I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately and I thought I would explain why. It is largely because I have finally got back into doing my crochet! I did loads when Monkey was little but after making my Granny square blanket I set my needles aside. Then LM was born, and well I haven’t picked them up again, until now. So my word of the week, is Crochet.
Hub’s mum has a gorgeous ripple blanket I always admire and I have loads of wool hanging around so I thought I would have a go at making my own. I have to admit that after a long break I could not remember at all how to crochet. The first evening involved a lot of false starts and head scratching and you tube watching! But once I remembered how to do it, I was on a roll. I’m following the fab tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24, though using different colours.
It was slow going on the first evening!0
One of the reasons that I have chosen to pick the needles up again now, is because I have also started a new diet, and doing the crochet keeps my fingers occupied so I am less likely to stuff my face of an evening!
Now, I know that I wrote recently that I am who I am, and that I was going to stop trying so hard to change myself all the time. Now, I do stick to that and I know I am never going to be super skinny or lose my curvy shape. I am trying to be kinder to myself in all areas. But, and there is a but, the trouble with the “I’m happy as I am” philosophy is that it can sometimes lead to a change of a different kind. As in the scales moving up, kind of change, and that’s not what I want either. So I needed to make a change.
A good friend of mine is a big advocate of the 5:2 diet, where you fast (only eat 500 calories) on 2 days of the week and then eat a normal amount the rest of the week. Now a normal amount isn’t the same as what I was eating before, believe me. So anyway I decided to give it a try.
I’m finding the fast days pretty easy to manage so far, which surprised as I thought I may get really hangry! I still have eggs for breakfast, a big bowl of soup for lunch and a carrot and a little hummus later. It’s not loads but it seems manageable.
What has also happened is that I have really paid attention to what I normally eat. The amount of food that I hoover up off the kids plates, treating my body like a human dustbin, with the argument “I don’t like waste” when really it is pure greed. So let’s just say that even on the non-fasting days I am eating a lot less than I was!
It’s been 2 weeks and so far I haven’t really lost any weight (possibly due to a rather boozy night in london last weekend) which is demotivating. I’m really not a patient person at all, and especially with diets. After Monkey was born, I went on a diet and lost quite a lot of weight, really easily to be honest. It was brilliant. Since LM it has not happened that way at all. Every pound lost has been hard-won and put back on almost immediately which has been hard. I know that in truth I’ve given up too easily each time, so I am determined nor to give up this time.
Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??
There are bound to be ups and downs and I need to find a balance between enjoying myself on the rare occasions that I go out, and not berating myself for that…. But also expecting that that will slow down my progress. I have to stop comparing this weight loss to the diet of a few years ago as clearly my body is different now. As a slight aside I was reading a really interesting article (I know, I know, apologies that it is from the Daily Fail, but it is interesting!) the other day about diets based on the bacteria found in your gut, as there are bacteria that are super efficient at extracting every calorie from food, and other bacteria that are less ‘good’ at that so help you not to gain weight. Fascinating and a reminder that we know so little of the way our bodies work and the reasons things are different for different people.
I’m not about to get my poo tested though, so for now I’m just going to stick with the eat less and move more philosophy. And to help with that, crochet in the evenings or whenever I am tempted to eat out of boredom rather than hunger!
I have to admit I am rather pleased with my blanket so far, a long way to go but it is really getting there, LM seems to like to it too… Though Monkey is moaning at how long it is taking to finish haha.
Do you find it harder to lose weight than pre children or as you’ve gotten older? Any hobbies that help you?
Happy New Year! It’s January 1st, traditionally the day for making promises to ourselves to be better somehow over the year ahead and beyond. Not for me this year though.
For nearly the whole of 2016 I have been trying to change myself. I often feel like I would be happier if I were somehow different. If I was thinner, if I ate more healthily, if I was a better mum, if I tried harder. I reached a point recently where I just had to say stop. I need to stop trying so hard to be more than I am.
I am who I am.
I have decided that I need to be happy with who and what I am rather than constantly trying to be something else. Something I’m not. I have hopelessly unattainable goals and all they do is make me feel rubbish about myself. They are not making me happier as they are always out of reach.
Take my weight, as an example. I’m not humungous or obese. I am larger than I would like to be and larger than I have been in the past. But I am in my 30s and after 2 children my body is not the same as it used to be. I know many will say that having kids isn’t an excuse, and I would say the same if after 2 years of trying I wasn’t in exactly the same position. I have taken up running, changed my diet and in many ways I am healthier than I have been in a long time. I never thought I would be able to run for over half an hour without dying, but I can now. My weight however has not changed. The shelf I have over my c section scar is still there. My thighs rub and I have cellulite. Even running 3 times a week did not change any of that.
This may be because I like my food but I have struggled to diet and count points mainly because I find full time parenting pretty exhausting at times. LM and I are constantly on the go, I cycle over to the nearby country park, go for walks, run round at her gymnastic group, not to mention walking the school run twice a day. So sometimes I eat to keep me going and stop me being such a mardy mum (I can get seriously hangry which isn’t fair on the kids). Whatever the ‘excuse’ even with added exercise my body has not changed. It has really gotten me down at times but honestly, why? What is so wrong with me and my body right now?
I’ve always been impressed by women who are proud of their stretch marks and bodies after birth but I’ve never been one of them. After Monkey I lost the weight fairly easily so honestly I assumed the same would happen 2nd time round. It hasn’t. The things that worked first time have not worked after baby no. 2. Clearly my body is hanging on to the excess weight this time for some reason. Again, I’m not humongous, so what does it matter if I am carrying a bit of extra weight? We are all different, some women are naturally slim and lose the baby weight more easily than others. Does that necessarily make them somehow better than me?
I have been trying to convince myself that I am OK as I am. My husband likes the way I look and isn’t disgusted by my wobbly bits (far from it in fact as he loves me the way I am and genuinely prefers curvier women) so why should I be? Then I happened upon an article about Ashley Graham, a “plus size” model being on the cover of vogue. Now she is gorgeous and probably slimmer than I am (though definitely with bigger boobs) and for once seeing a picture of her strutting down the catwalk made me feel that maybe it was ok to be my size. That someone my size can be beautiful. That not only slim women are beautiful.
