Smells like Krav spirit…or is that sweat?

How in the world do you blog about a group of people who have quite literally changed your life?
13606656_10156979276515411_756404044872232427_nI wasn’t going to write this just yet.  I’m not 100% sure why, exactly.  I have a few reasons I guess, I wanted there to be more of a change in me, I wanted to make sure I stuck at it for an extended period of time and I wasn’t convinced that eight weeks was enough time to gauge, well, anything really.
Plus? Let’s just throw it out there now, but when it comes to talking about my amazing little Krav family? I get hit square in the feels (as long as it’s not the jaw, right?)

But, my time here in Houston is drawing to a close over the next couple months, and this new lifestyle and these new people have already had such a profound impact on my life, I thought “screw it”.  I figure that there’s really no harm in sharing this new chapter of my life on this blog.  Especially considering that the mental changes within myself, far outweigh any current visible, physical changes.  I’ve even gone so far as to have already looked up somewhere to continue my training when I go home, and Col has looked for somewhere in India.

I officially have “the bug”.
13516350_10156973497185411_7002291917759849473_nOn Thursday, May 5th, (so just over a month ago as I start to write this), I, in what felt at the time, like a moment of utter insanity, drove North of the city to try a free Krav Maga class.  I didn’t know much about the self defense system, other than it was more instinctual and less “organized”, than say, Tae Kwon Do, and really a little more akin to street fighting even.  So, off I went.
I got there a little early so I could watch the end of the previous, intermediate/advanced class, train and had I listened to the not-so-quiet voice screaming loudly in my ear to think again about what in the name of all that is holy I thought I was doing, I’d have bolted.  Part of me wanted to.  Not a small part either.  There was absolutely no way in hell I could ever do what those people were doing, right? But they’d all seen me come up the stairs, there was no escape – believe me, I considered it.
Hold up.  Let’s rewind a little, we all know that I’ve posted any number of fitness, weight loss, or healthy eating posts since I started this blog.  I’ve yoyo-ed the same 10lbs for years and my self-image hasn’t ever been stellar.
I abhor exercise.  Despise it.  I’ll leave a collection of things on the stairs that needs taken up, because I’m just too out-rightly lazy to add an extra flight of steps into my day.

And then something clicks.

It’s the same process every time, right?
I’ll get so sick of seeing my reflection in the mirror and I’ll hit something full pelt.  I’ll eat 1600 (-1800) calories a day (GP approved before any of you give me grief), drink 2 liters of water, eat 5 a day and start some form of exercise, Les Mills Body Attack or C25K have been the most notable favourites to date.  I’ll go 3-5 times a week, give my all, and after the first week or two of quick body-shock progress, eating like a hangry ankle-biting rabbit and working out more than any sane person should, in my lazy land of couch potato, I’ll hit some dumb plateau, the scales won’t move and I’ll lose my patience with it.  Or? Better yet? I’ll get my period, use it as the worlds lamest excuse to curl up in the corner and avoid the gym like the plague.  It really doesn’t take much for me to quit and go back to being unhappy with myself.
Typically.
I know myself, I know my patterns.

Or so I thought.

Anyways, back we go to Las, sat on the floor of the Krav loft, trying to look calm – when all she really wanted to do was jump in the car and drive home – stretching, because from the look of the intermediate class, it seemed like that was a smart thing to do, and praying, praying hard, that no one laughed at my mere presence there.
Then it occurred to me, the (I’m reluctant to call them educated, but on the subject matter I guess they are) person (people) who encouraged me to go to Krav in the first place? Wouldn’t have done so from an unkind place, or to make fun of me somehow.  They encouraged me to go because they thought I was capable – in spite of enjoying my couch potato lifestyle.  They thought that it was, perhaps, something I would enjoy, and maybe even go to a second class.  They believed in me, even if I didn’t believe in myself.
13510781_10156955669315411_8653724555621343230_nMy first class was pretty “low-key” (I’m also reluctant to say low-key, because I still ended up a sweaty mess and my calf hurt for three days after training).  It was all footwork, (stance is the most important thing!) and I spent most of the 60 minutes face to face with an orange belt, called Jen, who I’d seen training at the end of the previous class.  Neither she, nor Mike (the instructor), laughed at me for being there, they didn’t scoff, or ask what I thought I was doing, and, despite us giggling for the guts of an hour, Jen taught me more than I realised.
In spite of not being able to walk very well the next day (my calf protested being off the floor for an hour), I was sufficiently intrigued.  I signed up for a monthly, unlimited class membership and attended a two-hour monthly women’s self defense seminars, just two days later, that Saturday morning.
13319719_10156865174375411_9113199934113673980_nIn the eight weeks since that first night? My goal in May was 9 classes (two per week) I finished the month on 13.  I’ve attended a 3 hour Kali/Escrima (knife skills) workshop, two (soon to be three) 2-hour women’s self defense seminars and a 3 hour Muay Thai workshop with the best Muay Thai coach in the US.  I’ve not only tried an intermediate class, but I’ve done a number of back to back inter/beginner classes in the last few weeks, and I’m hungry for more.  Why? Not just because I enjoy it – sure, that’s a huge chunk, but these people I’m training with? They help me find belief in myself that I’m CAPABLE of more.
Crazy as it sounds, (and I know it’s a long shot, but we all need goals, right?) I’m training with the aim of testing for my yellow belt before we leave the US.  My goal for June was 13 classes, 3 per week and I finished on 22 Krav classes and 1 cardio combat class, I’ve not skipped a single class simply because I have ovaries (as a friend’s better half pointed out “an attacker doesn’t care if you’re sick or have your period”) and I’ve even managed to simultaneously train through a chest infection, just fine.
13307453_10156865174365411_3685887745969475778_nIt’s incredibly hard to capture, on a computer screen especially, the kind of people, or atmosphere, that Fight Back Fit has managed to harness, and I find it just a little laugh-out-loud-funny that I’m getting ‘totes emosh’ about a group of seriously bad ass fighters, however, I really am.  Last week? I trained for two hours before we went out for post-training tacos.  We typically close out the places we go to eat, mostly, I think, because the other patrons are afraid that our special kind of crazy is contagious and don’t want to be within a city block of our hysterical giggling.  Anyways, I had a not-so-minor breakdown on my way home, worked up and upset that I’m leaving this great group of people in a short matter of weeks.  It bothers me, a lot.
In class, no matter who I pair with in training, I learn something.
Everyone has something to teach.
Everyone is vested in everyone else’s training.  Everyone wants to make you a better fighter and no one cares that you’ve only been there a short number of weeks and suck at hooks, your left elbow flares when you strike, or that you punch with the wrong part of your fist – they just want you to be better.

Every class.

13528802_10156942683145411_1999757221268620819_nFighting and fitness aside? The folks I train with have a pretty social element to their training, they typically eat out after class a couple times a week (this has become after every time I train because I have a long drive home and am so hungry I could eat an entire cow when I’m finished), we’ll sit, laugh (there’s always lots of laughing), talk, share stories and re-fuel after a tough work out that we push each other to kick ass in.
I know you’re skeptical, I would be too had I not experienced it first-hand, there’s no way anyone could accidentally happen upon such a ready-made group of great friends, right? Wrong.  Aside from the Krav-ing, and the post-Krav eating (which, in the interest of being up front if you’re thinking of joining us, can last for hours), we have also hung out socially, I’ve been shooting with them, we’ve had lunch together on non-Krav days, and we’re working on throwing together a bucket list for my last eight weeks here in Houston and have a few fun things like karaoke and go-karting on the list for us to try our hands at.
13615046_10156987121315411_4232918578577866323_nWe even landed around to my Krav friend Kathy’s house (toddler and all!) and invaded for a bbq for the 4th, with two of my other fave Krav friends (Kate and Jen) with Kathy’s sister and her family.  If someone starts a sentence with ‘Hey, why don’t we…?’, or ‘Does anyone want to…?’ chances are at least four of us will be there.
They pick me up when I fall (literally), build me up when I’m low, push me through when I feel like I can’t do something and tell me I’m getting skinnier while punching me in the chest – what’s not to love? 😉
13606503_10156989125330411_3121260125936346466_nWanna know how hard I love these folks? Sunday night on my way to my volunteer shift at Ronald McDonald, I hit a pot hole – and I was scared to my core that I’d busted out my tyre, was going to get stranded at the hospital (I had the car seat in my car, so Col couldn’t come rescue me, had I been in trouble), but I knew that without a doubt, I could have called any of a handful of Krav people and they’d have busted their behinds to help me get myself figured out.  Thankfully, I didn’t need it, but it’s a very, very reassuring feeling to know that someone’s got your back.
While a large part of me is devastated that I didn’t meet these people seven years ago when we first moved to H-Town, a larger part of me is so damn thankful that I got to meet them at all.  That I got over myself, my inner demons, my self-hatey and crappy self esteem to take a chance, try something new, and that I get to spend my last four months in Houston, doing something I love, with people I love even more.
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From fat…to less fat.

