Sunday, 24 September 2017

Where is September going?


Last Saturday, how is it a week ago already? Sophie and I headed to Cardiff (again) It was the Uni Open Day but we got the bus into the city centre first, as Sophie was unsure of the 'open city campus' last time we visited. Realistically, the uni was only a 10 minute walk from the centre and would be a maximum 30 minute walk from the accommodation block. It was well worth a revisit, as it felt smaller and closer together second time around and it's now moved into number 2 spot. Just Reading University to visit next weekend and then we're done!


Work is still going well and I'm enjoying my Wednesday walk there and back (it's been dry so far) Couldn't help myself from picking up these conkers on my way, what is it about conkers, that as a 46 year old woman, I still feel compelled to pick them up!! I've popped them on my window sills at home, to fight off the spiders!


I've been cooking up some yummy cakes at home, cookies, syrup sponges and these brownies - delicious! Autumnal food is the best - trying to get away with just a taste though, must resist!


Things are most certainly on the turn! I love the season of Summer and the warm sunny days but Autumn is a close second, with Spring not too far behind. We need some cold crisp mornings and warm sunny dry afternoons now, until the end of October.


The slow cooker will be on most weekends now - beef brisket is the meat of choice today. Smells divine but the smells are torturous all day, whilst busy in the kitchen, great for leftovers mind you.


The garden is still 'growing/producing' - today I've picked wild strawberries, raspberries, beans, apples and courgettes and we have a squash growing nicely.


So just one week left of September and then we really are into full on Autumn. 
Can't beat skies like this though, at this time of year. 
Have a good week x

Friday, 15 September 2017

First week - done!



 I survived my first week at work and surprised myself just how much I enjoyed it. We had a 4 hour training session but within 2 hours we were serving 'real life' customers. It's been a very steep learning curve and I'm shattered but everyone seems really friendly and helpful, so 'so far, so good!'


Two of the days, when I am doing a 4 hour shift, I intend to walk, weather permitting. There is certainly a chill in the air and autumnal views on my walk, we've even mentioned turning the heating on soon!!!


These poor sunflowers took the brunt of the winds the other night. I've been admiring them whilst out running but whilst walking I could stop and take a pic, before they go over completely. 


We've had a real mix of weather this week - sunshine and showers and certainly no hint of a warm Indian Summer, sadly.


We still get to enjoy the magnificent views of the Tor, whatever the weather.


I've kept to my running and am seeing real improvements in my pace and stamina. 3km is a sensible, doable run for me at the moment, any longer and it's hard work and I feel I'm failing. Better to be going out and running, then make it too hard and stop altogether.Yoga has started back up too, so I'm hoping the combination will keep my hip niggles at bay. Add in my walks to work and back and I'm pleased at how more active I've become again.

Friday, 8 September 2017

September.......

.....and new beginnings!


September to me is like New Year, a new Academic Year and with that, a fresh start, new chapters beginning. Jeff has taken on a new role this year as Senior Tutor, still teaching Maths and organising the football, so will be extremely busy. Once term starts for him, it's all systems go, leaving the house at 7.30am every morning, including Saturdays, followed by football all afternoon and doing a late duty in a boarding house, until 11pm once a week. It's all go but living in Street, 5 mins from the school makes it all a little easier since moving.


These two are back to school now, with Sophie driving in each morning. She goes into her final year at Sixth Form and sits her A Levels this year and Sam his final year at Secondary school - GCSE Year and school uniform for just one more year!!!


He's not the most motivated or organised, typical boy! I've given his room a tidy and we've tried to organise his 'stuff'! He starts with a French tutor next week, as he really struggles with (hates) French! We've come up with a work routine, down at the kitchen table, to encourage a little revision/extra work once homework is done (distraction free) as his mocks are straight after October half term. He'll be sitting the new exam model, grades 1-9, doing all exams in one go at the end of the two years, so he has a lot of work to do this year and it's all a bit unknown for us all, including the teachers.


I'm also starting something new - I'm going to be working at Sainsbury's!!

