Walking with Children

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

Image credit
Image credit

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

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

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

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

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

A baby at 48?

It’s not happened. Phew! Really strange goings on at the moment, both of my kids, who promise they are not in collaboration have separately asked if it’s too late for me to have another baby now and both have said how much they would love to have a little baby around.

Negative-Pregnancy-TestsMy response was that they don’t have long to wait before they can have one of those all for themselves and I will happily, happily play grandma of the century with spoiling, doting, sleep overs, baby sitting, early retirement … the works but the chance of me producing a child now is non-existent.

What has possessed them? Nick hasn’t influenced them, in fact when each of them mentioned it he was with me and near choked at the subject of the conversation.

Strange thing is, lately I have been feeling very broody… secretly. I’d not told anyone until this subject came up. I put it down to being a normal chemical reaction type thing when you are happy, in love, settled in the most stable relationship of your life, with a ready made nest and assurance of financial stability or perhaps a side effect of  feeling healthy, younger, rejuvenated and fit, perhaps a combination of both. Then again I wondered if it was just me being at an age where many of my friends are having grandchildren presented to them and I’m nowhere near that stage and it’s brooding for a grandchild that has gripped me and I’ve mistaken it for brooding for my own child. Or maybe it’s mother nature and the body clock giving me one last chance before it’s too late.

Another odd thing is that since I’ve been more healthy and slimmer my cycle has returned to normal and my hormone levels are showing signs of very early pre-menopausal changes normally present in a woman in late 30’s to 40’s so nothing drastic. My mother and sister went through menopause in their mid 50’s, they both went through it very quickly and with little fuss and one of my mum’s sisters had a very unexpected pregnancy in her early 50’s. So fertility and reproductive health would appear to be genetically sound according to my GP.

So technically there is no reason why I couldn’t have a child if I wanted to have one… that thought is scary and since it dawned on me for real (of course I kind of knew but I just don’t think of myself as fertile) I have been fighting Nick off with a stick.  He has said it’s something he’d not thought of either but now it’s in his head, it’s there, it’s a possibility and it needs some attention. I get what he means, that’s how I feel too.

We’ve discussed it at length and gladly we realised that it’s so easy to lie in crisp cotton sheets with a spring breeze wafting over you and sunshine streaming through a window in the arms of the one you love to imagine all of that soft pink or blue cuteness, so we got up and talked about it at the kitchen table instead.

He admitted that it wouldn’t do his sense of virility any harm at his age should he sire a child now (he does like to revert to old English when talking about his manliness) and he felt it would cement our families as a positive viewpoint and I could also see that and he also said that he would love to have a child with me, and I feel him on that one too. BUT we love our life, we love the way things are and the way we’ve got things planned for the future. More than that as we agreed we’ve spent a long time in unhappy relationships with the wrong people and now we’re together and everything feels right we have so much lost time to catch up on and so much life to enjoy together as a couple, being selfish. In so many ways, especially now that we both have grown up independent kids we look forward to all of the kids (we have 6 between us) being grown up and independent. We are enjoying the more adult relationships we are having with our kids and neither of us has a desire to step backwards. There is a great sense in both of us of having been there and done that.

I admitted that even though the thought is wonderful I would worry about the health of myself and the child at this age, I would hate to be set back although I know I can be healthy and pregnant I’ve done that before, I lost weight during pregnancies with both of my children and emerged thinner and healthier than when I started… it’s amazing how much your healthy eating habits improve when you’re thinking about nourishing another life inside of you. But I don’t feel it’s worth the risk, not of me getting overweight again but of something more serious going wrong, as fit and healthy as I feel I’m nearly 50. When I was 20, 50 was ancient, now I’m nearly it it feels ancient and although I don’t feel it, I am it.

Anyway, it’s a no, a definite no from us. My kids are disappointed but as I said when they have their own children they will understand that just this once mum had to deny them their request. I do kind of think it’s cute that they asked though and I’m glad that they feel that another little one would have a good time being my child and I think it really tells Nick and I a lot about their acceptance and approval of our relationship and about how they are enjoying being a part of this larger blended family of 8 when they had spent so long with just us three. Nick said that maybe the kids are aware of the fact that they are growing up and becoming more independent and they want me to have someone with me all of the time, he wondered if maybe they don’t see the two of us as the long term prospect we see ourselves as. It troubled him a bit, that thought, but I assured him they do, they wouldn’t have even thought of me having a child with him if they didn’t see us as a long term prospect. All of our kids know how it feels to be part of a split family and I’m sure that as well managed as that’s been (moreso for my kids than his sadly) they would not wish it on a sibling.

