Life Gets In The Way

Sometimes life just gets in the way of things we love to do.

It’s been totally crazy lately with my businesses both taking off in a much bigger way than I’d imagined. I took on a number of corporate clients and have been having huge fun working with them creating some gorgeous branding and packaging which I am totally enjoying but have now had to out source. That goes against what I originally set out to do but you know you have to move with the times and keep some free time to live a little and I was finding I wasn’t having much of that so I had to re-strategise.

I also started tutoring kids coming up to the end of their basic education and because I wanted to make that accessible to all I was a little overwhelmed with demand which, me being me, I couldn’t say no to. But we had huge success in this summer’s exams and so that was tremendously fulfilling, far more than teaching in a school ever was but could have been.

My kids go from strength to strength and have such busy lives which I want to be a part of still and so as long as they want me involved I’ve been making time for them and we’ve been having lots of fun. We’re all still shrinking although I think we’re all at a point where we’re in a normal weight for height bracket now and we just focus on keeping strong and healthy and trying out new things to challenge us physically. I still struggle with food demons but it’s so much easier a fight now. I even have had the odd wild binge when I’ve been super stressed and have had a couple of complete wipe outs but the  thing is, now I eat so clean and I exercise so much I seriously feel those binges. My liver distends, I get chronic head aches, raised temperature, palpitations, bloated stomach, my bowel has a breakdown and I realise just how bad all of that sugar and processed shite is for us so I really do quickly get back onto the path of righteousness immediately I’ve had a go at destroying myself. It’s not good and needs to stop altogether but it’s not a daily thing anymore, it’s a once in a blue moon thing but even so it needs to be a never thing and I’m working on that. I always knew this fight would be forever.

Nick and I are now planning our wedding which is fabulous and very exciting. We would have been married already if it wasn’t for me wanting to get married in a particular spot and us having to do more planning to make that happen than I realised, so next summer it is even though I don’t want it to be that far away but the desire to have my perfect moment over took the desire to be his wife immediately. I’ve written a blog post about this which I will finish soon but it talks about what’s the most important thing and it might sound selfish but having a perfect moment is something I feel I’ve earned and I can allow myself that without it detracting from my love for Nick. I kind of got muddled with the two being different things and it took a while to realise that they go together and one without the other wouldn’t work anyway.

I was proposed to in a very romantic manner and I shall go into detail on that at some point too if anyone fancies a romantic gushy love story, I cry when I recall it or recount it so writing it will be just as tear jerking for me as talking about it and I’ll try to put something of my secret self into it to help any readers understand why it’s such an emotional thing for me.

Nick’s been working more in London lately and that’s another reason why blogging’s been light on the ground as we’ve been spending lots of time down there and we’ve been taking in so much of the London scene and just enjoying the city so much, myself and my son have had a wonderful summer of bonding having spent a fair bit of it exploring. When Nick’s made it with us and my daughter especially it’s been even more wonderful but I’m getting better at accepting that she has her own life and I don’t need to be a constant part of it and it’s OK for me to enjoy myself without her. That part of letting go of my first child was so hard and I’ve started a blog post about it which I’ll get around to finishing now things have calmed down again.

Nick’s ex wife moved to the Caribbean a couple of months ago and so that was pretty awful for him to feel he was losing his two youngest children. Of course that’s not the case and fortunately he is in a position to see them often, not as often as he did of course but that’s the price of divorce. I don’t mean to sound flippant about it, it’s another reason I’ve not managed to finish a blog post. It was and is a pretty sad time for me too, to feel helpless to help him cope with that sense of loss and distance. All I could do was love and support him and just give him lots of time to talk and express his emotions which I’ve also started to write about but never finished so I’ll be on that too. His elder two are still in the UK studying so that is something and in some ways I think it’s made him put a little more into communicating with them. I’ve blogged about this but I think before he kind of felt as if he had a quota on the number of times a week he could contact them and now he’s much more spontaneous with it which is a good thing to come from so much sorrow. He’s also had to cope with the ex having a new man in her life who was moved in pretty quickly and who is definitely playing daddy to the little ones and I don’t think we’re being over sensitive to say that we feel there’s some enforced kind of competition and nastiness going on which I’m so glad Nick has not risen to in a negative way but has handled well even though it’s hurt him a lot. I’ve seen the other side of divorce, from the man’s side and I will be writing lots about that. Although of course no two cases are the same and my own case and experience with my children’s father is very different and has always been far less fraught than many I’ve seen over the years.

