My Weight Loss Journey

belly-2354_640I’ve written on this blog SO many times about how I need to lose weight, need to get fit, need to improve my lifestyle. In fact, I’ve written it so many bloody times that I’m bored of the same old self-motivating stuff that never really works and I’m not going to even link to any of the old posts here as they’re all bobbins.

Here’s the thing; over Christmas, I was really ill. The whole family was, in fact, BB and I spent about 70% of Christmas Day asleep on Husband’s Aunt’s sofa, so it was a pretty rubbish day for us, despite our family doing their best to cheer us up and make us feel better. I dragged us all back to the doctors on Boxing Day and the GP decided to send me for some tests as the illness had been lingering for a few weeks by this point and he thought I might have Glandular Fever (Mono, for anyone reading in the States). By the times the tests came back though, it became clear that GF wasn’t the issue. In fact, the reason I wasn’t getting better was that my other conditions (type 2 diabetes and an underactive thyroid) were being so poorly controlled that my immune system just wasn’t strong enough to fight off the germs.

I was sent away with an additional diabetes medication (alogliptin) to take alongside my metformin, my thyroxine dose was upped and I was also put on cholesterol medication (atorvastatin) as my cholesterol had crept up too. I was also advised that losing weight was something I needed to seriously consider. My GP drew a graph to show me what my current state of health was doing for me (which I’ve skillfully recreated in MS Paint…):
Diabetes
The straight line represents what my blood sugar control should have been like, in an ideal world, for the last 7 years. The squiggly line is an approximation of what my control has actually been like over that time period. The red striped area in between represents actual damage that has been done to my body in the time that my condition has been poorly controlled. For a diabetic, that translates to damage to the retinas, heart, kidneys and other organs, as well as reduced healing times and potential shortening of life in the long run.
That little graph scared the crap out of me. 
So, while in the past I’ve written posts containing platitudes about how I MUST lose weight and I WILL take control, this post is being written from a slightly different angle. You see, that was all about 8 weeks ago now and in that time, I’ve actually managed to lose 18lb already. There are two things which have been a great help, so far; My Fitness Pal, where I log every single thing I eat and keep track of how many calories I’ve consumed (I’m allowed 1610cal at the moment) and the Pedometer app on iPhone which I’ve been using to try to up my daily step total to 10,000. I’ve walked the school run instead of using the car and at least 2 days a week, I’ll walk a super long way home instead of coming straight back. A couple of small changes to my lifestyle and I’ve already made a huge difference.
Something about seeing the potential damage done to my organs, drawn crudely in a free biro from a drugs rep, on the back of a blank prescription has given me the kick up the butt that I so badly needed. I still have a long way to go; I need to lose another 40lbs to get anywhere near a healthy weight, but losing the first 18lb with such small effort has made me realise that it’s not as hard as it seems. My willpower has slipped once or twice, but instead of throwing the towel in like I have in the past, I’m moving past each minor blip and seeing it as reinforcement to my will to complete the journey.
Also, I need to up my exercise game – if anyone has any recommendations for home workouts which won’t make me keel over or run away screaming, I’d be super grateful for them!

Clarks Shoes for Babies

Up until recently, Burrito Baby only ever wore socks on her feet when we left the house; more often than not she was in her snowsuit, which covers her feet and doesn’t allow for shoes, but now that the weather is warming up slightly, she’s happier in a coat which meant that the time was here to buy her first shoes. We didn’t want to just go for soft pram shoes, as they wouldn’t be useful if she wanted to be on her feet, so when Clarks asked is we’d take a look at their cruising range, we were happy to oblige.

At first, I wanted to go for something like the Halcy Pop, which would be pretty and comfortable for BB.

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However, Husband being the wise fellow that he is suggested that we go for something with a little more ankle support for our new little walker, so we considered these cute pink desert boots:

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In the end we opted for the Alana Erin, which we felt would give the best combination of comfort and support for BB, along with style and practicality. These boots go with pretty much every outfit BB owns and look like they’ll stand up to a good bashing from our toddler!

