Private Baby Benjamin

Now I am nearly a stay at home mum, i am thinking of what i can do to increase exercise with baby boy tagging along.

I have already tried interval running, which involves me pushing baby boy in the buggy (not one of those expensive jogging buggies, just my bog standard mclaren). I run and push for 1 minute, then walk for 2, although baby boy makes a good personal trainer, nagging me as soon as his buggy slows down.

I have been powerhooping once a week, with baby boy sat in the buggy in the corner of our village hall passing quiet judgement on us ladies spinning around. He even joins in for the stretching bit.

So with a bit more spare time, i am going to embark on ‘boot camp’. This concept has been popular for some time but i have yet to give it a go. Like most people, i will do more if pushed so figure it will be a good, if slightly painful experience. The boot camp lady will also let you bring your child, but quite what they do while you are being put through your paces is a mystery. I did notice at the school summer fair that the pre-schoolers of boot camp mums did do particularly well in the under fives race. So watch this space…..

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Fading photos….but not faded enough

I made a nasty discovery in my mum’s old photo collection today…….me when I was fat.

I recall listening to Sara Cox on the radio one day when she remarked how old and inferior she felt when watching 19 year old girls walk by with amazing figures and not terribly much on. She described them as 100% prime beef with men all queuing up at a meat market.

This was not me at 19. Before university student life I had an OK figure, then I started drinking cider and eating at greasy spoons and trying to keep up with my boyfriend’s daily calorific intake. When I look back I recall it not being the healthiest episode of my life and that I may have crept up to a size 14, but the picture is shocking. I literally look like someone pumped me full of gas. Even my facial features have been lost to the landmass that is my bloatedness. Thankfully I can look back on it now and feel relieved that the wind didn’t change and that I didn’t stay that way. It is a shame though that I bhdidn’t look my best when my skin was still in its ‘youth’.

Now in my thirties I have finally grasped the concept of ‘my body is a temple’, yet i have lots of grey hairs, wrinkles  and a few saggy bits where things haven’t ‘sprung’ back to shape. Its all a little bit too late. But as you get older, concerns about your appearance hive way to preserving your health, which is why i am fitter and slimmer now than when i was in my teens……back then i did whatever i wanted and thought about the consequences later.

So to prevent me from ever ballooning like i did when i was 19, that photo is stuck to my fridge as a reminder whenever i get tempted away from an evening’s exercise or tempted towards sugary treats.

I decided not to put the pictures of my semi-naked mother (she seemed to like going topless on all of our family holidays) and my father with george best hair and a podgy tummy on the fridge. Some photos are best left in albums, or better still in our memories… fade with time.

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A bottomless pit

I have put on 5 pounds on the IQS diet. Dont blame the diet though. Before I reach for a spoon of sugar in my coffee again, it has dawned on me that i may have been eating more than the rda on peanut butter, which has an effect, even the reduced sugar and salt version. So over the next month peanut butter has been put on the naughty list and i will continue my mission to be sugar free in a bid to be healthier.

A magazine article on body shape featured a comment from a woman that struck a chord with me.  She said her focus wasn’t on her lumps and bumps but on healthy eating. So, i figured if i focus on health, the lumps and bumps will follow (or rather drop off). In the meantime i continue to be repellent to sugar, in the same way that a ex-smoker dismisses offers of a cigarette, today i declined chocolate muffins and mr whippy ice-cream.

However, it is hard to focus on health when all you really want to do is decrease the land mass of your rear-end. My baby boy has discovered it as a new form of entertainment to spank it so it wobbles, a habit inspired by the actions of both my daughter and husband. I am now wondering whether it is impossible to get rid of extra bum – if your born with it you have just got to sit on it – like Kim Kardashian.

Or is it years of bouncing up and down on horses’ backs. Maybe my body’s reaction was to create a buffer, hence the big butt.

Of course there are many more things to be worrying about than the size of bottoms. Us women have to shoulder the burden of achieving the ‘ideal’ figure but ‘ideal’ for whom?

Now my husband has started to comment that my daughter’s bottom is ‘filling out’ and i instantly retaliate with an exclamation of what a beautiful butt it is.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when women are more relaxed about their body shape? Or is it a culture that will continue in perpetuity?

