A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tell me I don't know how to spend £100

Before Christmas I made a bet with my boss regarding some protected time we had scheduled.  Long story short, I won the bet and two days before Christmas, besides giving me a lovely gift, she handed me a a card with £100 enclosed.  I tried to give it back as the point I was trying to make had been made, yet she cheerfully wouldn't take it back and promised that next year, she wouldn't be losing.  I laughed and begrudgingly took the money while promising myself I wouldn't fritter it away and would save it for something special.

Something special turned out to be:

Having my nails done in a shellac french manicure on Friday (it will last a few weeks).

On Saturday, Beryl and I met Andy for a coffee in town before heading to one of our favourite shopping areas for lunch and a bit of browsing, where I spent the rest of my winnings on these steals:

I know that these aren't my usual clunky heeled style, and of course Irregular Choice and Poetic Justice aren't to everyone's taste, however you cannot deny these aren't hotness personified:

Regularly priced at £95, I got them for nearly 1/2 price!

If you know me at all, you know I adore owls. I think I will call this little fellow Archer:

Call me sad if you will, but I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  I normally only wear my one apron when I'm baking.  I couldn't resist this and I almost wish it was a dress:

My sister's most recent post was about her fascination with shoes (yes it runs in our family) and work out gear.  She managed to secure a load of great work-out gear at a great price and it makes me wish (not for the first time) that we had a Joe's here. I don't ever spend a lot of money on work-out clothes and don't think I ever will, not when my money can be spent on great shoes instead. However it got me to thinking that I really need to consider getting some new gear for myself as I've never been too fussy about what I wear to the gym.  My sister Stacy will be pleased to hear that an old pair of work-out pants she gave me over six years ago (and that are now way too big) have finally given up the ghost and will be thrown out (although they could be sewn up ;) 

I think a trip to TK Maxx is in order where I can purchase my usual favourites like Nike and Elle Sport; somethine to go nicely with the multitude of warm up jackets I have in such a range of pretty colours.

Oh, and I can't forget my latest find.  My friend left a link on Tawny's blog regarding her favourite kind of footwear and of course I had to take a peek.  I am now coveting these beauties:

(Yes, both pairs, but especially the blue ones)


I have no idea how much they cost (the website wouldn't let me check prices for some reason).  Also, because they are an Italian range and I'm not sure if they ship to the UK, I can only dream.

For now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I really need a hobby...

Last week was an awesome week.  I stuck to all my goals;  that is I made healthy food choices and worked out quite regularly.   And I felt good. Really good.  Then Sunday rolled round and I started feeling unwell so I didn't get to the gym;  Though I do think most of my health problems at the moment are mental, not physical.  Tonight I'm sorting myself out with a vigorous work out and will get back to making and eating healthy food  because for me, it's the best thing to do.  The week doesn't have to be a complete write off because I've let myself go for a few days.  I don't want to make this post into a healthy food debate or whatnot.  I just have to express that when I'm not eating right, or working out, I don't feel particularly good.  It goes hand in hand with my mental health. 

I'm fighting a number of issues that tend to bring me down, besides not taking care of myself properly. I'm probably feeling low because it's now coming up on nearly a year since I've seen my mom and sister, longer since I've seen other family members.  I don't think the weather here helps much either.  Although it's been sunny and crisp the last couple of days, I'd much prefer it if we would get hit with a big snowstorm, or the weather would turn spring like.  This middle of the road crap is frustrating - I never know how to dress when I'm walking the dog. Ultimately what brings me the lowest is when I let myself fall astray of the healthy lifestyle I'm trying to maintain. 

So I will fix this issue.  Tonight.  And stop boring you with the details.  Because when I actually see what it is I'm complaining about, I realise I need to just shut up and get on with it.  There are people out there with much harder issues to contend with. I bet some of you are rolling your eyes right now at the thought of me complaining that I really don't have enough to do besides go home, make dinner, maybe hoover, work-out, walk the dog and then the night is my own.... ok, I will get over myself already.  

I think what I need is a hobby, a hobby that doesn't involve the the gym or reading.  One that also doesn't involve taking a class (it's not always convenient to leave the house in the evening as I work full-time and can't leave Molly too often at night). I've tried jewellery making and Spanish classes in the past.  I've been thinking of learning to play guitar, but I don't think I would practice enough.  Cooking and baking? Well I love it, and it's a good pastime for sure, except I'm not the sort of baker who doesn't sample the end result, so I try to save this hobby for the weekends.  I would love to have an athletic style hobby (as that would cancel out the gym one night a week) and debated a pole dancing class (don't laugh, the benefit and physical results are amazing), yet they don't offer a class in this one-horse town. The same goes for skiing or rock-climbing.

