Part of me?

Friday. 8.05pm

I don’t watch masses of tv. I have the time but I get bored easily. Everyone and his dog seems to have watched Sons Of Anarchy or Suits or Homeland… and I can’t get into them. But when I do (Scandal, Breaking Bad and Stranger Things – I’m talking to you) I go all in. A proper binge watcher. Think I did Tin Star in less than 24 hours. Thank god for box sets.

But I’m talking about BBC type tv. One episode a week type scenario. I have series link for all sorts of shit. Had a real addiction to 90 Day Fiance at one point. My series links at the moment are Worlds Deadliest Drivers, Pointless, Question Time (I know) and Tom Kerridge’s series, Lose Weight For Good among other January staple diet programmes.

He’s talking to two of his ‘subjects’ and asks if they’ve always been “big guys”. To which they give a resounding yes. They then go on to talk about it being part of your make up and part of you as a person. You’ve always been known as Big Tom for example. And how right that is. One of them says he can’t see himself being below a certain weight as he’s always been like that. Being seen as a “big” person is part of our identity after a while.

I don’t know if that’s just a guy thing? Men are just seen as “Big Fred” and no one really makes an issue of it. They wear a polo shirt that stretches over their stomach and it’s accepted. If I were to do it? Ohhh nooooo. Now I’m talking about possible sexism in morbid obesity! Not what I was on about. Stupid rambling brain.

Any who, being fat is part of me. It’s what people expect, it’s what people know. I’m not suggesting anyone calls me “Big Mandy” (to my face)…. but it’s ME. And I think that is part of what holds me back sometimes.

If I’m not fat – what am I?

“Social media” Ugh…

Wednesday night. 8.15pm.
Hi guys and gals, how are we all? I’m facing deadline again, they certainly come around so quickly. In theory a week today i’ll be putting the finishing touches to a 2000 word essay on how global action on social inequalities can improve health in later life. We’ll see shall we?! Which topically leads me nicely on to…..

Diet. That word. Ingrained into my mind from about 15 years old, which is incidentally how old I was when I started my first diet. Weight Watchers. And ever since that day I seem to have been on a diet, thinking about a diet, researching diets or indeed simply eating myself fatter (and being made to feel guilty about it). It’s all consuming and has only got worse since the introduction of “social media”. I’ve quoted it as it’s a term that people use with disdain. It can be useful and beneficial. Lets face it, i’d be a tragic spinster without it. BUT it makes us all want. It makes us covet. That could be a handbag that costs the same as a months rent (baffles me), a new haircut, that really nice Liberty wallpaper you adore but will never be able to justify or that equally unattainble body. You know the ones I mean – head to toe in Lululemon, flat stomach with the imperceptible ridge down the middle, glossy hair, airbrush-like smooth slightly tanned skin, sunny backdrop, often sprayed with a little water to look slightly glowy with a dumbell in each hand and a megawatt smile that could blind Stevie Wonder.

It’s not the girl/woman/lady. Good on her. She clearly works hard and bloody deserves what she has. But it is still out of reach for me. My pasty dough like skin with the thread veins, almost translucent in colour, tree trunk thighs that rub together, thin greying hair. Who looks like you’ve poured half a pint of water over her head just from walking a couple of miles ‘a bit quickly’. And that’s not me being negative or defeatist. It’s fact. I am now the wrong side of 40. I’m 5′ 3″. I will never have that golden smooth skin. But the sixty-four thousand calorie question is, does she? Strip away the fake tan, the teeth whiteners, the mister bottle, the fact that she is (possibly) tensing every muscle from the neck down and trying not to grimace, the possible thought of “fuck, i could murder a Crunchie” going through her head. And this is my point. It’s social media. It’s 85% utter bollocks. Theres a chance i’s accurate. But i’m willing to bet a roll or two of Liberty wallpaper it’s not always the case.