There’s always a lot of debate about the sizes of models and I often find they end up in an either/or solution. Larger models promote obesity, smaller ones promote eating disorders. I don’t think it is that simple and actually believe that as there are variety of shapes and sizes of people in everyday life, that there should be a variety of shapes and sizes when it comes to models. In general, clothes aren’t one size fits all, so why do the models all have to be the same size? It’s the same with actresses. Why are all the women in films so skinny… Unless they are the funny fat girl? It’s not real life but it’s easy to get sucked into believing that it is.
I’ve slightly digressed from my point and that is that I am fed up of believing the lies I see all around me that say I am not good enough the way that I am. I’m not about to stop running as I do enjoy it (though a couple of chesty coughs have slowed me down a bit lately) and I won’t ever let myself get obese because I hated being slowed down by the extra weight I carried when I was pregnant. But it is nice to feel I can stop trying so hard to be something that is unattainable for me at the moment. To feel that maybe I’m ok as I am.
My weight isn’t the only thing I’ve been trying to control either. After a friendship group broke down a few years ago I have worried a lot about not being a good enough friend to people. I’ve made a fantastic new friend recently but I have almost sabotaged it a few times because I’ve been worried about what they thought of me, to the point where I was almost pushing them away. This has to stop. I can’t let a negative experience with a few women ruin or prevent future friendships. I am who I am. Some people will get me and like me for who I am, flaws and all, while others won’t. I have to learn to be ok with that as no matter how I try I will never be perfect. I can’t change that. I can’t change me. I have so many wonderful friends who are there for me for better or for worse, and I am there for them in the same way. I don’t expect them to be perfect so I need to stop expecting that of myself.
I’ve also been trying to be some kind of perfect mother, which again, isn’t possible.. I always want to try my best but I also have to remember that I’m human. I get tired and snappy some days and some days I am lazy and the kids watch more TV than I would like. I try really hard the rest of the time though, we do all sorts of activities and get out and about a lot. I need to stop focusing on what I don’t do, and look at what I do do. To stop criticising myself and instead be proud of the way I am raising my kids and of the good job I’m doing. Because I’m not the perfect mother, but I am their mother. I am who I am and I’m doing the best that I can.
Perfect mum? No way! But I do ok
I’m trying really hard to apply this to every aspect of my life. I may not be the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect sister, perfect daughter, perfect daughter-in law, perfect friend, perfect blogger or the perfect anything, but then none of those things exist. All I can be is me. I will always try to be good to those around me. To be kind and considerate and just generally do my best as that is who I am. But I’m human and I will always have off days, grumpy days and sometimes I will say or do something stupid, and I’m not going to berate myself for that. I’m not going to keep fixating on all the things I’m not and never will be, but instead I am going to try and be happy and proud of all the things that I am. A good wife, mother, friend etc.
I am who I am and I am going to be happy with that.
I’ve read a few things recently that have sent my mind a-whirring about this issue. It all started after a recent shopping trip where a visit to some extremely unflattering changing rooms left me full of self loathing. I came home and wrote a post about my post baby body which was really mean (only to myself). I never actually published this post as after a few days of rational thought and normal lighting I realised I didn’t mean all of it and I didn’t like what I had written. It got me thinking about the amount of time I spend worrying about the way I look though. And it’s not just me, my husband, my friends, my in laws. It’s a frequent topic of conversation and when I really think about it, it’s just so stupid.
I then read this fabulous post from Morgan at Morgan’s Milieu about how she has had enough of fixation on her weight. She quite rightly says that the way you look doesn’t define who you are. I really admire Morgan for stepping off the merry go round. I have tried this attitude before but I always fail to maintain it and soon go back to the dieting and obsessing about the way I look.
I decided not too long ago that I was going to try and focus on being healthy instead and that is going fairly well. Since completing the couch to 5k over the summer I now run 2-3 times a week and I actually enjoy it. I had to miss a run last week as I was poorly and I actually missed it, I never thought that would happen. As much as I try to focus in that I have to admit I have been disappointed that I haven’t lost any weight. According to friends and family, you can see the difference in my shape but not according to the scales. I know I over indulge a bit sometimes but I don’t think my diet is terrible and I had hoped that the exercise would balance things out.
So have you noticed? So much for focussing on being healthy, here I am once again obsessing about my weight and the way I look. It feels almost impossible to break away from. It doesn’t help that on a recent trip to get a repeat prescription for the pill I was warned to lower my BMI as otherwise they’ll have to take me off it. Thanks for that! (I actually hate that we use the BMI as an indicator of healthy weight, as for so many people it is wholly inaccurate as it doesn’t take into consideration your body shape or muscle mass but I digress).
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, growing up I always knew my mum was battling with her weight and she tried various diets and exercise routines so the obsession is hardly a new phenomenon. The trouble for me is that this isn’t what I want for my kids. I don’t want them to go down the same road of self loathing and guilt if they over indulge. But then I also want them to be healthy and don’t want them to always over eat without a care in the world to the point where they cause themselves problems. It’s such a tricky balance.
Monkey starting school has added a new dimension to this. You see it isn’t only us who influence him now, and he has already started repeating messages he has been told at school. They obviously talk about healthy eating and he has been saying lots of things about how eating too much sugar is bad and we are keeping a close eye on how this affects him as we want to make sure that he understands that everything is ok in moderation.
I read a fantastic post this week on The Parenting Game about the NHS programme of weighing children in schools. It was a guest post from Sam at A Testing Time about the terrible negative effect it had on her perfectly healthy child after he was branded ‘overweight.’ Now I know that Monkey will be weighed at school and honestly I gave it no more thought than when he was weighed as baby and I seriously hadn’t thought about any negative connotations at his age. Now though? I am much more wary and want to make sure I know what is going on and what is being said to him. As with Sam’s child, Monkey is very tall for his age and has always been at the top of the percentile chart as a result. He is very slim though so if they dare to suggest he is anyway unhealthy I will not be happy.
On the whole I do think that encouraging healthy eating and exercise at school is a good thing, but only if it is done in the right way and positively. If the message focuses on the negatives and causes very young children to worry about their weight unnecessarily then it does concern me.
