Sometimes going back takes you forward

So the projected start of the eat good meat and dairy and barely any carbs plan has had a delay. Firstly because the organic meat delivery was not placed on time and wasn’t  received on time. Secondly because we had a couple of celebrations going on so it wasn’t the best time to tighten any belts. So it starts tomorrow.

BUT, I can attest to something and this involves a horrific confession of over indulgence which I am never ashamed to make. I have little to no ADDED sugar in my diet and I’m already eating very little carbohydrate, why the transition to a low carb lifestyle is going to be slightly easier for me. I do however eat a lot of naturally sugar laden foods, which I didn’t realise before. I eat copious amounts of berries, seeds, nuts and a few grains. I didn’t even know some of these contained sugar at all but you learn something new every day. I’m not  a measurer. I am a big eater, anyone following me knows I have gradually been reducing the quantity of what I eat more as an accident and consequence of the other health benefits going on in my life over the past 11 months. My portions are not meagre by any means, I know I can’t succeed with any weight loss if I’m hungry so I’ve never let myself be hungry. My weight loss has come via what I eat not how much I eat.

Besides eating a lot of fruit and vegetables I drink a lot of juices and use juices as dressing for salads and I squirt lemon and orange into and onto everything, believing it a better flavour adder than oils. I also have green juice three times a week.

So anyway, that’s kind of the back ground to what I discovered this week. At a celebration yesterday there was a sweet stall cart thing. Now I’ve not been near chewy, sugary, bright sweets really for a long time. I have sucked on a Ricola or two for a sweet fix but I’m more of a chocolate and cake kind of gal than a Skittles and boiled sweets one. BUT, here on this stall that I just happened to find myself seated beside, was an array of colourful bright little sugary temptations and I yielded to ‘just a few’ chewy, tangy morsels of deliciousness. Now ‘just a few’ in an obese, over eater’s world is never that is it? Let’s be honest. Just a few hands full more like.  I totally lost all of my will power and my common sense approach and my tactics for coping with temptation went right out of the window and I sat chatting to people and popping into my mouth, one by one, just like the old days. Eventually not even registering they were going in there. Old habits eh? They sure do die hard.

So let’s just suffice to say I lost my mind and probably ate at least a whole regular pack sized amount, maybe two, definitely not a family size bag… oh lordy I hope I didn’t do that but who knows?

I only stopped when I noticed that I was starting to become a little hot, my temperature was rising at an alarming rate and I started looking for an escape to get some air, at that point I noticed that my heart was positively pounding in my chest, audibly and sensorily, I could hear it in my ears and feel it in my chest, thumping away like someone had put it on overdrive, more so than when I’m exercising to my  max even. I started to feel nauseous from the temperature I think and I started to panic a little as I became convinced I was having a heart attack. I tried to check my breathing which was starting to become shallow and rapid through the panic and I made my way to the exit, got outside into the cold air, sat on a bench and breathed deeply. Nick had noticed something was wrong and had followed me and he immediately went back in and came out with water. I sipped the water and started to calm down, things started to go back to normal.

Only then did he ask what was wrong and I told him what I’d experienced and we both realised that it was my body’s reaction to those sweets. That sugar, perhaps the additives and colourings I don’t know, but my body did not like what I had done to it and it was letting me know in no uncertain terms.

I sat there with Nick feeling very stupid, very greedy, very gluttonous and strangely very fat. I’d felt amazing when I’d put my new outfit on earlier in the day but suddenly I felt swollen, ugly, bloated, trussed up, miserable and everything felt too tight. I don’t know if that was a mental thing with my mind playing tricks on me making me feel like a fat failure and so I imagined myself fatter than I am or if I had physically swollen. I kind of felt ashamed of myself too and I had to quickly dispel those self loathing type feelings and the shame because they are no good for me, I know that and I had to put things into perspective with a “Good God woman you had a few sweets at a party, get a grip, you are not the anti-christ you didn’t go and slaughter half a dozen women and children”. I have to talk to myself like that sometimes to keep it real because I know that self loathing, shame, blame and all that are my enemies and always have been.