I haven’t always been fat.

I had a few rare years of dramatic theatre time when I was svelte.  But one tends to remember being fat, more than not.  Especially when fat is the current state.

Those are the hardest times.
I can already hear my sister and my coach Taylor, screaming at their screens.  “You are NOT fat! You HAVE fat”, it’s a mindset I’d love to have, and that I’ve vowed to try and adapt, however, for now, I am fat.
I am aware of it, every single minute, or every single day.
I see it every time I look I the mirror, or catch my fat ass reflection in a window, or see my rotund shadow when it’s sunny (which is a lot in Houston).
I see it, always.
I hate it, always.
I’ve written blogs like this, at least once a year.  New beginning, new me.  It trails off.  It flops.  I quit.  And I’m normally not a quitter.  I HATE to quit.
This time it’s different, this time it’s for real.
It never is.  I stay fat.
Since Lewis was born, I’ve lost 33lbs and counting.  It hasn’t been easy, or quick (he’s nearly a year old).  Breastfeeding seems to be hindering, rather than helping and, since January 5th, I’ve been working so hard that I almost expected the weight to fall off me.  But I’ve been here before, I know the drill, sometimes you just have to put your faith in the science.  Eat less, move more and it will happen.  It WILL.
But it’s hard.
I’m trying so hard to eat cleaner, high protein, low carbs, low sugar, and as of this week, no carbs after 3pm.  I’m doing my best, for once, I’m giving it my all.  I really am.  No kidding myself this time.  It’s a struggle every time I open my mouth to eat.  At every meal.  It’s a conscious choice to self improve, to make the better choice, and to inch just a little closer to my goal.
What’s my goal? Well, I started at 268lbs, my first major goal is 180, and I’ll reevaluate the next one, when I get there.  My first interim goal, however, is to lose 30lbs by our wedding anniversary cruise in October.  I want to be 213lbs, (which is the weight I was on my wedding day), for my anniversary.  It’s an achievable goal, theoretically, and bet your ass I’m going to give it my all.
I have an inspirational chart taped to my pantry (aka the infamous pantry penis) that I color in with my Crayola markers every time I lose 1lb.  I have photos from my wedding taped to it, to constantly remind me of my goal.  Where I want to be.  Who I want to be.  So every time I go in to that cupboard for food, I have a choice to make.
What do I want more? The chocolate, or to color in the chart.
What’s my food plan? Like I said above, high protein (lean meats), low carb (100g rice/potato or a tortilla wrap), low sugar (berries rather than citrus).  Three meals (I’m not a breakfast person so this is tough) two to three snacks (nuts, Greek yoghurt, rice cracker, small Apple with peanut butter) and prayers.  ‘Cause, I love my food, I hate any sniff of feeling deprived.  I’m doing my best to feel satisfied and occasionally allowing myself a ‘treat’, cause while although I’m not a dog, it needs to be sustainable for this to work for me.  The odd pizza, or the wings, I still indulge in my diet coke and I’m trying to keep it reasonable, sustainable.  A lifetime thing.
What are my activities? I went back to Body Attack 2-3 times a week for a few weeks, put my back out, got the flu, and got really weak.  So started walking with my boys, and C25K last week, to try and ease back in to working out.  I’ve signed up for not one, but TWO 5k walks/jogs this summer, both at night (oy vey! I couldn’t handle the day time heat!!) with my girl Taylor and I hope to do them in a ‘respectable’ time, but I’ve not yet set a goal, because snails are currently faster than I am.
I’ve stuck to it for fifty days.  5-0.
That’s a record.
What’s my secret weapon? My secret weapon is three-fold.
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Firstly, my crazy sister, she has this knack of ‘bigging me up’ *right* when I need ‘bigging’, sending food suggestions, meal ideas, encouragement and most importantly, she’s always there to kick my ass when I’ve found my way to the wrong side of the tracks, or, often more importantly, to keep me from straying before it happens.  I talk to her daily, not always about food, but she’s there, like a strong silent, rock, waiting to hit me in the face if I go near a pizza 😉
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Secondly I have a great ‘coach’, she helps me set realistic goals, she helps me learn about food, she encourages me when I am feeling weak, she cheers me when I do good and she bucks me up when the scales don’t move.  She gives me exercises to do at home when I can’t get out, or one of us is sick.  She guilts me into taking Lewis for a walk when the weather is glorious and she’s stuck in an office – oh, yeah, did I not mention she has a full time job?
She is nothing short of amazing.
Her name is Taylor, I met her by accident a few years ago when I needed a door prize donation for an SSA event and she is FAB.  I send her photos of all my food, she texts at least once every single day, if I’m wavering, I’ll text her and say ‘I want to eat crap’ and she’ll have a come to Jesus meeting.  She keeps me focused, asks about the progress of my pantry penis and pushes me.  Pushes my limits.  I need it, cause some days I’d be like ‘f*ck it!’ but she reminds me of my goal, and helps me get there.
My most important secret weapon, is my eleven month old little boy – I almost wrote baby – but he’s no longer a baby.  He’s transitioning into ‘toddler mode’ and he’s doing it quickly.  He’s crawling, sure, but he’s also pulling himself up, walking with a walker, moving between objects and as of today, he’s started to stand up solo for a few seconds – this kid will rule the world.
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He will soon be running, chasing, kicking a football, playing sports – and I don’t want to be the lard-ass trudging mother who can’t keep up with her toddler (and beyond).  I don’t want to have to watch him play in the park, wondering why mama can’t chase him, or why she needs to sit down every few minutes.
I want to be healthy, for my boy.  I want to be active for my boy.  I want to be FUN, for my boy.
8lbs down, 22lbs to go by October 30th.
This time I won’t quit.  I can’t quit.  I won’t let my son follow the same path as me, I want to teach him healthy choices, healthy activities and I want him to enjoy family time, walking, cycling, swimming…I want him to have a healthy relationship with food, understand its purpose and eat the right things.  I can’t expect him to do it, if I don’t do it.
The buck stops here.
It’s on, like Donkey Kong*…
…*and if I fall down, Taylor (and a few other people) will drag my ass up off the dirt and help me dust myself off, and start again.  Cause that’s what badasses do.

November healthy lifestyle challenge!

Alright readers, my friend Liz and I have embarked upon challenging ourselves every month.  Our challenges vary, from improving the quality of our lives at home (cleaning), improving our palates (cooking) to the crap you’re supposed to do, but never seems to get done (procrastinating).

This month, I’m trying a triple-thread attempt, in the hopes that I’m not taking on too much and that trying to keep so many balls in the air, won’t result in splattered balls on a hard floor!

