Thursday, 30 August 2012

Lessons learned about my frumpy rut!

Over the weekend we were invited to a family barbeque. Now I don't often discuss my marriage in public but I have so say that my husband protested against the t'shirt I decided to wear arguing that it was too frumpy. FRUMPY?! Well.... I told him to choose something different for me to wear bearing in mind that I am wearing a white bra and do not wish to change my underwear also! I expected him to find looking for something for me to wear as difficult as I do most mornings and offer to treat me to a shopping spree. Nope, within moments he pulled out a shirt dress from the wardrobe for me to wear instead and I have to admit that it did look a lot better than the t'shirt I had planned to wear. I need to get him to pick me out an outfit for the next day every evening before he goes to bed haha!

photo from

While we were at the family barbeque I noticed my sister in law was wearing a very plain and shapeless red and white striped t'shirt herself. She had teamed it with a pair of jeans and a messy ponytail but did she look frumpy? No, she actually looked really cool and casual. Had her t'shirt been on me it would have looked frumpy so I wondered briefly why this is, before coming to the conclusion that it must be because she is skinny and I'm short & well... not exactly skinny!

When it came to getting dressed the following day I actually felt a bit nervous. Does this look frumpy? Does that look frumpy? 

I realised that the problem is that I've been trying so hard to regain my pre-pregnancy figure I hadn't bothered to learn how to dress my post-pregnancy figure suitably and in fact, most of the clothes I used to wear I wouldn't even dream of wearing now as they'd be most inappropriate for a mum! Instead I've been hiding behind a barrage of baggy tees and leggins.

I decided it was time to learn and I thought the best way to do it would be to go out and do a spot of people watching. Try to spy people with "fuller figures" that look good and learn from that what looks good and why. I had my daughter for the day and it seemed the perfect way to get out the house on a miserable day so I took her to Lakeside - our local big shopping mall.

I bought my daughter a babyccino and myself an iced latte in Starbucks chose a window seat, took my notebook out for us both to scribble on and began my assignment. It didn't take long for my daughter to spill her babyccino all over the place and I had to clear that up. Then she began an argument with another nearby toddler which simply consisted of them shouting "no!" at each other with their limited vocabularies. Once we were all settled and my girl was happy drawing all over the notepad and me I noticed that my mind kept straying from the people watching and that I actually found it really uncomfortable, I kept worrying that I was going to get caught and scowled at!

Eventually I came to a few conclusions for my "fuller figure". Simple clothes that aren't classic items can look boring and frumpy unless they are teamed with some appropriate accessories. Also I think my problem may be that as I've been hoping to loose weight I have been reluctant to spend any money on "big" clothes so I have been buying cheap "to do" clothes in larger quantities. The t'shirt I had planned to wear to the barbeque - I had bought three of them in different colours to see me through the summer! Once I had identified this I decided to give myself a £100 budget to invest in one or two nice items to brighten up my wardrobe - not oodles of cheap leggins and t'shirts to see me through the season like I usually would.

The funny thing is that I actually found it quite hard to find those "perfect items" and I actually ran out of time before I ran out of budget! Don't get me wrong, I liked and tried on a lot of things but a lot of them simply didn't seem to suit my stumpy figure! 

I realised that In future I need to actually make some time for my personal style and go shopping properly once in a while instead of just conveniently topping up on items that I think I need when visiting the supermarket which turn out to look really frumpy! Back to the t'shirt I was going to wear at the barbeque - it was a sainsburys purchase that I had simply picked up whilst doing some groceries - I didn't even try it on. Had I done so I probably wouldn't have bought them.

Now I think I have an idea what made me look frumpy but there are probably more things, like not accessorising enough. I'd be grateful if you could share your thoughts with me! In the meantime I'm going to do a bit more research in clothes that would suit my stumpy self :-) 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Removing the cot sides

I'm only 148cms which equates to roughly 4 foot 10. This used to really bother me when I was younger, it particularly bothered me for about a decade from my late teens to late twenties before I settled down with my husband and stopped going out to bars. It used to get on my nerves that once the night was underway and everyone had drunk a few beers it was the perfect ice breaker for random men. "How tall are you?". After a while my standard response became "ummmm not very!". Shallowly, whether that response was followed by a cheeky grin or a frown depended on whether I liked the look of the enquirer but nine times out of ten it was a bored frown given the amount of times I'd been asked that very question in my life.

Upon reflection I should have been flattered that people wanted to "break the ice" often enough to irritate me with the same line, and it's difficult to approach someone you have never met before. Maybe I should have been more sympathetic but it's besides the point of my post today!

