anxiety, birth, depression, general, health, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, pregnancy, wellbeing

July and why and what’s next

So, just briefly, around 8 weeks ago I noticed a post on the Facebook page of a free app, Mush, looking to recruit mums around the UK to market the app in their area.

The app works similar to Tinder (I don’t even know if this is the best comparison) but without the creeps, and the sleeze (no offence if you’re loved up through Tinder and views/opinions my own). But it’s similar in how it connects mums with other mums in the area.

mush

The reason I wanted to get involved is I know too well how social isolation feels and it ain’t nice. I saw this as an opportunity to help mums sat at home feeling like I did for so many years, with hope of helping them turn their life around.

Over the last 4 weeks I’ve dropped flyers off at local childrens centres, maternity units, handed them to Teachers, Childminders, Midwives. I’ve felt like a super sleuth quickly dropping them in baby change/feeding areas (do you know how weird that looks without a baby?!), changing rooms and even ladies toilets (yes, I know – living the dream). I’ve stuck stickers on park benches, pic-nic tables, bus stops, attached posters to park railings, school gates. I’ve done interviews over the phone for Smooth Radio, The Chronicle and had an exciting morning at Metro Radio, sharing my experiences of how life changes once you have a baby. I wanted to highlight that as expected, you are filled with love, you do feel complete, you do feel blessed, you do feel joy, but you also lose yourself as you put this new little person first. You completely forget who you are and what you like. It takes forever to get ready to go out anywhere, so often don’t bother. You lose contact with friends, or turn down any invites to nights out, to the point your friends stop asking you. The days are long as they start super early, the nights are late and sleep is broken. These are the negative aspects we don’t seem to hear or read about and the devastating affect they can have upon your emotional wellbeing. So basically I progressed from wanting to promote an app, to highlighting issues in parenthood we tend not to talk about. The more taboo subjects if you like. I don’t do taboo. I’ll talk about anything and everything

Moving forward, I knew as part of this role I’d be expected to plan an event. This event would be an opportunity to bring more mums together and to mark the end of the 5 weeks as part of the Mush team. I knew I could organise a coffee morning at a local soft play, or a picnic in the park. But I decided I wanted to do something different. I wanted this event to be all about the mums. I wanted an event where the babies stay at home with Dad (you don’t see dads giving up their social life once baby arrives, right?) and the mums get some much deserved ‘me’ time. And I thought I’d throw an opportunity for a well deserved cocktail or two

So it’s in a pub. Out of the 50 Mush recruits, pretty sure I’m the only one to be hosting a piss up. But in my defence,  we’re not just meeting up for a Saturday night sesh in town. We’re Clubbercising first for an hour. We’re throwing on our gym gear and trainers, grass skirts (Caribbean theme) and coconut bras (not me, but my friend is) painting and glittering our faces and doing a dance work out, with our glow sticks, whistles and whoops to 90s to current day tracks on the lit up dancefloor of Flares. I can not wait and loving the prep I’ve been doing this week. I’m currently sat on the sofa with a blow up dolphin to the left of me, and giant banana and crocodile to the right. And a pile of lilos and rubber rings on the table.

We did this in May in aid of Radio Lollipop where I volunteer and it was such a good night, I could not miss and opportunity to do it all again.

flares

I want music, I want dancing, I want laughter and I want a night to hopefully remember. But most of all, I want a fun night with my friends. The girls who mean more to me than they probably know. It’s only Wednesday and I’ve already seen three of them this week. How awesome is that. I want other women who feel alone to realise that it’s never to late to rediscover yourself. To remember what you like, what makes you laugh, how it feels to have fun. But most of all, how important it is to have friends, as they could be a lifeline.

flares3

And I was about to share some more exciting info, but I’m keeping that for a future blog. I’m keeping this one all about the Mammys, how awesome they are, how hard it can be and how they don’t ever have to do it alone.

For more info about my event click on this link

https://www.facebook.com/events/102859490355781/

And to download the Mush app

https://mushapp.app.link/zeSiqqr4mE

 

 

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anxiety, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

My postnatal depression story

I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I have trouble remembering the first two years of my sons life. I can not tell you at what age he got his first tooth, his favourite food as a baby, his first word or when he began to sleep through the night.  I’m not even sure of what age he took his first steps.

My second child, I can tell you all her milestones. I think that’s mainly due to the amount of times I’ve had to go over them with paediatricians, therapists, doctors. She has autism, and was finally diagnosed at age six just last year.

My youngest,  Emily. I know all her firsts. Mainly because I was extra vigilant looking out for any red flags we had with my eldest daughter.

Each pregnancy was different. All had the usual sickness and discomfort.  But my third pregnancy, I just wasn’t feeling those feelings you associate with pregnancy. The excitement,  the happiness, the eagerness. I didn’t really feel anything.

