If I'm honest and I do always try to be, life is just a little bit hectic right now (understatement of the century)...juggling life with a 3 year old, 6 month old, freelance business which is taking up 12 hours + per week, plus the school run, washing, cooking, cleaning, trying to get fit, my hobbies and having a social life - there really hasn't been a huge amount of room for much blog stuff. Most days I feel like I'm chasing my tail from 7am-2am (genuinely!) Surely there are other people out there that regularly stay up to the wee hours just to get through the 'To Do' list??
Anyhow, I'm still here guys!! Slogging away. I hope you haven't forgotten me? I promise to try harder over the coming months... At the moment Bert is only at pre-school for half days, which means I get a few hours every afternoon where it is just Connie and I - this is the best chance for me to do my paid work, but alas, it doesn't always end up that way if Connie decides not to nap and needs her Mummy's undivided attention. Having a baby at home full-time with no childcare, as well as a commitment to 12 hours paid work a week is all fun and games, I'm telling you! Come January, Bert will start doing 2 full days plus one half day at pre-school and so, I'm hoping off the back of that I will start to see a bit more work-life balance...fingers crossed!!
As well as ploughing on hard with parenting and my business, over the past few months I've also majorly stepped up my fitness regime.
Me at the end of June - a few weeks after Connie's arrival.
After Connie arrived in early June I was feeling bloated, bulky and not myself - the baby weight felt like a heavy chain around my neck and I really hated what I was seeing in the mirror.
Liam and I, early August 2016 at our friend's wedding.
Yes, yes I know that my body is amazing and it has grown and birthed two blooming marvellous children, but the reality is also that I had just worked so hard for 2 solid years to get the body I'd wanted my whole life, so it was pretty shattering to see it all squidgy and swollen once again. Don't get me wrong, I know that I was much lighter in this latest pregnancy than I had been with Bert - even at my heaviest during my pregnancy with Connie I still wasn't as heavy as my starting weight before I had Bert, so I do have some perspective, but never the less it was a toughie and I wanted to make changes and start to get back the body I so missed.
I didn't try that hard for the first few months - they were a blur of middle of the night feeds, colic, sleep deprivation and running on biscuits and hot sweet tea. Then, come September I decided it was time to get serious about getting my body back - so did what any normal person would (!) and I gave up all refined sugar for a whole month! When I do things I don't do them by half! It was a truly brilliant challenge: it taught me lots about my existing food habits, my relationship with sugar, and made me investigate lots of new refined sugar free recipes and ways of eating. Luckily for me, I didn't experience any of the really bad sugar withdrawals (no headaches etc)...which reassured me that my sugar 'habit' really isn't that bad at all day to day anyhow, but I did feel really good knowing my body wasn't being fuelled by any rubbish and by the end of the month I was so proud of myself for completing a full month minus the white stuff. I even managed to kick having sweetener in my tea and coffee - woo!
Me on my 30th Birthday with my beautiful blogging bestie Emma (Mrs Shilts)
Then October hit, my 30th birthday month, and boy did I celebrate (like for a whole month!!) it was a really excellent month full of brilliant nights out, trips away, wonderful meals and CAKE. I tried hard to not be too silly, and the fallout from my sugar free month has definitely made my day to day sugar consumption drop rapidly, but I enjoyed myself and didn't regret it at all.
As it was a big birthday I decided to give myself a very special birthday present - a personal trainer. My weight loss since having Connie had been slower compared to my previous weight loss efforts, and I could feel that my body needed me to step things up a gear. I started to think that maybe I should be focussing less on getting to a specific weight, and more on getting fitter, stronger and hopefully watching my shape change in return. I can't pretend to be any sort of fitness expert and have never had much of a clue when it comes to working out in a gym, so I cut out the middle man and hired an expert to put me through my paces once a week - and boy does he do that (Hi Matt, if you're reading this!) ... I've now been seeing him for 10 weeks and I'm feeling fitter and stronger than ever. We concentrate on building and toning muscle, and Matt throws in some general cardio in the form of boxing too (which I LOVE!) I'm thrilled with what my body is achieving in those sessions and I'm excited and eager to watch my body change as the weeks go by.
