Saturday, 30 August 2014

Our Thursday Photo #16

Week 16 has mostly been hard work. Posting our Thursday photo on a Saturday is a lateness record even for me, but it's just been one of those weeks. 

I'm back up to two jobs now, I'm still doing my freelance writing but I've now started as a transcriber as well. It's all home based, which is wonderful but it does mean that I have to fit it in around the children, which is pretty hard work. 

Libby has had a couple of corking tantrums this week, which has made life rather difficult. We went to paint a bowl at a local pottery place on Thursday, which she loved. Unfortunately, half way through the painting process she remembered that last time she went, she wasn't allowed to take her pottery home with her on that day and they had to go back for it. She immediately started crying and this escalated into a monster tantrum by the time we left, without her bowl. She can go back and get it next week, but she can't understand why she can't have it now. The tantrum was a total nightmare with only one of me, carrying the baby and having to carry a kicking and screaming Libby to the car and get her in with Lia under my other arm. Thursday was also the day that work got busy, so when they were asleep and I wanted to sit down with a cup of tea, I had to crack on with some work instead.

My other dilemma which I've lost sleep over this week, was the prospect of going to Drayton Manor with the girls next week. I've been asked to blog about the experience, which is absolutely wonderful, but hubby couldn't get the day off work to come with me. None of my many siblings were available to help me, so I thought I might end up having to take the two girls on my own. Luckily though my amazing friend +Melanie Chadd is going to come with me. What a star, thanks for rescuing me Mel!  

This morning, I went to get Libby up and she'd been sick in the night. Hubby had gone to do Parkrun, so I had to get Libby cleaned up and showered and everything washed. Lia had to wait in her cot while I sorted Libby out, but luckily Lia seems to have the patience of a saint and coped admirably with the whole thing. Thank goodness tomorrow is a new week, fingers crossed for a better one! 

For this week's photo, Libby insisted on wearing her very hungry caterpillar apron, which she loves almost as much as she loves painting! It was difficult to get a good photo of them this week, but it seems like overcoming adversity has been the theme of the week! Here is our Thursday Photo #16. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Rebelling against the training plan

Since being able to run again after having Lia, I have been struggling to reconcile finding the time to run, not putting the rest of the family out and still managing to run further and faster. I'm not someone who can just run for the health benefits and to run the odd race slowly without improving. I certainly won't be entering races to come last. As I want to get faster and train for specific events, the most natural solution is to follow a training plan. So in complete contradiction to anything I've learnt about training and improving, here are the three reasons why I won't be doing so: 

1. Time. 

I never know when I'm going to be able to run, at what time of day or how far. I could follow a training plan, making sure I fit in the designated run each day, but I'd often end up running late at night, eating into my sleeping time. With a baby who doesn't let me sleep at night, this just isn't acceptable. 

2. Motivation

You may notice that this all revolves around sleep... but on a day when I'm surviving on 3 hours sleep, I might not want to do the hard, long or fast run on my training plan. And I really have to question whether I'd benefit from that designated run, or whether I'd be better off writing that day off and having an early night. On other days however, running is all I want to do. That's when I will fit in my fast, hard and long runs. 

3. Doing things differently 

If we all followed the way that things are supposed to be done and did what everyone else does, we'd never discover a new way of doing things that might be right for us. 

So here is what I will be doing instead... 

1. Running with friends

I'm lucky enough to have a friend who I run my long runs with. We put aside Wednesday evenings to do a decent long, hilly run. This is the only part of my weekly running schedule that is set in stone. We tend to do around 7 miles. I really enjoy this and look forward to it, and I know I'll have a decent run every week. 

2. Making the most of the circumstances

Some days, I don't run until 10 pm and I can only muster a slow jog, but that's ok, I'm getting out there. Some days, I only fancy running for 10 minutes, so I'll run 2 k as fast as I can, that's ok too. I know I need to work on my speed, so these fast runs are as beneficial as the long ones, the slow ones, the hills or the intervals. Some days, my (lazy) dog wants to come with me. He's very much a speed merchant so we go to the sports field and do some sprints. This is tiring, for both me and my running partner. 

3. Staying motivated

Pushing myself to go out on the same run day in day out, or to do something that I'm not feeling like doing just doesn't work for me. I end up having a week off training just because I don't fancy doing what I'm "supposed" to be doing, so I put it off, lose momentum and my running goes out of the window. I know enough about running and training to know roughly what I need to do. I need a long run, some sprints, some  hills and some race distance each week. At what point during the week I do them doesn't matter. 

