Friday, 25 November 2011

Hi, I'm Lauren and I'll be your waitress tonight.

I am pleased to announce that I am now an official employee of The Olive Grove restaurant in Canterbury. I even have an apron and an order pad.

This is very good news, for several reasons. Firstly, I really need the pennies. Like, seriously need them. Because I'm in my final year of uni I get about £500 less a term than I have done for previous years. This would be fine if I had a lovely rich mummy and daddy to take the fall for me financially, but unfortunately they're almost as poverty as I am so nothing doing. It also means that I'm going to have to pull my finger out and get myself organised uni work-wise. I've slipped into the dangerous habit of thinking of Wednesday-Sunday as my 'five day weekend', which generally means I get to Sunday afternoon and panic over how much work I haven't done over the last four days. You'd think I'd have learnt by now, wouldn't you?! Hopefully having some sort of routine on those days will keep me motivated and stop me from lounging around all day watching Bones/Castle/CSI/House/True Blood or whatever the latest obsession is.

On the other hand, me having a job is also very bad news, for one reason...I don't actually like working. And I especially don't like working with the public. Sorry, but I don't. I was put on this earth to be a solitary lady of leisure. This is not to say that I'm some weird recluse with no social skills, because I'm not. Well, I'm not a weird recluse...the social skills bit is debatable. I enjoy spending time with certain people, like my family and friends and housemates, but that's only because they (for the most part) have known me for a long time and know we well. Even then I get a bit fidgety after a while and have to go chill out on my own for a bit. I can count on one hand the number of people that I could spend more than 24 hours with and not want to throttle. I'm pretty sure that's not normal, right? Well anyway, normal or not, that's me and 'me' doesn't tend to go well with a hot, crowded restaurant full of idiots. Fortunately the people I work with all seem to be really lovely, otherwise there would be all sorts of issues!

In other news, you may have noticed that my usual Wednesday Weigh-In post was conspicuous only in its absence this week...yeah, I was totes hiding from you all because I gained. A completely justified 2lbs, if you're interested. I blame it on the 10-hour long cinema trip on Thursday (Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse, followed by the midnight viewing of Breaking Dawn part 1. I was literally in sexy vampire and werewolf heaven. R-Pattz, why are you so perfect!?) I went with Mumma Jones, and we had lots of chocolate and other goodies as sustenance. I should probably feel worse about it than I do, but it was worth it.

I have also truly overcome 'the fear' and have now been to three different fitness classes. Time was I would do anything to avoid setting foot in a fitness studio. Gym, fine. Classes, no way Pedro. Now it seems to be a different story, and so far I've been to Spin (love), Deep Aqua (love) and won't believe this...fucking ZUMBA of all things. I have always hated anything even remotely dance-oriented. I can't dance at all. The only time I can dance is when I'm very drunk, and even then I'm not actually dancing well. I just think I am because I have a tiny Bacardi-susceptible mind that lets me think I'm Beyonce after a couple of bevvies - like on Wednesday night. We went out for two of my housemates 21st birthdays, and I was owning that dance floor. Until I fell over on it. So yeah, moral of the story? Just don't drink. Ever. Under any circumstances. Anyway, back to Zumba...I'm shit at it. Literally, so bad. I have no rhythm, no coordination, no nothing. And to make matters worse the instructor kept yelling 'be sexy when you do this move' and then gyrating her hips and wiggling her bazoomas at us. Now firstly, I don't have any bazoomas to wiggle, particularly when I'm strapped into a (very saucy & flattering) sports bra. And secondly, I don't have a sexy bone in my body - particularly not when I'm wearing skanky gym clothes and sweating like a fat bird at a disco (which, in fairness, I kind of was at the time). After 7 years of trying to be a sexy minx like all the other girls, I've now accepted the fact that I'm just not in any way 'sexy' - and when I try to be I just come across as really awkward and uncomfortable and a bit socially retarded. This is fine by me, I'm ok with not being sexy. I've found ways around it. But apparently there is no way around it in a Zumba class. Its a requirement. If you're not sexy, you're doing it wrong.

I think I'll stick to Spinning.

There really isn't anything else to update you my drunken fug on Wednesday I didn't even manage to get any blogworthy pictures! Which is fine, because I was rocking my birthday dress again. Thats birthday dress, by the way. Not birthday suit. I wasn't that hammered.

