU. Spending time on your profile can help you evaluate what you do and don't like in your life currently, and online dating will soon help you realize what you will and won't tolerate in a relationship.

And, it's fun. It's always fun to go on a date with a cute boy who digs you and wants to kiss you.

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Thursday, 23 February 2017

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to attend one of my favourite events - the first ever Hard Rock Fashion Show.

The event was held at the Hard Rock Cafe London (obviously), in conjunction with London Fashion Week. The evening was held to showcase the brand's winter and spring lines, as well as some exclusive items.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fashion | Hard Rock Fashion Show | Hard Rock | Hard Rock Cafe | London Fashion Week | LFW

I've always been a big fan of Hard Rock Cafe - from their restaurants to the merchandise and everything the brand stands for. Plus, it's heavily influenced by rock 'n' roll and I love that music memorabilia can be found on display in all of their restaurants. 

So I grabbed a friend and headed down to Park Lane, already feeling the excitement upon arrival. There was a definite buzz in the air but we also found that there was also a really relaxed, friendly and informal atmosphere inside. 

The beyond friendly staff took our coats and directed us to our area where we ordered some wine (for Becky) and a beer (for me) and began to socialize in the short time before the actual show was about to start. During this time, plenty of yummy appetizers were on offer, which we definitely took advantage of as neither of us had had dinner yet! There were mini burgers, balsamic tomato bruschetta and delicious chicken tenders.

We were spoilt for choice and definitely well looked after.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fashion | Hard Rock Fashion Show | Hard Rock | Hard Rock Cafe | London Fashion Week | LFW

When it was time for the show, Sarah Handy, sales and marketing manager, introduced the show and gave us a bit of an insight into the brand, the clothes that we would be seeing and the models in the show. She also introduced Reka Abid, who arranged the outfits for the show, and Craig Nightingale who organized it all. I found it really interesting how Hard Rock Cafe didn't just use random models - they've used ambassadors for the brand who will be working/collaborating with them on a regular basis, which was nice.

I've not been to a ton of catwalk shows, but it was also fun to see each model have their own personality walking down the catwalk, rather than looking straight ahead and stony faced. Some danced down the catwalk, others bounced energetically - and often, when one model replaced another, they interacted with each other with a high five or a hip bump.

I really liked this idea. It gave the show a very informal but fun tone to it.

But onto the clothes. The beautiful, beautiful clothes.

I wanted them all.

We saw a ton of tops in different styles and fashion with the traditional Hard Rock logo - what I like about the logo is that it's actually rather stylish as it is. I'd happily wear a top branding the logo in an everyday situation not just, y'know, in a bid to promote the brand.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fashion | Hard Rock Fashion Show | Hard Rock | Hard Rock Cafe | London Fashion Week | LFW

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fashion | Hard Rock Fashion Show | Hard Rock | Hard Rock Cafe | London Fashion Week | LFW
I have used Hard Rock's images with permission as obviously mine suck and do not even begin to compare to these ones...

The spring collection was gorgeous with both bold and pastel slogans and all outfits accompanied by bright and delicious looking summer cocktails. I wanted everything, but I particularly loved the simple but sweet vest tops, and a gorgeous top with a distressed detail on the back which was right up my street. The turn it up muscle tee's were really cute too.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Fashion | Hard Rock Fashion Show | Hard Rock | Hard Rock Cafe | London Fashion Week | LFW

There was even a range created in collaboration with Pitbull. These included bold pink and blue prints against more versatile coloured tops and had a real LA/Vegas vibe to them.

Overall, the collection was really stunning and I liked that everything was so wearable. Some fashion's you see on the catwalk and could never imagine even trying to pull it off but Hard Rock's spring and winter lines are simple but eye catching, and the models demonstrated how the range's could very easily be dressed up or down.

I had so much fun viewing the newest collections and found myself realizing that Hard Rock is a lot more than just a brand - it's a lifestyle too, really, and I enjoyed meeting those behind the scenes and hearing about how exciting it was putting together the first ever (and very successful!) Hard Rock fashion show.

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

I've just got a very brief and quick post going live today I'm afraid - and it's all about promoting my Depop! #sorrynotsorry.

