It’s hard, but it’s quick – The Cleanse

I love food.

I love baked Camembert and steak pie and Magnums and rum cocktails.

I’m active but I’m greedy. If there’s a packet of Oreos in front of me, I’ll hoover half of them and don’t even get me started on Kettle Chips…

Last Wednesday I got a fright. My jeans had been feeling a bit tight, so I booked into a spin class and thought I’d jump on the scales in the gym.

I nearly burst into tears right there next to the kettle bells.

I was 2.5kg (5.5lb) over my maximum weight. I have a 2kg(4.4lb) plus or minus range I try to stay within – and here I was miles over. How had this happened? I realised it was pretty simple. I’d been eating like a pig.

Send help

So after blasting that spin class, I did what any woman does. I got straight on Whatsapp and wailed to my girls.

“Do you want my help?” Dionne – the London-based nutritionist and personal trainer – asked.

“YES!” I shouted.

Being the wonderful supportive friend she is, she immediately sent me details of the cleanse* she normally charges a lot of money for.

“It has to start with your gut health,” she explained. “You need to clear out all the crap, get on top of the cravings and change your eating habits for good.”

Christ. I read through that pack with growing dread.

On the list of foods to enjoy, I was pleased to see:

eggs

walnuts

oats

steak and chicken

peppermint tea

most vegetables

coconut

On the list of foods to avoid were – well – everything else.

“I can cut out everything but coffee,” I texted back, but she was adamant. I was desperate. I said I’d do it.

The headache

Oh dear lord the headache. It started later on Wednesday and I swear it didn’t shift until Saturday morning. It was so bad that I called Dionne on Friday night and said I wasn’t sure I could carry on. She was sympathetic and said I could adapt it as long as I stuck to the golden rules:

8 glasses of water a day

no processed foods

no carbs after 2pm

no sugar

Thank god I woke up without that headache on Saturday or I would have probably quit in a spectacular orgy of Cadburys and Costa. As it was I drank my peppermint tea, gave myself a pep talk and carried on.

The turning point

Sunday was a huge challenge because we went to a family barbecue. My mother-in-law is a spectacular cook and hostess, all my favourite things were on the table in front of me – tortilla chips, Desperados beer, big floury rolls, ice cream… But I abstained. Ok, I had four tortilla chips. FINE it was eight. But old me would have scoffed the bag and washed it all down with beer, so I’m still calling it a win.

I woke up on Monday and I didn’t crave coffee. I was astonished, then smug. I posted it on Instagram and everything.

Last night I went out for dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen for ages – I drove, I drank a virgin Mojito (apple juice, lime juice naughty) and I had steak and salad for dinner. I had one small glass of red wine and savoured every sip. The next day was the weigh-in, I gave myself the wine for making it that far.

The weigh in

So this morning I headed to the gym and those scales. I told myself not to hope too much. 1kg would be great, a sixth of my goal weight loss before our summer holiday. I stepped on and held my breath. Oh. I’d lost 500g. No, wait – what’s that first number? I actually gasped.

I’d lost 2.5kg. That’s five and a half pounds. In a week.

I’ve lost a third of my goal weight loss in one week.

I am so damn proud of myself.

So what’s next?

Well – I have created some good habits and I’m going to Spain in seven weeks, so I’ll be damned if I stop now. Dionne (who was super proud) said I could reintroduce fruit a week today. One portion a day – and berries are my friend. Meantime I’m happy to avoid the coffee and I can stay on the wagon. I may introduce a sandwich at lunchtime – but I can do without carbs at dinner time. I think I’ll bring yoghurts back for my afternoon snack. Oh – and I’d better do my measurements for a truer reflection of my transformation.

Bonus features

Genuinely – I feel fantastic. I feel in balance – neither full nor hungry. I’m so proud of this willpower I’ve discovered in myself. I feel strong. I’m totally motivated – this works and I have a holiday at the end of it. If I do have a wee cheat, I enjoy every morsel of it. It’s a good lesson for life. You should try it.