One thing it did do for me though, and this is the reason why I’m glad that I did sit and gorge myself, was it made me wonder how I had coped for years with that kind of pressure on my body. I realised that my healthy body really didn’t enjoy being abused like that and yet I had abused it for years and years and never ever listened to it groan or felt it shudder. I had just carried on treating it bad and not caring. I realised that there was no wonder I felt so bloody miserable all of the time, no wonder I had no energy, no wonder i was so stressed, no wonder I couldn’t cope with things, I was poisoning myself on a daily basis. I poisoned myself so much that my body was probably dealing with one toxin and then another and then another to the extent that it didn’t have time to alert me to what I was doing to it, it was just trying to keep me alive.

How sad to think that I just did that to myself for so long. How lucky I am to not have suffered any long term damage (that I know of yet). How grateful I am to be finally freeing myself from that awful cycle I was locked in.  How fortunate I am to be getting better now, to have the opportunity to reverse that damage and to make mistakes and to see why they are mistakes.

I’ll never ever eat a sugary, bright coloured sweet again as long as I live. That was scary and I’m not going back there again. I’ve learned a lesson and one thing about eating and living healthy that we often underestimate is that power we give ourselves to be able to notice when we eat something that is not good for us, our body does let us know, it tries to warn us and only when we make those attacks on our health rarely do we really get the message and it definitely makes us think about what we were doing wrong.

This is why I think the gradual small steps approach to changing our lifestyle is important for morbidly obese people, we need to learn lessons that will stick with us forever, we don’t need quick fixes. Through a gradual process we learn and we refine our way of eating, our exercise, our whole lifestyle. Because of all the changes I have made thus far I was able to spot the harm those sweets were doing to my body and I have learned that I really don’t want to put that stuff into my body again, ever. I know something now which I didn’t know last week and I don’t just know it from reading about it, I know it from experiencing it and that’s another point I’d like to make; it’s OK to trip up, it’s OK to make a mistake, it’s OK to go backwards now and then because then we really learn the lessons, then we really see the effects our old ways have on our new bodies and believe me this lesson was poignant.

So now the meat is here and I’m ready to roll, more ready than ever. Let’s see what happens, we’ve all recorded weight and measurements this morning and we’re all in this, so we will have views on how this approach affects a middle aged woman, a middle aged man and a growing teenage boy and a young lady. By good fortune all of us had full bloods done recently too so we’ll all have a repeat health check in sixty days and see if there is anything going on in the inside that we hadn’t bargained for. My son is convinced that if we eat bacon with the fat every day we are going to put weight on but let’s see.

Allotment

Today we took posession of two allotments just behind my GP surgery and several members of “Over Eaters Outed” as we call ourselves came along to survey the job ahead. Fortunately one of the doctors a nurse and some friends and family showed up too as it was a beautiful day we started right there and then.

We began to clear away rubbish and dead stuff, old bits of netting and fencing and we ripped down dilapidated sheds….much to the dismay of mice living underneath. Within a couple of hours we had a blank canvas and a heap of stuff for a bonfire. We’d found some tools in one of the sheds, rusty and rudimentary but they did the job. We agreed that in the interests of our backs, accessibility and pest protection we will plant everything in huge raised beds so one of the guys measured up wood requirements for that and we marked out a large space for a fab shed. We agreed it would be nice to have a communal feel to the shed so it’s going to be more like a summer house spanning the far end of both plots with a smaller storage shed for tools and dirty stuff next to it. We’re going to install a camping stove for tea making and some battery operated lighting and a radio and in the dirty shed were having a shit box so that we can spend whole days down there if we wish.

After we’d finished up Nick and I went to the timber yard and ordered the wood for the beds and bought the shed and lots of tools. Group members are going to call in favours from handy friends to get everything erected and installed and then we can line the beds and fill with nice organic soil and fasten covers over. We also have a greenhouse which has been donated and some poly tunnels which we intend to use on a couple of the beds. It was great to see so much enthusiasm for growing our own vegetables to use in our battle to stay healthy and lose weight. When the barriers were brought down and it was all cleared it was amazing how much space there was.