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We were really impressed with how extensive the Clarks range is for babies and toddlers and will definitely be going back for BB’s next pair of shoes. She’s still finding her feet in her new boots, unable to decide whether they’re the best thing ever or the weirdest thing ever, and she does look a little bit like Bambi on ice when she first puts them on, but it’s all a learning process!

We can’t wait to see BB’s proper first steps, where she’s not holding onto anything for balance and we feel confident that Clarks shoes will be a great help to her as she starts her new walking adventure.

Maternity Matters Week 4 #maternitymatters

I can’t quite believe this is the fourth Maternity Matters linky already! We really hope you’re enjoying the process of sharing and reading so many great posts as much as we are. Seeing how pregnancy and birth experiences vary so much from person to person is as beautiful as it is informative and that uniqueness is exactly what’s at the core of Maternity Matters.

As usual, we’d love it if you displayed our badge, either on your individual posts or in your sidebar, and we’d also be grateful for anyone who isn’t already to follow the Maternity Matters Facebook and Twitter accounts.



MaternityMatters~ Mum's the Word

Braun Thermoscan 7 Review

Braun Thermoscan 7When Sausage was born, we were given a Braun thermometer by a relative and it has been an absolute godsend at times, helping us to monitor her temperature closely through various ear infections and other illnesses. So when Braun asked if we’d like to try the Thermoscan 7, the updated version of their classic in-ear thermometer, we jumped at the chance.

One thing that I didn’t realise until we got the Thermoscan 7 was that children of different ages are considered intemperate at different thresholds, so what might be considered okay for Sausage would actually be feverish for Burrito Baby. That’s where the Thermoscan comes into its own, as it has a button which allows you to choose the age of the person whose temperature you’re taking.

What makes the Thermoscan 7 even easier to use is that it has a colour-coding system, like traffic lights; red, amber and green let you know if your child is feverish, on the rise, or normal. When you’re taking a temperature at 2am and struggling to keep your eyes open, the colour coding system is truly wonderful and can save you a lot of brain-ache!

I also love the fact that the Thermoscan 7 has latex and BPA-free disposable covers. Aside from the fact that I have a latex allergy, it’s great to be able to keep the thermometer properly hygienic when using it on two children, especially when they both seem prone to ear infections.

All four of us have been poorly on and off since before Christmas, so the Thermoscan 7 has had a serious workout and we’ve used it alongside our original Braun thermometer to give us a baseline for accuracy. It’s been absolutely on the ball every single time and knowing that we have accurate readings for both girls, as well as a clear guide on how their temperatures are for their ages, has been a real comfort. No one likes it when their kids are ill, but having two ill over Christmas with Husband and I also poorly and trying to care for them was nothing short of a challenge and the Braun Thermoscan 7 just made our lives that much easier.

I’d definitely recommend the Braun Thermoscan range, and I’d really like to try the no-touch version, which allows you to take temperature without putting anything in the childs’ ear;  imagine how much easier it would be to take their temperature while they’re asleep?!

Have you used a Braun thermometer? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts on the range.

Going to the Cinema with a Baby – Odeon Newbies

Odeon NewbiesYesterday, I did something which, previous to my experience, I though was confined to absolute lunatics or people with disgustingly well behaved children. Burrito Baby and I went to the cinema together, to our local Odeon, to watch Selma. Odeon cinemas around the country are showing kids and adult films (up to a 12A rating) on Wednesday mornings in what they call ‘Newbies’ screenings, and offering cut-price tickets to anyone who wants to watch a film but doesn’t have the option of childcare. Obviously anyone can go along, child in tow or not and in fact BB and I were the only parent/child combo in the theatre yesterday, along with two couples, but at £2.50 per ticket the bargain factor is there if you’re prepared for the potential of kid-noise.

The cinema we visited does all of its Newbies screenings in a downstairs screen so that parents with pushchairs don’t have to worry about accessibility issues and the lights aren’t turned all the way down. I must say, this last part was a masterstroke as it meant that playing BB’s never-ending game of “Mummy, look, isn’t it funny when I throw my dummy/bottle/biscuit/shoe and you have to go hunting for it?!” was SO much easier. The staff also seated me in the disabled section (as there were no disabled people needing the space) which meant we had plenty of space for the pushchair and didn’t need to worry about folding it down or moving it out of people’s way.