Interestingly I also read a great post from John at Dadbloguk.com about the practice of sweets being handed out at preschool and school for kids’ birthdays. It’s a practice that bugs me too so it really struck a chord. What interested me most though was the way people responded to him on Facebook. Criticising him for being controlling over his kids’ diets. Um, I’m sorry but as parents isn’t it our responsibility to have a level of control over what they eat? John wasn’t saying his kids were never allowed sweets, just that surely it wasn’t the healthiest practice (especially as in his case about 40 kids gave out sweets in a week as a leaving gift when they left preschool, slightly excessive, no?) and that he would like to be the one to choose if/when his kids have sweets rather than having the decision taken out of his hands. What is wrong with that?
I also find this really interesting in relation to Monkey’s school and the fact they clearly have an emphasis on healthy eating. Monkey has only been there a few weeks yet has come home with sweets from a child’s birthday on more than one occasion. On the one hand I don’t worry too much about the occasional bag of sweets, but I don’t really like the choice being taken out of my hands either and it does feel a bit incongruous for the school to allow sweets to be distributed in class, while also clearly giving the kids the message that too much sugar is bad for you.
When Daddy told Monkey he would be having a donut for pudding as part of his school dinner, which we thought would be a nice treat for him, he immediately started saying he didn’t want to eat too much sugar. While I want him to understand the difference between healthy choices and unhealthy ones, he is only 4 and I guess I feel that it’s a bit of a burden when they are so young and feel it should be our responsibility as his parents to worry about this so he doesn’t have to.
Since I started writing this post Monkey has also said at home “fizzy drinks are bad for you” which is a difficult one. We only have sugar free fizzy drinks in our house but they are very much for us, the kids have the occasional sip but they don’t have it on a daily basis as I don’t like the idea of them having a lot of artificial sweeteners as I don’t think we really know the full story about the side effects they may have. As an adult it’s my choice but I’m not making that choice for my kids. I’m digressing again but it’s the point that we don’t want Monkey to necessarily think about foods in terms of good and bad as we really believe that anything in moderation is ok. It’s obviously more complex than that but then if it’s too complex for a 4 year old to understand then maybe they shouldn’t be given that responsibility yet? I don’t know and in truth no-one does, let’s face it one minute fat is terrible for you but now fat is ok and sugar is bad. I don’t always know what the right things are to eat so how can we expect 4 year olds to understand?
I guess though that the difficulty is that not everyone has the same attitude as we do. That for some kids knowing this stuff from a young age may help prevent them from following in the footsteps of parents who perhaps have an unhealthy relationship with food. I mean let’s face it, I struggle with my weight so why do I think I am equipped to prevent my children being the same as I am in years to come?
It’s such a difficult balance and maybe my wanting my kids to not join this merry go round is futile and it’s part of the world we live in. All I can think to do is to try and give them a good example to follow. To eat a varied and balanced diet and to enjoy getting out and exercising. To hope that my kids will follow that example and do the same.
How do you feel about this? Do you worry about your weight? Do you talk about that in front of your kids?
You may have seen that I recently started running, despite never thinking that I would ever be a runner! So I thought I would share a little update on how it’s been going. As you may have guessed from the title, I have completed the couch to 5k program….well, sort of.
Why sort of? Well I shall explain. The couch to 5k program concentrates on running for longer and longer periods of of time, building you up from running for 60s up to 30 minutes as they found that on everyone by the time people are running for 30 minutes that they would be running about 5k.
In my last post I had run for about 20 minutes. The next step was 25 minutes, then 28 minute runs before going for the 30 minute run. Each step was so hard but I managed it and got to the end of week 8 and was running for 28 minutes. The podcasts in the couch to 5k programme were so good but by the end of week 8 I wasn’t enjoying them. There is a real mixture of music in each podcast but the end of the week 8 one just had some really monotonous dance music that really did not motivate me at all so I struggled to get to 28 minutes.
Week 9 started, the final week, but my first run was on a day I was tired and grumpy and the podcast started with the same monotonous music from week 8. Not a good start and yep I gave up at about 13 minutes. Argh. I was determined not to let it demotivated me though or ruin my progress but I figured the time had come to stop using the podcasts. So I created my own playlist and off I went and hit the 30 minute mark. Wahoo! But then on my next run I was slightly hungover, more hungover than I thought was, and had to stop at about 25 mins as I was shattered.
So week 9 didn’t go brilliantly but again I didn’t want it to stop me so I tried again a few days later and yep I hit 30 mins again. So I have completed the couch to 5k programme but, here is the biggy, even though I have run the full 30 minutes, I haven’t quite reached 5k :/. My pace is pretty slow and in 30 mins I run about 4km. I’m still dead proud of myself but also feel a little weird that I have finished the programme but can’t actually run 5k! Still, I am sure I will get there.
I’ve also noticed an annoying little niggly pain in my foot as I have been running for longer periods so decided that perhaps my old trainers aren’t quite as supportive as they could be. I looked into buying new running shoes but where the heck do you start? I’ve been reading about a neutral foot print and over pronation and different types of shoe but honestly I was completely lost.
Thankfully I found a really great shop in Peterborough called Advance Performance who have a gait analysis service to help you find the perfect running shoe. I was so pleased I went as they were so helpful. I took my old trainers and the assistant (ryan) filmed my feet while I ran on the treadmill. We could see straight away that my old trainers were just not supporting my foot and ankle at all when I ran.
Ryan then got some newer trainers with a similar support level to my old ones that were past there best. These ones were better but still not that supportive. In total we tried 4 pairs of trainers, each time filming my feet as I ran on the treadmill to see how they fared. We whittled it down to 2 contenders and then it was down to me and how comfy they felt. I had a little run outside (and felt a bit stupid running round an industrial area) and made my choice. Hooray for me I chose the cheaper ones without having anything more than an average price range.
I was so pleased with the service and hugely relieved to actually get some advice from someone who knew what they were talking about. There is a £25 charge for the gait analysis if you decide not to buy shoes at the end but free if you do. For me, even though I may have been able to get the shoes cheaper somewhere else, online or something, it was good to know that these trainers are the right trainers and it was totally worth potentially paying a little more for my shoes (they were £100 eek, so much for running being a free hobby ha!). So if you live in the Peterborough/Cambridge area I definitely recommend a visit. (This isn’t a sponsored post in any way I was just impressed with the service!)