Yesterday was also the first fat exercise class and although I couldn’t make it they tell me it was a roaring success literally. It sound like much laughter went on as well as inclusive exercise and everyone had a great time, most importantly everyone moved a bit more than usual and did some social interacting.

So things are going well there and I’m feeling like I’m a part of something worthwhile that is going to make a real difference in terms of tackling obesity and related issues.

Tomorrow morning is the first early opening for body conscious folk at the local baths and so I’m going to go down there and have a swim with other group members and then I’m.meeting Charlie my adopted grandad for a nice walk and some hot tea. I’ve made him up some meals and frozen them as he said he doesn’t enjoy cooking for himself and misses some good home cooking. In time I’ll invite him for dinner.

This might sound selfish, but I have to be sparing with charitable acts as they’ve got me in deep water in the past and I have to be mindful of leaving time to do all of the things I have to do and of not finding myself with someone demanding on my hands. That sounds bad but I have to be honest I don’t have time to be at someone’s beck and call or to have someone turning up out of the blue too often so I have to be realistic about the extents i can go to when showing human kindness. history has taught me that sometimes you can be too kind. It would be fabulous if we could do everything we wish we could in terms of being community spirited but sometime we have to do what we can and know where to draw the boundaries. Who knows in time I might do more but right now I feel that I’m right to be cautious and to draw the line somewhere.

I found this fab video on You Tube about growing Kale in a container too which I thought I’d share after my last post where I talked about growing veg at home. 

High quality on a low budget

I’ve written before about ways to eat healthy on a low budget, growing your own veggies, sharing meals with a fellow healthy eater, shopping with a buddy to maximise the two for one offers that otherwise go bad before you can use them, frozen fruits and veg, batch cooking and so on.

For this new low carb diet I’m following from tomorrow I read so much (mainly from One Small Change At A Time Blog and links provided) about the nutritional value of grass fed livestock and how it is best to eat meat reared traditionally for maximum food chain delivered nutritional benefits. In short working on the idealistic premise that animal eats lush healthy natural untainted fodder in a field, the nutrients become an intrinsic part of the animal and when we consume the meat we absorb those nutrients in turn and our bodies become nourished by them. Makes sense when you think about it to not just think of meat as protein but as a conduit through which we can ingest other valuable nutrients.

But meat doesn’t come cheap in the UK not sure about everywhere else in the world. We are a little island with sixty or more million people living on it. Most of whom are financially able to buy meat on a daily basis and so many do. We don’t make enough to meet broad consumer demand and so lots of it is imported. Some of what is imported is, for the purposes of this discussion, ‘factory farmed’ as is some of what is home produced, but some is traditionally field reared and it is possible to track down some grass fed, former open field dwelling, free running meat and meat products.

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Image from http://www.supergreenme.com

Tracking it down is easier with the internet, a Google search will bring up a ton of farms who butcher and sell direct to consumer or to wholesale. They do this by vacuum packing, flash freezing and home delivering. You don’t have to hike into the countryside to do your shopping although if like me you are lucky enough to be within a stone’s throw of some lush agricultural land and farms aplenty, then it’s not such a bad idea to go and have a nosey around these places yourself.

Some online butchers offer excellent bulk buying value packs too which can offer you a variety of cuts at more affordable prices but these affordable prices are nothing like the affordable prices the supermarkets will offer you for non organic produce so don’t be too taken aback when you see the price of your pork chops double or triple.

Keeping costs down can also be achieved by buying some nice cuts of meat but also mixing with lower cost cuts and being inventive with the cooking. Ox tail for instance is delicious and cheap if you know what to do with it. Lots of these farms produce sausages and burgers and meat for stewing and casseroling which can also be impaled on skewers and grilled. So don’t only think of the more expensive cuts. If you’re following this low carb eating plan then you can eat sausages and burgers just not with half a ton of bread wrapped around them.

Again buddying up to take advantage of bulk buying offers is an option to reduce costs but get good quality produce.

Mixing this high quality meat in with cheaper mass produced and imported stuff is another way to get some good stuff into your diet which is better than none. If you can’t afford to swap everything for organic, try swapping one or two things.

