Patience, Young Grasshopper: Instagram Tips and Tricks

Patience, Young Grasshopper: Instagram Tips and Tricks

It has been a while since I joined the #bookstagram scene and now I’ve settled into a comfortable Instagram routine I thought it would be fun to share some of my do’s and don’ts. I am in no way a professional or expert on Instagram, my follower count should tell you as much, nor do I know THE magic formula to grow your account. However, I do think that I have picked up on some things that might come in handy if you’re working on building your account.

Now, the main advice I was given when I started was: original content, good quality, and post consistently. Those are three very important things, but when you’re just starting out this might seem incredibly vague and just too broad. How can best be creative? What do you need to ensure good quality pictures? And, what helps you post consistently? I’ll share what I think those three things entail.

Original Content

The problem with original #bookstagram content is that when you first start out you have to find out what works for you. You see tons of people working with beautiful pictures that use tons of props and cool items and the first problem you’re going to run into is where to find all that stuff. Even more importantly, are you good with props? I hate using props… I love how much effort goes into those pictures, but whenever I try to incorporate them my pictures always become so messy. Props are just not for me.

I love working with nature. I love how clean my pictures look, the lush green and brown colors, and how nature does the work for you. My advice: try it all. Try working with props and try going outdoors with a big bag filled with books, but most importantly take lots of pictures. You’ll find something that works for you eventually and you’ll get better at it as well.

Good Quality

I can’t really tell you much besides what you probably already know about this. However, contrary to what you might think, you don’t need an expensive camera to take good quality pictures. If you own a good camera, great! If you don’t have one or can’t afford one, that’s fine. I bet you own a smartphone and one of those will do just fine. I know tons of amazing bookstagrammers that only work with their phone! Plus, there are tons of apps you can use to edit your pictures.

If you want to use props and/or take your pictures inside, you’ll need a good and even background/backdrop. You can simply find a spot with an even background in your house, but if not there are tons of shops online where you can find cool mini backdrops for a reasonable price. Or, if you’re creative you can fabricate one yourself. Just google it! You can have a marble-like or wooden backdrop, there’s something for everyone!

Post Consistently

Now this, I can help you with! It’s going to sound so logical and self-explanatory, but take pictures a week or month ahead. I used to take the picture I was going to post that day the morning itself, which was so counterproductive. Whenever I had something going on that day I often forgot to take a picture and thus had nothing to post that day. So, with a little help, I started taking pictures for an entire week ahead. I would take pictures every weekend (read: I’d drag a week’s worth of books to my parent’s house every weekend) and that way I was sure I would be able to post consistently.

Do you have trouble figuring out what you want to post about? It might be a good idea to join a #bookstagram challenge then! The challenge will provide you with a theme to post about and provides a fun way to meet new people by visiting and interacting with other people that use the same hashtag. It’ll also help you to stay creative! I have been participating in the #grimdragon challenge for about two months now and I love their daily challenges!

Remember, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily have to work for you, try different things and find out what works for you!

 

 

I’m Not Superwoman: It’s Okay When It Doesn’t Work Out

As my active lifestyle is a big part of this blog I think it’s important to share the highs as well as the lows with you. So today I want to share what’s going on workout-wise lately, or rather, how it hasn’t been working out for me the past month. As many of you might know, I pride myself on being active, on being a runner, and on my workouts in general because I enjoy them and they’re a big stress reliever. I even give the advice to people that when life get’s busy to keep making effort to do your workouts, because it helps deal with stress. I tell most people that, but when push comes to shove I guess I am crap at following my own advice… And you know what: that’s okay.

My workouts have NOT been working out for me the past two months. I still run, but you could call it sporadically at best, and my gym-time has pretty much cut back to zero hours a week. The cause? Three things: exams, deadlines, and life. I am currently finishing up my third year of university, and will, hopefully, graduate this year. The deadlines, my thesis, the finals… they had, and still have, me in its grip. Then, life got rough for me. I won’t bore you with the details, that’s not what this post is about, but let’s just keep it at the fact that I had a really hard time dealing with everything this past semester. With everything going on, and the added stress of deadlines and finals approaching had me increasingly stressed. My workouts went down the drain in no time.