I hope every body has had a glorious week and has lots of exciting things lined up for the weekend! I myself have a Spin class and three shifts at the restaurant in store! Lucky girl, eh!?

Lauren xxx

Monday, 21 November 2011

Feel-Good Monday - A Little Affirmation.

This weeks post comes from another of my very good friends, Sarah. Sarah and I first got chatting on the Weight Watchers forum just after I joined in January 2010 - we were both students with around 8st to lose so we had a lot to talk about! Since then we've stayed in pretty much constant contact and she's always there if I need to talk about anything, Weight Watchers related or otherwise.
I asked Sarah to write this post for me as I know she has some experience on the subject of self-esteem and the problems associated with it. I'm sure that most of the people, whether they're attempting to lose weight or not, have struggled with low self-esteem at some point in their lives. Its not necessarily a physical thing - it may not have anything to do with how you look, but can instead be focused on work or studying, or anything really. So here is Sarah's story about her struggles with low self-esteem, and a few tips for overcoming it.
Low self-esteem is an issue that most young women and surprisingly a lot of men suffer from. I am one of those people. Low self-esteem has always been a problem for me ever since I started senior school I would say. There are many reasons for my low self-esteem, most being around issues with my weight and with bullying. I was bullied by a girl I went to school with from a very young age, mostly about my weight and my family’s weight as I come from a family full of obese people. I used to fear going to school and never walked home alone because of passing her house on the way. These fears led to more and more negative thoughts which in turn gave me lower and lower self-esteem. The bullying continued all the way through school up to an incident when we were 14 where she attacked me on the way home from a local shop with two of her friends which resulted in the police being involved.
Even now I still look out every time I walk past her parents’ house, even though she no longer lives there, it’s the fear and remembrance of one of the lowest points of my life. Through the low self-esteem I have become somewhat a social recluse, I struggle to make new friendships and often unintentionally sabotage the ones I currently have out of fear of what they will think of me, and how much I might get hurt.
Going to University was a turning point for me, I took a huge risk and moved into student halls of residence which placed me living with 5 other people every day and I have to say it was one of the best experiences of my life and one of best things I ever did for myself. It forced me out there to socialise with other people, I was still somewhat shy and reserved, but me and one of my flatmates constantly clicked and I would say she really helped me develop myself. It wasn’t a miraculous change, I still only spent time with people she or my other flatmates knew, I didn’t let very many people get close to me, but it was still progress in my eyes.
During my second year though I fell ill in the first week of term and I was off for the first 12 weeks of the semester right up to Christmas. This ruined our friendship, and I moved back home and since then I have to say I have returned to many of my old ways. I have lost contact with most of my friends from school and college and those I do know I still see little. I’ve returned to the old fears and thoughts and the cycle is very hard to break.
May this year I decided to do something about it, I was at probably my lowest point by then, I wasn’t going out at all other than for university and work. But having spent 4 weeks finishing my dissertation with now access to outside world I knew I was ready to change. So I started going to a self-esteem counselling group through the university. I almost backed out at the start but I am so glad I went, to meet and talk with other people and realise you are not the only person who has these thoughts and these fears was so relieving.  There were even people that were worse off than me in terms of self-esteem which made me realise I wasn’t ready to take a step back but needed to take one forward.
The group session wasn’t about talking about what the issues of your low self-esteem were, in fact it never even came up at all really, what it was about was small changes you could make to help improve your self-esteem. Each week we had a topic to talk about and then a small goal to set ourselves for the following week that was related to the topic we had discuss. So I thought I would share these with you.
1.     Body Language/Gestures – This is the use of words like “I can’t”, “I don’t know how” or gestures such as turning away, avoiding eye contact
  A  Assertiveness - this is mostly around the issue of yes and no. have you ever had someone ask you to do something and you want to say no, but you say yes because you’re worried about what they will think if you say no? This is one of the signs of low self-esteem. – So be assertive. Say no. Even just once and for something simple can be very empowering.
3.    Positive Thinking – are you a half full or half empty type of person? If you’re half empty it could be a sign of low self-esteem. Do you automatically assume the worst will happen? Do your thoughts constantly spiral from one negative thought to another? If something goes wrong is it the end of the world, does it feel like everything is going wrong? Changing our thought patterns from negative thoughts to even neutral ones can have a surprisingly positive effect on your self-esteem. Using words such as maybe, possibly instead of I can’t, I don’t know how. Not assuming the worst will happen and thinking, well I don’t know what’s going to happen.
4.    Stress Management – Stress is our perceived ability to handle a situation, so the lower your self-esteem the more stressed you will become as you will automatically assume you can’t cope with the situation you’re in or that’s arising. This can also lead to more negative thought processes as well. When you are stressed it’s important to take out time for yourself. Small things like taking care of yourself often get neglected. Make sure you do all the usual things you would do, shower, moisturise, and then do something a little more. Paint your nails, watch a movie, have a bath instead of a shower. Even 5 minutes to unwind is better than none at all.
With low self-esteem it’s so very easy to take a step backwards into the spiral of low self-esteem so it’s important to remember to keep making these small changes. Even a small change of thought or gesture can make a significant difference in your confidence and each small step forward is better than a step backwards. Even I have to keep reminding myself of this sometimes.
I just want to say another massive thank you to Sarah for taking the time for writing that post for me today, and everyone go check out her blog - She's Coming Undone.
Happy Monday everybody!
Lauren xxx