Basically, I've just paid off my trek to Mexico in full and I'm now saving left right and centre for spending money. I've also recently moved back home which means although I'll be saving in the long run, I've also come to realize just how much junk I own and how many clothes I have hanging in my wardrobe that I don't wear.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Bargains | Buy Stuff | Clothes For Sale | Depop

Hence the long overdue clearout.

Here's just some stuff available on my Depop shop now - but plenty more will be added in the upcoming weeks. All items come from a smoke free house and are in great condition, and I also have a bunch of clothes to sell that still have tags on (back from when I worked in retail and abused my discount just because).

Any questions, just ask!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Bargains | Buy Stuff | Clothes For Sale | Depop

Also, I am 100% debating going into the foot fetish business and selling old dirty shoes. So, y'know, if you know anyone into that sort of thing, tell them to hit me up...

WWW.DEPOP.COM/LOUISE_JOY

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Sunday, 19 February 2017


The nation’s capital has events, activities and excitement in abundance — but sometimes, it’s nice to have a break from the hustle and bustle of London’s busy streets. Fortunately, there are plenty of worthwhile day trip and getaway locations in the surrounding areas and a little further afield.

While there’s no doubt that a jaunt around a big city like London is full of fun things to do, there’s a lot to be said for taking some time out and hopping over the metaphorical city walls. With so much diversity in regards to activities and locations, a quick train or car journey (many of which are an hour or less) is of little sacrifice for a memorable trip.

Brighton Beach

BRIGHTON
The historic seaside pier, its 5.4-mile long beach and endless shops, cafes and pubs amidst The Lanes are just a few of Brighton’s prime tourist locations. Whether you want a leisurely seaside stroll with a bag of chips or a jam-packed day of activities, Brighton has something for everyone.

Museums and galleries offer visitors a keen look at the artistic nature of the town, while an abundance of shops and boutiques show off Brighton’s ability to stay at the forefront of alternative fashion and trends.

With so much to see and do, you may find that a day trip to Brighton won’t be enough to experience all it has to offer, so the short train journey from London and a ticket fee (around £20) that does little damage to your bank account will come in handy for future trips.

THE NEW FOREST
A mere ninety-minute train journey from London’s Waterloo Station will see you arriving in the enchanting environment of The New Forest. With plenty of nature to explore and wildlife to see, a diverse range of activities and events going all year round, The New Forest is a must-see and must-do for any Londoner looking for a change of scenery.

There’s no doubt that you’ll be able to find places in London where you can enjoy outdoor activities or see animals at the zoo, but with The New Forest, you have an environment where you can enjoy various outdoor activities in scenic locations and observe an abundance of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Whether it’s a family trip, weekend adventure with a group of friends, or a romantic getaway, The New Forest really does have a bit of everything. Walks through the countryside, exciting activities, shopping, museums, spa days; it has something to fulfil most people’s idea of the perfect weekend getaway.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES NEAR THE CITY
London has a humongous range of activities, suited to the needs of a wide variety of people — but the problem is that the majority of these activities will be indoors. Stepping beyond the city limits and off the beaten track will allow you to experience some exciting activities, while embracing the great outdoors.

If you fancy making a change from the hectic foot traffic of London’s busy streets, a leisurely stroll in the countryside will be the breath of fresh air you need. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with the amount of scenic walking locations nearby. If you’d prefer something a bit more extreme in similar locations, there are plenty of off-road cycling paths and downhill mountain biking courses.

For those of you who are looking for an activity that’s outdoorsy, exciting, energetic and highly competitive, look no further than paintballing. You won’t have to go far to find the best paintballing London has to offer — as well as the best paintballing deals London has to offer. There's little that rivals the excitement of exploring diverse outdoor combat scenarios, while being immersed in the adrenaline-fuelled action of paintballing.

Many people would think paintball is reserved for days out with friends or stag dos, but specialised equipment means that the sport is safe to play for anyone aged 8+. This means families can attend for an exciting day out, or plan a children's paintball party. The possibilities are endless, so it’s worth checking out the exciting paintball London has to offer.

HISTORIC LOCATIONS
While the streets of London are riddled with historical relevance and beautifully aged by memories of the past, the locations that make up the surrounding areas are just as worthwhile to check out and embrace your inner historian.

From the Roman bathhouses of the rather aptly named Bath, to the wonderful medieval craftsmanship of Canterbury Cathedral, you’ll find locations that are a brilliant insight into Britain’s past. Other sites such as Stonehenge are known all over the world for the mystery behind its original purpose — an opinion that has been debated for many generations.

