I have said before that I have 4 sons, what you might not know is that they are all adopted. Usually being adopted means that you don’t have any of your birth family living with you. It usually means that you don’t know them at all. My 4 boys though are all natural brothers as they have the same birth Mum and Dad.
I always remember the first day I saw them really clearly. Grant came walking to the car and Dec was being carried by the foster carer, I held out my hand and Grant grabbed my finger. It was only a few minutes and then we had to leave until we came back a few hours later.
I remember getting really emotional and I felt really overwhelmed by the situation I was in. I remember thinking that they are my sons and that was the moment I turned into a mother.
We had a week of introductions and during that week Grant had his 3rd birthday . The reason I am telling you this is because that first meeting was 15 years ago this week and Grant has just turned 18.
Him turning 18 has meant that this week I have been taking a trip down memory lane.
Thinking back on the 15 years of being a mother it has made me realise that so much has happened over that time.
I remember that 15 years ago I felt fit and healthy, I was overweight but not excessively, I felt that I was totally able to look after them. As the years went by and the kids just kept on coming my energy levels disappeared and the weight piled on.
I remember not having much energy for anything at all. Probably as 10 years went by I think I must have aged 20 years. Now though after 15 years and after going down this journey for so long I feel like I’m younger, healthier and have so much more energy than I did when I first got them 15 years ago.
So sometimes going down Memory Lane is so beneficial.
This year we have had a lot of work done on our house. Some rooms we haven’t changed at all but some have been totally gutted and transformed.
The work on our house has been going since January. We have had a whole new heating system including boilers, hot water tanks, thermostats the lot. We had the house re- wired for a new alarm system and electrics. We have had diggers inside the ground floor of the house getting rid of old pipe work. Basically the whole of this year I feel I have lived with mess and dust.
The parts of the house we are living in are nice but do get dusty really quick. One of the rooms that is being done is our bedroom and ensuite. In March we moved out of it and went to the spare room. Our spare room is a decent size but it’s in desperate need of decoration.
I have never really been a tidy person, however when it comes to my wardrobes and draws I like them to be neat. I won’t put anything in it unless it’s neat, which is why my clothes don’t get put away very often because I can’t be bothered to tidy the wardrobe first!
Our bedroom, which we’ve been out of for 7 months,has totally changed. We have knocked walls down, put new walls up in different places, we have had new furniture made especially to fit, everything is brand new.
This week we have finally moved back in. I feel I have moved from a complete mess to a place that’s so nice that I don’t want to leave. We now have a walk in wardrobe. It took me 2 days to organise but now everything has a place and it looks so tidy.
One thing I have noticed is that because my surroundings are so neat and tidy, and because I actually like my new room I seem to be taking a lot more pride in keeping it that way. Which also means I am having a lot more pride in my appearance.
I seem to be happy to take time in choosing what to wear, I am taking time to look after my skin, I am even taking time in choosing what to eat.
One thing it has shown me is that your surroundings can really affect your mood. I am sure that must relate to people and life too. It shows me that I’m to make sure I have good people in my life, to have things around me that lift me up and not drag me down. I feel that when it comes to people I am very fortunate – I have a great husband, kids, family and some amazing friends.
I know that when certain situations arise in my life I don’t necessarily handle them very well. It’s like I am living in my old bedroom not enjoying my surroundings. I feel to improve that situation the answer is to not get rid of it but make alterations to help improve it and then it’s amazing how quickly things change.
I just hope these new surroundings continue to lighten my mood and I continue to take a lot more pride in my life in general!
Things have improved greatly – I have been able to sort out my eating and I have also managed to step up my exercise too.
I have always thought I am quite an easy going person, I have been a person who gets on with everyone, I am not a person who would intentionally create an argument. Matt and I do argue but not really very often – it’s probably because I always let him believe he is right, when really we both know I am!
This week I had an appointment with a lady I never met before. I was recommended to go to her because she can analyse you and tell you about your health and the type of things you should be eating.
After the brief examination she told me what she discovered. She asked me what I had for breakfast I said a green juice and some oats. She then went on to say that it sounds very healthy what I am eating but in fact it is not. She then says that I should be eating things like shepherds pie or curry for breakfast. I said I’m sorry but I’m not going to eat that for breakfast, it just seems wrong
She said that there is someone in the family with a heart condition and I said no. Then she said TB – again I said no. She listed lots of ailments and after about 7 she got one where I agreed.