1. Exercising

Originally, my game plan was three hours of exercise per week and I got in to a routine doing that.  Three classes of Body Attack a week for the last few months is a pretty good achievement, and I’m proud of myself for making exercise a regular part of my life, (especially now that my heart rate monitor tells me I burn anywhere from 550 – 725 cals per class!) I’m feeling fitter, my heart rate is returning to normal faster and I’m all round, just a little more chipper and feeling mentally fitter as well.

However, I’ve decided that it’s time to push myself a little further and to increase the burn.  My new aim, is five hours of exercise per week, four hours of cardio (Body Attack, RPM, Water Aerobics) and one hour of toning/strengthening (Body Pump).

I’ve tried Body Pump twice now, and I’ve decided I like it.  It’s harder than I originally thought it’d be (there’s a few times when my arms are burning so much I think they’re going to snap off at the elbow), but I’ll get there.  I have to keep reminding myself that my first few classes of Attack, left me in a pool on the floor!

My only concern with Pump is that the place on the top of your back, where you rest the bar, is exactly on top of my disc/back injury and it gives me some discomfort.  Sally has suggested I put a folded towel along the top of my back to see if that eases the pain.

My only concern with four hours of cardio, is my calf injury.  It’s been injured since mid-July, if I strap my calf up like a mummy and do an Attack class every couple of days, it’s not so bad, I can take it.  However, if I do back to back Attack classes, then my calf screams like crazy.  For example, today I hurt due to my back to back Wednesday/Thursday Attack classes – it’s not fun.

The answer to that, then, I think, is to try for three hours of Attack per week and have one ‘swing’ class, a not-fixed class that I can do to provide some respite for my leg.  At the moment, my only option there is water Aerobics (which I used to do three times a week during my first year or more living here), but hopefully, after a trip to Academy sports for a gel bike seat cover, I’ll add some RPM to my rotation as well.

This is a big deal for me, I’ve gone from never exercising, to a regular three hours a week and increasing it by 75% again is going to be a tough challenge, but, I think I’m ready for it and I know I have my YMCA ‘trainers’ Sally, Jeni, Juli, Vicki and most recently Kirsten right behind me encouraging me every step of the way, (not to mention my cheerleading friends too!)

I’ll check back after four weeks of attempting this, hopefully I’ll hit December in a five hour a week swing and not look back! I’ve even scheduled five hours a week in my diary up until December 18th!

I have weighed in and Col will be taking measurements tonight, hopefully after a month, I’ll have at least changed shape a little!

Wish me luck!

2.  Back on ‘track’ with food

I’ve not fallen off the wagon per-say, but, I have been slacking a bit as far as tracking goes and, the last two months have seen a few too many unscheduled trips to various restaurants.

For this part of my challenge, I’m going back to menu planning (which also helps to save $ cause you only shop for the ingredients you NEED for the week) and to trying one new recipe a week – this has worked well for us in the past and has kept our meal times interesting so neither of us get bored and decide to go pick up a takeaway!

I now just need to make the time to sit down and make meal plans, I also need to take some time to pre-make dinners so they are in the freezer and ready to go.  Lately we’ve been so busy and out so much, that by the time we get home, it’s almost too late for dinner, we’re too exhausted to cook and then we just call something in, being prepared ahead of time is the key – I’ve always believed that, I just ebb and flow on that one!

Lasagne, chicken noodle bake and cottage pie

As a result, I did a bit of a cook-in the other night, so have started a freezer stockpile!

Track, track, track!

I’ve become somewhat of a slacker on this bit, I do track regularly, but sometimes I don’t get the exact foods I’m eating, I guess-timate or whatever and I want to become better at tracking every bite.  I’ve logged in to Myfitnesspal now for 35 days running and I want to continue that good foundation and log all my food, every day!

3. How clean is your house?

My third and final self-set challenge for the month of November, is to get the house in some semblance of an order.  October was my downstairs challenge, and, in my defense, the lower level of our house was lovely in October, however, after the chaos of the last few weeks, it’s kind of gone to pot (aside from my lovely back hall progress!)

The problems with this task are never ending, firstly, our spare bedroom is currently a Christmas present haven, the place is coming down with little piles of presents for people, this is going to be difficult to ‘fix’ properly until January, but things like making the spare bed up, Col putting his ‘halloween costume’ hockey kit away etc are easily fixed.

My craft room/Col’s office hasn’t been re-set-up since Heather’s baby shower, as we said we’d keep it ‘dismantled’ until Thanksgiving when we’ll need the tables again, but that means the room is out of commission, and a like a bomb’s hit it.

Therefore, we both agreed (you know it must be royally peeving Col off if he agreed to change it!) that we’d buy two more folding tables from Walmart and have a semi permanent fixture up in the craft-office.  The tables were ordered this morning.

Our bedroom, I started on the other day, it just needs a polish, dust and a tidy…and, since Col has commandeered the TV from our room for F1, I now need to figure out how to get it back!!!

Both bathrooms upstairs need a good clean and we need some furniture for downstairs to get the piles of things off the floor (where a unit ‘would’ go, if we found the time, cash and inclination to brave an Ikea trip).

I’m going to do what I can, but November is most definitely the month that the McMaster abode is getting a deep clean!!

What are your November challenges?

''Be-cause I'm soooo, Caught up!''

Tuesday October 25th, we had, what could only be described in the Madden household, as a lie-in.  Poppy let us sleep until almost 8am!  After replacing the Maddens car seat,  we packed up and headed home to change (I’d brought wrong clothes for Col) and to find our camera (which, if you can believe, I’d misplaced!!!!)

We had brunch at BJ’s (which was yummy, though, yet again, part of my food came out cold!) before picking up the car seat at Babies r us and from there, we made our way to the hospital to visit.  We said a quick hello, dropped off the car seat, Col went back home to work, and I was home for about 2pm.

We both went back to the hospital a few hours later, around 5pm, to take a family picture of the Maddens, just before they went home.  Col and I indulged yet again in a dinner out, at Pei Wei before heading home for some TV and cuddles (and Col was working!).

Wednesday I didn’t get up until 11am! I know, I have the cheek to say I was exhausted, but, I really was exhausted!! Magz needed a few bits (some of which I ordered online) and after another hellish pit-stop in Babies R Us (I’ve decided I hate that place!!!!), it was off to Magz and Sam’s house to visit and sit with Magz, while Sam went off to take the dog-a-bongs to the dog park to tire them out.

While I was on my way to Magz, I’d gotten another call, asking for help.  Another friend needed me to pick up her kids while she sat with her sick husband, just for a break.  As I was tied up with Magz, I told Col about my predicament, he very, very kindly offered to leave the office (which is something an SLB guy doesn’t do!) to pick up the kidlets from our friend and watch over them til I got back.

Not so little any more Hazel!

Zane watching Thomas!

They were great, very well behaved, they watched Thomas the Tank engine, ate dinner, played with Col and I and I even got little Hazel to sleep for a while before we took her home! It was a lovely wee visit!

I can’t remember what I did Thursday (my notes are sketchy from last week!) but I think it was mostly laundry, cooking, tidying and catching up on my blogging for Liz 😉

Friday night brought more festivities up at Casa Madden with the Van der Waals! We had a delicious Indian dinner, courtesy of the Van der Waals making a stop at the London Sizzler en route – seriously, the butter chicken in that place makes my mouth water just to think about it!

The company was great (as always), our little group of six really warms my heart.  It’s so nice to feel like we’re part of a group here, people ask us out to do things, it’s not always me planning things like it used to be at home.  We’re invited places, we go to other peoples houses and just hang out and have a good time.  It’s nice!

Friday night was another first for me! Mummy Magz volunteered me to bath little Eve – which, I have to admit, gave me momentary nerves.  I’ve never bathed a newborn before, but, times have changed from when you used to hold the baby over a small bath or sink for a wash.  The bath has a little newborn seat in it and aside from the fact that Eve both hates being naked, and being wet, it went off without a hitch! We did good!