Nick also began trading over seas which has led to a number of trips that I’ve managed to tag along on, having a 16 year old means that they are more than happy to be left at home with friends for 4 days while you take off on a business trip and some times he’s come along depending on the location. I’ve not had my house trashed yet and I have been super impressed with the way the boy and his friends have taken care of the veggie garden and animals this summer, we’ve had bumper crops and tons of eggs.

The blog wasn’t the only thing which suffered when our lives got in the way of the things we enjoy doing, our allotment project, which is still going strong, now does so without our direct involvement although we continue to be financial backers and we do drop in when we can but the over eaters group have really made that their own and they are doing a fantastic job of it and have lost tons of weight between them as well as been able to offer each other vital support in their battles with food and the number of people in the group has grown too. They are talking about having a young over eaters side group as there are a number of young kids and teens who are getting involved and they have specific needs. It’s all great and so good that the professional counsellors and doctors are involved but letting the members lead the way and shape the group the way they want it to be.

I don’t have Darren, my personal trainer anymore, sorry if I already mentioned that. He’s now taking care of ladies in another part of the country and specialises in helping obese women now which is great. He really understands the psychological issues and the battle it is and I’m sure he’s going to transform many lives. I train more at home now and have a pretty straight forward training plan which takes one hour four times a week (that’s all about strength so is kettle bell swings, burpees, planks and resistance work) and then I exercise every day, walking, cycling, swimming, rowing, playing sports, dancing and just generally keeping active. I maintain a very low carb diet and more lately have reduced the amount of meat I eat too, so I have a couple of days a week where I’m a veggie and I continue to drink tons of water and have my cultured drinks each day and shots of goodness. Nuts and seeds are a part of almost every meal too.

Life is just settling down now into a normal pace again where there is less upheaval, less emotional stuff going on and more of a routine being established. I’ve missed blogging so much and have written so many posts which remain incomplete but I will be getting on with those now. I feel like life just went through a massive gear change, it kind of took off at full pace and we’ve had to work at bringing it back down to a nice steady trot again, but I feel we’ve achieved that now and I definitely feel less stressed and more calm. I feel like I’ve been on a crazy round the world trip, sleeping in a tent and at last I’m home, showered and in my own bed again.

Can’t wait to catch up on what all of my favourite bloggers have been doing😀

Never feeling satisfied

I saw this and I can so relate to it. Even now I’m out the other side almost, I still get this feeling from time to time. It gets easier to fight but it’s still there. It makes me feel sad reading this but I think a lot of people who are into bodyshaming fat people just don’t get it, they have no idea.

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Make your own almond milk and almond flour

I came across this item on Wellnessmama site a few weeks back and have been making it and enjoying it (and the financial saving) ever since. I thought I’d already blogged about it but I must have dreamed it.

I love the taste of this and I love that I’m getting so much good out of it. I do still use milk, we get raw milk once a month at the farmer’s market but it only lasts us a few days then we go back to organic filtered whole milk.This is just because we can’t get to the farm very easily, it’s a fair way off and also our nearest farm doesn’t operate like that, you can only order your milk for a farmer’s market pick up and there is only one farmer’s market near enough for us to reach regularly. Nick checks the garden every time he comes home as he’s fully expecting a couple of cows to be grazing out there but I wouldn’t go that far.. if only I could though…

I did try to  use almond milk to make Kefir but it didn’t work the Kefir culture died and I guess that had something to do with lactose not being present. You live and learn and fortunately my Kefir cultures are big and I only lost a small chunk.

I’ve used almond flour to make a pasta type substance. I mixed some with an egg and rolled it through my machine into sheets and made a lasagne with it and to be honest it wasn’t too bad.

