Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Our Engagement Story

When I started writing here again, I said I wasn't planning to update the blog with every detail from the last three years. That's still true, but there is one past event that I'd like to get written down - not because I expect anyone else to be particularly interested, but because I'd like to have a record of it to keep and look back on in the future.

Our engagement story.

It was perfect. Romantic, funny, unexpected, and perfect.

On Boxing Day 2016, we travelled down to Devon. My Mum was already in situ, in a gorgeous little cottage on Dartmoor, and had kindly invited us to share her holiday home for a few days over the festive period. After an incredibly busy couple of weeks that had included six days in New York and a nasty virus, as well as the usual Christmas festivities, a break in the countryside was exactly what we both needed. We rose early on the 26th, loaded the car with dogs, wellies, waterproofs and pressies, and battled the usual Bank Holiday traffic down to the West Country. We drank wine, ate cold meat, mash and pickles (the only acceptable Boxing Day fare, thank you very much) and watched Harry Potter in front of the wood burner. It was basically as good as Boxing Day gets.

The morning of the 27th was cold, grey and drizzly. The temptation to stay in by the fire was strong, but we pulled on our walking boots anyway and headed out onto the Moors with the dogs (and my Mum) in tow. I realised almost immediately that my boots weren't waterproof, and spent the next forty minutes complaining that I had wet feet. After clambering up a 'footpath' that would've bested the most sure-footed of mountain goats, we emerged onto one of the steepest hills I have ever seen.

Up we trekked, with me gasping for breath (so that I could carry on complaining about my feet, obvs). Eventually, just as I thought my lungs were going to give out, we reached the crest of the hill and Kes Tor, the ancient rocky outcrop that lies at the top of Chagford Common. We clambered, some of us more elegantly than others, to the top of the giant granite block, and were greeted with dramatic views of the beautiful moors.

It wasn't until we had climbed back down off the Tor that Pete handed me a beautifully wrapped photo album, which he told me was a Christmas gift he had forgotten to give me. Being my usual tactful and intuitive self I asked if I could look at it back at the cottage, to which he replied quite firmly, 'no, look at it now!'. I distinctly remember wondering what on earth had got into him while I unwrapped it - now I know!

Within it's pages were contained a series of photographs of the two of us, from the very first picture of us together up to and including the highlights of our New York trip. I flicked through the beautiful, funny photographs, laughing at the ones I hadn't looked at for a while but still vaguely wondering why I was looking at them at the top of a bloody great hill with freezing cold toes. The penny finally started to drop when I reached the final page, and found a shot from our New York trip with 'let's continue the adventure' written across it...

It was around that point (I think, I was a little bit shellshocked) that he dropped to one knee, presented me with a beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring, and asked me to marry him. Having my Mum there with us was lovely - she was, of course, in on it the whole time so was ready and waiting with the camera! It was wonderful to share such a special moment with her.

I have lost count of the amount of times, since then, that I have been asked if I cried when he asked me. I would love to say yes - that I was overcome by the raw emotion of the moment and that my eyes filled with tears of love and joy. 

Unfortunately, that would be a lie. In truth, I was so taken aback that what I actually did was say 'Oh my God!' two or three times before it even occurred to me to say yes! Poor Pete, I really think I pushed his nerves to the very edge that day!

I really couldn't have asked for a more perfect proposal. Dartmoor has always been one of my very favourite places, it holds so many treasured memories from my childhood and is somewhere I hope  to take our children some day as well. It's wonderful to know that we can re-visit the spot that we got engaged, and that our engagement story is tied up with the long history of such a beautiful part of the country.

And, as my best friend (and future Maid of Honour) put it, "It's just so you. In your walking boots and big coats, out in the mud, both holding a dog lead. It pretty much sums you guys up."

I think she's right.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Beginning. Again.

So here we are again, not quite back to square one, but a damn sight nearer than I'd like to be. 

After a couple years of half-hearted attempts to get back on the wagon, I finally managed to get my head back in the weight loss zone in October 2015. I joined a new Weight Watchers meeting and weighed in at 15st 10.5lbs - still 4st lighter than when I first joined in January 2010...

...but 3st heavier than when I celebrated my Dad's 50th in April 2012.

Something seemed to click this time around, and the weight started coming off slowly but steadily. I joined the gym, and persuaded Pete to come along to Weight Watchers meetings too. Having him following the plan with me helped enormously - there is nothing worse than watching someone else eat all the delicious things while you're trying to lose weight! SmartPoints launched a couple of month after we joined, and we seemed to go from strength to strength. I was really enjoying cooking new meals, the plan was slotting perfectly into my day-to-day routine, and I was even summoning up some gym-related enthusiasm (unheard of, for this exercise-phone).

In June 2016, a week before we went on holiday, I weighed in at 13st on the nose - just 3lb above my goal weight of 12st 11lb. I know that sounds like a lot to some people, but at just shy of 6ft tall, any less and I would quite possibly need to be hospitalised! I swore to myself I would keep it together on holiday, that I would stay the same or possibly have a teeny tiny gain, but I would be right back on it when we got home.