Neighbouring cities such as York and towns like Winchester are packed with history, scenic countryside and quirky buildings that make visitors instantly fall in love with the atmosphere and change of pace from a bigger city.

Whether you’re a Londoner looking for a break away from the city, or a visitor in search of some nearby gems while you spend some time in and around the capital, it’s pretty safe to say you won’t be disappointed. Scenic strolls in the countryside, historical tours of the local area, or intense, adrenaline-rushing fun of paintball; it’s all within a short distance of London and definitely worth making the trip.

*Please note, this post has been contributed.

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Friday, 17 February 2017

I know I already wrote a brief post about Pound Fitness and my experience of taking a class but, if I'm honest, I didn't really feel that post was anything more than a ramble about how much fun I found the class.

I've been back since and have even turned my sister into a fan of this quirky fitness class, so thought I'd share some reasons to why you should try it too.

Pound Fitness is a cardio workout with simulated drumming, which sounds like an odd mixture but works pretty damn well. In a class, you are given a pair of Ripstix (neon green lightly weighted plastic drumsticks), which you use to drum the floor (or tap together in the air) during the upbeat workout, which ranges from stretches, squats and various cardio moves. 

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | 5 reasons to try Pound Fit | Pound Fit | Pound Fitness | Fitness


IT'S A GREAT WORKOUT
To say Pound Fit is a great workout is almost understatement. It's basis is cardio - but it really is an all over workout. When I heard it's inspired by drumming. I figured maybe it would only give my arms a workout. I was wrong. There's a lot of squatting and there's also some ab inspired floor moves too. So, it works out the whole body and one hour of Pound Fit can burn up to 900 calories!

THE INSPIRATION BEHIND POUND FITNESS IS AWESOME
One of the founders, Cristina Peerenboom, broke her drum stool and, determined to still practice, spent an hour squatting to do so. The following morning she woke up with aching abs and legs and thus the idea was born into a unique workout.

YOU FEEL LIKE A TOTAL ROCKSTAR TAKING PART
You really do. Even though it doesn't turn you into a drummer, taking part in simulated drumming along to the soundtrack of bands like Paramore or Fall Out Boy is a really great feeling, especially when you have a lot of anger or stress to work out. And, although I read somewhere that it won't help you improve your drumming, I kind of feel like it has helped me improve my rhythm and get used to the concept of drumming.

THERE'S A REAL SENSE OF COMMUNITY
Each class is really laid back but upbeat, and the hour workout is filled with giggles and points where you sing along. Some exercise classes I go to and I feel not necessarily judged, but not accepted as much, or I feel bad not being as good as others. This isn't like that at all. It's so laid back, and there's a totally awesome online community too. It's not just a workout class. The website has a blog which shares tips, playlists, interviews with badass women and recipes, and there's a really awesome clothing range that can be purchased too.

...BUT YOU CAN ALSO DO IT AT HOME
If there's not a class near you (it's not massively popular in the UK yet - although there are lots of opportunities to become a trainer!), you can order DVD's to take part. There's a Rockout Results System for £72.09 (really random 9p there but that's the conversion from US dollars!), which includes five DVDs, a balance guide and seven day kickstart, a Poundoff calendar and workout journal, interval challenges, a 'live' class, a 101 tutorial and a pair of Ripstix. Perfect for a gift or to save for if you become an addict like me. There's also a cheaper version, Album 1: Sweat. Sculpt. Rock. This DVD set includes two DVD's and a pair of Ripstix for £16. Bargain.

SWEAT.
SCULPT.
ROCK.

But essentially, if you're just after something a bit edgy or different, then this is definitely a fitness class for you!

Would you ever try Pound Fitness? Let me know!

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

I don't know about you guys, but my only Valentine's Day plans consist of finally ordering a massive greasy pizza (my first, since Veganuary, but in my defence I'm choosing a healthy one from Domino's new italian range!), and sticking on some really disturbing and gory horror movies.

Seriously, how am I even still single?!

It's not that I actively want to avoid the day or the idea behind it - because don't get me wrong, I do love a good romcom - but on days like today I like saying a big 'eff you' to being single and watching the most-gory-and-least-lovey-dovey movie I can find.

