Archive for November, 2011

This morning I tried on a pair of jeans that I couldn’t do up two weeks ago and they now fit perfectly.

Also, at my new weight of 12st 10lbs my BMI is now 29.6 which means I’m overweight, not obese.  Obviously I don’t want to remain overweight and firmly intend to continue losing, but it feels amazing nonetheless.

I love that last night I had my weekly pizza treat and I can still lose weight.  I love that I’m re-learning how to make healthy choices and I’m being encouraged to exercise and enjoy it.  I love that I have more energy and DH keeps telling me I look great.

So double woohoo!

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I was delighted this morning to have lost another 3lbs, which brings my total to 1 stone in 4 weeks.  This is a bit faster than the recommended 1-2lbs per week but I’m following the plan very precisely and not going hungry, so I’m not worried.

And just because it made me laugh I’ll share this with you…I was wondering what 14lbs looks like.  When you type ’14lbs’ into Google  images, you mostly get a lot of pictures of men holding fish.  So this is how much weight I’ve lost:

What a beauty!

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Inspired by a previous post I thought I’d take the opportunity to get down the many things about pregnancy, birth and early parenthood that noone tells you while you’re trying to conceive.  Not that they would necessarily put you off, but they can be a bit of a shock, and people deserve to know!

Pregnancy:

1.  It might take you a lot longer to get pregnant than you expected.  Years of teachers, health care professionals and magazines telling you that it only takes one ‘accident’ to get up-duffed mean that it can be a bit of a surprise when you work out that you’re actually only fertile for a couple of days a month, and you could quite easily do the deed every other day for six months and not get pregnant.  The chances are there’s nothing wrong with you: don’t panic.  If you’ve got to a year with no joy, go and see your GP.  But before you do that, read Toni Weschler’s ‘Taking Charge Of Your Fertility’ which will teach you more than you ever thought there was to know about cervical mucus and basal body temperatures.

2.  Skin tags will grow in the most unexpected places.  I got two on my neck and one right in the middle of my tummy button – it appeared when my tummy button popped out.  They might fall off after you’ve had the baby, which is pretty gross in itself, or they might not.  A GP can take them off for you.  Don’t accidentally scratch one off because it will hurt like hell.  (Bitter experience.)

3.  Your tummy button is likely to pop out.  If you’ve always had an inny, this is a bit weird.  It’ll probably go back in afterwards though.

4.  Stretchmarks affect different people differently.  I’ve read that how your body was affected as a teenager can suggest how you’ll be affected during pregnancy but I’m not sure how true this is.  I did get some as a teenager on my boobs and hips, but not particularly badly.  I was discussing pregnancy stretchmarks with a friend who’d recently had a baby and she said, ‘Oh they’re dreadful aren’t they?  Look at this!’  and revealed ONE stretchmark on ONE boob.  Well, my stomach looks like multiple traintracks going round a roundabout.  They start just by my tummy button and go round in circles all the way to my sides.  I mean my WHOLE stomach.  Also covered are my inner thighs right down to my knees, my hips right up my sides to about 6 inches under my arms, and my whole lower back.  I look like some kind of alien life form when naked.  I don’t love them, but as the weeks have passed I’ve come to hate them less.  They’re sort of battle scars.  Oh, and the Bio-oil/Cocoa Butter/blah blah blah crap that pregnancy magazines tell you to slather on are all rubbish.  (As are all pregnancy magazines.)  The only thing that worked for me at all was Neal’s Yard Mothers Balm (the lack of apostrophe is theirs – it drives me nuts), and all that did was make them slightly less angry.  If you’re going to get them, you’re going to get them.  (Your mother’s experience isn’t necessarily anything to go on either – my Mum remarked in surprise when she saw my stomach, ‘Oh gosh, I didn’t get ANY stretchmarks…’  Thanks, Mum.)

5.  While you’re pregnant perfect strangers will come up to you and touch your stomach without you asking, and they will probably make a comment about how huge/tiny you are.  It is perfectly ok to grope their boobs/other socially-unacceptable-to-touch-in-public places and make an offensive remark in return.

