How This Four Letter Word Will Ruin Your Body-Confidence And Ways To Avoid It

There is a four letter word which will do more to ruin your body-confidence than anything else and I would like to see it and all versions of this word removed from how you talk about yourself and your life. That word is FAIL.

Have you ever found yourself saying or thinking the following phrases:

  • I’ve failed to complete this
  • I’ve failed the challenge
  • I feel like such a failure
  • I have failed to fit into that dress
  • I’ve failed to lose weight/change dress size/fit into that item of clothing I used to wear
  • I’ve failed at life

You probably have one or more of these phrases going through your head each day and onc you have kids that sense of failure just packs the pressure on because you don’t want to fail your kids.

‘Fail’ is a destructive and counter-productive word that should be consigned to the same black box as ‘beach body ready’ and all those other negative messages in the world that make you feel like you aren’t acheiving.

Before I tell you how you can change your thinking to rid your life from FAIL-itis I want to tell you how my year of exercise started. I received an email from a vegan running blog challenging me to a whole year of running challenges. I thought, ‘why the heck not?’ and took it up. The first month’s challenge was to run at least a mile very day for the whole month. In Januray. In the Peak District.

For 12 days straight I ran through rain, snow, winds. I got soaked by inconsiderate people driving through puddles right next to me. I ran early in the morning before the kids woke up and at the end of a long day after I’d put them into bed. And then I got a day that it was impossible for me to fit in a run. Not just that I couldn’t find the time but it was completely and utterly impossible. I’d had 4 hours broken sleep, needed to get up and get the first train to London, spent a day in a meeting and then get a train back home, by which point it was so late I just collapsed into bed. I had failed.

So I missed the next day and the next. I thought I would just pick up the challenge in February but I didn’t. Nothing happened in March or April. I did the odd exercise video here and there, some yoga and my wonderful outdoor fitness class on a Monday. In June that ended for good. By the end of July I could no longer fit into some of my clothes with ease. Last month I joined a gym; this is most unlike me.

But does this story sound familiar? Do you start a challenge, get part way through and from external circumstances or as I like to refer to it as ‘life’, you stop for a day and that’s it the mojo has gone?

If so, here are my tips for combatting that:

1.Accept life happens

Missing one day of a challenge or even a week doesn’t mean you have ‘failed’ it just means you have a whole, complex life that needs attention. Be it children, work or family these things can sometimes gulp up your time in ways you weren’t expecting. Accept it, acknowledge it and get back on it. But most importantly the challenge is only with yourself so you are fully within your rights to…

2. Shift the goalposts

You know those cheesy, inspirational quotes that keep telling you you are only in competition with yourself? Well, theey are right. So who is to say that a 30 Day Shred needs to be 30 days straight? Is there a rule book somewhere that if you don’t do it without break days then you’ve not done it? Are we seriously saying we only accomplish things if we play by some rules set up by others or worse our subconscious?  Because that is total rubbish. Had I shifted my goal posts at the start of this year who knows where my running life may have been right now, I may have even enjoyed running. I doubt it but you never know. Sod the rules, change the goal posts, succeed.

3. Focus on the achievements

How often when doing anything to do with your health or wellbeing do you focus on your achievements rather than your end goal? Here’s the thing about health and wellbeing goals, as soon as you get near to them you push them further away. There’s always more you can do, better improvements you want to make. This is human but it also means we don’t always appreciate where we are right now and what we have done. Like that photo of you from 10 years ago that you take out and think ‘I looked so young, and thin. If only I’d appreciated that then’. Well big news: you are young and thin – especially to the 10 year older you who will be looking back at photos from now thinking the exact same thing. Appreciate yourself as you are now and celebrate the things you have achieved. Whether it is all-weather running for 12 days straight or lifting the next level kettlebell or simply going to a group.  All of it needs celebration and every time you feel like you’ve ‘failed’ then think of at least five things for every one negative.

