Weight loss Update 149 pounds gone … I lost a whole person!

Almost there but still a road to travel yet and then begins the hard part, maintenance. But let’s not allow that thought to cast a shadow on the most recent achievements.

It’s very significant that I’ve passed the 140 pounds mark as it marks a few milestones for me.

1. Tracey, my visual inspiration from the beginning is now gone. I set a long term goal last April to lose a whole ten stone (140lb) by whenever. When I realised that this was a whole person I randomly chose an image from Google and divided her into twenty 7 pound pieces which I have picked off over the course of this past year. Sometimes it seemed a huge task to remove all of the pieces and others they seemed to be flying off. I always kind of thought that the last few would be the hardest and I was prepared for that challenge as it approached but in the event they shifted faster than any of the others. I believe this was down to a shift in the focus of my eating habits from a largely fruit and vegetable based diet to a carb free diet. I hadn’t realised how much sugar I had been tipping into my body with all of that what I thought was harmless nutritious fruit, the juices and smoothies.

Clearly the big loss in this past month must be attributed to that shift. I don’t expect to maintain such fast weight loss, I am impressed by it but aware that for my body it was a change, another kick start like you get at the beginning of most healthy eating approaches and I am sure it will settle to a normal, healthy loss rate of a pound or two a week which is always my aim. But I can’t detract from the fact that this approach has had significant impact on weight loss and also on my general sense of well being. It can be difficult to tell when something is affecting you positively when you feel so healthy, alert, active and happy anyway but I definitely have noticed that working out is a little easier and I have more stamina. What was a push for me and had been for a long time suddenly became more easy to achieve in my cross fit work outs and so we’ve stepped things up for the first time in a few months. I really thought I’d reached my peak but no, all of this protein and the reduction of sugar has meant that my peak has yet to come. I have also found that I don’t feel hungry other than in the morning when i wake up and often I’m cooking meals hoping I am hungry when they are ready and finding that as a result my portion size has decreased dramatically. I can now sit and eat a small pork chop or chicken breast with a side of green leaves and actually be full for the rest of the evening. That is a real first for me and something I never thought I would achieve. The emphasis on a big protein rich breakfast and a protein based lunch and dinner has really helped me to get that balance right and I’ve been heading that way for some time but just not with the right foods. I haven’t removed fruit from my diet and it is amazing how good an apple tastes now or a few grapes or an orange when it feels more like a treat. I feel the hit from the sugar too which is surprising. I did have some heartburn issues for a couple of weeks but they have now settled and I’d hoped it was just my body getting used to the changes and it must have been as I’ve not experienced it for a week or so  now.

So yeah Tracey kind of rushed out of the door with barely a goodbye in the end and it wasn’t the long lingering farewell I’d envisaged. Don’t get me wrong I’m so glad that happened but I’ll kind of miss having that visual goal and incentive. Although the poster will remain in my dining room to remind me, it’s time for the virtual blog Tracey to go. My visual incentive now is something I spotted on a blog post a long time ago and wanted to start doing then but decided to hold off until this point. I have two identical jars one with 30 glass pebbles in it and the other empty and each time I lose a pound one of the pebbles will be moved to the empty jar until the load has totally shifted. Then I will be an ideal weight for my height and finally a ‘normal’ person with regard to the dreaded BMI chart. I’ll be the top end of normal but that will do me, I’m not a dainty girl and I’m quite robust in terms of muscalature through all of the training I do so I’m never going to be a 120lb girl. 160-170 will do me fine and I’ll always allow myself a fluctuation within that with a high of 178 maximum.

So yeah onto achievement number 2.

2. I finally dropped below 200 pounds and currently sit at 198 with a total weight loss of 149 pounds in almost exactly one year.

3. I am no longer categorised at obese on the BMI chart, I am simply overweight as I may have mentioned in a previous post 😉

4. I was worried about this but I still have no sagging skin anywhere other than a bit of a loose sway when I wave… I’ve just started doing it like the queen though. No problem 😉 I’ve made a determined effort to try to avoid sagging skin and have blogged my various methods over the year but I do think it’s a combination of factors:

  • genetics and there’s not a lot we can do about those. I have a mother in her 80’s with barely a wrinkle and aunties the same
  • age – again there is nothing you can do about this but I do feel I’m the right side of 50 to still have some elasticity in me yet, not that I think after 50 all hope is gone because well cared for skin looks far better than neglected skin at any age
  • hydration – I drink tons of water and know that it helps keep my skin moisturised from within
  • steam rooms and mineral spas – I’m pretty sure keeping my pores unclogged and releasing those natural oils and complimenting them with mineral salts helps with general skin health. We have to remember our skin is an amazing organ, it needs treating well and that means nutritionally as well as rest and pampering. It doesn’t have to be expensive you can DIY at home easily
  • exercise – keeping my muscles toned underneath the skin helps keep everything where it’s supposed to be and improved circulation through a good cardio vascular system helps keep that skin supplied with oxygen
  • moisturising – I try to use natural oils and based creams on a daily basis of course the oil of the moment is coconut oil and I do use it and can’t say that it hasn’t been good for my skin
  • safe tanning – I don’t use fake tan products but do allow myself to sun soak (we do need Vit D) when I get a chance but I do so sensibly, using high factor protection from both UVA and UVB, moisturising well and staying out of the sun at its hottest points ie when it’s highest in the sky
  • nutrition – a healthy diet, high in organic produce with lots of vitamin C (look to vegetables for this such as spinach and kale rather than over dosing on sugary oranges). Doesn’t need to be expensive, you can grow both of these really easily in a container and if you can only afford to buy one organic produce in the supermarket make it one of these two
  • No smoking – stands to reason
  • Massage – a good massage to relax, moisturise and tone the skin never hurt anybody and they don’t have to cost either, most of your body you can reach yourself if you have nobody to do it for you and if you do have somebody to do it for you then go on a course together and save money on experts, although an expert now and then is a real treat
  • Sleep and rest – like any of your body’s organs skin renews and repairs when you’re asleep so get plenty

