I Love a New Year

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I LOVE A NEW YEAR, I’ve blogged about it before, in fact I blog about it every January. I love it’s freshness, I love that we can push re-start, set new goals, new resolutions, new routines, have new plans. I love that it comes after Christmas too – a time to celebrate the year, to let people know they are loved, to shower them with gifts, to celebrate with food, movies, music, dancing, booze, and then a new year to start loving, appreciating and looking forward.

2015 had its ups and downs; it started off great, the first 6 months were amazing – I was energized by the new year, by the approaching summer and a tonne of things to look forward to…I was blogging regularly, I got to my fittest and lowest weight ever, I was becoming the person I planned for 2015, then life happened. Things out of my control, things that needed my time and attention, but weren’t part of my routine. Life hit me hard towards the second half of the year, these things came unexpected and just appeared. At one point in October I just woke up and cried, and cried and cried and cried some more – everything was spiralling out of control in what seems like all aspects of my life. So I took a few days of work, and re-set. I love my life, I love being busy, I really do – but trying to do everything in a very precise balanced way is hard, then something crumbles, then something else – and it just seems like all too much; was I just to give all of it up – or just get through it all, use my support network and focus on the important things.

So that’s what I did – I promised myself for the rest of the year I’m just going to focus on the important things, and do the things I need to keep me feeling good– and we’re at the end of the year and I feel fine, and feel like I’ve got everything back on track…which is handy, as it’s just in time for the new year.

I struggled a lot in 2015 about “loving myself” – when things got on top of me, and I couldn’t keep everything up, and things in my life were crumbling, I couldn’t help but blame myself – make myself think that I wasn’t good enough to do something, or if I was better this wouldn’t have happened etc. But I am good enough – and if I’m not good enough, I can work hard enough to be.  At the start of the year I blogged about Zoe and I trying our first spinning class, I was nearly sick in that class, I genuinely thought I was going to collapse, I was so sweaty I put the towel on my car seat on my way home (it was seeping through my hoodie) and I was saddle sore for about a week after. Now I regularly spin 2 – 3 times a week, and twice a week I do a spin class, and then a weights session. After that first spin class, if you had told me that in 6 months’ time I would be friends with my spinning instructor, and girls from spinning, I would go three times a week and enjoy every single class, and I wouldn’t be saddle sore anymore; I would have laughed and thought you were crazy….but I did, I built it up and got there.

I forget about the progress, as I live in the now and for the future too much. These last few weeks I’ve been saying that 2015 has been rubbish and I can’t wait to get it over it; but looking back at the year as a whole, it’s not been that bad – I may not have the body of a Victoria Secret’s model, I may not be fit enough to run a marathon – but 2015 has shown that with baby steps I can overcome things, and learn to love the unexpected.

2016 looks like it’s going to be an exciting year, I’ve got two very good friends giving birth in 2016, so Aunty Mandy duties will be in full swing. I’ll be Bridesmaid at a wedding in Jamaica in October, a crazy weekend in Dublin and a girls holiday in Ibiza and lots more little adventures along the way. 2015 I focussed on fitness, and I’ve got to a really good place with that; and got a good routine. I’ve sworn to my body pump instructor that I will get back to my early morning workouts twice a week too (because starting off you day with a Body Pump or Kettlebells Class is actually amazing, and I have to remind myself of that when my alarm goes off at 5:30am next wednesday).  2016 I focus on food – getting healthy eating sussed, making it become the ‘norm’ and sticking to it. So expect lots of recipes, instagraming of food and generally talking about weird and wonderful new things I’m trying out.

I’m also getting back to blogging weekly – I stopped when it all got too much (this is the easiest thing to give up), but looking back at the stats when I’m blogging regularly, I’m at my healthiest – so here’s to 52 posts from my in 2016!!!

Mandy

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Re-Light My Fire…

…Your love is my only desire. This is not a post on Take That’s greatest hit, just the title of this post can never be said without those five words following it. I bet you’ve now got the Lulu solo in your head. Anyway I digress.

