Category Archives: health

New Decade, Old Habit: Janathon 2020 Day 1

This will be my fifth Janathon – gasp! Every year (bar one) since 2014 I have signed up to the fitness challenge where you have to exercise every day in January and blog about it.

I managed a fair few runs in December, so it wasn’t too hellish setting off at 11.50am. I wasn’t hungover either cos we had our alternative Hogmanay on the 30th. I jogged into the bright new day with my ever-random playlist (it was Fireball by Pitbull that set my pace. Later, just when I was beginning to flag, Domino by Jessie J revived me. I think it’s a Radio 1 Big Weekend CD hiding in there).

Janathon 1

Running into the Pentlands

Everyone and their dog was out walking in the Pentlands today. I was very rude, I didn’t stop to chat to a single one. I was determined to push myself today. I always start with the big hill – half way up is a bench where I do my Buggyfit inspired tricep dips and push ups. I power walk up the last bit of the incline, concentrating on my core and my glutes, then I pick my way over all the tree roots at the fence line until I get to the gate. After that it’s all downhill or flat and I can get my pace, which today was not too shabby.

Janathon 1

The fenceline has amazing roots

I arrived home red and sweaty but pleased. I took time to stretch cos the boys like to play along with that bit – then changed my tshirt and headed straight back out for a walk… Except the boys had a massive argument about which route to take, the five year old sat down on the pavement and refused to move and Rod stormed off with the Wee Man. I called my sister while I waited for the most stubborn child on the planet to move (16 minutes).

I don’t usually have to wait a full hour for my shower after a run. It felt extra good today.

Day one done.

5km – hilly – stop for strength work – 35 mins

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Home organisation – Mum-style

I do not follow Mrs Hinchliffe.

I take no pleasure in bleaching tiles or cleaning under stuff.

I mean – I live with three boys.

home organisation

For background, I have two sisters, a homemaker mum and a dad who works away a lot. I grew up in a girly house, so I’m still adjusting to the noise, mess and destruction of my own (despite being married 12 years and entering motherhood eight years ago).

home organisation

So although I clean up after my thugs mutinously and remind, cajole and nag them to put stuff away, or in the bin, or outside (“no you may not have a scooter race in the hall”) – I don’t relish it in the least.

What I do enjoy is organising.

Home organisation

My friend Craig wrote a post about sorting out the cupboard under the sink. He made it look so pretty with colour coded cloths and baskets that I wondered if I could do that.

home organisation

Craig makes things pretty

Jeez, the shit that was under there.

Once I’d ditched the random lids and stained cloths and burst-open dishwasher tablets, I sorted all my cleaning products into two baskets. I found rubber gloves that matched and actually made a pair. I realised I had three cans of oven cleaner. I emptied detergent tabs into a clear tupperware and put all my rolls of bin liners in an old Ariel tub. (I had six; white, black, organic compostable, tie-top, industrial strength and stolen.)

The process was cathartic.

The result was beautiful.

The effect was incredible.

If you have children or pets – think about how often you go into your cleaning cupboard. Is it on the hour, every hour? Now imagine the annoyance of other people’s spillages tempered both by a moment of beauty and an efficient solution. I could always find a cloth. I could even choose between the spray, foam or miracle paste that would best unf*ck the situation. My crazy life got a little bit easier.

Home organisation – advanced

Converted, as I was, I started to notice other cupboards that annoyed me. Of course, I never had a second to do anything about it – until today.

Between my angel Allison and my lovely babysitter Jacqui – the kids are away for a good few hours.

It’s been kind of a shitty week, so I was going to just lie about drinking coffee and watching Netflix. But there was no sugar – or anything else for that matter – so I dragged myself to Tesco. Unloading the shopping made me remember how annoying my cupboards are so look what I did:

And look how pretty it is:

home organisation

I am ridiculously – and inordinately – pleased about this.

  1. my kitchen floor no longer goes crunch under my feet because of all the pasta falling through the shelves
  2. my son and husband can be safely fed (the Wee Man’s epilepsy can be set off by accidentally eating gluten)
  3. my other son and I can still have pasta that tastes nice (sorry but GF pasta is rubbish)
  4. lunchbox making is now that tiny bit easier because all the snacks are in one jar
  5. supermarket shopping is now that tiny bit cheaper because I can see what needs topped up
  6. I even put all my risotto rice in jars – it’s a bugger when it spills too
  7. I idiot-proofed the system by using plastic jars for GF and glass jars for regular – and colour-coded the labels
  8. I enjoyed making the labels
  9. it’s so pretty

If you’re wondering why I had both glass and plastic jars lying around the house unused – funny story.