4. Find your motivation

Failure saps motivation and feeds further apathy for doing something positive. When you find yourself missing stuff and not really wanting to get back into it, have a motivation plan. The hardest day is not the first day but the 10th or 20th or whatever your breaking point it to turn it into a routine that is part of your life. It turns out that my motivation is not really competition (with myself or others) so could take or leave a challenge. They tend to interfere in what I want to do in my spare time anyway. My motivation is sometimes fitting into some clothes I can no longer wear, or putting quid in a jar every time I do some exercise knowing that in a few months I’ll be able to afford something expensive that fits. This works really well for short classes and HIIT training. Or currently the big money investment of a gym membership for 6 months is keeping me ‘getting my money’s worth’.  My motivation is never fixed, it changes from time to time so I need to change with it.

5. Take the internet with a pinch of cynicism

How many times have you looked at your friends’ wonderful social lives, clean homes and sparkling children online only to find out when you meet them in person those images and posts they put out there are a small snap shot in time and they actually need your help and support? Or they are bored and it was their first night out in months? We don’t put out the things that are going wrong in our lives because that’s the part we hold back for those close to us. The same applies to all the ‘after’ pictures you see. We hold ourselves up to unobtainable lives projected out on the internet of strangers who we think are happier, healthier and more fun that we are. We aspire to a lifestyle that is impossible to acheive. We all do it and we all, deep down, know that what we see on the internet is a shell to live much like our own behind the filtered images.

Hold that mirror up to those you see in real life alone and more importantly only measure yourself and your successes against you alone. This isn’t easy, it is human to compare and feel there is something better out there. It is what makes us strive to improve ourselves but it also makes us miserable.

There’s no easy way to do this because we all love social media and our online projections of ourselves. You should no more remove yourself from that world than you should start thinking this is how people live. Just the next time you see some posts of someone you know having a really great time, check in with them. It might not be as it seems.

Guest Post: Jo Giroux on Weight Loss Exercise

Jo Giroux is a personal trainer, weight loss consultant and nutritionalist. She also runs the fabulous Park Fit class that I attend every Monday in the Derbyshire Dales. Jo is a wonderful trainer, incredibly motivating in the face of mass cynicism and has really helped bust my body back into a recognisable shape. Jo has kindly posted about the best ways to shed fat while exercising.

Get Fit

I’m often asked what’s best for fat loss or weight loss, and it’s a been the hot subject for years. As somebody that runs, I’m a big running supporter. But for fat loss? No. It’s resistance and HIIT training that’s key.

I hear the same thing time and time again – “I want to lose weight but I hate running”, ” want to shift a stone so I’ve started going running”. If this sounds like you and your goals then read on.

It’s very easy to assume that running will single handedly shift the pounds because you see how many calories you’ve just lost on your little running app or watch and think that’s it. The thing with running though is once you stop, so does the calorie burning. There is very little Exercise Post Oxygen Composition (EPOC) with running (or any other steady state cardio) – so you only burn calories whilst you run. There is no doubt that you’ll burn calories, which is fab, but it will take longer.

You see that woman (lets use a woman for this scenario) who runs and runs and runs, has slim hips, lean muscles etc etc. Trust me, she’s been running for years, probably since school. And she’s like that because of her GENETICS. Not because she runs for hours on end. Don’t compare yourself to that woman – you won’t get her figure because we’re all different. It’s about being the best YOU can be.

So in Park-Fit we do a lot of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and there’s a reason for that. When it comes to efficient calorie burning HIIT is leaps and bounds ahead of standard cardio. Why? EPOC! That thing I mentioned before. When you do HIIT your body and metabolism function at a higher rate of burned calories for hours and hours afterwards. What does that mean? It means that whilst your sitting with your coffee post Park-Fit you’re still burning calories. HIIT forces your heart to adjust to the changing conditions: sprints, hill runs, fast feet etc. Your heart learns to operate outside its norm, and your body learns to adapt to these changes. All of this changing and sprinting kicks your metabolism into high gear for hours after you’ve finished exercising.