As much as I loved working out, I did not have the time nor energy to spare. And, as I’ve slowly come to realize, that’s okay. It’s okay not to be superwoman. Sometimes you simply don’t have the time or energy to spare for workouts when there’s so much going on around you. I don’t have to be able to lift all the weight of what’s been happening on my shoulders while getting good results at university and have the time and energy to spare for working out three to four (or five) times a week. It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else.

It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else. So yeah, maybe I have been a slacker workout-wise, but hey, if slacking allowed me to keep up my grades while dealing with all that was happening around be then I am glad to have been one!

So far I have mentioned what has been going on, but what about what is going on. Well, luckily, I am doing a bit better. I made the deadlines (only a few left) and I had my last exam yesterday. Life is still not back to normal, but it is slowly getting there. I am planning on picking on my run training again today (starting with a comfortable 5k run) and might pick up HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) again because it goes very well in combination with running.

The good news is that I’m back to working out now! My sister joins me on my runs a lot and, as you can see, we have fun while doing it. If you learn anything from this post I hope that It’ll be that having fun is most important when it comes to working out. If it starts being anything but fun, if it becomes a must instead of a want, something has to change. This wasn’t the most upbeat most, but I want to keep it real on this blog. It might seem like working out comes easy to me, but it takes time and dedication, and sometimes this can be hard to find and there’s no shame in that.

May Recap ’17 | Thesis Struggles, Essay Deadlines, and Sunny Weather!

May Recap ’17 | Thesis Struggles, Essay Deadlines, and Sunny Weather!

This post recaps my month: my personal life, the fun and not so fun; books I’ve read; movies/ tv-shows I’ve watched; and all other things worth mentioning.

If I had to sum May up in one word it would be hectic. As the post title suggests, there was a lot of university related stuff to be done, but even though I had a massive to-do list even I had some time to enjoy the sun!

I’m back on Instagram! I dusted off my SLR camera and am taking bookish pictures again. I forgot how much fun that was. I am, and never have been, good with props, so I am using nature as my props. I love grabbing a bunch of books and just going outside and see whatever catches my eye. The weather is just perfect for this approach right now! In the meantime, I will try and improve my inside picture-taking skills (while not sharing it because I usually do not like the way it looks).

Something I also shared on Instagram: I started a bullet journal! Well, technically I started one at the beginning of April, but as I have been trying out what works for me I have kept my trap shut about it, haha. I always loved journals. I love lists and keeping track of whatever I want to keep track off. I have tried SO MANY different journals over the last few years, but they never quite fit my needs perfectly… My solution was to taka matters into my own hands. I have tried quite some different layouts over the last months, and this is the latest development for my ‘weekly spread’. Since I started my Bujo I have discovered I love the start of a new month because setting it up is so much fun! The way I have set it up right now I am able to track my habits, can manage my blogging, and have an overview of what is to come the current month and in the future. Who knows, if you are interested, I might even do a post on it somewhere in the future, as it really is a learning curve.

In terms of working out, I have been slacking this May. Unfortunately, being hella busy at university means you have to make some sacrifices, and May is exam month after all. I haven’t been running as much, although I squeeze in runs wherever I can, gym time has been non-existent. However, all things come to an end, and so will my deadlines! If there’s one thing I am looking forward to about June it is the fact that I will have more time to spare. Which means BACK TO TRAINING!

Reading: reading-wise this is going to be a very sad score… Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

  1. Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Thorns and Roses. 4/5 (reread)
  2. Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury. 5/5 (reread)
  3. Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin. 4.5/5
  4. Gillian French – Grit (2.5/5)
  5. Blair Thornburgh – Who’s That Girl (currently reading)

Tv-shows:

Once Upon a Time season 1, episode 1 – 22. Never finished it before, loved it!

Thirteen Reasons Why season 1, episode 1 – 13. Very mixed feelings about this… So many mixed feelins I could write an essay. 

Grimm season 5, episode 1-3. So addictive!

Movies:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. SO MUCH LOVE.

Finding Dory. So freaking adorable.

Inside Out. Finally watched this, it was so good!

Moana. The bomb!

Trolls. Fun enough, not a whole lot of depth.

What did you do in May?