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Homemade Veggie Soup

One of the potential perils of Weight Watchers is the cost. For the most part, people have to pay a membership fee of around £20 a month (I'm exempt because I help out at the meetings and so I get it for free). This covers your weigh-in, the meeting afterwards and includes access to the online resources - recipes and ProPoints calculators and so forth. You also receive a lot of money-off vouchers in the post every month, which go towards some of the Weight Watchers products. Considering the amount of help you get, its really quite a reasonable price to pay.

However the cost doesn't stop there. A lot of the Weight Watchers friendly recipes out there are not cost-effective - particularly if you are a) cooking for one, and b) a poverty ridden student. Both of which I am. I mean, I could try to cook for my housemates sometimes but honestly its such hard work finding something that we will all eat, plus finding a time when we're all home to eat it. One of the best solutions is cooking in bulk and then freezing - alas, our pokey little student kitchen is not bless with masses of freezer space, particularly as I share a house with four boys who are very much of the 'whack it out of the freezer and into the oven' persuasion. Sometimes all these things make it really hard for me to resist the lure of 10p noodles in Asda (not really, those things are rank. But I do often find myself being drawn towards the cheap and convenient - and subsequently not Weight Watchers friendly food options.)

One of the hardest spots of the day to fill, for me at least, is lunch time. I tend to get stuck in the sandwich-bagel-pitta bread rut quite easily, so this week I am making a conscious effort to banish as many processed carbs as possible from my diet, and instead have made a delicious vegetable soup.

Now, one of the best things about soups - especially veggie soups - is that more or less anything goes. I used what I had to hand and it has come out lovely, but if you want to experiment then go for it. I wasn't following a particular recipe for this soup and following my gut (I'm sure there is a Fat Club related joke in there somewhere) hasn't done it any harm at all.

1 large or 1 and a half small onions
1 large carrot
1 parsnip
1 turnip
Approximately 1/4 of a swede
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
250g tomato passata
1 tbsp tomato puree
Approximately 700ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Dried chilli flakes (optional)
Garlic (I used granules)
Dried mixed italian herbs
1 tsp olive oil.

You will need
One large lidded saucepan

  1. Chop the onion, carrot, turnip, parsnip and swede into small chunks. Heat the oil over a low heat and then add the vegetables and fry for 5-10 minutes, or until just beginning to soften.
  2. Pour over the passata, tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock. Add a generous pinch of italian herbs, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and garlic granules, and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir thoroughly and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat, put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, or until the vegetables are soft.

The only thing with any points in the recipe is the parsnip and olive oil, which has a grand total of 3 ProPoints - by my estimates the whole recipe makes upwards of 6 servings, so to all intents and purposes it is 0pts (if you're being super-strict you could point it at 1 per serving.) Serve with a slice of bread and low-fat spread for a ProPoints value of 3 and you're done! Its also freezable, so if you're one of the lucky ones who doesn't have to battle for freezer space you can divide it into portions and defrost it as you need it!

Let me know if you decide to give it a go! :)

Lauren xxx

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Weigh-In and Homecoming

Hey lovelies!!