Maybe the way to address it is through a process of elimination, a bit like weeding out an allergy. For example what would happen if high-fashion was excluded from the public conscience for a year, or it was insisted that only plus size models (aka normal size) were used for all advertising campaigns?

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Duracell no added sugar

I am almost a month in to my ‘i quit sugar’ diet and i have found one benefit that i wasnt expecting. It is not to do with weight loss (although thankfully i havent put on any weight), it is actually energy levels.

Today I was like one of those Duracell bunnies. I kept waiting for a wall of tiredness to hit me so i just kept going and going. In fact now (21.23 pm) is the first time i have actually sat down. Every time i thought i had a chance to momentarily put my feet up, i kept saying, ‘i will just do the washing/ washing-up/ prepare dinner/ water plants/feed horses / dogs/ clean bathroom while washing kids in bath……and this is after power-hooping in the morning and walking round the countryside with the kids and dogs all day…..and while feeling below par with a grotty cold. Its not bad this cutting out sugar lark.

It makes you wonder what it is about sugar that zaps your energy long-term? A friend of mine said she couldnt quit sugar because she would feel too lethargic. When in fact cutting it out would be the best thing for her. I find my energy levels are consistent, i dont have the peaks and troughs in energy levels like i used to. So, where in the past i would turn towards something sugary mid afternoon and later in the evening, i dont feel the need for it.

Coconut is also my new best friend and the children both enjoy drinking coconut water, it is amazingly refreshing and more hydrating than water. I am looking forward to having a go at a sugar free bounty bar recipe as they were one of my favourite sweets.

A few times my husband has complained that there is not enough ‘unhealthy’ stuff in the cupboards and the children seem to have re-discovered fruit.

Not that we exclude treats, we went to the chocolate cafe yesterday and all three of them had chocolate (apart from me with my glowing halo). My husband couldnt finish off his brownie and i declined it so my daughter wrapped it up in a napkin and put it in my bag for later.

Later on that evening, i found an empty slightly chewed up napkin next to my rather sheepish looking dog, she is becoming a dab hand (or should i say paw) at rifling through my bag. Last time she did that she finished off a bag of maltesers.

I wonder if they do a ‘quit sugar for dogs’?

I am blogging every say for Unicef.

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Taking candy from a baby is as easy as taking candy from a baby

So far so good with quitting sugar for life. I am in my third week and have been impressed with my resistance fending off cheesecakes, cadbury’s chocolate and iced buns without a backward glance. In her book, Sarah Wilson states that as you cleanse and r-train your palate the urges for sugar lessen. For me this has extended to even avoiding a little bit of honey during ‘time of the month’. I am doing so well on this diet that I fear even a little taste of sweetness is going to set-off all the cravings again. In many ways it is like nicotine addiction (I gave that up about 5 years ago and have certainly never looked back).

My children too are benefitting from this and I have noticed this crazy thing that has happened….if you don’t put sugary snacks in their lunch box they don’t ask for them. Instead I have been putting in far healthier ‘sweeter’ snacks such as pure fruit and fruit based snack bars (which do have a sugar content but nowhere near as bad as a biscuit or a cake) and i haven’t heard one complaint. I keep waiting for the moaning to start and it doesnt happen. I have given them ice-cream for pudding occasionally and I don’t prevent them from eating chocolate if it is given to them but i am now resisting the urge to give them a sugary treat favouring the far healthier alternatives – i just  didn’t believe it would be so easy. It just goes to show how much,  as parents, we unwittingly guide our children down the same nutritional path as we follow as well as the eating habits. If your child sees you comfort eat, chances are they will become a comfort-eater too. Just like so many things in life it is lead by example.

One big change I have noticed in my fridge since beginning the no sugar campaign is the lack of yoghurt and juice. I was astonished when I glanced at the nutritional content of a low fat yoghurt and saw the amount of sugar contained in one pot. Yoghurts are now in my’ do not buy’ category and I avoid them like the plague. Once again I feared my children’s reaction to no yoghurt on the menu but was surprised to find they didn’t even miss it let alone ask for it.

This goes to show that Western children are not really that fussy about eating. As long as they have a healthy appetite (ie not fed crap every 5 minutes to the extent that they never feel hungry enough to eat a proper meal), then kids will eat most food offered to them when given a steer as to the right foods to eat by the family (home cooked meal versus mcdonalds).