I’m going to blog more about the changes I’ve been through in my anniversary post, coming soon but for now let this suffice as the summing up of my reaching this milestone and what it has meant to me in terms of making me feel like a winner for once, making me feel like I’m in control for once, making me feel happier than I ever felt in my life and just making me a better person. It’s not all been about food and exercise, it’s been about so much more, about mental health and emotional issues which underpin my problems with food but whatever it’s been about it’s not done yet, there is still a road to tread and lessons to be learned and as I shrink I know there is growth to be had. I’m just glad to be here now as I am able to see a future with my children and not worrying about them putting me in a box in the ground sooner than they have to.

Life is good and I made it that way, nobody else could do it, it was up to me and am I proud of myself for getting this far? I am awesome and for the first time in my life I actually believe that I am and don’t say it with my tongue in my cheek. I am awesome and I’m going to become even more awesome.

Thank you for reading and for your support it has been priceless and if you don’t mind I’ll be needing it a little longer.

Getting the fat off and the freak on

I laughed when reading Tracy’s blog and her account of her increased interest in pleasures of the flesh since she lost weight. I was also proud of her and was nodding away as I read how she felt embarrassed to blog about it as I’ve wanted to mention the same thing myself and worried it could be TMI for my readers, so if you are of a delicate disposition you can stop reading now before I shock your pants off with my revelations… really it’s all sensitively handled and nothing is going to be smouldering away and melting your screen so don’t worry.

0b57de178cd984f2e0322f986a47645dI thought how we who are on this transitional path from obese to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) are going through so many changes and experiencing so many new things or re-experiencing things we’ve not felt or done for years and how we are excited to blog about many of them yet we rarely brave the topic of how we change as sexual beings. I know some people never lose their sexual being but I think it safe to say that many of us after weight loss or even when we are just feeling healthier and happier through lifestyle changes do notice an upswing in interest in carnal satisfaction.

I thought about it and decided to write about it as for some knowing that life after obesity can revive a flagging libido even in middle age could be something they’d like to happen which could spur them on to do something about their weight and health and I’m all about spurring people on to make that change.

I know for myself I was always a very sexual being and more so when I felt confident in my body and that could be because I was thinner or because I was with a guy who made me feel confident no matter my size but this last time I just felt my sexual self slip away, month by month and year by year until it became so long since I’d even thought about sex let alone had any action that I honestly don’t know how long it was, but it was a very long time. In my last relationship I could only have sex if I had had a few drinks and I knew that wasn’t right and so it ended.

I thought my disinterest over recent years was a satisfaction in being on my own (I’ve never really been bothered by singledom and feel it has its definite benefits), or that it was my age and my libido had gone when the grey hairs started to move in, or I had no body confidence (which was true in part) but Tracey’s post told me something I didn’t know, that when you are obese (as a woman) you produce and store more oestrogen (I knew that bit and the associated cancer risks) but that makes you produce less testosterone (male hormone) which is felt to be linked to libido, yes even in women. So as your weight goes down your hormones stabilise nearer normal and your libido would or should increase (of course there can be other factors at play so it’s not as simple as that but that will suffice for this post).

Nick and I had been young lovers and we’d had a very pleasant physical relationship which we both remembered well but years lay in between the last time we were intimate and our coming together as a couple again in mid-life. Lots of pounds in my case had also attached themselves to my body and I know that when I was with Nick as a young thing I was perhaps at my prime and it bothered me that I was far from it ‘now’. Even though Nick had seen the various transitions through the years as a dear friend it was still rather different when things stepped up from friends to lovers again. I was very unsure, I think the weight had dropped and the feelings were there sufficient enough for me to have the pangs but the confidence in my body was not there. I recall feeling very sad about it and at one point rejecting him as more than a friend because I just felt I couldn’t sleep with him and I knew that would have to happen sooner or later.

Eventually we talked, he realised there was something stopping us from moving on with our relationship and in the moment he created to make me feel safe and confident enough to admit my fears we agreed that we could have a relationship without that kind of intimacy, I didn’t need to rip my clothes off and jump on a pole for him… not right then anyway haha. Seriously we agreed that would happen in time if the time was ever right but he wouldn’t push the time. I guess I was already hooked into the relationship idea and I trusted him implicitly because I never felt that there was a rush or a hurry or he was waiting or getting frustrated. We slept in the same bed and kissed but nothing beyond and it wasn’t difficult or awkward at all.

Eventually things happened naturally and although I was perhaps more confident given that by then I’d lost a lot more weight I do believe that Nick’s attitude helped, he helped to make me feel beautiful and confident about myself no matter what size I was. He also confided in me that he worried that he wasn’t exactly the young guy I’d known all of those years ago either and he’d worried if he would be expected to or be able to live up to my memory of him as a hormone raging, fit young guy. So we all have our insecurities and he helped me see that with his confession although it did come later down the line.

I told him that those things had never crossed my mind,  I just saw in him the same guy I’d seen then, interesting, funny, sweet, loving, caring, intelligent, slightly quirky and beautiful and he said that’s what he saw in me yet I wouldn’t believe it even when I thought the same. I don’t think all overweight people it easy to believe though, that someone can love you and find you attractive just as you are, I think it takes a very special someone to help you really believe that because we often don’t believe it ourselves and I envy those people who can just believe it and don’t need reassurance and I’m slowly becoming one of them but it takes a lot of unravelling of strangling ties of history, but I’m working on it and I am there when it comes to feeling super body confident and sexy with Nick.