I am very pleased to announce that I have now officially lost 80lbs - 81.5lbs, in fact!! I weighed in at my meeting with a loss of 2lbs, although I privately think that it should have been a bigger loss than that, my reasoning being that I usually weigh in my tracksuit bottoms because I go to the gym straight from my meeting. This week I was getting the train home straight after the meeting so I was wearing 'normal clothes' - ie denim shorts, which definitely weigh more than my joggers do! (Incidentally, anyone ever heard of jogging bottoms being referred to as "trackie-b's"?? My housemate is a bit obsessed with that term and for some reason I find it really amusing.) Also, the scales flickered between 13st 13.5lbs and 14st for quite a while, before finally settling on 14st, bummer! I would have loved to have been in the 13s this week! Still, a loss is a loss and there's always next week.

This is just a quick update from me as I have returned to the Wonderland that is Essex (which is to be pronounced as Essickss, or Essiiiix, at all times) and so I should really be socialising with the family. I'm here for three nights, the primary reason for the visit being the realease of Breaking Dawn part 1 - mum and I are massive Twihards, judge us if you will! It is so nice to be home in a nice clean house that isn't full of testosterone. Don't get me wrong, I love my boys, but they're loud and messy and just generally quite mannish and I don't think they really understand me most of the time. They're a bit like puppies really - ridiculously cute, but you can't really have a 'serious' conversation with them. Anyway, I sat in the kitchen and had a glass of wine and a lovely chat with Mumma Jones and then inhaled possibly the best meal of my life - beef goulash with braised red cabbage, followed by homemade apple pie and custard. My mother is the best. The goulash and cabbage was even quite Weight Watchers friendly!! (We won't talk about the pie.) This, plus the inescapable cinema treats tomorrow are going to make things a bit more tricky when it comes to weigh-in next week. I'm hoping that being uber good from Friday onwards and squeezing in a few gym sessions will negate whatever damage I manage to do within this 48 hour period. 

Also, I want to apologise for my last few posts being a bit 'wordy'. Hopefully there will be interesting things in my life for me to take photos of soon, and until then you'll just have to put up with my ramblings! You know you love it really!!

Te amo muito! (Thats Portuguese for 'love you lots' by the way - I am just so cultured!) Enjoy the rest of your week!!

Lauren xxx

Monday, 14 November 2011

Feel-Good Monday

As a literature student, I find myself quite frequently overcome by the power of words. One of my favourite things about my degree is the power that the words hold - from Shakespeare to Emerson, Shelley to Woolf, and all the nuances in between. I love that the words these people wrote are still so powerful, all these years later. That, more than anything else about my degree (including the hours spent curled up in bed with a cup of tea and a crime novel and being able to legitimately say 'I'm working') inspires me. I love the idea of opening your heart and mind to complete strangers and offering them a piece of yourself. I love the idea that the words of one person can change the lives of millions. I want to do that one day.

When I have been at some of my lowest ebbs, I have sought comfort and inspiration in the words of others. That's why, for this weeks edition of 'Feel-Good Monday', I've chosen to share some of my favourite quotes with you. While most of them don't relate directly to weight-loss ('Little pickers wear bigger knickers' is not a favourite of mine, as true as it may be) they are words that I've found inspiring. I hope they fill you with some positivity and motivation for the Monday ahead of you!

'I like the night. Without the dark, we'd never see the stars.' - Stephenie Meyer. This is perhaps my all-time favourite quote, and it seems especially fitting this week as its from Twilight. Are we all excited about the release of Breaking Dawn part 1 on Friday? I know I am! I have loved this quote since first reading it all those years ago when Twilight was first released (I am a true Twihard and read the book when it was first released). It reminds me that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to truly appreciate all the wonderful things in your life. There is never a time that I appreciate the love and support of my friends and family more than when I'm really struggling.

'History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.' Sir Winston Churchill - he needs no introduction, and the quote says it all. Don't be a side-note in somebody elses story.

'The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.' Michelangelo - I love this quote. At times it just seems so appealing to settle for whats easiest but this quote reminds me to keep aiming for the top, no matter how hard it might be to get there sometimes. 

'You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.' Jack London - don't sit around waiting for things to change. Go out there and change them for yourself. You won't regret it.

'Nobody's journey is seamless or smooth. We all stumble. We all have setbacks. It's just life's way of saying, "Time to change course."' Oprah Winfrey - sometimes its easy to look at others and feel as though they're doing so much better than you are, but in reality they have their own struggles as well. Just because we don't all have the same problems, it doesn't mean that we don't all have some problems. I think sometimes we all need to be reminded to be a little more understanding towards those around us. We also need to be reminded that coming up against obstacles doesn't mean that we've failed. Sometimes you just need to step back, accept that you took a wrong turn, and look for an alternate route. 

