On why you should not wear clog boots to Waitrose if you’re in a hurry

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I have a gorgeous pair of clog boots.

I bought them from Plumo last year. As with most clothes purchases, there was a web of reasoning around The Purchase:

  • They were on sale, reduced from three figures to two. Always an incentive.
  • I love clogs, after being the only person in Denmark under the age of 55 to wear them through the spring of 1993, while loafing around Københavns Universitet reading Livy and enjoying fun days including ‘let’s see if we can have a day where every meal consists of chocolate’ (we did – AND WE WEREN’T SICK!)).
  • I wanted some shoes/boots I could pull on and off very easily as I trotted in and out of the house a thousand times a day putting children in the car/putting out bins/trying to stop DS2 from escaping down the road.

In general, they have been extremely succesful; they get lots of nice comments from other girlfriends (to DH’s bemusement (he probably preferring a boots concept involving thigh-high patent leather)), and they are super-comfortable, as long as you’re wearing thick socks.

But

They do NOT work if you’re trying to push a shouting toddler in a trolley round Waitrose in record time while the rest of the family wait in the car.

I discovered at the weekend that if you try to take a corner of a supermarket aisle at any speed with them, then the boot remains gripped to the floor, while your foot pivots IN THE BOOT. As a consequence, your body rotates and lurches after the trolley (which has momentum), but your foot remains trapped in the clog’s position. So as the trolley pulls you in an arc round the end of the aisle, you fall after it, tripping over your boots, which have taken on a will of their own. As we had to do a full shop, which involved going up and down almost every aisle, this was quite a traumatic experience, both for me, and for random others, such as the girl behind the deli meat counter who saw the trolley go left but me seem to hurtle straight towards her with a look of alarm on my face, and DS2 yelling (happily) HA HA HAAAAA.

AND the repeated friction has worn holes in the soles of my socks.

So there we are. Either take it slowly, or wear close-fitting sneakers. And to Waitrose and its shoppers, I apologise.

It was the boots.

 

 

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The 5:2 intermittent fasting diet: 3 weeks in

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So I am writing this EXTREMELY hungrily and grumpily, on the second fasting day of this week, having had today:

  • 1 choc hobnob at about 11
  • soup + sandwich at lunch
  • 1 choc hobnob at about 4.

I forgot to take my multivitamin pill at lunch, the aim of which is to supplement the hobnobs, but I don’t think that would have made any difference to my mental state this evening. I know that using up about 30% of my calorie intake on chocolate biscuits is not ideal, but, hey, I’ve been in charge of 2 children under 4 (plus a sick DH lolling around the house), and it’s been pouring with rain, and tempers have been strained…

How’s it gone so far? Well on days like today I would chew off my right arm for a nutritious meal, plus chocolate, but I know it’s almost bedtime I and should just be able to stagger through until tomorrow morning as long as I’m horizontal and asleep. In weight-loss terms, it made a bit of a difference at the start, and slowly my average weight is still edging down. My hip/waist size shrunk a bit at the start, though still not enough to get me into the W-dress (which I’ve now bought!! da-daaa!! (another story)), but I’m going to start running and hula-hooping again and see if that makes a difference. Chart inserted..

Observations so far:

  • Mondays and Thursdays seem the best fast days; I couldn’t do anything with just 1 day’s break in between.
  • On non-fast days I’m finding myself a bit disappointed with the quality of food I’m shoving down. There’s a bit of a crisp craving that goes on, and then I think hoorah I can eat my weight in chocolate, and then I just feel a bit oily and have a Benecol. I’m going to try to ensure I eat some quality savoury stuff, and my meals are interesting.
  • I cannot see myself sticking to a 600 calorie limit, as inputted on my iPhone, twice a week for the rest of my life… I would like to be free to finish the children’s jambalaya at 5.30pm, if I’m hungry, and they don’t want it. But I can see that days when maybe breakfast is late, or dinner’s skipped, would be fine, without any raging cataclysm occurring.
  • It is HARD to fast when you’re at home, cooking and feeding children, and everyone’s getting cross. DH has a much easier time in the office, he says, as long as he keeps himself busy over lunch. This blog post was interrupted by a phonecall on a work matter, and suddenly my spirit improved (shows how bad today was, when talking about data analytics is a cheer-up), and 50mins had gone by without me uttering any sarcastic comments to DH or skulking around the kitchen picking up crumbs with my finger tip (“it’s so microscopic it can’t possibly have any calories”.)

So there we go. On to the next 3 weeks. Just hope my DNA is doing some good bloomin’ regeneration work.

Oh, another plus point – not eating in the evening does free up an enormous amount of time, and saves on washing up. Extraordinary!

