Sunday, 15 October 2017

Halfway through October.....

.....already!


Some months seem to come and go by so quickly and October is no exception - October and November are big birthday months here. My mum, my sister, my niece and it would have been Jeff's Mum's birthday too, all fall in October, swiftly followed by Sophie and I in November - a busy and expensive time.


Sophie has had a busy few weeks but she finalised and sent off her UCAS application this week, now all we can do is sit and wait and cross our fingers that she receives a few offers. She cracked open the Christmas chocolates to celebrate and as with tradition here, we sort out all the chocs into piles, then bag up mixed selections to replenish the tin with, over the festive season. All the chocs we don't like are then ready to give out to any trick or treater's who might knock on the door on Halloween.


Everyone has been really busy, Jeff took on a new role this term so has extra reports to do, Sophie seems to be constantly working and as I mentioned above, has now completed her UCAS application and Sam? well he has his mocks straight after half term and has accepted that an hour a night of focused work is now expected of him, so the kitchen table on an evening is now a hub of activity.


I had a lovely day off on Friday and treated myself to a day out in Bath, although ended up shopping for a certain someones 18th coming up very soon. It was good to have a change of scenery though.


I worked overtime yesterday but put a whole chicken in the slow cooker before I left and enjoyed picking probably the last of our homegrown from the garden. The beans have been very generous, as have the wild strawberries, a few raspberries and one self seeded tomato!


We didn't have the best Summer weather wise and no Indian Summer to enjoy either but the skies recently, both morning and evening have been truly spoiling us. Sunrise at the back of the house....


....and sunset at the front.

I'm off to work now - I do every other Sunday, so not too bad and if it's busy, the time flies by. 
Have a lovely Sunday and just one more week until half term. I am working this year but have a couple of treat days planned x

Saturday, 7 October 2017

A quiet week


Not much has happened this week, other than the normal routines of work, school etc. Sophie came back from her Geography field trip on Tuesday feeling poorly, so has nursed herself through until Friday which was an INSET day and we have a quiet weekend ahead.


There has been some lovely warm sunshine during the week and of course it's dull, damp and grey today, now it's the weekend. The downside of working set hours, you miss out on the nice weather!


We have had some gorgeous evening skies and a beautiful harvest moon to end the days. Next week is looking more of the same - work, overtime but I may try and do something on my day off on Friday, see what the weather is like.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

University Open Day Tour done!


So our University Open Day tour is complete!
We started off with Exeter University back at the end of May half term and followed with trips to Birmingham, Surrey, Cardiff, Southampton and Reading yesterday. We did two visits to Cardiff and Southampton, so we could visit the centre's too and an overnight stay in Birmingham, to get a feel for the 'place'. Sophie has visited Portsmouth with a friend and is there for the next 3 days on a Geography field trip - it's very much the insurance, insurance choice, which we hope we won't need!


It's been great seeing all these places and meeting all these young, enthusiastic students on our travels but the best bit about this whole process has been spending quality time with Sophie. You can do a lot of talking in a 2/3 hour car/train ride and it's been lovely seeing her excited and so focused about her future. Of course it's all down to hard work and the final grades that will determine where she goes but I honestly think she'll be happy at any of the places we have visited and shortlisted!


Birmingham is still very much top choice but with the entry requirement at 3 A's, it's a big ask but who knows what hard work and determination will bring.


Reading jumped up into her 'insurance place' number 2 spot after our visit yesterday. It was a lovely campus, actual Reading was nice and everyone seemed very friendly, so a job well done. 

The personal statement has been written, teacher's references and predicted grades collated and her final tutor reference now needed and her UCAS application will be complete. Just the wait then for offers and for her to make her final two choices, followed of course, by a good few months of hard work before the exams! So glad I'm not a teenager any more but I wish her all the luck in the world, for all the exciting opportunities that lie ahead of her.



Friday, 29 September 2017

Farewell September.....



Wow! Where did September go? This month in particular, has whizzed by.


September is always a month of new beginnings and the children are nicely settle back - Sam conceding to an hour of work at the kitchen table every night, Sophie and I have continued on the Uni Open Day tours (last one in Reading tomorrow) She's busy filling out her UCAS forms and is off on a Geography field trip, so a busy girl. Jeff is in 'full on' term mode, once he goes back it's head down until half term and I've been enjoying my new job, can't believe I've done 3 weeks now, still lots to learn but I'm enjoying it. 


I've been trying to keep my eating on an even keel now I'm working set hours. It's a little tricky as to when my break is and it's only 20mins. Other than one evening, I get back at a reasonable time for tea, so other than a bit of willpower now, I shouldn't have any excuses. I've kept up the running, although chickened out today as it was raining!


I'm a few pounds heavier than I'd like to be after the summer really and this new routine to get my head around, so I'm going into October with a plan #onitoctober . Other than a day out in London at the end of half term, there should be nothing to stop me staying on-plan and my aim is to lose every week, even if it's only a pound. Christmas is creeping up and I want to be able to enjoy it and feel good.......


........so no excuses October, here I come x


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.