That all said however this is the real world remember so do check authenticity of claims as much as you are able to. There are no doubt unscrupulous traders out there packaging imported mass produced chickens in fancy wrappers with a glossy

Image from http://imgarcade.com
Image from http://imgarcade.com

website complete with pictures of the happy chooks running around a field who are making a lot of money under false pretences so do your research, visit a seller if you can, examine their claims, contact them by phone and ask questions, research industry standards and the stamps of approval they claim to have. Some online sellers boast 100% traceability of the products they sell so don’t be afraid to ask for this evidence.

The way I looked at this is that there are a lot of items which are currently on my shopping list which are going to vanish…mostly the copious amounts of fruit and ready made juices and smoothies and cereal that we eat. The higher cost of the better quality meats will absorb this saving and we shouldn’t notice too much of a fluctuation in spending on food.

I watched a programme that’s been running on UK BBC TV lately called Eat Well For Less and one family were spending sixteen thousand pounds a year on food for four people. That was without considering dining out. I thought that was ludicrous but when you tot it up we do spend a huge amount of what we earn on food. If we’re going to do that it may as well be good stuff.

I’m also still mindful of the ‘alleged’ links between some meats and some cancers, specifically red meat and bowel cancer (read here it’s not as scary as it’s often made out to be) and even though I’m seeing another side of the argument now I do

Image from this fab article about sustainability and my favourite little fishy Mackerel
Image from this fab article about sustainability and my favourite little fishy Mackerel, http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/red-meat.aspx

intend to make the meat I consume more heavily in favour of white meat and there is no doubt that a healthy free range organic chicken or turkey is going to cost less than a side of equal quality beef, pork or lamb. I’m also planning in lots of fishy protein and am at the moment having two meat free days per week where protein will come from eggs and dairy and those days will be very vegetable rich. So I’m not going to be straying right away from my current habits and the cost of good quality meat and fish will not be prohibitive. I’m also super lucky in that I live by the sea so I can access great quality fresh fish from merchants really close by which saves me a lot of hassle and I get to ask lots of questions about where and how it’s caught, how it’s been stored and so on.

It goes without saying that I’ll also be sticking with free range eggs, organic milk and dairy products which I have found only run a few pence more expensive than the other kinds and which I use already. I have ordered a batch of whole raw milk

Image from: http://www.tripulous.com/2013/03/lincolnshire-wolds-a-ramblers-paradise/
Image from: http://www.tripulous.com/2013/03/lincolnshire-wolds-a-ramblers-paradise/

from a local farm which I get to pick up at a local farmer’s market each week so no doubt I’ll also buy a few cheesy and meaty treats at the same time. Oh, before I forget, that’s another top tip for saving money, farmers markets and visiting continental food markets where you can often cut a deal with a bit of haggling and if you linger around at the end of the day there are always fab bargains to be had as they try to clear the day’s stock. We have a lot of continental food markets in my area and they provide a fantastic opportunity to pick up some bargain delicious French and Italian cheeses and delicious Bavarian cold cuts as well as umpteen varieties of wurst. I’m quite looking forward to this new approach, I can taste it already.

As for money saving on the veggies, I grow my own kale, spinach and lettuce and believe me that home grown organic flavour is something else and these three crops are so easy to grow it is unreal. I don’t harvest as such I just pull off what I need that day that way the plant keeps on giving and stays fresh. Of course there comes a time when you have to pull it but if you start eating those baby leaves when they are ready and at their best a plant can last a long time. I plant in weekly rotations of five so I always have fresh stock coming up and lots to go at for a

Image from: http://www.vegetarian-world.com/the-best-home-grown-vegetables/
Image from: http://www.vegetarian-world.com/the-best-home-grown-vegetables/

week. Once you get into a routine it’s so easy to do. I don’t usually have any waste and if I do get a stockpile I give it to someone. This winter of course I’ve grown under cover and there has been success with that so I’ve managed just about to get year round supplies. I also experiment with planting different varieties and my next thing is to grow myself some lovely deep green Savoy cabbage.