For some time now my little girl's cot has been on the lowest setting and I am so short that putting her into bed gently is actually quite a challenge so when my friend told me she had put her 2 year old in a toddler bed it lit a bulb in my mind. I announced to my husband that evening that I had decided it was time to remove the sides from the cot. It was quite exciting doing it and little girl seemed to find it quite a novelty.

After we put little girl to bed, my husband and I closed the baby gate on her bedroom door and sat at the top of the stairs in the dark. Not a sound. She didn't once attempt to get out of bed. I was amazed. Eventually we went into the sitting room but I couldn't relax so I went to bed where I could hear any noises from her room better and read.

I awoke in the morning with a jolt. No bumps in the night of little girl falling out of bed. Nothing! I said it my husband "it can't be that easy?!" and went to her room. I found her asleep on the floor and I felt so guilty. I wondered how long she'd slept there and whether she would feel stiff on waking. I gently put her back in bed which made her stir and within ten minutes she was awake.

I posted an update on Facebook about how guilty I felt and one of my Mummy friends told me you can buy little sides, smaller than cot sides with room for your toddler to get in and out of bed at the ends. I didn't want my girl to spend another night on the floor so I went to the shops that very morning! What I bought is by no means aesthetically pleasing, in fact it's quite hideous looking so hopefully we won't need to use it for long!     

Friday, 24 August 2012

Colchester Zoo

With just a few weeks of summer holiday time left to enjoy I thought I'd share my recent experience of a local attraction...

To celebrate my sisters' birthday we all went to Colchester Zoo. None of us had been there for years so it was really exciting as it had changed so much. We had been forecast rain but we didn't let it put us off, especially after surviving the rain at the Brentwood Beer & Music Festival so we packed our wet weather gear and set off on our way.

It didn't take long to get there and from Tollgate it was really well signposted. We arrived in time to see the penguin display and little girl was instantly really excited and it was just as much fun for us to see her excitement. I was really impressed by how her speech was coming on as she was able to name almost everything we saw.

We saw so many baby animals, which I thought was a really nice sign - I don't confess to be an expert but it suggests to me that the animals might be comfortable in their surroundings and treated well if they are reproducing. They also had really nicely sized and well decorated enclosures with plenty of scope to shy away from the crowds if the want or need to.

Can you spot the baby meerkat?
There were so many highlights of the day and my compliments go out to Colchester Zoo because not all of the highlights were the animals, there were several ways they have added some very fun, interactive and educational value to the place.

The first thing I was impressed with was the sea-life centre type underwater tunnel at the sea lion enclosure so that you could see the sea lions swimming up really close. Little girl loved this and I got some lovely photographs.

I was also impressed with the interactive educational games. These entertained us adults in particular the tug of wars with animals of varying strength which bought out the competitive side of my husband who could not accept that he could not shift a tiger, and the amazing game that measured how fast you run and compared the speed to different animals. This was particularly funny because we all took part (except little girl, who in hindsight should have) and we had great fun trying to beat our own PB and each other! The winner was my sisters' other half who actually broke the world record which led us to either tout him for Rio, or accept that maybe the machine needed calibrating!

Another memory I will never forget is the giraffe feeding. Little girl absolutely loved this so much that when she'd had her turn she walked up to the nearest bush and picked a leaf and walked back to the giraffes holding it out. I thought it was so sweet! 

Collecting more food for the giraffe
I will also always remember the wolf enclosure. Just before we went there I had begun to feel a bit tired so we stopped for a coffee. I normally go decaff so I was buzzing a bit so when my husband started howling to get a reaction from the wolves I joined in too. The wolves didn't do anything except look at us like we're nuts but little girl started joining in too. Her howl was really cute.

I can't believe how fast the day went, we stayed there right up to the end and our feet ached like mad. There was so much to see that we didn't have time to let little girl have a go in the massive adventure playground which was a shame, there are photographs somewhere of me as a toddler in the Colchester Zoo ball pit and I would love to have taken the same kind of photo for little girl so I guess we'll just have to go back!

We were all so knackered when we finished we all ended up round mine for a takeaway and it was a great end to a great day out so if you're stuck for something to do I can definitely recommend Colchester Zoo :-)

(I have not been paid to write this post, I'm just sharing a genuinely lovely experience)


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

My "no car" challenge

There are a few things I am grateful to my mum for and one thing in particular is that as soon as we were old enough, she encouraged me and my siblings to learn to drive. I remember she didn't drive herself until I was ten and she must have found her new found freedom so liberating that she encouraged us all to do it too.

