Plans and optimism

Thank you all for letting me be so self-indulgent here recently. I’ve been alternating between miserable and happy like a weathervane in a buffetting storm, and it must be quite hard for some of you to keep up. Today alone I’ve veered at least three times!

However, I’ve come to an important conclusion. January and February are stupid months to try to change my eating habits, and so I’m postponing my conscious dieting until March. I shall keep on trying to exercise more, and I’ll think more about what I eat, trying to get more fruit and veg into my diet, but I’m not calorie counting or anything until March.

I’ve decided that the fewer things I have to stress about in my life the better. There are several things which I can’t do anything about, but those that I can, I will. And dieting is one of those.

Speaking of exercise, did I mention that I went on a (for me) long walk at the weekend? I’m hoping to have another long walk this weekend, so long as the weather isn’t filthy. Eventually I’ll build up to jogging, but one step at a time. Perhaps that’s something else I’ll get to in March!

January though, is just for me. And spring cleaning. I made a good start today, and with my three free days next week I’ll press on some more. February will be a planning month, I think, easing myself into productivity, then hopefully by March I’ll be back in full flow.

Also, by the end of March my sister-in-law will be half way through her pregnancy, and then I will be thinking about crafting for my new niece or nephew!

Plans for the weekend? A little exercise, some visiting relatives and croissants for breakfast – sounds good to me!

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Slim for Sorrento

I’m a lucky girl this year. In September I’m off on another holiday, this time with my best friend Maria. In order to celebrate our 22nd birthdays* we’re going back to Sorrento in Italy. We had a holiday there a few years ago to celebrate our 21st birthdays and so thought it only fitting that we should return to mark the latest milestone. (I have some photos of that to share with you, but I can’t find the lead to connect my camera to the computer, and GG’s asleep so I can’t use the scanner, so you’ll have to wait for them!)

However, last time we went was pre-motherhood and I was a good two stone lighter. So I’ve decided that I’ll try to lose 1.5 stone by the time we go away, or half a stone each month. My aim is to reach this target by the end of August so that any holiday clothes shopping can be done in the early part of September, before I go away.

What I really need to focus on though is my exercise. I’m fully aware of what I should be eating, thanks to the Rosemary Conley GI diet which has been my diet of choice over the past few years (it does work when I have the willpower to stick to it!). Rosemary Conley also writes a blog which helps me with the motivation, and each evening she tweets a short fitness challenge to keep you on your toes. Last night we had to go up and down stairs four times consecutively and then do ten press ups. Well, this inspired me to move to I slotted a half hour power walk in the middle of it. I tweeted this when I got home, and had a direct message reply from Rosemary telling me well done. What a motivator!

I wrote the rough draft of this post on the way to work, and there was a little girl on the bus with her mother, around a year old, screaming her head off. I well remember the embarrassment of that situation and the feeling of helplessness when there’s nothing you can do to calm your child, as well as the feeling of being trapped inside the bus with thirty pairs of hostile eyes burning holes in your back! I don’t miss that part of my childrens’ babyhood at all! Situations like that were definitely the sort that would send me to eat to comfort myself. I still comfort eat a lot, mostly when noone is watching, but I recognise that I do it now, and a lot of the time I can stop myself by trying to work out why exactly I want to eat. I don’t always manage to talk myself out of it, but I’m definitely improving! On the way home this afternoon, there was another baby girl on the bus with the most infectious chuckle. I got off the bus feeling happy myself after listening to her contented giggles for twenty minutes!

Anyway, so far I’m 4lbs down and 17lbs to go, so any words of inspiration are welcome! I just hope that noone gives me anything edible for my birthday. That would definitely slow me down. I’ve not yet grasped the concept of ‘everything in moderation’.

 

 

*22 years and 96 months, if you’re being picky

Dodging the rain

HeronToday, Welshpurpletree and I managed to dodge between the rain showers and have a walk to a local lake in Tredelerch Park. The lake was recently created near the mouth of the River Rhymney, and is a hidden oasis, not known well yet to Cardiff residents.