She even told me that everything my nutritionist has told me is all wrong and I would never lose weight that way even though I had lost 5 and half stone with her.
She carried on with her diagnosis and started to talk 3 times faster than a normal person, she was adding lots of jargon that I didn’t understand – you needed a PHD in biology to understand it. If she spoke French I think I would have understood her better! Because she spoke so fast I couldn’t get her to stop.
After about 5 minutes and her telling me of all the things I couldn’t eat I burst into tears – I just couldn’t take it anymore. All I was hearing was I was doing it all wrong and my brain had information overload.
You would think that because I was a little emotional she would have a little sympathy but no. I just asked her to slow it down and get rid of all the jargon. Her reply was “I am used to talking to intelligent adults and shouldn’t have to put it into baby talk!!!!”
I felt I stayed really calm even though I was emotional. She however couldn’t take it and was ready to kick me out. I don’t think she was used to people questioning her methods.
After an hour and a half of listening I said I’m sorry I don’t think I am going to do a lot of that advice because it seems to me that you have it backwards – eating your dinner at breakfast for one.
When I left I thought about what just happened and realised I had paid for an hour and a half of constant abuse and some really bad advice. If that was 2 years ago I would have taken everything she said to heart, not questioned a thing and been so much more emotional.
This time when I left I just laughed and thought what a sad old lady. I talked to the person who recommended her and she said that she gave her the same advice, which to me proved it was rubbish.
One thing positive I got out of it was that it made me realise that I know my own mind. All those questions of who I am were gone and I came out knowing myself better and being happy with the result!
While I have been going on this journey I have changed so much from the person I was before. I have come so far and learnt so much that I thought that there was no chance of me going backwards. I was wrong.
I have told you before that I have suffered with depression in the past. Depression brings a lot of negative thoughts and I kind of naively thought that through this journey I have been down I am now immune from it coming back.
Over the last few weeks I have felt it come back. Nothing to the extent I use to have, nothing that I needed medication to get over. But enough for me to notice I was on my way.
Over the last few weeks I have seemed to let everything get to me. Things that I would not normally bother about. I have believed every negative thought that came to my head, and everything has literally gone wrong and I couldn’t seem to deal with it.
I felt that I was going through a tunnel with no light at the end of it. Usually when I have been in that dark place before I would sit there and think ‘woe is me’ all the time and I’d have no desire to leave.
This time though it was a place I just didn’t want to be. I knew it was happening but I couldn’t seem to get out of it even though this time I wanted to.
At church on Sunday it was said that some people need to get more joy in their lives. I thought that is me! I was definitely looking for the joy. So in my heart I responded and it was amazing how the depression lifted.
That dark tunnel all of a sudden had a light at the end of it and I found my way out.
It’s funny because certain situations didn’t change. Negative thoughts still came into my head but I chose not to believe them. Everything still seems to be going wrong but I changed the way I have dealt with them.
Just the fact that I admitted that I needed more joy everything changed in my head and I don’t seem to be so down anymore.
I went to see a friend this week and while I was there we had a conversation about how she used to talk to her son almost every night. It was a talk to encourage him, to make him realise that he is worthy, to boost his self esteem and to show him he was loved.
She then went on to say that it was like she was a cassette tape that would be played every night. Just then the son walked in and said that all those encouraging words when he was younger really helped him to be a more confident adult today.
I am old enough to remember what it is like to play cassette tapes. When I was growing up all my music was on tape I had a Walkman that I played all my cassettes on.
There was no DVDs or the ability to download your music onto a device. A cassette would play, it would get to the end and then you would have to rewind to play it again. The rewind I remember was really boring it would take a few minutes to go back to the beginning and half the time I would have rather have just changed the tape rather than wait.
I feel like I have played the tape and I now need to rewind to play it again.
I have heard that when you repeatedly hear things eventually it sinks in and you end up believing it. It happens with the negative as well as the positive.
I just feel I need to take the time to rewind that tape of encouragement and play it everyday.
This year seems to be going really quick and the summer is almost over. I have always loved the summer – a time to relax and wind down.
This summer, eventhough I have relaxed and had time to unwind, I have found it really hard. I just haven’t been able to concentrate on my diet at all. I have managed to do a little exercise but nothing like I was doing before the summer started.