I buy my almonds loose from here and get 3kgs for under £30 which is pretty good going. Bear in mind when you make it that you use 4 cups of water to one cup of almonds and that you end up with more than 4 cups of almond milk as when you blend it it froths and obviously swells in volume, even after straining. One cup of water is equivalent to around half a pint in UK terms, and a cup of almonds is equivalent to about 100 grammes in UK terms so you get something like 2 pints of almond milk per 100 grammes (this works for me) and so you get 20 pints from one kilo of almonds which means you’re looking at a cost per pint of almond milk of a maximum of 50p or £1.00 for a litre so it’s not bad much less than what I pay for it ready made.

Anyone who can’t get the above link to work type this into your browser address bar: http://wellnessmama.com/366/organic-almond-milk/

Searching for Gold

I read a story the other day, a true life survival story about a guy who went into the Aussie Outback searching for gold. This is a modern day story, not some settler tale of yesteryear. Anyway the guy managed to get separated from his buddies and lost his way. He had no radio (stupid of him he admitted) and his usual ability to rely on the sun was thwarted as the sun was blocked out by unusual dense cloud. As he tried to retrace his steps he became more and more lost, he was unknowingly moving further and further away from the friends who were searching for him. He spent the first night lying down on the red sandy earth trying to sleep in snatches and walking around trying to keep himself warm. He spotted search planes a few times the next day but for some reason no matter how much he waved and jumped and shouted they didn’t see him. He hadn’t realised that as he’d laid down on the red earth it had stuck to the sweat on his shirt and skin and so from the air he looked as red as the ground around him.

He tried to put all his instincts to use but there was little he could do, knowing he could not survive without water in the intense heat of the day and that the plummeting night time temperatures put him at another risk as did the night time animals that stalked the area looking for prey. Finally on the third night, after he should have been dead from dehydration, sun exposure, hypothermia or an animal attack he settled down to sleep, knowing and accepting that he would not wake up again. Suddenly he spotted some lights in the distance, he mustered all his strength to get to the lights which were miles away but glowing from a hill top across the wide expanse of flat desert.

Eventually, no one knows how, he made it to the lights laid out by a local Aboriginal group who had been helping in the search for the guy to hopefully guide him home. Trackers had lost the trail but they were certain that if they lit the fires on higher ground in the area they did that he would see them, they were confident that he was in that area, as he was.

When he staggered to the guys on watch, sitting on a jeep the first thing they gave him was a bottle of water which he drank down like the man dying of thirst that he was.

He said “To think, there I had been searching for riches, searching for gold, risking my life when all the time I had something worth more than gold, I had riches beyond measure at home, flowing out of a tap in my kitchen. Never again did I feel I wanted more in life than what I already had, I knew that without that precious resource that flowed into my home there would be no life and yet I often ignored it and had taken it for granted. Nothing else mattered, as long as I had that I was a wealthy man already. Every morning when I wake up I head straight to my kitchen for a drink of water and every morning I thank God for life and water and I remind myself of the fortunate man that I am”.

Water… drink it, don’t take it for granted, we need it for life.

Walking with Children

I’m a big advocate of communication with children (as in talking and listening) being one of the most effective ways of keeping a good relationship going, building trust, getting to know one another, guiding and advising them and just staying close to one another throughout their whole young life.

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Image credit

I find one of the single most easy times to get your kids to open up and talk to you, to ask  you questions, to listen to you is when you are walking with them. When you get them outside no matter the weather, no matter their age (we have things like microfibre and waterproof shades for prams and umbrellas now) and you take them away from technology and interference, leave phones in pockets or at home if it’s safe to do so and just go for a walk you are onto a winner. Walk anywhere, it’s free, around your neighbourhood or a nicer neighbourhood if yours isn’t too nice, along a beach if you’re lucky enough to live near one or to be able to drive to one easily, around a woods, a park, a community garden… anywhere where there are few modern day interruptions. Walking at night is especially relaxing.

I used to walk my kids to school and back rather than drive them so that we always had that daily opportunity to talk and for me to listen and even now when one of them is grown and the other in mid teens we still walk regularly and they open up to me in ways they just don’t normally, we talk about everything and anything and it’s not only fun and bonding for us but it lets me into their world and into their mind and their heart, I find out what their passions and joys are, I find out about their friends and their jobs or school, I find out about their ambitions, their fears… it all tumbles out during a walk.