There is a cinder or gravel path around the circumference of the lake, and a bridge over a shallow section of one end of the lake. It’s quite a disconcerting bridge to cross, as it has no handrails, is only three feet wide and weaves across the water. It is necessary to watch your feet as you cross to make sure you don’t fall in, and watching the boards go underfoot is quite hypnotic!

Lots of dog owners take their canine friends to the lake for their daily walk, as the walk around the lake is of a decent length and also there is plenty of rough grassland in the park for the animals to play on. I’ve even seen some people walking a shetland pony round the lake!

WPT and I thought we saw a heron (the photo above is my pitiful attempt to capture his image), and there are also lots of ducks and swans that make the lake their home. It’s a shame that it’s right next door to Lamby Way landfill as today there was a definite smell coming from the tip, but on the whole you can usually manage to ignore the passing traffic and focus instead on the calming nature of the water and surrounds.

Tredelerch Park

I really enjoyed the walk, and am glad that I have places like this within easy reach of my home even though I live in a city. I’m also very appreciative of the fact that I have both the time and the good health to be able to enjoy visits to places like this.

A duty of care?

As a mother, wife, daughter, daughter in law, friend I feel that I have a duty of care to all of my friends and relations who mean so much to me, to do my best to help them out. Of course, the extent to which they need my help varies widely between, for instance, my sons and my friends, but the principle remains the same.

Today, another thought occurred to me. If I am trying to live by this principle of doing the best I can for the people I care most about, surely that means that I should be doing the best for myself as well. Not because I care about myself as much as I do these other wonderful people (I don’t, by the way, and often wonder how I’ve managed to gather such a great group of people around me!), but because if anything were to happen to me, it would rebound onto those I care about. For instance, quite apart from my sons and husband not having a fully capable mother and wife respectively, I wouldn’t be able to take my mother to do the shopping, or share the many moments of laughter we enjoy over the silliest of things. I’d be unable to make cakes, biscuits and preserves to share with, well, all of my nearest and dearest, as none of them ever turn food down! I’d not be able to help Jo out with the pigs and chickens on the occasions when she needs a hand. And many other small things which I like to think make a (very small) difference to these people’s lives.

In line with my new year theme of discipline, I’ve once more decided to try to lose my excess pounds, and take more exercise. It would definitely benefit me greatly, in both mind and body, but it feels so self-indulgent to spend that amount of time on myself, rather than on the hundred and one other things I’m sure I could find to do. But maybe I’m looking at it all wrong. Perhaps I should think about it like this; if I take regular exercise and get fitter, if I lose weight, I will be better able to live the sort of life I’d like to lead. If I manage to give up my bad habits of excess snacking and a fairly sedentary lifestyle it will undoubtedly improve my health in the long run. I am healthy now, but who is to say what troubles I am storing up for myself by staying that couple of stone overweight as I am?

So maybe taking the time to look after yourself isn’t purely selfish, but slightly selfless as well when you consider that it benefits the people around us as much as it does ourselves. And I really don’t want to give up my snacking and neither do I enjoy exercise, so I definitely won’t be enjoying my new lifestyle, at least until I’ve settled into it! In my book, that counts as not at all selfish if you’re not having fun!

The start of an adventure?

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. 

Lao-Tzu

My husband has decided that he would like to try the Three Peaks Challenge next June. With that in mind he wants to get significantly fitter, and so we started off gently today by going for an after dinner (short) hike through the woodlands near Castell Coch to the north of Cardiff.

I bought him a couple of books listing local walks and hikes, and we chose this walk as our first. It was a truly lovely autumn day, with clear blue skies and beautiful colours in the foliage of the trees which surrounded us.

We parked in the car park of Castell Coch, where the trail listed in the book began. It took us up a fairly sharp hill until we met the Taff Trail, a route that runs from Cardiff Bay up to Brecon. We walked along this for a while until we reached the edge of the Fforest Fawr car park. We then doubled back and headed down the hill through the forest until we arrived back at Castell Coch.