*The Cleanse is tailored to each client – Dionne knows my medical history so could confidently recommend it. She’s a nutritionist, not a dietician, so always has a consultation with the client before suggesting any programmes.

 

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Crippled by choice – millennial dating

coffee-shop-2734987_1920My friend Suz and I have been having a very amusing exchange this past fortnight – but today it turned a bit sinister.
You see, she’s made a new friend. She met him through work, so at first had a totally legit reason to text him. Then she had to send him a big file, so used WhatsApp. She started following his Instagram account and he sent her a Facebook friend request.
Now she has to see him at a work event and she’s nervous. He hasn’t replied to her last WhatsApp message even though she can see when he was last active and actually he viewed her Instagram story and tagged her in a Facebook post so she isn’t being a keen bean but then she has instigated the last two conversations and OH MY GOD why is she even questioning it?!
Considering we’re both in our 30s and happily married with kids, we are clearly on this battlefield unarmed.
I ran this past a much younger, single friend and she guffawed.
“Yeah and wait til you add in snapchat!” she groaned.
She met her last boyfriend on Tinder, swapped actual mobile numbers, chatted on  Whatsapp became Facebook friends and then, when they finally met for a drink, knew absolutely everything about each other.
“I knew what his last girlfriend looked like, when they’d split up, who’d helped him through it and who they were dating,” she said.
“I was so tempted to ask whether Gary was still with Lucy cos they’d been so nice to him last September – it was crazy having that much background.”
She was very dismissive of her best friend’s ex who frequently liked her Instagram stories but didn’t actually follow her.
“I mean the guy is looking her up manually to check her stories – what a weirdo,” she said witheringly.
Apparently she and her friends have standard messages they’ve created to send out a) if a date is going badly so they can be rescued or b) if the guy needs to be let down gently. Two of the girls have similar tastes so their rule is if they progress from Tinder to Whatsapp they send each other his profile pic to check the other isn’t messaging him too.
Yep. My brain just exploded.
I worry for the future of the human race if this is how we’re mating.
“Oh god no, it’s so much fun!” this young friend corrected me.
“I’m meeting people way outside my circle and a lot of them end up friends. You can feel very powerful while you’re playing the game and you’re always out. Plus, you know, I get bored easily,” she said.
And there’s the nub of the matter.
These millennials are crippled by choice and distracted like children. As painful as it is to be ghosted (that chat that abruptly ends, usually before a date or after a shag) there are plenty more people to swipe left on. Or is it right?
I’m too scared to find out.

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When cliches start to make sense…

Why are we all so scared of getting old?

It’s easy to ward off the flab and the bad health if you just go to the gym and eat healthily – as for wrinkles and sag, I think I’d rather look natural than inflated.

I feel myself getting more and more comfortable in my skin. Life teaches you some tough lessons as you gather responsibilities. All those old cliches begin to make sense.

Be yourself. This drove me insane as a teenager because who the hell was I? Who did I want the world to think I was? Now I know what makes me happy, what’s important to me, what I will stand up for and what makes me uncomfortable. I’ve learned that ignoring these things bothers me for days. Don’t you hate that feeling of ‘God I wish I’d said something’? So now I do. (most of the time)

Beauty is only skin deep. I never even understood this phrase – like how deep is skin? Now I’ve met enough boring beauties and handsome arseholes to get it. People whose beauty conforms to 21st century standards are rarely good company. In my experience they’re pretty low in self-confidence and fairly draining to be around.

Just ignore the bullies. Yeah – cos that was possible in the playground. There was one lunchtime though, age nine, when I was in the firing line, and I leaned through the gate to talk to the lollipop man. He was elderly and hilarious – full of stories. Now I know there is ALWAYS someone to talk to, if you just look around. Bullying is a fact of life – people abuse power absolutely everywhere – so you might as well hone your coping mechanisms. I’ve also figured out that, when someone is upsetting you, think about the worst thing they could do and make your peace with it. Their power over you vanishes. I had a boss whose relentless demands nearly made me ill. When I realised that if she fired me I had genuine options, I stopped letting her get to me. I also developed those options and handed in my notice.