So I now need to break in my new trainers, and who knows maybe they will help me get to that elusive 5k!
I’m not a natural runner. I was rubbish in PE and I like my food. I’ve openly laughed at runners in the past, thought they were potty and that that would never be me. But I’ve just run 20mins straight for the first time in my life, and no I wasn’t being chased! I chose to do this and I am actually enjoying it. Here’s the beginning of my story.
I’ve really struggled with my weight since LM was born. I’ve stopped writing about it because I haven’t managed to stick to anything. I’ve gone back and forth between dieting and convincing myself that this time I was going to do it, to saying I wasn’t going to diet because I don’t want my kids to see me obsessing about food so I was going to concentrate on exercise instead. But my swimming petered out, and I had to stop the Zumba dvd because it was giving me niggly pains in my hips and back (presumably left over from all those pelvis and back issues in pregnancy and generally just having no strength in my muscles). So what to do?
I still felt unhappy about my size but didn’t want to keep moaning on about it. Dieting wasn’t working as so much of our social life revolved around food and I am clearly weak willed. I thought about starting running, but I am really not a natural runner. I tried for a bit with a friend when Monkey was little but only half heartedly. I constantly came up with excuses not to go and then when I got pregnant with LM that was the end of it.
As the weather started warming up though I thought about trying again. For one thing, it is free. I have trainers already (that I’ve had for over 10 years and have only seen sporadic use, I’m ashamed to say) and I could just go. I don’t have to drive anywhere first as there are lots of places around that I can run. I mentioned the idea to one of my sister in laws, the lovely Fran, and we decided to go together. Fran works different shifts so we were a bit intermittent but we did it, we started. There was lots of walking interspersed with running but we were slowly improving. It was also nice to catch up, have a natter or a vent, and to encourage each other. It was great when we could do it together, the problem was when Fran was working and I tried to go on my own to my own. Then I just felt utterly useless.
I would still try but it was so hard to motivate myself. I felt horribly embarrassed if I had to go past someone and felt I must look so stupid, with my flab wobbling everywhere and being so out of breath after only a few seconds. I would try and keep running until they were out of sight then stop, gasping and panting and coughing and feeling useless. When no one was around I would run for such short distances as my legs felt like lead and the negative little voice in my head kept telling me to stop. I felt so deflated and negative and we on the verge of giving up, but I really didn’t want to. I thought about the couch to 5k type thing but didn’t know much about it. A friend then suggested I try it after I shared how useless I felt with my running and I decided it was worth giving it a try.
There are loads of apps and plans out there all called the couch to 5k but I decided to go with the NHS version. I downloaded the podcasts and went for it. It starts off so slowly and because of the bits of running I had done with Fran, I was able to do the first runs quite easily. I felt so positive after that first run, even on my own and I really enjoyed it. Hurrah!
I persuaded Fran to follow it with me for our run that week and also continued the plan on my own when she couldnt join me. Our holiday was coming up but I was determined not to stop, and to stick to the plan while I was away. I managed 5 runs across the couple of weeks I was away and was sending texts to Fran while I was away to motivate us both as she was running at home when she could too.
“just been for run no. 2 and actually pushed it a bit at the end and ran for over 2 mins solid, helped that it was downhill but still it felt good.”
“I did it! 5 min walk, 90s run, 90s walk, 3 min run, 3 min walk, 90s run, 90s walk, 3 min run, 3 min walk! It was hard work and my legs are sore now but I am so proud of myself. Could never have run for 3 mins when we started!! Yay :D”
“So I was supposed to run yesterday but didn’t fancy the downpour! Was really hard to motivate myself today as still chilly and damp but I did it and ran for over 3 1/2 mins solid on my last leg, wahoo!”
Running there was great and it was through such beautiful countryside, I absolutely loved it. Most of the start of my run was uphill but the way back was downhill which definitely helped. So much so that although I completed week 3 when we were down there I did another run of week 3 when we got home before moving on to week 4 to make sure I could hack it without a big downhill stretch. I managed it and so felt really good despite not losing any weight on holiday. In fact I put weight on which was a bit disappointing but figured that was due to the amount that we ate while we were away. Still, I wanted to keep going at home and try and eat a bit healthier too. I wasn’t going to let it stop me. I was looking forward to Fran being able to join me agai but while we were away she fell and sprained her ankle. She wasn’t going to be running anytime soon but I knew I just had to keep going. Excuse the language but here is another text I sent once we were home
“F**k me, just done the first run of week 4, 16 mins running in total. A 3 min, a 5 min, another 3 and another 5. Was really nervous but I did it! Bit knackered but after the warm down walk actually not feeling as bad as I thought I might! Xx”
I still had days where my legs felt like lead and I felt so tired. I realised that in my eagerness I was running every other day and had done so for over a week. The plan is to run 3 times a week with at least 1 days rest in between, but I was getting up to 4 runs a week, so I decided to have a couple of days off. It did me good as week 5 was a real step up.
Me on a run in my dodgy running gear!
I went from running for 3 mins to running 5 mins, to running for 8 mins, which I was so nervous about but then so proud when I managed it. Annoyingly though, the podcast cut off during the second 8 min run for some random reason and it really affected my rhythm. I tried to keep going and check the time on my phone but it was really hard. Those negative voices in my head came back, telling me my legs were tired and that I couldn’t do it… and I tailed off just after 6 minutes. It’s amazing how my fitness has come on and now my buggest hurdle is, as they say on the podcast, mental rather than physical.
Instead of focussing on the negative I reminded myself that a run is a run and it’s still good for me. It isn’t all about hitting the targets. They are a good motivation but not the reason I am doing it. I have come so so far since I started. I feel substantially fitter and I have had a few comments about looking a little slimmer which is nice. Unfortunately the scales aren’t showing this, but hopefully my muscles are growing as I burn fat and that is keeping my weight the same? No idea on the science of it but I am clinging to that as I am trying so hard to eat healthily and am running 3 times a week. I do feel slimmer too.
The last run in week 5 was the one I was most nervous about, running for 20 minutes straight. Surely not! Already? But I decided I just had to go for it, and actually, surprisingly, it was easier than I thought. I think with the shorter runs I am constantly thinking about when I am going to stop, but with this I knew I just had to keep going, so after the first few mins (I always find the first few mins the hardest) I just kept going. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but it also felt awesome that I was able to do it.