Post-workout selfie - early October 2016
As well as seeing Matt once a week, I am also working out twice a week by myself at my local, newly refurbished gym - Fusion at Robinson Pool & Fitness in Bedford (more about this amazing gym another day!) During my solo workouts I tend to work on calorie burning - so I hit the cross trainer, bike, treadmill and power stepper for a combined workout of around an hour. I also walk 40 minutes each way to get to the gym, so it's pretty hardcore in terms of working out.
Monday to Friday I walk 30 minutes a day to do the school run, and often try to fit in an hours walk (for fun or running errands) during the week too. It's taking up a huge amount of my "spare" time, but it is important to me to get fit and feel good in my own skin once again.
I've also done something fairly radical (for me) and stopped weighing myself. I was getting so obsessed with the numbers, and saw myself so disappointed when they weren't dropping as quickly as I'd hoped (17 lbs from mid-June to beg-Nov) that I decided enough was enough. Instead of riding that vicious cycle, I want to be concentrating on how fit and strong I feel, how my clothes fit, and the shape/tone of my body. I am not defined by the numbers on the scale (I need this tattooed somewhere!). As someone who spent all of my childhood, teens and most of my twenties massively over weight, I will always have 'the fear' of gaining weight, and so scales aren't something I can throw away in definitely - I can't help but have an end weight in mind (10 stone) but what has changed is I'm no longer in an unrealistic rush to get there!
Moi (right) with my cousin Vicky (left) in mid-Nov 2016
Weirdly, despite still being a stone and a bit heavier than I was when I fell pregnant with Connie, I am back into about 95% of my pre-Connie wardrobe, and I feel really fit - anything I can achieve from this point onwards is a bonus, and a step in the right direction - I don't need to crash diet or do anything radical or unsustainable long term, for me, it is all about building good habits and attitudes to food and exercise for life, so moving forward I feel confident in my methods and hopeful that I will smash all my targets, eventually.
What is tough is constantly finding the motivation to get out and workout - especially on these bitterly cold evenings we're having and after a busy day of kids, work, housework, school run etc - normally all I'm lusting after is a lie down on the sofa a big mug of tea/glass of wine/slab of chocolate *delete as appropriate - dependant on day* I know that I without exception always feel better, proud of myself, and have more energy when I do workout (I know, weird right?) So 10 weeks in I'm still very motivated and sticking to my 3 times a week workouts. However, I'm also a pretty realistic individual and know that when the proper cold weather hits I might not be as willing to venture out in the evenings as often as I do now, so I went in search of a middle ground that might bridge the gap in-between my weekly personal training sessions when I'm no longer enthused by my lone gym time. That's when I found out that you can hire a running machine from HireFitness.co.uk for a reasonable weekly cost, and I'm definitely considering it in the short-term for the bitterly cold winter months when my motivation for workouts may well wain slightly.
As well as the physical side to my health/fitness I'm also continuing to work on getting my diet right - I still count calories each day using My Fitness Pal - it helps me stay accountable and ensures I don't kid myself into thinking things are better for me, or less calories that they actually are. I try to think of good calories versus bad calories, and work to achieve balance and moderation as much of the time as possible. I don't cut any foods or food groups out - nothing is 'banned', that's a very important part of my philosophy. I love food, cooking, baking and socialising too much to ever feel deprived. I never want to feel guilt when I eat like I used to when I was bigger, so all things in moderation has become my saving grace.
Hopefully, now that I've stepped up my workouts I will see positive changes, and start to feel increasingly more confident in my own skin....watch this space for updates.
Me in the same outfit at 7 weeks pregnant with Connie (left) versus this week. Getting my body back.
How are you all getting on with your health, fitness and weight goals if you've got them? I'd love to hear from you.