Love yourself. Ooft. Now if I had the answer to this one I’d call myself the Messiah. I think women in particular are very bad at being nice to themselves. I have this one friend who’s like a mirror. She and I beat ourselves up about things and turn to each other for comfort. One day we realised we would never speak to each other in the tone of our internal monologues, so we resolved to change. I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who’s adored me since I was 17 so I’ve always had a foundation of ‘if this wonderful guy loves me that much, I must be OK’. Of course the devil on my shoulder reminds me I didn’t date very much so maybe no one else would have had me. I think, as I work through challenges and counsel friends through hard times, I’m realising how powerful love really is.

It’s all water under the bridge. This once vague concept has become pretty central to it all, really. The bridge is our path through life – sometimes it feels strong and sturdy, other times it sways slightly and, let’s face it, on occasion it feels like it will be washed away by the torrent. It’s all about how you perceive the river. I try very hard to keep my bridge strong and fortify it with the people I love and the things that make me happy. Everything else I consign to the water and let it wash away. It’s not allowed to stick to my bridge. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to scrape away the flotsam and jetsam. I guess it’s like the Forth Road Bridge. I’ll never be finished painting it.

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Best friends

Isn’t it just the cutest when your toddler becomes a proper wee lad with views on the world and a proper best friend?

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I feel like our wee Smoosh has grown up so much in the last few months. The things he comes out with just astonish me. He remembers everything, which frequently catches me out, and he repeats everything. Rod insists it was me who “taught” him the F word – but when he said it to Grammy, after she’d told him to stop playing with the gas hob, he added: “That’s what daddy says”…

Last night in the car on the way home from Glasgow I said: “Hey – no sleeping!” and his answer nearly made me crash.
“I’m not sleeping mummy – I’m just chilling.”

He’s such a sociable wee lad (he and his friend Lewis yell “Hi stinky bum” across the street at each other at the school drop off) but his very best friend has remained constant for a long time now. I’ll call him Spiderman because that’s who he thinks he is.

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The woman in the supermarket asked me if they were twins.

Spiderman’s mummy is also a superhero, she saves me frequently, including when I crashed the car last week. It is so great to have a friend who will happily take your kids or give you hers, who also lives a few streets away and who shares your guilty passion for alcohol on a weeknight. She loans me her daughter too, when I want to play makeup or princesses.

I spend a lot of time discussing how hard being a mum is – but actually, friends like that make it wonderful. I’m lucky to have her and all the other awesome strong mums around me who get it – so I’m going to take a day off from the moaning.

I’ll be back tomorrow no doubt.

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Googlyfruit to the rescue*

I have a poorly peep at home today.

He’s been coughing constantly, feeling very sorry for himself. I’ve been by his side with the laptop, trying to work and look after him at the same time.

Then we got a package delivered…

 

 

Finally he’s eaten something – pureed fruit. Three packets of it!

Thank you Googlyfruit – you’ve won a fan!

*with very many thanks to the team at Googlyfruit for sending us such an amazing goody box of free samples!

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Superexcited for Cineworld’s Superscreen and Paddington 2*

I didn’t think anything in the world could persuade the wee man to part with his football – then we went to Cineworld.

The boys are just reaching cinema age – you know, where they’ll sit longer than 45 seconds and not require 17 snacks. So when Cineworld got in touch and offered me tickets to see Paddington 2 on the Superscreen, I felt brave enough to accept.

Rod was skeptical. He packed a bag with 17 snacks and insisted we book aisle seats – but even he was pleasantly surprised.

“Wow!” was the wee man’s first comment – and that was just when he saw the Christmas tree outside the cinema.

Next was the excitement of the huge escalator, the popcorn cabinet and the huge blue “Superscreen” letters, which he took pride in sounding out for his wee brother (complete with jolly phonics actions – proud).

It was only KD’s second cinema visit – and the first visit had involved 3D glasses – so technically it was his first proper experience of a huge movie. Viewing it on the Superscreen (which means a wall-to-wall, ceiling-high screen) must have blown his little mind. I don’t think he’s ever sat so still. He was transfixed. For a kid who loves a movie on an iPad this was heaven indeed – and the sound was coming from all around him (apparently it’s multidimensional sound powered by 27 amplifiers).