It's a funny one really, some people will be surprised at why I'm going to be working there and not doing something creative or going back to teaching but the simple reason is 'family'! Due to Jeff's 'full on' job and the kids, although teenagers, they still need us (me) around, I've had to find something that fits in around family life. This job was advertised, the hours were doable, I get to be around people, get a wage every month, know what I'm doing and when I'm doing it, can do overtime if I want it. It's local, I can walk or drive, depending on my hours or the weather, no hassle with parking, traffic or petrol costs. I don't have to take work home, if I work more, I get paid for what I do! So for now, it's a great job for where we're at as a family. I'll give it a go and can either look for something else if I'm not happy or if I enjoy it - great!

The older I get, my priorities change. I want a stress free life, would love to afford to go on holiday at least once a year, I need to be around for the kids and have always seen 'being Mum' as my top priority/job! so this, for now, is perfect.

Wish me luck - I have checkout training for 4 hours later today, then I'm officially 'Started'! 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Where I'm at.....

So I took a break this Summer from my very focused approach to my weight loss/weight management and stopped posting daily over on my Instagram page every meal I ate. I needed a little time out, as it's been 3 years this week, that I walked through those Slimming World doors and embarked on my 'healthy, happy me' journey. I lost 4st 8lbs in 40 weeks with Slimming World back in  2014/15, added to the bit I'd lost on my own, equalled 6 stone and give a pound or two and the odd blip, I've kept the weight off but it has been really hard. 


I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) nearly 20 years ago, initially when trying to conceive our first child but have realised over the years, the role PCOS plays with my weight and am only now realising fully, that I really have to keep to a very strict diet, if I'm to stand any chance at keeping the weight off long term.


PCOS is a hormonal imbalance and as a result the body has difficulty processing the hormone insulin. Insulin converts sugars/starches from foods, into energy. Insulin resistance, caused by the PCOS, can cause the insulin and sugar - glucose, to build up in the bloodstream and be stored as fat.
I have done so much reading around the subject over the holiday, to get a clearer understanding of me and how my body processes the foods I eat.


I'm not going to lie, my relaxed Summer has seen me gain a few pounds and it's time to draw that line, nip it in the bud etc before the weight creeps back on. I've gone back through all my meal planning sheets from when I lost the weight initially, to remind myself of how I did it. Looking back, I was so strict on myself when I started Slimming World and had no bread, cakes, cereal other than oats, very low/no carbs, barely used my syns and although the SW plan allows you to have all these foods, I didn't, which meant I lost weight. Latterly, I have tried to reintroduce more bread, the odd slice of cake, cereals etc because I've really wanted them again, but I now know that I can't eat them and keep the weight off, in the same way someone else can, even if I'm careful with my calorie intake because of the PCOS.


I was recommended to read the book 'The Obesity Code' and I must say it has been a breakthrough read because it really does explain the role of insulin and insulin resistance and the way the body processes foods. It doesn't talk about PCOS specifically but because I've researched the condition, I can see how it is fully linked.


 The PCOS Diet Support website is a great resource, if you are just coming to terms with the condition and need to find out all about it - 10% of women will have PCOS. Once you get to grips with the condition, you can then work out the best strategy to keep the weight off, going forward and I've tried to outline 'my way forward' below.


Too small? See below 




From reading 'The Obesity Code' these are the main points I've taken from the book, going forward. Excuse my diary notes!! It was interesting to explore the idea of fasting, something I've read a lot about from Dr Michael Mosley's 'The 8 week Blood Sugar Diet' and when you read the science behind it, it does all make sense. The fasting, no breakfast, eating in an 8 hour window, no snacking,/grazing, all of these allow the body to have rest, allow insulin levels a chance to restore to normal. 

So I'm going to trial not eating breakfast, as long as I can have a coffee I'll be fine. Eating in an 8 hour window 12-8pm (doable), ween myself off a snack but if I am starving have one, as long as it's healthy but definitely stop the constant grazing/picking.

Improve my sleep - Jeff and I have both said we'll watch the news headlines and then go straight up to bed - with a 6:40 alarm, we could both get a good 8hrs sleep. Closing down the business certainly reduced my stress levels and finding  a new job that is manageable, enjoyable, routine and stress free is a must going forward. Yoga also helps and the techniques I'm learning, are completely transferable to everyday life. 