Studies have shown that participants who did integral training as opposed to steady continuous exercise lost THREE TIMES the body fat. I’d take that option every time. The bad thing about HIIT is that it’s exhausting. Your body wants to give up after 20 minutes and it takes time to recover.

So where does resistance/weight training come into it? Simply put, the bigger the muscle, the more calories it needs to work and keep being efficient. Big doesn’t mean you’ll turn into Arnie – as women we don’t have the physical capacity to get like that. But we can become lean.

Which exercises in particular are best suited for weight loss? Exercises that recruit the largest number of muscles – squats, lunges, burpees, kettlebell swings, push-ups etc. Hence the reason I like to do these most sessions. Get them in your workout, mix it in with some HIIT and you’ll build muscle and burn calories at an accelerated rate for hours after you’ve finished.

This is all good and well, but if you don’t eat properly all the above means nothing. Eat right, eat real foods. Don’t miss meals – you may see weight loss but not necessarily FAT LOSS. If you skip or miss meals your body will hold onto its fat stores, resulting in a weaker metabolism. If you want advice about your food – just ask. I’m happy to help whether you come to a Park-Fit class or not.

So, my ultimate advice? Establish your goals, but be realistic about it. Do a variation of exercise if you can, and pick something you enjoy. If you want faster results in less time – do HIIT and resistance. Run if you like. I run because I love the feeling of running, but it’s not for weight loss reasons. That’s why I do burpees 😉

For more details about Jo Giroux, please visit her website: http://www.jogirouxfitness.com/

The 30 Day Shred and Lying.

Push ups = nemesis

 

Today I have completed the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels. If there is a woman in her 30s who hasn’t yet heard of this workout I would be amazed. It’s a Mumsnet favourite for a reason: 20 minute work out from start to finish. I’ll be honest, I missed one day due to complete exhaustion and illness but otherwise I did it. It wasn’t easy, I lacked time, motivation, fitness levels and enthusiasm but I did it. If you’ve followed any of my Insta-spam you’ll see I put my all into it.

So here’s the thing, why do a 30 Day Shred? When the 30 days are up, then what?

This is what I’ve learned over the past month:

  1. Women tell lies.

I’m guilty of this myself. I was in the pub with friends right at the start of the month. As we were in the pub it is safe to assume these were childless friends and the subject of post-partum bodies came up. They talked about how their mothers still had great bodies after birth and didn’t know how they managed it. Then asked me how I managed it.

For a second, I was about to tell that great lie that sometimes we tell “it just happens”. Like there is something great about you if you find things effortless. No there isn’t. I shocked myself that I almost said this because a. it’s not been effortless and b. I’ve grown two humans inside of me, my body will never be the same again. I have no idea why for that split second I wanted people to think it was easy to lose the baby weight, like there is a shame in working out but it was there. Instead, I broke the news to the childless that my body has changed shape and I work damn hard to get somewhere near to my 20-odd year old body.

I try to be okay about stretch marks but I know that it is okay to be upset by them too. For all the wonderful things that happened to make them, it still doesn’t mean I like them any more. I don’t love my children any less if I get upset that I look like melted Barbie.

2. It will take more than 30 days to look like Anita, Natalie or Jillian.

Bless Jillian for her boundless motivation on the DVD. I love it, I push through the pain but somewhere in the Level 3 circuits she says that if you’ve been working hard and following the diet plan this is where you’ll start to see the 6 pack. And I believed it. I eat well, really well and I put so much effort into the work outs but I have not got a 6 pack or anywhere near. I still have a post-pregnant pouch.

And when I took mid-shred challenge measurements and found I’d lost 2 inches from my hips in 15 days, did I celebrate? No, I cried because nothing, absolutely nothing had gone from the part of my body I hate the most: my stomach. What on earth is wrong with me? I truly believed that it didn’t matter how fat I was on day 1, by day 21 I would have six pack. No, the 30 Day Shred will not give you a six pack in 30 days but it will give you the kick start you need to make that (or something else) your goal. It will take more than a month to get the body image you want, but if you get a kick start then the end goal doesn’t seem so far away.