Clearly, that did not happen.

Anyone who has ever been to the West Country will know that a holiday there is a bit like living in a real-life food heaven for a week. Delicious, creamy fudge, in every flavour imaginable. Huge fluffy scones served with lashings of clotted cream and sweet, tangy local jam. Fish and chips, doused in salt and vinegar and eaten at the seaside. Freshly churned ice cream, that is then topped with a dollop of clotted cream for good measure. Cornish pasties, piping hot from the oven, eaten from the packet overlooking Padstow Harbour. All washed down with plenty of red wine. Because holiday.

Yeah, I gained a lot of weight that week. A lot.

Which would have been fine, had I been able to get back on it when we got home. But I didn't. I tried of course, my good intentions lasted for a day or two, sometimes a week, before I found myself shovelling chocolate or ice cream or chips or pizza into my greedy gob. The weight crept on, a pound at a time, and I kidded myself that it would be fine, I'd get back on track next week. Then next week would be upon us, and lo and behold, there I was. Still eating. 

Before I knew it it was December, and I had been off the wagon for six months. Everyone knows that trying to eat healthily in the month of December is a bit like trying to lick your elbow while riding a flying pig across Mordor in a snowstorm. Add into the equation a week in New York, and yeah...December was never going to be a good weight loss month. 

We celebrated our engagement at the end of December pretty hard, with lots of Prosecco and meals out with friends and family. Again, I promised myself that I would get back on track 'next week'. But it's now April and I still haven't managed a full week on track in Christ only knows how long. My weight has crept back up to over 14st 7lb. Knowing that I am now closer to 15st than 14st seems to have given me the kick I needed, and I'm feeling re-focussed for the first time in almost a year. Easter weekend is the perfect time to start eating healthily, right!?

So far I am all tracked for the last couple of days (including a delicious Thai meal last night for Pete's 30th birthday!) and I've even gone so far as to take my measurements for a bit of extra motivation. And...I took some photos!

There is no way to make that muffin top look attractive, but hey, there it is. Hopefully having these will give me a bit of a boost and will give me something to look back on in a few months time when I look like Jennifer Lawrence. Or something.

Friday, 24 March 2017

It's been a while...

So, urm, hi! It's been a while...three and a half years to be exact.

Those of you who are reading this, I can assume one of two things...either you're extremely loyal, or you forgot to remove me from your blog reader. Either way, I'm grateful you're still here!

I've been toying with the idea of resurrecting this blog for a long time now. When I stopped writing here, back in September 2013, it was with the intention of writing somewhere else instead. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts at starting a new blog, but it never felt quite the same as writing here. So I stopped writing for myself altogether, and I've missed it. Over the last few months especially, I've often felt the urge to record the things that are happening in my life, but with no blog to write those posts have gone unwritten. And while it's no great loss to the internet not to have my ramblings splashed all over it, it would have been nice to be able to look back at them myself.

And so, here I am! Resurrecting A Little Less of Lauren after quite the sabbatical. A lot has happened in my life since I last wrote here. Sadly (!), I do not have time to write three and a half years worth of backdated posts. Also my memory kind of sucks, so I don't think there'd be much point even if I did. I'll just give you the cliff notes...

I met a boy. Actually, I met him just before I stopped writing here, in July 2013. His name is Pete, and we were introduced by my best friend Katie in the run-up to her wedding. Things moved fairly quickly after that, and after not-quite-a year of long-distance I moved 100 miles from Essex to Lincolnshire to live with him. Two days before our first anniversary, we welcomed a new addition to our family...

Her name is Harper, and she's a Tibetan Terrier. These days she looks more like this:

I also changed my job, but after six months of struggling to drum up any sort of enthusiasm for it, I realised it wasn't for me. Instead of continuing in a profession that made me miserable, I walked away from the 9-5 life and instead set up my own dog walking business. Lauren's Lead has been going from strength to strength for two years now, and I couldn't be happier with it!

Throughout all of this my weight has fluctuated. I'm still well below where I started all those years ago, but I'm not where I want to be, either. After starting the business I tried to kid myself that I could eat what I wanted - I was walking all day, after all! In reality, that's not how it worked, and by October 2015 I was closing in on 16st again. I rejoined a local Weight Watchers meeting (after all, if it ain't broke!) and was within 5lb of my goal weight by the following June. I lost focus again after that, and it begin creeping back on yet again

Fortunately, I have a new reason to get motivated...

Pete got down on one knee and asked me to marry him during a cold and blustery walk on Dartmoor on 26th December 2016. Our date is set for 6th October 2018, a little over 18 months from now - giving us plenty of time to plan our perfect day, and enough time for me to kick my own backside into shape. Dress shopping appointments have been made for May and June, which means I have a couple of months to make a dent in my gain of recent months. I'm feeling motivated and I'm even enjoying my visits to the gym, which is a first for me!

I've come to the conclusion that trying to summarise an entire three and a half years of your life in one blog post is not the easiest thing in the world, so I will leave it there for now. I can't wait to share the next part of my journey with you all! 

Lauren xx