Saturday morning was my morning of pain! I did a Les Mills double, back to back 55 minute classes, Body Attack and my 2nd ever Body Pump.  It was killer! But I loved it! I think I’d suffer, even if I had an empty bar with no weights on it…it’s hard work!

When I got home, I discovered that Col had done some heavy damage to a chair and was enjoying a few races on F1 2011.  It was, from what I understand, a comedy moment!

Crash, bang, whallop!

We stopped at Magz and Sams en route to hockey for an hour, little Eve was sleeping, so we just chilled out in front of the TV for a while.  At the Toyota Centre, it was $1 hotdog night! At first, I thought this was a great idea, cheap dinner!! However, standing there, in the concourse, watching people order trays and trays and trays of $1 hotdogs (which, by the way, were called ‘kiddies hotdogs’ but to you, me and the rest of the world, they are ‘regular’ sized hotdogs) it made me realise just how much of a BAD idea it was – talk about over indulgence! And they were feeding their kids multiple dawgs!!

It was an interesting game, in the first 20 minutes, we were down by 3 goals, we faught back to tie the game 4-4 and lost in penalties.  Tough, tough loss, but a fun night all the same!

Sunday, we woke up naturally around 10am, we headed up to Magz and Sam’s for a Dominos B1G1F pizza (accompanied by the Indian GP) which was pretty uneventful by recent GP standards (though, there was, the ever recurring Massa/Hamilton tete a tete!)

We considered heading up to the Aeros, but by the time the GP was over, it was too late, so we went home and bought the Webcast for the last two periods of the game (which turned out to be a real cracker of a game with a 5-3 win at home for the Aeros!)

Monday mornings board meeting went quickly, in fact, I think it ended early for the first time in all of my two and a half years of service!! Crazy!  After we dispersed, some of us decided to go to BJ’s for lunch (again!!) – with the new parents and little miss Eve (of course there was Aunty Las cuddles!).

Back at home, I hacked up a huge pork tenderloin and made two different kinds of pork dishes (maple pork and marsala pork), before the trick or treating started!

I love Halloween, like, LOVE! When we were growing up, we had the best parties in the whole damn street! My mother ‘wallpapered’ the walls with black bin bags that she’d sliced open and taped together, then she covered it with a delicate white spiders web and a bunch of other halloween spooks.  We always had a huge spread including toffee apples (Candy apples for you Americans!), we played games (dunking for apples, trying to bite an apple on a string with our hands behind our backs), we ate pie (one lucky person always got a £1 coin in their slice of pie), we trick or treated and we had the best of fun!

I’ve missed that, the first year in the US, we were on honeymoon in Austin over Halloween weekend, last year, we were home AND had candy, but our porch light was faulty and went out, so no one came to visit!!

This year, I was determined to hand out treats, I didn’t dress up, but I wore my ghostie T-shirt and, after I called Col boring and no fun, he dressed up as a hockey player and came to the door with me every single time the doorbell rang!

Using the mouse to change programmes on the Mac!

All of our trick or treaters loved his costume!! My favourite costume of the night was a tiny little person in a giraffe get-up.  She looked ADORABLE!

Every time we sat down, the doorbell ‘dinged’ again!

I have minimal decorations, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my supply is getting a little bigger each year, but, for Halloween, I have pretty much nothing…

I got a flag or two for our flag pole

I have a throw and cushion (less than $5 in Walmart!!)

Sweetie bowl!

Today, the day after Halloween, I decided it was time to ‘up’ my Halloween game, just because I don’t have kids yet, doesn’t mean I have to stop being a kid at Halloween! It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the holiday!

I decided that next year Col and I are going all out (he’s agreed!) there shall be pumpkin carving, costumes, toffee apples, apple pie, a McMaster Halloween Party (complete with decorations and dunking for apples) and I hit shops to claim some discounted decorations!

I came back with quite the haul, outdoor decorations for the garden, six different sets of lights (two net sets for the bushes outside), baking supplies (of course!), party supplies (a bunch of stuff for 50c a piece!!) and some Thanksgiving stuff for my upcoming Thanksgiving dinner (I’ve decided that the kids table is going to be Halloween themed! LOL!!)

I may go back to Walmart to pick up a set of string pumpkin or ghost lights for across my fireplace, but I’ve not yet decided on that!

I’m excited! Check back here in 364 days to see just how FAB the Casa McMaster Halloween party is and I hope y’all had a ghoulish Halloween!

My first Les Mills Sweatfest

Saturday morning (22nd) was my first ever Les Mills launch, I was totally psyched for the Sweatfest!

Two of our instructors Vicki and Juli!

I strapped my calf, chugged a protein shake met Ana Maria at 8.20am at the Clay Road YMCA.  We signed in, got our goody bags (a little towel, water, a coupon for a healthy food restaurant) and we embarked on a crazy journey!

Room ready for 50 Body Pumpers!

First up was Body Pump – it was my first attempt, one of the instructors remembered me, knew it was my first time, and helped us out a bit getting set up.

Where's Las?

It was a 55 minute class, using weights and a bar, it was hard going, harder than I thought, but also more fun than I expected too.  I stuck with the lightest weights for the whole class (and probably will for a while now) but I loved it, and will definitely be back (in spite of the fact that at one point I thought my arms were on fire!)

I’m told Pump is a great accompaniment to Attack, so let’s see how that goes!

At the end of Pump, Ana Maria had to leave as she had a birthday party to go to.  In the spot prize, draw thing, I won a prize – I picked the RPM cycling shirt, they only had a Large and it’s too small at the moment (Les Mills Large is not a regular large!) and I’ve vowed to slim in to it, it’s my new challenge – I think Pump will help cause my upper arms are way flabby!

CX30 - Check me out!

After Pump came CX30/Worx, I dunno why they changed the name, but I prefer CX30.  It wasn’t a bad half hour, but my core isn’t the strongest, so it was definitely challenging (as always).

so true!

Next up, was my personal favourite class, Body Attack! It was a 30 minute express class, but holy crap is the new release KILLER!!!

After a two hour work out (and 1100 calories burned), I felt perfectly ok about our dinner plans with the gang!

Not last week, but the week before…

It’s been a while since I brought you a mundane, day to day happenings in Casa McMaster in Texas update…I’ve had this post ready for a week, but keep forgetting to hit the publish button – whoopsie!

These last three weeks have been full of ebbs and flows…I started off with an SSA board meeting at the SLB Western Geco office 3 Monday’s ago followed by a tasty and cheap lunch with Magz and Sam on campus.

After a yummy roast dinner, I had my first two-hour Choir practice up in the city – which I LOVED!

Thursday was my favourite day in a LONG time, why? Cause it brought RAIN, RAIN I tell ya!!!!! It’s been SO long, our neighbourhoods are under drought conditions, water regularions and threats of prosecution if we break the temporary laws.

It’s been over 100F for weeks on end, with seemingly no relief in sight.  This has been the driest summer ever recorded in Texas…It’s been a long, looooong and seriously HOT summer and it goes on…*sigh*  Bring on hockey season – for more than just the hockey!

The specials menu

Last Thursday also brought with it a small celebration for my friend Julie’s birthday.  A little group of us got together for a delicious three-course lunch in a ‘nook and cranny’ type restaurant in Missouri City, ”Aura”.  A French bistro type restaurant, which turned out to be a hidden gem of the area, three courses, $14.00 and plenty of choice.

It was lovely and the company was good too!  I’d brought with me a dozen cupcakes from a not-so-great place up town that I had a groupon for (and have subsequently given them a negative review on yelp!) but the cupcakes were ok and went down nicely after a tasty lunch!

On my way home, I stopped off to pick up some hard-to-find foods at an Indian grocers I’d never been to before and stopped in at The Glazery, to sort out details of an SSA activity I’m planning for October and for dinner, we ordered pizza for dinner cause neither of us could figure out what we wanted to eat!