You really don’t need tons of space to grow enough for one or two people or a small family, you can do it in containers even if you don’t have a big garden or a garden at all, a couple of planters on a balcony would suffice. Trial and error the planting so you have a plant or two ready to eat with the next ready in a couple of days and the next a couple of days later and just keep going. Even if you only manage to grow enough to eat for half of the month and spend the other half waiting it is still better than nothing, it’s better for you and it costs less. OK laying out for organic soils and pesticides and such can cost depending on the size of the project but that is like a capital investment, you will yield much from that in time.

So lots of ways to cut costs of eating high quality produce and make sure that what you eat is doing your body good. If you have space of course you could have chickens and get fab fresh eggs and if you have more space you could rear your own meat but I’m not sure I could have that too close a relationship with my food. Also look into dairy cow sharing and having fresh whole raw cow milk as part of your diet and help support dairy farming in your area.

It’s not possible for everyone to get back to the roots of how we used to eat but a few steps in that direction may be more within our reach than we thought.

New Approach …Low Carbs

I’ve not really followed ‘a diet’ as such I’ve just been trying to eat healthily and include things in my diet which will do my body some good. A comment on a post of mine yesterday led me to read more in depth on a fellow bloggers posts over at One Small Change at a Time and I quickly became hooked and spent more time than I had at my disposal reading post after post and link upon link.

Low carb, low sugar approaches to healthy eating are not new to me but some of the facts and cited research which I became engrossed in was. I eat very few carbs especially the processed kind like pasta and bread these days but I do consume a lot of fruit and whilst I knew that fruit contained a lot of sugar I believed naively this was somehow healthy sugar or at least healthier than the processed kind that gets sprinkled in or added to our food to make it more tasty. I also assumed that the good the fruit was doing me, in terms of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals outweighed any harm the natural sugars were doing. Now I’m not so sure and so I’m embarking on a super low carb diet for sixty days to see what the effects are and hopefully after sixty days I’ll be convinced to stick with it or not.

Why 60 days? Not for any fad reason, I’m not a quick fixer and I’m not a ‘follow this for this number of days and then go back to normal’ type of person. I want real beneficial long term health improvements which also help me to shed excess weight. I have opted to follow it for 60 days not because some book written by someone making themselves rich at the expense of my misery told me to and not because some glossy promotional campaign told me to. I’m doing it for 60 days, and thereafter maybe for life, because I believe it takes a couple of months for our bodies to really adjust to new ways of eating and to really sow any definite, potentially long term benefits or otherwise and also because it takes a couple of months to truly embed new habits, if I’m going to be able to do this I need to know that it’s doable for me and won’t leave me feeling miserable and deprived.

Fortunately for me, this new approach will not involve many changes as I’m almost there already, I breakfast big but I need to stop using fruit and grain as the basis of that meal and shift to eggs and meat…My son will love this.

Lunch can stay the same meat and green leafy raw salad.

Dinner can stay the same only I won’t be trimming off fat from meat. I can’t say I’m upset about that I’m a real lover of the fat from a pork chop or a lamb chop, they’re the most tasty bits so it will be interesting to see what happens when I start eating them again.

Smoothies and fruit juices will be no more, water and teas will take their place and dessert will consist of an Apple a day.

I’ve sourced meat from a natural farmer using traditional grass fed stock and although it’s slightly more expensive I want to do this right.

I just need to check up on fish as I love fish and feel it’s important to keep in my diet so if anyone knows where I stand on a super low carb diet with fish let me know I’ll be grateful.

As I read a lot of the stuff I read I realised that my teen son has developed a natural low carb low sugar eating habit of late. He can’t get enough dairy and meat down his neck and has been craving lettuce spinach and cabbage, something he’d rather die than eat a few months ago. Trying to get him to eat fruit is a losing battle yet he used to eat a whole bowl full every day. This kind of makes me feel that there is more to this than a fad, I believe our bodies when untainted by bad habits do tell us what they want and if my son’s young growing body wants what it does now surely that is an optimal diet for good cell function and growth i.e. healthy.