3. Self-confidence is everything.

If you’d met me you wouldn’t think that confidence and self-esteem were something I struggled much with but beneath the outer presentation to the world is a very shy person who battles against all natural instincts to go up and talk to people. It might be why I feel so chilled out in London; no one wants to talk to me. When blogging this shred on Instagram, I really struggled with the sweaty selfie. There is something quite self-indulgent about it and also, I don’t want anyone to see me in my workout. I would rather hide in a darkened room alone to do it.

I was horrified last week when three people saw me jogging into town from the school run. Horrified. I struggle to do my runs after the school run because I feel so exposed in the playground in my running clothes. I hate it. It took me ages to build up the the selfie on instagram. So, not everything that is put out in the world is a real, honest document of life. There are the bits that I didn’t show. I showed my arms because I was so impressed with them taking shape. If I could have photographed my legs, I would have done. I got my husband to take a photo of my press ups because I could do them. Did I get any of the things I struggled with whilst struggling? Any of my podgy tum? Nope, I only gave you half a story, half of the reality. It is just another way of lying.

One of the great things about blogging all of this is that I’ve met some great people online. I am in a shredding group on facebook. As everyone was posting their ‘before’ pictures, they would comment on how much they hated their bodies when in fact they were normal sized and shaped bodies for women who had quite recently given birth. All this sharing will hopefully let women see what is normal post-pregnancy. And so here is my before and after. Suffice to say my anxiety levels are sky high posting this:

Before and After

4. A kick up the arse is needed.

I love this 30 day shred because it kick starts putting exercise into the daily routine of my life. After a month, I have finally figured out I need to plan my workout into my day as much as I plan my work into my day. I stick to my plan too. If something comes along and derails my day, I put on my gym clothes anyway and do it when I can.

I started this shred struggling with level 1. Today, I ran up a big old hill in the rain. That may not seem like much but I detest rain, running and hills more than anything. I get up and I do it not because I want to be skinny but because I want to be strong. We have a newly installed pull up bar in our house. I can barely lift off of the ground but I try each day because I know being strong is a realistic goal.

This is the point of the shred, not to just lose the weight but to know that a daily piece of exercise is a good thing. This is my ‘what next?’. The final few days of this challenge were the hardest because I was so ready to move on to the next thing. I now run home from the school run, do some work out before starting work, have picked up a yoga class on a Friday evening with friends and even do some strength work outs with my husband. I have 6 week abs, kettlebells and ballet arm challenges all lined up next plus runs getting booked in. I cannot wait.

5. Your body is the only one you need consider for goals.

It is very hard not to compare yourself to others, especially if you have groups that are doing workout challenges with you but your body is unique and special to you. Your fitness is like no one else’s and the only person you should be in competition with is yourself. Wise words that I should heed sometimes as well. Not sit on my phone after 3 glasses of wine being miserable that other people have lost more weight in the same time. We all tell lies about our bodies in one way or another, we only show what we want other people to see.

So what is next?

Well, I’m not going to bore everyone with daily photos of my 6 week abs, goodness knows I was bored of my instagram feed by the end of this month.  But I am going to keep working out and striving for my goals. I am also speaking to some women who have inspired me over this past month to talk about what keeps them going, how they’ve felt about their post-birth bodies.

5 Lessons in getting fit

For the first time since I was in my early 20s I weigh less than 10 stone. Or if I use my friend’s very flattering bathroom scales, 9 and a half stone. That is well over one stone of weight loss since my journey to pre-child body began. I still have a long way to go but I have learned rather a lot along the way about myself, the person I want to be and my relationship with my body. This is what I know.

dumbells

1. #No Excuses

What a load of crap that is for a start. I don’t have any excuses for why I don’t exercise daily and lose weight quicker. I have lots of very good reasons as to why it is impossible for me to do so. Let’s start with the fact I am exhausted by the time I get the kids into bed, then have to yo-yo up the stairs as they tag team waking until I take my tired carcass to bed. After which, my youngest wakes a few times in the night meaning the choice between waking early to exercise or 30 minutes of sleep is a no brainer.

