The Run Down 9/3


It's been a funny week. Doubling the dose of medication I take was always going to be an adjustment, I knew that. But as with so many of these things you don't really realise until it happens. It creeps up on you and suddenly you're not sleeping so well, having anxious thoughts and generally feeling pretty crappy. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it was no fun. Thankfully things have eased up, but it has got me thinking about what more I can do to look after myself. I've been thinking about everything in terms of physiological symptoms, but maybe I need to be more aware of how what those physiological symptoms are telling me about my mental wellbeing. Something to think on. 

I have been feeling so much love this week. Not just the love people sent my way when I wasn't feeling great, but in my wider community. Love and support has been an overwhelming narrative of the last week. People coming together, supporting each other and having each other's back. It has also reminded me that when we focus on putting love out into the world everything really will be ok. 

Big love has to go out to Lau this week because she secured a training post in London!! I cannot think of a better person to look after the people of South London. We're lucky to have her!


I also want to share some big love from Carly's Womanifesto. Carley is an amazing woman, and has become a real voice for women's empowerment. Her Womanifesto really resonated with me, and I'd urge you to check it out here.

My department put on a whole host of talks in honour of International Women's Day, on an whole host of subjects. I wasn't sure what to expect when I went along to a session on trafficking, but I came away feeling so emotional. We were privileged enough to hear from women who had been subject to child sexual exploitation. The stories were heartbreaking. Utterly devastating. But what was awe inspiring was how articulate and composed these women were. They spoke clearly about their mission to end exploitation and had true passion. If we could all have a little more of that poise.


The other event that really got me going this week was heading to Lululemon to hear from Dr Nina Brochmann and Ellen Stokken Dahl, two student doctors and sex educations from Norway who are out to (and I quote) 'bring genital enlightenment to the masses'. And did they ever! Facilitated by the lovely Amy Hopkinson, Nina and Ellen talked about everything from cycle tracking apps to what the clitoris and a horse have in common (lots, as it turns out) with humour, charm and utter frankness. I liked the frankness. A lot. And I'm really looking forward to reading their book 'The Wonder Down Under'.

Training has been a little disrupted this week due to illness and some very nasty period pain, but I'm back on it and had a session with Chevy on Thursday night. In between chatting positive male allies, social media and my running form, he also dropped that from Monday I'm going to be on a training plan!! I am crazy excited to get that structure back into my training and to be running again. I can't wait! 


And finally, as always, quick fire questions: 

Instagram crush of the week: @gynaegeek - I think I have vaginas on the brain, but Dr Anita Mitra really is excellent, and you know you can trust what she's saying. Go check her out and get to know the facts about gynaecological health.

Song of the week: Can't Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton), Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - my power song.

Podcast of the week: The Modern Mann - a long time favourite, I love the magazine format of this podcast, and their interviews are second to none. Plus you're guaranteed to learn something from the Foxx Hole. 

Book of the week: In Shock, Dr Rana Awdish - this is an absolutely beautiful book, which draws some parallels to Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air (another favourite of mine) and is a lesson in compassion for everyone. 

* images: Anna Rachel Photography

** socks gifted by Stance. shoes Strike Mvmnt

Meditation & Mindfulness with Buddhify


The last couple of weeks have been quite stressful. I've been travelling a lot, dealing with changes to my medication which come with some frustrating side effects and winding up one job before starting another (on Monday!). Plus we've got a few things going on in the background which have been challenging to deal with. It's the type of situation that could, relatively easily, implode. Even if you're not already prone to a bit of angst. Which is exactly why I've been taking some extra steps to look after myself. 

My general approach to staying well is to eat well, sleep enough, not drink too much and move lots. Easy. When life is running smoothly. Not so easy when it's up in the air. So recently I've been thinking about what else I could do. It needed to be effective and require little to no thought or effort on my part - in the past attempts to relax have had quite the opposite effect. Something I could do on the move and that wouldn't take much time.

Meditation is something I've dabbled in. I loved the guided meditation Bex recently led us through while on a yoga retreat, and I've toyed with various apps and DIY efforts in the past. But, being totally honest, it's too time consuming, and if something 'wellness' needs a lot of time then I'm less likely to do it and more likely to get stressed about not doing it. Which probably isn't the point. So, it's always been pushed to the 'probably not right now' pile when life gets busy. But maybe I've been missing out? Maybe there's another way? 