I actually felt like a real runner, for the first time. Not just some daft fatty making a fool of herself which is how I felt in the early days. I honestly never thought running would be the right exercise for me, but I think it just might be. I may also buy some better running clothes as so far I have been running predominantly in a pair of hubs old shorts that are covered in paint from decorating and whatever top I am wearing that day haha.
Are you a runner? Have you ever tried the couch to 5k programme?
Like many women, my weight is something I think about a lot. We are all a bit obsessed by it aren’t we? I have never been skinny and never will be, it’s just not my natural shape, I have wide hips and sizeable thighs. That’s just the way I am… but I could be slimmer, and healthier, than I am.
Even at my slimmest I still have big hips but this is the size I am happiest at.
I lost a lot of weight when Monkey was little and that was the size I feel happiest at. Second time round though I am finding the weight much harder to shift. I have a proper shelf above my c section scars which I can’t stand and for the first time in my life have a properly wobbly tummy in addition to my big hips and thighs despite trying to diet a few times.
The trouble is that I really enjoy food and food is a pretty big part of our lifestyle. We love days out as a family visiting National Trust houses and going for country walks and these outings often include visits to a cafe for a hot drink and cake or something energy boosting, especially in the winter months. Because we are parents and don’t get out much, our social life often includes having friends or relatives round for a takeaway. In short we often use food as treats for ourself, which isn’t really that healthy I suppose, but it is fun.
Hubs and I are also dreadful comfort eaters. When one of us is poorly or we’ve had a rough day with the kids we rarely drink alcohol and are far more likely to pop out and buy some ‘naughty’ food like bags of crisps or chocolate, as we don’t generally have them in the house.
In many ways I don’t think any of this is too bad as I do believe that you can eat everything in moderation. We eat healthy meals and snacks as do the kids so the treats aren’t the worst thing in the world. I do want to lose weight but I am struggling with balancing my enjoyment of food and having the motivation to lose weight.
So I started to think of my kids. Of what I want for them. I started to think of using them as a motivation for losing a bit of weight. I don’t want them to grow up with an overweight mummy who is over indulging without a care in the world. I don’t want them to grow up over indulging and piling on the pounds either. But the more I thought about it the more I changed my mind about what I want for my kids.
Do I want them to have a mummy who is slim-ish but who is also constantly obsessing over the scales and worrying what she puts in her mouth? A mummy who is counting calories and denying herself yummy food for fear of putting extra weight on. A mummy who hates looking in the mirror and who berates herself for eating anything remotely indulgent. Do I want my children to do that to themselves? No, I don’t.
I want my children to be healthy and confident. To know they are beautiful and for them to be healthy and strong. To eat a balanced diet and be happy in themselves. So how to strike that balance?
There is a family round the corner from us who we call ‘the fit family’ and they are all so fit and healthy they have two teenagers and they all run and cycle and are clad in lycra for much of the time. Now I am not about to go and buy us all lycra yet but they are a bit of an inspiration. Because what I want is for our kids to grow up understanding healthy eating and exercise and the best way to do this is by leading by example.
So while I am trying to make sure I am eating healthily I am also trying not to worry too much about what the scales say and how many calories or fat I am eating. Instead I am focusing on how much exercise I am doing, and how much the kids see me doing. I have been swimming a couple of evenings a week for some time and I want to keep that up but I am also making sure that I don’t just limit my exercise to the times when the kids are asleep.
I have done my yoga with them in the room, which does make it interesting as there is a little face appearing next to mine at times, but it is lovely seeing them copy the moves. It was especially hilarious when they were doing it in the middle of the ikea warehouse!
I’ve also bought a Zumba dvd to do at home. I often end up dancing round the living room with the kids dancing along to cbeebies or a nursery rhyme dvd, so I thought I would try and step this up a bit. There are times when the kids are playing happily and I can pop it on and have a dance around the living room. It is great exercise and great fun and the kids can join in a bit by having a dance with me which is lovely.
We spend a lot of time outdoors and LM is as keen as Monkey to walk everywhere herself and we are happy to encourage that. Monkey can walk a really long way and at a pretty decent pace for his age and LM is keen on strengthening her little legs too. They both love running about like all kids do too. I’m obviously not about to become obsessed by how much exercise they are doing as that would be daft, but I do want exercise to be just a part of everyday life for them. We are making more of an effort to get them both swimming (more on that in a later post) and I would love to get Monkey riding his bike this summer so we can go on family bike rides.
As for me, well it’s hard to change a habit of a lifetime. I am not going to suddenly be amazingly happy with my body. But I can try and keep my insecurities hidden from the kids. I’ve always been a big believer of “fake it till you make it” and hope that by acting body confident, one day maybe I will be an did it won’t be an act anymore. I also hope that all this exercise pays off so I can be stronger an more toned.
On the food side of things, the summer will see us taking more picnics out with us, which will in turn mean less cafe and cake trips. I do think we have some work to do to change our attitude to food and stop relating it to happiness or comfort…but that is going to be a heck of a change to make, and not something I expect to happen overnight. Gosh if I’m honest we enjoy it so much I am not sure we are ready to try…. One step at a time but we will try as I do also worry about how we use food as a reward or for comfort and how that affects the kids long term…. But for now exercise is the main focus as well as continuing to eat healthily most of the time, so we can continue to have our treats.
So this week I have done my Zumba dvd and even been to aquafit with a friend. I am using my fitness tracker a lot to keep an eye on my activity levels and am doing as much as exercise as I can. The difficult bit may be keeping up with this… But I am going to try really hard,if not for me, for my kids.
I have been intrigued by fitness trackers for a while but had never taken the plunge and wasn’t really sure what they would do for me and my lifestyle. When Fitbit asked if I would like to try out and review their new Fitbit Charge HR, I thought it was time I gave it a go, especially with my aim of getting fitter and healthier this year.
The Fitbit Charge HR
The Charge HR is the latest fitness tracker from Fitbit and what distinguishes it from its peers is the fact that it has a continuous heart rate monitor, making it more accurate in tracking your activity. In general it monitors your heart rate every 5s and when you set it for exercise it monitors every second. It comes in a variety of cool colours, and can be used to track steps taken, calories burned, steps climbed, your heart rate and how well you sleep.
