This year, after turning 46, I have decided to really take some control on my life. I'm not getting any younger and I'm aware that I'm not as fit nor as slim as I would like to be. So rather than slipping complacently into middle age, I have decided to make it my mission to become the me that I want to be. A mum that my kids can be proud of and aspire to be like and a wife who will enjoy an active future with my husband.
My plan is multi-faceted, taking a holistic approach to health, happiness and well being. As my confidence in myself is increasing, these things are taking on a life of their own. I am finding things about me are changing and I'm happy just going along with it.
I am a vegetarian. However, I am an over-eating vegetarian who enjoys food a bit too much. This meant lots of cheese, plenty of carbs and big portions of dinner. This year, I've made steps towards a more plant based diet. Many meals are becoming vegan and I'm making alternative dairy free versions of family favourite meals like my vegan Mac & Cheese. I've made switches to almond milk, soya cream and coconut oil. I've also added more nuts, seeds, vegetables and pulses to our meals, and I've cut down on my refined sugar intake. I still make some slightly more indulgent things from time to time and still enjoy the occasional treat, but on a whole, my family's diet has improved.
However, even though the food I was preparing and consuming was all good stuff, my natural propensity to greediness still resulted in eating to excess. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to bump into the lovely Sandra from Thinking Slimmer at this year's Blog On MOSI conference. Having worked with Thinking Slimmer before and becoming one of the original weightloss blogger poster girls for the product, I know that Slimpods work. They retune your mind using cognitive hypnotherapy, altering the way your brain thinks about food, allowing you to make good choices naturally. Sandra agreed to me trialing the Slimpods again and I've started listening at bedtime.
I must be very susceptible to the Slimpod's suggestion or maybe a part of my brain has been instantly reawakened, because from the very first day I changed. Like someone had thrown a switch in my brain removing the urge to mindlessly snack through every waking hour or eat beyond fullness. It was incredible and after a week I am 3.5 lbs down simply because my habits have changed. No calorie counting or having to make separate meals, I'm just eating less without even thinking about it. I know that the extra weight will be gone soon, while the foods I eat nourish and fuel my body, rather than fill me up with empty calories.
Just by making the decision to take back control, I have found myself feeling more active: dancing around the kitchen while I wait for the kettle to boil, jumping up and lunging just for fun or doing some vigorous housework. I'm just more energised. Although doing structured exercise isn't really my thing (my Scoliosis means I end up putting my back out if I go to the gym or do a class), taking active days out with the family really appeals to me. We have recently bought season tickets to Trentham Gardens and love going for long walks around the lake. I'd like to take our walking further. Climbing the Wrekin is something I'd like to try to do now Freddy is a bit bigger. Popping on our walking boots and packing our waterproofs, some water and healthy snacks in to a suitable rucksack (I've spotted some good rucksacks available online) I reckon we could scale the 1335 ft high peak! Our Merlin Annual Passes are also great for going on days out. Alton Towers not only boasts some cool rides and CBeebies Land, it has some lovely walks through the gardens, which are pretty steep in places. You get a good workout and its very pretty.
I like the idea of us keeping fit together as a family. I am not the sort of person who could go solo and take up something like running (I have pondered this prospect over and over again as my sister runs and just completed her latest 10K race) but it's just not for me. Walking in beautiful places however, up hills, around lakes, through gardens or in woodland, whilst having fun with Ian and the kids sounds like a good compromise.
I've never really been the glamorous type. My own mother refused to leave the house without a full face of make-up, but I am the complete opposite. I'll happily do the school run with a face like nature intended. I've never really bothered with a full blown skincare cleanse, tone and moisturise routine, and until recently, I hadn't been to a hairdresser for years. My mum religiously dyed her hair for as long as I can remember, touching up her white roots with mascara in between treatments. Unlike her, I've decided to go grey naturally. Whether this is down to pure apathy or whether I think silver highlights look cool is open to debate!
Recently however, I've embraced my girlie side, relishing pampering myself top to toe. From face masks to nail varnish to fake tanned legs to pedicures - I am really enjoying using all my beauty products and feeling good about my self. It feels good to have a bit of me-time while the kids are at school to do something for myself. Me-time is something I've never really understood until now, but investing a little in myself really is a positive thing. Although I'll never be a total glamour puss, I am enjoying taking a bit more time over myself and my beauty rituals.
I make no secret of the fact that I have previously found the concept of happiness quite elusive. In the past I've struggled with depression, dwelling on some dark parts of my life, able to achieve only a superficial kind of fleeting happiness rather than real contentment. But over the years this has changed dramatically.
Becoming more mindful and reflective has allowed me to let go of so much of the darkness. I have found peace with a lot of issues that festered inside me, freeing me to live in the present and embrace the joy that surrounds me. The joy that comes from being a wife and mother to the most wonderful people that I have in my life. I strive to be a better person and have learnt that true happiness comes from giving rather than taking.
I am in a good place. That doesn't mean that bad things don't happen, but when they do I'm better positioned to help those around me through them. My mantra these days is that I can't change things that have happened, but I can change the way I deal with them and the effect they have on me. Life truly is so precious, to live it in the dark is such a waste.
Taking responsibility for my health, for my happiness and for my life has made a huge difference to me. Here's hoping I can maintain my momentum and emerge a better person.