I brought my feelings (or lack of) up with my midwife whilst getting my bloods done. I was assured it was perfectly normal , due to hormones and it would all settle down probably by my next appointment.

Only it didn’t.  I didn’t take joy in shopping for baby clothes, I was in no rush to pack my hospital bag, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was emotionless.

I booked a 3D scan around the 32 week mark, hoping that would make everything feel more real, I don’t think it did. It was a wonderful experience, of course it was, but the sadness continued.

The years which followed my daughters birth in September 2011 were dark, very dark. I was dealing with the likelihood of my oldest daughter having autism, which was causing stress along with that lingering feeling of worthlessness. But before even falling pregnant with my daughter, I was dealing with body image issues. I hated my appearance to the point it was affecting my everyday life. These feelings got worse. I’d stay home all day unable to face the world, or I’d only leave the house when it was dark. I’d avoid mirrors and my reflection in windows. I’d panic if we had a party or wedding to go to. I hide away in the toilets to avoid any social interaction.  And my heart would pound and my  head spin if I saw anyone with a camera.

I’d apologise to my children, as small as they were and unable to understand, for being a useless mother. I’d tell them I loved them as the tears rolled down my face, and that I was doing my best. I’d ask my husband why he was with me and give him the option to leave, which always left him gobsmacked and confused.

I’d go to bed each night and secretly wish I wouldn’t wake up. I’d have dreams of living a life where I am happy and have friends around me, and wake up devastated when I realised they were just that. A dream

My husband found me a video on Youtube about the ‘Black dog’, and asked me to watch it. I did. I broke down and he told me to get help.

I went to my GP, told her my feelings and filled in a questionnaire. From that she gathered I had depression and extreme anxiety. I was referred to the Mental Health Team. Again. I was already in therapy before falling pregnant with Emily dealing with body image issues. Hence my panic when faced with the prospect of having my photo taken. I was a mess. An absolute broken mess

That was September 2013. From then on I had fortnightly visits from my Health Visitor. She didn’t come to pry or check up on me. She came to lend and ear aswell as advice and support, and I thanked her for that.

October 2013 I began attending well-being courses. I picked up techniques to deal with stress, become assertive and gain confidence.

Summer 2014 I had my first appointment with I think it was a life coach. She pretty much assessed me to see if she could help. She couldn’t. My condition was too extreme.  I was then referred to a clinical psychologist. Again

I met with my therapist every two weeks and I think I had around 10 sessions before I decided I felt ready to face the world alone once again.

I learned through these sessions I was suffering with post-natal depression, and that the depression had even grown DURING pregnancy. I found out through a quick glance at my notes at the doctors surgery as they came up on the computer screen during an appointment, that  I had been suffering with PND after the birth of my second child. I found out through a letter sent to my doctors and a copy to sent to me, that I’d even been suffering with PND after the birth of my first child way back in 1999. I had my son at 21 so I’d spent most of my adult life with depression. I genuinely thought I was just useless, unlikable, disgusting. I was non of those. I was depressed.

PND took away my memories of my first child growing from baby to toddler, it kept me indoors, it filled me with fear, took away my self-esteem and stripped me of my confidence

When the therapy ended, I took up blogging. I decided to chase my dreams and enrolled on a distance learning course. This both occupied my mind and my confidence began to grow. I‘ve taken up exercise, and spend most days either in a gym or an exercise class. I’ve made new friends. I even spend two hours on a Sunday night as part of a team for a local radio station. I’m still building up my confidence to become more involved, but I know I will. I know I can do it. I can do anything if I continue to believe in myself.

Over the months I’ve thrown myself into situations I would usually avoid. I’ve done things I could never imagine doing and I am in a place now where I have never been in before. A very good place and although I am an anxious person by nature, I have my anxiety under control and I will never let depression take over my life or steal my memories again.

dance, general, health, health and fitness, mental health, wellbeing

WARNING – Things THAT will happen to you when you start to exercise

It’s just gone 2 years since I went out and purchased my first pair of trainers since school (I’m not even joking), threw on the leggings, bit the bullet and ventured into the world of ‘fitness’.

So if anyone is thinking of doing the same, I should highlight some of the changes, in both body and mind, you can expect to experience.

These aren’t a load of scientific facts I’ve googled and threw together, but all based on personal experience.