Opening the box
I was so excited when the box arrived and couldn’t wait to give my new Fitbit Charge HR a go, but with the kids running riot it had to wait until nap time so I could concentrate fully. Once I did, I have to admit to being a bit confused and frustrated at times. There were no real instructions in the box other than a card telling you to go to the website to set it up. So I got my laptop (thinking I could charge the Fitbit at the same time) and went to the website given. Where I was told to download the app first. So I got my phone too and downloaded the app and started the registration progress. This irritated slightly as if you have to do it on the app why not just send me to the app rather than tell me to go to a website which then sends me to the app?
Anyway then I was filling in all my details etc but the app couldn’t find the Fitbit because it had no power…so I started charging it using my laptop. It struggled to find the Fitbit whilst it was charging so had to unplug a few times. Then it wanted to update the firmware on the Fitbit but wouldn’t do that while the tracker was charging. But the app also wouldn’t let me continue until this was done. So I have to admit I got mightily frustrated at the inability to just get it sorted. I could have been charging the band while the kids were around so it was ready to go, but I know from other trackers that some come with at least a partial charge, and you plug them in to your laptop at the right time in the setup process.
So basically, it would have been much more helpful if there were some simple instructions in the box. eg. 1 – charge your Fitbit, 2 – download the app on your mobile device and follow the instructions from that point on. It may sound obvious to some but as mentioned I know other trackers come charged and with set up via a computer so I think it would be sensible to let you know that this isn’t the case.
One other thing I struggled with was knowing how to wear the band. Again this may sound incredibly daft and obvious to some, but I was confused. I know some bands are designed so you wear them with the screen on the inside of your wrist but I don’t know if all trackers are designed this way? So I didn’t know which way round it should go on my arm. I also wasn’t sure whether it should go on your non dominant arm or whether it didn’t matter. As it turns out you can set it to whichever arm you prefer – but again simple instructions about this in the box would have helped me work this out as I didn’t know if it would work as well the way I was wearing it. Some googling resulted in me finding the full manual online which was really helpful. I am not suggesting they send this out with every one but I would have thought the basics such as how to wear it may be worth including, or at least a link to follow to find the information. (A later note to this is that when hubs linked it up to his phone to have a go with it, the app did show how you should wear it, but because I had so many problems with the set up and charging the band, my app never got to this point and it still didn’t mention which arm etc.)
How it feels
The Fitbit Charge HR sits on your wrist like a watch and to me it feels ever so slightly plasticky on my skin. Though it wasn’t uncomfortable I definitely needed to give my wrist a break at times (as Fitbit recommends anyway) and I didn’t like sleeping with it on (to track my sleep) as it would often have ended up in an uncomfortable position by the morning. This is just personal preference though and I sleep pretty well anyway so the daytime tracking is more useful to me. It is as adjustable as a watch strap which is good and even though it was the small band, both Hubs and I were able to wear it. On the whole though it just feels like you have a watch on so is pretty innocuous as you go about your day to day activities!
Wearing my fitbit on the pre-school run, as you can see, Monkey approves haha
How it works
There is definitely something very cool about fitness trackers and being able to keep an eye on your activity levels throughout the day. It is very satisfying to see that step counter go up and it definitely motivates you to move more on your less active days. The button on the side of the Charge HR makes it very easy to scroll through all of your statistics and a simple flick of the wrist lets you know what time it is, very handy.
The app is also really clear and easy to use and as you can see from this screenshot, it is easy to check at a glance what you have done so far. I also found the band very quick to sync with the app which I really liked.
Comparisons to other trackers
There are a couple of things I have noticed, in comparison to other fitness trackers, which I thought worth mentioning here as it is difficult to talk about what this does and what I do and don’t like about it, without explaining my point of reference. My husband has the Microsoft Band which he has been using for quite some time and I have recently purchased a fairly basic Polar Loop band. There are obviously lots of other brands and types of tracker out there but I can only compare the ones I have seen and used. They are in quite different price brackets too which is worth bearing in mind when you read the following points as the Microsoft Band retails at around £200.00, the Charge HR around £100.00 and the Polar Loop around £40.00 (all prices approximate depending on where you purchase them from!).
In many ways the trackers are similar and do the same jobs, but there are differences good and bad, and differences which are neither good or bad I guess and would just come down to personal preference really!
For example each of the trackers seem to measure your sleep in a slightly different way, but essentially they all do the same job, by showing you how much sleep you have. The Microsoft Band is probably the most comprehensive showing your light sleep, deep sleep and the amount of times you woke up. The Polar Loop shows you your restful sleep and restless sleep though what it defines as restless sleep is actually awake time. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor like the Microsoft Band or the Charge HR do so I guess it is inevitably less accurate in that respect. The Charge HR is similar to the Microsoft Band and when worn at the same time gives very similar results, showing awake time, restful sleep and restless sleep.
Wearing two bands on one wrist but getting different numbers of steps!
The difference in step counting between the three trackers is interesting too. The Charge HR always seems to register that we have done more steps than either the Microsoft Band or the Polar Loop, even when both are worn right next to each other on the same wrist which we have found fascinating. It is difficult to tell which is the most accurate, although I believe the Charge HR is (not just because it says we have done more lol) as we have both felt at times that our respective bands don’t always track steps accurately when we are pushing the buggy or a trolley as our arms are obviously not moving very much. Whereas the Charge HR does seem to register steps on these occasions which is obviously a big plus and so hopefully that and the combination of the heart rate monitor means that it is the most accurate of the three.
At the end of the day I don’t think any step counter is going to be accurate all the time but does it actually matter? In general you will only be wearing one band and as logas you are comparing the number of steps according to that tracker then you will still get a feel of whether you are doing more or less than normal etc. So even if the numbers are a bit out it doesn’t really matter.
You can set goals on each of the bands and what I love about the Charge HR is that you can set the goal that is right for you. It is automatically set to 10,000 which I think works as a good base line, but if that is unachievable for you (hubs has his Microsoft Band set to 6,000 as being in the office all week he rarely reaches even that let alone 10,000) you can set it lower, or if that is too easy for you then you can set it higher. The Polar Loop in comparison only has set targets and the lowest is 12,000, a target I hardly ever achieve, which isn’t very motivating. Achievable limits are so much more motivating, you want to push yourself a bit but setting a target you will never reach is just daft I find.