I'm thinking I might start meal planning as a) it involves spending time doing something other than watching tv and snacking and b) will hopefully make life a bit easier.  But then I wonder what the point would be as come the end of the month, Andy is back on the road and it will be solo dinners for me and how much planning is really required for a dinner a-la one?? Of course I could make various dishes on the weekend to freeze and eat for lunch and dinner mid week so I will put it on my 'maybe' list.

Short of having Beryl teach me to knit or crochet, I really am stuck for ideas.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  This really should be the year that I stop the ridiculous self-deprecating behaviour regarding food and just get on with living.  After all, there is so much good in my life and I have so many great times to look forward to.   I really do, if I can just bear the waiting for it all to happen :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My take on finding a healthy balance (warning, this is a long post)

With it being a new year, there seems to be a great number of discussions taking place regarding body size, body image, etc. It’s normally what happens around this time. For some of us, it’s an ongoing battle in our heads that is played out nearly every day. For some of you, it’s probably safe to say, every hour.  Because there is so much out there, I decided I'd jump on the bandwagon too.

I am a slightly overweight, but fit woman of 38. I work out fairly regularly, and watch what I eat most of the time. Yet I have a big problem with food; so much so that I have an ongoing battle with an eating disorder. It’s not a daily battle, not even a monthly battle, although on some occasions it can become just that. I thought I’d beaten it a few years back, but nada. It still rears its ugly head from time to time and at those times I could just hate myself. Nothing makes me feel like a bigger failure. Despite what the professionals have said it doesn’t make me feel in control. Ok, maybe it does, for about five minutes, but then I feel as if I’ve lost complete control of myself and that is hard. So very hard.  I say that I'm healthy, but am I really?  For the most part, yes. Yet some people would argue with me on that point. There is a new post on the CGG that discusses judging a person's health based on appearence alone.  I think the author nailed it.  See for yourself  here.  Do I blame anyone but myself for what's wrong with me?  I could, but I don't. 

My sister often blogs about what she eats, and the amount of exercise she does as well as how she is choosing to raise her daughter. This brings me to the conclusion that she too, also has an issue with food and body image. Probably over-thinks it like I do, something I’m sure she will admit, even though she’s a healthy girl. I think she also tries to justify herself for a lot of the decisions she makes, and unnecessarily so.

I think my siblings and I will always have an issue with body image and food. We are the children of an obese man, one who claims his weight doesn’t bother him. We all also know that this isn’t true. Dad suffers from a number of health issues that are related to his weight. He will often deny that one has anything to do with the other. But still, I’m not blaming him for the way we are all so obsessed with body image and food. Besides, our mom takes care of herself physically, always has, and doesn’t seem to obsess about. If only I could be more like her in that regard (I’m like her in so many other ways I’m told). But then again, I don’t have her small frame.

My sister Stacy has lost over 70lbs. A dear friend has lost over 85 lbs just this year and says that she knew she was unfit, but didn’t realize exactly how out of shape and unhealthy she felt. Until now. I lost around 30 lbs almost 9 years ago following weight watchers. I’ve managed to keep most of it off. Did I feel better physically? A bit, I was certainly in better shape, but even though I had been almost 200lbs I worked out a lot and could do more exercise than a lot of friends half my size. I  I did however feel better in myself, in the fact that clothes shopping was much more fun and that I looked a lot better in my clothes, as well as in photos. Therefore I felt better about myself…. and my food choices had become a lot healthier. 

I spent most of my teenage youth being made fun of for the way I looked and as I’ve blogged about this before, I will spare you the story again. Of course most of you can probably relate to this. It seemed that by the time I was 18 I was coming into my own, with a much more positive self image. I know my mom felt better about this as she knew how much I struggled as a teen. Never once did she make me feel less than perfect or nag me about my weight, although she did encourage me to make better choices.  I loved her for this, and still do. I have a cousin who is seriously obese. She knows that she needs to do something, but hasn’t yet found her way. It’s hard for me to see her struggle, and even harder for me when her mom pleads with me to help her daughter do something. However I can’t help her until she is ready to do something for herself.