One of the most compelling reasons for me to dismiss the idea was that I have spent the last 23 years of my life going to bed praying for the chance to live long enough to see my kids grown up and I’m not too sure I could definitely count on another 20 something years of that and from a selfish point of view, I don’t think I’d want to do that. I do think it’s time for me again now, to rest easy and go to bed thanking God for getting me there.

Part of me wishes this had all happened ten years ago but there is no point in looking backwards, it didn’t happen ten years ago and now is not the right time for that for us. Sometimes you think you have it all and then something happens to remind you that you could have had more but on this occasion I’m glad to accept that what I have is more than enough. We are blessed and besides… I’ve learned not to be greedy 😉

Would love to hear thoughts on having babies in later life.

Parental Advice

Today a friend of mine was asking on Facebook for everyone who cared to, to put a top tip for parenting as a comment. The rules were it had to be a tip someone had passed on to us and one we had used successfully with a back story included and if we know her personally a photo of our kids either now or as babies.

7e3e8f7056d3f2d561509a1655036a62She is compiling a hand book of parenting for her daughter who is about to have her first child. During a conversation about the upcoming birth the daughter had said that she wished there was a handbook to parenting as she was worried about it, not just the immediate how to cut a baby’s toe nails stuff but the longer term development of a good relationship, discipline and such.

All contributions would be dressed up and printed and included in a scrapbook type affair to be presented as the handbook to parenting to her daughter at her baby shower. One of the aims was to pass on tips, another was to show the vast amount of differing advice out there and another was to show that many mothers have gone before with no guide book and we survived.

I submitted a long and a short and thought I’d share them here, if only because I thought the whole idea is a fabulous one. My short was from my aunt (my mother’s sister) when my first child was born and my mum ‘helped’ a little too much. “Just tell her ‘thank you for your advice but I am the mum now and I need to learn but you will always be the first person I turn to when I need help'”. It worked so much better than “Leave me the hell alone this is my baby”.

The long one was from an interview I saw on TV with Bill Cosby of all people many years ago, before I had kids. He said that the most important thing you can do is listen to your children. When they come home from school or from anywhere as they get older, make at least 15 minutes to sit with them, ask them about their day and then shut up and listen to them for the first 5 minutes. Don’t speak back, don’t interrupt, nod, smile, laugh, look concerned if you have to, but don’t speak and the longer you don’t speak the more they say, the more they speak to you and the more developed and deep and reflective their ‘conversation’ becomes. Not only that, but eventually they come to seek you out to talk to when they come home, it becomes a very good habit. I did this with my kids and it is so true, the less you speak the more they open up and talk to you. As much as I struggle with keeping quiet, I’ve done it and do it and listen to them. I believe that advice made the teen years the breeze they have been and kept my children and I communicating and close. Even now my daughter is grown and independent and living away from home she STILL feels compelled to call me or Skype me when she gets home from work or from any activity and talk about it and I still give her those 5 minutes and just listen.

My friend is really hoping to make this a book of epic proportions so I said I would ask if anyone in any of my networks had anything to contribute. Please share in comments if you do.

Low/zero carb progress update

I’m so busy right now and hardly have time to breathe but I wanted to do a quick update on our revised eating plan.

I’ve chosen what to me is the most significant and telling difference we’ve noticed… my 15 year old rapidly growing son is finally not complaining of being hungry. He is sticking to three protein and dairy rich meals a day and lots of water and he has finally stopped eating everything that wasn’t nailed down.

I believe that this is because I am allowing him to eat what his body is telling him it wants instead of denying him the steaks he’s been asking for every day and preventing him from eating a whole chicken and guzzling two pints of milk before bed. I’m giving him those things and not trying to force feed him nutritious smoothies and juices and twenty pieces of fruit a day.

I believe that because he is actually getting a regular supply of the protein and fats he needs to build man sized bones, organs, muscles and skin he is no longer suffering cravings. Some of his cravings he would satisfy with not so healthy foods before because he (and I) mistook it for hunger instead of yielding to what his body was calling out for… fuel and nutrition for healthy cell building and maintenance.

There have been other side effects of feeding him what his body needs and they are:

1. He doesn’t eat as much food and everything he eats is healthy, he’s not filling gaps with snack foods and I can already see that he has lost body fat. This is a good thing because he is growing so fast weighing him is not really going to tell us much so with him monitoring progress will be more about visible signs and measurements.