I was going to write about sugar addiction but that can wait. This has, yet again, been another ramble through the bog of eternal stench that is my mind. I wanted to make some searing modern social comment on the evils and benefits of social media in the age of bulimic nine year old girls who are that way because of the lies society feeds them on Snapchat. I didn’t do that either. I just (poorly) made the point that we need to do these things for ourselves. Don’t look at Lululemon lady and get despondent. Look at YOU. You are you. People love you, you can do amazing things, your brain is capable of rememebering the lyrics to Tarzan Boy by Baltimora (google it oh young ones) and what I am essentially trying to say is – you can remember Baltimora, she has a six pack. It’s allll relative.

Be you.

Love x

PS, yes i’m aware you can have a six pack AND rememeber Baltimora *eyeroll*

washington

Well. Fancy seeing you here!

28-DSC_0082Friday night 9.23pm

So, how the hell is it 2018? Yeah, Eighteen years since Kelly and I were wandering up through town, thinking it was about 11.50pm only to have someone run down yelling “Happy New Yearrrrr!” All that Y2K panic lost in a drunken ramble past a twenty year old ice-cream shop.
And four years or more since I abandoned you. So much has happened. I have just sat and read back my paltry 10 previous posts and I seem to have lost something in how I write. No idea how or why but I seemed to be slightly amusing then. I think that’s gone, maybe due to student-hood embracing me in its evil grasp. Nothing like studying for a BSc to make you lose that inherent and a natural sense of humour in your writing.
Anyway, I said a lot had happened. I changed jobs (careers if you’re being pedantic), I moved house, I learned to drive, I’ve been to Canada about 7 times, I study full-time. Oh yeah, got married. Minor detail… (husband if you read that, I’m totally joking. British sarcasm, which I happen to be fluent in)
It seems like so much has happened that I can’t fill you in on everything. So I’ll just pretend these last posts sort of aren’t there. They are of course there and I may well refer you back to them for things such as explaining my hate/hate relationships with diet clubs (something I’ll talk about as time goes on, probably extensively…) but to continue as if nothing had happened and the last 5 years went in a Chandler-esque click of the fingers seems somewhat dismissive.
When I started this blog all those years ago it was going to be about weight loss. A bit of beauty/fashion. A bit of “mum life”. And now it’s different. I had ideas of writing a blog about emigration. Because that’s on the cards too. About the traps and pitfalls of a Brit moving to Canada. But I don’t want to ‘specialise’. I want to write about whatever the hell I like. Be that recipes for pulled pork, my mental health (or lack of it), fabulous mascara, emotional eating, healthy eating, nail polish, food addiction, how I attempt to style my hair or relationships. Short of deleting past posts, I could be ‘found’ by people who know me. I don’t want that. I want to be anonymous really, That way I can write about X, Y and Z without fear of repercussions in my personal life *

*And this is where I’ve just deleted a big chunk of over sharing honesty that you didn’t really need to know about!

Wednesday night 10.02pm
I had popped the above entry to post monday morning. But trashed it just hours before during a particularly impressive bout of insomnia. I talked all to freely about loneliness and mental health. To the point of too much, at the moment. There may come a time when I’ll open up a bit more but that time is not yet.

Sooooo *kicks at the ground while innocently whistling* lets ignore all of that. I’m back in the land of blogging. I suspect most will be insomnia/university/child/sleep deprivation driven but we’ll see where we go shall we? It’s actually really nice to be sitting in bed typing away and it NOT be about ageing and the life course…

5 Things You Have To Do This Autumn

I love this time of year and I always have. That first day when you realise you have to put the flip flops away and dig out your boots is delicious. Yes it’s colder than you’re used to but it’s not reached that biting winter cold. Crispy mornings with the sun reflecting off orange leaves, when you need your boots and coat but not your gloves and scarf? Love it.

So here are the 5 things that I do every autumn without fail. I strongly advise you to be a copy cat….