6.  The same strangers, plus your colleagues, friends of friends, etc, will tell you their birth horror story with utter glee, repeatedly.  It’s like they forget they’ve already scared you half to death, and need to repeat themselves over and over again for maximum enjoyment.  The best I had ended with the priceless line, ‘…and then I broke the stirrups!’  IGNORE them.  Yes, you need to be prepared, but you will be better off reading ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting,’ going to a friendly ante-natal class and talking to a couple of close friends you trust (and your Mum).

7.  Your hair gets gorgeously glossy and thick while you’re pregnant.  Then it all falls out.  Well, not all of it, but the excess you didn’t shed while pregnant.  Enjoy your glorious barnet while you can.

8.  Pregnancy makes you very emotional.  You will cry at any charity advert that shows hungry or ill children, any story anyone tells you about babies, any celebrity who has a baby, any particularly manipulative advert such as the gorgeous John Lewis one, plus pretty much anything else to do with babies or children.  You will also cry at the news, because you can’t believe the world’s such a terrible place and you’re bringing a child into it.

9.  There will come a point where you can’t see your own legs to shave them, much less your toe nails to cut.  Make sure you’ve picked a good man to have a baby with because he’s going to get better acquainted with these areas than he might have been before.

Birth:

10.  In the actual moment of having your baby you will feel like you need to have a very big poo.  You don’t.  That’s your body wanting you to push (or doing it by itself in some cases).  And if you do poo on the table, which you might, you won’t notice, nobody will comment, and the midwife will have it whisked away in seconds.  Everybody panics about this but while you’re pushing out a 7 or 8 lb baby, you won’t care.  Honestly.

11.  Giving birth is an absolutely extraordinary feeling that you can’t possibly describe to someone who hasn’t done it.  It also hurts.  If you want to have pain relief, for God’s sake have it and don’t feel guilty.  If you don’t want it, don’t have it and don’t be bullied into having it.  If you don’t want it and then you change your mind and you do want it, don’t feel bad.  Your body, your choice.  There are no medals.

12.  Giving birth is also immensely personal.  Some people want their Mums plus partners plus second cousins there, some people want to be left alone with the midwife, some people want to be at home, in a pool, on top of a mountain, doing Hypnobirthing, having a c-section, whatever, wherever.  Do your research, make sure your choices are safe, and then stick with them and ignore the crap everyone gives you.

13.  In your hospital bag make sure that you have moist toilet tissue or, at the very least, a small jug to pour water over your bits while you wee.  Going to the loo after giving birth is not pleasant.  Going in the bath can help, if you can get over the grossness.  And for God’s sake eat a lot of fibre because you will think you’re going to die from constipation.

14.  Take a lot of food into the hospital with you.  The food in the post-natal ward will be hideous and you might not be up to going and foraging in a vending machine in the middle of the night.  However, as a back up, take a lot of change, well hidden.  You can always send your DH to the vending machine when you run out of nutri-grain bars.  You’ll probably also need it for parking, which is ludicrously expensive.

15.  Take a water bottle and a straw.  This will be useful during labour when you don’t have the energy to drink from a cup and later on the ward when you’re holding your baby and can’t reach the bedside table.

16.  Lochia can go on for up to about 6 weeks after you’ve given birth.  It’s far heavier than your heaviest ever period.  Sanitary pads are useless and you won’t be able to wear anything other than pyjama bottoms to cover up the fact that you’re using giant maternity pads.  Also, there will be clots.  You had a baby, so these aren’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but be prepared.  They will be gross.

17.  Tampons are likely to hurt for a long time.  Don’t try.  Don’t let your DH fixate on the magical ‘six week’ mark either.  Have sex when you’re ready, not before.  Be prepared for it to hurt – a lot – if your body’s not ready.  Be sensible.  (Edit:  DH would like a disclaimer in here that he didn’t ‘fixate’ on the six week mark!)

18.  You will still look six months pregnant for at least a week after giving birth, and for some people, considerably longer.  Don’t hit the man in the coffee shop who asks you when the baby’s due while you’re very obviously holding your newborn.  Smile sweetly and say, ‘I’ve already had her.’  Then walk away and try not to cry in public.

