Here Goes…

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’ve joined a gym!

When we lived in Dorset we were members of a David Lloyd health club – I thought this therefore made me healthy! I used to enjoy going there several times a week making good use of the children’s activity classes, the Costa, the Sunday carvery…

I did use the swimming pool too but as the children were very small, I spent most of my time keeping them afloat rather than exercising. I had a programme in the gym, but to be honest I think I genuinely did think I was being fit and active just by being a member!

My husband is fanatical about exercise and goes to the gym most days. I’m not, but if you follow me on Twitter or read my blog regularly, you will be aware that 2016 is the year I’m determined to get fitter, healthier and more active. Having lost (almost) 2 stone since the start of January, I am starting to see results a bit now and I’ve been walking and running on a regular basis. The trouble is, there are times when I have been motivated enough to do exercise (note how I didn’t say that I wanted to exercise!) but it’s simply been too cold or wet to make it viable. Add to that the weird allergy I have which has stumped doctors and ophthalmologists alike which cause my eyes to water uncontrollably from March through to September the moment I step outside giving me very unflattering eczema all around my eyes if I’m not careful, I know that my days of running outside are numbered, and having come this far I don’t want it all to go to pot!

So after thinking about it, we decided to upgrade my husband’s gym membership to a family membership as this will mean the children can swim for free too – they lost this right after they stopped their swimming lessons last year (a decision you can read about here).

This gym however is no David Lloyd – the closest one is 30 miles away unfortunately. This gym is just that – functional, good equipment but no Costa or Sunday carvery in sight!

I didn’t think I would ever find myself joining a gym, but although it’s more money, once we’ve factored in the children’s swimming now being free, I only actually have to go for 7 minutes a month to make it financially worthwhile – even I can manage that right?! Wish me luck!

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Getting There (The Dukan Way)… Month 2

I can’t believe that it’s already month 3 of the new, healthy eating, regularly exercising me! I wrote about my first few weeks here. I decided just before Christmas after stepping on the evil doctor’s scales (that’s the scales that were evil, not the doctor!) that enough was enough and that I was going to sort my weight once and for all.

Obviously the amount of weight I am losing is slowing down, but it is still happening. I’ve now lost 25lb in total, which is 14% of my body weight, and while I am very much of the opinion that the number on the scales is not the be all and end all, I now weigh 1lb less than I did on my wedding day 11 years ago (and pre children!) which is a very satisfying feeling!

The Dukan diet which I’ve been following is a high protein, low carb plan so lots of meat and veggies, but drinking water and regular exercise are also part of the deal so I’ve been having to be very disciplined as neither of these come naturally to me, especially the latter! I started off in January forcing myself to go out for a 30 minute walk every day and I managed to stick to it, but soon felt that I could probably push myself to a gentle jog. Very gradually I upped the exercise and am now running about 3 times a week, and this month saw me complete my first ever 10 mile run so I’m quite chuffed with myself on that front too!

This diet isn’t the best if you are eating out, as most food has at least some carby element but I survived a lovely Mother’s Day meal at Jamie’s Italian last weekend by completely indulging myself and just forgetting about it for a day – I had 3 courses and enjoyed every mouthful, because let’s face it, I wouldn’t be doing this now if it wasn’t for the fact that I like food! I was straight back to it the next day, but did I feel guilty? No I did not – life is for living! Next step – those size 10 jeans!

 

Booked!

As a young child I loved reading, but when I started secondary school, my enthusiasm dwindled. For me, a reading homework translated as ‘no homework!’ As time went on, reading became research and so I equated sitting with a book as studying and working, not relaxing. Then came children, and reading became oohing and aahing, touching and feeling. It’s only actually in the last couple of years that I’ve started reading for pure pleasure, and would rather sit with my head in a book than watch TV.

I’m very lucky that my children love reading, and through the way it is encouraged in school too, they both devour a great deal of books, and going to the library or Waterstones for a browse (and inevitably purchase!) is a treat they really treasure. I recently stumbled across this post by Melissa Taylor, and although as a teacher it was content that I was pretty much aware of, I was shocked that only 17% of parents of 9-11 year olds read to their children. I guess many assume that once they can read for themselves, children no longer have the need to be read to, and perhaps their desire to be read to becomes something that isn’t voiced on either side. If you asked my daughter (who is in this age category) what she would like to do, she would have a long list of requests that would probably not be related to books, but every evening we read, and every evening she just checks:

“Have we got time for you to read to me too?”

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When we read together we cuddle, she listens, asks questions, responds and most importantly enjoys the activity. She also enjoys snuggling up with her younger brother and doing the same.

It’s through this reading together that I’ve rediscovered how much I enjoy it too, by reading books again that I loved as a child (never diss Enid Blyton in my presence!) and for the first time in many years I’m finding the time to read for myself too.