I’m back in the game. My summer was a cycle of me falling off the wagon and jumping back on, then falling off again and jumping back…you get the picture. It started around my birthday (it always does) and finished about a week ago. I was going through un-healthy phases of binging and starving myself, I wasn’t exercising much due to my knee injury and was just in a sad, weird place. Summer’s for me are always like that, I’m not sure why. The good news is I didn’t put on any weight over summer, but I didn’t lose any either. So it’s just been a 10 week stagnant period.

Maybe it’s the start of a new academic year, or the glimpse of Autumn approaching and winter coming, and the year drawing to a close….whatever it is it’s put a fire back in my belly to reach my goals and to set realistic end dates for them. I know it’s not always easy, and there are many obstacles to overcome, but I haven’t lost 60lbs by just giving up when those obstacles pop up – I just keep getting through them, not matter how many times I try.

Part of getting through those obstacles is realising that even though you are doing this for yourself, it doesn’t mean you have to do it by yourself. Sharing this journey through this blog means I get a lot of support and encouragement from friends and family, which is great. Things always work better when you do it as a team. However I’m expanding my team this time – and bringing in the professionals. I have dreams of being in very good shape by the end of the year (it won’t be at my goal weight, but a lot closer), with 3 and half months to go, a hard summer behind me and a dodgy knee, I thought it was best to get an expert in, and I decided to hire a personal trainer.

It was a tough decision, it’s not cheap either, but I REALLY want to reach my goal; I really want to squat weights again without crying as my knee falls out of place, I really want to have a body I’m proud off, a shape I’ve worked hard for, something to feel good in. So after a tonne of research, googling various PT’s and Personal Training company’s in my area, I found one and went along to my first consultation. I was a little scared at first – I always feel like strangers are SUPER JUDGEMENTAL, and I try and never put myself into a situation where I’m openly going to be judged on my body, (but the whole point of this consultation is to change my body), so I was scared. I was super scared that the PT would assume from looking at me that I don’t have any regard for what I eat, and I ‘ve never exercised a day in my life. So I kind of went in, in defence mode, to defined my “healthy (but not massively healthy lately)” status….

I didn’t need too, I met with Nick,  who runs  Oxfordshire Personal Training, and he was nice and normal. He  genuinely just wanted to know what I wanted out of Personal Training, and why I wanted it. I told him what I’d done on my own so far, and what I wanted from them; and we had a nice little chat about it all and he was even impressed I had lost so much weight on my own. He didn’t suggest any ideas about what they expect from me, or what I should weigh / look like, but just explained their support process. We booked a first session in with the lovely lady who would be helping me reaching that goal, at my own gym – which is great, because I love my gym, and it took me a while to find a gym I’m comfortable with.

I’ve had my first session and it was fab, myself and Rhianwen (my personal trainer – ooo doesn’t that make me sound fancy). We did the whole weighing thing (which wasn’t scary for me, as I weigh myself at least twice a week anyway), looks a my current stats (body fat %, muscle mass etc.) set up some goals, looked at my nutritional plan  and then did an awesome workout. I used the TRX for the first time, which is a lot less scary than it looks….and I can’t wait to see her again tonight!

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I’m still keeping to my Spinning Classes as my cardio, I love them too much to give them up, and I’m going to get back to my early morning Body Pump session. So with the combination of my favourite classes, some PT sessions, a nutritional plan that I’m getting to grips with and support from you guys I really feel like I can being in very good shape by the end of the year.

Mandy
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MHH’s 22/52 – Back to Basics

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I’ve not blogged in a while, and not because I’ve been busy, but because I’ve been down. Down about my weight, down about getting healthy, down about everything you can think off. They say there is a silver lining to every situation, all I see is grey at the moment. It’s not always like that, I’ve had a few up days, where everything has been fine and dandy, but on the whole over the last few weeks I’ve been down. If you’ve seen the movie inside out – you could call me the sadness emotion.