Friday was a pretty long day, Col and I both had a wee lie in (we’d stayed up late watching Lost the night before) and I pretty much went straight to Target where I spent just over two hours doing a ‘baby shower shop’.  I picked up a few things for the house, but, for the most part, I spent my time picking up any number of fruits, veggies and a mix of random things I needed for the almost-upon-us baby shower.

When I got home and unpacked, I grabbed the hubby and took him for a yummy lunch in Pei Wei, an ‘Asian diner’ – it has killer Thai coconut chicken curry for me and honey seared chicken for Col.  It’s cheap, it’s quick, it’s big portions (always good!) and last but not least it’s delicious!!

Back at home, I spent over four hours in the kitchen working on food-prep.  I washed, peeled and cut up fruits and veggies, made three different sandwich fillings (tuna and sweetcorn, egg and onion, salmon and cucumber) and a big bowl of pasta salad which Col tried and asked me to keep some for our dinner cause it was delicious.

The evening was spent researching things to do in Singapore and Sentosa Island (and putting together my traditional “I wanna do” list for our upcoming trip).

Saturday was spent party planning, cooking, baking, organising and we headed up to the Maddens, where I started putting things together for the party and we crashed overnight (cause it made sense!).  Sunday brought with it the fun-filled baby shower that you’re all sick to death of hearing about!

I'm pretty pleased with how it all came out!

Monday (29th), was supposed to be my decompressing day, the ‘come down’ after a weekend of cooking, organising, and executing my party planning.  However, instead, it was a day of insane cleaning, tidying, more organising and putting stuff away.  I’m like a tornado when I get started, I can’t stand things not being tidy and organised, so I just blast my way through it all, until it’s all done and to a point that I can relax!

I forget what we did Tuesday, which suggests that it’s nothing worth recalling, Wednesday, Col worked from home, my exhaustion hit like a ton of bricks, so it was sleep and relaxing for me, followed by a quick ‘glue’ trip to Hobby Lobby as they had all adhesives for 40% off this week!

Wednesday Col worked from home, the day involved a wee trip to Hobby Lobby for me and we decided to use one of our remaining Groupon’s for dinner.  We ate in a place called Otto’s BBQ.  It was just ‘ok’, it has a mix of highs and lows.  Firstly, the staff aren’t particularly friendly or welcoming.  As we paid for our food, we were told that we still had around $4 left on our groupon (so why couldn’t I have had my baked potato upgrade, eh?!?!) so we picked a slice of German chocolate cake.

It was stale and pretty gross.  I’d have been peeved if we paid full price for it.

One huge plus for me is that they offer caffeine free diet coke – which is a big selling point for me!!!  I think we’d go back if we were in the area, but wouldn’t go out of our way to make another trip.  It’s pretty darn good value though!

We followed dinner with some fruit and ice cream and watching Lost into the wee hours of the morning!

That night, while lying in bed, Col wasn’t his normal ‘gone in 10 seconds’ self, he was awake for a wee while.  I asked what was up, he replied that since home was six hours ahead of us, it was this time, 15 years ago that he was walking through the gates of Camco’s office for his first day at work.

Fifteen years!

That’s an impressive stint for anyone really!

To celebrate (because he’s missed his office ‘deadline’ for their awards dinner and we now won’t be getting his big to-do until next year – where I even get to dress up and look fancy!) , I took him out to the Char House Bar and Grille with another groupon (yes, I should buy shares in their company, I know!)

Onion ring starter - in spite of all the 'spices' they were pretty bland!

The menu wasn’t particularly extensive and we have mixed reviews about this place too.  I loved what I ordered, Col wasn’t fussed and we both agreed that paying $20 out of pocket on top of the $20 groupon was way overpriced for a shared appetiser, two main’s and two soft drinks!

We won’t be back!

Labo(u)r day weekend was spent dog-sitting, it was quiet, low key and cheap.

I like this one, it looks like Col's eating it! LOL!

We spent Friday evening through late Monday night pretty much just watching back to back episodes of Lost, (with a small time-out taken for me to go to Body Attack) it was bliss! Col needed it as much as I did!

We kept it low-key, cause we leave on our trip soon, so we’re counting our pennies.  It was fun, though, and Col turned to me on Monday and said,

‘This is a taste of what’s to come at Christmas’

My reply was, ‘yeah, if we’ve any TV show’s left to watch at this rate!’ LOL!!!

Monday afternoon, Magz and Sam came back from their trip out of town and dropped by to pick up the dogs (who were THRILLED to see mum and dad!) We decided to have lunch at a little Mediterranean place that our friend Sharon took us to, before she moved to Norway.

The food is good, but the service and general atmosphere in the place SUCKS.  Not to mention, paying $4.50 for a small fruit smoothie is well past day light robbery…especially when we’d almost finished eating by the time Col got it!

Watching TV with mum!

I enjoyed the food though and the company, as always was great.  After a Starbucks pit-stop, we watched the latest episode of ”Young Dumb & living off mum” online before the Maddens all departed to go home.  The house was pretty darn quiet with the dogs gone!

Tuesday I started back at Spanish classes, with a different teacher, a friend of mine Ana Maria.  The class lasts two hours (with a short snack break in the middle) and she’s a wonderful teacher! I had a lot of fun and can’t wait to start making some real progress with the language.

Today, I was supposed to be at the SSA Newcomer’s coffee and then Body Attack – but I woke up with a pretty bad migraine & slept on and off til almost 1pm.  I’m feeling a little better, the nausea has gone at least so I might chance a bowl of cereal after I empty the dishwasher!

Sorry for the boring post (with no pictures!), they can’t all be buzzing with excitement…though, with our trip only 8 days away…I think excitement will return shortly!!

Exercising my way to recovery…Healthy living update!

I love these, so much!!!!

It’s been almost four weeks since I bought my new trainers, during class, I immediately discovered that they were indeed helping my calf injury.  The impact during Body Attack, was less.  I wasn’t pounding the ground as hard as I had been, and, as such – the pain in my leg was lessened.

Lesson 1Trainers have a shelf life!

Correct footwear is essential and, although you might not realise it, trainers DO have a shelf-life and they need to be monitored to ensure that you’re not running/working out on ‘dead’ trainers.

I’m pretty sure my old trainers played a big part in my injury, and now look, six weeks in, I’m still sore and suffering.

How do you know when it’s time to part ways with your old trainers? I’m sure some people ‘just know’, I had a feeling, but wasn’t aware of just how important footwear is, so thought I could ‘get away’ with wearing them for a while longer.  I was wrong.

The general rule of thumb is that you’re supposed to change your trainers ever 300-500 miles, depending on your weight, how much you run and how ‘hard’ you are on your trainers.  It is suggested, for runners who log 25 miles per week that they replace their shoes every three to four months.

From what I understand, it’s the mid-cushioning that you need to keep an eye on, as it wears out before the treading will show any signs of wear.

I don’t do a lot of running, I do around three hours of cardio classes per week, so figuring out how many miles this puts on your ‘trainer-clock’, seems to be nigh on impossible.  This leads to

Lesson 2Listen to your body!

If you’re starting to feel stiff, sore, achy or you’re not finding running or working out as easy as you have done in the past, consider why that is.  I didn’t listen to mine, and am now feeling the result of that!

Between the 14th and 21st of August, I only did two Body Attack classes – instead of my regular three, or on occasion, four.  I’d chatted to a physio in the UK and she recommended rest.

Let it heal.

Being the kind of person who needs to keep at something, or I lose interest, and since I was on a successful roll with my exercise, I only partly took her advice.  I reduced the exercise to twice a week – spread out (rather than back to back classes).

During the class on the 21st, I was a little better, my leg felt a bit better, but still niggled throughout, especially during the group running track.

I did another class on the 24th August, but, since then, did zero.  It was hard and of course, my diet started to slip, baking and cooking for the baby shower – all of the left overs.