First off, expect to feel an increase in energy. You know when you find it really difficult to get up in the morning, particularly in the winter? You’ll find yourself waking up rearing to go. Especially if it’s a class day. And if that is the case, you’ve probably went to bed the previous night excited for morning. I mean who actually looks forward to 6am? That’ll be me

Your physical co-ordination will improve, helping you navigate even the most cluttered of tasks or busy crowds like the ninja you are

You’ll find yourself feeling good. Like really really good, less stressed and so much more relaxed. That’s the beauty of serotonin

You’ll gradually notice you are feeling so much more confident. You know all the things you wish you could do, but believe you can’t? The things you’d love to try but worried you’ll be no good at? The changes you’d like to make in life but are held back by the ‘what ifs’? You’ll do them. Because you’ll have the self-belief and confidence to have a go at absolutely anything you desire. And if it doesn’t work out as planned – you won’t care because at least you’ve given it a go

Your wardrobe will change. I have way more gym gear than ‘normal’ clothes. Barely any of them fit and I prefer to stick to black or gray, but I saw, I liked, I bought, and I’m sure they will at some point. Trainers will become the new heels. Especially if you go out for a few sociables after class. It happens

You’ll experience a sense of pride as your self-esteem begins to rise as you set and smash those goals you will start to set. Some fitness related, some not. Whether it’s to run a mile, fit into a pair of jeans or go along to a new class. There is no better feeling than that of achievement and you’ll reach a point where you believe you can have a go at pretty much any thing, although it’s important to not become too delusional. Don’t think after two weeks of pumping iron you’re ready to fly a plane. Keep it real

You’ll meet new people. People you’ll strike up friendships with, as you’ll all share a common interest and passion. Friends you’ll look forward to seeing, who cheer each other on, lift each other up and will play a special part in your life.

You’ll start to care so much less about what others think of you. As your confidence grows, so does a layer of thick skin which any unwanted negative comments you may unfortunately find being thrown your way, just can not cut through. There will be no room for negativity in your life. Good vibes only, people

In addition to all the above, your body will inevitable change. Not only will you be losing the pounds, your shape will change. You’ll notice you look and feel toned as muscle starts to form (especially if mixing weights with cardio).

So unless you want to feel utterly fabulous, completely change your mindset and open doors to a whole new you, you best avoid the gym and all the funky new fitness classes I just can not get enough of

 

 

 

 

 

 

clean 9, dance, depression, diet, excercise, forever living, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Clean 9 – 8 weeks on

BY LOUISE SHARP | August 17, 2015

On June 22, I started something which I didn’t really realise would have such an impact on my life. After years of failed and half-hearted attempts of dieting, I began a 9 day detox. I documented each day on my blog, sharing what I’d ate, and how I felt at the end of every day.

It’s now almost 8 weeks since I completed the cleanse, and I thought that I’d provide readers with an update.

Like whilst doing Clean 9, my meals are still all fresh and cooked from scratch. I have fish at least once per week and chicken around three times. I no longer eat sandwiches for lunch but wholewheat pasta or soup. I’m also wary of how much water I’m drinking, and fill a water bottle up several times a day, so I know I’m not dehydrated like I was before. I’m finding that I don’t really do any snacking now, but I always have fruit in the house just in case I do feel a little hungry between meals.

I have gone from being an absolute chocoholic, who could eat a big bar of Dairy Milk each night, to eating no chocolate at all. In 8 weeks I’ve had two small packets of Maltesers and a melted Bournville on a pancake. Chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks, biscuits just aren’t part of my diet now. I don’t want them and I don’t crave them. I did however, celebrate my son’s 16th birthday just two days ago and I had a small slice of cake. I also took my two daughters to a newly-opened ice cream parlour last weekend and I enjoyed the most amazing waffle, but these were special occasions and I’ve been extra active this week in order to work off the extra calories.

Just before I did the detox I had stated going to a Clubbercise class every Friday night, which I still go to, but I decided that one night per week just wasn’t enough, and I now go on Sunday mornings too. So no more sitting around the house in my pyjamas trying to find the energy to get dressed. I wake up, put on my leggings, neon top and trainers, grab my glow sticks and water and I’m dancing to club hits by 9.30am. I thought it was a great way to start the weekend on a Friday night, but it’s an even better way to start a Sunday morning.

In addition to this, a friend told me that her and three other girls do a session with a personal trainer once per week and asked if I wanted to go along and see what it’s like and possibly join their group. I went to meet the trainer and spent 20 minutes in the gym just to get an idea of where my fitness levels are currently at. As the other girls have been going for some months now, it was advised I do some catchup sessions first. I have my first session next week, which I’m both excited and nervous about. I guess it’s perfectly natural to be nervous about starting something new, but I can’t wait to see and feel the results.

I even really pushed my boundaries a few weeks ago by getting involved with a charity Clubbercise event. 75 of us eager neon-clad ravers filled a nightclub for an incredible hour and a half class… and we had fun, so much fun whilst raising money for a charity close to the hearts of the instructors. I’m looking forward to doing another in October; especially since I hear it is a Halloween special.

But that’s still not enough exercise for me. I feel I have loads more energy now which I need to burn, so I’m hoping to join yet another dance class one night per week, which is starting up in September. So I’ve gone from doing no exercise at all to two – potentially three – classes per week and sessions with a personal trainer.