The wee man, who’d given up his ball at the popcorn cabinet, appeared to have forgotten all about it. Even Rod relaxed.

The movie itself was absolutely charming. The boys clearly loved the bear and his clumsy mischief, I enjoyed the nostalgic image of a villagey London and the brilliant acting from Hugh Grant and Hugh Bonneville. The sequence where the pop-up book came to life, with Paddington running through it, was a gorgeous and clever mix of old and new technology. I could see the boys loved that bit too – with such an enormous screen, they must have felt like they were in that book right along with Paddington.

Of course I won’t spoil the ending – but I highly recommend the movie. Anything that can keep my two crazies that enthralled has to be a winner. As for the Cineworld Superscreen experience, it really is incredible. I’d recommend you sit right at the back to get the full impact – but I doubt you’ll need an aisle seat.

It was one happy family who left Cineworld that Sunday – and with a bag still full of snacks.

Book Paddington 2 here and check out what else is showing in Superscreen, including Star Wars and Justice League: https://www.cineworld.co.uk/superscreen#/

“Mummy, can we go back?!”

 

*With very many thanks to Cineworld for paying for our tickets, along with a small fee for writing this review

 

 

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Once upon a morning…

Putting icing sugar in my coffee was, in fact, the icing on the turdcake of my morning.

Picture yourself in bed, squashed.

You have a wriggling three year old on one side and a spreadeagled six year old on the other.

One rolls out and you gratefully unfold your limbs – then leap to attention as he starts emptying your jewellery box. For once, you’ve all slept beyond 5am – but it’s Wednesday and everyone needs to be out the door in 45 minutes.

There’s the usual nonsense of breakfast rejected, iPads demanded and juice spilled – punctuated by “No, I’m not getting dressed,” every five minutes.

You cobble together the lunchboxes, scrape your curls into a ponytail, split up fights in your underwear and then herd them into the bathroom to brush their teeth. The three year old is still in his pyjamas because, “NO, I’M NOT GETTING DRESSED,” is still on repeat.

“Fine, you can go to nursery like that,” you say. He stops, considers and then grins widely. What fun.

The six year old wants to cram 16 toy cars into his school bag and you spill them on the driveway as you shove everything into the car, including your older son. The three year old is wailing on the doorstep. It’s cold outside when you’re only wearing pyjamas. You throw all his clothes in a Tesco bag, go back for shoes, give a martyred smile to a passing mother with well-behaved, clothed children and strap the squirming toddler down. I mean in.

You arrive at nursery. He’s been very quiet and now whispers “Mummy, can I get dressed now?”

“Yes of course darling,” you cry brightly, wrestling with seatbelts and pyjama tops and jumpers. Your six year old, who’s jumped into the front seat to ‘drive’, decides to throw open the door just as a van drives past, resulting in screeching of breaks, honking of horns and a minor heart attack.

You leave the small one half naked on the pavement to rescue the big one, apologise to the driver, resist the urge to lose your shit and finally, finally, deposit the now-clothed but suddenly inconsolable child with the nursery teacher. “Mummy don’t goooooooooo,” he wails, as you remove the teacher’s mobile from the older one’s hands and usher him back to the car.

He wets himself.

I mean f**k. The last time he did that he was three.

You rush home, change his trousers, grab a tenner to buy milk after drop off cos you’re going to need some serious coffee and push him through the door as the bell goes.

You bump into a dad in the corner shop.

“Did you know we had to pay for the school trip today?” he asks you.

You burst out laughing because of course you didn’t and he kindly offers to drop the £1.60 into reception for you. Then he texts you to say actually, they don’t accept cash, you must pay online, but there’s a £2 minimum spend, so actually you have to add credit to your account and f**k how do you even do that and what’s the three digit code for your credit card anyway and do you give consent and then – at last – it’s all done and you can have a coffee.

With icing sugar.

FML.

 

 

 

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