On starting intermittent fasting: Day 1

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Now that the half-marathon is done and dusted (did I mention that I was amazing?), it’s time to turn my attention to physiological challenges.

Since The Day of The Engagement (which happened to be the day of the First Run) in March this year, I’ve been running almost every other day, as well as trying to stick to 1800 calories/day (as assiduously logged through the myfitnesspal iPhone app). I’ve lost about 8kgs (a stone and a bit), helped by the odd stomach trouble and tonsillitis, but for the last month or so have been pottering reasonably happily around the 62-63 kgs level. The target, though, is 60kgs – the weight I was in my uncharacteristic Year of Fitness – a blip in my life when I walked and ran a lot, and met DH. Oh how drole his comments are that he took me on ‘under false pretences‘ as he pats the belly that has borne two of his babies.

Nevertheless, I will admit that there’s still quite a lot of cushioning around my lithe athletic core.

I hate dieting, and I didn’t count calorie counting as a diet, as I still rammed down lots of chocolate and HobNobs. My key changes were having puddings in a ramekin dish instead of a dessert bowl (it’s quite amazing how much sticky toffee you can cram in a little dish if you try), and weighing  out my cereal to the recommended 30g of Bran Flakes every morning (it turned out my default helping was about 60g, plus banana..)

However, it was slightly alarming to watch Michael Mosley in the BBC Horizon programme a couple of months ago, Eat, Fast and Live Longer discuss the impact that your weight and eating style has on your propensity to suffer from the primary diseases of middle-old age: cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc. OK, this wasn’t a great surprise – but I definitely wasn’t aware of the potential impact that fasting could have on your brain cells, in that sporadic bouts of hunger reportedly trigger new neurons to grow. Basically, sample mice on intermittent fasting were developing Alzheimers a lot later than those on a constant fast food diet (poor mice).

We have come to parenthood late in life and I would really prefer not to be a doddery old burden in years to come.

So here we go: two days of ‘fasting’ a week (ie a diet of 500-600 calories), and eat what you like on the normal days. This morning I had my blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cholesterol checked at the local pharmacies (Sainsburys of all places is offering free cholesterol checks at the mo); all were within the normal range so that was fine, and the pharmacists were happy with the plan. I’ve also measured my abdominal fat (nice) – basically my waist/hip ratio is bigger than it should be – so that’ll be the key thing I hope will improve, as that is a risk for future health.

And this is what I ate:

Breakfast: nothing (this did not sit well with me; I’m a breakfast like a king kind of person)

Lunch of pasta, a massive courgette from the garden, ham, a measley teaspoon of pesto, a sprinkle of parmesan, and LOADS of black pepper. 350 cals. After eating nothing all morning, this got me a bit overexcited and I then succumbed to two cubes of Dairy Milk (total 50cals). That was an error.

Afternoon tea. It would have been foolhardy to have eschewed all tea-time treats altogether (especially as I had a big report to write, and needed some cheering up). 100 cals.

Dinner. 100 cals.

Apart from forgetting to pick up DS1 from nursery, and then forgetting which DS I had to collect from DS2’s nursery, the day has gone reasonably well. The key is keeping yourself busy. It was definitely easier to manage not eating when out and about with the boys this morning, rather than a long afternoon in front of the computer. And what extra blogging hours have been freed up this evening without the chore of having to feed oneself? !

Huzzah!

And roll on breakfast…

On running my first half marathon

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Well, we did it, and Sister-in-Law (to be) and I have spent the rest of the day congratulating ourselves on basically how amazing we are. We ran something with the word marathon in the title. I did! Freaking fantastic! And we didn’t die. And we even did it faster than we expected (about 2:17). Did I mention we were amazing?

So in summary, this is how this absolutely fantastic feat was achieved by someone who was still trying to finish the obstacle course at primary school when they were setting up the next race, and at senior school gave sport up as soon as possible in exchange for Ancient Greek. Note, gentle readers, moving fast does not come easily to roaringkate.

