Meet Sandra - Fit Life Mode blogger & Digital Designer
In our Q&A series, we like to get to know our #Flybery women. From brand owners and designers, to health and fitness instructors; we love to hear about the hopes, dreams and inspirations behind the labels and the lifestyles.
This week, we caught up with Lithuanian-born ‘Fit Life Mode’ blogger and UX designer, Sandra, to talk about settling in London and finding that perfect work/life balance. Keeping family and health at the heart of her routine, she shares her top tips for mindful living and a glimpse into her love of exploration...
You’re from Lithuania - tell us more about your roots and when/why you came to London?
Indeed, I’m a proud Lithuanian and Kaunas is my hometown. My partner and I moved to the UK to study 10 years ago, thinking we would return home once we graduated, but life happened and here we are!
Lithuania is a beautiful eastern European country with endless forests, lakes and white sand coastline stretching for over 100km, but my life is now in London and as much as I miss home, I am grateful for the opportunities we have had here in England.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Drink water, stretch and check in with myself.
How does your typical day look? What do you do when you’re not working out?
On weekdays I get up at 5:45am, have coffee with my partner before he leaves for work and then I hit the gym for a weights session which can be anything between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes. I then shower, meditate, eat eggs for breakfast and get to work. I’m a full time User Experience (UX) Designer at JustGiving so I spend most of my day in the office solving problems, designing features and new experiences for our users.
I get back home at about 6:30pm and meal prep for next day. Then have a bit of down time which I usually spend reading a book, knitting a scarf or watching something on Netflix with my partner. Bedtime is around 9:30pm - 10pm the latest, as I do need my beauty sleep :). On weekends, the pace slows down a lot and we just try to do what we love most - eat good food, go for long walks, meet friends and I’ll occasionally squeeze in a gentle workout like yoga or a 5k run.
What got you into fitness? Tell us more about your background…
I’ve always been an active person. When I was a teenager I played basketball in my hometown.
Moving to the UK meant that I inevitably caught the running bug as running culture here is very strong and for some time I got really excited to participate in all possible races and running events. Then I discovered yoga, HIIT & gym workouts.
What got me into fitness is curiosity, drive to take care of my body and my health and of course the addictive feeling - the good high that you get after every workout!
Why did you decide to start your own blog?
I always loved writing and I’m a creative person in general, so combining my skills with my passion for wellness was an obvious thing to do. I love sharing my wellness experiences with others, I hope I can inspire people to be active, healthy and take care of their inner happiness too. It’s also a great way to document my journey, sometimes I look back and I realise that I forgot how far I have come, which re-energises and motivates me even more.
Fitness is your passion but you work full-time as a digital designer - could you tell us more about your job?
Sure! I work as a UX (user experience) Designer at JustGiving. A lot of people usually ask what is UX and I say: “I’m sure you know what it is. It’s your experience when you visit any website or use an app”. I design these experiences to make sure that the JustGiving website and features work as they should without any hiccups. That usually includes a lot of problem solving, understanding the user journey, sketching ideas and translating them to digital mock-ups, working with visual designers to really polish every detail and then working with developers to build the actual experience as designed initially.
Not a single day is the same and that’s why I love my job - it always keeps me on my toes, learning and tackling challenges.
How do you manage to keep a good work/life balance? Isn’t it tricky to work, stay fit and run a blog?
Funny you ask this! I don’t think I have nailed my work/life balance just yet, but I’m getting better at it every day. Usually it’s a matter of compromising and sometimes, something has to give. I have established my priorities and have my schedule that I try to stick to. If that means saying “no” to post-work drinks because I have to meal prep and be in bed by 10pm, so be it. Being healthy, rested and with my family is more important. On other days, my schedule goes out the window and if I don’t feel like meal prepping or working out, I will be lazy without feeling guilty, will go out for pizza, because I work hard enough and sometimes I need to take a break.
It is tricky to work full-time, stay fit and run a blog. Knowing my priorities in life helps me to balance things out and not feel guilty for neglecting others. “Do what you love and love what you do” they say - and I try to live by that every day.
What are your favourite fitness brands?
Nike, Jilla Active and Sweaty Betty.
What are your training must-haves? When working out, what clothing do you feel most comfortable in and why?
Stretchy fabric, breathable and high waisted leggings, preferably in exciting print or bold colours. These are an absolute must for my weights sessions. It not only motivates me and makes me feel good, but it also enables me to perform better and really focus in those last reps, because I don’t have to worry about over-heating or be limited in the way I move. The second must is a good workout bra. Good, for me, means it’s secure, supportive and easy to look after.
Elegant dress and high-heels or leggings paired with trainers?
Oh I do like both, but there’s time and place for everything! When I’m not working out or post - yoga brunching with friends, I definitely try to dress up, but I rarely wear heels.
What is your favourite post-training meal?
Usually it’s breakfast time as I do a fasted workout in the morning, so it has to be eggs - I’m never bored of them, I have them with veggies and a latte on the side.
What is your favourite breakfast & lunch spot in London
Breakfast - 26 Grains in Covent Garden
Lunch - Hawksmoor steakhouse
What is your favourite type of training?
Weights. I’m completely in love with lifting weights!
I started doing it 6 months ago and it has had a huge impact on my well-being. I feel physically stronger, my body has more definition, I feel leaner and more confident. Lifting weights always challenges me, because there is always a heavier weight or a more complex variation to aim for, and seeing how my body positively responds to training is a huge motivation to keep pushing even more. I lift weights four times a week and add a session of cardio and yoga to mix things up.
Favourite training spot…
1Rebel. It’s bold, it will make you sweat and go out of your comfort zone. There’s a lot of classes to choose from too, which comes in handy when I want to mix up my weight training.
Next travel destination?
Indonesia! My partner and I will be setting off on a little adventure, exploring Bali and its islands as well as stopping in Singapore for my 30th birthday!
The biggest challenge in your life has been…
Moving to another country and building a life there from nothing.
What is your motto?
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
Who is your inspiration?
My partner is my biggest inspiration, because he is the most passionate and driven person I have ever met. He is the best example of what hard work, determination and perseverance can achieve. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to share my life with him.
Tell us something we don’t know about you
I combined my secondary education with art school on the side for 4 years.
What is your top recommendation for other #FlyberyWomen
For life - discover mindfulness and meditation, it will transform you and will be the guiding principle in everything you do. For training - do what you love, because when you love something, you will never give it up, it will become a way of life.
And what a better way to spend your life than being fit and healthy?
Who on Instagram should we be following?
@Yung_pueblo - for your daily dose of mindfulness.