If you're like me and prefer to be sickened by blood and guts as opposed to overly romantic displays of affection today, then some of these movies will do the trick for you.

Forget 50 Shades Of Grey, we're talking 50 Shades Of Gore here...

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Movies | Valentine's Day | Gory Movies | Horror | Evil Dead

DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Although this one is a remake, I think the 2004 version is still considered some sort of a classic among our millennial, as it's usually one of the first horror movies a lot of people my age had seen. It's still a treat to see this on TV these days.
The worst bit | This movie is pretty much blood and guts from start to finish, but the dead baby always gets me. I mean it's more disturbing than gory, but still..

THE EXORCIST (1973)
This one is a sure classic that not only managed to make people puke during their first showing of the film, but still manages to genuinely disturb to this day. Although it's not gory per say, the gradual transformation of Regan is certainly disturbing, as is her language.
The worst bit | I'm gonna go out on a limb here - yes, most people would say *that* head scene, but for me, it's seeing the possessed girl do some weird crab-crawl sh*t down the stairs that still spooks me out now.

THE SAW MOVIES
I can't pick just one film, but I can say watching them all back to back with tons of beer and pizza is pretty much an ideal date for a horror movie fanatic. Man do I wish I'd bought the box set to binge-watch them all today, even if the character of Jigsaw is hardly scary these days thanks to funny memes and that one video where he's riding a childs bike and it just collapses beneath him...
The worst bit | Its been years since I've seen *any* of the Saw movies, but I'm probably going to say the trap where the man has to cut off his own foot in the first film. Yeah, the traps get more gory as the films go on, but this was still quite a shock as it was the first film in the series.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009)
I haven't seen the original, and I admit, this remake isn't really amazing, but it's right up there in terms of gore, especially if you watch the 3D version. I mean, there's not a lot to be said about it really, but the links to Valentine's Day means it's a must watch this, er, Valentine's Day, and it's worth a watch alone just to perv on Jensen Ackles.
The worst bit | The crime scene involving the poor naked lady in the cheap motel. She just wanted to get laid, man...



EVIL DEAD (2013)
This is a firm favourite of mine and one that never fails to creep me out (or shock me). It's disgustingly gory, even to the point where you can just tell the director has tried to gross out the audience as much as possible (but still living up to the storyline in that sense, not just a film with tons of gore and no storyline like some of the Final Destination movies). On the other hand, it's genuinely a good movie, and Shiloh Fernandez provides excellent eye candy throughout. (Also, I've been told that although I haven't seen all of the original's, each and every one is a strong contender for one of the goriest movies of all time too!)
The worst bit | There's so many overly gory bits in this movie, but, for me, there's a bit towards the end involving a machete and a knee - that gets me every damn time. I still can't watch it without having to turn away and shudder, and even just writing about it is making me feel uneasy.

POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD (2006)
Funny story - my sister and I saw this accidentally once. To this day I don't know how it happened, but basically her boyfriend burned a lot of DVD's for her and we went to put on some romcom and instead we were faced with this movie, which was...messed up to say the least. Although to be honest, this seems to happen to us a lot - I still remember I rented us 40 Days and 40 Nights expecting it to be a romcom and not filled with sex. Anyway. It's about zombie chickens and took six years to get released.
The worst bit | I couldn't even tell you. I couldn't even get past the first half hour, but one day I will...!

RESIDENT EVIL (2002)
It's a bit dated now, but Resident Evil is one of those old favourites that you might not ever purchase on DVD, but simply love to watch when it's broadcast on TV. There are lots of real messed up monsters in this movie, from The Licker to the inside out dogs, and, of course, Milla Jovovich absolutely slays in her role.
The worst bit | The laser scene. You all know which one I mean...

So there you have it. If you're single this Valentine's Day and you're looking for a cheap and alternative way to spend your evening, there's a choice of seven suitably gory movies perfect for a day like today...

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Monday, 13 February 2017

I'm not gonna lie, I've focused on Shazam a lot for this month's playlist, but to begin with, it definitely focuses on more mainstream music, before some more heavier tracks towards the end.

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Paris by The Chainsmokers is a real guilty pleasure of mine recently, and yes, that is 5ive thrown in there. I heard this on the radio and couldn't help but think what a happy and upbeat song it is. I've also included the latest single from The Maine, You Me At Six and that song by Train everyone can't help but sing along to.