Instagram made me want to do a pick’n’mix table at the Wee Man’s 8th birthday party. I ordered jars from Amazon that arrived three days after the event, so Rod shot to B&M and bought glass ones for £1 each. They’ve been lying in my “must return these at some point” corner for a month.

What else can I put in jars?

…to be continued

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Hospital with kids – how to handle it

Is there anything worse, as a parent, than an ill child?

I mean mess is annoying, sleepless nights are a massive challenge – but the anxiety of an unwell kid is definitely at the top of my list of parenting horrors.

Our experiences with our two so far (they’re 4 and 8) have ranged from one swallowing a marble and needing a general anaesthetic and a team of surgeons to remove it, to teeth getting knocked out to epileptic seizures.

Yeah – I’m something of an expert when it comes to A&E trips.

I’m writing this from a ward right now in fact.

Don’t worry – everything is fine.

But you get a lot of thinking time when you’re waiting around – looking up hopefully when someone not in blue scrubs appears.

So here are some tips for parents or carers taking their kids into hospital.

I’ve got this list stuck in my diary so I don’t need to think. (You tend to be a tad preoccupied when your child needs urgent medical attention).

I’ve also suggested some stuff you can do to help if your friends are stressed with ill children:

Things to pack

  • Juice in a sports bottle
  • Chopped fruit in little tupperwares
  • A large flask of water for parents
  • Tissues
  • Change for vending machines
  • A phone charger
  • Extra joggers and t-shirt
  • Notebook and pen
  • Moisturiser and lip balm – hospitals are so dry
  • Toothbrush and paste – trust me, a fresh mouth is a mental pick me up
  • Nail clippers (especially if they’re going to be sleeping/sedated/under anaesthetic – get their toenails while they can’t kick you)

Things you can do for your friends

  • Send a text saying thinking of you
  • Offer practical help like collecting a sibling or dropping off dinner
  • Send short positive texts – like a funny picture or a joke
  • Don’t harass them with ‘any news’ (please please)

What not to do in hospital

  • Drink too much coffee – trust me, you’re jagged enough
  • Overheat – wear layers
  • Spend too much time on your phone
  • Pull the curtains round your cubicle – it only isolates you
  • Be shy – especially if you’re in for a while – chatting to other parents and kids can make the whole experience almost enjoyable

Even though it’s properly shit being in hospital for any length of time with your kids – I will be forever grateful for the NHS.

The staff are incredible – they’re caring, positive and helpful.

We are so lucky to have it – so if you do have any snacks or teabags or toys that you’d like to leave for the ward or nurses I would recommend it. Even a note to say thanks seems the least we can do.

Finally – if you’re facing a hospital trip – be strong. All our kids need from us is love and comfort, the doctors and nurses can do the rest.

X

hospital with kids

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Clubbercise Edinburgh

Funny how “Children of the Night” takes on a whole new meaning when you have a family…


If I had known – age 14, raving in Archaos Unders – that 22 years later I’d be doing the same in a dance studio with a bunch of mums, I’d have died of shame.

But the crippling self-obsession of my early teens has given way to a state of no-fucks-given – so I happily handed over my fiver, accepted the glow sticks and sweated for an hour in a dark studio with a disco ball.

clubbercise Edinburgh

Now – I love dancing. Every Wednesday I look forward to my street dance class and since I’ve quit the gym I’ve been looking for another opportunity to burn some calories to loud music in a way that’s actually fun.

Once I got over the initial “is this really happening?” feeling of big-box-small-box to happy hard core, the endorphins took over. We all looked so ridiculous that we had enormous smiles on our faces. Three tracks in the ‘OO-OO’ started, the ‘nah nah nah nah’ to the electro synth got louder and by the time DJ Sammy came on with “Heaven” we were totally in the zone.

By the end of the hour we were all gasping for breath. My watch told me I’d burned 498 calories. The floor was slippy and the mirror was steamed up. I felt AMAZING!

Who’s coming with me next week?

CLUBBERCISE

8.30-9.30pm SSD HQ, Edinburgh

Clubbercise

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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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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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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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