I’m used to having mood swings, and I’ve learnt manage to combat it and control it via exercise – the endorphins release make me this sickly happy person, with a passion for life – setting out to achieve, dream etc. (eurgghhhhh writing those words write now make me feel like some tacky poster that people have up in their Next furnished living rooms). However I’ve injured my knee (again), but this time I’m on a ‘rehabilitation plan’ which involves gently stretching it, but no exercise for 10 days (I’ve got 3 days to go).

I am going bloody crazy and completely hating myself; I’m convincing myself that I’m destined to be fat for the rest of my life, everyone has a fat friend (except for me), so I will be the world’s fat friend. I then think, that I can’t do this – I’ve got as far as I can go….there is nowhere else I can go from there, so maybe I should just embrace my size, become one of these plus size bloggers. These girls genuinely are happy with their bodies – and I don’t know how they do it? How did they get to their happy place? Why can’t I get there? Will I ever be happy with my body shape? All I know is that I’m  not happy now, and I want to be healthier, slimmer. I want to feel good about myself, and so far the only way I know how to do that is to lose weight. I can’t change my ugly mug, my hair isn’t too bad and I even have nails at the moment, so the only way to get my feeling good about how I look is the way my body looks.

So I’m not embracing my size, I’m changing it & I’m going back to basics. In the last couple of weeks I’ve tried crash dieting, starving myself, counting calories, not eating carbs etc – none of it has worked, it never does. I vowed I wouldn’t diet this year, that’s because I can’t stick to a diet. So I’m just going back to eating healthy – the only problem with that is, sometimes eating healthy can be so bloody boring. Chicken and Broccoli for dinner 5 nights week? No thanks…that’s the kind of food that leads you to splurge and go overboard with junk on the weekends and put you 3 steps back. So I’m going to back to my healthy cookbooks, and blogs, clean up my eating, keep it healthy and tasty – so it’s something to look forward to and from next Monday back to my exercise routine. That’s how it works right; eat healthy, move more = healthier you (and also hopefully smaller waistline) Who knows if it’s going to work? If not, I’m getting Lipo!

 
Mandy

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MHH’s 21/52 – To quote Pitbull “taking my life from Negative to Positive”

I woke up in a foul mood this morning, so the post starts a little bitchy, but eases off…so stick with the moan!

10 days ago I turned 26, and it sucks! As I’ve got older, I’ve realise I HATE my birthday. It’s an awful reminder that time is passing, I’ve not achieved half of what I’ve dreamed of at this age and I’m getting old. My Mother keeps reminding me that at my age she was married with a child and one on the way at 26 – and I have neither a ring or a baby, and have no plans for either of them soon and neither does Kyle – are we doing this “growing up” thing wrong?

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The last 10 days have not only sucked, but been an emotional rollercoaster. I have this habit of assessing myself and my life every New Year and Birthday (they are approximately 6 months apart, so it works out quite well). The New Year assessment is always a positive one, I set goals, I start to accomplish dreams, I look forward to the next 12 months. The birthday assessments are the worst. I’m extremely judgemental (it’s a family trait) and the person I’m the harshest judge on is myself. I look back on the 6 months (which go quicker and quicker each year) and don’t see any progress, notice no real difference and feel that I’m just in the same place where I started, battling the same journey, chasing the same dream; so why did I even bother trying?  I’m not just talking about weight loss and my health; but with other bits, doing up the house, finishing books I want to read, assignments, work etc. I feel like I’m trying, and trying, and trying some more and not getting anywhere. This negative mind-set, doesn’t only make me feel bad about myself, but because I’m an emotional eater I end up making awful food choices, which makes me feels like crap and puts me in a bad mood.