Although I had my first lesson on my 17th birthday I didn't actually pass my test at until I was 19. I left home just before my 18th birthday so my lessons were quite sporadic. Whilst learning to drive I developed a fascination for old cars, particularly Fords from the 1970s with their curvy bodywork before boxier shapes became the fashion for the late 70s. My favourite to this date is the MkIII Cortina.

My first car was a MKII Escort which I never drove because it was before I passed my test. It was my hobby car and I stripped the cherry red paint off it because I wanted it to be baby blue -criminal! - I still cringe now. This crime is made even worse by the fact it had a 000 number plate which I later found out meant it was ex-showroom!

(I tried to find a nice picture of an Escort to add here but got fed up with looking at pictures of the wrong kind of escort in my google images search! I'm just not that way inclined :-))  

When I passed my test my first car was a MkIII Cortina. Heavy in the rear I couldn't control it and had 3 prangs in the first week! I'm certain I'd have better luck driving it now having held my license for 13 years come the autumn but for the own safety I swapped it with my boyfriend at the time for his MkI Fiesta. Nice car, but the gear box froze on the way to Bournemouth to visit my Dad at christmas!

From there I've been through a few cars, a few funny stories and now I have a MkII Golf GTI. The steering is proper heavy and it's a bit too noisy for my liking (I don't really like the attention) but it's cool and I like it. I think Golfs were made for me - I find the cockpit very comfortable for my size!

BUT the tax ran out at the end of June. Our company now runs two vans, one which my husband uses at the weekends and the other just sits there so I wondered how I might get on using that one and seeing if I can do without a car of my own. 

It was fine at the weekends but it was a pain during the week. I had to get a bus or walk to drop little girl off at the childminders which was good for my general fitness, my pedometer was giving brilliant readings, but my productivity took a hit - most days I wasn't in the office until 10 and then I'd have to stop at 4.30 to catch as bus or walk to collect little girl on time. 

I lasted a month and a half. Gutted because I paid for an extra half months' tax I could have used but I think it was a good experiment. I think it helped that it was summer time. I don't think I would have been so keen to wait at the bus stop in the cold or walk around in the dark but now when I pay my car insurance or road tax, I can look back to this time and realise that yes, I do definitely need it to make the most of my productive time when little girl is at the childminders.

Monday, 20 August 2012

A tough decision

Firstly I must apologise for my weeks' absence. I had some exciting news and as a result my mind has been elsewhere for some time but now I'm back!

During the past week I was sitting in my garden drinking tea at 3pm. It was a lovely afternoon, pretty warm in the sunshine and I thought it would be nice to get my daughters' paddling pool out. I then realised that come 3pm the sunniest spots of the garden are dominated by my generously sized greenhouse and the vegetable patch, followed by our cute little bistro set on the paved area by the house. 

I thought it was a bit unfair to dominate the sunniest part of the garden entirely by my own hobby and it is time to share. My husband has complained on several occasions about the size of the greenhouse and I've been reluctant to give in, but I think it is now time to do so. I think he is right that I could easily bring on my seedlings via cloches along the garden boundary and turf the rest of the area allowing games and paddling pools in the sun. To be fair the greenhouse requires a lot of repair work and is no longer fit for purpose, there are broken panes of glass which have been patched together with plastic sheets and the weed suppressant beneath the paving has obviously degraded so I spend as much time weeding as I do everything else!

I am going to be very sorry to see my lovely greenhouse go. I have spent many happy hours carefully sowing seeds and bringing on new life, but I daresay I will spend many more happy hours sitting at the bistro set by the Olive tree watching my girl and possibly her siblings having fun in the garden. After all, these would be the lives that bringing on and nurturing would give me the very most satisfaction and who knows, when they're older maybe they too might enjoy sowing the cloches. They may even ask why we don't have a greenhouse...!


Friday, 10 August 2012

I love Body Pump!

