Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Welcome to ONEderland.

This is just a really really really quick one from me, as I have an absolute mountain of work to crack on with! Blurghhh.

I weighed in this morning with a 1lb loss - this is very unfair because I have been SO good this week and I've been to the gym loads as well. I'm trying not to let it bother me too much though - knowing my body it will catch up with me this week and I'll see it on the scales next Wednesday. Here's hoping!

My 1lb loss has also brought me into something that I haven't been in in a very long time....Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to welcome you to ONEderland!

Yes, I know that I need a pedicure. And also, my feet look really chubby in this photo. But I don't care - because that is definitely a 1 at the beginning of that number!

I will confess to this photo being slightly misleading - my scales are about 1lb out compared to those at the meeting so according to the Weight Watchers scales I'm 199.5lb...but still! I'm now aiming for a 2lb loss this week so I can officially say that I've lost 80lbs!

Just quickly before I go - 

I'm not normally a massive fan of Rihanna but I love this one.

Have a good week everyone!

Lauren xx

Monday, 24 October 2011

Feel-Good...wait, Monday!?

I don't care who you are, what you do or where you don't like Mondays. Go on, try and convince me otherwise - I aint buying it! Nobody likes Mondays. In fact, most people I know dislike Mondays so much that their dread starts the day before and taints all of Sunday as well.

I am no exception to this rule. I am not a fan of Mondays. To me, Monday isn't just 'the end of the weekend' - its the day that I start fretting about weighing-in, the day that I have invariably told myself I will start being strict with my gym/uni work/spending habits. Like, its the start of a new week and the start of a new me, and all that rubbish. Its also the day that I have the classes for my least favourite module (Nineteenth Century Literature, bluerrrrgh), so my entire day is spent 'learning' about prissy Victorian housewives and other equally tedious things like that. Whether its self-fulfilling prophecy, or whether Mondays are just rubbish in general, I don't know. What I do know is that I don't like them and I want it to be Thursday please. Or better yet, Friday. Lets make it Friday. I want a week that consists of the weekend. No week days. Just the weekend. That'd be ace.

Not gunna happen? No? Right, well in that case, maybe we can bring some positivity to this notoriously crappy day?

Without further ado, I welcome you to the (very creatively named) Feel-Good Mondays.

Every Monday, I will do my utmost to bring some happiness and positivity and a feel-good factor to Blogland - in the form of guest posts, recipes, work-out ideas or anything else that might inspire you or lift those Monday blues!

This weeks Feel-Good Monday post comes from the one-man weight-loss machine that is Chris. Chris is a financial blogger for who specialises in life insurance. He has recently started losing weight through a combination of Slimming World and exercise. 

Shedding Pounds and Losing Baggage

Have you ever seen your life fall apart in front of your eyes?

I have, and let me tell you something: It’s not much fun.

Six months ago five years of relationship fell down around me, leaving me homeless and with little more than the couple of bags of stuff I had grabbed on leaving. Not the best Sunday afternoon I’ve ever had, I can tell you.

Thanks to some good friends I managed to get myself sorted with a bed and a roof quite quickly, and once I was settled it was time to rebuild what was left of my life – to make it better, to streamline and to improve.

I’d already quit drinking about eighteen months previous, but I was still quite dramatically overweight (I weighed nearly 300lbs), I smoked, I had real insomnia issues and was mentally fried.

Well, I’m still working on a few of those problems, in truth (six hours sleep in an evening is still a pleasant surprise, for example, and I’m still not quite sure where my head is at some days), but in the last six months my life has changed so much for the positive I barely recognise the person I see in the mirror.

I’d wanted to lose some weight for quite a long time before the breakup, but cooking for two people, one of whom had no intention of dieting, made doing so somewhat tricky.

Well, now I was cooking for myself, and as such I was determined to start eating properly. Gone were crisps, fried things and deserts; in came grapes, apples, pasta and more veg than you could shake a stick at.

Initially, I decided that I was going to do this quietly; I wasn’t going to go announcing to the world that I was dieting or even really admitting it to myself; a very good way to make sure that I fail at something is to make as big a deal out of it as possible.

So off I went for a few weeks, not really paying attention to my weight at all… And I actually started to see a difference. I’d moved to a smaller notch on my belt, for one – This wasn’t a huge achievement as I wasn’t far off the new notch anyway, but doing it felt good.

Then, fate conspired to place a friend of a high-school ex and myself in the same pub one night, and we took to chatting when she mentioned Slimming World, which she’d lost two or three stone through in the last few months. “It’s really good” she told me, “Not like a normal diet at all.”

Call me sceptical, but I didn’t believe a word. She handed me a leaflet featuring slim, grinning women talking about cooked breakfasts, chips and enjoying a wine on the weekend and my disbelief was instantly piqued.