 This negativity is not going to get me anywhere – so with that in mind, I’m going to focus on the positives. So here are 3 things I’m proud of that I’ve achieved this year:

 1 – I’ve lost weight (20lbs) and kept it off – though it’s been so hard, and I feel like I’ve done enough spinning sessions to lose 100lbs.

2 – Going to the gym to work out 4 times a week has become routine completely, some days are harder than others, but generally on the whole I barely question it, and just go.

3 – I never thought I’d say this; but 6:30am Body Pump class is the best class of the week, and one I’ve only missed once since April. I never thought I would like a morning class, but I LOVE IT!

I strive when I’m working towards a goal and  I need a new goal. Weight loss, getting healthy etc. is my overall goal; but I need more of a measurable goal I can work towards. I’m not sure what exactly, but I’m going to find something to do – any ideas, let me know! This time last year I had the half marathon to focus on, and even though I couldn’t complete it because of my knee, it kept me focused. I’m also working towards saving goals, as if I don’t have a specific thing in mind to save for, I just spend money and literally cannot account where it goes. I have no idea how Kyle and I did it for the house, but we did, and we can do it again. I need to know the end game, so I can plan for it – that’s with everything in life. I hate surprises.

I’ve started food prepping and planning more, as after a few unhealthy weeks I was feeling rubbish, needed to nourish myself with the right things and generally clean up my eating. I also want to try and lose a little more weight before we go to Spain, so just trying to focus on working out lots and eating healthy (this is hard, when you feel like crap, and Kyle walks in with a Pizza).

 

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My typical day in my food prep week looks something like this:

Breakfast – Spinach, Cucumber and Banana Smoothie

Snacks – Satsumas

Lunch – Herb crusted turkey breast with salad leaves, sweetcorn and balsamic vinegar

Snacks – Slice of toast with butter and marmite

Dinner – Bean burger  or Nut cutlet with steamed peas, carrots, broccoli – usually with a little light mayo and chilli sauce for flavour

I’m on day 3 of this regime, and it’s working OK – I suspect next week we’ll have to change it up a bit, as it will be driving me crazy eating the same stuff all the time.

Back in the gym (and my god, my arms can feel it).

This week exercise looks something like this:

Monday – Spinning, Body Pump

Tuesday – Spinning

Wednesday – Body Pump

Thursday – Spinning

Friday – Body Pump

Saturday – Cycling (yes, I’m actually taking my bike out the shed)

Sunday – Rest (though, we are planning on painting the house)

Eating Healthy + Working Out should make me feel top of my game again, check in with my next week to see if it’s working!

Mandy
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MHH’s 20/52 – Take it Slow

So I haven’t blog in a while, and people keep reminding me – in fact someone message me to see if I had fallen so far off the health wagon that I couldn’t face admitting it to my (very small) audience. I haven’t. I’ve been busy. I’m still on the health wagon, and I’m still losing weight extremely slowly – in fact, it was only 0.5lb off last week, but losing is still losing. However the reason I haven’t blog is because I’ve got nothing to moan about (Kyle would profusely deny this)…I’m in a good place.

Yes I probably still haven’t found the right balance, and more than a bit of cake and ice cream seem to find a way into my mouth than is deemed healthy, but the reality of it is that’s it’s not bothering me as much as it use too. One slice of cake at work, and it would spiral out of control for the rest of the day, in fact if that day was slightly stressful (which it normally would be, as I would stress myself out about going over my calorie allowance for the day), it would become an ‘out of control’ week and take me a while to get my “health funk” back. Nowadays, I’ll eat a piece of cake (that hasn’t been in my meal plan), and just carry on as normal – I won’t let that piece of cake eat me up inside and promote that guilty feeling. I’ve eaten it. Move on.

As John Legend reminded me last week you need to TAKE IT SLOW ow ow ow…this time we take it slow. The journey to a healthy me is a long one, one that has gone up and down, at times seemed plain sailing, at times seemed like the biggest struggle in the world. It’s also one of self-discovery. I’ve been trying to lose weight for ever, like I literally knew I was over-weight from a kid (I won’t go into those details, but you can read them here in a previous post), and it’s only been in the last 6 months that I’ve discovered what works for me – this “healthy living lifestyle”.