Selma was an ideal film to break our duck with because although it features some scenes of a noisy, rowdy nature, it wasn’t overwhelming. This could also be because Odeon doesn’t have the volume as high for Newbies showings, which meant that it wasn’t uncomfortably loud for BB.

One thing that I was painfully aware of, ahead of time, was that BB could quite easily kick up an almighty row and ruin the film for the other punters. Fortunately, people are warned when they buy their tickets that there may be children in the Newbies showings and that they have to be prepared for dealing with noise. This really put my mind at ease and although BB was actually a really good girl and spend most of the two-hour period eating biscuits on the seat next to me, I was relieved that the other people in the screening were aware of the situation. I didn’t get any filthy looks on the way out, and in fact a couple came over to coo over BB as I was putting her back in her snow suit!

I was pleasantly surprised by what a lovely experience it was. The last time I went to the cinema to watch something that wasn’t completely kid-centric was in 2006 (Seriously. I’m not even kidding…), so knowing that Husband and I could go to watch a film we want to see on the big screen while Sausage is at school, without needed to find childcare for BB is genuinely exciting. Being at the cinema during the day actually felt like quite a decadent little treat, and when you consider that the cost of my ticket and a Costa coffee from the concessions only came to just over a fiver, it’s a treat which is really affordable.

I love watching movies at home with my family and I’ve been quite happy to wait until things come out on DVD in the past before seeing them, but I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on the listings for the Newbies showings in future. I’d happily recommend Newbies to any of my friends with children as it was perfectly relaxed and child-friendly, whilst offering an absolute bargain.

Healthy Cooking with Kids

cooking with kidsSausage is a massive fan of cooking. We’ve baked together since she was tiny and she absolutely loves being ‘sous chef’ for Husband or I when we’re cooking a meal. Since the weather has been chillier, we’ve been eating stews and casseroles more often and she loves being on hand to chuck everything in the saucepan for me, or help with peeling duties and she’s a dab-hand with a speed peeler these days. She’s a bright kid with a lot of ambition and just lately she’s talked a lot about wanting to be a chef – Husband, who worked in the pub industry for years before becoming a writer, has warned her of the long, antisocial hours, but she still seems keen!

One thing that Sausage is very good at is recognising ingredients – Husband and I have made it our mission since she was born to introduce her to as many foods as possible and as a result she has a very diverse palate. In fact, the only thing I can think of that she really doesn’t like is Brussels sprouts, and lets face it, they’re the Marmite of vegetables!

Wholegrain Goodness, a non-profit organisation for the promotion of healthy wholegrains, have released this fun video that features six kids who were set the task of cooking a healthy pizza recipe:

The video features a Wholegrain Goodness recipe: Vegetable & Salsa Verde Scone Pizza – with just 451 calories per serving, as well as two portions of wholegrain and three of your 5 A Day.

We’re currently on a bit of a health kick in the Mum’s the Word house, with me trying to lose a significant amount of weight and all of us trying to improve what we eat – less processed meat, less bread and less refined sugars, so the pizza in the video looks like a great way to cover all of those bases in one meal! I also reckon the base they’ve used would work well with sweet toppings too, for a treat – banana and chocolate, anyone?!

You can also order a recipe booklet with surprisingly good, healthy recipes for the whole family.

Find all you need to know about wholegrain, oats and rapeseed oil, including recipes and nutritional information at WholegrainGoodness.com – an independent, not-for-profit campaign launched by HGCA.

My New (Celeb) BFF

Do you ever watch celebrities on panel shows or in interviews and think “Wow, I LOVE her/him!”? I must admit, it’s something I do quite regularly, which may be an insight into the fact that I live in fantasy land, but let’s look past that, yeah? There are several people on my “How can I force them to be my best friend?” list, so I thought I’d share it with you and hope you’ll leave me a comment telling me who YOUR celeb BFFs would be.