Check out some good recipes on

This blog is for Unicef.

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January in Brighton

The sun was out and glistening on the sea of Brighton as we headed down to the coastal town for my daughter’s birthday treat. It felt so good to see the sun and the sea glistening as if it was July rather than January. It gave us all a much needed boost of Vitamin E on our pasty complexions.

We had our first experience of the Build a Bear Workshop (our main reason for venturing to Brighton) for my daughter’s birthday. There were so many bear ‘skins’ for my daughter to choose from she was temporarily indecisive but in the end settled for the white flashing bear (not indecent exposure I hasten to add but flashing multicoloured lights). Then we joined the queue for the bear to be ‘stuffed’. As it was her birthday the girl at the workshop asked her to squeeze the bear’s heart (chosen by my daughter from a selection of fabric organs) seven times for her age and then it was promptly inserted into the bear and sewn up. Then came the very serious task of dressing and accessorizing ‘Snowy’. A very cool pair of bear sized Skechers trainers dictated the rest of the rather cool outfit, complete with knickers and socks and the very apt accessory of a snowboard. Although we had received a gift voucher from a friend the final total still made my husband gulp as we came to the end of ‘build a bear’ journey. I removed myself from the raised eyebrows at the till scenario by taking pictures of my daughter with Snowy bear and her school mascot (a hippo called ‘Ron’ who we had been looking after all weekend).

We then checked out the American Diner on Brighton seafront, which was packed with retro 50’s/ 60’s and 70’s American paraphernalia from signed pics of screen idols like Al Pacino to life-sized wax models of ‘Chips’. I resisted the pancakes and knickerbocker glorys only because I physically couldn’t fit it in. (The previous day I had bought a pair of trousers reduced from £75 to £10 and thought that AW12 on the ticket meant size 12 when actually 12 was the year, AW the fashion season and they were in fact Europnean size 34 which is a UK 6). So my tip to resist over-eating in American restaurants is to wear something round your waist that is 1 or 2 sizes smaller than you would wear normally – not quite cutting off your blood supply but close!

If you are planning to visit Brighton then check out JBs American Diner and if you are a kid (or an adult) visit Build a Bear Brighton.

Hope your January is getting brighter wherever you are too.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. I am aiming to raise £1 a day for each blog post. If you can support my endeavours visit my page on the Unicef website.

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Running out of time

AAARRgggh deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. I feel my head will spontaneously combust if it has to remember just one more thing. Forgot the parent/ teacher meeting tonight so thankfully hubby stepped in and saved the day (yes they do have their uses!). My to do list at work is more like a wish list, which keeps getting longer. Every time I pop to the loo or for a cuppa my phone is flashing like Batman’s Gotham City hotline (if only the calls were that interesting) and my mobile is constantly beeping with friends wanting to know more about my son’s birthday party tomorrow. Why did we invent all this annoying technology that nags us? We were late for the school bus this morning so I hunted it down to the next bus stop like Damon Hill (or Jenson Button if I am being more up-to-date) and so keen was I to push pedal to metal I forgot to put my seatbelt on (very bad I know) so my car was going bananas….beep beep beep fuckin’ beep……flash, flash, flash, fuckin’ flash….”I know, I know I’ll put it on a minute” (yes I actually talked to my car) but that’s what you end up doing – talking to inanimate objects because of all this beeping and flashing and nagging.

Well finally its the end of my working day and pound in the pot for yesterday I know because I was busy being Queen of cupcakes. A very serious procedure involving carefully removing tiny little disc shaped rice paper (with a photo of my son’s favourite toy) and then laying them onto each cake with germanic precision. Regardless of my attempts they still ended up looking like a 5 year old had done them – so if anyone questions their appearance I am just going to say “My daughter helped me…oh bless”.

I was also busy last night working on a new technique with the power hoop to literally ‘pummel away my bottom’. Despite my best attempts to diet, exercise (OK well maybe not my best) my butt will not reduce in size. I was so obsessed at gyrating this hoop around my hips and bum that I noticed bruising this morning. But I was actually pleased by this…..(its not right is it).

Anyway the day finished well because my tree surgeon of a husband survived an 80 foot Oak in gale force winds. I’m sure his is crossed with a chimpanzee somewhere in his heritage..