My overall goal now is to be healthy; but I also want to lose weight along the way. By shifting the goal, to optimize my health losing weight has been a by-product. They say the secret to weight loss is to eat less, move more. It’s so easy to say those 4 words, but it’s so hard to put in practice. By focusing on my health; where I supply my body with nourishing, nutritious foods, and exercising it for my heart and lungs, the weight may not fall off like it would with other diets; but it makes me feel better, gives me better skin and puts me more in control.

I often do before and afters of myself – it helps me see how far I’ve come, sometimes this “healthy lifestyle” doesn’t seem like it’s doing anything, and I should just do a shake-only diet (or some equivalent), but looking back makes me realise how far I’ve come. I’ll share these with my nearest and dearest (so I can show off a little), but always been too scared to share it online. Maybe because there are internet trolls who seem to be ruining it for the fat girls out there, maybe because I’m still not at my final weight – so it’s more a before and “in progress” pictures, maybe because I’m just a little too shy to share with the internet, maybe because it has been a real rollercoaster, as the pictures show, or maybe because I just don’t take a good photo. But with some encourage from my lovely Aunty Maz, and also to show people who read this blog, that “healthy” works and I’m not just blabbering on each week….

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It’s a SLOW process, but still a process!

Mandy
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MHH’s 19/52- Three Little Words

When I’m bad, I’m really bad…when I’m good, I’m an healthy angel. I’ve spent the last two weeks being bad (health-wise). After I wrote my last post on my restful trip to Italy, and pledge to lose a stone by my birthday, and jump straight back on the health wagon – I didn’t. In fact I even think Kyle and I got Mac Donald’s for dinner that night. Then my spiral of unhealthy eating, teamed with a pretty bad cold – put me in a bad place, and the gym was the last place I wanted to go. I felt FAT and not just like I’ve eaten badly and feeling a bit bloated – but I felt super fat, lethargic, ugly and just bad about myself. I got out my “fat girl” clothes, and wallowed a little – thinking to myself, “diet starts tomorrow”. I had a long and busy working week too, so the stress of it probably didn’t help either. I then went away for a work conference, so was hotel-living for 5 days. At engineering conferences they tend to keep you happy (& alert) by feeding you constantly, and boy we’re we fed, and watered….so my bad week, was followed by a week of electromagnetics and food. I indulged in every meal and as I bite into a jam and clotted cream covered scone, I would say to myself those three little words “DIET STARTS TOMORROW”, and then carry on eating.

Garfield summing up my attitude perfectly last week
Garfield summing up my attitude perfectly last week

I blamed my bad behaviour for being out of routine, a crazy work week, away from home the following week etc. It’s all excuses. I’m totally in control of what I eat, what time I make for exercise etc. So the only person I should blame for the “bad behaviour” is myself. However on the flip side; it was nice to indulge, except for the fact that I was surrounded by engineering jargon – it was like a holiday, and compared to my old eating habits, I showed a lot of self-constraint.

I was angry with myself though for even thinking about those three little words – DIET STARTS TOMORROW – I’ve made a conscious effort this year to not be on a diet. I don’t do well on diets, I last about a day, maybe two, before I give up in a heap. What I am doing it changing my eating habits, cleaning them up and becoming healthier.

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In fact since Monday this week, that’s what I’ve been doing, eating healthy, indulging a little for my sanity (as it’s a very sad life, if there is not cake involved) and back to my usual classes at the gym. I know this works, I’m three days back into my normal routine and I feel a lot better already. Have the scone, but is it really necessary after a big breakfast and 3 course lunch? – it’s all about finding the right balance. And if you do indulge that day, it’s all about bouncing back as soon as you can. Don’t wallow in your own self-pity it helps no one and puts you in a bad mood.