I do need to make a conscious effort to drink more water. When I'm at home, I aim to drink a cup of water every hour, on the hour. This isn't always possible when out and about, due to the need to visit the loo ALL the time!! I do aim to reduce my caffeine intake too, not because it tells you to, just because I know I drink too much!


Exercise is a positive too, so I've started running again. Jeff very kindly bought me some new trainers which should improve my running style, supporting my flat feet and should as a result, minimise my hip niggles. I'm starting out slowly, doing 'something', is better than doing 'nothing'!


On the food front, it's actually quite simple 'JERF' (I Quit Sugar)
**JUST EAT REAL FOOD**

I've been trying to reduce my sugar intake, following the low/no refined sugar approach and I've always been low/no carbs. I've been eating plenty of protein and veg and fibre. I have been introducing healthy, full fats back into my diet, following the principles behind the 'I Quit Sugar Diet' and eating a more Mediterranean style diet, as suggested by Dr Michael Mosley. The one thing I've not tried, is drinking Apple Cider Vinegar - it's apparently a protection blanket against sugars/starches and I should drink some diluted vinegar every evening. I've had a bottle here for about 6 months now but not as yet, tried it!

Basically I now have to put into practice what I preach!


As you can see from the pic above, I've not piled all the pounds back on, just a few but I am fully aware that taking a relaxed approach to my eating, will quickly see me back to where I was, if I'm not careful! I've toyed with re-joining Slimming World but have decided to see if I can go it alone initially, as I'm doing my own personal version of the plan. You can use your syns on chocolate and cake but I know I can't. You can eat unlimited pasta, rice and potatoes but I know I can't! You can eat bread, bagels and pitta's as your Healthy B choice but I know I can't! So, if I feel I need to be accountable, need the weekly weigh in and need to see the numbers on the scales, I will rejoin but I'm going to give it a go on my own for now and see how I go! If the scales start going in the wrong direction, I will rethink! 

I have to find a way of eating that I enjoy, so that the weight stays off. I would love to eat a slice of cake, all 'on-plan, within my syns' and see the weight come off but I now know if I did eat the cake, that I would still put on the pounds because it's not down to the calories I consume but down to the actual ingredients in the cake, that my body can't process (if that makes sense?)

In a nutshell, I really can't have my cake and eat it!!!!

Sorry if this post is of no interest to you or goes on a bit, I think I just needed to write it all down for me, to give me a clearer understanding of what I'm trying to achieve. You never know it might be of interest to someone but I strongly recommend you read 'The Obesity Code' if you struggle at all with your weight, PCOS or not!!



Friday, 1 September 2017

Hello September


So September is here and I do feel there is a feeling of Autumn in the air. The sun is out, most welcome but there is a chill in the air, some of the trees are on the turn and the nights are drawing in. Fingers crossed the month ahead is filled with warm sunny days, a gentle start to Autumn.


I've certainly been making the most of the sunshine, every last ray!


Jeff has gone back to work now, full steam ahead until October half term. Sophie and I enjoyed a day out in Bath yesterday, before the back to school madness and routines start next week.


We met up with my sister and niece for lunch and a catch up, always nice.


August has been a good month full of celebrations and days out but also much needed time at home, lazy starts and relaxation - recharging the energy levels for the new month ahead.


August left it's mark, it's final farewell sunset. 



Monday, 28 August 2017

Bank Holiday weekend

#nofilter

What a Bank Holiday Weekend - blue skies and hot sunshine!

#perfect

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Garden round up!

Not been the most exciting of weeks - Sophie's been working (last day tomorrow!!) Sam's been out with friends, Jeff's been back into work since the GCSE results came out on Thursday, so I've been pretty much at home pottering. Should really have been painting the bathroom but can't quite get motivated to start, have been out in the garden instead!


Found this photo of the garden, which acts as a great comparison. The top pic was taken early January and then the garden as it is now.