Rocycle Adventure in Amsterdam

I can scratch something off my to-do list. Rocycle class in Amsterdam: check! Joining a class has been on my to-do list ever since I first heard about it a few months back, and, yesterday I experienced what it’s like to join one of their rides! I have one word for you to describe my entire experience: intense!

Firtst things first, what is Rocycle?

It’s a 45 & 60-minute full body workout on a bike. You train your core and your upper body with light hand weights and handlebar pushups, and your heart rate will go all the way up. Each class has a unique playlist handpicked by your instructor to fit their style.

So, what was my Rocycle experience like?

I reserved a bike for my friend Manouk (bikes 18 & 19, just in case you were wondering where we sweated our butts off) for Monday 10 April at 18.00 and we arrived fashionably early. Almost an hour early. As we arrived I was mostly excited, but if I’m very honest with myself I’ll admit that I was beginning to feel a bit nervous. From what I’d heard Rocycle was a lot like spinning, but ‘more’ intense, and my past experiences with spinning combined with my asthma had been less than pleasant. We were shown around and explained how to set up our bikes and that’s when the fun began.

I had about 5 seconds to be nervous before all my nerves were replaced with sweat. The music was good. Our instructor, Isabella, was awesome. It was on from the very first minute and you have no choice but to let the music take you and let your instructor guide you through it. There’s a quote on the wall that says “music on, world off” and it couldn’t be more accurate. It is so easy to get swept along with the music and the vibe in the studio that I had to remind myself sometimes to take it a bit slower. I took a breather every now and then when my breathing got a bit too rough, but it was so much awesomeness in just 45 minutes and it’s over before you know it.

How a workout can be so brutal and so much fun at the same time is beyond me, but I’m not complaining. I repeat: it was SO MUCH FUN. My legs felt a bit wobbly once I got off the bike, but the energy you get from that workout is insane!

The verdict

One thing is for certain: I’ll be back! If you’re in Amsterdam and you want a little something different for your workout, go join a Rocycle class! You can book your ride online, there’s a first-time offer that I promise you won’t regret!

The Week Before: the Rotterdam 1/4 Marathon

Upcoming Sunday I am running the Rotterdam 1/4th marathon alongside my dad and thousands of other runners. The Rotterdam 1/4th marathon has always been one of my favorite events to run. The vibe is amazing and there are SO MANY people that cheer you on, another thing that plays a big role as to why it is one of my favorite events is the fact that two years ago this was my first ‘big’ run. I will never forget that overpowering sense of accomplishment once I crossed that finish line and even though the time I ran was nothing to write home about, that 10k was about so much more than simply setting a time.

Two years ago I proved to myself that I could do it. It took me WAY too long to run that 10k, but I proved to myself that if I put my mind to it and trained properly I could run any distance I wanted. Look at me now, two years down the road, and I have a lot more distance in those legs of mine. The past two years I ran some more 10k’s, some 10 miles, and a half marathon. I’m a way more experienced runner than I was two years ago and through it all I learned some valuable things about how to prep for race day. Since this is the week before race day for me, I thought I’d share my do’s and don’ts the week before race day.

The week before

Do not train heavy the week before a race. It might seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people make this mistake. And I too made that same mistake before. It is so tempting to do that leg day session or to run a 10k just to prove to yourself that you can do it. Don’t. You’ll tire your muscles and they won’t have enough time to recover. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train at all. I usually go on one or two short distance runs. If you’re running a 10k, run a 3k or 5k during the week. Just don’t speed, aim for a comfortable pace that doesn’t get you winded.

Don’t eat any differently than you normally do and don’t eat anything heavy two hours before your race. It might be so tempting to make a special breakfast with more carbs or more proteins to fuel your body, but this won’t work in your favor. It can have the complete opposite effect. Your body might not be used to this kind of nutrition and react badly to it. Believe me, you do not want the be the runner at the start with a stomach that’s cramping or feel your food coming up during your run. If it is oatmeal you have every morning, have oatmeal the morning of your race.

If you’re nervous about running a new route: don’t sweat it. The organization usually make the route known so you can cover the route beforehand. You can go check it out to get familiar with it, or, if you know the area, you can just check it online to see where you’ll be at what distance. I know from experience that it can be a bit daunting when you’re running and you have no idea how far into the route you are. Checking the route beforehand can solve that problem for you. There usually are markers alongside the route as well. Another option is a running watch, this is the more expensive option, but I promise you once you get one you’ll never want to go back again!