The kids have been off school now for over 8 weeks. It has been long enough for me to pick up some of my old bad habits. I am hoping it is also short enough to get back with my good habits quickly and easily.
I have to admit that over the summer I have put on a little weight. It’s only half a stone but I have struggled to get it off since.
Over the last few weeks I have been preparing to get the kids back to school. It is usually a busy and expensive time of year. There is usually lots of school uniform, shoes (4 pairs per child) and stationery to purchase.
I am very happy to say that next week the kids go back to school, and I go back to normality.
Well I hope I can go back to normality. I have for a few weeks been craving a little bit of routine and normality. I am looking forward to getting back to my normal exercise regime too.
I am hoping with the kids going back to school that I can get back motivated and I don’t sit and waste another 8 weeks of progress.
One thing I have learnt on this journey is that losing weight isn’t just about dropping the pounds . It’s also about changing habits, changing your mindset and the way I think. It’s about forgetting the way you have done things in the past and changing it for the better.
For me it has also been a journey of self discovery. I think the first step was knowing I needed to change and the second was doing something about it. Losing all those bad habits and emotional issues I had lived with for years was a bonus.
One thing I find though is that I have to keep re-evaluating. Sometimes I feel that some of those old thoughts and feelings are creeping back in.
The only way I can describe it is like I am playing a game of chess, but I keep getting myself in check. I feel I have to always be one step ahead of the game to even attempt to overcome my opponent.
It can be tiring re-evaluating all the time because one wrong move will end me up in check mate and that means it’s game over.
I am finding 40 odd years of bad habits is hard to get rid of forever. This is why I am constantly re-evaluating my thoughts, my emotions, the way I think.
Some weeks I find I do really well and I can keep it all at bay. But some weeks I have to admit I fail miserably.
I just feel I need to keep myself moving around that board. I feel I am in a never ending game of life and I just need to keep moving keep evaluating to succeed.
From a very early age I have always had a fascination with hair. I don’t know why but I was always amazed at all the amazing things you could do with it.
When I was little I would spend so much time in my Mum and Dads bedroom. They had this mirror where you could see the back of your hair. I would practice putting my hair up, I would perfect one style and then I would try another. I would stand there for hours just trying new styles.
I don’t know why I was so obsessed but it was definitely one of the reasons I trained to be a hairdresser. I then learnt how to cut, colour, and perm. I learnt all the techniques and I loved it just as much. Once I finished my training I went on to specialise in cutting hair and I also did a course on putting hair up.
I remember at the course the teacher was showing us techniques. At one time I remember saying that I prefer to do it differently because it’s easier and a better result. If I think back I always find it funny because it ended up with the pupil teaching the teacher.
It didn’t take me long before I started doing weddings. I remember I was 19 and I hadn’t finished my hairdressing training at the time. My first wedding was 11th August 1990, it was my brother who was getting married and I did my sister-in-laws hair. She had 4 bridesmaids – me, my sister, her sister and her 2 year old niece, Laura.
After that the weddings came flooding in. I must have done hundreds of weddings, thousands of peoples hair and millions of bobby pins have past through my fingers in my life time.
I have always found it a privilege to have been asked to be a part of someone’s special day. I have always loved it. It was always a challenge getting people finished in time but I have never made any bride late – well not yet anyway.
There was one time I had to do a bride and 12 bridesmaids for an 11.30 wedding. It was for my sister so I was one of those bridesmaids too. I even did my own hair for my wedding!
I always prepare the day before by putting the rollers in and have fun listening to the stories about the funny looks they got throughout the day. One wedding party went to a nightclub in the evening with their rollers in.
Always on the day before it’s like the bridal party don’t care what they look like because it’s all about the adventure on the run up.
On the big day I am very often up at the crack of dawn and working tirelessly until I finish. It has always been very tiring, but to me I am glad I can help to make someone’s big day special.
It would be nice though to go to a wedding when it hasn’t taken me 2 minutes to change, I don’t feel so tired and not be the last person to arrive at the church. Once I walked in late to the church, fell over down the aisle with everyone watching. I then stood up totally embarrassed and sat myself on a strangers lap to move out of sight. Obviously this caused lots of laughter.
This week I have been preparing for another wedding. It was for that little 2 year old bridesmaid I did on my first wedding 27 years ago. I thought what an opportune time to make it the last time I do one. Finishing with a person who was at my first!