1. Josie LongJosie Long

Josie is one of the smartest, wittiest, most on-the-level women on TV and I absolutely adore her brand of humour, along with her political leanings which are distinctly Left. Her Twitter feed gives me an equal measure of laughs and thought-provocation and I can image an evening down the pub with her being something I’d enjoy a LOT.

2. Katherine RyanKatherine Ryan

Katherine is one of those women who manages to be incredibly bitchy whilst making it ultimately humorous, which basically makes her my God. She’s so freaking funny and also has a daughter who falls somewhere in age between my two, so we could while away our afternoons together being hilariously cruel about the other people at the soft play centre.

3 & 4. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey

Anyone who’s got the balls to call-out Bill Cosby for his date-rape bullshit in front of the majority of ‘Hollywood’ gets serious Brownie points from me, but aside from that, these two consistently both make me laugh and get me in the feels. I adore Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock because they manage to inject their own quirky personailties into the shows and I would LOVE to be taken under their wings and, well, taken to the Golden Globes in a fancy frock.

5. Jennifer LawrenceJennifer Lawrence

Jennifer is one of those rare women who is disgustingly beautiful but still manages to seem like a real person, hence giving her just as big of a female following as her male one. Men want her and women want to be her…or in my case, her BFF. I love how outspoken she is, I love the fact that she doesn’t try to present herself as some sort of ethereal, flawless person like a lot of celebs do and I love the fact that I could totally imagine sitting on a couch, watching films and sharing a tub of Ben and Jerry’s with her.

So, which celebs would you choose to be your BFF? Leave me a comment below.

Don’t Skip Lunch!

Leerdammer LightI’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment, which means that things like cheese don’t often feature in my meals. However, I’m a huge fan of Leerdammer Light, which has 50% less fat than cheddar and when they asked me to share some new research, I was happy to oblige.

“New research from Leerdammer Light reveals that the traditional lunch break is on the decline, with Brits working an extra 19 days a year as a result of not taking their full breaks.

The research, conducted by Leerdammer Light, has discovered a further 7% of Brits claim they don’t take lunch breaks at all! The lack of the lunch hour is taking its toll on the nation’s productivity and wellbeing at work, with 22 percent of people surveyed admitting they are less efficient when not taking a lunch break. Other key findings include:

  • 49 percent of workers now eat lunch at their desk
  • 40 percent take less than 20 minutes for lunch
  • Over a quarter of workers are drawn to unhealthy options at lunch
  • 11 percent work through their lunch breaks to impress their boss
  • Those who spend money buying lunch fork out an average of £1,383.48

They’ve put together some tips to help you to make the most of your lunch hour:

Socialise – Once a week, speak to or have lunch with someone you have seen
around the office but not spoken to before. The quality of relationships in the workplace
is the single most important factor in workplace wellbeing

Find your Zen

Find a quiet spot, take a few deep breaths and be still for 15
minutes every day. As thoughts come to your mind just acknowledge them and let them
float on by, this will help rejuvenate the brain, balance emotions and spark creativity

Relax

Eating your lunch at your desk is unhealthy on many levels – our bodies
are not programmed to digest food well under stress, so it’s important to have lunch
when relaxed. Take a few deep breaths before you start eating; eat slowly and chew
your food well

Walk the walk

Taking a 15 minute walk at lunchtime is great way to avoid the need
for the gym workout later and it gets your brain buzzing. Get the most out of your lunchtime
walk by asking yourself a ‘How can I …’ question before you set out; for example ‘How can
I put this proposal across in the best way?’ Asking questions of yourself and then doing
some exercise encourages your mind to think creatively and come up with new answers

Refresh your finances

Particularly helpful in January, use your lunch break to
review your finances. Money is one of the top causes of stress and worry and people who
review their finances regularly tend to feel more in control and positive about their finances
than those who spend their lunch breaks internet shopping (you know who you are!)