 Full of enthusiasm I went along to body pump. It was like love was in the air, pure magic. The loud music, the big weights, the adrenaline of lifting them to the point of fatigue... I left that room exhausted yet gagging for more! So much so that I have decided when I've done the duathlon I might start going on Saturday mornings too!
What I really loved was the timing of the class - at 20:30 little girl is (normally) already tucked up in bed and my hubby is busy watching something boring on the television so I don't feel like I'm missing out on any further family time which is important to me as I already miss the bedtime routine 3 nights week because of the running as it is. 
So this is what my weekly training schedule looks like now...
Monday: running - high intensity interval track speed training

Tuesday: rest/ChaLEAN Extreme stretching session

Wednesday: club run - moderate intensity approx. 60 mins

Thursday: body pump strength session

Friday: running - high intensity interval hills session

Saturday: *

Sunday: moderate intensity duathlon training OR high intensity cross country race

* Saturday's

Before London Duathlon OR after the duathlon but attending cross country race on Sunday: rest/ChaLEAN Extreme stretching session

After London Duathlon and IF no cross country run on Sunday: body pump strength session

After the London Duathlon I will join the gym so I can do two Body Pump sessions most weeks

When the weather turns bad I will need to find an alternative for Monday's as it will be too muddy for track. I wonder what this will be... they do circuit training at the Brentwood Centre on a Monday evening so I might give that a "date". If I start to do two sessions of Body Pump per week after the duathlon monthly membership will be cost effective, so by doing another class on a Monday I will get more value for money. It also means that when I take little girl swimming, I will only need to pay £1 for her entry. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Cross training

A few posts ago I mentioned how I need to rebuild strength training into my weekly schedule. It is important that runners do some cross training, in particular some strength training, and apart from getting on my bike on a Sunday all I do at the moment is run. Running is indeed my soul mate workout, but as Chalene Johnson says, whilst you should be monogamous to your actual soul mate you don't need to be monogamous to your soul mate workout. It's time to find a second soul-mate work out to cross train with running, ideally something that requires a but of strength.

I revised the soul mate chapter in Chalene Johnson's book (Push), did the work sheet and these were my findings:  
I am sociable and love working out in a group scenario which is why I like running with the club so much. It also suits me because although you are working as part of a group, the results are very individual so the pressurized dynamics of team working are not part of it. What also suits me is the fact that it’s very efficient – I actually feel like I’ve had a good workout at the end of it, unlike pilates, which isn’t even relaxing like yoga.

I think a similar group yet individual scenario might be found in an exercise class. It looks as if I get the most enjoyment out of dancing, but I’m not very co-ordinated and struggle with classes such as Zumba. To be fair I’ve never really stuck in there though, and I imagine it must get easier the more you try. I think I don’t have the patience to learn it if I’m brutally honest which is a shame because the sports I wish I had mastered (gymnastics & Ice Skating) take time and learning of skills and then having the exhilaration of being able to use that skill. 
I think it’s why I enjoyed skiing so much. Controlled exhilaration - it was better than simply being on a ride because it was all my own doing.
On the converse I enjoy dance only when it’s 100% freestyle, no thinking, just enjoying the music. So in that respect I would need something really easy to follow.

When I was a member of fitness first, I remember really enjoying body pump – lifting weights to music. They do this at the Brentwood Centre and I think I should try that as a "date". Strength training is very important and to be honest, as much as I love ChaLEAN Extreme I just didn’t enjoy doing it alone in my front room with the music on quiet because the only time I could do it was when little girl was in bed! 
When looking at the class time table, I realized that time is a big constraint, there were other classes I’d like to try but they just don’t fit around my running! An example being 20/20/20 (aerobics, weights and step) – it’s very important I rest on a Tuesday before a club run and on Saturday before transition training, so that just leaves Thursdays for dating until after the duathlon. Thankfully Body Pump is on a Thursday night! 

Monday, 6 August 2012

How I cured my PMS

The summer before I had my daughter I suffered from terrible PMS every month to the point I'd try to break up with my husband every month because I felt so irritable. I went to see the doctor, who agreed to prescribe the contraceptive injection to stop my periods. This was my idea, I thought it would put an end to the PMS but it didn't work. The chemicals turned me into a constant grumpy cow for 12 weeks. 

Shortly after the injection wore off I fell pregnant with my daughter. It was an uncomfortable pregnancy and I carried her late. Desperately uncomfortable with SPD I tried everything to bring on labour - curries, raspberry leaf tea, nipple stimlation (TMI, sorry!) and I bought a lot of evening primrose oil because it was 2 for 1, but after the labour I stopped taking it.

When my daughter was about a year old I decided it was time to start looking after myself again now that I didn't have to bother with the faff of formula milk & sterilising anymore. I bought a bottle of Multibionta and decided to take the remining Evening Primrose Oil capsules at the same time as they were there.