The battery life of the Charge HR seems to be really good nd it definitely lasts longer than either of our other bands. It also only takes an hour or two to recharge which is great and gives your wrist a rest from wearing it all the time.
The Charge HR is splashproof, as is the Microsoft Band, but that is it. The Polar Loop on the other hand is waterproof and suitable for swimming. It is possible to add swimming as an activity on the Fitbit app, but that seems to be a fairly inaccurate way of measuring the activity as it obviously can’t really tell how much effort you are putting in to it unless you have a different tracker to measure the swimming and add that information to your Fitbit app… but that does seem a bit daft!
It also only recognises certain activities – this seems to be the same with the other trackers in our house too as they haven’t figured out what we are doing when we use the exercise bike, Cycling outside they understand because they can use the GPS tracking.Inside though when you aren’t moving and your arms are static… nothing is registered. It is again possible to add it as an activity, but it is a shame it doesn’t have a way of recognising it.
The Microsoft Band has a number of other functions too which is what makes it’s higher price point worthwhile, as it can be fully linked to your phone and can give you alerts etc. The Charge HR does have a degree of this functionality too though and can buzz and alert you when you have a phone call, and can also give you a silent alarm, which would be very handy for getting up in the mornings (if you don’t have small children who already wake you up at an ungodly hour!)
There is no doubt in my mind that wearing a tracker on your wrist makes you move more than you would otherwise. So many times I have walked a slightly longer route to take more steps. I move faster to bring my heart rate up and I walk instead of taking the car to the local shops, especially on days where I haven’t moved as much. There’s something about competing against yourself, and I know of others who compete against each other too to see how many steps they take and that definitely adds a level of fun. So it really is possible that wearing a band will improve your fitness.
Regarding the Charge HR itself, I really like the funky colour as it makes it look a bit different. I also like the display and the fact that the button you use to see all of your stats is very obvious and easy to use (some trackers the buttons are a bit more temperamental or more hidden). The graphics are easy to make out and I love that with a flick of the wrist you can see the time at a glance – it really makes the Fitbit Charge HR feel equal parts watch and tracker, and I do love efficiency! The other functionality and connecting it to your phone too really adds to that.
I really like that the Charge HR monitors your heart rate and I do feel this helps with the accuracy of its tracking. I imagine this to be very very useful when you are exercising frequently too. It is really cool to know when your heart rate is in the fat burning zone, and for the really fit out there it can show you when you are in peak burn. A great way to see how your hard work is paying off.. or push yourself to work that bit harder.
Monitoring your sleep is fascinating. I am a good sleeper and tend to have large chunks of the night when I am in deep sleep. My husband on the other hand sleeps terribly, and this explains why he is so tired all the time and we are making some changes to see if it helps him (reducing caffeine late in the day, eliminating light in the bedroom etc.) and being able to track his sleep makes it easy to see whether these changes make any difference.
I have mentioned above a few niggles with setting up the Fitbit Charge HR, but they were easily sorted or are personal preference. The one real negative for it though in my opinion is that it is not waterproof. It is splashproof… but I can’t wear it to go swimming. As I try to swim twice a week this is a real bug bear for me. You can add it as an activity via the app but it seems to just be an estimation of what you have done unless you are measuring exactly how far you have swum etc… which is a faff. So a large amount of my activity isn’t registered by the tracker. If you don’t swim for exercise though this obviously wouldn’t be a problem so again it really is a matter of personal preference.
On the whole I think fitness trackers are great and I do love the Fitbit Charge HR, I just wish it was waterproof! Please make a properly waterproof one next time Fitbit!
Disclosure: I received the Fitbit Charge HR in return for publishing this review. All opinions and photographs are my own.
Most of my posts on here are about our family life and the kiddies especially. Inevitable really as they are the most important things in my life but for now I thought I would write a little post about me. I’m not particularly setting new years resolutions as I don’t think you have to start something new just because it is the new year. The being said there are changes that need to be made and things about me that I want to focus on and now is as good a time as any to start.
Diet and exercise
Yep, starting with the obvious one. I have been eating way too much for quite a while, even before Christmas and have definitely not worried about indulging over the Christmas period. I am not beating myself up over this, life is too short and I have enjoyed myself. But, and there is a but, I am not happy with the added weight I am carrying at the moment.
Our scales broke a while ago and we haven’t replaced them so I don’t know how much I actually weigh (I find it better to judge based on how my clothes fit anyway) but I am carrying it a bit differently at the moment. I’m pear shaped and have always carried extra weight around my hips and bottom. Now though, I guess as a result of being stretched from having 2 children I am very much expanding around my middle and ooh do I hate it! I have been wearing legs and tunics and dresses loads as it is more comfy than squeezing into jeans and it is time to tackle it. I’m a big believer that if you are unhappy about something then you are the one who needs to change it. So that is what I am going to do. No matter how much I enjoy eating, I don’t enjoy carrying around the extra weight so need to change.
Of course the main thing is going to be watching what I eat again. I have done weight watchers before and find the points really help me be aware of how much I am eating etc. so I will be doing that again. No fad diets here, just sensibe eating. Exercise is going to play a big part too though. My friends and I have been swimming once or twice a week for a while (thank goodness or I don’t know how huge I would be) so that will continue and I want to make it a definite twice a week thing. I also want to do more yoga or pilates as I really need to strengthen my back.
I’ve always had a few problems with my back, especially my lower back but since having kids my upper back can get terrible too. (All the carrying and stooping over etc.) It gives me horrific headaches from the referred pain and I know I need to work on strengthening my core and my whole body. There is a great pilates class nearby I was supposed to start a couple of months ago but, well, it hasn’t happened. The first week I didn’t go as LM had croup, the next week hubs Grandpa died that day, then I was ill, then I was preparing to host hub’s grandpa’s wake, then Monkey had croup, then I did actually go but the woman running it had the flu and cancelled the class! Then I was out for a meal and then it was Xmas week and they closed. So it has been a catalogue of disasters but I really want to try and go in January.