You know, I should say here that we’ve talked about it and it’s kind of strange but when we were both married to other people and were friends for all those years it’s like a switch flicked and we didn’t harbour feelings for one another, we kind of turned off the intimate memories and we were just two people who were in a group of friends who hung out and had fun as couples and with the kids. Even when we were both single it took a while for us to reach a point where that switch flicked back again and a conversation which led us to finally understand what had gone wrong between us (we were kids, third party involvement, gossip, rumours and stubborness.. on his part which he’d never given me a chance to explain and I’d grown tired of trying) it was only after that conversation about why we had not stayed together that we both started to wonder what if we could try again now, it was like only then that we allowed ourselves to remember how much we’d enjoyed our time together until the misunderstanding burst our bubble. I guess we’d both kind of accepted that we were not meant to be but we still got along as friends eventually. I guess sometimes for some people being out of bounds kind of closes your mind and heart… thankfully.

The rest is history with us anyway and things are going well in that area of our lives and I am in the first flushes of my newly sexually liberated self to the point that Nick (who is half West African) jokes about using ancient African tribal foods meant to sustain a chief to keep him fit enough to service 6 wives and he wouldn’t thank me for this but he has been known to do a tribal virility dance and perform incantations to see him through one of our weekends away haha. I think it’s just a joke but who knows? He also reads up a lot on men’s blogs about health and fitness and spiritual well being to keep him … shall we say lively. So he has his own insecurities about these things that he really doesn’t need to have but in a strange way knowing I’m not the only one really does help me, seeing that sometimes we all worry that we’re not up to scratch just keeps things real for me and makes me see that none of us think we are perfect and I wouldn’t want someone who thought he was either. We all have things to learn and improvements to make and at our age the odd scar or two mental or physical.

I know some people who have lost a lot of weight who have had wonderfully supportive partners who have positively ravaged the life out of them as they’ve become more confident and sexy with it (I do think sexy has a lot more to do with confidence than size and I do think that just feeling healthier even without weight loss can help that confidence) but I also know people who have had partners who fear the changes, who liked having little demand on their own fitness and libido so they didn’t have to perform, who feel it threatening to suddenly have a confident sexy lady or man on their hands. I’ve seen people get jealous to the point that a relationship has broken down when one of the partners has made a lifestyle change which should have been for the better for everyone but instead was too threatening. Of course if you’ve slaved away losing tons of weight and getting in shape and feel amazing and you have a partner sitting in a recliner in front of the TV with a bucket of KFC who hasn’t even complimented you or encouraged you and who doesn’t even notice you still then you do notice when you turn other heads and attention can be difficult to ignore for the most loyal of people.

Losing weight and the way it makes you feel about yourself can impact hugely on your intimate relationships for better or worse. It’s an important subject when we share our weight loss journeys because we need to be aware of those shifts and changes and none of us want to emerge at the end of it, slim, healthy and with a divorce and custody battle on our hands. We’ve all heard stories about the lady who slimmed down then left her husband and ran off with a newer version and likewise men who have done the same, I’ve heard people who think that was the intent, that’s what made the person lose weight and for some that may be true but in the main I don’t think so, I think unforeseen changes occur within the dynamic of the relationship because of the weight loss or lifestyle change and often they can be related to sex, sexiness and intimacy.

It’s something we do need to consider, weight loss does change us in more ways than we realise and it changes those around us too and how they perceive us and not everyone will be happy to see us becoming thinner, healthier, sexier and more confident.

I’ve been there before, this time was different as I started my journey and was already building confidence when Nick and I got together and we were honest and open about our feelings on this almost from the beginning. Nick knew that he had to be supportive of this and embrace the change to help me but also to ensure our relationship developed and I don’t think he did that in a contrived way, he did it because he was in love with me and he wanted to be with me and that meant he wanted me to be happier and more confident and he knew he had a role to play in that. It was all fresh and exciting, we didn’t have a stale relationship to revive but we did have a new one to begin and I guess with honesty and communication stumbling blocks and divorce courts can be avoided as can rejection of a new chance at love because you don’t feel worthy.

I know people who have given up with their weight loss programme because it was causing too much friction at home, too many accusations when more care was taken with appearance, hair, make up, clothes and a new interest in fashion or a new hobby crept in. Some partners can see that as a sign that you are playing away or looking to be attractive to others when really all it is is a manifestation of your general sense of increased happiness and well being, your optimism and confidence and all of the knock on effects of your lifestyle changes, nothing more and nothing less. Often the person you want to look at you and notice and find you attractive and tell you you’re beautiful and sexy is the one who thinks you are looking for it somewhere else but they are too blinkered to see it.

We all deserve to be happy and we all deserve to have a healthy loving fun sex life if we are able and if we want one, it’s all part of living a normal life no matter how old you are or what stage of a relationship you’re in. Nick and I are both at a period in our lives where we have freedom, our children are all but grown up, we have financial freedom, we are both living healthy, we exercise together and if ever you were looking for an aphrodisiac exercising together is it. We feel that our love and contentment with life now is making us feel rejuvenated and alive inside, even more young and alive than we were when we were young because we don’t have the angst we had then. We’ve done it all, we’ve raised kids, developed businesses bought houses, grown and learned and now it’s our time to enjoy and a big part of that enjoyment is enjoying just honestly loving each other and being able to express that in every way we can.