My periods became lighter and less painful. I didn't make any connection until I ran out of the capsules and they became painful again so I bought some more. I also noticed that I had been feeling a lot less tense & irritable.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the latest module of my Nutrition course covers fats. It turns out that Evening Primrose oil is a source of Omega 6, an essential fatty acid which assists with the production of prostaglandins responsible for regulating hormones.

This makes perfect sense. That summer I was particularly suffering was the summer we went to Ibiza and in the forthcoming months I had severly restricted my diet. I must have restricted it to the point that I wasn't getting enough essential fatty acids.

The sad thing is how quickly the doctor prescribed chemicals rather than exploring my dietary background. I guess the medication must be cheaper for the NHS than the paid time of a professional.

It makes me all the more keen to get qualified and help people.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Toddler on an airplane revisited

I really needn't have been nervous about taking my little girl on the airplane. We took her to Orlando and I just didn't think - of course it's a family destination! The plane was (half) filled with families. Better still, because it was during term time, the families were all young so we were all in the same boat (or airplane, rather!)

While we waited for our gate to open we had breakfast in Cafe Rouge where we could see airplanes taking off. Little girl loved this and now gets very excited when she sees airplanes out of the window when she's sat at the dining table at home!

The actual flight itself was fine. Apart from trying to get her to settle for a nap, in which we had to just hold her down and let her cry it out for ten mins, she was really well behaved. It helped that the plane wasn't full so no-one sat in the empty seat beside us. This way little girl had a seat of her very own! 

The crayons went down well, bt she did try to eat them which wasn't very cool! About half way through the flight she started to feel a bit restless so I pursuaded my husband to let me walk her up and down the aisles. She absolutely loved this. She fond another little girl to chase around deck. Thankfully because the plane was half empty the aisles were not so busy.

It was funny when we landed. Little girl was really well behaved when we went through the first queue for customs. We collected or bags and then joined the second queue for customs. This time we queued behind a family whose children each had a Trunki. 

Before I knew it my little gril was gone - she literally pushed the poor girl off her trunki and sped off. I cought her jst as she was about to pass the customs line! Now that would've been scary...!

I couldn't resist it - while we were out there I insisted on buying a Trunki for the flight home. It was quite a bad idea because while we were queuing little girl kept wanting to speed off! As a result we endured a few minor tantrums but I don't regret the prchase because when she's old enough to understand she could get lost hopefully she'll enjoy using it properly!

Going on a bit of a tangent she really amazes me with her confidence - she runs off without a care of whether she's being followed. Is this because she takes it for granted that I'm always there? I see other children who always check that Mum is still there but she doesn't. Sometimes it's quite sad because it makes me feel somewhat redundant. Now that she can swim she doesn't want me anywhere near her in the pool! On the flip side I'm so very proud of my little girl :-) 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Muscle recovery

I really enjoy running and I like to push myself. Wednesday nights are club run nights. The club is split into groups of ability in relation to how fast you can run a mile. I choose to run with a group I find tough. I am usually at the back, especially when we go up hills and I like it that way. Being at the back doesn't bother me, someone has to be at the back. I love the feeling I have at the end of the run and I love stretching by "the wall" at the end. Everybody I've ever run with at the club knows how much I love the wall!

I spend a nice, long time stretching by the wall and I have a physio foam roller indoors to really get to the muscles if I'm particularly sore. Just before I went on holiday I found that periods of soreness after a run were decreasing. Since I returned from holiday I've noticed that they've increased again. It could be because I gained half a stone, it could be because I seriously reduced the length of my runs for 2.5 weeks. Whatever the reason, I need to build an extra day of training into my week so that I can do the transition training I need to do for the duathlon so I need faster recovery.

My sister mentioned this morning that she was considering trying a new protein shake by Jodie Marsh, but it was only available in a large container and she was worried she might dislike the taste. I looked at the weblink she sent me and told her that I'd go halves with her to share the risk.

I've never tried protein shakes in my life and I'm quite excited. I worked out that I would need to drink nearly an entire litre of milk to get the same amount of protein, and the calories in the shake are a lot less than that of a litre of milk. 

We've ordered the cappuccino flavour and I now wish I had an ice blender so that I could have two frappes per day out of them, wouldn't that be lush?! The website recommends 2 shakes daily - one before and one after workout. I can't eat a thing before a run otherwise I am sick, so I'll have the first as my afternoon snack and the second when I return from a run.

I am currently running 3 times per week with a view to building up to 4 and I'm no longer doing any strength training. Hopefully if this can decrease my recovery period a bit I can build not only build the 4th run in, but also build 1 or 2 strength training sessions back into my early mornings!

Watch this space...