Monday, 31 December 2012

Here's To You, 2012.

Normally on 31st of December every year I'm counting down the hours to the New Year. Its always been part of my nature to focus on the bad things and let myself be brought down by them, and so I'm always looking forward to putting the year behind me, forgetting about it and moving on, secure in the knowledge that in a years time I'll be able to do it all again. But this year...this year something is different. Even as I sit in my bed swaddled in fluffy PJs, dosed up to the eyeballs on paracetamol, cuprofen and antibiotics, I feel...content. Content with 2012 and all it has given me, because its been one hell of a year.

To recap, we welcomed two tiny new faces to mum's side of the family this year:

Kaci Marie Terrell

Grace Wren

And an equally adorable although slightly furrier little face to dad's side:

Bertie (and some random weirdo holding him up)

As well as welcoming lots of extremely squishy huggable little creatures to our quickly expanding clan, plenty of other exciting things happened as well. Yours truly was featured in a national newspaper, for one!

The Sun, April 23rd 2012

I was lucky enough to visit New York, again:

And to see Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto tour at the Emirates:

I got all dolled up for Summer Ball:

....and partied a little too hard once I got there...

I celebrated the end of the term and the end of my time at the University of Kent with arguably the best (looking) housemates any girl could ever ask for:

And again, partied a little too hard.

I graduated surrounded by my wonderful friends and family:

...and then I partied too hard again.

I started my first 'proper' Graduate job at Dorling Kindersley, and truly experienced the hell of London Underground during rush hour.

I was invited to join the lovely ladies and gent of Team WAMK, which continues to be a huge honour.

The WAMK team (minus Chris), September 2012 at the Leamington Bloggers Meet.

I celebrated the Olympics Games coming to London, and waved our Athletes down the Strand on their victory parade:

I celebrated turning 22 in Canterbury with my beautiful little sister Amy and my best friend Nikki.

(There is no photo evidence of my having partied too hard on this occasion, but I'm almost convinced that it did happen.)

I visited Canterbury for Halloween....

And partied harder than ever before. Fortunately all photos of this have been destroyed...yes, it was that bad.

I got offered my dream job, as an assistant account executive for the digital PR division of the Red Consultancy....hello working on Weight Watchers digital campains! ;)

I celebrated Christmas with my family:

As well as all of those wonderful things, I also went back to the 80s for my dad's 50th (partied too hard), celebrated my twin brother and sister turning 18 (partied too hard again), had a party for my aunt's 50th (you guessed it), and had countless days, nights and weekends out and about, normally partying too hard but always having an amazing time. 

More than anything else, 2012 has been incredible for the people its brought into my life and for strengthening the relationships I already had. A huge thank you is owed to all my friends and family just for putting up with me, but in particular to my long-suffering parents, step-parents and siblings. I'm the proudest big sister and the luckiest daughter ever to have lived, just for having you all. To all my wonderful friends, most notably Mark, Jack, Jack, Terry, Nikki, Emma, Liz, Danielle, Rosie, Lianna, Siobhan, Natalie, and all the others that I've missed off - for making me weep with laughter on a regular basis, for picking me up when I've been down and for looking after me when I'm too drunk to stand. I owe you all big time.

So here is to the last twelve months - its been a blast. Lets make the next twelve even better. May 2013 bring much health, wealth and happiness to all of my wonderful readers, my insane incredible family, and my superb friends.

 Happy New Year!

With all my love and best wishes for the year ahead,
Lauren xxx

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Merry Christmas, One and All.

I had wonderful intentions for lots of Christmassy posts over the last few days and specifically today...and then life happened. I've had a lovely Christmas with my dad's side of the family and am looking forward to more celebrations with mum's side tomorrow. Just wanted to check in and to say a huge MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my wonderful followers and friends. You guys blow my mind time and time again, and the fact that over 200 of you regularly stop by to see what I'm up to...well, thats all the Christmas miracle I need.

With all my love,
Lauren xxx

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

I Should Be So Lucky

I realise I've been rather neglectful over the last week - you have my sincerest apologies! Life seems to have got in the way a bit, with lots of wonderfully Christmassy things cropping up on my calendar - as well as some extremely exciting opportunities for me both personally and professionally! A couple of weeks ago I interviewed for what is essentially my dream job...almost immediately I was invited back for a second interview...and almost immediately after that I was offered the position. There will be more details to come over the next week or so, but I could not be more excited about starting my new job, nor could I be more grateful to the company who are giving me such a wonderful opportunity.

With the terrible events that took place last week in Connecticut still hanging over everyone's heads, I am feeling even more grateful for all the wonderful people and things in my life at the moment. It always strikes me as extremely sad that it takes a horrifying event like that one to make people realise what that have and how lucky they are. I guess its an inherent part of human nature (for most) to never be truly happy with what we have, to always be striving for more. And there's nothing wrong with that - in fact ambition and drive is what I find most attractive and interesting in a person. But if all we focus on is how to get more, then we can never truly appreciate what we have now.

In the past its been a struggle for me to recognise how lucky I am and I have instead spent too long dwelling on what I don't have. My life is by no means perfect but I have incredible friends, a wonderfully insane family, an fantastic new job - not to mention a great one that I am very sad to be leaving at the end of this week, good health, a fantastic education, a roof over my head and food in my belly (specifically homemade mince pies. Omnomnom). I'd say all things considered, I'm pretty damn fortunate.

Grateful for....

Squishy baby snuggles

Brilliant memories

Wonderful friends

Fantastic parents

But mostly for puppies in Santa outfits.

As well as anything else thats made me smile today.

What put a grin on your fact today?