2. He is sleeping better. He’s going to sleep at 10pm and sleeping soundly until 6am. He had been struggling to sleep before 1am which was really unusual for him and mostly the reason was he was fighting a food craving and couldn’t relax. His body was crying out for the ‘stuff’ it needed to do do what it was going to do through the night while he slept and build him millions of new cells. At least that’s what I believe. I thought about it and there are two times when we experience rapid cell growth in our lives, as babies (from conception to toddlerhood) and then through puberty, but boys experience far more rapid and significant change in size than girls. When they are babies we accept that we feed them lots of protein and fat and they sleep and grow, so why don’t we get that when they are teenagers? We know that a baby who has been fed watered down milk will not sleep well or for long and some babies need fortified milk to really keep them sleeping and constructing those cells. We just accept that yet we don’t accept that when our 15 year old son wants to eat two chickens and a gallon of milk before he can get a good nights sleep. I might be wrong here but it does make sense to me and I never even thought of it before.

3. Because he is sleeping better he is happier, more active, more alert, doing better at school, just all round functioning well. His skin is glowing, his eyes are bright his curls are shiny and he’s just happy and content, getting taller and stronger and slimmer by the day. He also said yesterday that he felt fitter, like he had more stamina during a footie match.

Now I don’t know about anyone else but to me that is priceless, knowing that my son is getting what he needs for optimum cell growth and general well being is making me feel pretty content right now. I thought his diet was healthy before but now I can see that I wasn’t getting it right, I was giving him what I believed to be healthy not what his body was telling us it needed. I do believe our bodies send out signals to warn us and inform us and we really need to listen more to them.

Next time (hopefully not long before I get time) I’ll update on the daughter’s progress as she’s had some interesting changes occur too.

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.

Cooking Healthy For One and Changing Family Habits

This is something I’m getting more and more used to now. Nick has been getting back late from work (he does work and getting to his office when he has to involves lots of driving, something we’re going to have to look at in the near future) and my son has been so busy with extra curricular things at school and band practice and music lessons and football that he rarely makes it home to eat before 8pm.

I stopped being the only healthy eater in the house a while back. I announced that the days of my healthy meal plus other options for additional diners was no longer going to be a feature of meal times in this house. I figured that what I eat is not calorie controlled or rationed, it is healthy food, low in fat, low in sugar, low in carbs mostly organic, always freshly prepared and a riot of colour including vegetables, fruits, oily fish, lean meat, nuts, pulses, grains, seeds, herbs and spices and a smattering of dairy. So it’s good for everyone and as a mother and homemaker I should be setting the example to everyone to eat healthy and so that’s it, there are no other options for the kid or the man. There is always plenty so they can eat lots if they are hungry but they will be eating lots of good stuff that will do their bodies good and limit harm and correct the effects of pollutants and bad stuff they take in when they are not at home.

Sometimes my son craves a burger or a pizza or fried chicken and he’s a kid, he’s healthy and fit and growing fast so I let him go for it in moderation and I’m pleased that he ups his exercise to compensate and always flushes it all through with lots of water and fruit or raw veg. I don’t want him to be obsessional but then I do want him to think and adjust and make the right choices and compensate for bad stuff. I know my kids have a tendency to gain weight fast like I do and so knowing they are really thinking about their health and fitness and keeping fat at bay as a natural part of their life is really reassuring for me. I don’t want them dieting EVER and I don’t want them getting ridiculously overweight EVER so if some of what I’ve experienced and some of the good lessons I’m teaching them rubs off and eradicates the bad lessons I’ve taught them by example then I am happy for them.

It’s important to consider if you are the only one in the house following a healthy lifestyle if you are in a position to enforce it onto others in your household. I am not for forcing anyone to do anything but when it comes to this stuff, we can’t be sitting with our healthy food and doing our exercise and buying crap for our kids and watching them eat it and letting them be sedentary, we have the power to make them eat healthy (or to at least limit their choices of bad stuff) and to encourage them to move more. Don’t be the parent who in ten, fifteen, twenty years time gets blamed for not instilling healthy eating habits in your kid when it’s a 300lb adult in counselling for obesity related depression. You can make changes and I started subtly at first by telling them I couldn’t bear to have chocolate or biscuits (cookies) in the house, I replaced snacks like potato crisps with healthier options and then stopped buying them altogether. Carbonated drinks are now not the norm but a treat. Ice cream has been replaced with sorbets and frozen yoghurts. They drink more water. My son always has a big bowl of fruit in his den and he chows through it fast but that’s the kind of snacking I don’t mind. He also has a pop corn maker which requires no oil or sugar to be added just the popping corn and he loves to make it and snack on that, much better than crisps.