I do have this fear of the scale at the moment, as I know 2 weeks off can cause a lot of damage with the numbers on there, so for now – whilst I slip back into routine – I’ll stay away from the scale. Maybe I’ll jump on next week when I’m feeling even better.

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Gym routine this week looks like this:

Monday – Spinning, Body Pump (after I week off, I dived right in, and boy do my legs hurt now).
Tuesday – Spinning
Wednesday – Morning Body Pump
Thursday – Spinning
Friday – Body Pump
Saturday – Spinning

I’m diving back in hard, I know that will mean I ache a little more than usual, but it will get easier next week.

Mandy

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MHH’s 18/52 – La Dolce Vita

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It’s been exactly a week since I went to the gym….and I feel FANTASTIC. I’ve rested, relaxed and chilled out and I feel good.

My day to day routine is a busy one, I write a lot about my healthy living regime (which is the whole point of this blog), but I also do lots of other things in my life that take up a lot of time (charity work, political campaigning, studying etc.), plus a demanding and social family, trying to re-decorate a house and keep it clean too – it all gets a bit mental. The last 4 weeks had been hectic, and everything seemed to come up at the same time – so it was a case of waking up at 6am and just keep going with things till bed time. I’m not complaining, I love being busy, I love getting involved – but sometimes you just need to sit down, relax and not worry about it all. So that’s exactly what we did – 5 of us escaped to Piedmont in Northern Italy to rest.

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I’m fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, but nothing can compare to the open landscapes of Piedmont, with the backdrops of the snow-topped Alps in the background.

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“Rest” for us came in the form of eating our hearts out in salami, cheese, gnocchi, bread, pasta, steak, swordfish and many other delights (I’m getting hungry again, just writing this list). We must have looked hungry, as everywhere we went they tried to feed us; we easily ate enough “tasters” of Salami and Cheese to warrant a full 3-course meal just on a mid-morning trip to the Market one day. Then at a Barolo Tasting festival, we had to “cleanse” our pallet in-between wine with a breadstick, when there are over 40 different wines, that’s a lot of Barolo and breadsticks! My Italian Angel, my lovely Aunty Paola, also made sure we were well kept, and we ate like Roman Gods thanks to her.

Then we came back to the UK on Monday afternoon, and even though I was conscious that I spent 3 days of eating and drinking straight and I hadn’t seen a Spinning Bike in 4 days, I didn’t feel guilty. In fact I cherished the rest and nourishment of the fresh, tasty, high quality food. I jumped on the scales this morning, ready to face the damage, and was pleasantly surprised to see that I’d put on 1lb – this must be some kind of fluke, (I swear I’ve put on more from just eating Mac Donald’s) but I’ll take it. It just goes to show, that taking a break doesn’t always have be damaging, and it’s good for the soul.

Now I’ve rested, I’m ready to make a 6 week goal – which brings me to my birthday – of being 14lbs (a stone) lighter. That means getting back to consistently losing just over 2lbs a week, but I’ve worked hard for it before, I can do it again!

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite photos from my restful trip……

Mandy

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Drinking in the streets in classy if you've got a wine glass!
Drinking in the streets in classy if you’ve got a wine glass!
Selfies in La Morra  (our faces block the view)
Selfies in La Morra (our faces block the view)
Barolo in Barolo
Barolo in Barolo
NUTELLLA!
NUTELLLA!
Barolo Boys - Barolo Festival. Teaching us the best way to consume a lot of wine, is to carry a wine glass around your neck.
Barolo Boys – Barolo Festival. Teaching us the best way to consume a lot of wine, is to carry a wine glass around your neck.

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Walking the Streets of Northern Italy, makes us look a lot more classier than walking down Cowley Road
Walking the Streets of Northern Italy, makes us look a lot more classier than walking down Cowley Road
They wouldn't let us in, in case we drank all the Barolo!
They wouldn’t let us in, in case we drank all the Barolo!