I suffer from depression and low moods, and feel that I always will because it is part of me, but now I’m in control and I haven’t felt as happy in years as I have over the last two months. I wake up bursting with energy. I keep myself busy during the day with my studying and writing, which I’m finding much easier as even my concentration seems to have improved. My husband has said he has seen such a change in me; not only in appearance as I continue to lose weight, but also in my mood. He said that I look happier and my outlook on life is so much more positive. I’m aware that this new positive energy will also be felt by my kids, which is great. They don’t need to see their mum feeling sad any more or hear me say negative words about myself. They need a happy mum, with confidence, passion and full of energy, and they’ve got that at last.

I haven’t continued with any Forever Living products unfortunately, mainly due to cost, but I do drink Aloe Vera Gel three times a day, which I buy from a health food shop as it is slightly cheaper. My energy levels are still through the roof, and I’m finding drinking more water curbs any hunger during the day. So for those reasons I feel I that don’t need any supplements. I will however, be doing Clean 9 again after Christmas, as I know that there will be a few indulgences over the festive period. It may be an expensive detox, but it is worth every penny if it changes your life the way it has mine.

I can categorically say that doing Clean 9 is one of the best things I have ever done. It has changed my life, without a doubt. Sticking to the plan gave me a taste of what healthy living can feel like. It showed me that I don’t need to overeat, or comfort eat. Comfort eating is what was contributing to my negative feelings about myself and low self-esteem. I dealt with negative emotions by eating high calorie sugary snacks, which tasted good at the time, but was doing so much damage to my body (and mind). It was exercise I needed. It’s exercise which makes you feel good and lifts your mood. Exercise and a healthy diet go hand in hand because what’s the point in exercising then undoing all of your hard work with fatty, stodgy foods.

I no longer look in the mirror and hate what I see, or even avoid mirrors altogether. I see a work in progress and a happy person for the first time in years

(Origionally published in Cultnoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction. https://www.facebook.com/cultnoise)

depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

10 Sure Fire Steps to Body Confidence

BY LOUISE SHARP | July 10, 2015

Low body confidence is an issue which affects all of us from time to time, irrespective of age and gender. It is recognised as a significant social and public health problem in the UK and throughout much of the rest of the world. Statistics show that 60% of adults say that they feel ashamed of the way they look. This feeling of shame often leads to engaging in less social interaction, leading to isolation, and in turn poor mental health.

Worryingly, evidence gathered by the YMCA shows that low body confidence in young people can lead to unsafe sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and youth unemployment. In addition to this, a report commissioned by the Government Equalities Office found that low body confidence is undermining academic confidence and performance in adolescent girls, with some even missing school due to their body image concerns. Some women are going as far as simply not turning up to work or job interviews, showing that body image concerns are even preventing women from reaching their potential and contributing socially and economically to society.

But we live in a culture where a woman’s thinness and beauty are highly valued, and where wealth and success are often considered to go hand in hand with this image of perfection. We’re fed images via the media of ridiculously thin but extremely glamorous women, and these images are seen by teenagers in a time when they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure.

Low body confidence is not exclusive to women and girls; men and boys suffer negative body image too, but are less likely to admit to being affected, as it is seen as less socially acceptable for men to admit to caring about what they look like enough to experience any hang-ups.

It is the aim of many advocacy groups to change the way the media portrays women, with national and international efforts being made to make marketers take responsibility for displaying unrealistic and unachievable images of both men and women. But we cannot simply reply upon a change in the media to change the way we feel about ourselves, as body confidence is not solely down to what we see. There are a range of social, cultural, psychological and biological factors that influence body image.

We need to act as individuals and change the way we perceive and feel about ourselves. So, what follows is ten tips for achieving body confidence: a mental detox to have you feeling better about yourself in no time.

1)  Surround Yourself With Positive People

Every day we are surrounded by and spend time with a variety of people, but negative people can affect your own outlook, particularly of your body image. Choose to be around people who will make you thrive, even if this does mean some drastic changes to your social life. The transformation should empower you, lift your mood, self-esteem and body confidence.

2) Recognise the Use of Image Manipulation, and That Altered Images Are Altering Our Minds

These ‘perfect’ images we see in media aren’t all they seem. Celebrities have spent hours in make up, photographed under strategically placed lighting and air-brushed to perfection. Blemishes are removed, limbs are lengthened and stomachs are flattened, as demonstrated in the below clip. Learn to recognise that these alterations are unrealistic and recognise the harm that they are doing to your own self-image.

3) Celebrate Your Body and All the Amazing Things It Can Do

Shift your focus away from what you body looks like to what it can do. Our bodies are our means of getting about, seeing, feeling, smelling. It is the means in which we come in contact and get to know the world. We should appreciate and respect it for that.

4) Make a List of Things You Like About Yourself, Read and Add to It Often

These things don’t have to be physical attributes. What you look like is only part of who you are. Think of all the things you do and do well, such as your ability to make others laugh when they most need it, your quirks, or your ability to smile even when things get hard. These are all qualities that need to be celebrated. And when the critical voices start making themselves known, there’s some evidence to the contrary.