The walk only took about an hour, but it was really lovely to be out in the freah air and getting some exercise. My mother in law looked after our children for us so that we could walk on at a good pace. In future though we do look forward to taking the boys with us as there are plenty of rambles within easy reach of Cardiff that are more than achievable for their short legs!

I was really impressed with the fitness exhibited by the cyclists who passed us going up and down the steep hillsides around Castell Coch. It was all we could do to get up the hills without crawling, let alone being able to propel a bicycle up the inclines!

I’m looking forward now to some of the walks that we will be doing (subject to the weather, of course!) over the coming months in order to help my husband train for his challenge next summer. I’m especially looking forward to taking the opportunity to see more of this beautiful country in which I live.

Cycling tips

I’ve just found this article on the BBC website with ‘tips’ for bicycle riding commuters, taken from the example set by the medal winning British Olympic cyclists in Beijing. All well and good, and as with the commenters on the article I both agree and disagree with various of the pieces of advice offered. However, my biggest stumbling block which has stopped me getting on my bike for the last month has been the rain – I don’t think we have had a consistently dry period in the last month. And if we did I was either in work or asleep! Roll on September, if the dry weather is returning as promised, so that I can get back to my cycling for fitness and fun.

Desperation strikes again, a.k.a. I’m starting another diet!

I’ve been psyching myself up for some time towards starting another diet. For any of you who have been reading my blog for a while, I apologise for repeating myself, as I seem to start diets about every six months with varying levels of success. Well, at the end of the day they obviously are unsuccessful as I’ve not yet reached my optimum weight and been able to abandon my quest to become lighter!

I’m still mourning the lack of a Rosemary Conley diet and fitness class in Cardiff. I went to one two years ago for six months and lost nearly two stone, which was fantastic. I loved the actual diet, which, with it’s focus on eating fruit and veg and enough milk for calcium, I think is very healthy. I also enjoyed the exercise class every week. I begrudge going to other classes, like Weight Watchers or Slimming World and having to pay £5 just to be weighed. At least with Rosemary Conley classes you do get that exercise to music session which you can tailor to your own ability. However, my nearest one is either in Caerleon or Bridgend, neither of which I feel like rushing to in the evenings. I’m still hoping and praying that the instructor from either Newport or Bridgend will suddenly notice that there is nothing in Cardiff and will start up another class!

Anyway, I have to move on and stop waiting for a non-existent class to help me to lose weight! I’m really hoping that we’ll manage to have a family holiday next year, and the last thing that I want is to be going away, self conscious about the way I look and avoiding family photos because I know that they’re unflattering. I’ve been eating really well this week, avoiding snacks and trying to up the amount of fruit and veg that I consume. I’m also trying to drink more, especially with the warm weather we’ve been enjoying. But it’s obviously not enough, and I need to find opportunities to exercise. It’s not as easy as you might think with two children around all the time. I could go out to the gym or on my bike in the evenings, but by the time the children are in bed I’m usually tired and able for nothing more than a little light internet surfing. I need to try to get out with the kids a bit more, to the park maybe with a couple of balls or something. We do try to get out somewhere every day, weather permitting, but it does get hard when you’re trying to fit so much into your day. I’ve got a lot on at the moment with Relay For Life, and I’ve been helping my mother in law with her garden a couple of times whis week. I’m also in the middle of clearing out my kids’ bedroom. All of that doesn’t leave a lot of leisure time for spending at the park! However, hopefully this coming week will be a little less frantic. I’m hoping to save some of my energy for cycling in the evenings, and maybe I’ll feel better for doing it. I think I’m slightly put off the thought of cycling because it has been so long since I was able to get out on my bike, I think I’ll be back to square one. However, if I’m going to do a Brecon to Cardiff sponsored bike ride next year, it needs to be done!

So, I need to spend this next week focussing on good food, no snacking and plenty of exercise. I know the theory, it’s just putting it into practise and keeping up the will power to keep it going. I’ll keep you posted.