What’s more you can go a long time without a walk (we went about 2 years) and it’s easy to bring back as a feature of your life together, it doesn’t have to happen daily. Weekly or even monthly is good. Also of course there is the added benefit for you and the kid/s of it being healthy easy exercise, of getting some fresh air into your lungs and to relax and destress away from everything for ten minutes, half an  hour or several hours it doesn’t matter.

We should all walk more and if we can do it with people we want to always be close to even better.

If you’re looking to start to lose weight and exercise more and build stronger relationships start with adding a short walk into your life and by drinking more water. Two top tips which are easy to do and which you will thank yourself that you did one day.

Stick with it

I’d hit a plateau with weight loss and had thought that was it, I was at my ideal ‘forever’ weight. I blogged about it recently (read about it here) and how I felt about plateaus but I’ve had a little shift beyond now so maybe I’m just at a point where weight loss is going to be very very slow. I’ve never known what that was like before, being so overweight and never coming close to a normal weight meant I’ve always seen good weight loss progress if I’ve stuck to a diet. The only time I did get slim was not my choice and so that one doesn’t count.

I have learned something about me and my whole journey through this plateau though, I’ve learned that the way I eat and exercise now has truly become a way of life for me. I’ve also learned that I wasn’t fully convinced of that or the need for that before I got to this point. I thought I was, but I wasn’t.

I’ve always known and I’ve mentioned in umpteen blogs how this is not a journey to an ideal weight but a journey for life, that I will always be on and I thought I had my head around that but when I got to near goal and to this plateau phase which made me think I was at goal I realised that I wasn’t prepared for a lifetime of this at all. Whether it was some emotional thing in my brain, a previously set trigger which told me “it’s done now eat cake” or what it was I don’t know but I found myself really craving crap food and I mean craving as in to the point of distraction. At first I wasn’t sure what it was and then I realised that it had a direct co-relation to me accepting I was ‘done’, I’d made it. The self destructive demon in my head sprang back to life when it heard that news and decided to make me change it all around, reverse all of the good I’d done and head back to Fatsville and boy did that demon find some power from somewhere. It’s as if it’s fueled by my emotional reliance on food, it’s energised by my self doubt and this innate need to destroy myself. I’d kept it at bay for a long time but as soon as I was where I wanted to be it rose up and hit me hard. As if success wasn’t something I had a right to. I have to delve into that I think.

MindPowerI don’t suppose I’ll ever understand the mind of a fat person and I am one. How we expect other people to understand I don’t know. I understand a lot and I understand more but I just don’t get what it is that made this happen. I fought against it and it was hard I will not lie. This is a real, true addiction, make no mistake. I don’t imagine it could have torn me apart any more  if it had been an addiction to alcohol or drugs that I was facing and it was far worse than anything I faced when I quit smoking. It took over my mind mentally and my stomach physically. I’ve never felt so empty in my stomach after food, it has actually been painful and I’m not exaggerating. I have felt so sad, so low of mood, so stressed and all because of this internal fight to resist bad food. It sounds crazy doesn’t it? To anyone who doesn’t know what a food addiction is or who believes food addiction is not real they would think I’m insane or making it up to cover for the fact that underneath it all I’m just a greedy person. But it is real.

Anyway, I’ve done it, I’ve battled and won again, for now. It took a while but I resisted and the urges have subsided again. The only way to win was to just keep self counselling, keep telling myself why I couldn’t binge on chocolate and crisps and biscuits and cakes and sweets and to distract myself with other things, keep on eating healthily, keep on exercising and now and then throw in a treat to satisfy the urges. That organic chocolate has come in really handy.

I really thought I’d seen the last of those pangs, I really thought I’d dealt with the emotional issues but now I believe that this really is a forever fight for me. That beast that wants to make me fat is going to come back time and time again and I’m going to have to beat it back down time and time again. Even though it’s been hard and I’ve not been the best person to live with and there have been tears shed over that because I felt so guilty for snapping at times and for retreating at others, even in spite of that I am grateful for this experience because it has taught me what I thought I always knew and that is that these really are forever changes and this is a forever battle. It is a journey that can never ‘end’. It doesn’t stop, it isn’t over and even though it feels like a way of life, even though it feels easy, there will be times when it really isn’t easy and when I’m reminded that the new way of life is just that, a new way which has 40 odd years of the old way lying underneath the surface and only time will put distance between those two ways of life.