My friend, the one who has lost over 85lbs, has a 17 year old daughter who probably weighs around 230 lbs. Sure she’s nearly 6ft tall but it is evident that she is quite overweight. Her mom has been stressing for years that she has passed her unhealthy eating issues on to her daughter; she worries that she nags her too much about the way she wears her clothes, especially since her daughter is an outgoing, confident young woman who doesn’t seem to have the same body image issues as her mom. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not. Only that young woman knows how she really feels about her weight and if she’s happy, then shouldn’t her mom be good with that? Yet I know that her mom worries for her future, as she sees her daughter’s weight creep higher with each year and reckons that she will end up seriously obese, as she herself did. It’s a justifiable concern. I don't believe any parent hopes and dreams their child will grow to be obese.

Tasha isn’t my flesh and blood daughter (I often tease her about not wanting to be referred to as her old step-mom) but she is a daughter just the same. Like most of us girls I know she has fluctuated with her weight, although she never lets it get out control. I've heard her sometimes comment over the fact she has a round bum. I personally think her bum is fantastic and I tell her this. If she wears something that doesn’t flatter her figure I wouldn’t say anything unless asked. When I went shopping with her for her grad dress I just tried to gently steer her away from dresses that didn’t flatter her tummy. And I always tell her when she has something on that looks amazing. It’s kind of my way of saying without saying, that it’s a style that works better for her than others. I’d like to think I’d be the same way with my own daughter. Tasha and I wear the same size trousers yet she wears a bikini with ease and confidence and although she isn’t typically 'thin', she looks absolutely fine, comfortable in her own skin; I will only wear a bikini in front of a few select people. In this case, who do you seriously think has the better attitude? I’m envious, let me tell you.

How do I feel about young girls bearing mid-drifts that aren’t typically considered acceptable for show by society? That’s a tough one because what's acceptable to me, might not be to you. I remember taking my god-daughter and a few other young girls to the beach when they were about 12. I loved that they were all wearing bikinis and having fun, obviously not obsessed with the fact that they had adolescent, rounded tummies. God, if only I’d been that comfortable at their age. Again, I think it’s much healthier to feel that way, then the way I have felt my whole life.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: There is too much damn pressure on all of us to have flat stomachs, which aren’t the true and only factor of a healthy body. If you feel confident with the way you look then that’s fantastic. I don’t think it’s for anybody else to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. There are those women who work out and keep really fit yet might be hanging on to an extra 30 lbs. That doesn’t make them unhealthy, not at all. As Stacy has told me, there is such a thing as skinny fat, people who are slim, yet very unfit. I’d rather look like me, than be skinny and not able to do 30 minutes on the cross trainer without getting breathless.

However, if a person is considerably overweight and tries to tell me they are comfortable in their own skin and feel great the way they are, I’m going to have a hard time believing that.. But if this is really the truth, then I envy you in some ways. Maybe you are in a healthier place than I am - at least mentally.

I think us women need to find a better balance between our bodies and how we feel. I don’t think it’s good to spend so much time stressing over how we look, what we wear and how much we weigh. Never mind the insecurities and issues we might be unknowingly pressing on to our children with our obsessive behaviour. They are going to be who they are. We can only guide them with the best of our intentions. And they will probably still blame us for how they’ve turned out (what am I saying? They will). Either way, they are going to have their own hopes and dreams and certainly this will vary from what we have hoped for. It’s happened in my home, it will likely happen in yours. All that Andy and I hope for now? That they are happy and lead a balanced life.
In relation to my health? Well I’m going to do what’s best for me. I don’t have a need to explain why I eat what I do, or what ingredients I use (only to myself). I’m not judging any of you and I’m not asking you to judge me. I think frankly, this topic has gotten way too out of hand and the world is becoming much too obsessed over everything. It’s everywhere I turn these days.

We all need to just live our lives and stop worrying about how everyone else perceives us. If you want to eat fast food or organic food, or only drink wine for your dinner that is your business, you don’t have to justify your reasons. I don’t think my friend who won’t drink coffee and only eats organic food is a better person than the one who lives on coffee and eats pizza three times a week. It’s your decision regarding what you consume and you have your own reasons for choosing to eat the way you do. But we need to be more forgiving of each other and stop passing judgement for not making the same choices, not matter what those choices are. (My husband is probably thinking I should take my own advice when it comes to him, perhaps I should, but I worry about his health.)