As usual this blog is for Unicef. To contribute to the campaign please visit my Unicef fundraising site to help children particularly in the current war torn countries of Gaza, Israel and Syria.

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The diet starts tomorrow

I am sat flanked by kettle crisps to my left and sausage rolls, honey glazed cocktail sausages, potato wedges, bacon twizzlers and other finger food delights to my right. In various tupperware boxes in the kitchen are homemeade cupcakes and cookies. The fridge has a few cream filled and chocolate iced treats. Yes we had a kids party today – can you tell? It feels like an early Christmas, lots of family, lots of food. It was my baby son’s birthday party (although his birthday isn’t for another few days yet) he is a bit like the Queen – an official and unofficial birthday (the next party is specially for his baby mates).

I did attempt to mimic Mary Berry in the cake making category but my oven had other ideas. I followed the recipe on the back of the good old Betty Crocker pack perfect but it still ended up a bit lopsided. One side rose very well the other barely rose at all. The oven company who comes up with the ‘auto correct’ button will do very well indeed. It was a very tense process when I had to go through what seemed like a ritual to get the picture off the rice paper backing. On the instructions it said – “rub the backing paper vigorously on the edge of a table or cupboard until the picture starts to lift off”. If anyone had been walking past my house during this moment they would have seen me bent double rubbing a piece of A4 paper up and down on the edge of a table – like I was giving it a massage. Anyway, to my astonishment it worked. But to my horror it fell off quite quickly and landed face down on the floor (think I was a bit too vigorous) I will move away from this innuendo bingo to say that thankfully it stayed intact and with the carefulness and precision used to handle uranium, I succesfully planted it on top of my lop-sided cake. The picture was a photograph of my son’s favourite toy. “Right, now to tidy up the edges”, I said as I reached for my spray on icing complete with pipework attachments. Despite my best efforts it looked like something my daughter did when she was 2. I withheld from attempting any further work on it for fear of adding insult to injury. I decided my cake was a birdseye cake (it looked good from a birdseye view). Thankfully this was good when taking pictures of it. It went down well with my son who inhaled it.

Pound in the pot for yesterday I know. We didn’t get back til after midnight thanks to stuffing our face in a restaurant (the platter to share for starters would have been sufficient) followd by a screening of Skyfall – which was good but cheesy. I wasn’t entirely clear why Bond took that disc thingy to a a gambling house in Shanghai to get a case full of money, do nothing with it, meet up with a woman have a chat, beat up her bodyguards and then join her in the shower? It felt a bit like the director had a checklist of film ‘must haves’: car chase “check”, computer, car and watch product placements “check”, casino scene “check”, steamy scenes “check”, a moment of doubt about the world and its purpose “check”. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the overdose on patriotism – for one moment I thought it was directed by Michael Mann – actually if they had filmed the union jack in slo mo I would have been convinced it was the work of Mann. I’m sure he suggested a few shots (M by the line of Union-Jack festooned coffins, Bond gazing over the cityscape with the flags dotted here and there, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Jaguar, the prime minister etc etc). But it wasn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours – I particularly enjoyd the trailer “Seven Psychpaths” – more my strada.

Right, I have now eaten all the crisps – will endeavour to swim lots this week and do a bit of Zumba and cut the calorie intake in half – parties do not help the butt reduction campaign…..

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She’s a perfect 10 – but she wears a 12

…baby keep a little 2 for me (Beautiful South lyrics, in case you are too young or too old to remember!). The theme for today’s post after a week of chocolate guzzling followed by starve and swim (I could create a new fad diet) is… body image.

Earlier while enjoying an M&S ‘dine in for £10’ meal (slightly more upmarket than a Mcdonalds Happy Meal – it really is great value though main meal, side dish, dessert and bottle of wine for a tenner) my husband commented on the new shape of Christina Aguilera. “You remember Christina used to be rifle thin”, “Yeeees…” (I reply with what might be detected as excitement at the thought that a well-known celeb may be…..big dramatic pause followed by drum roll…FAT!) “Well she’s huuuge now” (he said while making the same gesticulations he uses when describing a very large and old tree trunk – he is a tree surgeon hence the above average regularity of discussions about tree trunks in our house). He brought up some crap story where a journo with nothing better to do had listed a before and after shot of Christina (The journo isnt that stupid as I couldn’t resist the temptation to scroll down and measure the accuracy of my husband’s decription). See The Sun story.