  • Training: I would have died without this. This superduper half-marathon training plan was surprisingly achievable, and the final week of easy 30 min runs/”rest” cancelled out in my mind the struggle I’d had trying to do the 2 hour run – the longest in the plan – a couple of weeks’ before. So by the time today came, my runner’s knee had subsided from previous exertions, my twingey hip had stopped twingeing, and I basically felt reasonably normal.
  • Food: last night’s carb fest of pasta with roasted veg (SiL is veggy) plus Nigella’s pear and chocolate pudding did the job in that department. This morning, after a brief deliberation as to whether or not to change my routine, I had cereal and toast as normal, about 2 hours before, and then a banana about half an hour before. Everyone on the running blogs had also mentioned GU food gels as key to any long distance running, and we’d bought a couple each yesterday when picking up our registration gear. My 3-year old, who was stationed at the 4mile/9mile points (the route was a double loop) was charged with handing them out as we went past. I have to say they are pretty disgusting, basically sachets of sweet thick baby food, HOWEVER I do think they helped me keep my pace up once the first hour was over (I had lemon and orange flavours which were palatable; SiL had strawberry and banana but couldn’t eat it..). They were certainly better than the jelly babies people were handing out. I adore jelly babies, and nearly over swerved and fell over once I saw they were on offer, but as I also breathe through my mouth when running, trying to chew and swallow and breathe and run all at the same time was pretty tricky, and not worth the angst.
  • Runners IBS and Other Problems in That Department: again following other bloggers’ tips, I took an Imodium Instant just before we set off for the start, which successfully prevented any cramps through the race (and probably for the next few days…). No such luck in the pelvic floor department however – which frankly is pretty nonexistent despite endless clenching. Just relieved that on a day to day basis I am not leaking like a sieve.
  • Pray for the right weather: We were very fortunate in that we had fantastic weather: coolish and cloudy. Had it been hot and bright, the experience would have been completely different, and there would have been a lot of sweating and swearing and quite probably abandonment.
  • Run with an appropriate partner: I had been afraid that SiL was going to pelt off without me once the first, manageable, hour was up, but actually we established a pretty reasonable pace (for us, not the winning runners, who managed to lap us) (we were averaging 10.x min miles), and we definitely kept each other’s momentum up.
  • Get support: I never imagined I’d be as pleased as I was to see DH and the DSs (the younger of which had been hauled out of his cot with chicken pox and was less than impressed). Their waving and cheers were just delightful, and when DS1 pelted out from the crowd to run over the finish line with me it brought tears to my (slightly lunatic, see below) eyes.
  • Find your pacemakers and the opposition: For the first half of the run we kept in our sights two young blokes who were running in t-shirts and cargo shorts and looked like they’d just got out of bed, and who seemed reassuringly amateur. We eventually passed them. The rest of the run was focused on beating a non-athletic looking lady in a Slimming World t-shirt and her fitter running companion. We’d singled these two out because they kept on stopping to walk, which did not seem fair, AND THEN WOULD RUN PAST US. Eventually we made a tactical push when they paused at a water station, putting what we’d thought was sufficient grey tarmac between us never to see them again, until the fitter one overtook us with about a mile to go. By that point though I Did Not Care, and resigned myself to eating her dust. However, they did serve as an approriate incentive to keep the pace up through the second half.
  • Run for a reason: I can’t actually remember why SiL and I decided to do this (most I’d ever run before ‘competitively’ was a 5k), but when people asked if they should sponsor me, and I said no, they asked why I was doing it then. But yesterday I thought I should do it in recognition of a friend’s father, who has just died in very tragic circumstances, and was a lover of life, and that felt entirely right. And indeed, when it all got really hard work, after about 10 miles, I thought of them both, and it kept me going. More profoundly motivating than the pathological desire to beat Slimming World lady…

So that’s about it. The race was started by a canon which gave us all a bit of a jump (unlike the Great North Run today which began with a Mo/Bolt stretch routine), and we were slightly alarmed to see that it was indeed a race. No fun run here my friends – no one in fancy dress, or happy to amble round. In fact when we went to find our ‘pen’ at the start line (ie to bunch us in with all the other guys who were looking to do a similar time), our target time (2:30) turned out to be the final one available. We were right at the back. But did not finish last! Did I mention we were amazing?

My final observation is that however fit and slim and athletic you think you look, in practice you (at least I) look red faced, in need of at least 2 more sports bras, and covered with still a substantial amount of what I like to think of as baby fat, but is more like roaringkate fat. And I need to work on those lunatic expressions…

PS When I next saw my mother after this event, I asked her how amazingly she thought we’d done. She commented yes, very good, but how curious that SiL looks as fresh as a daisy, while you… hmmm… perhaps it’s the hair..? Yes alright mother. I was wearing my lucky headband, and I get a red face. I’ll go and rock to and fro in a corner now…

On one week to go until the half-marathon

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Obviously my failure to post ANYTHING of interest, or even anything full stop, for the last few months has been down to me spending every waking hour pounding the tarmac in preparation for next weekend. Not.