There's still the planting out of the bed along the back wall - I want to fill it with Allium bulbs, ready for next summer and possibly peonies or hydrangeas. And there will be, eventually, a 'proper' wooden path to connect the 2 decks.


The few vegetables we've planted are doing well now. The apple tree is full to bursting with fruit this year and my raspberry canes, strawberry plants and the rhubarb, are all getting established in their new spot, ready to fruit next year, fingers crossed. 


Mixed fortunes with the courgette and beans - both have been a little late to the party but are now producing great crops, particularly the beans.


These tomatoes have completely self seeded from the compost we put out in that bed. Hoping the tomatoes will ripen over this warm, sunny bank holiday weekend, such a bonus.


And these wild strawberries, left in the garden by the previous owner, have fruited all summer.


Although we back right onto other gardens, have neighbours either side, I don't feel over looked in this garden and we have the wonderful, ever changing view of Glastonbury Tor to look out to. 


Having glanced at the forecast, I'll be spending the rest of my weekend out there, enjoying this much needed and overdue sunshine. Have a great Bank Holiday Weekend x

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Out and about!


Making the most of the dry but overcast weather - I went with the boys walking the Polden Way. It's only 5 minutes drive away and follows the ridge line to the Hood Monument, with fabulous views and then a wander down through the forest, before we turned and came home before the rain.


Couldn't resist taking a pic of these little toadstools.


On Wednesday Sophie and I enjoyed a day trip to Southampton. Southampton was on our Uni Open Day tour and she liked the Campus feel, just needed to see what the actual city offered. It didn't really tick the box, so we're back to Cardiff in a couple of weeks, to see what that has to offer and see if we can get past it not being a campus uni! We've added Reading Uni to our tour and possibly Leeds!


So today was results day! The school said it would email results through from 6am, more like 7am before they 'pinged' in and the anguish was over. She did well but was disappointed, as there will be no guarantees of an offer from her favourite uni, Birmingham. It's still in the mix and with hard work, she has every chance of achieving her dream. I'll be so glad when this is all behind us and both of them, are where they want to be, doing what they want to do and are basically happy. 

So glad it wasn't like this in our day - I think there is almost too much information, decision making and pressure on them now. I chose where I wanted to go from a paper prospectus, had an interview (as it was for teaching and art) got C, D, E in my A' Levels and still went to study where I wanted and went on to get a 2:1 and teaching qualification. Fingers crossed it'll all come good in the end.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Mid- summer hols!


We're at that mid point of the Summer holidays.


and finally we've had a little overdue sunshine.


Not all day, every day but snippets of blue sky, worthy of getting the sun lounger out for! Saying that, I think there is already a slightly autumnal feel in the air, a coolness behind the sun, trees already starting to turn and a need for a blanket in the evenings, whilst sat on the sofa.


We have been spoilt by some fabulous skies in the evening.....


Sam called to me to capture this beautiful sight. His room, at the front of the house, had turned orange, so he called for me to see - only lasted 10 minutes but was stunning.



Mid week I drove up to Gloucester Quays to catch up with old school friends. It was a grey old day but as we mostly sat, drank coffee, ate and caught up, so didn't really notice the weather.


Friends since the start of Secondary school!


Jeff treated me to a pair of new trainers. I feel I should be out doing some exercise and have missed the benefits of running, so am hoping these might get me out there again. It's been a year since I stopped, due to a back injury (from falling off a table!) and a hip pain that wouldn't go away. The man very kindly advised me as to which pair would best suit. These have extra support and as I have flat feet, were actually the only pair suitable for me - I'm hoping they'll lessen any hip niggles too. I've been out once, got a baseline time to improve upon, now to get out for a second run and start making it a habit again!!


I'm conscious that my 'enjoy summer' dieting model, possibly hasn't been the best approach for me and can feel the extra pounds creeping on. So rather than wait until September, I'm mindfully starting to be a little more focused again. We have been patiently waiting for things to grow and ripen in the garden and this morning I picked the first of the blackberries, with the apples not far behind. See another nudge to autumn right there. I feel we've been cheated out of a summer this year, unless we are to be treated to a lovely late edition, fingers crossed.