1) Make a rich stew or soup once a week as a minimum. Nothing says fall to me more than beef slowly cooked in red wine and shallots and a mountain of buttery mashed potato. There are a million recipes online but my first “ooooh yes, it’s autum” meal was pulled pork with roast potatoes and veggie cheese (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in a cheese sauce)
Get a boneless pork shoulder and pop in a slow cooker with about a mugful of liquid. Anything will do; cider, coke, apple juice, water. Whatever you have lying about. Cook on low for 8 hours. Take it out and cut all the fat off the top and bin it. Pop the pork on a plate and shred it. I use 2 forks and it falls to bits. Now make the bbq sauce. I use this recipe from Allrecipes.co.uk but change it as and when i need to. Last time I only had white wine vinegar and no garlic and it was still yummy. Make the sauce, mix with the shredded pork and eat as you like. It’s amazing with potato wedges and corn on the cob.

2) Buy new clothes. I know, you still have last years coat. And boots. And scarf….. We all do but I love buying new things every year. I mean, get a coat and boots too if your budget allows it but even just a new woolly jumper for £10 in Asda makes those misty mornings easier to take.

3) Take pictures. Get your camera out from the cupboard, wrap up in your new jumper and get out there. The world around us changes so much at this time of year and it’s nice to document it. Get the children on the case too. They see things that we don’t (maybe because they are shorter…) so pass the reins over and I bet they will surprise you. Yes, a phone is fine. Some camera phones are catching up and over taking the cheap compacts now and there is no shame in expoloring the world of iphoneography

4) Be a kid again. Our favourite thing to do in autumn is to go out a walk and collect stuff.  Leaves, conkers, seed pods, sticks…the list is endless. And then come home, get a big sheet of card and some glue and make a picture. A horse chestnut seed casing can be glued on, add tippex pen dots and you have a hedgehog. A leaf becomes a tree. Regress and let your mind go. You might be amazed at what comes out!

5) Embrace the change. Ok I am going to sound a bit hippy-ish here but roll with it. Autumn is a time of huge change and for some people it gets them all negative as the clocks change and the nights draw in,and you know it’s going to be cold and rainy. But don’t be that person.
In the Wicca world they see it as a time to celebrate death and rebirth. The crops are harvested and the fields are empty but they need to be so we can sow new crops in the spring (see, i warned you about the hippy bit)

Put up your collage picture, buy some different squashes and arrange them somewhere, light some candles, get your new jumper on, put the pork in the cooker and settle down to watch a good autumnal movie like Good Will Hunting, Halloween, Rushmore, Practical Magic or Dead Poets Society and enjoy this time of year. It’s far more awesome if you give it a chance!

Ch…ch…ch…ch…changes

Hello everyone, how are we all?

So about two years ago my ex decided to change his job. Again. (I’d already had to leave my dream job at Lush because of his ‘career’. Can you see my eyes rolling?) He told me that he would no longer be able to do the school runs on Thursdays and Fridays. The days I worked. Of course! For a while it was workable. With the help of my mum, my sister and various friends, we managed. But then my mum broke her hand (coming off a horse at the age of 70. As you do) and things changed. She couldn’t drive and even basic things like cooking were difficult. I’m a fairly negative and easily stressed person and one day decided that the juggling and favours were enough. I began the search for a new job.

The only think that I could think of, the only thing that would fit, was working nights. I had to be able to do all the school runs, all the time. It was FAR from ideal. I was still reliant on my ex to have my son overnight. But I figured I could sleep while he was at school and in the holidays? Well heck, he’s nine now. Old enough to entertain himself for a few hours while momma naps on the sofa yes?! So it was planned, and I put the word around. Within a few days a friend pointed out that the care home she worked at needed people. I brushed it off. My mum had worked in care for twenty years and I had always said “I couldn’t do that!”