“Come along”, said my friend. “You’d be amazed how well it works”.

Well, Wednesday rolled round and I found myself sat in a local community centre having the difference between Superfree and Free foods explained to me, A and B choices mentioned and Synergy points discussed. To the uninitiated it’s baffling, but after a couple of days I was well on track – and at the end of my first week I’d lost 5lbs!

This was the start of something great – since May I’ve lost over 80lbs, and my plan is to keep going past the 100lb marker to around 194lbs – putting me just in a healthy BMI for my height. Then, who knows what after that?

My life has changed enormously since I started the diet – as someone who works in life insurance I was aware of the dangers that being the size I was could cause, but only since losing the weight have I seen the benefits.

And what benefits! I bound up flights of stairs now, and now spend long weekend days out on my bike after getting up early – A huge change from lounging in bed until gone midday every Saturday and Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good laze (Fridays after work is my time for not moving at all), but now being active is easier, I enjoy it so much more. 

I also eat like a king: Giant veggie stir-fries, omelettes, potato wedges, chilli chicken – all sorts – and I still make the occasional trip to the takeaway as well – evidence that if you’re clever you can still eat good, exciting food and still shed the pounds.

Financially I am suffering at the moment, I will admit (working in the financial industry, you worry about these things) – Between spending twenty quid a month on going to Slimming World and the almost constant hassle of having to buy new clothes (which thankfully is starting to abate) means that I’ve spent a tremendous amount over the last few months.

However, short-term pain equals long term gain; I no longer have to pay the inflated prices “big and tall” shops charge for clothes, and my shopping bills have decreased since I have cut out buying things like Pringles, Ice Cream and sweets. I’ve also quit smoking; at almost £7 a packet, four or five packs a week, that’s quite some saving each month!

I’m also going to be saving petrol money soon when I start riding my bike to work; fuel doesn’t look like it’ll be getting any cheaper any time soon, so my legs are going to be getting a workout!

I really can’t even begin to stress how much my life has changed for the better over the last few months: I’ve become more confident (potentially spurred on by my new girlfriend, who shouts viciously at me if I do something self-deprecating like refer to myself as a river troll or suggest that I should be sent to space to live with the other moon-creatures), my body is kinder to me in a whole raft of ways too numerous (and in some cases, too personal) to mention, and let me tell you, the compliments do NOT get boring. The first time doesn’t recognise you, or does a double take as you walk past is an amazing sensation, and I’m yet to hear somebody tell me how good I look now and think “Oh, I’m fed up with this, now.”

I do hope reading this has given inspiration to others – whether you want to start dieting, are in the middle of a diet and having a hard time or rocketing through it. If I’m honest my life was a mess, having it fall apart in front of me was quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to me, it gave me opportunity to put it back together better than ever before. I’m not for a minute suggesting that you should put yourself through the same heartbreak and pain I went through, but if you’re given an opportunity to rebuild your life from the ground up, do. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Pre-slimming world...

And now, over 80lbs lighter.

I just want to say a quick thank you to Chris for agreeing to share his story on here - I don't know about anyone else but I was bordering on gobsmacked! Over 80lbs in less than a year - incredible! 

I hope you've all enjoyed the first installment of my new little feature, and that it has brightened your outlook for the day and warmed the cockles of your heart and all that jazz. And if its shite, well then I'm sure you'll all let me know soon enough!

Lauren xx

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Redefining Productivity.

Those of you who are long-term followers of this blog will know that I am the Queen Bee of procrastination - I will literally find any means possible to delay doing the work that I know needs to be done. The first term of my final year at university is now in full swing and essays are due in just over two weeks. I was so full of good intentions for this weekend, and was eagerly (ha!) anticipating a weekend chained to my desk getting on with some essay prep. I was imagining the warm glow I would be basking in come this evening when I could look back over my weekend and feel a swell of pride in the kick-ass essay plans/drafts that I'd written up. I was looking forward to feeling my mind physically swell with knowledge as I read up on the roles of women in Victorian England and the origins of American hard-boiled detective fiction.

Yeah, well, that didn't happen. My good intentions were thwarted by...well, nothing, really.

I'm not saying that I didn't get any work done - I did. I read some poems, I finished a book...normal Literature student stuff really. I'm yet to make a dent in my essay-related to-do list, and subsequently there is a very good chance (and by chance, I do mean certainty) that the essays will be shit. BUT HEY LOOK, I READ SOME POEMS, that counts for something!

I'm so going to fail my degree.