When the guys at Buddhify got in touch I was intrigued. They promised medication on-the-go that I could do wherever I was or whatever I was doing. So I could fit it in to life as and when I needed. No quite spaces and candles needed. The app is categorised by what you're doing or how you're feeling, which I found really handy. Over the last few weeks I've been struggling with concentration and focus, but there's a meditation for that, and in just a few minutes I found I had a much clearer head and could get on with what needed to be done. And I could do it at my desk! There are such a huge range of mediations too, you're bound to find one for whatever you need, and overtime you can edit the apps nifty wheel to what woks for you. 

One of my favourite features on the app is that you can Give a mediation to someone in your life who could really do with it. This is just a lovely idea, and a really tangible way to show support without resorting to platitudes, which can be frustrating. I'll defiantly be keeping this one in my back pocket for the next time a friend is having a tricky moment. 

Now an app isn't ever going to be the answer to everything. But as a way of dealing with a brief period when life is really full on I reckon it could be really handy. A quick meditation can be the momentary escape that you need to regroup and find the resilience to do all the other things that help you get through tricky times. 

Have you tried any meditation apps? What do you think? 

*images: Anna Rachel Photography

**Buddhify kindly gifted me their app, but all opinions are my own.

Neil Island, The Andaman and Nicobar Islands


22 miles north east of Port Blair is Neil Island, a tiny island which was uninhabited until the mid-1960s and is referred to the vegetable bowl of the Andaman Islands. It is beautiful. Tiny, laid back and the perfect place to chill out for a week or so. It was exactly what we needed, not just after the chaos of Delhi, but also after over a year and a half without a break.


We decided early on that we wanted to stay somewhere 'nice' during our stay on Neil Island, and although our first hotel fell through (a long story), we landed on our feet with SeaShell Neil. I couldn't believe our luck when we stumbled in to this lovely resort with its lush greenery, cute cottages and private beach with swings and hammocks. My idea of paradise. Actually, the whole island was paradise, you could walk nearly everywhere (or run! We managed to squeeze in a few sweaty runs in during our stay!) and the beaches were insane. The only downside was the lack of beer. Only a couple of very high end hotels (including ours) sell booze, and to say Mike was disappointed is an understatement. He survived. Just. 


Neil is so little that it's easy to explore without feeling like you're working too hard. We decided against hiring bikes, partly because I'm a wuss, but partly because around where we were staying had relatively busy roads. However, there were lots of tuk tuks available and you didn't need to haggle around prices, which was a refreshing change, and meant that we could head off to explore all the beaches and check out some of the awesome local restaurants that were tucked away around the island. 


A highlight of our stay was stumbling on the island's Mela - essentially an Indian take on Lambeth County Fair! It was awesome to see the whole island turn out in their best outfits and party together. There's something uniquely special about seeing people at play, and this was pretty magical. 


Experiences and food are what make trips, and Mike's trip to a local barber was quite an experience, complete with a head massage that involved a certain amount of slapping (!) and saw him told to remove his top. Needless to say I spend much of that particular experience quite entertained! As well as hitting the local barber we made the effort to eat in local places - never be afraid of the hole in the wall, if there are loads of local people eating there then it's probably not going to kill you, and you might have some really awesome (cheap) food. The food at Sunset Point is amazing, and Mike became a huge fan, although keep in mind the stalls are only open for a few hours around the time the beach gets busy with people wanting to catch one of the Island's spectacular sunsets.


I get the sense that Neil Island is seen as a poor second to the bigger, busier Havelock, but I'd beg to differ. Neil has a certain charm. No, there's not much to do, but it's the perfect place to relax, take things easy and not really think about much for a week or so. Although do remember to take cash, the ATM doesn't work. 


Eat and Drink

The Dugong, SeaShell Neil - this restaurant was in our hotel and is one of the few places on Neil to get a beer. It does some excellent food, but it's definitely one of the pricier options.

Garden View - this place is so special. It's a tiny family run place that makes some of the best food on the island. Don't expect anything to be fast, but use it as an opportunity to sit back, have a chat, read a book or catch up with other visitors. 

Halder Restaurant - right in the middle of Neil Kendra, this hole in the wall is awesome. If you didn't know you'd walk straight past, but thanks to a tip off from the receptionist at our hotel we found it.

Sutapa Restaurant - another hole in the wall, this one gives you just two options (and none if you're a veggie), but it's good stuff! 

There are also various sweet shops around Neil Kendra which you really need to check out - Indian Sweets are my absolute favourite! 


We stayed at SeaShell Neil, which is definitely one of the higher end options on the island. It was really lovely, and just what we were looking for - somewhere where we could chill out and not think for a week. However, there are options for every price point, including at the lovely Garden View which has cute little huts that make a great budget option.