But beggars can’t be choosers and after yet more months of stressing and passing my son from pillar to post, I called the home and went up for an interview. I was really nervous. My whole work life had been very customer service/retail based. Bar maid, waitress, sales assistant, customer service agent etc… Care was a whole new ball game that I wasn’t really ready to play. While sitting in the dining room waiting to be interviewed a woman in the dining room was crying very loudly about missing her husband and no one batted an eyelid. I nearly got up and walked out. Three hours later my phone rang and I was offered a 36 hour permanent contract!

You do a few day shifts first to adjust to the job. I came out of my first day and burst into tears out of pure relief at how much I simply loved it. I was pretty sure this was all I would ever do now. Care for others. It kind of goes against ‘me’. Not to say I’m a selfish person who doesn’t care about others but I’d always thought I had found my calling in customer service. However going home knowing that because of me, someone might sleep better, feel better, actually be happier? That was revolutionary to me. No one is going to have their day made because you made them a good cup of coffee, you know?

I adore it. I’m a year in and the job itself has never made me want to look elsewhere. I’ll always work in care now. It’s frustrating of course. Working with dementia and Alzheimer’s is so so tough. But also so so rewarding. I am starting the long road of a degree with the Open University as of next week which I would never have done if it weren’t for this job. So what I thought would be hellish and awful has actually turned into one of the best things I have ever done. All I did was make a phone call.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back, everything is different..” – C.S. Lewis

Clean eating. Done the dirty way…..

As is well documented, i have had a lifelong battle with the F word. So recently i dipped my toe into the water of clean eating. Being a long running reader of all things weightloss i had heard of this quite some time ago, and it seemed perfect. Eating ‘clean’. Not rocket science is it? The benefits are not only for your waistline either. Cut down the food miles, use local organic produce, support your local farmers and growers. As Hot Chocolate said, everyone’s winner baby.

It was a simple enough concept but i found it surprisingly tricky. Bear in mind that i used to view carrot cake as one of my five a day. But i got to grips with things and stuck with it for a week or so which, for me, is quite the record. I surprised my self by loving it but then i did one silly thing. It would have been a stray doughnut or a misplaced bag of crisps. Amd off i went down the slippery slope.

However i am venturing back in the water of clean eating. I’ve had a fairly disasterous weekend but it wasn’t as bad as it would have been before in my binge days. Infact i’ve just had a bacon cheeseburger. Yes i can hear you cringing. I’m sorry, but then the only person i have let down is me i guess. Tomorrow is planned. Oat and banana pancakes with raspberries, baked sweet potato soup and then some form of turkey/spinach/feta/quinoa in the evening. Wish me luck. I’ll update you in a week about how things have gone and put some pictures up too. I’m going to be using a few recipes from a friends blog, right here. Click and have a look for some great clean recipes.

I’ll be back on thursday to talk about my return to higher education at the grand old age of thirty six. Eeeek.

Have a great week.

August Favourites

Not blogged for a week or so i’m afraid. Blame the summer holidays! But the little darling went back today so i’m sort of all yours again. 

Once a month i’m going to talk about my favourite things. No not just food! Anything that has made an impression on me during the previous month. And sometimes products that let me down. Ok you ready?

Barry M just bought out a new range of their Gelly formula nail polishes and at the moment they are 3 for 2 at Superdrug There are six new colours and they are seriously autumnal, ranging from a fairly nasty mustard cat-sick yellow to a beautiful chocolate brown. Some swatches here courtesy of Britnails. I seriously love the green (you’ll find out i have a serious green fetish!) and like i said, the brown is so deep and shiny. I don’t have Mustard or Paprika but i did get the other four and despite hating Mustard, i’ll proably end up getting it! They are really glossy and deep, definitely go and grab a couple. You deserve a treat!