19.  It will hurt to sit down for a good week, if not two.  Longer if they’ve bodged your stitches.  Have a lot of baths, with salt if you can stand it.  It will hurt to walk too – don’t overdo it.

20.  If you tear or have an episiotomy you will have to have the stitches that will make it hard to sit down.  One friend asked me, ‘Did you have stitches?  Where?  Wait, I don’t want to know…’  Well, firstly, they’re not that big a deal at the time.  You’ll have anaesthetic and you’ll probably be holding your snuggly newborn which is quite a distraction.  If you’re lucky they’ll do them in the delivery room and you won’t have to go to theatre.  If you’ve torn you’ll have one of the following: 1st degree tear, which is just a little tear to the edge of your ‘where the baby comes out’.  2nd degree tear which is from there almost to ‘where your poo comes out’.  3rd degree tear which joins the two.  (Yes, really.)  Just be glad you’re not a poor African lady giving birth by herself in the bush – no medical care = no stitches = fecal incontinence = social exclusion and possible death.  Seriously, you’re lucky to have the NHS, no matter how much they may piss you off at other times.  Please excuse my coyness with language – I’m already getting spam comments and I imagine they’d get worse if I used anatomically correct vocab!

21.  Breastfeeding is natural, normal, lovely and best for your baby.  It may be easy, with baby latching on immediately after birth and feeding well.  It may also be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and I’m including pushing out a baby in that.  If it’s agony or not happening, get help.  And if you use formula, don’t feel guilty.  As my DH put it after two weeks of me crying every time I tried (and failed) to feed DD, ‘it’s called parenting, not breastfeeding’.  Try and keep some perspective.  You are a mum no matter how you feed your baby.  And she won’t remember anyway.

Early parenthood:

22.  The touchy-feely-ness from the general public will carry on once you’ve had your baby, but people will want to touch the baby.  Again, feel free to tell them to fuck off in no uncertain terms.

23.  They will also tell you – constantly – what you’re doing wrong.  So far I’ve heard from passers by, ‘That baby needs a hat,’ ‘She’ll spoil that baby carrying it around all day,’ ‘Ooh, that’s a hungry cry,’ and many more.  They are not right.  You’re right.  It’s your baby.  Fuck em.

24.  You will get fed up with your family telling you how to raise your child.  Listen politely, thank them, take on board the bits that sound sensible, and then do what you want.

25.  Don’t be too proud to accept hand-me-down clothes, toys and baby equipment.  The baby market is as bad as the wedding market – there are a lot of vultures out there ready to tell you that your baby will DIE if you don’t spend £200 on the latest, snazziest, ugliest contraption they’re selling.  Your baby will probably decide her favourite toy is an old shoe and never look at said contraption.

26.  Babies grow FAST.  Newborn clothes are adorable and almost entirely a waste of time and money (unless you have a very little one).  I’d say at a push you need 6 newborn vests, 6 newborn sleepsuits with integrated scratchmitts (try Mothercare or Next), a cardigan, a hat and something warm for the pram.  They’ll be out of them within a few weeks and into 0-3 clothes, which will then last much longer.  Scratchmitts were designed to infuriate parents and invoke domestics.  They will fall off.  Instantly and repeatedly.  Similarly, sleepsuits without them built in are the devil’s work because they mean you need the bloody things.  Without them your baby will scratch her little face and probably yours too.  Throw them all out and get sleepsuits with them integrated.

27.  Slings are awesome.  The Moby wrap (try Amazon) was the only thing that sent DD to sleep for weeks.  They’re cheap (much, much cheaper than a pram), easy, don’t hurt your back and are an absolute godsend as they mean you have both hands free.  Don’t bother with papooses, babaslings and other rubbish on the market.  Just get a simple, stretchy fabric wrap and breathe a sigh of relief.  Lots of cities have sling libraries – go and try one out first if you’re not sure.

28.  You can survive on far, far less sleep than you thought you could.

29.  Sometimes you’ll be exhausted, furious, upset and terrified all at the same time.  You’ll shout at your partner, convince yourself you’re doing everything wrong, worry terribly and cry buckets.  (Baby blues are horrible but if you feel that it’s worse than feeling ‘blue’ then you should go to see your GP about potential post-natal depression.  Noone will take your baby away from you, they will just help you feel better.)  All parents struggle though, and if it’s not pnd but just (just!) sheer exhaustion you should try to tell yourself that this moment too will pass.