Despite not getting much work done though, I can't help but feel that this weekend was extremely productive in terms of 'me time'. I know 'me time' isn't going to get me a qualification or a job, but after feeling like utter crap since I got back from New York I was long-overdue some TLC! So I went shopping and treated myself to this little beauty, I went to a Spin class yesterday morning and went to the gym today as well (feeling the burn in a big way. OUCH MY THIGHSSS), I spent some quality time out on the town with my friend Emma, I cleaned my hovel of a house (remind me never to have sons, boys are so messy) and I made another cake. This time it was a Victoria sponge sandwich and it was delicious - just call me Betty Crocker. I also spent some time doing some non-degree related writing, something which I've been neglecting over the last month or so due to the influx of university work (which I've also been neglecting, ha). OH and I caught up on the new series of CSI and House. This is the first weekend since my birthday that I've had a chance to just do what I wanted to do - between celebrating my birthday, Jack's birthday, going home for the weekend, going to New York and having my friend Caitlan to stay, somehow the last five weekends seem to have just not happened. This weekend was on my terms - I saw who I wanted to see when I wanted to see them, I've had no distractions at home and I didn't have to keep any guests entertained. And I know that it would have been a golden opportunity to get some proper work done, but I just can't bring myself to regret my weekend of productive procrastination. I'm sure that I will tomorrow, when I realise how behind I am. But I'll worry about that then!

I hope everyone has had as much of a glorious weekend as I have!

Lauren xxx

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Weigh-In (and cake!!) Wednesday

Hi guys!

Well, I weighed in this morning with a loss of 4lb - goodbye vast majority of my New York weight! I now only have 0.5lb to go until I'm back to my pre-NY weight - easily do-able in a week! I also realised this morning that I now weight 200.5lbs - a 1lb loss will place me in the elusive 'ONEderland'!! Granted, this isn't as big a deal to me as it is to most of my American weight-loss blogger pals, because I normally work in stones as opposed to pounds....but its still exciting! So its 1lb til ONEderland, 3lbs to an 80lb total loss, and 7lbs to a loss of 6st! Lots of mini-goals to achieve...I do love a mini-goal!

I'd love to conclude this post with an exciting update of all the really cool and adventurous things that I've been doing this week, but my life is basically extremely boring so there'll be none of that I'm afraid! I have managed a couple of gym sessions this week, and I have some Spin classes booked with my friend Sophie - I'm hoping that having a gym buddy will keep me more motivated than going it alone. Now that the weather is getting colder its going to take extra motivation to get out of bed and get to the gym - especially as the gym is a 30 minute walk away! I'd like to lose about another stone by Christmas, so I'm going to have to be extra strict with the exercise if I'm going to manage that.

In other news, my housemate Jack just put 35kg (roughly the same as what I've lost since I started Weight Watchers) onto the bar bell that the boys use in the house....its fucking HEAVY. Seriously, I can just about lift it. It baffles me that I was carrying all that extra weight around ON me! He said that once I'm at goal he's going to put the full amount on there, but I'm not sure they have enough weights to do it! Awkward.

One more thing before I love you and leave! I've been promising the boys for weeks that I'd make them a cake, and today I finally made good on my promise!!

Chocolate sponge sandwich topped with chocolate buttercream icing and Cadbury chocolate buttons...its probably the least Weight Watchers friendly thing I've cooked in a year and a half, but I thoroughly enjoyed making it and I'm going to thoroughly enjoy eating a slice later as well! (All pointed, of course!)

I hope everyone is having a good week!

Lauren xxx

Monday, 17 October 2011

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of.

Hello beautiful readers!

You'll all be pleased to know that I have returned safe and sound from The Big Apple! I actually got back last Tuesday, so sincere apologies for the shoddy blogging efforts - its been on my to-do list.

I had an absolutely amazing time in the states - my only criticism is that five days definitely wasn't enough! I honestly think I could spend a month just exploring New York every day and still have more things to see and do. Maybe it was just me getting caught up in the romance of it all but everything just felt so exciting and so much bigger and louder and more over-the-top than it does in London. Don't get me wrong, I love London and stand by my opinion that (rioters and rubbish public transport aside) it is the best city on the planet, but there is something about being in an entirely new city that you've never visited before...everything was just so thrilling. I honestly spent most of the weekend feeling like a kid in a sweet shop.

For obvious reasons, I'm not going to share all of my photos with you on here - or give you an hour by hour itinerary of what we got up to - because you would be extremely bored and would leave my blog and probably click the 'unfollow' button for good measure. Like I said, there were a lot of things we didn't get to do due to our limited time in the city, but we spent a day shopping at Woodbury Common outlet store, another day perusing the shops on Fifth Avenue, and then a couple of days exploring the other 'important' parts of the city - Times Square, Top of the Rock, Battery Park, etc etc. I was also lucky enough to make a 'new friend' while I was out there (his name is Italo and he's a little bit gorgeous) and he took me to some great out-of-the-way places that tourists don't normally get to hear too much about, like the High Line and some real New Yorker bars. All in all it was an amazing trip and it was definitely the perfect way to celebrate my 21st.