If you want to find out more or just read some really interesting stuff about food, sugar, carbs and what we eat, then give this blog a read by clicking on the link above or here and follow up the links. It might change your mind and if we all change our minds then the quality of the food we eat will have to improve and I know that is a real passion of the author.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Kefir and Kombucha… it’s been a year and I’ve learned a few things

It’s been nearly a year now since I started to home ferment and ingest these two products and I can honestly say two things:

  1. I notice a huge down turn in energy when I don’t drink kefir every morning and a massive upswing when I get back to it
  2. The online tutorials on fermenting and culturing are way too complicated. the process for each is so much more simple than they make it out to be

Making a batch of kombucha is made to look like some scientific experiment when really it’s making some tea and decanting it to bottles rather than cups.

Kombucha brewing with white and green tea
Kombucha brewing with white and green tea

Kefir and kombucha are reported to die if you go near them with metal….nope. A quick rinse in a metal sieve does no harm nor does cutting you kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) down with scissors if you want to ferment in a smaller jar or you let your babies integrate with the mama and the whole thing becomes rather more dense than you’d like.

When you are straining your kefir to keep your culture in tact and your milk product aside for drinking or second fermenting it can be a real pain getting it through a regular sieve so I use a small holed metal colander and so far it has not been damaged at all, my culture keeps on reproducing. Another thing I learned is that your kefir grains can sometimes do with a wash as milk sticks to them and they can start to produce some rather tangy sour tasting stuff. What I do is strain off the liquid then swish out the jar with some fresh milk and pour that over the culture in the strainer, then I pop the culture back into the jar and add some milk and give it a swirl around and strain it again. I only do this once a week, it’s enough and then once a month I rinse over my culture with some room temperature filtered water to give it a good clean. It responds well to this and it doesn’t harm it at all.

The rule of thumb is that if the SCOBY is healthy and growing it’s happy and doing what it’s supposed to do. This is the best advice to follow, your SCOBY will tell you if it’s not happy.

kefir-grains1
Healthy Kefir SCOBY

The biggest problem with kombucha is fruit flies they love the stuff but a home made trap kills them off pretty fast and be sure to use a denser fibred cloth to top your fermenting jar as opposed to muslin which would seem the obvious first choice to allow air in. That SCOBY needs to breathe, it’s alive.

Also don’t fret if you have to leave your SCOBY or brew unattended for a while Kefir grains survive just fine if they are immersed in milk and I had some in my fridge for a fortnight and they are still thriving.

Also flavouring kombucha is a faff if you make your own syrup as recommended in lots of video tutorials. Store bought syrups for a change of taste are fab to add at the bottling stage and make for some great flavours. Use sparingly if they are heavy in sugar but the fermenting process uses up the sugar so it’s not such a worry in terms of calories.

I’ve lost weight consistently and have kombucha and kefir every single day. One hit of kefir each morning and three hits of kombucha one before each meal. Plus I do make yoghurt from kefir and also cream cheese.

There are tons of health claims about these two cultured foods/drinks and I don’t know how many are true but I do notice a difference if I miss drinking them and I don’t think about it, I’m not obsessional if I miss it but I definitely notice a flag towards the late afternoon in terms of energy levels.

I do believe that my gut is just healthier given the ’emissions’ since using these products and I just have a greater sense of well being. I’ve not had any gall bladder issues at all since taking Kombucha and had excellent results in recent liver and kidney function tests which have shown an improvement, along with my thyroid at each of my past three checks. I’ve made so many changes to my diet and lifestyle that all or any could have caused the resultant health improvements but I do believe these product have a part to play.

If you’re thinking of giving them a try there is a whole host of info out there to research and if you have any questions just pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer as a seasoned fermenter. They’ve certainly not appeared to do me any harm.

London Weekend and perils of dating divorcees with kids

As it’s half term for most Brit kids this week we decided to decamp to London for the last few days before school is back in full swing. We arrived yesterday afternoon and within a couple of hours all of Nick’s kids arrived and my eldest arrived too. We had a rare evening of all being in one place at the same time and made the most of it by going out to a show, last minute bargain tickets. Finding a show to suit everyone’s tastes when you are a group of eight isn’t always easy but we did it and then we plunged ourselves into the danger zone of the Hard Rock Cafe London which had a late night table for 8, with 2 dozing off into their desserts. I still love those places, the vibe, the service, the food. I had an amazing salad which was very generous and came with fab dressings on the side for me to dip into cautiously. Everyone else shoveled down burgers and gross stuff.