Second product that’m loving right now is dry shampoo, specifically Batisite Deep And Dark Brown I recently had a blunt heavy fringe cut in and when you’ve got super fine baby hair (and not much of it) you need something to stop your hair just hanging there. Even before it gets greasy i use this on my fringe. It just gives it a bit of oomph and helps it stay where i put it and i don’t have to worry about looking like i’ve tipped a ton of talc over my head. They alos do a specific volumising apray which is amazing for that tricky up do. I use it all the time for quiffs!

Lastly it’s coconut oil. You can get this anywhere but i pick mine up in Superdrug. I use it for everything. It’s great on your cuticles, the dry ends of your hair, a fabulous moisturiser for the whole body after a shower AND it leaves you smelling wonderful, especially in the summer. As i type i have my feet covered in it! I put it all over my feet and then put on a pair of socks. Tomorrow morning i will have silky soft tootsies. And that’s always good. Feet get so neglected in the autumn and winter so start now and you’ll keep your feet soft and supple so that when you dust off your flip flops in spring, you will be ready, unlike everyone else with their cracked and manky heels!

I’ll be back on monday, have a great weekend!

My Fat Life: Part One!

Ahh food addiction. So much has been written on it (if it even exists) and so i figured it was my turn.

Of course it exists. To say it doesn’t is no different to denying that any other substance abuse isn’t a ‘thing’. Or gambling addiction, pyromania, kleptomania, pain addiction or any of the other addictive behaviours we exhibit as humans. 

At 15 years old i weighed 15 stone. I have no idea why those numbers stuck with me but they did. That was the first time i went to Weight Watchers. I wasn’t always as big as i was then and am now. I had a very active childhood. I lived on a farm in Devon with horses and cows and at weekends and holidays we were never indoors. Even if i wasn’t riding or helping on the farm, i was out with my friends climbing trees, building dams, picking blackberries, swimming in the river etc… in that respect, my childhood was idyllic. 

And then my parents split up. Looking back i think this was the catylyst. At about that time, i started secondary school and there was no one to tell me what to eat. At primary you were given a meal. Two options at the most. But with secondary school and lunch money, if i wanted to eat £1 worth of Crunchies for lunch, that was exactly what i did. No one cared. So with my increasing hormones, emotional distress at my parents divorce and carte blanche with food at school, i was on a slippery slope to obesity.

I never went back to Weight Watchers after that first weigh in. Fifteen stone? How did that happen? I was in complete denial. Then my granny died and i got £1000. By this time i was in the realms of heavy metal, velvet skirts and skull necklaces. So most of that grand went on underage drinking, black hair dye and yeah….food. And so it went on. My sister moved out so it was me and mum. So we spent saturday nights watching Casualty and eating massive jacket potatoes with cheese and butter and apple crumbles with custard. I got a job at the royal mail when i was nineteen. The weight fell off. I remember buying a pair of size 14 jeans. The smallest clothes i had ever bought for myself as an adult. Tragic eh?

But once i left there, moved out of home and went to work full time in the pub industry (i’d been a part time bar maid since i hit 18) i piled it back on. Even less accountability. I was an adult. I bought my own food. It was like being at school again but it wasn’t just one meal. I could eat what i liked, when i liked. And on top of that, i was out every night, either socially or with work. On work nights we would always have a few after closing and on nights off, i was out drinking. And then what happens? Greasy kebabs and burgers on the way home. 

Ahhh that’s enough honesty for one bank holiday. I’m up to about 23 ish year old now. I’ll complete my tragic story next time, and talk a little about food addiction and ways to help at a later date. Have a great day people!

047

I did a bit of a poll….

I was unsure what to talk about today. I was going to tell you about when i was really stupid and threw away enough money to buy an awesome pair of shoes on a stupid hard assualt course but that’s a story for another day!

Today is a wierd one. I was at work all day doing an emergency first aid course, bouyed up by the news of the birth of two babies to friends. And i’ve come home to one of those friends talking about the guilt she feels about not having the birth she wanted. Well i’ve been there as i was saying in my last post and i’m desperate for her to escape the crippling guilt and depression i fell into. And i was going to talk about that. But i’m not sure i can right now. I don’t want to start talking about it and say something stupid. So it can wait until i’ve organised my thoughts a bit.