I set myself the challenge last year to read 20 books over the course of the year, and I did achieve it (with 3 days to spare nonetheless!) but I found myself choosing books which I thought I could finish in time. I also chose a lot of free books making the most of my Kindle Lending Library, but reading shouldn’t be about numbers, so although I have a hunger to read every single book in the world ever, I’m making a really conscious effort this year to choose carefully and if that means I don’t read as many books, so be it. Reading time is quality time, so a mug full of Chai Latte tea in my Cath Kidston bucket mug, a comfy cushion and a good book is my idea of bliss right now. Rock and roll me! Send me your suggestions people!

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Our current selection!

 

Getting There (The Dukan Way)…

I’ve never been someone who can eat what they like, and I’ve never been someone who is happy with what they see when they look in the mirror. I’ve had lots of success on various eating plans – I lost over 4 stone after I had my son, and have pretty much tried every plan out there in a bid to show the body I know I have underneath the rolls of fat!

I’ve also never been one to actually talk about it before – I’m quite happy to laugh at myself over the many hapless things I do, even turn my utter diet fails into a joke, but I’m far happier not speaking out about the actual process of losing weight.

Last year, we went on the best holiday of our lives – 2 weeks in Turkey. Amazing weather, precious family time, and unlimited food! Everything about it was perfect, except the way I felt about how I looked, and let’s face it, when you’re living in a swimsuit, there’s no easy way of hiding the bits you don’t like is there?! It didn’t stop me eating all the nice food. Not much stops me from eating nice food – I guess that’s why I am where I am!

When we got back, I did my best to curb my eating habits, and lost a little bit of weight but before I knew it, Christmas was upon us! Just before Christmas I had to go for a check at the docs, and when I stepped on the scales, that was the moment I decided I had to sort myself out – somehow, my weight on the doctor’s scales seemed so much worse than on the scales in my bathroom – it’s just a number then and I kept telling myself it’s not about the number, but how you feel. The trouble was I didn’t really feel good either!

On January 2nd this year, I started following the Dukan Diet – as a vegetarian for nearly 20 years it had never been an option for me before as it’s a high protein diet – pretty much meat and veg forever, but I’d had a couple of friends from different social circles who had been really successful doing this plan. I was completely determined to lose weight but was unsure about following an actual diet – I’ve always been a firm believer in eating a healthy, balanced diet, but clearly it wasn’t working for me, so I gave myself 3 months to see what happened.

I bought the book and wasn’t sure what to expect, other than that it was probably going to be very hard and require lots of willpower! If you’re not familiar with the diet, it basically comprises 100 foods that you can eat – mostly meat and vegetables, with some fat free dairy products thrown in for good measure. With the exception of a small amount of oat bran, the plan is carb free – something I’ve never tried before!

This post is not a complete journey – I’m only 6 weeks in but I am 20lbs down, so it’s definitely working! That’s obviously the biggest positive, and I lost a whopping 9lbs in the first week – I know some will criticise this, but anyone who wants to lose weight will understand the satisfaction that this brings, whether or not it is the ‘best’ way to do things! The 2 other aspects that I feel this plan does well are the compulsory requirement to drink a minimum amount of water each day and move a minimum amount each day. I’ve actually started running again and managed to accomplish 37 km last week. If you know me, you will wonder if it is actually me writing after a statement like that!

We went out for a family meal this week and for the first time ever, I was so stuffed I couldn’t eat all of my dinner, which I hope bodes well for me changing my eating habits as this has never happened before! Luckily I had three willing individuals to prevent any wastage!

It isn’t an ‘easy’ plan to follow, especially at first, but the results I’m seeing are enough to motivate me to keep going. I know it’s not all about the numbers on the scales, but for now, they are a good measure of my progress. In another 3lbs, I’ll be the same weight as I was when I got married nearly 11 years ago and pre children – that’s my next goal so watch this space…!

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Not a great difference yet, but I’m hoping there’s a bit!

 

Box Addiction?

There are many women who love hitting the shops with their friends for a fun day. I’m not one of those women. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who couldn’t think of anything worse than hitting the shops for a day. I am also not one of those women – I don’t fear it and I love getting new things, I just see ‘going shopping’ as a task that has to be done rather than a hobby – perhaps this makes it even worse!

However, one thing I’ve discovered that I adore is getting lovely treats delivered to my home in the form of variously sized boxes! It doesn’t seem to matter what arrives in the boxes as it all started when I began getting a veg box! Shortly after we relocated, a flyer came through the door advertising locally grown vegetables delivered straight to my door – I managed to persuade my husband that this was clearly something we needed – he wasn’t so sure but I did it anyway and I just loved it straight away – partly because I was supporting a local business and partly because of the element of surprise. There are so many vegetables that I now love that I would never have chosen when I visited the supermarket.

The veg box gave me the bug, but since then I have subscribed to graze – I look forward to my weekly box in the way I looked forward to Christmas as a child! I also have my weekly magazine subscription which I could just as easily go and buy from the shop around the corner, but somehow getting in from work and seeing it on the mat waiting for me is so satisfying – I never peek at the email to see what I’m getting, that’s like opening your birthday presents before the big day!