No exercise plus slipping ‘diet’ standards have left me feeling very disappointed in myself, but also resolved to pull it all back on track.

I have just under two weeks to go to Singapore, 13 days.  I’m determined to behave myself between now and then.

I exercised yesterday for the first time in around eight days, more ‘leg rest’.  It still hurt, I think I may just have to bite the bullet and go see a doctor if it doesn’t improve in the next few weeks.  6-8 weeks was the bracket of recovery time I was given, it’s been six weeks…

I’ll give it to after Singapore that’s four more weeks.  If it’s not fully healed, upon my return, y’all have my permission to drag me to see Dr Tiffany!

Lesson 3 – Don’t get bored, try something new!

Yesterday’s exercise was a new Les Mills class that I thought I’d have a crack at, something that Sam used to do at home, something that Paul (Magz and Sam’s friend) teaches at home and something that I’ve been somewhat intimidated by until now, another Les Mills programme,

Body Combat!

Well now, it certainly was different! Though, I can’t say I found it as hard, or physically challenging in a lot of ways, as Body Attack.

That’s not to say that I didn’t find it a work out, or that I didn’t sweat – because I did, on both counts.  They are just two very different classes, aimed at exercising different parts of your body.

Body Attack, I, personally find a lot more energetic, high impact, cardio.  It’s exhausting, there’s a lot of movement, it’s fast-paced, lots of big movement, running, jumping and I find each class pushes me to my absolute limit.

It kills me.

Body Combat, I didn’t find as physically challenging.  Wait – that’s not to say it isn’t, but, perhaps, my last couple of months training with Attack, has brought my stamina up to a level where I can endure an hour of Combat.

What I DID find challenging, however, was that the Combat moves and tracks work different muscle groups to those that we use in Attack.  Body Attack moves tend to be verticle, knee’s up and down, arms up and down.  Combat, tends to be largely horizontal, punch forward, kick forward and back, also to the side.  Waking these muscle groups, most definitely hurt.

Balance is another key part of Combat, there’s a lot of kicks, standing on one leg etc.  That, also hurt and was probably my greatest challenge.

I liked the class, I enjoyed it and I definitely hurt after it (and was that familiar shade of beetroot) – I was also doing less ‘options’ than I do in Attack (partly cause there weren’t any low options offered, I kinda made my own in places).  I can’t say I loved it like I do Attack, but it’s definitely something I’d go to again.  In fact, Sam is lacking a Body Combat partner now that he’s over here away from Paul.  Maybe when I get back from Singapore, I’ll drag him along on a Wednesday night for a Combat class!

Next week, I’d like to try a Body Step class, I was going to do it today, but slept in.

It’s been a pain in the backside this week.  I can barely stay awake.  That’s another story, and no Pierce, I’m not pregnant 😛

Down-sizing?

So, it’s been two weeks since I posted my ”Confession is good for the soul” post about my battle with weight loss.  I can’t say I’d have predicted the out-pour of feedback I got from it, or the number of hits the post would received.

I guess, even now, the subjects of weight issues, diet, healthy eating etc are all still somewhat taboo subjects, so when someone addresses the issue, people realise that there are other people out there with similar skeletons in their closets, they are not alone.

Following that blog post, I received a few messages, thanking me for my frank writing about my own issues…

Hey Las,

Just wanted to drop a wee msg to say ‘thanks’ for your blog on your weight-loss challenge.

It was a real eye-opener for me.  I have been struggling with my weight for more years than I can count and still I can’t seem to manage to get motivation to make the change.
Your frank and honest detailing made me sit up and realise I’m not alone.

I can’t say I’m going to swap every meal for fruit starting this second but it made me feel a bit more human and to stop being so hard on myself.

Thanks 🙂

I am so proud of you. Your story is inspiring me get by booty moving again. You are an amazing, beautiful person and you will achieve your goals. Thank you very much for writing that piece.

—-

Feel every word of it with you xx

—-

I love reading your blogs Las, you will get to all of your goals, I believe you will, you’re an amazing person x

I’m still eating as well as I can, trying to make the right food and exercise choices daily.  It’s a struggle.  I still have my treats, I still bake and I still eat out – as I say every time I get back on the wagon – I refuse to put myself through hell and rabbit food, just to lose weight.

Ok, I don’t like myself, ok I’m not happy with how I look, however, I love food.  If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I don’t want to have ‘suffered’ and stopped myself from eating things I love to eat.

If I want cheese, I’ll eat cheese, if I want crisps I eat crisps.

Everything in moderation – otherwise it’s not maintainable for me.

If I cut out ‘bad’ things permanently, it won’t be permanent.

In a few weeks, a month, maybe even a few months (if I’m lucky to last that long!) I’ll crave something I love and cave.

It’s then a fast, downward spiral from there.

If I still indulge in the things I love, I find that I am a LOT more likely to stick at it.

It’s not a diet.  It’s a life change.

I have changed from eating a block of cheese, to being satisfied with a slice or two.

I have changed from eating a 6 pack of crisps (ok, maybe not all 6 at once! but come on ladies, admit it, you’ve done this before too!), to being satisfied with one packet every now and then.

I have changed from eating out five or more times a week, to once, maybe twice if there’s a lunch with friends – and being more aware of what I order when I DO eat out.

If I do pick something unhealthy, I just compensate over the course of that day, or the following few days, to make up for my indulgence.

I track (or, at least used to, I admit I’ve gotten lax with my tracking lately!) everything I eat on myfitnesspal (I’m icemaiden013 on there if you want to add me!).

For the most part, I’ve gotten my water consumption up to an average ~3lrs/day but aim for 3.5lrs/day.

I’m attending at least two Body Attack classes per week (am in the process of trying to kick that up to three, or adding a Body Step class in to the mix – even in spite of my busted calf which still hasn’t healed from Iowa and is slowing me down a bit!)

For those of you who don’t know what Body Attack is, check it out here.

I can’t say it’s been easy.  Sunday, for example, Magz and Sam were down and it was hard to leave to go workout with friends around to hang out.  But I did it and both Col and Magz gave me props for doing so – and I felt better when I’d finished.

I have downloaded the ‘Couch to 5K’ ap for my ‘droid and am procrastinating daily.  Haven’t yet started it, in spite of it only taking up 30 mintues 3 times a week.  Oy!

Two weeks on since my post and I still haven’t stepped on the scales or picked up a tape measure (I’ve not weighed-in since I started exercising).

This has probably been the hardest part for me.

I’m used to 2 weigh-ins a week (one mid-week on Monday, to show me how I’m doing and whether I’m on track for a 1-2lb loss and as a result, whether I need to work harder! And the other one on Thursday as my weekly weigh-in).

courtesy of google images

Magz has outlawed weigh-ins (as with exercising, the scale isn’t always reflective of the changes), she’s also said no to measuring myself.  As a result, it’s hard to track any progress I’m making (she says to use an old T-shirt that doesn’t fit, but will end up fitting).

courtesy of google images

The only thing I have to go by, is my friend Crystal, who hasn’t seen me in a month, said to me yesterday that she can see a difference and I’m looking good.

That was a big moment for me!

At the moment, I’m putting faith in science and the experts, regular exercise, eating healthily, combined with a huge dose of will-power, self belief and some fantastic support at home from Col and from my friends and hope that it’ll be enough – not to lose weight, but to get healthy.

I think that’s the biggest lesson I’m trying to learn, because until now, it’s always been about the numbers…

However, it’s not about the numbers on the scale, it’s about being unhealthy – and right now, I’m trying to keep that goal in mind, every single day!

Flyball, friends, food, F1 and fun!

Last week wasn’t in any way quieter than the previous week.  In fact, I’m pretty sure we’re just getting more and more busy!