It doesn’t matter that he has to eat the Kola nut and do a bit of a virility dance and offer up liquor and incantations to his ancestors for confidence and durability and I sometimes dash to the bathroom to haul myself out of a pair of spanx and throw on some sexy lingerie, dimming the lights so he can’t see the seam marks on my skin and sucking in my tummy and raiseg my hands above my head sexily so my boobs don’t end up in my arm pits. It’s all part of life and love and everything. Enjoy the changes losing weight brings they help keep you going. Be ready for them and keep communicating with your partner, don’t let such an amazing thing as getting healthy, slimmer and more confident destroy your marriage if you can help it.

Eat To Live Forever

I’m just watching a programme called just what this blog post is entitled and it’s one of a BBC made series of programmes looking at ‘extreme’ diets for health and longevity.

Tonight’s episode looks among others at a keto or low carb diet and the guy presenting it and investigating it is concerned about being thin on the outside and fat on the inside as he reveals many actually are these days with high carb, low fat, low protein and dairy diets.

It’s available on BBC iplayer and I don’t know if that’s available globally but I’ll include a link anyway below so you can try to check it out if you’re interested. This week’s episode may not be on iplayer yet but will be later tonight or  tomorrow and I missed the first episode so am not sure what it even looked at nor what the next episode is going to be about but I will be sure to catch up and blog about anything I find outstanding. Take a look if this kind of thing interests you, the slaughter and butchering of lifestock in a suburban garden and the immediate eating of some of the meat and organs while still warm might be a step too far for me but it is interesting to see how far people take this and why.

I think we have to educate ourselves about food because our governments don’t seem to do that honest a job.

Here’s the link to Eat to Live Forever on BBC iplayer

Is Your Personality Making You Fat?

Thought I’d share this recent Swiss study as food for thought (sorry).

If you click this link it will take you to a page where you can download the full report for free or you can read an abridged version on Metro here. Check out the Metro page for other weight/health related stories too.

I’m an introvert and not neurotic although since embarking on this voyage to self discovery I think I may well have been/be… I don’t know. Just another take on the whole “why me?” thing that we all ask ourselves.

I might have to read the whole study before I make my mind up about what it all means and it’s printing as I speak and will be added to the bedtime reading pile.

I only went and did it!

I really want to find time to blog about this properly as there is so much to say and my inability to keep a secret is going to reveal other things which I want to blog separately about but I just can’t keep it in.

I’m finally OVERWEIGHT!!! Just overweight not obese or morbidly obese or super morbidly obese as I was this time last year but just pure and simple overweight. Just overweight. Isn’t that wonderful?

Before anyone tells me it is not good to be overweight, I know I know but it is a whole lot better than being super morbidly obese so cut me slack and keep your opinion to yourself, I’m trying here. I’m not settling for overweight, normal is my goal but right now I am feeling positively skinny, I swear I have protruding bones (if I lie down and suck in).

This also lets a couple of cats out of the bag in that I’ve clearly passed another huge miles stone and shrunk below 200 pounds for the first time in a long time and I’ve lost so many pounds over a hundred now that I’ve stopped counting and Tracey my ten stone initial target is done although I’ve yet to update her.

This also shows that I’ve experienced a huge weight loss in a month following a zero carb diet and a huge weigbtloss after I’d already lost over a hundred pounds was something I wasn’t expecting at all and I have been loving my meals beyond expression.

A proper update or two will come as soon as I have time but my life is hectic right now putting the house back in order family and with work and prep for Easter that I don’t have time to give it what it deserves but it needed a tiny shout out from the roof tops. All that and my teen son has really got into girls so I’ve had reiterative sensitive talks aplenty going on too. My motherhood duties are far from over although we do find we are ushered out of the house more and more these days, encouraged to go to the cinema and to eat and for walks. I must blog about all that as it’s all new to me and to Nick as we’ve both had teen daughters but the sons are lagging behind. So we’re probably getting it so wrong.

We’ve taken up yoga too so anyone with tips or advice please comment And please DO link me to your blog posts in comments I am not averse to that I find it really helpful. I’ll blog about yoga too but we’re loving it so far. We are looking to find a couples yoga retreat somewhere nice and hot and sunny if anyone has any recommendations I’d be grateful. I’m sure these places exist in reality and not just in Meet the Fockers.

Happy days and after a very late night where we dined out on delicious lobster and frolicked in the rain on the beach like teenagers and came home to find ourselves positioning and repositioning lovely things in our new kitchen and dining room like newly weds in our first home it is definitely time for some sleep if Nick can tear himself away from restocking cupboards with tableware and polishing glasses.

Spring has sprung chez nous our new beginning has begun. I’m feeling twenty years younger than I did last year it’s amazing. If you’re wanting to lose some weight or beat an addiction or kick a habit or to just take back control of your life and make yourself happier, know you can do it, just take a tiny step today and another tomorrow and another the next day and you know what? Magic starts to happen. It does.

Spring refurb – Using your home to help you reach your goals

Around this time last year there were stirrings inside of me telling me that it was time for change and again this year I am having those stirrings.

Either post Christmas, new beginning, resolutions and all of that new year resolve to change something just takes a while to really kick in with me or my stirrings are more related to the new birth, new growth spring time vibe that is going on around now. Something tells me that it’s a mix of the two. I am a bit of a procrastinator and so the resolve I have at the cusp between new and old years does kind of sit in the back of my mind nagging away for a little while longer than it should. Thankfully then the spring time appears and kind of gives it a boost and gets it actually moving for real.

I’m considering myself pretty lucky to live here and to have that spring time come at a nice steady pace behind the new year so that the ideas I had for change on January 1st are not too dead and buried by mid to end of March and are still showing some signs of life even if it is weak and they are barely hanging in there. If I lived in the Southern hemisphere I’d never do anything.