And finally....

'Life is far too important a thing to ever talk seriously about.' Oscar Wilde - fittingly, a quote by one of my favourite authors to finish. I, for one, tend to take life far too seriously - and sometimes it just doesn't need to be We're here for such a short amount of time, and we need to cram as much fun and love and laughter into that time as we possibly can. As hard as it can be, sometimes you just have to accept that worrying about something isn't going to change a damn thing. Its just going to give you a headache or an ulcer - or both. Mondays are the epitome of stress and worry - at least they are in my book - but try not to let it drag you down this week. In fact, try not to let it drag you down ever. After all, 'the supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.' Robert Heinlein.

Have a very happy Monday everybody!

Lauren xxx

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lest We Forget.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918, after four years of fighting, The Great War came to an end. It has been estimated that the total losses from the First World War stand at more than fifteen million people - approximately ten million of whom were military personnel.

Almost a century later, those brave soldiers remain in our thoughts - as do those that have lost their lives while serving our country both before and since then. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we honour them. We take two minutes out of our busy schedule to reflect in silence upon the sacrifices of the men and women who have fought for their country - fought for us - and we honour them.

It is days like this that make me proud to be British, and proud to have relatives that have served our country in our battles to remain free. My great-grandmother lost her brother in the First World War, and lost a daughter in the bombings of the Second World War. My cousin served in the Armed Forces for six years, including tours of the Far East. Thankfully he came home alive. But we should never forget the millions who didn't.

I'm not what I would call exceptionally patriotic - when the country you live in has as many problems as ours does, sometimes its hard to be. But on days like today, when I watch our veterans play tribute to their colleagues, when I see the people in town sporting their poppies, I can't help but feel proud of my heritage, and proud of the brave battles our servicemen and women have fought over the years.

To all those who have given their lives fighting for their country - goodnight and God bless. Though you may be gone, you are not forgotten.

Thank you.

I wanted to share this poem with you because its a personal favourite of mine. I studied War literature for my English Literature A-Level, and along with Wilfred Owen's 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' this is the one that stuck with me. It was written before the beginning of the First World War, but it always seems to appropriate on Remembrance Day.

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me;
   That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
   In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
   Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's breathing English air,
   Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
  A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
    Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
  And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Its That Time Of The Week Again....

Wednesday!! Which means, in other words, weigh-in!

This week I weighed in with what us old Weight Watchers gang like to call a STS - I Stayed The Same. Surprisingly, I am very ok with this - I kind of went off the rails last weekend food-wise and was expecting a gain of around 1 or 2lbs. I ate out both Saturday and Sunday, I didn't track or even choose the healthiest thing on the menu. I had what I wanted to have - and it just so happened that what I wanted to have was a carb and cheese overload Calzone in Zizzi's and a meat-sweat inducing Plantation Platter in The Harvester. Washed down with a couple of glasses of wine and LOTS of chocolate. So to have stayed the same?? I'm freaking ecstatic.

I also feel like I have my mojo back now - I had my few days of not tracking and living on the wild side, and now I'm ready to get my nose back to the grind-stone and get rid of this last 30 or so lbs. It needs to go before graduation. Those photos are going to be on the living room wall in at least four different houses - and they're going to be there forever. I can't have fat graduation photos. I just can't. So I'm not going to.

So far today have been a point-perfect day, and thats including the two beers I just had with my ex-boyfriend/friend (he was buying, and I'm never one to say no to a free drink!). I also have that warm and fuzzy inspired feeling from my Weight Watchers meeting this morning, which I think will help to keep me focused this weekend. We had two members get to goal on my scales this morning. I can't even tell you how awesome it is to be able to say to somebody 'You've done it. You've got to your goal.' One of them hugged me, and I genuinely thought the other one was going to start crying. Without having a total mushy-love-fest, which as we all know is not my idea of fun, it was an amazing thing to see. These are people that I hardly know, and I felt so proud of them. After a bit of an iffy week, I came home reminded that its possible to get there if you want it enough.