I love London it just has an energy about it and I’ve never felt safer in the city than I do these days. It’s still looking pretty hot too since the Olympics refurbishment and all. Getting around on public transport is ridiculously expensive nowadays though and I found myself dreaming back to the days of family travelcards that cost less than a fiver for all day travel on buses and trains. The tourist Oyster card is the way to go if you’re visiting from outside London you can pre buy them here for contactless pre payment at reduced cost. If you visit often then a regular Oyster is a good idea.

Today we’re chilling out and just having some blended family time before Nicks kids have to go home. There is some frostiness of late between Nick and their mother and as often happens the younger kids are being caught up in it and being used as weapons and levers. The two eldest live independently now so they are unaffected and make their own minds up. Nick gave up on battling and now even though the kids see him as not caring he lets it happen their mum’s way to reduce the animosity. He tried telling them he let go because he cares ( a la Caucasian chalk circle) but it doesn’t always penetrate and sometimes he has to accept the dad who doesn’t do enough mantel which he hates to bear.

Before I came along they had a very relaxed arrangement where the kids would visit him if he was around whenever they wanted to and if their mum needed time off from them she would drop them round at his house. Of course Nick still has an arrangement with the kids whereby if they want him he’ll be there, he always makes time as a priority when he’s in London they enjoy coming to my house by the sea too. But she isn’t happy that he isn’t home much during the weekends and she has lost the ‘drop off when she wants to’ facility.

However he has said that he would always take them if she needed him to but for some reason she just doesn’t ask and she can’t be as spontaneous maybe with that arrangement as she was before when he was always just there. So now he has strict access times and limits which actually spite everyone including her but he’s given up fighting it, it was getting nasty and the kids were being affected. So even though he’s in London from Friday to Monday this weekend he is only allowed to see the youngest children from yesterday afternoon to this afternoon.  So they feel pushed out that he’s spending time with my kids and the elder two when really that is not his doing. It’s so messy sometimes and it doesn’t need to be. My kids are visiting their dad and some that side of their family tomorrow afternoon and are going to a christening which he invited us all to but I don’t know the people with the baby and so we decided to let them have their time and we’ll do something with nicks older kids. Such a shame the little ones miss out. Such is the strife at times of divorce, dating with kids and blended families.

I don’t think their mum is bothered about me, their marriage was well and truly done and dusted before I came along but I do think she resents him not being as accessible as he was. Truth is he is as accessible as he was but now he just needs some warning. I try to stay out of it I’ve seen too many families war over children and then the children are grown up and do what they like anyway. Mothers and fathers who have fiercely tried to restrict visitation and access or  control or deny access shattered when the children go off and have a relationship with their father or mother anyway when they are older, parents warring for years only for the kids to grow up and take the high ground and share their time and loyalties much better than the parents ever managed to do. Ex’s battling with new wives and husbands for years and ultimately ending up friends which they could have been all along. I’ve been very fortunate in that myself and my childrens’ father have never had issues over this kind of thing, we’ve always both done what was in the best interests of the kids and we’ve never argued or pulled them about or denied each other or them anything. Simply due to location I’ve had the lion’s share of the responsibility but he’s played his part and the kids are well adjusted and have always had a big part to play in directing their relationships with us themselves, something we both always felt was important.

I don’t know, I think maybe Nick was a kind of convenience to her at times rather than the father, but then the father should be a dependable other to pick up the role when the mother can’t. I don’t know, as I said I prefer to not get involved. When they are with us they are happy and when they are with him they are happy and the older ones like how it works. They don’t complain about having access to and sole use of the house in London when he’s not around so it suits them perfectly for him to be otherwise occupied.