With all my love,
Lauren xxx

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Food Porn and The Toxic Environment

Until recently, the phrase food porn conjured just one image in my mind – Billie Piper ‘sploshing’ on The Secret Diary of a Call Girl. For anyone who isn’t lucky enough to have borne witness to this triumph of television broadcasting....well, that's probably a good thing. It wasn't one of ITV's finer moments.

Ok, in seriousness, you’re probably wondering what this is all about - unless you’re a Weight Watchers member and have been to a meeting in the last week or so, in which case you may have a slightly better idea! For those of you who aren't in the know, let me fill you in.

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited, along with several other lovely blogging ladies, to an event hosted by Weight Watchers. Also in attendance was a representative from Weight Watchers marketing department, a Weight Watchers leader who has had huge success on the plan with a loss of 6.5st, and our lovely new celebrity ambassador, BBC news presenter and journalist Penny Haslam. The event was in order to launch the Weight Watchers ‘New Approach’ ProPoints Plan (known as the 360 Plan in the US of A) and I am extremely honoured to have been asked to be a ambassador for the new approach - a task which I have taken on more than willingly!

The event itself was lovely. It was hosted in Drink Shop Do in Kings Cross, a choice of venue that originally seemed somewhat cruel for what was essentially a gathering of women attempting to lose weight. As soon as I walked through the door the sight of dozens of different cakes and treats assaulted me from the counter and the whole place smelled like sugar and baked amazingness. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Which, strangely enough, was kind of the point.

Weight Watchers new approach is based on new research into not only the reasons we, as humans, often eat beyond feelings of satisfaction but also into the ways in which our environment affects this. There are lots of snazzy new buzzwords involved, such as 'snackification' and 'city-besity', but the central premise is that we, as humans, live and work in an environment in which we are bombarded with images of food all day long. When we see these images we experience what is known as 'hedonic hunger' - even if we've just eaten we can still find room for more. You all know that feeling, right? How many of us have put down our knives and forks on Christmas Day after clearing a heaving plate of turkey and roast potatoes, and declared ‘I can’t eat another bite’ – only to suddenly find you have room for more when the flaming Christmas Pudding and brandy cream appears on the table? That is hedonic hunger. And because we live in a ‘toxic environment’, where we’re constantly exposed to food, hedonic hunger is something that we’re fighting against all day, every day. It may be stronger with some foods than others - your 'oh, go on then' foods. Yeahhh you know what I'm talking about - we've all got them! To be honest I think mine is just food in general! Whats yours? Chocolate? Crisps? Cake? Your mouth is watering right now as you think of what yours is, right. SEE, I TOLD YOU. Hedonic hunger. Right there baby.

Ok so first off, let me just address something. At first I didn't like the term 'toxic environment'. Food porn, I'm a big fan of. But 'toxic' seems far too negative - even though thats the entire point of it. Its grown on me a lot since though, and since attending the event on Thursday of last week I feel like I've been on high-alert. We do live in a toxic environment. All day, every day, its food food food food food. At home, at work, even on the tube! Eating is no longer something we go three times a day, sat round a table with a our families. Its all day, every day. Mid-morning latte and muffin to keep you going til lunch? Sure, why not. Colleagues brought in homemade biscuits and cakes and left them on the side? Go on then, one won't hurt. Grab a sandwich at the station for the journey home because you're feeling a bit 'peckish'? Yeah, why not. Glass of wine and a bar of Dairy Milk after dinner while you're watching TV? Can't hurt.

Does this sound familiar to anyone!?

Food is everywhere we go. My journey to work consists of a 20 minute walk to the station, a 35 minute train journey (on a good day), a quick dash across Liverpool Street Station to the underground, a 15 minute tube ride, and a 5 minute walk from Embankment Station to my office. You want to know how many food outlets I pass in that time?


I know its fifty, because this morning I stopped and took a picture of every single one of them. I won't assault you with 50 pictures, I'll just share a few.

Its everywhere. There is no escape.

Needless to say, this toxic environment is having a devastating effect. A third of all women in the UK are now overweight or obese. That number goes up to half for men. That’s right, 50% of our men are overweight. Now I’m all for a bigger boy – but 50%?? Really? That’s a horrifying number. And its only set to rise. Ours is the first generation set to die at a younger age than their parents – and a large factor of that is obesity.

And that’s without mentioning the strain this epidemic puts on our country financially. The NHS spends over two BILLION pounds a year on obesity patients – whether that be through bariatric surgery or treatment of patients who are seriously ill due to their weight.

Two billion pounds. That is a hell of a lot of zeros. That’s a lot of money that’s not being spent in other parts of the NHS, or on education, or transport, or anything else that is woefully underfunded because the government can’t afford to pay for it.

So how do I feel about all this? Well, to be honest, I feel angry. Angry, and outraged. I’m not going to sit here from the safety of behind my laptop and say that its all societies fault I was fat – because it isn’t. I was the one who put the food in my mouth and swallowed. I wasn’t force-fed. Nor is anyone else. But let me ask you this…look back at those pictures, and tell me how many ‘healthy’ food outlets you see on there. Sure they may all over low-fat options, but how many on there actually pride themselves on selling healthy, fresh, delicious food? Not many of them.

Now think about this – cigarette smoking is an addiction. Alcoholism is an addiction. Drug use is an addiction. Supermarkets are no longer allowed to display cigarettes – they are hidden behind a screen and you have to ask for them. Debates about changing licensing hours and increasing tax on alcohol to discourage drinking are constantly in the news. And drug use…this morning I got asked for identification to purchase some paracetemol. These products and substances are not on display, and with the exception of alcohol (which is always advertised with the line ‘please drink responsibly’) are actively discouraged.

So why do I, as a 'food addict', have to walk past fifty fast food outlets and restaurants just to get to work?