5) Overpower Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones

We affirm statements about ourselves and the condition of our life with every thought and word we speak, and we practice this habit subconsciously. As we ponder over specific thoughts again and again, those thoughts become beliefs. Pretty soon these beliefs become our reality, and the condition of our wealth, health and relationships depends upon our habit of perception. Practicing positive affirmations is life changing. Use more positive self-talk. When you find yourself in the midst of a negative thought pattern, stop and replace it with an opposite statement. So stop hating yourself because you ‘look horrible’ and learn tell yourself that you love yourself unconditionally.

6) Exercise

Research indicates that exercise can help to improve body image. People who exercise and workout regularly are more likely to feel self-confident than those who are largely inactive. Body image is a strong component of self-esteem – and taking part in an activity that you enjoy, and that you gain a sense of accomplishment from, will help to build your self-esteem. Other benefits gained from exercise include overall better mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress and depression. Exercise also releases endorphins which create feelings of happiness through euphoria.

7) Practice Self Acceptance

Self-acceptance is embracing yourself as you are right now.

“You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, ‘I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself.”

– Mariah Carey

To get to a place of self-acceptance you have to be able to know and understand who you are, which is likely to mean making some changes. You may have to face some fears and step outside of your comfort zone. It’s about separating who you are from what you’ve done, and understanding that everyone makes mistakes, and that’s how we learn and grow.

8) Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Everyone has something they wish they could change about their body. Wishing you had someone else’s hair, smile, or teeth takes away from what uniquely is you. Learn to accentuate the qualities you like and minimize the things you don’t. Start to look for beauty everywhere, particularly in places you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find it, then you will learn to find it in yourself. You might not be able to squeeze into those size 8 jeans, but you still have that killer hair.

9) Focus on What You Have the Power to Change

If you want to change something about yourself, do it. If it’s your hair you don’t like, try a new haircut. If you’re unhappy about your weight, look into changing your diet or maybe joining an exercise class. The sooner you start making the changes, the sooner you will start to feel better about yourself.

10) Invest Your Time and Energy More Wisely

Rather than worrying about food, calories and your weight, use that time and energy to do something to help others, whether it’s an individual, or even getting involved in charity work. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help us feel better about ourselves and make a positive change to our world.

And that’s it! Do you have any tips we haven’t covered here? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

clean 9, depression, diet, excercise, forever living, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Diet Review – Clean 9

BY LOUISE SHARP | July 14, 2015

We’re a nation obsessed with losing weight, but slimming is not an easy task for most. Last year it was all about juicing and the Paleo Diet, but figures released by Google at the end of 2014 show that the most searched diet of 2014 was Clean 9. Created by Forever Living, who amazingly enough don’t advertise their products but rather rely up word of mouth, this diet claims that you can loose up to 12lb in just 9 days.

Following a proven step-by-step plan called Forever Fit, which is an advanced nutritional, cleaning and weight management program, Clean 9 is designed to make you look and feel better. The Forever Fit plan starts with C9. The premise of Clean 9 is that it will help you begin to remove stored toxins from your body and feel lighter and more energised. Then it is followed by Fit 1 and Fit 2, which concentrates on sustaining weight loss and toning up.

Clean 9 involves taking a small variety of products supplied in the pack, along with an eating and exercise plan. It works with a combination of the effects of cleansing the body by drinking aloe vera gel, taking supplements like garcinia and forever therm which boosts the metabolism, and drinking a meal replacement shake.

The first two days will involve putting nothing into your body other than the products which are in the pack. However, there is a long list of GI free fruit and vegetables which can be eaten if necessary. Days 1 and 2 are aimed at resetting the body and mind and purging toxins. During days 3 to 9, one 600/800 calorie (women/men) meal a day is introduced for lunch or dinner, alongside the shakes and supplements.

So that’s what Clean 9 entails, and I decided to try it out for myself.

Most people weigh themselves before the detox, and take measurements.  However, I chose not to do this for a couple of reasons, which others may find strange and I appreciate that. Primarily, I wasn’t doing Clean 9 to lose weight; I was doing it to kick-start the healthy lifestyle I’ve wanted for so long, but always sabotaged within a couple of days with some kind of sugary snack. I wanted to have nothing but positives to report about the Cleanse. I was worried that if by day 9 I had only lost as little as 2lb, I would feel my efforts had been wasted and dwell on that rather than focus on the positive benefits of the cleanse.

The other reason is that I threw the bathroom scales out a few years ago after finding myself up in the night checking my weight, as well as several times during the day. I do want to lose weight. I want to finally say goodbye to the extra pounds I gained whilst pregnant with my youngest 4 years ago, and I’m hoping this will change my relationship with food and get me on the right path to feeling comfortable and happy with myself as I once did.