30.  The moment of looking at your teeny, beautiful, extraordinary baby and falling in love happens again and again.

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To shred or not to shred?

For the past couple of days, but particularly today, I’ve had really painful knees, and I’ve also had a little bleeding.  (One of the things noone really tells you about before you give birth – 9 months without a period and then oh-my-God they all come at once and go on and on and on…nice.  It’s called lochia and it’s bloody horrible, so to speak.  Mine stopped about 3 weeks ago which is why I was a bit worried this week to see it again.)  I wondered if I had been overdoing it with the daily shredding and did a spot of googling.

http://www.urbanmamas.com/urbanmamas/2007/02/postpartum_join.html

http://womenshealth.about.com/cs/pregnancy/a/postpregbook.htm

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/youafterthebirth/exercisepostbaby/isbodyready/

Ah.  Whoops.  Perhaps I should have researched this before starting up with the brilliant-evil-Jillian.  To be fair though, my six week check with the GP consisted of him saying ‘Are you ok?’, me replying ‘Yep’ and that was that.  (Other mums I’ve spoken to had full examinations, stitches looked at etc.  Noone likes to get naked in front of a stranger but I do wonder whether my ‘check’ was a bit half-hearted on his part!)  So I just assumed that that was the all clear and I could go ahead and start exercising.  I’m beginning to think now though that my body maybe isn’t ready, what with the gap in the abdominal muscles and the relaxin still coursing round my joints – hence, I suspect, the knee pain.  I’m taking tonight off from shredding to see whether I feel better tomorrow, but I’m gutted because I’m the kind of person who really needs to continue with something once I’ve started, otherwise it’s too easy to quit altogether.  This applies to lots of things in my life – over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a bit inclined to addiction.  I quit smoking very successfully by getting addicted to the high of being a non-smoker, and then made the classic mistake of thinking I could have ‘just one’ because as a non-smoker I could handle it.  Nope, that was another three years of smoking right there.  When I quit because we were trying to conceive I had to say to myself that that was IT forever.  (A bit like an alcoholic always being an alcoholic even if they don’t drink, I will forever be a smoker not having a cigarette.)  And similarly, of course, I cannot have one biscuit.  Oh no, it’s the pack or nothing.  So quitting shredding even for one night means I’m very likely to not do tomorrow’s work out either, and then once I’ve not done two, I might as well not do the third night, and so on and so on.

I think I need to address this as sensibly as possible and try not to punish myself if I do have to quit.  I’ll see how I feel tomorrow and then either a) continue and continue properly or b) DECIDE to quit until a later date (which I’ll put in my diary so I can’t ignore it when it comes around) rather than ‘taking it a day at a time’ which will only make me feel like I’ve failed.

Psychologically it’s important for this to be a decision, rather than a failing that creeps up on me.  Either way, I WILL complete the 30 Day Shred within the next year, whether it’s this month or when my joints are back to normal at some point next year.

On a totally different note, DD slept for 7 hours straight last night – I woke up very confused!  It was brilliant, though she cut out the 11pm feed rather than the 3pm one so I was still up in the middle of the night, and I really hope she repeats it tonight, preferably cutting the later feed this time.  DH is taking tonight’s shift (on a work night, bless him) so I can get some rest – fingers crossed for a good night!

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The website My Virtual Model, found at http://www.mvm.com/demovs.html is a great motivational tool.  It’s really for ‘trying on’ different styles of clothes, but if you ignore the clothes and focus on the model herself you get a good idea of what you’d look like at different weights.  Here’s me at 13st 10lbs and me at 10st:

Quite a difference!  (The site only allows you to have small/medium or medium/large breasts though.  Hah!  No option for the more realistic ‘bloody enormous’.)  Fingers crossed in a year or less I’ll look more like the second picture…