SO. Eating mojo back on track. As always with me, it comes back to exercise. I was getting myself into a decent routine before reading week, when I somehow managed to twist my knee in a Spin class. I've given myself a week of nothing too hardcore, and I'm hoping that its sorted itself back out. Back to the gym tomorrow to, quite literally, work my arse off. I am aware of the fact that its going to hurt and I'm going to hate every second, but unfortunately I've got to that unpleasant stage of my weight loss where if I don't bust a gut in the gym every other day I'm going to end up with weekly losses of half a pound. And that, quite frankly, isn't good enough!

Before I sign off and immerse myself in my new obsession (Bones!!), I've just noticed that I now have 90 followers - WOW! You guys are awesome, thank you so much for stopping by to read my ramblings!

Lauren xxx

Monday, 7 November 2011

A Wee Update...

Two posts in one day - aren't you lucky? Seriously though, I know I've been neglecting you all recently and I felt this needed to be rectified as soon as possible! The truth is I just haven't really felt like blogging over the last couple of weeks. As well as impending essay deadlines (they are now completed, printed and handed in - thank God!), I've also had a lot of other stuff on my mind as well. I've spoken before about not necessarily being the most forthcoming person when it comes to talking about 'feelings and stuff', and this has definitely been the case over the last couple of weeks. Its also made more difficult by my extremely male surroundings - any sign of an sort of emotion or anger and it is immediately assumed that I'm 'on the blob' (disgusting turn of phrase) and am therefore just an irrational hormonal mess.

(FYI male readers. There is nothing, and I do mean nothing that is more guaranteed to irritate a woman than a man insinuating that the reason for a woman's anger is her 'time of the month'. Newsflash: sometimes we're not pissy because we're on. Sometimes we're pissy because you're an idiot.)

Anyway, enough of my period-related rantings. The long and short of it is that there's been a lot of stuff that I've been trying to deal with - with the result that I haven't exactly been in a caring and sharing kind of mood. I apologise profusely for my absence though, and I'll try to do better from now on!

Because its been so long there are a few things to update you all on - the most important being last weeks weigh-in which showed a loss of 1.5lbs. While this is a great loss, I couldn't help but feel a little miffed, I only needed another 0.5lb to hit -80lbs!! I know its not a race and that I'll get there when I get just would have been nice to get there last week!

I've also been something of a social butterfly over the last week. Hallowe'en is considered by most as one of the biggest nights in student land - so much so that its almost a crime to not dress up and head out for a few drinks and a dance. I didn't go out last year because I was working, so I was very up for it this year. Plus, being 5.5st lighter makes fancy dress a far more enjoyable experience!!

Hallowe'en '09 - as a pirate's wench with Terry and Thom

Hallowe'en '11 - as a vampire with Katie

I will admit to quite possibly having had one too many £1 vodka and diet cokes, with the result that I was pretty much hungover for the rest of the week. I couldn't even drink the following night when we went out for Emma's 21st birthday celebrations.

These are just a few of the many snaps taken on the night - despite not drinking and still feeling pretty dire from the night before, I had an amazing night with everyone. As shallow as it sounds, going out and not having to worry about being the 'fat friend' always makes the night so much more enjoyable!

I'm off now to battle through the 100 pages of reading that I have to do before tomorrow!

Love to you all :)
Lauren xxx

Feel-Good Monday

First of all - an apology! I know I went AWOL last week. I wish I could say that I have a really good excuse, but its basically because I'm just shit at life. Well, I did have two essays to write, but as I only wrote those this weekend I can't really use that as an excuse. So yeah, shit at life it is. I will try better this week - promise!

Anyway, Feel-Good Monday!! This weeks post comes from the wonderful Rosie from Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On, who as well as being an amazing blogger is also one of my best friends. I never cease to be amazed by how brave and strong Rosie is, and how much she has overcome over the last few years. If there is anyone who is going to inspire and motivate you on this grey and miserable Monday morning (well its grey and miserable in the UK, anyway!) its her!