I planned exactly when to start the Cleanse. I wanted to do it during a time without any temptations. I had a weekend away planned, followed by family visiting. I knew there would be high calorie food and the odd glass of wine during those occasions that I wanted to partake in, so I chose the monday after as my starting point.

The sunday before the cleanse I made the most of eating whatever I liked, so I went out for a carvery, followed by a big slab of chocolate cake. I wanted that full feeling, the feeling when you’ve eaten more than you needed to and I wanted to remember it and how awful and unnecessary it can feel.

I really thought I would struggle on days 1 and 2. But I’m surprised to say that I didn’t actually feel hungry over the first two days at all. Breakfast was two capsules of Aloe Gel, which doesn’t taste pleasant. However, by day two I’d worked out a technique of doing the two shots of gel first, whilst holding my nose, followed by the two gel tablets and therm tablet. This way I could completely avoid the taste. But to be honest, by day 4 I wasn’t bothered by the gel at all. I was already feeling the benefits and they were worth the unpleasant taste.

On the first day I mixed the chocolate shake with water. I didn’t enjoy this at all, so switched to either rice or soy milk for the remainder of the cleanse, which gave it a much more enjoyable and palatable taste. I also gave it a good shake which made it quite frothy, and more like a McDonald’s milkshake and who doesn’t like a McDonald’s milkshake?

On day three I felt quite proud of myself for getting through the notoriously known hardest part of the diet, and really looked forward to my 600 calorie meal that night. I put a lot of thought into what to make, and went with chicken wholemeal wraps, with peppers, onions, lettuce, cucumber, a homemade salsa, and sour cream. On that same night, my daughter had two friends come for tea and I actually had no problem at all resisting the cake and crisps I had laid out for their tea party. I was also already starting to find that my clothes were starting to feel loose, and my skin looked much brighter and healthier than usual.

By day 5 I started to wish I had noted weight and measurements. My clothes were again feeling looser, and I was feeling more energetic by the day. I was also finding that at dinner time, I was feeling really full after my evening meal, even though my portions were much smaller than what I would have served before the cleanse.

On day 6 I tried on a maxi dress I didn’t anticipate wearing this summer and it fit. I also tried on a short, colourful cropped cardigan, which I had bought a few weeks earlier without trying on in the shop, got home and realised it was at least a size too small and surprisingly, that fit too. It was a Saturday and usually a takeaway night. I made a whole wheat noodles, chili and ginger salmon and prawns, steamed carrots, peppers and pak choi, which I enjoyed much more than the usual Singapore noodles, lemon chicken, fried rice, curry and chips.

Then day 7 arrived and I realised that shakes for breakfast were starting to feel routine now. I was actually really enjoying them, but not so much for lunch; I was longing for a healthy wrap of some sort. I also noticed the shakes were starting to taste slightly sweeter. With not eating chocolate for a whole week now, I was really starting to taste the natural sweetness in foods.

By this point, each morning I was filling my water bottle and putting an apple and banana in my bag to take out with me in the morning, without giving it any thought. With just two days to go, I felt like this was becoming a lifestyle which I was more than happy with to adopt.

On day 8 I’d expected to feel really excited about reaching the end of my cleanse, only I wasn’t. What was once the dreaded aloe gel in the morning had now become my routine and drinking it no longer phased me. Taking the daily supplements (8 tablets a day), were never a problem. Meal times were what they were before the detox, I never eat processed food or ready meals, but my downfall was often tucking into a couple of doughnuts whilst cooking a healthy meal.

When day 9 arrived I woke up feeling a massive sense of achievement. I had stuck to the cleanse and done everything by the book, even measuring quantities of rice to go with a delicious red Thai curry I’d made. I really enjoyed my first lunch in 9 days – two wholemeal pittas filled with prawns and salad that replaced the chocolate shake.

I felt the most energetic I had in a very long time. My mood felt uplifted throughout the whole 9 days, my skin was clearer than ever and my hair thick and bouncy. At no point did I ever experience hunger other than the normal hunger you might feel as lunch or dinner time approaches. I had no negative side effects what so ever.

I really wished I had taken note of my weight and measurements, as I would say in 9 days I felt like I must have lost near a stone. The differences were very noticeable. Some of my clothes were almost too big, and some fit much more comfortably and some I thought I wouldn’t be wearing this summer, now fit.

Today it’s a week since I completed the cleanse and I can proudly say I haven’t gone back to my old ways; I haven’t eaten any chocolate or biscuits, although I do admit I have had a handful of crisps and literally 5 Haribo hearts. But I’m not thinking about cakes, I have no interest in chocolate, and snacks are now fruit or a handful of nuts. My meals are still completely clean, and the portion sizes remain what they should ideally be.

I’m actually missing the aloe gel in the morning, so much that I may invest in some. I enjoyed the feeling of knowing I’m putting something good into my body each morning. My daily water intake has increased. I realise now how dehydrated I was before the cleanse and it showed in my skin. I exercise each day with a long walk in the morning and a Clubbercise class on a Friday night, I also plan to do another class during the week.