Letting go of something I have done for so long is actually quite hard. I am for now saying it is my last one but I know if someone else asked me I would still probably say yes!
In some ways that is how I feel about the journey I have been on – I had been doing something a long time which I’ve now stopped – eating badly. But sometimes I think I am slipping back but I’m not going to let go eventhough it’s hard work. I have come too far to stop now.
In some stages of my life I have suffered with depression. It has usually been when I have tried to lose weight and failed.
Depression is something that comes on so gradually that you hardly notice you’re getting it. Once it has got hold of you it’s like you still don’t notice that you have it – it’s the people around you that notice and they are the ones that suffer.
For me, when I had it, I didn’t want to do anything. I would sit on the sofa all day and do nothing other than watch films. Jobs that needed to be done around the house just didn’t get done because I couldn’t be bothered. Any slight little issue that cropped up I just couldn’t deal with it, I would end up in tears not knowing how to sort it out. It usually meant that Matt sorted it out for me. My kids have learnt to become very domesticated, which is great now, but I am sure at the time it wasn’t fair on them.
This may sound really stupid but depression was a place, at the time, I think I was happy to be in while I was living it and I didn’t have the desire to leave. Thankfully, now I am not there anymore, I see it as a place I do not want to go back to.
Over the last 18 months I feel I have found a remedy – it’s called exercise. If I think back some of my most happiest times is when I have been doing exercises. Training for my half marathon in Rwanda was one of the hardest things physically I have had to do, but mentally it was a release from all that negativity in my life. It also gave me purpose – something to aim for.
We have been very lucky because we have room in our house for a gym. It is a place I have been a lot over the past 18 months. However over the past 2 months we have decided to renovate our house and our gym is no more. Well that is until the work is completed.
I have not done too much exercise since coming back from Rwanda. Partly because we have been away a lot and partly because we have no gym.
I do like exercising outdoors but I like to go with other people. But the days I plan to go it always seems to be raining.
Exercising in the rain is not much fun. I have never been a person who is really proactive when it comes to exercise so l struggle to go on my own – especially if it’s raining!
I have to admit that over the last few weeks I have been getting slightly down. It can only be the lack of exercise. This week though I have tried to be a bit more proactive and get myself back out there.
I have managed to do a few bike rides and some walks. I have not started the running back up but I will soon. I have to say it’s worked and cheered me up no end. That’s probably because the weather has been nice as well.
So I never thought I would ever say this but I can’t wait for the gym to be finished so I can start running again and not have to go out in the rain!
Now that I am back from my holiday and at home for a while, I thought I would take the opportunity to get myself back on track – back on track with organising healthy meals, organise my food intake, continue with my exercises and hopefully lose more weight.
18 months ago, when I first met Jenny my nutritionist, she told me that at first the weight would come off very easy. Then I will get to a stage and it will stop. In that pause I was to maintain my weight and after a period of time has gone, to try again and see if I can lose anymore weight.
That is exactly what has happened to me. In previous diets, that pause has been a frustration for me, it has been the part where I give up and turn back to my old habits.
This time I am not as frustrated. It would have been nice to continuously lose weight but I haven’t. Instead of getting down about it I have just tried to continue and not really worry too much about what the scales say.
Now that I am back from my holiday I feel I can concentrate on it a bit more. I thought I would go back to basics and start from the beginning again. It meant I had to take a look at what I did all those months ago.
Hindsight can be really good and useful but looking all the way back to the beginning, seeing what I went through, makes me wonder how I ever did it the first time.
What I did back then was the hardest thing I have ever done. The pain and suffering I went through to change my eating habits was so immense that I don’t think I could do it again.
My habits have changed so much and all that hunger, shakes, eating less, low energy levels, tears, eating food I didn’t like, cutting out food I did, pain and suffering were worth it.
Looking back now, knowing how hard it was, makes it even harder for me to start again. So on this occasion hindsight isn’t good.
However things are a little different and should possibly be easier as I am already eating less and I won’t have to eat food I don’t like anymore because I have grown to enjoy it. I will have to cut back on foods I have let creep back in and I will have to go hungry again. But it seems like nothing in comparison.
Because I’ve looked back it has made it difficult to start again, so I have decided to tweek things a little and do it slightly differently so I can’t see what’s coming. Hopefully when I start seeing results again it will help me to continue