Here's February's playlist.

I've also thrown in some Halsey there too, as although it's from the 50 Shades Darker soundtrack, I have been waiting for some new music from her for a while now. I absolutely love Halsey, her music is so unique and I love that she's not afraid to be different.

Are there any essential songs I'm missing that you've really been digging this month so far? Let me know!

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Until Thursday night, I wasn't aware of how much I needed a giant ball pit for adults in my life.

I feel like I've missed out on years of fun. Adults are constantly reverting back to childhood favourite experiences these days, with children's play areas opening to elders and bouncy castle's at nightclubs, but although the idea of a ball pit in/with a bar is a simple one, it's so much more fun than you could ever imagine.

BallieBallerson has become increasingly popular for this idea alone in recent months but up until recently, I'd never had the chance to experience it myself. So I was really, really excited to receive an invite for their press/opening night of their newest venture - GlowyMcGlow.

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GlowyMcGlow is similar to what the uber cool company is known for - it's still a giant ball pit, it's still a DJ playing some awesome tunes so you can dance in said ball pit, and there's still an elusive and tempting cocktail list on offer - only now, it's all a new theme.

The multi-coloured balls have instead been replaced with clear ones - 250k to be exact - and LED lights have been added beneath to essentially make the balls glow. Mirrored walls surround the ball pit area to instead offer a really surreal experience, and adds a more grown up rave twist to the night.

The cocktail menu now offers a bunch of drinks themed around space, too. You can order fire, helium and dry ice cocktails which makes the upstairs area of the venue just as fun as the ball pit downstairs.

Director Wenny explained to me on the night that although the previous theme had been a success, the company is always looking for something new and unique to try and found the cocktail menu in particular had nowhere further to go. Despite being filled with retro cocktails with added sweets, the lure of clear balls and a glow theme made room for more experimental fun, and thus a space themed cocktail menu was launched using impressive fire and ice elements.

Before we headed downstairs to dive into the actual pit, we explored the drinks menu, spoilt for choice.

I tried Uranus, which was presented with a pill designed to turn my tastebuds upside down. Basically, the idea was to try the sharp drink and then eat the pill, which would then in turn make the drink delicious. The drink was a lot sweeter afterwards and the experience of trying this cocktail was unique in itself.

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I must include a shoutout to the bar staff here too. They were super friendly and really impressive to watch as they created each cocktail. They were easy to talk to too, and a real laugh. Also, if you do ever pop down, keep an eye out for one of the bar staff members who is a spitting image of Josh Dun of twenty one pilots...

After experiencing a bunch of delicious cocktails, we headed downstairs through the bold and bright graffiti'd venue, handed our belongings into a cloak room (it's so easy to lose things in the ball pit. My friend lost her shoe, and I have a Snapchat video of her screaming 'Abort mission!' in a panic. It was hilarious) and jumped in.

And, I mean, we literally jumped in. This wasn't some half-assed attempt of a ball pit where you can just wade in through really shallow balls. No. You could actually jump in and like, not hit the floor. It was an amazing feeling. 

We waded a little though. We swam. We burrowed to the bottom and hid. We partook in ball fights with the venue staff and we attempted to dance. I will tell you this - it's so much fun, but there's no way to act ladylike when trying to stand up again. 

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Every half hour or so, the lights dimmed and a UV rave began, with the balls changing colour even quicker.

Overall, it was so much fun and such a unique concept. I've already planned to go back. Even though the idea of just a giant ball pit sounds like it may get tired quickly, it really doesn't. You don't get bored at all and of course, if you do need a break, you can always nip upstairs for an impressive cocktail adjourned with glowsticks, dry ice or whatever else (I am slightly sad I did not get a chance to see them all!).

Plus, it's affordable too. A £15 ticket will get you entry into the venue/bar/ball pit for two hours, or you can choose to splurge £35 for a Bottomless Brunch weekend ticket, which includes bottomless spaghetti meatballs, bottomless punch, bottomless prosecco and of course, entry into the ballpit. I think this will be our next shout...!

However, I really cannot begin to explain how much fun it is. You just have to experience it for yourself. Oh, and if you do, give my number to the Josh Dun look-a-like will you...?

Would you fancy channeling your inner child and visiting GlowlyMcGlow? Let me know with a comment!