In reality it’s been down to a mixture of work, family, work, more family, and quite a lot of just general fatigue and grab-an-early-night when you can. Nevertheless I have doggedly maintained my half-marathon training, according to The Plan, with a blind faith that if I do what The Plan says then somehow I’ll get round the course without collapsing/major disaster. My previous post on this topic sounded quite optimistic, but with one week to go, I feel less so…

  • The statement that I was regularly running 4.5 miles was proved wrong once I finally got going with my Endomondo iPhone app and discovered that my estimates via Google Maps were about half a mile or so out (the wrong way).
  • A bout of tonsillitis and then a heavy cold knocked me out for about 3 weeks in July, just when The Plan was getting going (notably a week after the previous post). In retrospect, I think that is the time I should really have been making some strides (ha ha) towards improving my endurance and speed. As a consequence there hasn’t really been much of a step-change (dear god) in my performance. I’ve improved incrementally, I think, but no where near enough to manage 13 miles running.
  • Training a couple of weeks ago with my sister-in-law, also doing the run, was good in the sense that it helped having someone to run with (and somewhere nice – Jersey’s Corbiere to St Aubins railway walk – sans dogs and cars), but highlighted how much fitter she is. On the other hand she does have Pilates classes, a personal trainer at the gym, and no kiddiwinks.
  • On the topic of kiddiwinks, the pelvic floor is not holding up terribly well, at least not for runs longer than about an hour. I shall have to see someone about this after the event; needless to say I thank technology for inventing moisture-wicking fabrics and various absorbent devices. All totally embarrassing, and even worse when combined with IBS-style cramps, which reduce me to a speed of about 15mins/mile.
  • I still hate dogs, I’m afraid. The river path at one point is covered with dog walkers, all of whom stand directly on the path I’m running on gassing to their mates, and whose dogs run straight at my legs, causing me to swerve at the last minute and risk knee injuries. I want to shout at them, ‘Do you not appreciate how amazing it is that I’m doing this? Could you please be a bit more helpful? It’s taken all my efforts just to get off my arse and get out of here, don’t make it any harder’. Only I haven’t got the breath.

So that’s about it. The furthest … sorry, the longest (The Plan is based on time, rather than distances), I’ve run so far is two hours, and I must say that the second hour of that I was dead on my feet. I remember at one point staggering down a path, and some walkers ahead hearing my fairy footsteps behind them and very NICELY (note this, dog walkers) moving to the side for me to go by. By the time I actually went past them, however, they’d had time to sit down and read half a novel. I had to apologise for being so slow.

Two hours may be OK, but I’ll prob need to do another hour on top of that to get over the finish line. I’ve already briefed my sister in law that I don’t want to run with her for the second half, as I know she’ll be secretly planning a sprint finish, and that’ll just make me want to lie down and weep.

The only benefit of the whole thing at the moment, as far as I can see, is that I now have an excuse to stuff my face with carbs for the rest of this week. Chocolate muffins, here I come.

PS Performance from today’s 1 hour run posted above, for reference. I have NO IDEA if this is good enough for a run (bearing in mind I slow down dramatically after an hour). But there we go. I like the running image at the top, makes me feel v athletic.

 

 

On Brittany

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Months ago we went to Brittany to stay in a family member’s house (there are 3 apartments for holiday lets. Highly recommended). I was going through a big Instagram phase at the time, and found my pics lurking in a folder this afternoon. Not much else to report, it rained, it was sunny, we had lots of nice (albeit slightly beige) food. And at one point the English Channel (OK, from the French side) looked like Mauritius.

Actually we did have an horrendous time going over there, involving Ryanair (no comment), an emergency purchase of a suitcase at the airport as I hadn’t quite believed that 1 piece of hand luggage really meant just 1, the car hire guy driving off to St Malo without giving us the car seats, DS2 falling over in the back of the car as we were waiting for the car seats to come back and cutting his lip, and DH failing to remember a map meaning that we spent hours driving around a small peninsula trying to find our destination village. Anyway, once we got there it was lovely.

Et voila:

On edible art. In cake form.

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One of the loveliest things about this wedding business is that it means you start talking to all sorts of local people offering various goods and services of the nuptial variety. At the barn we’re having our reception at, I picked up a postcard with some beautiful photos of sugar flowers that were actually good enough to eat. Short and Sweet’s stuff looked fab – but there was no website.

As I’ve got lots of spare time with just two young children, I got in touch with the cake maker extraordinaire, artist and baker Terry Wilson, and we’ve done a lovely deal: I’ve put together a WordPress site for her (shortandsweetstuff.wordpress.com), and she’s going to make me some flowery cupcakes for the wedding. Today I officially handed the blog over, with instructions as to how to post new blog entries, update photos etc. So Terry’s it is, and I hope that it’ll evolve and grow as she bakes, paints and blogs. In the meantime if you’re looking for some gorgeous cakes, or are just surfing over coffee, do have a browse. Yummylicious!