I recall last New Year’s thinking that 2014, would be the year when I would finally conquer my weight demon and re-find myself under the obesity and reinvent my middle aged self, find the woman who was going to take me into old age and be sure she would be someone I liked and felt happy being. I recall feeling slightly down hearted that I couldn’t quite get the mental concept into a physical reality by the end of February and into March. But I also remember how by the middle of March I was making determined moves towards digging that New Year concept out again and with the advent of spring that desire to be a new woman really gathered pace. Fresh life was breathed into it as the daylight hours extended and the hours spent glued to a radiator lessened. The rest is now part of my history as I continue to win the battle to be someone I like more and am happier being. So many things have happened since last spring and I’ll probably pay tribute to them all in my anniversary post next month but this year I am delighted that I am still looking for something to improve and that my post Christmas ideas are once again now coming to life as spring comes busting out all over.

I remember feeling a little fed up with my home decor around Christmas time. I started to realise that I’d allowed my home to reflect myself, I noticed that my walls were pretty blandly painted a wishy washy non colour… neutral but with nothing to really break it up. I’d lost interest in art, ornament, decoration and everything was very serviceable. The only real places where comfort came into it were my lounge and bedroom where there were dark, luxury colours of black, purple, red, satins, furs and velvet textures which reflected my desire to relax, to retreat to hole up and be cosy and comfy and gave me places to hide and do nothing in… they reflected my lazy, withdrawn, glutton self and were my lairs where it was OK to lie down and indulge myself and cut myself off from reality.

I remembered that I love flowers and yet weekly fresh flowers all over the house was now a hit and miss thing, not something I made an effort with to give me a mental boost every day, I used to have coordinated towels in the bathrooms, it would bother me if they were not,  now I didn’t care that the blue towels were in the green bathroom and the pink ones were in use by a male. I realised there were windows in my home which had not been opened for over a year at least, some never and pulling back some curtains for the first time in perhaps two years in one room revealed an array of deceased creatures and specks of mould on the window frame, the glass dull with the stain of what I could only assume was condensation. Oh dear, I’d not been housewife of the century but worse than that I just didn’t care and yet I spend so much time in my home, I work here now and I know my environment affects me and so it is up to me to effect my environment to make sure it effects me positively.

OK so during the  year I’ve done a lot of work in the garden and had some home decor go on, I’ve made a nod to clearing out the old and refreshing the place, kind of in sympathy with my new approach to life. Most noticeable was my hall, stairs and landing where mirrors became a big feature and light was allowed to flood in and I was forced to look at myself where formerly I’d more or less banished  mirrors from the house. I’ve done some tidying up and clearing out but really I noticed at Christmas time I’m still living in a bit of a drab, boring blank canvass and that really doesn’t reflect me now,  perhaps it did reflect who I was at this time last year and it was definitely in parts representative of my transitioning self but my home was not representative of my  new self at all. There was no colour, no vibrancy no hope or happiness.

I know it might sound crazy to some people that their home decor can reflect those things, especially hope, how do you make your home reflect hope? I kind of feel that hope is the most important emotion, to believe that something better is possible, to believe that something better is probable, that it is attainable that something different is around the corner, something new, that there is learning to be done, experience to be had, love, life, laughter all waiting somewhere ahead for you. That all kind of describes how I see hope and it is one of those blessed qualities which just keeps me going forward each day. It makes life worth waking up for, it makes problems surmountable, it makes me feel satisfied by my achievements and ready to look for more still to accomplish, it inspires and motivates me and hope really does keep me happy. I want my home to reflect hope and happiness because I’m filled with those two emotions much of the time if not all of the time and in the moments I forget I want my home to shout in my face “Hey Mich remember hope and happiness? They’re still around”. When I think of hope in terms of making it tangible two key things spring immediately to mind… a palette of fresh colours and light.

I didn’t want my home to be a blank canvass any longer, it was ready to be written on and so began the mammoth task of redecorating the whole place and rethinking use of rooms, positioning of furniture and walls and doors and windows, the whole place is being remodeled and I’m buzzing with excitement. Ideas were flowing like you would not believe and inspiration was coming at me from all angles and the overwhelming feeling coming back at me from the mood boards for each space was happiness, peace, hope, light, love. Bright whites, clean lines, natural fabrics and woods, vibrant pastels, reduced window dressings allowing so much natural light through, hand crafted decorative items, our own art on the walls, coordination and a natural consistent flow from one space to another. Clean and fresh, that’s the feel and it’s how I want to feel inside. It’s how I want us all to feel, it’s how I want everyone who comes here to feel.

So, every room is being attacked  I want the whole place to reflect the new me. What has been really really refreshing is that I thought I might come up against some resistance from the son who might not really fancy his areas being pasteled out but to my surprise he has contributed to the think tank and has supported my choice of colours, going for delicious more masculine shades of greens and blues accenting pure white in his rooms and agrees that letting lots of light in is the way to go. It mattered to me that my theme flowed through the whole house, I didn’t want to wake up in love and hope and walk into happiness and then have to cook breakfast in dull misery and eat it in morbid gloom.

I love that Nick is really excited about the changes too and am happy that my ideas are not too girly soft but appeal to both sexes and are just what we all need. I also got to thinking how we as women often dictate the way our homes are decorated and how our mood or head space can therefore affect everyone in our home and I felt a little regretful that the decor has maybe affected everyone else in the house over the past few years. But in some sense that has helped them get on board with the remodelling as they are all ready to get rid of drab too. I’m not going to feel bad about it for too long, I beat myself up too much about what effect my misery and obesity had on those around me, I prefer to slap myself on the wrist and forgive myself as readily as they have forgiven me. So, looking forward I’m glad that from now on we’ll all be bathing in an aura of positivity when we are at home. I see it impacting on everyone’s mood already and know it will make everyone feel happier when it is complete. I even think it will make us all more productive and I’m going to watch my son’s school performance and just see if there is an upswing in his attitude and attainment.