Just arrived at JFK after taking full advantage of the complimentary on-board bar.

Times Square baby!

Mum with all the bags from our Woodbury Common haul.

Cocktails in Greenwich Village.

 Outside the HBO shop with our True Blood bottles and Sex and the City Keyrings.

 Last of the big spenders with my Tiffany's and Saks bags!

 View of the park from Top of the Rock.
More drinks!

These are just a few of my favourite photos, I thought uploading all 200 of them would be a tad excessive...yes, ok, so I got a bit camera happy. I was on holiday, for crying out loud!

As well as having a fantastic time, I also managed to get all the things that I wanted while I was out there - namely my Tiffany Charm Bracelet and my Uggs. Shopping is so much cheaper in the states, as is eating and drinking out...I honestly don't know why there are any people left in this country at all. COME ON ENGLAND, SORT YOUR LIFE OUT. I made a conscious decision while I was out there to just let go, enjoy myself and not worry about Weight Watchers...shockingly enough (not), this was very easy to do, and I had such a good time eating pancakes for breakfast and burgers for dinner that I don't even care about the 4.5lb gain I was greeted with upon my arrival home. I see that as a small price to pay for five days of total over-indulgence! Besides, it'll be gone in a fortnight. Mark my words.

Unfortunately I have now dropped down from New York Cloud Nine with a very large bump, and have been inundated with reading and essays to be done - curse the Third Year workload! I think I'm also suffering with a pretty sever case of post-holiday blues because I'm definitely feeling a bit sorry for myself! Hopefully getting back into a decent routine over the next week or so will cheer me up - I mean, how could hours spent in the library and gym not cheer me up?? 

I hope everyone has had a good couple of weeks, and apologies again for my extended absence!

Lauren xx

Sunday, 2 October 2011

I'll Keep You My Dirty Little Secret.

We all, no matter who we are, have secrets. They can be silly little embarrassing secrets of no real consequence to anyone except ourselves, or they can be massive great big secrets with the potential to affect many. It doesn't really matter whether they're big secrets or little ones, they're still a part of who we are.

I have plenty of secrets. I don't flatter myself that any of them have the potential to be earth-shattering for anyone should they be revealed - the worst that can happen is that people will look at me in a different way. The sensible and mature part of my brain knows that that isn't a big deal. People already look at me differently after losing weight, so letting them in on my 'secrets' isn't going to make all that much difference. That doesn't mean I'm going to do it though. There are certain things that don't need to be shared, unless its with somebody who loves you and supports you unconditionally, and who you trust implicitly. Or a therapist. I don't feel the need to offload these things onto my friends and family, and even if I did there is nobody who I would feel 100% comfortable in telling (that includes a therapist). And that's ok, because they don't need to know, and I don't need to tell them.

I digressed. This isn't a post about my secret life as a superhero (damn, busted) or my many trust issues. I don't want to offload on you guys anymore than I do on my 'real' friends. Its more to do with the attitudes that people hold towards each other - namely, the assumptions that people make. There is not a single person in my life who knows everything about me - to be honest I'm not sure that even I know everything about me. And yet there are people who seem to think that they know and understand and empathise with my deepest darkest secrets. They don't.

Maybe its because I'm so open about certain parts of my life, that people assume I'm the same way about everything. My weight-loss, my time at university, my family life, my friendships...those are, to a certain extent, an open book. Those are all things that go towards defining who I am, and I'm proud to be able to share them. But that doesn't mean that I share everything. There are plenty of things that I hold back from people - the things that are really personal. I'm not ashamed of these things - it is what it is, it happened and its part of who I am.

What brought this post on, I hear you cry. Would you believe, of all things, it was the weather? For those of you who may not be aware, we are currently experiencing something of an Indian Summer in the UK - cue shorts and strappy tops and the revelation that yes, I do have a tattoo on my back, and no, I am not going to tell you what it means. Three years on and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight I can see that having quite a personal tattoo on a fairly visible part of my body and not expecting an endless barrage of questions every time I wore a cami was a bit stupid. Whatever, I've learnt to deflect the questions, they don't bother me all that much anyway. What really annoys me is when people assume that they know what it means or why its there. I suffered the pain of the tattoo because it meant something to me, not so I could explain and justify it to everyone else. Maybe one day I'll share my secret with somebody that deserves to know, but until then its my secret, and its staying that way.

And in the theme of secrets, a few of my favourites from PostSecret this week....

all images are taken from here.

Lauren xx