Attend a yoga or pilates class

Yoga and Pilates are mostly non-sweaty – so no bad hair or smells in the afternoon! Even a short half an hour class can bring balance to your mind and help keep you fit at the same time

Start a lunchtime walking club

This links the relationship building benefits of your lunch break, with fresh air and exercise. Post up a meeting point and time, and whoever turns up goes on the walk, keep at it even if there aren’t many takers at first – it will soon catch on!

Learn a language 

Improve your skills (and your employability) during your lunch break. Think of how much you could learn in 5 hours a week! Using language CD’s, apps and much more, you can easily do it in the kitchen or even outside. Better still get a small group of colleagues together and do it as a group.

Tidy desk, tidy mind

Use some of your break time to get organised. Having a clear out has a big impact on how clear we feel in our minds – there’s less clutter in our peripheral vision, we are more focused and energised and less mentally distracted by all the visual ‘noise’

Timing

Leading a busy lifestyle, it’s not always practical to take a full hour for lunch. However, you can still make sure you get yourself refreshed for the afternoon. The key is to have at least 10 minutes after you’ve eaten to put your mind onto something else and let your food digest – this can make all the difference to your energy levels and focus

Maternity Matters Linky Week 3 – #MaternityMatters

One thing that Susanne and I set out to do when we started Maternity Matters was give parents a voice, regardless of how difficult the subject they’re talking about might seem, which is why in the past few years, Maternity Matters has covered topics such as birth trauma, SIDS, Post Natal Depression and PND. Pregnancy and labour can be incredibly beautiful experiences, but they can also be difficult and potentially traumatic, and we felt strongly that by collecting stories from a variety of experiences we might be able to help people who needed information, or those who simply needed to feel that they weren’t alone.

If we’ve managed to help or educate even ONE person since we started, then I think I speak for us both when I say that we feel we’ve accomplished something worthwhile. Writing about our experiences has been hugely cathartic for both myself and Susanne and encouraging others in the same way is a huge part of the Maternity Matters ethos.

So, in that vein, here’s the form for the third #MaternityMatters linky – we’d love you to link up any posts, old or new, positive or difficult, anything pregnancy, maternity, baby or health related that you’d like to share. As ever, we’d love you to comment on as many of the shared posts as possible and don’t forget to grab our badge!



MaternityMatters~ Mum's the Word

Learning To Be More Frugal With Food

chicken_dump1-750x364Written in conjunction with Panasonic

As you’ll know, if you read my recent post, we’re in the process of trying to find somewhere new to live, which means we’re trying to save as much money as possible to put towards all of the associated costs. This means adjusting how much food waste we have and learning to use our fridge freezer more efficiently.

The first thing we’ve started doing is buying our meat in bulk. Husband has a friend who buys meat from a wholesaler and sells it on at relatively low prices. Last time we made an order, we bought 3kg of beef mince, a whole pork loin cut into chops and 5kg of chicken, which cost us £60 and made over 20 meals. We froze the meat into meal-sized portions and have saved a bunch by not going to the supermarket so often, where we usually end up buying things we don’t really need.

I must admit, one thing I’m terrible at is portioning – I tend to love my family with food, which means far more being piled on the plate than really needs to be. I’ve been working really hard lately to adjust how much food I serve up, thereby leaving us with less waste at the end of the meal.

Leftovers don’t always have to be bad news, as this recent post shows. There are some great meals to be made with leftovers and sometimes we deliberately cook in bulk so that we can save portions for another day. One of these Food Savers is a brilliant way to preserve food for longer, making leftovers go even further. They’re also great for making ‘chicken dump‘ bags – before you freeze your individual portions of chicken, add seasoning, herbs and veggies to the bags, giving you a full meal that you can just chuck into the oven once defrosted – simple, mess free cooking with minimal waste and effort!

If you’re a super bargain hunter, you can also work out when your nearest supermarket rotates it shelves and moves the near-date items to the bargain bucket. Things like bread and meat can be frozen, while ertain veggies could be prepped and frozen for a later date, saving you a bunch and allowing you to eat good food at bargain prices.

Do you have any great tips for getting the most out of your fridge freezer or finding food bargains? Leave me a comment below!