Saturday morning we were up fairly early, we headed up into the West side of the city (pit-stopping at McDonalds for a breakfast en route!) Once done with breakfast, we headed to the Reliant Center, to watch Magz and Sam’s dogs Bazil and Poppy compete in a Flyball competition at the Reliant Park World Series of dog shows.

We arrived shortly after 11am.  We’d never been to a dog show, or a flyball competition before and we had no idea what to expect.  The place was coming down with dogs – understandably so, what with it being a dog show and all.  There were market stalls, booths and areas for competing canines, akin to that in Crufts – just think, smaller scale.

Flyball lanes

The flyball lot, had their own little section of the center, wall-ed off and everything.  I guess cause that’s where the rowdy crew are or something…and we quickly found Magz, Sam, Tracy, Nancy and Co and the rest of the Flat out Flyers and their dogs.

Magz getting ready to release Pop-dog!

In short, flyball is like dog relay.  Four dogs (and handlers) per team, two teams running against each other.  On each team, the handler releases dog (both dogs must cross the starting line at a specific time – I.E when the light turns green, the clock should say 0.00 or a plus number, if you’re in the negative, you re-run), dog jumps over a number of hurdles to get to the box at the end of it.

Off she goes to get her ball!

The box, made of wood, has a hole cut in it, and in that hole is a ball.  To release the ball, the dog must push a release-spring plank on the front of the box, which causes the ball to spring out of it’s hole.  Dog must catch the ball, jump back over the hurdles and return to it’s handler – at which time, the next dog in the relay is released.  Their noses must cross the line at the same time.

It’s loud, it’s fast and it’s fun!

We saw the lovely Emily and Luke, Julie and Sherif (plus little ‘uns) and of course Magz and Sam – turns out we almost caught Ann and Paul as they were ‘showing’ the beautiful Bella (who did very well indeed!)

We left Reliant around 3.30pm and made a bee-line for Walmart (yes, to pick up more jars!) before heading to Outback for dinner with Ann and Paul.  It was fun, good to see them again and the food, although below par as far as an Outback goes, wasn’t terrible (though it wasn’t great either…)

After dinner, (as it was an early dinner), we had plenty of time to go shopping! Col insisted that he didn’t need anything, but, me, being the more closet-informed of the two of us, begged to differ.  We did Ross, Marshalls, Old Navy, Kohls and Col came up empty on all counts! I came away with a few bits (shorts, 3/4 lengths, a few tops) but it was a bit of a bust all round.  Boo!

On the way home, to ‘drown our sorrows’, we hit up Baskin Robbins to pick up some sweet treats before settling down to watch the German Grand Prix Qualifying sessions.  I’d never before tried Baskin Robbins and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Yum!

They had 50% less fat flavours and I enjoyed a scoop of pineapple coconut and a scoop of Neapolitan – yum! We’ll definitely be back!

Sunday started with me making Col and I breakfast in Magz & Sam’s kitchen (Sam had already eaten and didn’t want any) before we watched the Grand Prix (what a race by the way!)  This season is just getting better and better – and Lewis rolled in to a fantastic and well deserved win!

When the race was over, I abandoned the boys and headed to the gym for a CX30 and Body Attack combo of classes.  For dinner, we enjoyed a yummy BBQ and were joined by the Van der Waals, it was fun, delicious and I’d have loved to stay all evening.

However, ‘work’ called.  I had to pick up some grocery supplies for my SSA Coffee morning and Col and I cleaned around the downstairs of the house, til 11.30pm when we vegged out to an episode of NCIS with a cuppa before bed.

Monday morning rolled around fast, and brought with it, my coffee morning!

What a beautiful bunch of ladies!

Around 17 SSA ladies and a handful of little kids arrived to our house and enjoyed a fun morning of snacks, drinks and chat.  It was great to see everyone and to see some of the newcomers interacting and networking with some of the ‘oldies’.

From Heather and Tina

I even got two bunches of flowers out of it – aren’t they so sweet?!

After a quick clean-up and change of clothes (as I had just been vomited all over by an adorable little 1 month old baby), Magz, Heather and I hit-up Panda Garden chinese restaurant for a quick (and not bad) lunch before we went craft shopping in JoAnns and Hobby Lobby, yeah, like I need more crafting stuff, eh? 😉

By the time I got home, it was after 4pm, Col was pretty much home on my heels and since I’d nothing defrosted or ready for dinner we decided to use one of the Groupons I have lying in wait for such an occasion.

We chose to go to go to Baker St. pub and grill – a British pub.

Inside Baker St pub

Col, I know it’ll be hard for you all to believe, chose the fish’n’chips…and as much as I wanted to indulge in ‘bad’ food, I decided it was better served to stick with something healthier (I ended up with grilled chicken, veggies and mash potatoes).

The food was pretty good, Col’s fish was delicious and aside from the fact that there was way too much mash and sauce on my plate and not enough chicken, mine was good too.  What let the place totally down was the fact that it permitted smokers, no designated ‘no smoking’ section, so our entire experience was ruined by smoker.  Gag.  It was gross.  Get it together TX and ban it already!!

On the way home, we used another groupon, to a place called Maiberry.  The groupon bragged that it had a menu of ‘craving-mollifying treats features greek-style frozen yogurt, fresh juices, and more. The eatery’s nonfat, RBST-free frozen yogurt, available in pomegranate, mango, açaí-blueberry, and many other mouth-tickling flavors, is a chilly nosh that’s as smooth as a sweet-talking seal’.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Wrong.  It was disgusting and I threw most of mine out! I guess you can’t win them all, but jeez what a disappointment!!

Over the next few days, we decided to lay-low.  Neither of us were feeling particularly good (and actually both woke up sick as dogs on Tuesday morning) and we just felt that staying close to home was the safest option.

Worked to my advantage actually, I finally got caught up on my laundry (I only had about 6 or 7 loads to do), I tidied the back hall, sorting out stuff for Magz’s upcoming baby shower, I tidied our front room and moved the boxes of toys and gifts for people upstairs, got stuff organised for the post office and Wednesday night, while Col went to footie, I cleaned the kitchen and contemplated doing a little baking…

That thought didn’t last long (I was torn about what to make, so didn’t bother making anything!)

Thursday morning brought with it another trip to Trotter family YMCA, where I did Body Attack (meeting a new friend while I was there).  The new instructor was hard-core, like an Energiser bunny (on a sugar high) and most of the tracks were new to me, so, by the end of the class, I felt pretty knackered.  Which, for the most part, was a good thing – though my calf is STILL giving me grief, two weeks on.

For lunch, Nicole (with Sam and Alex), Frances (newbie driver, drove all by herself like a rockstar!), Magz and I tried out a new location for lunch.  I had another Living Social certificate (I’m sure you’re all shocked!) for a place called Freshii.

As the name suggests, it’s a healthy, fresh place, soups, salads, wraps etc. and was pretty tasty.  In fact, aside from the insane amount of plastic dishes they gave you to serve the soup, it was a pretty successful lunch – and somewhere, I’d happily go back to for a tasty, cheap and healthy lunch.

After lunch, Magz and I took a wee trip up to Ikea for a dander.  I had a few things on my ‘to get’ list, that I wanted to have a gander at and my shopping partner in crime decided to join me.  For dinner, we had an impromptu BBQ at Magz and Sams which went down very well indeed!

Friday brought with it another new place to go and play, another Groupon deal cashed in and another yummy lunch with a good friend.  Wow – I really am a lucky gal eh? 🙂

For Magz’s birthday back in April, I picked her up a Groupon voucher, with it, she (translated: we) got a hands-on pottery wheel throwing demonstration for two people, including two self-made pieces.  In short, I bought her a pottery lesson for her and a friend.

When you first pull up, it’s a little off-putting, you don’t realise you’re actually going to someone’s house, the workshop is in the teacher (Linda’s) garage.

This is Linda and her wheel

Magz!

Magz's on the left, Mine is on the right!

