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!

 

Simple Yet Errr.. Ineffective!

This post is a plea! I love to bake, both with the children and without. We had a cake making session at the weekend which was our first for a while, and I have to confess I’d forgotten how much fun it is, just hanging out with my (getting bigger very quickly) babies. They’re so independent now with cooking – it takes about 10 times as long and produces about 500 times as much mess, but when I say ‘we’ baked, it really was a case of ‘they’ baked – my role was merely to ensure that the tasks were  fairly distributed! Digressing slightly, is it just my children who crack eggs by kind of crushing them in their hands?! I’ve tried to show them what I see as a more effective way but somehow their method never changes and bizarrely, egg shell in the mix is a very rare occurrence – I’m not sure how!

Anyway, we had a lovely morning baking and even clearing away, and decorated the cake in the afternoon – sprinkles are compulsory you know!

I also always make the children’s and hubby’s birthday cakes, trying to accomplish whatever they are obsessed with at the time in sugar paste (actually that translates as ‘head over to Pinterest and see how people far more able than I am did it!’), but with varying degrees of success. I could honestly see some of my creations ending up on that ‘how it looked on Pinterest’ website! My daughter’s BFF’s mum is a professional cake decorator and so I think my days of being able to make her cakes are numbered. I’m constantly waiting for “Mummy, just get Emma to make it!” nowadays!

The fact is, I always like to try, and sometimes my baking exploits don’t look quite right, but usually they taste ok – that is with one exception. Supposedly one of the simplest sweet treats to make, I have never, in all of my 36 years managed to produce edible flapjacks!

Flapjacks are a top treat for my 2 but whenever we try to make them they’re always an epic fail! Occasionally they’re so hard that we risk breaking our teeth on them, but more often than not they just fall apart more resembling granola! Just tried fiddling with the quantities of the different ingredients, cooking time, oven temperature, you name it I’ve tried it, but to no avail. So what am I doing wrong?! Any tips or idiot proof recipes appreciated – you’ll be making two constantly hungry children incredibly happy!

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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Inside Out

It’s been a funny one this week! Just 2 weeks ago we put all the summer clothes away and hit the shops to buy some winter clothes after realising that both of the children have clearly had a growth spurt since last year – my son has gone up 2 whole shoe sizes since last year and is now heavier and taller than his sister who is nearly 2 years older (she is very unimpressed)! That said, my daughter has also shot up and her jeans more resemble cropped jeans.

Typically, and believe me I’m not complaining, the sun decides that maybe it isn’t done for the year, and the summer clothes have come out once more! During the week we’re so busy with routines that there’s very little opportunity for going out somewhere to enjoy the weather, but there’s also this impending pressure with each day that it might actually be the last nice one, so this week has seen us trying to take advantage by doing as many of our inside activities outside!

A walk without our warm coats on…

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Coffee and cake outside at the farm shop…

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Mummy gets to play at the park…

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A picnic tea in the garden in our t-shirts…

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Ok, the cake had to cook in the oven, but there’s no harm in a bit of al fresco bowl licking is there?!

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Hopefully the weather will continue this weekend as we have a new National Trust place to explore, although that said, I think t-shirts in October is pretty good going, so I have tomato soup and thermos flasks at the ready so we can have a fab time whatever!

I’m linking up to #CountryKids again over at Coombe Mill. Can’t wait to see what you’ve all been up to!

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Out and About Once More

I always find it hard to get back into the swing of things at the weekends when the children go back to school. The week kind of sorts itself because it has to. Reading books, spellings, clubs, homework, work and sleep all find themselves falling into place, there’s no choice really is there?!

At the weekends though it always seems to take that bit longer. After 6 weeks off, and in our family, that’s 6 weeks off for everyone (hubby and I are both teachers), the first couple of weekends are generally spent flopping and trying to recover from the week! Sometimes this leads to sofa time rather than active time, so thank you to #CountryKids this week for spurring me on to get some outdoor time!

My friend got married over the summer in America and last weekend was the celebration in London. I blogged just yesterday about how we well and truly have the travel bug, so although we could have just had a day trip, we decided to make a whole weekend of it, leaving straight after school on Friday. We all had a fab time exploring London, with some beautiful parks, but our favourite part (apart from seeing my friend married and happy of course!) was exploring Portabello Road market – not quite ‘Country’ but definitely outdoor fun. We also had a compulsory stop at the Hummingbird Bakery which is now quite possibly my favourite shop ever!

Living where we do we’re very lucky, so in addition to our adventurous weekend, we’ve also had fun making the most of the weather in both the woods and the seaside – the children discovered a dead jellyfish and were most excited by this. Is it just my children who get excited by things like this?!

I’m looking forward to linking up with Fiona’s #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill and seeing what you’ve all been up to as well – it’s been too long!

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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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