A few walls are coming down which is a bit messy but that will open up areas for more communal living and I think I’ve been too happy for too long with the smaller room, boxed off type of feel of our  house which is very English but which can be quite lonely and segregational too, although it does offer privacy of course which can’t be underestimated. I think choosing this home with lots of individual smallish rooms was subliminally satisfying my need to be alone, away, apart from others, it was the perfect place to hide in, so nobody would notice what I was going through, even those who shared the home with me. So we’re opening it up because I don’t want to hide any more!

The kitchen diner is being knocked through into the formal dining room and creating a huge open bright big space for cooking and eating and entertaining which is more useable for us as a family and good for socialising. I’m ready to start throwing dinner parties and having gangs of friends around again now and that’s a real huge step towards how I used to live before obesity and mid life crisis really took its toll and something I really wanted to regain. It also will provide me with an amazing space for home tuition and instructional classes around a huge table and even for groups of friends to come around and do a fun exercise class with if we push furniture to the sides. I want that area to be the heart of our home again. I have another area for daily exercise too but I really want this big space to be multi purpose and for social events and the other space to be more private. I’ve worked on designing the lighting so that when I want to entertain more formally or dine more formally the kitchen can be lit away and focus will be on the dining table, making it more intimate and then again when it is a social communal place the lighting will open the whole space up and invite movement around the kitchen and into the dining area and empty spaces to stand drink in hand having a good chatter.

My son’s den and the lounge are remaining separate but are having total revamps with an additional window being added to the lounge and it being opened up with the hall wall being taken away, creating more light and space and losing the corridor feel of the narrower parts of the hall. The staircase is being stripped and losing its solid sides and having those replace with modern spindles and frosted glass to again let light through and create space and that will now be a feature of the lounge instead of being away in its own area. The lounge and den will gain some space from the former office and studio and the den gains extra space on the other side from the former dining room and so it will have two new features, it’s own direct porched access from the drive and it’s own wet room so that when sleepovers are in progress especially after muddy football or sweaty tennis the lads can take a shower and have somewhere to change without having to parade through family spaces. We’ve also factored into the design a cute kitchenette area where he can have a drinks fridge and make pop corn and snacks and do his own washing up. He is loving the idea of having a kind of studio apartment space of his own with pull out and throw down beds and somewhere he can play his instruments and his console games and do his homework and  just hang out with his friends. He has chosen a selection of plug and go snack making tools, including a toaster/grill and a pop corn machine.

My office and studio have moved into one upstairs space (another reason why there is space for expansion of the lounge and den) we took out one of the bathrooms and one of the bedrooms which gave us more useable space and less unused space. It’s been re-glazed with big picture windows on two sides, a south facing and a west facing wall so there is almost round the clock natural light. On a clear night even the moon manages to cast a fair glow into the space, it’s magical. The rest of upstairs is all base painted crisp white walls with stripped, white washed floor boards with different accent colors in each bedroom and bathroom and of course the follow through of the new bannisters from the stairs letting more light into the whole area in general.  So my kids still have their own bedrooms (even though the daughter’s is now all but empty of her personal affects) and my son will spend most of his life in his den but that gives us space for Nick’s kids to stay over comfortably and we still have plenty of space if ever we get everyone together.

It’s been a big clear out time, that was already more or less a fait accompli as there has been a gradual clearing away of clutter as my mind cleared but it’s well and truly over now. We’ve salvaged lots for recycling. Fabrics have been laundered and cut up into useable craft stash pieces, zips and buttons have been picked out and added to the stash too, stuffings, feathers and cushion pads have been laundered and vacuum packed ready to refill new soft furnishings, wooden pieces of furniture, mirrors and picture frames suitable for upcycling with a  bit of paint and some imagination have been set aside for stripping and remodeling and tons of stuff has been donated to charity and those who might make use of it. I even salvaged the carpets we pulled up and have stashed them in the garage ready to use to line some more raised vegetable beds we have planned to build. Old carpet is a great insulator (just staple gun or tack it on to the inside of wooden beds) and it also helps prevent weeds encroaching from around the bed. We’ve had two skylights added to the loft and had a cute space saving spiral stair case fitted which leads from my studio so that we can use the space as storage for larger furniture items and bulky materials. The spiral stair case was bought second hand and was a real bargain. It was black iron but it has been repainted white with the stair treads stripped and stained different pastel shades and sealed. It used to live in a wine bar and we got it for thirty pounds complete with hand rails. We’ve also put the gym equipment up there and created a cool work out space for us all to use although my son still has a weight bench, punch bag and treadmill in his den too.

In terms of project management, we top downed the approach so the loft was done first so that we had storage space for things we wanted to keep from the beginning of the project and then we completed the studio and fitted it out with temporary beds before everything was moved from downstairs so that we could sleep in there while the bedrooms were being redecorated and refurbished and we used the existing ground floor wet room while the bathrooms were having a coat of paint and some fresh tiling. Then once the bedrooms and first floor bathrooms were ready work began on the ground floor which is where the majority of the work is taking place. This has ensured that we have somewhere to sleep, relax, work and bathe while the ground floor is being remodelled. We’ve managed to temporarily plumb the washing machine and dryer into what we call ‘the gardening wet room’ on the ground floor so we can still do essential laundry and we have been managing to eat lots of grilled meat using a big George Foreman and lots of fresh leaves from the garden which we are keeping crisp in a fridge in the loft for the time being. That’s where we expel our cooking fumes too and so far it’s working well.