I’ve also been wondering how I can squeeze some yoga in to my day as I have a couple of good dvds and even 10 mins of good stretching here and there would be better than nothing. Every evening at the mo hubs does bath time with the kids and because I am shattered, unless I am sorting laundry I am generally lying on my bed playing candy crush until LM gets annoyed and I play with her while hubs carries on bathing Monkey. I am trying to make this a bit of yoga time instead and I have managed 2 days so far! Hopefully I can improve on that and hopefully it will contribute to me feeling better, fitter and stronger.
I haven’t talked about it much for a while because I have being doing so much better on antidepressants but the time has come where my doctor has suggested trying to see how I feel about coming off them. There’s no rush obviously but it has been over 6 mths and I guess you don’t know if you don’t try, right? So she has suggested taking them on alternate days to see how I feel. I started this right before Christmas and sadly it didn’t go well. I would skip a tablet and feel fine all that day, but the following morning I was feeling very stressed again. I wondered if it was psychosomatic but I would have thought that if that was the case then I would have felt anxious on the day I skipped a tablet, rather than 24hrs later?
Anyway I got quite anxious and stressed and after a chat with my husband, who was concerned about the way I was reacting to things, we decided I wouldn’t try this until after Christmas. Christmas can be stressful enough as it is and he didn’t like seeing me reacting the way I was when things were at their worst. I am trying again now though and so we shall see how things go this time. If I react the same way again then I will tell my doctor that I don’t feel ready yet, as I don’t want to pressure myself into coming off them until I am ready.
I also hope to make a bit more time for me and my friends this year as it is all too easy to be consumed with family life, though I know it does me the world of good to just be me from time to time. It’s a difficult one as my kids are the most important thing in the world to me but I know it is good for them to have time with their Daddy and with their grandparents and good for them if I feel fresh from having a break. The doesn’t always make it easy to leave them though or take away the guilt when Monkey gets sad about me going. Which happens.. even some time afterwards and even if he had a lovely time at the time, he just comes out with the fact that mummy going somewhere made him sad. Talk about pulling my heart strings! But I know he has so much of me that it isn’t a bad thing for me to do things for myself sometimes too.
As for the blogging…. I um and ah about it a lot and think about stopping but the truth is enjoy it. I am always thinking about what else I can blog about. I am never going to be a huge blogger, I just don’t have the time or energy. I don’t contact pr companies or fight to get what I can… If someone would like me to review something and it is something I would genuinely use then I will review it. Otherwise again I just don’t have the time or energy. But that’s OK because it is a hobby I enjoy and the rest doesn’t really matter. I am going to make more of an effort to engage with the blogging community though and my favourite bloggers in particular. I can be very insular by nature and tend to hide away rather than joining in with things but this can mean I miss out so I want to try a bit harder with that.
I am also going to try and be a bit more organised. While Hubs has been off we have done a lot of sroting round the house, the loft and garage are much more organised as are many of our cupboards and the conservatory is possibly the cleanest it has ever been. So this should help. I have aso been rubbish at doing things like sending thank you cards over the past year which I hate so I am going to try and be more organised in that respect too.
So I say I am not setting new years resolutions… but I guess I am. I just hope that they are realistic and achieveable though rather than pie in the sky objectives that will fall by the wayside after a few months!! Over all I think I just want to be happy this year and I hope that by making a decision to change the things I dislike that I can achieve that and feel better overall.
Are you setting yourselves any resolutions this January? What would you like to achieve over the next year?
Regular readers will know that I have recently accepted that I have postnatal depression. I am taking antidepressants and things are definitely improving. The medication isn’t a miracle cure though and I have to play my part too. I need to change the way I think about some things to help get through this and I have come up with some “rules” for me to live by.
I actually came up with a number of these before accepting I have PND and was trying to manage it by myself. I didn’t manage and I did and do need the help but that doesn’t mean that these rules are any less valid.
My rules are:
Stop being mean to yourself. You are not fat and disgusting, stupid or incompetent. (Honestly I am meaner to myself than I ever would be to anyone else!)
Be kind to yourself and make more time for you.
Take deep breaths when things go wrong (rather than f-ing & blinding under my breath, slamming doors and stomping around like a teenager – this one may be tricky)
Don’t let the fact that one thing has gone wrong ruin the rest of the day or make you forget what a lovely time you were having until that point. It hasn’t ruined anything and won’t last forever.
Have realistic expectations. Both of yourself, your plans and of the children. I need to accept that perfection doesn’t exist and unfortunately things won’t always go smoothly. If LM is off routine then I must take a deep breath and go with it rather than stressing about it.
Be more organised. One of my biggest stresses about 4 times a day is working out what to feed LM, so I have created a meal plan a week in advance to remove the stress of that multiple times a day. (We already meal plan for the rest of the family.)
Set times to do things and make lists so you can feel you have achieved something (rather than just getting weighed down by a seemingly endless mental list)
Don’t try and squeeze things in when looking after the kids – I get so frustrated when I am trying to blog but have a child jumping on my head or kicking me in the ribs, when really they just want my attention
Have two blogging evenings a week. No TV on those days.
Remember that blogging doesn’t have to be a competition. You didn’t start blogging to win awards etc.
Write and do what makes you happy.
Do more exercise. I have been saying I need to do this for ages but have so far been lazy and not done so! My diet did me well for a while but I have had enough of it for the time being. I am doing lots of walking and that and looking after the kids is helping me maintain my loss but I need to tone up and strengthen my muscles as I am very weak and I have no core strength at all. So I have started some yoga and pilates at home and my brother’s girlfriend and I are starting to play badminton every week next week so that should be fun!
Enjoy the kiddies. Too often I get annoyed when the kids won’t play on their own so I can get on with jobs – when I should be making the most of my time with them and having fun, that is why I am a SAHM after all!
Definitely enough rules to be going on with and I have to keep reminding myself at the moment but I do feel like they are helping me …. that and the sheer quantity of chocolate I have consumed in the lately. I am being kinder to myself…. though I really need to keep up with the exercise so that I don’t put back on all the weight I have lost this year!!
This is my first weight loss update for a while, mainly because my efforts have stalled somewhat. For a while I was doing really well and a few weeks ago I finally hit the 12stone mark! Hooray! Meaning I have lost a stone and a half overall since Christmas, which I am dead chuffed with even though I still have a way to go.