When it comes to me, I’m my own worst critic. As I’m sure you are.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Feeling the burn

This weekend I finally got my arse back to a spin class and although it was only 45 minutes and I haven’t officially been spinning for a few months, I think I kept up quite well. I was initially annoyed that the spin instructor was still in the training process and had to keep checking his notes; never mind the fact that he didn’t even sit on his own bike once. However because he was adorable and somewhat engaging, I decided to get over it, as it needn’t adversely affect my workout. I had just been complaining about spin class to one of the more qualified trainers/class instructors at the gym on Friday during my workout. I can’t help but feel dismay with the poor calibre of spin instructors that have been at the front of class in recent months. I want someone up there is who going to be commanding, fun and full of drive. The trainer assured me that they were working on it. I’ll be curious to see what happens because I sure wouldn’t want to be paying the full rate for unqualified instructors (I pay £10 less than the newly inflated rate and will leave if they try and increase it.)

However I gave it my best on Saturday morning and loved being back in the saddle; I didn’t even mind catching glimpses of myself in the mirror, not considering that it was two weeks after the holidays and I didn’t look all that bad. (The only real issue I had was my knee and the fear that it was going to give up on me during one of the hill climbs.)

After class I wiped up my puddle of sweat (yes you heard right) zipped up my new fuchsia warm up jacket (which just happens to match my water bottle perfectly) and headed home to find out that my husband had been putting in time on the stationary bike himself. With a holiday home to Nova Scotia this summer and of course the trip early next year, Andy has decided to join me in the quest to be healthy and fit. If he can leave the bags of Malteasers alone I think he might just achieve his goal.

I’d forgotten how hard spinning can be on other parts of the body after an extended absence. Since I’ve been riding the stationary bike at home, I didn’t have the normal ‘seat’ issues after class, but I did spend the weekend feeling the after effects across my shoulders, so much that I didn’t sleep much on Saturday night. I’m lucky that I have such an indulgent husband who gave me more than one shoulder rub… it’s also an added perk owning a Jacuzzi as it sure helps with sore muscles.

I will try and log a monthly update of our achievements on this site as being publicly accountable might just be an added incentive.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Taking back my number

Hello Readers!

I hope you all welcomed 2012 in with lots of optimism and joy; and if not, then I hope you at least had a few drinks or retired to bed early. Either way, it’s here. Another new year; and with each new year, I often set myself a goal for losing weight. Sometimes I keep to my resolution and sometimes I don’t manage to do so well. What I do manage to do each year is to stay healthy and keep my fitness levels up and I plan to do the same this year. I’m much fitter at 38 than I was at 28.

For 2012, I had a number in my head that I’d like to see reflected on the scales, however I’m going to ignore it for the time being… I’m refusing to make it a New Year Resolution and will instead take a page (yet again) from The Curvy Girl Guide and give myself a number that is individual to me, the number that matters the most to me in 2012.(You can read about it here).

My number for myself this year is 40.

Although I’m not turning 40 until January of 2013, I have to get myself prepared for this. I want to be able to embrace 40 (notice how many times I’m throwing it out there? 40. The more I say it, the easier it should be to say in another 388 days.) So many women really embrace turning 40, some say it’s the new 20 (although you can keep 20, it was one of the worst years of my life) and as much as I want to welcome 40 with a warm, fuzzy hug, it’s not proving easy and deep down I’m really not looking forward to it.

So what I’m going to try and do is spend this year getting my head around the fact that I will be turning 40, that there is nothing that will stop it short of my dying, and I definitely don’t want to avoid it that much.

The first thing I have done to ensure that I turn 40 with a major smile on my face is to arrange to be in paradise with my husband on the big day:

Meeru Island, The Maldives (Now we just have to find a way to pay for it.)

If I can’t be with family and friends from both sides of the ocean, then I choose to be in this place. (Hell, as much as I love them all, I still choose to be in paradise for my 40th).

What booking a vacation in this amazing place will also do is (hopefully) ensure that I work a little bit harder to get myself in better condition physically. Can I dare hope that I not only turn 40, but that I’m 40, fit and fabulous?

So 40 is my number for 2012. It gives me something to work hard for in order that I reap the rewards, both physically and mentally.

I’d love it if you’d all participate… either publish your own personal number for 2012 on your own sites, or leave me a comment as to what your number is and why.