I haven’t used the site above to look at clothes or think about style, mainly because I like to think that I dress quite well whatever my size.  In reality of course, there are things I wear and then look back on and wonder what on earth I was thinking.  As a chubster my main strategy has been to wear clothes loose enough to ‘skim’ over any rolls, but slim-fitting enough to not make me look like a giant, walking tent.  That’s actually quite a tall order.  My main trouble has always been my tummy, which I can’t remember ever being flat, even when I was otherwise pretty slim.  The key is to wear jumpers and tops that are loose-ish over the shoulder and fairly long, so they cover a bit of hip, but quite straight up and down in the middle to disguise the flab.  (Though you’ve got to be careful with fabric as this can quickly look very 80s if you get it wrong.)  I also love my ‘Not Your Daughters’ Jeans’, which I mentioned the other day.  They are very American – quite high waisted.  They slightly run the risk of making you look like a 90s Deep South line dancer (just add cowboy boots for instant fashion suicide) but I tend to wear tops that hide quite how high they come up so it’s less of a problem.  I don’t know how they do it but they manage to suck you in like a corset would and simultaneously lift your bum a good couple of inches.  They are genius.  Unfortunately they’re also cripplingly expensive – about £170 which is the same price as proper designer jeans, and which I resent a bit!  Thank goodness for Black Friday.

The other thing I rely on a lot is dresses.  With boobs as ridiculous as mine shirts are impossible (unless worn over a vest and only buttoned over the stomach, which can look very slutty very quickly when your cleavage threatens to suck in and drown passers by) and I don’t tend to wear t-shirts as they can look stretched over the chest (again, slutty), not to mention a bit teenager-ish I think.  Dresses get over the modesty problem and can be dressed up or down depending.  I rely a lot on places that cut for curves like Hobbs and Jigsaw.  Whistles dresses are fabulous and made for my figure – I love them and wish I could afford more.  I loved Boden’s maternity range but find their normal range quite slim fitting.  I’ve bought trousers from them before that are flattering on my legs, fit my bum, look great from behind but won’t zip up at all – my hips are too big for the way they cut I think.  The perennial hour-glass fashion favourite of Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses are also brilliant, but they’re so expensive I only have two and they don’t currently fit.  Another reason to get to goal as quickly as possible!

A little-admitted problem of the modern fatty is the dreaded thigh chafe.  There is not much that is more unpleasant, and it makes tights or leggings a must with dresses.  I didn’t really get leggings until I was pregnant; I remembered a couple of horrendous BHS pairs my mother made me wear when I was at primary school (it was the 80s, to be fair) and vowed never to wear them again, but they’re far more useful and flattering than I gave them credit.  I still don’t get the three-quarter length ones worn with tops that don’t cover the bum though.  Just, why?!

Today is day four of the 30 Day Shred.  Just got to kick DH off the X-box so I can switch on Jillian in all her glory.

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I haven’t been to my weigh in yet today, though I don’t feel like there’s going to be much difference on the scales for some reason this week.  I think last week’s loss was just so big that there’s no way my body could keep that up.  I did, however, take my measurements this morning and was quite astounded by the results.  In three weeks I’ve lost 1.5cm from each arm, 2cm from each thigh, 2cm from my hips, 9cm from my bust and a staggering 13cm from my waist.  I’m not entirely sure how this is possible!  I would guess that a significant chunk of it was water, but still, I’m rather pleased.

On a bit of a whim yesterday I bought a pair of NYDJ jeans from Amazon in their Black Friday Deals Week – they were £50 down from £170 which I felt was rather bargainous!  I have one pair already and they really are the most comfortable, flattering thing.  I’ve bought a size smaller than I currently need as my motivational item of clothing instead of the dress from Monsoon – much as I love it, I figure jeans are a better way to see weight loss as if they don’t fit they really don’t fit, while a loose-ish dress can sort of be manipulated to fit.

Here they are in all their waist-cinching, bum-lifting glory.

Those are my legs, honest…

A quick edit post weigh in – I should have had more faith, 2.5lbs down!  I’ve met my 5% goal, woohoo!

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Jillian.

My favourite line, said with a massive grin:

“Look at Natalie, she is kicking herself in the ass, quite literally!”

Oh Jillian, you evil, evil woman.

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