My son is 15 and when I go for a walk I ask him to accompany me so I have someone to chat with and he invariably gets right up and comes with me. No excuses no embarrassed to be seen with mum. He sees it as doing me a favour and not as him being coerced into exercise. Incidentally we also have some fabulous discussions on our walks when we are away from everything and I know they bring us closer to one another. I ask him to come for a ride with me and he comes along to make sure I don’t fall off and end up in a gutter somewhere. Don’t mention exercise to them, just make them feel like you need them to help you to do what you are going to do and they are more likely to come along. I challenge him to swimming competitions and all kinds of things to keep him moving. He does lots of exercise already but more doesn’t hurt and it’s really working to make him a big strong healthy guy, he’s glowing and his physique is turning the girls’ eyes. He isn’t complaining. Besides he loves that I’m turning into a new person in front of his eyes and he will do anything to keep that going, he remembers old miserable mum and he likes this new one much better. Try it, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to influence them.

But having said all of that I am missing having company for dinner. It’s the one meal that has always been a sociable meal for me, breakfast has always been a rushed free for all and lunch is something that happened at work. Family breakfasts and lunches are the treasured events of weekends and holidays not the norm. Dinner though was always the one meal we all sat and ate together, prepared together too for a long time, since the kids were big enough to step up and help stir a bowl or chop a mushroom with a blunt knife. Nowadays I find myself preparing and eating it alone most weekdays and I don’t like it. I am loathe to delay my dinner time to past 8pm as that is too late for me, I don’t snack at all these days and so I am hungry by meal times and I like it that way, it makes sure I enjoy my food more and because I’m  hungry I feel full sooner. I’ll explain that phenomenon some time but it’s true for me. I also can’t cook twice, I don’t do two sittings for the simple reason that if I cooked for myself at 6 and then again for the guys at 8 I would eat some more at 8, I just would. I’m a glutton in training remember? This isn’t a won battle, it’s a forever fight.

So anyway here are some ways I combat this:

  • I do a lot of one pot cooking – casseroles, stews, soups even curries and Italian pasta based dishes. That way I can take mine and it’s easy for late comers to warm some up for themselves without my intervention. I also get the feeling that I’ve cooked for more than just myself which satisfies my empty nesting syndrome. Using the slow cooker also helps with this as food can be kept nicely warm on the real low setting long after it’s ‘ready’ without over cooking. I do like my veg crunchy and my meat rare so this suits me to take mine out a couple of hours earlier. This also means that if I’m dining alone for more than one night I can portion up and refrigerate or freeze for another night or I can do the same with left overs.
  • I use the steamer a lot, I’ll fill it with my food, fish, meat or whatever and vegetables and will prepare the same for the others but will only cook my  own and then pop theirs into the compartments so that when they are on the way home I can flick it on or they can do it themselves. Again I get to prepare the food but I don’t have to stand cooking it or supervise its cooking.
  • I let them fend for themselves completely and only cook for myself.
  • I save my dessert and sit and eat that at the table with them while they eat dinner so I get the social element of the dinner without eating twice or eating my main meal too late. If I do this I usually make sure desert is a light sorbet or some fruits and yoghurt.
  • I prepare big mixed salads and dish mine up in the kitchen and eat in the dining room so that I don’t just keep on eating and leave nothing for the guys when they get in.
  • If I’m going to be eating alone for a few nights and know nobody else is coming for dinner (Nick might be staying over in London and my son with a friend nearer school) I’ll make myself real fancy things that I have to faff with and don’t eat routinely. This makes it feel like a real treat, I get the time spent on preparation kick and I get to try out new recipes too which I can then share (or not) with the family at a later date. This also gives me a chance to buy more expensive things and be a bit more extravagant. More expensive fish or meat, rarer fruits and veggies. Having the treat stops me from feeling sad about dining alone.
  • I keep going on about planning but planning your menus a week or two weeks ahead helps keep you on track so you can identify where you will or might be dining alone, for me I identify that as a danger zone, because it is, and I make sure that I always have things in the freezer that are individually portioned so I can thaw one chicken breast or one fish fillet when those days crop up, planned or otherwise.
  • Also if I know I’m going to be dining alone I might invite a friend or two over for dinner. It gives me a good opportunity to have a good chatter with friends and an excuse to indulge in a glass of wine or a cocktail. Make an occasion of it.
  • I never skip dinner in favour of TV snacks, that never ends well for me and I find the discipline of three meals a day really has impacted on my weight loss but also contributed to gains in other areas of my life including my digestion (and expulsion of waste), sleeping and also with gastro-intestinal problems. I always eat at the table and always eat a proper meal. Some things I just have to be disciplined about or else this is never going to work long term and long term is the way it has to work or else I may as well not bother. If I eat in front of the television I don’t even register eating the food and feel hungry afterwards because I’ve not clocked up the ritualistic consumption of the food. Again I’ll blog about this some time, my mind works in strange ways and I’ve learned that identifying how my brain works against my stomach really helps in getting on top of this.