It’s so important not to slip back into bad habits and to hold fast, it’s so hard to do but so important. I don’t want to be fat again and if I’m going to have to face a week or so of miserable struggle now and then to make sure that doesn’t happen then so be it. I know people say “I’d rather be happy than slim” but I really really am happy slim and I’m happy fit and healthy and if I have to trade that off for a once in a while bad mood while I’m in the clutches of the fat demon then so be it, it’s a good trade off. I would rather this than be miserable all of the time and being fat made me miserable, not because I was influenced by media or I wanted to be attractive to men or any of that, but because I didn’t feel I was getting the best out of my life or giving the best to my loved ones and I felt I was letting them and myself down.

This is a hard thing to do make no mistake changing habits is a tough call but with the right attitude it’s possible and with the right people supporting you. Nick and my son have been through the ringer this past week or so as I’ve struggled with this but they have never stopped loving and supporting me and helping me to come out the other side.

We’re all going away for a family holiday for half term and we’ve managed to get all of the kids together with us which is fabulous and rare these days. So good times are back and better ones are ahead, the sun screen is in the case along with the bikinis that I only ever dreamed of wearing. Holiday report will be forthcoming.

Plus Sized Mannequins

There is so much controversy at the moment about body shaming which is focusing on shaming fit and healthy bodies as well as larger fuller figured bodies. It’s not so much shaming the super fit, muscular female form but the use of it making those without a body like that feel inadequate and forced into unnatural and unhealthy practices (SOMETIMES) to get a body like that… let’s face it women’s bodies were not meant to have overly defined muscles, six packs and rock hard buns with chests and other parts inflated with silicone. Nor were they meant to be dangerously overweight and promotion of that as OK or normal is being slated too, fearing that it will only contribute to the rise in obesity. Both camps have a point.

I think it fair to say they are both extremes and I also think it fair to say that if the people who look like that are healthy in body and mind and are happy then who cares what they look like? I certainly don’t think it is anyone’s business to get upset about it. Yet people are getting really upset about it, angry about it even and you have to wonder what they hate about themselves that makes them so nasty towards people they’ll never meet and who make no difference to their lives. Live and let live and all that. Super fit doesn’t mean the person lives on whey powder and never leaves the gym just like super fat doesn’t mean the person is loveless and never leaves the GPs office.

What is good to see and something I do consider to be healthy is the use of mannequins in fashion stores which better represent average women’s sizes and more natural body shapes of women, if there is a normal shape. I think the representation of a normal body, as in one that is nourished well and moves enough, whether it is slightly overweight or underweight doesn’t matter, the fact that it represents reality is the important thing.

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Taken from The Guardian if you fancy reading more

So it’s good to see that a Swedish store is in the news this week for using realistic models in its stores and has a UK size 12 and a UK size 16 showcasing lingerie. What is evident from both to me is that neither are grotesque, neither look unhealthy, neither should attract too much attention, they are both perfectly OK. Debenhams in the UK also uses a size 16 mannequin which again, doesn’t look massive. I think we need to get a grip on this body size shaming thing… lots of us would rather look like the size 16 mannequin than an Olympic pentathlete anyway, lots of us don’t feel the need to have a fitness body to show that we are healthy and fit, we know we can have that size 16 body and be healthy and fit, we’re living in the real world and we’re rational.

I’m glad to see things like this. I think this is the way forward not a tit for tat between fitness bodies and obese models.

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The Debenhams size 10 and size 16

I know someone who works in fashion retail and she told me another reason larger mannequins are not used… something totally nothing to do with appearance, impression or anything else… she said that mannequins are very heavy and a pain in the bum to dress, so the smaller the better. Her store had some plus sized mannequins to dress with their plus sized ladies range but the staff were just having too much trouble and too many accidents dressing them and so they requested that they had them removed… if they had their way all clothes would be on kids mannequins.. nothing to do with image, pure and simply to do with convenience.