I would rather be chunky Mum than tired and angry Mum. And I think my kids would prefer that too. Quite frankly all that running up the stairs must be doing something.

2. Fit it in where you can.

I have a weekly date with the kettlebell class at my local gym whilst my son has his swimming lessons. Sure I’d love to watch my boy flap about in the pool but it is a guaranteed 30 minutes of exercise each week that burns 500 calories. Plus it doubles as ‘alone time’ if I ignore the menopausal women with better arms than me.

I also figured out that walking back from the nursery run with the new one on my front burns quite a few calories. So on the days I do the drop off, rain on shine I go for a walk. If I stay out all day it all tots up to almost 8 miles.

3. Food

salad

Ah the food porn of Instagram. I was invited to join a vegan cooking group on Facebook but a well-meaning friend. I say well meaning because the group was more about weight loss than it was about vegan cooking.

I fully support anyone embracing the plant-based lifestyle for whatever their reasons, it is just that mine are not centred around weight loss. I love my food, I enjoy cooking it and eating it. I love eating healthy, colourful food as well. But I also love cake. Lots and lots of cake. Which is why I have developed a sure fire way of eating well and not gorging on cake: do not buy the cake. Or the biscuits. Or that chocolate bar. If it is not in the house by 7pm then I cannot physically shovel it down my throat while justifying it with the breastfeeding calories. Breastfeeding will never burn off eating a whole packet of Lazy Day Tiffins, which ever way I look at it.

This kindly person, when I joked about my post-birth body suggested I hire a personal trainer. As cheap as the gym, she said. Ah but not as cheap as my tried and tested ‘eat well and exercise more’ method and also read Lesson Number 1 up there.

I have also learned that if I do accidentally lose an entire packet of tiffins down my throat or over eat on the fresh bread from the market that it is not the end of the world. Guilt will only make it worse. Everyone has bad eating days and you know what? The next day will be much better.

4. Use what you have around you.

Getting fit and strong doesn’t need gadgets, fancy clothes or equipment. I don’t have a gym membership, I wear my £5 leggings and an even cheaper vest. I forked out on a decent sports bra because we all know that bras matter. But that is it. I am a little obsessed with the Queen of all Fitness, Gillian Micheals but at a fiver a pop for a DVD, that’s not too bad.

Instead I use my kids. Bench presses with the baby, work out the legs while she goes ‘flying’, become a swing as I do squats and bicep curls to lift her. With the older one, a quick trip to the park and 10 minutes on the see-saw is more squats than I’d do all week.

You Tube is also amazing for free work out videos. I like a challenge to kick start a new routine in my day so I take up a 30 day challenge of yoga. Sure I maybe only get through 5 days and of that my kids try join in too so make that 3 and half. Possibly spread over two weeks. But we had fun doing it.

5. With great age comes great wisdom.

Or something like that. Basically, I have come to accept that I do not have the body of a 20 year old. I get my bikini body the old fashioned way: I buy a bikini and I put it on my body.

There was a time that I thought I would never wear a bikini again. I last wore one when I was 24, in a hot tub in Estonia where only my best friend would be subjected to the horror of my slightly squishy body. Then pregnancy happened.

I went from looking like rivlets of blood were scored down my torso to a chubby Barbie left too close to the fire. At first I cried and then I thought sod it because I love my children more than I dislike my stomach scars. I am rounded and a bit soft around the edges because I need to be. I am still breastfeeding so there’s not going to be any hardened abs happening soon.

Not only that but sometimes I go on the weekly family swim without shaving. I know, there are people in my town who now know I am capable of growing body hair, that I’ve reached puberty with all the dark hairs that go with it. I gleefully do kettlebells whilst flashing my pits. I walk through the change room with hairs on my legs. It is liberating how much I have accepted my body and wish, oh so wish, I had done so a decade ago.

Battle of the motivation.