So instead we’ll take a different track and hand things over to my friends. I asked a group of fellow mums what they would blog about if they had the chance. They all have children, ranging in age from 24 hours to over twenty years. And these are the responses. Some funny, some thought provoking…

  • Struggling
  • Why the hell can’t my five yr old stop saying mummy every two minutes!
  • When will I finally feel better
  • Why the fuck did I stay with such a selfish, inconsiderate, lying, manipulative bastard for so long!!!
  • How everyone has some (if not a lot) of crazy in them and being sane is abnormal
  • How to get my children to shut the fuck up without actually telling them to shut the fuck up
  • How I can’t wait for school to start and how I’m so bloody hungry
  • I would do one about being temp disabled. I’ve been shocked and pleasantly surprised at many shops/paths/town services etc…It has really shown me a new world. The amount of inconsiderate people that I’m now invisible to but don’t dare step in my path normally
  • Mine would be about my feelings of about to have this surrogate baby and then worrying I’ll feel like I have no purpose afterwards
  • It would be pretty stressed right now. Not enough of me to go round!
  • It would be called. “I HATE FUCKIN TOILET TRAINING”
  • Mine would be about how disappointed I am with what sort of mum I am right now
  • How to find a man when you’re a single mum of four kids !!
  • That every day is a struggle to be ‘happy’ and ‘normal’

What strikes you about this list? You know what leapt out at me? The amount of those who want to feel normal, who feel stressed, who feel spread too thin, whose kids are driving them crazy. You know what? It’s ok to not like your kids sometimes. It’s ok to feel stressed, to want to tell your kids to shut the fuck up. It’s really alright. I promise. No one is going to tell social services. And even if they did, social services aren’t going to give a crap.

But it’s also alright to admit to someone else that you need some help. Wether it be practical or emotional. There is a lot of help out there. Talk to a friend or your doctor or your mum or call one of the many many mental health charities. Maybe this will help. And hey, if you get desperate, you can talk to me! 

Take care of yourselves my lovely people, it’s a long and often winding road but we’ll get there xx

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Happy Birthday! Yeah if you say so…

I usually cry on my sons birthday. Every year without fail. The first year i got away with it as i was still dealing with PTSD and PND. Family and friends patted my back and offered tea and sympathy. But after a few years people start wondering what the hell is wrong with you. Everyone assumes your childs birthday is going to be such a happy event. But all it did was remind me of his birth. One day i’ll go into why i was so affected by it. It’s a day of ballons, cake, parties and presents. A happy day. But sitting there surrounded by torn wrapping paper covered in snot and with mascara down your face doesn’t really covey deep happiness does it?

Well it turns out it’s taken me 9 years to get over it a bit because this is the first year i haven’t cried. I had a sob last night but today, so far, we are home and dry (and it’s 8.50pm!) I’m not saying i’m going to be singing along like Stevie Wonder next year but i see today as a bit of a milestone. No tears on the actual day? That’s massive for me and i feel quite proud of myself. I was worried it was going to go on until he hit 21!

And so on this day we have cake. Now i quite well known for my cake. Both sandwich/novelty cakes and cupcakes. Cupcakes are my first love. I make them for his birthday every year and for family too. Well this year the love had gone and i simply couldn’t be bothered. I even went and bought a frozen sponge from the bakery. And icing out of a tub. Don’t judge me. He wanted a sweetshop cake and that’s what he got. I had every intention of telling you my fail safe epic cake recipe but i’ll save it seeing as i cheated like Lance Armstrong…

The pictures are both old homemade ones and a couple of today. This birthday thing isn’t so bad i guess. It’s zoo day tomorrow but back on monday where i’ll be telling you what i do with a credit card and sleep depravation. It’s NOT pretty.