Hello everyone! I'm Rosie from over at such stuff as dreams are made on, and Lauren is one of my real life best friends! I think her blog and journey is amazing so when she asked me to do a guest post filled with positivity for her, I jumped at the chance. I thought long and hard about what to write, before settling on deciding to just tell you all a little about myself....
It's easy to gain weight and hard to lose weight right? But it's also easy to lose weight and hard to gain weight. I've lived through both sides of the scale, and let me tell you that it can be easy to do both and hard to do both: it's all a matter of our minds.
I have suffered with depression on and off for about 9 years now, and my mood has always affected my eating to some greater or lesser extent too. This is most noticeable in my two significant bouts of depression at 15-16 and 19-23ish. When I was 15 I suffered from anorexia. There I said it. Despite what you might think, this was born out of no desire of mine to be thin, it was about gaining control over my life: being able to lose weight easily made me feel good when nothing else was going right. It distracted me from feelings of self hatred, from feelings of inadequacy, from feelings of never reaching perfection...these were all things I could achieve by heavily controlling what I was eating. Needless to say I lost a lot of weight, and somewhere along the line my family and friends got through to me that I was hurting myself. I'm not going to go into all the gory details here because I could write an entire book about my struggles with anorexia, but I just wanted to point out that when I decided I wanted to get better, to gain some weight again, it was incredibly difficult. Eating 'normal' meals made me very uncomfortable and it was painful; my body wasn't used to digesting so much food. It was also incredibly difficult emotionally. All the time I was trying to get better though, the focus was on feeding me up, nourishing me in terms of food etc, but no one ever thought to try to confront the issues behind the eating for me.
So I was better right? Wrong. 3 years later my depression came back again. I could no longer avoid it by controlling my food, as I knew first hand how dangerous and horrible this was and I did not want to go back to that dark place. I tried other 'coping' methods: controlling my time, keeping myself insanely busy so that I didn't have to confront my feelings of derision about myself, and becoming obsessed with my money and what I was spending. I used so many tactics to keep my mind busy from focussing on what was really upsetting me. Ultimately I returned to food though. It had served me well as an avoidance tactic in the past, so I knew I could count on it. Only this time I went in the other direction: I binged. I binged and I binged and I binged. At my worst I would consume 7000 calories a day (and yes I always still counted, because yes it made me feel in control in some weird twisted way). And that was every day. I was bloated, and sore and unhappy that my weight was rocketing up. I went from 8 stone to 13 stone. But you see how clever I was being? Instead of really finally confronting my feelings of unhappiness I had created another sure fire way for me to avoid it. I knew bingeing made me unhappy, but it gave me something tangible and solid to be unhappy about. This time around, loosing weight became hard and gaining weight easy.
I would say I was at my worst about 2-3 years ago in terms of bingeing. Slowly my bingeing has improved, and I have been trying to tackle the issues around it. It takes a long time to re educate your body when it has used some coping mechanism for so long.
Anyway, I can here you thinking around now 'how the hell is this positive'?? Well here's the positive the last 18 months I have slowly been getting my life back together, and in the last 6 in particular. I have almost completed eradicated bingeing from my life, and when I do binge it's a normal persons over indulgence rather than a sickening 'stuffing myself till I'm almost sick'. I am seeing a counsellor that is helping me for the first time. I am tackling the issues behind my depression. And you know what? The happier I get the more my eating improves, and the easier it is for me to lose some weight again in a healthy and sensible way. I feel more contented now than I can remember being in a long time; I have some control and purpose back in my life, but not in a way that it takes over me and controls me. I have friends who know more of me than I remember sharing with anyone in a long time, and they don't hate me when they find out things about me I would rather no one knew, as I always feared friends would. I have goals, dreams and aspirations based on what will make me happy rather than what I think I 'should' do, what is 'right' or what is 'impressive'. I have my determination and my drive back, because they *are* positive attributes, even thought they have contributed to some of my difficulties along the way...without them at all I run into even more problems! I also have weight watchers. This helps me to lose weight in a sensible way, not eating too much or too little, not having 'good' and 'bad' foods, re educating myself and my body. 
Three years ago I didn't leave the house at all for 6 months. I didn't shower for weeks. I didn't get out of bed. I didn't see anyone or talk to anyone except my family. Now I have a maths degree, a part time job whilst I study creative writing part time, am seeing a counsellor, am incredibly sociable and bubbly and giggly again, have hobbies and interests and passions once more, and am slowly tackling my deep rooted issues to do with self worth. 
And you know what?? Lauren is one of the amazing friends who has helped me through some of these tough times and got me to where I am today :)


I just want to say a massive thank you to Rosie for taking the time to write this post for me - I know what a busy girl she is at the moment! And for those of you who don't already follow her blog you should definitely pop over there now to say hello!

Lauren xxx