Most recently, after months of resisting, I finally subscribed to Birchbox. I kept telling myself I know what beauty products I like, I definitely didn’t need this box, but I was so wrong – I’ve just received my second box and I definitely need this box in my life! Even after just 2 boxes, I’ve discovered the foot cream and face scrub I’ve been looking for all my life – first world problems hey?!

I’m not sure if it’s possible to have an addiction to mail order boxes but if it is I think I’m on the brink! It’s like I’m giving myself a little gift every month as I still get the surprise element as I open it – sometimes I forget I’m actually paying for the privilege – I must remember this before I subscribe to anything else!

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Together Time…

One of the best decisions we ever made was to join the National Trust. I love looking round the houses – I always try to imagine what i must’ve been like to actually live there and come home with intentions to dig out my old Jane Austen novels and catch up on Downton Abbey (I feel like I’m the only person in the world still on Series 2)! However, much as I like the houses, the main reason I love the National Trust is because they ensure quality family time. I find it quite funny that my children don’t think of going for a nice walk when the weather is nice so much, they equate family walks with wrapping up warm, taking a thermos of tomato soup and wellies. In the summer months, we tend to spend time outside exploring new places, on beaches, forests, and a lot more with friends. I blogged last week about how we were surprised to get a bit more nice weather, so we decided to spend last weekend at Tyntesfield – about an hour away from where we live, but somewhere we had never been.

At the moment, the children seem exhausted at the end of a week at school so it’s very tempting to have a ‘lazy’ day, but I find the children get even more cranky when they’re at home and tired so this was perfect – an hour sitting in the car, so they could have a little doze if they wanted and then a big burst of fresh air. The weather was gorgeous for October, we were wandering around without coats, and even managed a picnic! There was also a Farmer’s Market on and it would’ve been rude to walk past toffee chocolate cupcakes without buying 1 or 4!

It didn’t really matter if we were salivating looking at all the yummy food, having our picnic, walking around, talking Daddy into giving piggy backs, marvelling at how beautiful Autumn is, or just talking to each other while doing all of these things, the fact is we were together, enjoying quality time with each other, no distractions. In a household where we have very busy weekdays, our weekends are sacrosanct – they are for family time and we always try to enjoy it to the full!

I’m joining up with #CountryKids as usual this week, and looking forward to heading over to Fiona’s blog at Coombe Mill to get some inspiration for more outdoor fun!

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Catching the Travel Bug!

It’s wrong to describe it as a regret because I wouldn’t want to change a thing about what I have now, but looking back the one thing I wish I’d done was travel. I mean properly travel. My Mum is petrified of flying so I never left the country until I was 19 when I successfully auditioned for a choir who went on a number of international tours. However, my Mum’s fear of flying transferred on to me so I turned down all the longer flights – looking back I can’t believe that I could have travelled all expenses paid to Japan, America and Mexico to name but a few and I said no!

When I met my husband, he also couldn’t stand flying so we never really went on holidays just the 2 of us, something we both now regret. We never really felt the urge to go away so just didn’t! Again, we both now can’t believe we didn’t jump at the opportunity – what were we thinking?!

When we had the children, we wanted to make sure that they had experiences they would remember and vowed that we would go on holiday at least once a year. When they were small we went camping in this country, camping in France and did little mini breaks. When money was tight we had some really cheap breaks cashing in on Tesco Clubcard points to get some nice days out too.

Eventually, when the children were 5 and 3 we took them on a plane! We braved it and went to Majorca for a week and that’s where it all started – we were hooked! Aside from my son cutting his head open on a shelf in the room (yes not even whilst having fun in the pool or anything!) and being told he couldn’t swim for a week (the duration of our stay!) we had the best time ever, and thinking with the glass half full, the medical treatment my son received was the best service ever, he was stitched up within 20 minutes of his accident. We stopped at the travel agent on the drive home from the airport and booked our next holiday!

Since then we’ve been back to Majorca and this year for the first time, the 4 of us left Europe as we went to Turkey. These holidays are proper fun in the sun types of holiday, but given that my husband and I are both teachers we try to get away for a few days in almost every school holiday. It’s amazing how your perspective can change. I used to long for the holidays to have a rest – now I feel like I’ve wasted the holidays if we don’t go away somewhere!

It doesn’t always cost us a lot of money and we try to mix things up so that sometimes the holidays help the children learn something. Last year we went on a road trip to Edinburgh staying in 6 different £29 Premier Inns and completely abusing our National Trust membership as we stopped in Birmingham, the Lake District, Liverpool, Blackpool and of course, Edinburgh. The whole week was planned with military precision but only cost us £300 for the whole week – not bad for a family of 4!

We’ve already planned holidays to Normandy, Amsterdam and Egypt over the next year as well as mini breaks. Sometimes I get down about the fact that I always have an endless list of work I need to do, and even though I’m not physically in work I still have things I have to do, but somehow the thought of having somewhere to go where I will be with my special 3 people, no iPads, chores or emails to interfere spurs me on.

We’ve well and truly caught the travel bug – if only we could now win the lottery too!

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