Last but not least, stop stressing. If you’ve trained well try to relax a bit. A week before the race there’s nothing you can really do to prepare better. The time to train for a distance is not the week before race-day. Try to enjoy the process. The events itself, you’ll see for yourself, are filled with positivity from the community! You’ll find tons of strangers cheering you on, feeding you, and giving you water. It is so much fun and you’ll only impact your own experience if you don’t try to take it in and enjoy it.

 

New Year’s Resolutions and Goals: the 2017 Edition

I’ve never really been the person to set New Year’s Resolutions, but, reading-wise, 2016 was a disastrous year for me… This is something I aspire to change in the upcoming year. We’re now a few days into the new year, and I realized there are some things I want to do differently in 2017.  And, there are some goals that I really want to achieve, things I really want to do and not postpone any longer, cross off some things off my bucket list so to speak. So I figured I’d try my hand at a New Year’s Resolution list and share it with you guys.


Finish at least one book for myself every week

I want to finish at least one book for myself every week. Looking back at the amount of books I’ve read in 2016 makes me sad… I got so wrapped up in my study and LIFE, that it became normal when weeks went by when I didn’t read at all, or the only books I read were university-related. I feel like I missed out on tons of good books and, with a little help from you, I am going to try my best to get all caught up again!

Question for you: What were your favorite reads of 2016? Leave your reply in the comments and I’ll add the books you mention to my list of books to read!

Get back into reviewing ARCs and books

I want to get back into reviewing. I’m pleased to tell you that I’m already working on this resolution! I currently have 3 ARCs at home that were sent to me to review and I’ve almost finished the first of the three books and am jotting down my thoughts on this book on the go, which, hopefully, will make writing reviews go more swiftly! I also wrote down and marked deadlines for reviews in my planner, to make it easier for myself to stay on top of them.

Another question for you: Do you have to juggle studying and blogging? How do you make sure you’re on top of it all? I should probably plan ahead more…

Start reviewing NA and Romance novels

More sexy time! Which I realize sounds odd, haha, but what I mean is that I want to start reviewing New Adult and Romance novels on the blog as well. Since I am painfully single, I get my fix in the form of books.  I never really reviewed these books on my blog, because I thought it didn’t really fit in with the Young Adult books (which I predominantly reviewed). New blog name, new resolutions, new books that will be reviewed.

Run a full marathon

In 2016 I set the goal to run a Half Marathon. I ran the Amsterdam Half Marathon in October, which was quite the experience. Some things are bound to go wrong when you do something for the very first time, this happened to me as well. I made some stupid newbie mistakes, which I shared in this post. This year I want to run the Rotterdam Marathon! Yes, that’s the full marathon, 42 point something kilometers. And yes, I am crazy, but it’s something I want to do at least once in my life, so why not in 2017? I already got my starting ticket, and training has already started, for I’ll be running this bad-boy April 9th. If you’re in the neighborhood and want to come cheer me on, do feel free!

Try new workouts or sports

I want to try different things. I know I am a good runner, I know I can lift weights in the gym (which I’ll continue to do in 2017), but I want to try new workouts. For instance, I want to go climbing (or bouldering!) and try a kickboxing class. I might want to start doing yoga at least once a week as well because it helps with the muscle soreness and it is so incredibly relaxing (and boy do I need some more relaxing in my life). I just want to try more things and, who knows, maybe I’ll find something I will love so much I’ll stick with it.

Question for you: Any fun workouts or sports that you think I should try out? Or want to see me try out? Let me know in the comments!

Start a fitness journal

I want to start keeping track of how much I lift.I know there’s progress, that I do more reps and lift heavier, but I never really wrote it down before. So when I wanted to see how far I’ve come earlier this week I pretty much blanked. I have a beautiful planner and I am going to put it to good use and write down the reps and amount of weight from now on.

So these are my resolutions for 2017! I am going to put my Erin Condren planner to good use and let it help me keep track of my reading, my blogging, and my workouts. I might share a post in the future on how I divide and format my planner to fit me best.

Do you have any resolutions? Do tell me what yours are!