So there we have it a few tips for healthy eating for one so that it doesn’t become an excuse. We obese folk are great at making excuses for why we can’t eat healthy or why we can’t exercise and one I’ve heard a lot is this problem of doing it on our own. At the end of the day we are doing this for ourselves and we are on our own in that sense and we have to take responsibility for ourselves and stop making excuses. There are ways to get around the solitude of dining alone without falling into unhealthy habits, it just takes some discipline and a little effort.

Also we really do need to take the upper hand and set the pace for others in our household and that’s why eating healthy and moving more is really far better than dieting because we should want to promote that to our families and they should want to embrace it. It takes a while to break some of their bad habits and they may resist at first but I remember my son looking at a plate of vegetables last year and turning up his nose at them, tonight he sat and munched through an allotment’s worth and at the end said “That cabbage was delicious mum, was it organic? Did you grow it? Can we have more of that tomorrow?” Come on, what mother doesn’t love that smug smile of knowing that they’ve made a change for the better in their kids? Even if it is just getting them to become a connoisseur of fine cabbage?

If your family are not supporting you make them understand the enormity and severity of the problem, sit them down and tell them to listen, tell them how being fat and out of shape makes you feel, lay it on the line, tell them if you worry you will die younger, tell them you don’t want to leave them too soon, tell them you are not enjoying your life, tell them the truth warts and all and tell them how much you need to do this for yourself.  Let them know it’s not about looks, they will say they love you as you are but tell them you don’t love you as you are and that it’s not about how you look it’s about how you feel. Don’t hold back tears if they want to come, let them see how unhappy you are and let them know how worried you are and let them know that you need their support. Tell them you won’t deny them anything but there will be changes and you don’t need them to kick up a fuss about them, they need to go along with things and try things. Tell them how you worry about them and their health not just now but in the future and how you feel you’ve let them down by not being the example you should have been and how you want to make a difference for you all. Tell them that loving you as you are is great but you can promise them they’ll love you even more and for longer if they help you with this. I know families can be the worst when it comes to supporting or understanding an addiction but if you don’t try to explain honestly they can’t begin to help you.

Just when you thought…

I had some devastating news on Boxing Day which threw everything I thought I knew into chaos. I can only describe it as hearing that someone who I love wholeheartedly had suddenly died. I described my feelings as very similar to the day my dad died… way too similar. Ebbs and flows of all consuming sorrow. Unanswerable questions swirling around my mind. Shock. Disbelief. Anger. Betrayal. Hurt. Inadequacy. Frustration. Helplessness. It was all there all of the big guns of grief were aimed right at me and were firing all barrells.

I’m working through it and making sense of it and am in a far better place and have been resilient in not letting it get the better of me. One day I’ll write about it and the things I’m learning and we’re learning as a little family but the one thing which I had to share now was how for the first time in my life I have not turned to food to comfort me and get me through. Strangely enough my initial instinctive craving as the bombshell dropped into my blissful world of happiness and twinkling fairy lights was for a cigarette and I’ve not smoked for hundreds of years nor wanted to. Had there been a pack on the table I would have found it very difficult not to have lit one up. Thankfully there wasn’t.

I foolishly wondered a few weeks ago, how I would cope with really bad news and because I asked I guess I received and although I would rather not have been tested, I’m glad I have been.

I’ve leaned on my partner and kids for my strength and for the first time ever I realised that people work much better as support when you are weak than a pile of cookies and cake ever did.

If nothing else I’m glad for that change in myself and glad that this awful news has showed me that it is OK to trust in other people and to lean on them and   share your burden. I truly have come a long way. I couldn’t have coped with this a year ago. It was right I found out now even though I feel bad that for years I have been oblivious.

Anyway …where was I? Oh yeah still enjoying Christmas regardless. The we’re happy and doing good meter is on 90% and that’s enough for me.