It seems that motivation has a nemesis: laziness. You would think that wanting to feel comfortable in existing clothes is enough motivation to drag my oversized butt off the sofa and move it around a bit faster, right? You know what is easier than doing that? Buying more clothes. Ones that fit a bit better, accentuate (read hide) my curves and give me a self-esteem boost. Losing my ‘can’t blame it on the baby anymore’ weight was my prime motivation for weight loss, healthy eating and this blog. But it seems that now my arms no longer keep waving after I have stopped and I can fit into a size 12, that is no longer enough to work that bit harder on getting rid of what used to be the baby bump.

I am by no means fat but neither am I by any means pre-baby shape or in any way. I could probably run for the bus but really, I won’t. I will stand and wait 5 minutes for the next one to come along. You would think that my snazzy, new, cost-more-than-a-normal-bra, sports bra would kick me off the sofa to justify what I spent on it. It doesn’t. It sits there being an amazingly comfortable and supportive bra, one which makes my last sports bra seem like a roll of cellophane could have done the same job of squishing my tits into a chest sized sausage but it does not drag me off to the gym when I would rather be having a cup of tea.

Oh yes, I joined a gym. Even as I was doing it, I wondered if investing nigh on £50 a month would be the motivation to make me do some exercise. It was against me, I was turned away three times as I rocked up to join up and only after refusing to leave reception until I spoke to the manager and joined was I finally given a plastic green card to sit in my wallet, wedged between coffee loyalty cards. I had the motivation against all odds to join and as I was given the induction. An actual induction. One where I stood thinking, ‘I could just run. Outside. For Free.’ or ‘I could just do some sit ups. In the living room. For free’. But the fact is I don’t. I don’t go out and run in the woods or perform sit ups, push ups or leg weights against the chairs of my living room. If I did then I would probably brave going swimming some time this decade. The fact is, I don’t. Which is why I joined the gym to make me do it. It was a very good induction as well, complete with a work out plan to induce improvement rather than sitting in the cafe to avoid bedtime routine.

The last gym induction I had involved some surly man in Tottenham Fitness First waving his arms at the machines in front of us going ‘Yep, this is where they are’. I muttered something about not knowing how to use them and he showed me some unhelpful diagrams on the side of each machine. When I asked about pulling muscles, he walked off leaving me to find my own way to the women’s changing rooms via a darkened studio, the men’s and a very smelly weights room. Goodness knows what muscles I was concerned about pulling back then, maybe the muscles which took me to the pub for a pint or the ones used to change the TV channel?

So a good gym, a work out plan, losing weight, an amazing bra and getting out of bed time routine. All good motivation to getting my arse into gear and running on the spot a few times a week, right? Motivation only works if it adapts to the laziness and remains one step ahead. What is motivating me right now is so painfully simple and works so excruciatingly well that I wonder why I didn’t figure it out sooner. In fact, it is not my idea but something found on pinterest. This motivation is not only taking me to the gym three times a week but also fitting in a DVD work out in there as well.

The answer: gym tips. Every time I go to the gym or do some real exercise, I put £1 (the amount needed to use the lockers) into a pot. That’s it. After a few months, if I work hard, not only will I be able to buy some amazingly expensive dress but it might even be a size smaller than all my other dresses and I won’t feel one bit of guilt about buying it because I know I have worked hard, albeit begrudgingly, to get it.

The App Is Back

The fitness app is back in my life.
A few weeks ago, my husband went on a night out with his best mate. He text me at 9pm to say that the friend was staying over and could I please have a quick whizz around the flat. My vision of that Friday night did not include scrubbing out the loo at 10pm but that is a tangent I don’t need to relive.

The next morning, his friend starting counting up the drinks they’d consumed the night before. Curious as to why, I took a stab in the dark that he had started using the fitness app that I was trying out when I first started this blog. It turns out he was and wanted to know how I knew.

“The only time I have ever kept track of my drinks on a night out, other than teenage exaggeration, was when I was tracking the calories.”

“How’d it work out for you?”

“I lost most of my weight when I stopped worrying about that thing and just exercised.”