I will definitely be investing in another Clean 9, possibly in January next year as I do plan to have a small indulgence over Christmas. If anyone is thinking about doing the cleanse, stop thinking about it and just do it. It may be pricey at £116, but it is worth every penny.

It claims to be lifestyle changing, but if you’re like me and constantly battling with your weight and yo-yo dieting – which in turn affects your mood – it could be life changing.

(Origionally published on Cultnoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)

https://www.facebook.com/cultnoise

anxiety, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting

Man Down

Things have been a little bit hectic since my last blog. My hubby has been poorly and a trip to his doctors Thursday morning led to an overnight stay in hospital, and an emergency op that night. I had to stay at home with the kids so I had a really anxious day waiting for news. He went straight to the hospital from the doctors with a very low phone battery and no charger. Meaning contact was going to be very brief. Until a nurse realised the situation Friday morning and kindly gave him a charger.

So I spent two days last week at home on my own with the kids. Feeling very worried and stressed. I didn’t really eat anything for those two days. Being anxious I had no appetite at all.

But he’s recovering really well and feeling much better now, but will be off work for a few weeks unfortunately, due to the nature of his job.

We obviously missed a PT session, and I couldn’t go my Thursday Clubbercise double. However, I did make it Friday night. I needed that hour and as it was a later class. the kids were ready for bed when I left so it was no problem for Andrew. I was able to go Sunday morning, too. I’m not sure how much the class did for me physically as my head wasn’t really with it and I don’t feel I put my all into the routines, but it definitely helped relieved some of the anxiety.

So, whilst Andrew recovers, there will be no gym for at least 4 weeks. I know I could go alone, but he’s my training partner and it doesn’t feel the same without him. And with him being off work we need to cut back on spending for a bit. Obviously I’m still going to be going to Clubbercise. I don’t just go to burn calories, I go for fun and I need that. It’s my sanity (and social life).

This last week has really got me thinking about the importance of being in good health. I was worried sick when Andrew told me he would be put under a general anesthetic during surgery. Obviously any medical procedure carries a risk, but luckily he had the fact he is well within the healthy BMI range, physically fit, and a non smoker or drinker on his side. Had he been overweight, unfit, a heavy drinker and smoker, he would have been at major risk of complications during surgery and be looking at a much longer recovery period

With all this in mind, my ‘diet’ this week has became even stricter. I feel my focus is less about the outside and more about the inside. I’m far more concerned about my health than my appearance now. I don’t want to be at risk of any kind of illness or conditions now or in the future. I want to be in the best physical health I can be for my children, and my husband.

I’m now making extra effort to make every single meal from scratch. No cereal for breakfast, no bread, no convenience cold pasta meals picked up for lunch time from the supermarket. I’ve spent so many hours in the kitchen this week, making and preparing meals.

An average day now consists of eggs, scrambled or poached, wholewheat pasta, chicken (even to snack on), protein shakes if I’m struggling for protein or after exercise, fresh fish, brown rice, veg, lots of veg.

pasta

chicken

 

salmon

But NO shop bought ‘healthy’ snacks. You know the kind. The ‘low fat’ crisps, biscuits, cakes. No justifying a bar of chocolate with ‘I’ve done 4 hours exercise this week’.

I made chocolate protein brownies today. They didn’t turn much like brownies. I think I may have followed the recipe wrong and they turned out slightly too gooey to turn into anything other than a splodge. But a chocolate splodge. A really tasty chocolate splodge.

mix

splodge

So after my many failed attempts of a diet, I know I have got this now. My aim isn’t to ‘look good for summer’. It’s to be healthy all year round and for the rest of my life

image

diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, wellbeing

Title – there isn’t one

Started the morning with another 20 minutes of exercise, rowing machine again unfortunately, but I did also have a little dance in the kitchen whilst making my breakfast. Everything counts

I attempted to make the time go faster this time by listening to music on my phone, rather than watching a music channel. That way I could sing along to music I actually like, rather than the likes of Little Mix and Olly Murs yesterday. I need motivational, fast paced music. So that made it a little less painful, and the time did seem to go quicker.

I have ate very well today. Nothing exciting or which took a lot of thought or prep, so I won’t bore anyone with food photos.

After exercising thismorning I had a protein shake. We bought it over christmas after being advised which would be the best shake to not only add protein to our diet, but also assist weight loss.

 

So my hubby made it for me whilst having a shower and handed me a shaker full of really gross looking water. It tasted pretty vile, and not of chocolate at all. I was feeling doubtful I could drink it.

whey

However, upon reading the instructions of how to make it up, its 200 mils of water and one scoop of the protein powder. For some reason he decided to randomly add it to 500 mils of water. So after doing it correctly, it tasted much better. I’m not saying it was nice or anything, but it’s a small amount doing a lot of good so easily do-able. I bought unsweetened almond milk to make it with in future.