Breakfast is something we did struggle with at first, nobody feels like ascending to the loft first thing to cook eggs and bacon and so we’ve been treating ourselves with breakfast out each morning at a local hotel where we fill up on scrambled or boiled eggs, bacon, sausages and or ham and as much tea as we can drink at 6.30am for £7 a head with my son eating free as he’s still classed as a child and then my son heads to school and we enjoy the luxury of  sitting in armchairs for a while and read the papers before we go and take our exercise and start the day proper. It’s a lovely treat and gives us some respite from the rubble and dust and noise at home and just starts our day off well and helps us cope with the rest of it. If you are having invasive work done at home and you can afford a little treat like this it is well worth it even every other day, it just makes the whole experience feel easier. Being confined to the first floor and loft is suprisingly stressful when really it ought not to be as we do have everything we could need. I think it is that feeling of having your movement restricted that just gets the better of anyone in the end. I perhaps suffer more as I tend to stay up there most of the day whereas Nick is more hands on with the supervising of the project and answering questions and he’s also been offering an extra pair of hands, something I have no desire to do, I stick to making food and drinks and keeping my businesses ticking over. Nick has also managed to escape to work a couple of times which has been good for him. I do have some respite in that the garden is taking up a bit of time lately as the seasons change and so I do get out there and do a bit of prep when being indoors gets too much. I don’t perform well in chaos, some people love it, I don’t.

We managed to keep costs pretty low too as we have not replaced bathrooms, we have repositioned one essentially by recycling the fittings from the first floor ensuite that we took out and putting those back into the den wet room and upstairs most of the work was a simple refurb of the bedrooms and landing with no major structural work happening other than at the back end of the level where the studio/office is and the changes to the loft were made. We bought second hand windows and we floored the loft with recycled floor boards from a wood yard. Keeping that major work at the back end of the house and getting it done first meant that it was very unobtrusive to our lives and more or less happened without any real impact on us. It also meant that my work was not interrupted which was important. I lost one day of work while we were moving everything from the ground floor to the first floor and loft but that was all and we managed to do that on a weekend. As I said that approach also meant that we had a huge useable loft space for storage of items that the rest of the refurb displaced which meant we could sort, strip and store very easily with little mess. That allowed us to save money in that items we wouldn’t have had anywhere to store and would have been tempted to get rid of were able to go up there and be worked on as upcycling projects.

We still have protective coverings on the landings which I will be glad to see the back of and we have a membrane across the stair well to prevent dust from coming up to the completed levels which is working well but means movement around the house is a pain at the moment as we need to get help to get through that membrane and reposition it when we need to go to the ground floor which we try not to do unless totally necessary.

With me having been unwell recently the dust and fumes have not helped with that but open windows and not too bad temperatures have eased it a bit and my bedroom was completed which meant I was able to relax through most of it and I also still had a lounge at the time thankfully.

We are with power and water and heat when we need to be and the builders have been tremendous when it comes to meeting our needs and keeping us informed, we’re very lucky to have a great bunch of guys working on this who my daughter had recommended from a business owner guy she knows who uses this team to refit his shops and bars. They are very quick and efficient and hard working and at times I hate having to ask them to call it a day as I know they are used to working through the night and just getting jobs done fast due to the nature of their usual work but I do have to consider neighbours and also the fact that my son needs to sleep and also think about the days when Nick has a long drive next day so sleep has to be protected. We’re not far off finished with structural work now and things are taking shape though, I’m sure we would be well onto decorating by now if I’d let them work to the time scale they would have preferred. At least when it comes to non noisy finishing and decorating they have my blessing to work until they finish, through the nights if they wish. Their attention to detail and the quality of finishing is excellent and you can just tell they are used to having their work heavily scrutinised. The gang consists of essential registered trades and multi-trades so you get a lot of bang for your buck from them. They are loving the protein heavy lunches I’m providing too and are not used to organic rib eye with a home grown organic green salad for lunch from most of their clients so I’m confident they are being fed well and all of that low carb organic protein energy is really doing them good. I know my butcher has a couple of new clients.

The ground floor is total chaos at the moment but although I sound like I’m hating it,  I have really never been happier to live in chaos in my life. If anything I’m frustrated because I just want it all done now. The upstairs is beautiful and I’m enjoying adding the finishing touches gradually and finding time to work on some pieces for downstairs.. I’ve bought some beautiful fabrics and am really loving creating things with them. I can’t wait to see my new kitchen and entertaining space, I’m desperate to throw a big party and have not felt like doing that in too long. My daughter was here last week for two days and she did some beautiful art work which is at the framers now and I can’t wait to see on the walls.

It is amazing how much of ourselves we can see in our homes and how much our homes reflect us and our moods and our outlook on life without us really knowing that they do. I really think that I needed this huge upheaval now, the time is right for me to wave out the old me, she’s almost gone now, I’m so close to my first big target, a target I never truly believed I could reach, I’m just not the woman who bought this house or who decorated it or furnished it and the new me, combined with the welcome return of familiar elements of the old me is making herself known now, she is able to do so demonstratively by throwing her arms open to the world, opening up her blinds and windows and doors and saying welcome, come in, enjoy and feel the wonderful energy of my new home, of the new me, full of hope and happiness and light… step right in and let it wash over you, it’s so good it simply has to be shared.

I’m a lucky lady, lucky to be alive, lucky to have this life and lucky to have the support of so many amazing people who influence and inspire me daily through the sharing of their own hope, love and light, I love to step into the virtual homes of my blogging community buddies and hope that mine will always be a place where you feel welcome understood and inspired too.