Since then my husband managed to convince me to give it another go. I put on 2lbs and got annoyed at the thing. But I can see what he is eating in the day and give encouragement for his goals, which is a good thing.

Although, the app does make me aware of what I am eating in the day and I have hunted out some quite lovely alternatives to cake and chocolate.

Also, it supported my view that if the Government really, genuinely want to cut down on binge drinking, especially with young women, then all they need to do is clearly show in massive red numbers the amount of calories in the alcoholic drinks. Suffice to say my evening glass of wine is now something of a treat.

 

Progress is visible.

When I started this blog, I wasn’t in a great place. I didn’t feel too grand about myself, where my life seemed to be going or, to be precise, its lack of direction,  and the loss of my social life. I watched my pre-baby friends hang out in the park having fun, drinking beer, going about their lives without hours of preparation and planning. They could rock up to a gig at a moment’s notice or drive down to a festival without worrying where they would kip. Heck, they could go to gigs and festivals.

Their lives seemed to be carrying on without me, while mine stood still and I felt OLD. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son with my whole life and would never choose my pre-baby life over this but I wasn’t expecting to feel old, frumpy and like time had stood still for me. I felt like life was passing me by at the age of 28.

It got worse when I realised returning to work, any work, was out of the question financially. Moving away was impossible and would probably break my heart anyway. I love this city, I love my little area. I feel elated just walking down Archway Road and seeing the London skyline.

Yet, I didn’t feel like a Londoner any more. I didn’t get the tube anywhere and people talked to me. Complete and utter strangers started conversations with me on buses and then one day, I found myself doing the same. It felt strangely familiar, like I was transported back up North to where, on the most part, people natter away at every opportunity rather than sit in stony silence next to a stranger on a bus. Like you have to spend the next 30 minutes of your life with your thighs squished up together so you better smile and find out how far down the route those thighs are intending to go.

Still, I love this city. I love going down to the river, appreciating the green spaces, that you can be spontaneous and find something worthwhile and interesting if you look hard enough. A lot of that gets hidden under nappies, prams, catching hats and toys.

I started this blog because I weighed myself one day and I was still the same 11lb 3oz I was months before. I was overweight and unhappy. Not that being thin makes you happy but being fat was not making me any less unhappy. I hated the way I looked, I hated my boring Mum-hair, old clothes and beat up trainers. I wanted to have a conversation with someone about music, books, films or the news and I found myself with connections made solely through my son. I didn’t know these new people like I knew my friends.

It may have taken a while to find some common ground that I feel comfortable on, my nervous chatter might have been a stumbling block as well, but I have met some wonderful, interesting people; who below the initial surface have continued to surprise and entertain me.

I re-coloured my hair, tried out a new style (known as growing it – something not done since I hacked it all off into 2-inch, pink spikes, aged 16), and trawled ebay and the sales for cheap clothes that were not black jeans and tees. They are in fact black leggings, dresses and skirts but I like black.

I started doing face masks, looking after my skin, taking one night a week to see my best friend, who only lives on the next street. I’ve even made it to a few gigs and stayed up until 5.30am partying. Things are more erratic on the social side but it still exists.

I have a vague plan of where life may take me but have learnt not to worry so much about a firm career, I can forge my own way in this world. I have become confident in my parenting and saying ‘no’ to things I’d just otherwise get annoyed at to be polite. I am getting quite good at saying ‘no’.

I logged back into my fitness app today, recorded my food diary for the first time in a long time and entered my new weight; 9lbs 12oz. That is a total loss of 1.4 stone or 19-odd lbs. Not bad going really. So my belly is still wobbly and marked, I can’t fit into a large proportion of my pre-pregnancy clothes but I can fit into some and more to come. I feel positive about getting my body back in shape now.

I don’t gorge on cake, probably because I am no longer in that place where I need a sugar rush to get me to the next coffee. My caffiene intake is right down and I feel so much better for it. Plus, I have almost finished Shantaram – only 4 months in – so might get to read some more books.

This feels like progress, I can see the progress. I am starting to enjoy my new life, finally.