I have to say she looked stunning. I said “She’s not fat she’s curvy in a very Marilyn Monroe-esque kind of way”. At which point my husband detects that he may be stepping on to dodgy territory and quickly backpedalled fast, “Yes she’s curvy, just right…that’s what all women should be like……dont know what they’re going on about.” At which point I did a Marge Simpson impression “Hmmmmm” while staring at him. He then (rather cleverly) changed the subject by saying, “Do you think I am getting fat?” (My husband is the kind of guy that has to hunt for fat to pinch – yet eats chocolate and crisps almost every time he pulls into a garage for fuel – NOT FAIR.)

Back to body image, Lady Ga Ga recently made a stand against comments on her weight by posing semi-naked at all angles so people could judge for themselves (See Sun story …yes The Sun again!) Its sad that celebrity women feel the need to do this – damned if your thin and damned if your fat. The same is true walking along the street – women are their own worse critics. I would just like to say that this is getting fucking boring. If you are technically obese then yeah you may want to cut back on food for a while. If you get short of breath getting to the top of your stairs, then you might need to work out a little, but other than that JUST LET IT DROP…. ……. …. But in reality….

It is not possible for me to get up in the morning without checking my reflection (mainly my butt) to see if it has ‘grown’ a little overnight. How sad is that?

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Hurry up Halloween!

Every third week in the month I have a mad chocolate addiction. The week preceding my period (sorry guys) is the week when my body has a hunger that can only be satisfied by guzzling copius amounts of chocolate, particularly Cadburys. It has to be done and I hate doing it because I am convinced I can feel my body start to wobble as fat is applied for every ounce of chocolate I consume. My response is to not eat much else in an effort to restrict my calorie intake – healthy I am not.

This dreadful week clashes disastrously with preparations for Halloween. We take it very seriously in our village to the extent that, for one night of the year only, it is our job to feed every single kid in the village with sweets (I don’t think anyone has a proper dinner on All Hallows Day or whatever the ‘official’ title is).

So, I take advantage of the special offer that seems to be repeated every shop you set foot in “Only £5 for a tin of Celebrations/ Roses/ Heroes or Quality Street” (I would be interested to know if this deal is available all over the UK as well as the South East) Every year this deal seems to coincide with the run up to Halloween and Christmas. Its almost as if there is a national crisis of surplus chocolate that needs to be disposed of before the New Year – kind of like a chocolate harvest.

I bought a tin, took it home and put it in the top cupboard. I can still reach the top cupboard by standing on tippitoes so I don’t know what I am achieving by putting sweets and chocolates there. At least I have to slightly stretch my midriff every time I grab a treat for myself or the kids.

The tin started talking to me form the cupboard and before long my will power cracked and ravaged the tin. I can’t just have one or two or three – I eat them so quick I lose count. Maybe there is a slight pause, but not enough of one. So, I endeavoured to buy another tin the next day that I WOULD NOT open (It is important to add that tin number 1 still had quite a lot of sweets in it – I am not a complete glutton). So, while filling up with diesel (and checking out the police bike cop filling up at the next pump….although he didnt take his helmet off so a bit tricky… I thought it was illegal to keep your helmet on when walking into the shop…..guess its ok for a cop)

I purchased another tin and congratulated myself on not going anywhere near it on the way to work. It was on the way back that proved a problem “open me” tin said. I’m afraid I did although paced myself a bit this time – just had a few….they were tiny sweets anyway.. I felt better by telling myself that if i strung all the sweets that I had just eaten together they wouldn’t even make up the size of one cadburys dairy milk bar.

So now both tins are in the top cupboard with slightly depleted quantities and I am going to test my willpower by saying no more. If I crack, I will tally up each sweet and keep a record of it on this blog as we count down to Halloween (a bit like Bridget Jones and her daily record of calories consumed and cigarettes puffed).

I am blogging every day for Unicef. To support my fundraising campaign please visit my site.

Thanks for reading. (Whoops – all this talk of chocolate has given me an appetite – 1,2,3,4,5……)