This new environment for the new me is really going to help me to keep on my journey not just to one of my many goals but to the main goal which is to never ever rely on food to mask unhappiness ever again, to deal with my issues openly and honestly and not hide anymore behind anything. I’m feeling like a bright happy hopeful woman and I want my home to be one of the things which reminds me of who I am and of the wonderful life that is there waiting for me to make the most of. I need this and I realise again that my house isn’t just somewhere I eat, wash and sleep, it is far more than that.

Crash and Burn – Low Carb Pros and Cons

It was perhaps inevitable that I would fall ill at some point. I’ve had a relatively healthy year in terms of bugs and things and am constitutionally quite sound in that I’ve never been a real sick;y person. I put this down to not taking medication unless I’m close to death. As a child we were not the kind to be rushed to the doctor as soon as we sniffled, rather we’d be left in bed, tucked up warm with comfort food and drinks and left to fight off whatever had taken over us and in the main it worked. Only now and then one of us needed a doctor and some medicine. Our parents believed they were building our immunity.

As an adult I’ve done the same with my children and they’ve been quite the same, very resilient and bounce back fast from viral infections. I like to think I’m helping them to build their immunity too and that I’ve passed on some of mine.

When I’m run down, over doing things, not sleeping enough or not eating right  I know I’m risking picking something up, especially at seasonal transitions when bugs seem to make a last attempt to invade every human possible before the heat or cold kills them off for another half a year or when the new seasons bugs spring to life. So as we move from winter to spring very definitely in the UK with increased temperatures and lighter mornings and evenings it was rather silly of me to be working more hours than there are in a day and keeping up with my routines and regimes as well as being ma to my kids and friend to my friends and queen to my king (urgh can’t believe I just said that mushy garbage but hey ho it’s done now). The only thing I’ve kept normal is my eating habits.

In short, I’m sick and I’ve never had anything like it. I’m not going to blame it on the new eating plan as I know it’s a virus but I have a real chesty cough and coughing is not something I’m used to at all. It’s so bad that it’s made me vomit a couple of times in the night which is then obviously disrupting my sleep and so it all bundles up to create a very sorry state of me, sitting blanket wrapped, soft full length pjs, warm socks and slippers with a messy bun, glasses perched on the end of my nose, reclined in the lounge in front of the telly with a frequent green tea refil infused with ginger and turmeric roots and mint leaves. A hot water bottle on my back is doing the trick in terms of keeping my yucky chest gunk nice and loose and bringupable and I’m feeling very sorry for myself. Sorry if that’s TMI but be thankful I’ve not gone into detail about how I’ve found through all of the coughing that even though I’ve never given birth, weakened pelvic floor muscles may just be a middle aged ladies thing and totally unrelated to child birth.

Anyway, I’ve managed to get my hands on my lap top but only after I swore not to use it for work and I am under strict instruction to be better for Mother’s Day on Sunday. Don’t panic anyone reading this outside of the UK, I’m talking about mother’s day here not wherever you are.

I thought I’d take this chance to write about my progress with my new eating plan, the low to zero carb approach but to be honest I don’t have much new to write about. I’ve written quite lengthy accounts of the kids’ progress and Nick and I have noticed the same positives as they have, feeling full for longer which has led to a reduction in portion size which for me is a real plus point. I’m a glutton so reducing portions was something that has been happening very slowly but surely over the past 11 months but was something I knew I’d have to work more on at this end stage of  my journey. I’d dreaded having to cope with more control over the amount I eat but this seems to be taking care of that for me which is a miracle in itself.

I am definitely losing weight and inches but I’ll update on that at the end of the first thirty days.

Before getting ill I also had noticed that I was sleeping better and feeling more energetic so it’s all good and I’ve already said that the tastiness of this organic meat and veg is fabulous, I feel like I’m having a treat every day.

I have noticed no change in terms of IBS which was something I suffered from for years until a few days into my healthy lifestyle changes last year. So it hasn’t returned. BUT acid reflux has returned. I’ve been eating virtually no fat at all, besides what is in dairy and splashes of olive oil in cooking or salad dressings and that’s kind of the same except for now of course I eat the fat on my steak and chops and I eat sausage and minced beef and bacon complete with fat and rind. I think I might have to experiment a little and eat less of the fat and see what happens but I have definitely over the past week noticed that I’m experiencing some acid indigestion or heart burn or whatever you want to call it and it’s not a welcome return.

But as I always say, this is all about trial and error and so I’ll find a way to continue with the plan but not get heart burn. It’s not so bad but having suffered with it for years and not having had it for months it feels uncomfortable but what I’m going to do is press on for another week and see if it settles, if it doesn’t then I’m going to reduce the fat I eat from meat and not have dairy in my evening meal if I can help it,

Another thing I’ve noticed and Nick can also attest to this is that we have a lot of wind, it seems to be subsiding now but for the first few days we were positively embarrassing with the amount we were expelling. I’m hoping that it’s going to eventually level out and am feeling so fortunate right now to be working for myself so that i don’t have to explain why I’m surrounded by air fresheners to anyone.

I also noticed that I have terrible breath in the morning but again that seems to have settled now and I worried that I was just getting accustomed to it but I’ve tested it out on Nick and my son and they agree that it’s improved from the rancid stench it was before. Strange thing is nobody else has had the breath thing and only myself and Nick have the gas issue, the kids don’t. Maybe it’s our aged alimentary canals struggling with the changes which the younger bodied are adapting to far more quickly.

All in all I’d say I’m actually enjoying my food a lot more right now and definitely feeling fuller for longer and loving that I don’t even want to snack and as I said really enjoying the reduction in portion size which has come along naturally.

It get’s a thumbs up thus far, especially for tastiness, my gosh, some of these meats and vegetables, even though they are cooked in very basic ways are explosions of flavour. How much we’ve lost out on to the supermarket and mass production ways of rearing our food, it’s sad to think of it.