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Veganuary 2017 is well and truly over and after treating myself to one small Happy Meal, a Chinese and a Thai Curry (but no Pizza Hut god dammit!) since being able to eat meat again, I find it's time to reflect on my experiences of eating vegan for the entire month of January.

Luckily, I'd also set myself the same challenge from last year so I had a little experience. This time around, I understood what I was getting myself into, I knew to do a big shop in advance and I already had a bunch of fail safe vegan products and recipes I could use again in 2017.

But did this make it easier or not?

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IT WAS ONLY A TINY BIT EASIER THIS TIME
Having already gone through it the once helped a bunch, but the four week stint wasn't without it's challenges. The first one was that I'm only working part time at the moment, whereas last year I was working full time, so I didn't have enough money to spare. I had to do my shops carefully, which meant having a few of the same meals multiple times. In hindsight, this was a good thing, because it helped me plan ahead a lot more again.

I didn't miss meat as much this time around, but some of last year's issues still affected me - there were days I just couldn't be bothered to cook at all and then, of course, around the halfway mark, I got sick and had to pack the whole thing in for a couple of days.

I ONLY VARIED MY FOOD A LITTLE BIT MORE
I introduced some new recipes into my diet and also relied on some from 2016, but I still didn't get round to experimenting with quorn or tofu. On the other hand, I ate/snacked less and instead focused on more filling dinners and this time around I also stocked up on potatoes and vegetables, which I did not do this year.

I found myself eating a lot less in January, but I think that's because I was filling up on the good stuff (potatoes, vegetables etc), so I can't complain.

MY WILL POWER STAYED STRONG
I did consider for a second giving up once or twice, especially when I got sick, but then I remembered that being a vegan isn't being harsh on yourself and instead it's about trying to be vegan as best as you can. So there were a couple of days where I had no energy to cook or go and buy vegan stuff in, but I still tried my best on these days by still avoiding meat (just not dairy). I could have very easily of given up after this but instead I decided to continue.

This had challenges too, because afterwards, I was often tempted to just have a small slip up here and there, thinking that as I'd messed it up for a couple of days already, an odd little treat here and there wouldn't make much difference.

I definitely waived within the third week, but by the fourth and final week I was back to my determined self.

MY THOUGHTS LOOKING BACK
Looking back, I'm super proud of myself for achieving Veganuary yet again, and I've come away feeling more confident in the kitchen again and more savvy about eating healthy on a budget. I've got a couple more go-to meals that I'll continue to eat and overall, I've felt so much better in myself. According to my sister, my skin and hair looks better and more vibrant, and overall I look like I've lost weight.

I admit, I did weigh myself this time around out of curiosity, and found that over the course of the month, I lost half a stone.

I have been taking on lots of fitness classes too, but I've no doubt that by eating more vegetables and generally just eating more green/healthy, it's made a big difference.

WHAT NOW?
As always, I've treated myself to a couple of things I missed in January, but overall I have been trying to continue to eat healthy or at least more balanced meals ever since.

This time around, instead of attempting to stay 85% vegan for the foreseeable future, I've decided I'm going to try to be 'flexitarian' (yes, that's a thing). It means to be someone who is primarily vegetarian, but occasionally eats meat or fish and I think this is quite suited to me.

I'll still be eating vegan as much as I can - I find no problem whatsoever with using vegan alternatives for butter, or milk and cheese in cooking, and the rest of the time I'll be sticking to vegetarian. I will allow myself to eat meat occasionally, perhaps just on a weekend, or for example, if I've gone out for dinner during the week and eating a meat based meal is just the easier option.

I actually found it really easy to give up meat for two, three weeks at a time, so although I may allow the option of eating it once a week, it's more likely that it'll be once every few weeks. An occasional treat, if you will.

It's not a huge change, but it's still a step in the right direction and if I'm really honest, I'm doing this for me more than any other reason. Going vegan made me feel so much better in myself and I simply want to continue that feeling. But due to my living circumstances and working just part-time right now, it isn't always a viable option.

So I'll be trying, but labelling myself as a flexitarian. This works for me, and also see's me doing my little bit to help animals too. According to stats, each person that takes part in Veganuary saves up to 30 animals by doing so - and that makes me feel damn good!

Keep an eye out for a couple more Veganuary posts throughout February, such as my favourite recipes this time around.

Would you ever try Veganuary? Let me know!

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