I’ve also had a shot of Aloe Gel. I’ve used it in the past as part of a detox, and it is really good and I do feel a difference when taking it, I just frequently forget.

aloe

I also tried a strawberry and cream Pro2go bar. Really, really nice. Also really, really expensive (£1.50 on offer, not sure of usual price). So doubt I’ll be buying many of them.

pro

So today is the last day of the holidays, and usually I would be feeling really sad round about now. Andrew is back at work, the girls are off school till tuesday. In the past I’ve hated the idea of going back to normality and spending my days alone and at home with the kids. But this year I’m feeling really grateful to have had such an amazing two weeks with my family. The girls have really understood and got into the Christmas spirit this year. We’ve had so many great days out over the last two weeks, and spent time with friends and family and I just feel really happy. I am focused, determined, and very excited for the days, weeks and months ahead.

Blogging is a great help and it’s like a diet tool. Seriously, if you’re going to do something you would normally give up on after a few days, blog it.

 

 

depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, metnal health

Twenty sixteen

It’s here, a new year and I’m hoping this year will be even better than last. My aim for 2015 was the typical ‘lose a bit of weight’ goal. But as suspected, months in and it just wasn’t happening.

It took me till the summer to start shifting the pounds, and that’s only because I discovered a love for exercise. I doubt I would’ve seen any difference at the end of the year had I just ‘gone on a diet’.

So this year I plan to continue dropping the pounds, as well as building strength both mentally and physically. I’m not aiming or aspiring to be ‘slim’, or a particular weight or dress size. This is about being in the best shape I feel I can be. I want to be healthy in both body and mind.

I’m hoping to achieve and stick to this by blogging, hopefully daily. I am going to share some of my meals, document any exercise I have done, and the scariest part, take photos. I want to see how much my body (not size but shape) can change over a year if I stick to my plan.

I’m also aim to keep track of and share my mental state over the year. On the days when I’m not feeling so good, I am going to identify why, and what I do to change it. I’m curious to see just how much absolutely anyone can change over a year.

Today is New Years day, and should really be day one. Only we still have food (cheesecake, crisps, chocolate) left over from Christmas, but very little and I suspect it’ll all be gone by tonight.

So tomorrow is day 1. Tomorrow is back on a healthy diet, only stricter than it has been and hopefully I can fit in an hour in the gym, or possibly even a run. But tonight,  I’m having a bath and finishing off the vino from last night.

 

general

National Fitness Day – How a lifestyle change has changed me

Low body confidence is an issue which affects all of us from time to time, irrespective of age and gender. It is recognised as a significant social and public health problem in the UK and throughout much of the rest of the world. Statistics show that 60% of adults say that they feel ashamed of the way they look. This feeling of shame often leads to engaging in less social interaction, leading to isolation, and in turn poor mental health.

Research indicates that exercise can help to improve body image. People who exercise and workout regularly are more likely to feel self-confident than those who are largely inactive. Body image is a strong component of self-esteem – and taking part in an activity that you enjoy, and that you gain a sense of accomplishment from, will help to build your self-esteem. Other benefits gained from exercise include overall better mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress and depression. Exercise also releases endorphins which create feelings of happiness through euphoria.

After constantly shunning suggestions to become more active to improve my mood (I’m rubbish to a fault at taking advice), I decided at that start of this year that I wanted to put an end to the constant agony of suffering from low self-esteem and negative body image. I set my sights on losing weight, and toning up. That would fix all my problems, wouldn’t it? If I looked good (or as good as I could) I would feel good??

I didn’t realise how much my choices were going to change the inside.

From doing absolutely no exercise at all, I’ve progressed from one class in May, to two, and now four a week, and an hour with a personal trainer (which is the biggest shocker). I’m not even that conscious of the changes on the outside, (I’m not monitoring anything. If I’m eating right, and exercising often, I’m improving my body). But my now loose clothes and need to buy more suggest I’ve dropped at least a dress size, and I can feel definition in my arms and legs, and I’ve felt pain from using muscles I never knew I had. I’m wide awake very early every morning, and I actually think I need something to suppress my energy now rather than boost it.

From being a complete gymophobe, (and throw in the NOW non existent extreme shyness and social anxiety), I can’t imagine life any differently.

My message to anyone suffering low self-esteem is if you want to change something about yourself, do it. If it’s your hair you don’t like, try a new haircut. If you’re unhappy about your weight, look into changing your diet or maybe joining an exercise class. If you’re worried you have no one to go with, go on your own. You’ll see familiar faces each week or make friends. Life is too short for hang ups. I’m only sorry it’s taken me to the grand old age of 37 to realise this, but I now recognise the importance to stress it to my children.

The sooner you start making the changes, the sooner you will start to feel better about yourself.