We both had a great time and we both came away from it having finished a bowl (in spite of both of us being sure we’d come out with the same ball of clay we started with!).  We had fun and would definitely both, go back and recommend it!

For lunch, we hit-up Chilis, in Spring, before we headed home, where I did some baby shower stuff and tried out a new Chicken and Broccoli Fettuccine recipe for dinner!

Phew! What a busy week!

Confession is good for the soul…getting back on the wagon; Take 45919382471209387!

Well, these last few weeks have been tough on me.  Those of you who have known me for any length of time, know that I fight with my weight on a daily basis and have done so, since I was 11 years old.

It’s been a long time.

It’s been a long fight and I’ve almost given up on numerous occasions…most recently being only a matter of weeks ago…

Graduation, which will be three years ago this December, I looked like this;

December 2009

I was 245lbs (or, for you UK people, 17.5stone).  I was miserable, I’d lived in the US for 6 months (joined weight watchers the week after I arrived!) and I couldn’t shake a single lb (though I also managed not to gain).

Last year, after 9 futile months of seemingly banging my head against a brick wall (I tried weight watchers, slimming world, Atkins etc), I decided something drastic needed doing as my wedding was fast approaching and I wasn’t liking what I saw in the mirror, (when I forced myself to do so) and I felt big.  My muscles and joints ached, I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without getting winded and walking from the house to the car in 100 degree Texas heat all but killed me.

It was time to do something about it!

I worked extremely hard, lost 32lbs/just over 2 stone and walked down the aisle feeling fantastic at a ‘lowest in about 4 or 5 year’ personal best at 213lbs. (Any excuse to show off my fab wedding pics again, eh?)

Picture by Sarah Jane Photography and design

Picture by Sarah Jane Photography and design

I was lighter than I’d ever been, I was doing water aerobics 3-5 times a week and I could take a flight of stairs in my stride without doubling over to rasp for breath!

Picture by Sarah Jane Photography and design

My waist line had started to come back, my double (triple) chin had gone back from whence it came and I had shrunk from an XL-XXL top size to a Med (on occasion Large) and from a size 24 trouser, to 18 (US sizes!)

In short, I felt fantastic! I was riding the momentum of success, the determination to keep going beyond my wedding and I was doing well.  Really well.

Then I got sick, just a few weeks after the wedding.  I guess the stress of everything that went on really did a number on me and a couple of weeks before Christmas last year, I ended up in surgery.

They told me that because I was young, I’d bounce back quickly and I’d not need to drastically alter my diet as a result of having my gall bladder out and they were right.

However, a combination of recovery, my gall bladder being gone and falling out of the routine of exercise – these last 8 months I’ve not only fallen off the wagon (not so much diet wise, but without the exercise, having my diet under control means very little!) but I’ve started to climb back up the ladder towards where I first started.

In 9 months, since the wedding, I gained all but 10 (ish) lbs of what I’d lost back.  Only three weeks ago, I was sitting at 235lbs.

Ouch.

(Man this disclosing is pretty damn tough when it’s in front of you in black and white!)

I’ve felt it for a while now, creeping back on, the darkness accompanying it.  But the last month, maybe two, it’s been worse than normal.  I’ve been back to my self-hating, wearing baggy T-shirts, putting myself down (which, I used to do all the time but had lessened a lot for a while there!), being self conscious, insecure and randomly bursting into tears to Col cause I’m so unhappy with not just how I look, but moreso, for the first time ever – how I FEEL.

Until now, I’d mostly only ever cared how I looked.  But now, I’m at the point that I’m starting to feel it when I climb stairs again, even simple exercise left me exhausted and I, with 100% certainty, can say that I feel every ounce of the weight I have gained since our wedding in October…

It’s no secret that we’re trying to get pregnant, if I’m this big now, being pregnant would only increase that – and I’m sure my short stature wouldn’t be overly thrilled if I asked it to carry an extra 20-40lbs of pregnancy weight.  Add that to the other potential complications, heart trouble, gestational diabetes, making a pregnancy potentially dangerous for both me and the child?

It makes me angry at myself.  Disappointed in myself, that I let it all slip so far back down the ladder of progress.  That I could put Colin in a position that, if/when we eventually DO get pregnant that I could somehow jeopardise the safety of me and our child by letting things slide.

I had to draw a line.  I was sinking deeper into depression and decided that it was most definitely time to get back in to exercise.

Coincidentally, my friend Sally had been trying to get me to try some of her workout classes for a while, but I’d always put it off.

Procrastination, it’s a dangerous thing.  Sometimes you just have to say f*ck it and bull-forward.

A few weeks ago, I decided desperation had reached an all time high and it was time to force myself to go.

I committed to going.

I lasted through the 30 minute core ‘CX30’ class and barely made it out of the 1 hour cardio ‘Body Attack’ class alive.  But I did it.  I hurt like a b*tch, but it was a good hurt, the kind that made me feel like I was doing something about it.

Last week, before heading to Iowa, I weighed in at 231.  Down 4lbs in 2 weeks after only increasing my exercise from zero, to 3 hours a week for two weeks.

It’s started to work.

In Iowa, I just went to the gym once, but this week I’ve committed to not one, but two Body Attack classes (oh my LORD!! SAVE ME!) and I’ve already done an hour session in the gym where I beat my last week’s ‘mile’ time by trying out a new technique that Amber suggested when we worked out last week (of running/pushing yourself during the chorus of whatever song you’re listening to on your ipod).  It worked.

Phew.

These kinds of posts are difficult for me, I’m an emotional person and I don’t like admitting weakness or defeat.

This came close to defeating me.

Too close.

If it wasn’t for three very special women I’d have given up on fighting the good fight.

Magz – my dietician friend, who is supporting me every step of the way (when she eats pizza, I eat pizza!  and when she eats ice cream, I eat ice cream! LOL!)  She’s helpful with dietary questions for sure, but more than that she’s like a little cheer leader pushing me on from the sidelines…I’m kinda glad she’s pregnant though cause I’m sure she’d physically push me in class if she could go too!

Emily – my ‘a few months ago I couldn’t run a mile but am now registered to do the Houston half marathon’ friend.  What an inspiration, and, again, a wonderful cheerleader.  A little more excitable than Magz (especially when she’s had caffeine), her energy is infectious.  She’s supportive and gives advice without sounding preachy or holier than thou and she swears she is a sweaty mess when she works out, but I’m pretty sure that’s a big ole fib – she looks a million quid every single time I see her!

Last but not least, my fitness instructor friend Sally – she didn’t push me to go to her classes, just gave me the information and let me come to her.  She’s just the right amount of positive and peppy in her classes…you know how some fitness instructors are so peppy that even though you feel like you’re about to die in class, you’d still find the energy to slap them silly just to shut them and their over-peppy up?

Sally isn’t like that.  She’s motivational, inspirational and whether I go to her class or someone else’s, she’s just an advocate for healthy living and getting a decent portion of exercise – regardless of what kind of exercise it is.

SSA ladies and Houston readers, you should really check out her classes!

I’m starting to feel better, the exercise makes you happy/endorphin release thing isn’t a myth.  It helps me through the burn for days after a class/workout.  I’m determined that I’ll not only get back to my 213 low, but I’ll get to my all-time low of 185 – and soon.

I will do it.

I have wonderful support from my Charlies Angels cheerleaders, Col loves me just as I am and doesn’t see a need for me to change but he understands that I’m unhappy and me? Well I’ve found a renewed determination that this is not going to beat me.

I WILL fit back into the clothes I was wearing 4 or 5 months ago.

I WILL continue to keep up at least 3 hours of exercise a week.

I WILL accept that sometimes we all fail, crash and burn and need help.

and finally I WILL continue to learn to love myself as I am…so when I improve and get to where I want to be, I’ll not have to start from the beginning!

Wish me luck folks – it’s a long and bloody hard mountain to climb and demon to slay…