He spent some time alone with the younger ones this afternoon while I took mine to visit a friend and is now dealing with the tears because they don’t want to go. So unfair when we really don’t want them to go either and even more infuriating when his eldest daughter told us that their mum is going out tonight so they are going to be with a babysitter anyway. I don’t like to say it’s spite but what else would you call it? And ultimately who is hurting? Nick is upset but he understands the game being played out, the kids don’t, they just feel like he doesn’t want them here. He tried calling and asking if she would reconsider but she refused point blank and ordered him to get them home on time. I suggested he refused and let her come and get them so that they don’t see him as the big bad wolf but he said that would be a hell for everyone to witness and I guess he was right. I feel for him stuck in this situation, he can’t win and he doesn’t want to win, he just wants to be the best absent father he can be and right now that’s not as easy as he would like it to be.

Anyway tonight we’re being treated to dinner cooked by the man himself and the girls (mine and his two) are going clubbing much later on, we’ll probably be heading to bed by the time they head out. My son is fully occupied with a new guitar he got today and I doubt we’ll see him for a while.  We would have had so much time for the younger ones to have some fun with this evening, it’s a real shame.

It’s strange when the kids get older and you plan time together and they scatter at the first opportunity, I guess we’re still together, we’re having a break and doing something different but with so many people, at different ages, with different interests and needs it has to be accepted that everyone sitting together in one room is a rare thing. Still, being in the same house is good and allowing them the choice to be with us or not is good too, if only they all had that choice. The day will come though, soon and I can see why he’s towing the line on this and not making too many waves. I just know it hurts him and I know he really struggles with this and often feels torn. The obvious answer is for us all to move to London and we will when the time is right, but when he suggested to her that’s what we would eventually do she said that nothing would change, the access arrangement she has put in place will stand regardless of where we live. Big sigh. We’ll see, time might bring a change of heart or he could go to court and get something made legal instead of this dictated arrangement.

I sometime have thought that our relationship is compromising his relationship with his children and wondered if that might make them resentful of him, me, the whole thing but he reassures me that he also has a right to be happy as an individual, besides their father, he has a right to be loved and have companionship and to be happy outside of that precious role he takes very seriously and he feels it is unfair and unkind of anyone to expect him to deny himself happiness. I guess he’s right.

Anyway enough rambling about the perils of broken families and dating divorcee parents, I think someone is going to need some seriously big hugs when he gets back and then the three girls are going to be calling out from a fog of hair spray and perfume for supplies and loans of this that and the other as they get ready to hit the West End.

It’s good to get away.

Inch Loss Body Wraps

So I spent an hour today with a lady trying to sell me inch loss body wraps for £46 a session. She told me how I could lose up to 7 inches from around my waist with just one wrap and showed me photos of people who had lost anything from 1 to 7 inches after a treatment.

I kept on telling her I didn’t believe such things made you lose inches let alone weight. She said they did.

I kept on telling her that I felt the coldness of the wrap and the cold shower to wash it off just caused constriction and it seemed like you’d lost some inches. She said that was not true.

I kept on telling her that if I had a wrap and lost an inch it would be back on by tonight. She said it wouldn’t.

I asked if she felt bad that she was trying to sell people something quite expensive which would not really have any long term effect on their body size or shape and definitely not on their weight. She said she didn’t because she wasn’t.

I asked her if I could buy 7 treatments there and then. She said I could.

I told her that as these wraps are GUARANTEED to make you lose an inch off your waist each time they are applied, that as it was 1pm now and I was buying 7 which I was going to apply every hour on the hour between now and 8pm that if I couldn’t get into a size 8 jeans by 8pm I would track her down and sue her. She said nothing.

The only way to trim inches off your waist that make any long term difference is to eat healthy food and exercise. Make no mistake, the only things these miracle cures will lose you is money.

I confess that I have massages and body wraps but they are to try to fend off skin saggage as I lose all of this weight and are more to moisturise and externally nourish my upper layers of skin while I let the food and water take care of the inner layers. I know that’s all they do they don’t make me lose weight or size but they make my skin look better and they make me feel relaxed.

My daughter made me laugh the other day when she rang me and said she’d been to a product marketing pamper party at a friend’s house and how they’d spent hours being wrapped, detoxed and treated and then half of them went outside for a fag then came back in and bought a ton of products because they really felt the benefits of being detoxed. Irony is not lost on her either.