4. Mixing it up

To avoid injury, I personally think it's important to do other sports as well as running. For me at the moment it's swimming, just once a week. I hope that as I get a bit more time, I'll manage cycling as well. For now though, I've settled on training to do some aquathlons next year. I hope to put in some good times as well as losing the last of the baby blubber and getting a bit fitter and healthier. Watch this space! 

Do you follow a training plan or are you rebelling against it? I'd love to hear your views! 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Our Thursday Photo #15

Well, here we are at week 15 already. It is strange to think that by the time Libby was the age that Lia is now, I had gone back to work full time. I was commuting for just over an hour each way, getting up at 5 am to feed Libby and leaving the house at around 6.30 am. I would be back shortly before 6pm, to spend a short time with Libby before feeding her and putting her to bed. Lia seems so young and so dependent on me, I feel terribly guilty that Libby wasn't with me during the six weeks when I was back at work. 

I was incredibly lucky that I then found work that I could do from home, and I haven't looked back since. Whilst I am now doing different work, it remains an absolute godsend to be able to do it from home, so that I get to spend so much time with both children. 

Libby has been really well behaved this week, enjoying the different outings that we have had together. We never do anything too exciting or costly, but just enjoy short trips out and make the most of each other's company. Lia is also starting to pay a lot more attention to what's going on around her. It was particularly surprising for her when she woke up yesterday in her baby carrier and found herself face to face with a reindeer. 

This week's photo isn't the best I have taken, or even the best out of the few photos I took at this time. I did have a couple where the girls were both smiling and looking at the camera, but I love how this one shows how interested they are in each other these days. It is difficult to get either of them to focus on anything but each other when they are together. Long may it continue. Here is our Thursday Photo #15. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Our Thursday Photo #14

Week 14 has been all about sleep deprivation. Libby has always been an amazing sleeper. Really amazing. She slept through the night from the age of 8 weeks. She has a couple of hours sleep every afternoon as well, even now. Lia on the other hand, doesn't. 

Lia has never been one for sleeping and I don't think it's her fault. The problem is that we are always running around doing something with Libby, so it is really difficult to get Lia down for decent naps. Today I'm trying to get her to have a sleep this afternoon at the same time as Libby, but it's not going well. It seems that babies don't sleep so well when they get overtired, and as she doesn't sleep much during the day, she is exhausted by night time. She sleeps from around 8pm until around 2 am, but then she can be up another two times before we get up at around 7.30 to 8am. 

As I tend not to get to bed until around midnight (I often go running at around 10pm so can't sleep for a while after getting back), I'm really not getting much sleep at all. The sleep has got worse over the past few weeks. We had a few nights early on where she slept through, then she went to waking up once in the night and now we're up to two or three times. I don't know what I will do if it gets any worse, especially as I should be starting work soon. Any suggestions as to how to sort this out would be gratefully received. 

In the meantime, here is our Thursday photo #14 and I'm off to try to get Lia to sleep... again! 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Healthy alternatives

I've never been very good at diets, particularly because I suffer terribly from food envy. I hate the feeling that I'm missing out if someone else has something good to eat and I'm on a diet. As a consequence, I have to look for alternatives to dieting. These days, there is the added issue that I can't do a fad diet because I don't want Libby to see me eating like that, I would hate to give her body confidence issues just because she's seen me trying to lose a bit of baby weight. 

So as well as getting back into sport, I'm trying to make my diet a bit more healthy to shed the last few pounds of baby weight. I'm mainly doing this at breakfast and lunch, because evening meals are the time that we all sit down together and enjoy a nice meal and pudding. I'd rather stay fat than miss out on that! 

Two of the things that I really can't give up are ice cream and cake. As well as my usual sweet tooth, I'm finding that I'm craving sugar to keep me going on the lack of sleep. Lia still wakes up a couple of times in the night, which is a bit of a shock to the system as Libby was sleeping through from 8 weeks old. So I've come up with a couple of slightly healthier alternatives. 

First, the cake. A few weeks ago, I bought a juicer. There is nothing better than fresh juice, and having my own juicer allows me to use a lot of veg in the juice, rather than all sugary fruit. I tend to go for apple and beetroot or carrot and orange. I have tried a few other alternatives as well, and often put some fresh ginger, lemon or even herbs in with the juice. 

The only problem with a juicer is that after the juice has been made, there is quite a bit of waste. This takes the form of very finely grated fruit or veg and someone gave me the idea of making the waste into cake. 

So I don't have a recipe as such, but I take a good couple of handfuls of the juicer leftovers, make sure there are no lumps, pips or sharp bits in it and bung it in a mixing bowl. I visually add an amount of self-raising flour and dark brown sugar that look about the same amount as the juicer leftovers. To this, I add two eggs, a teaspoon of baking powder and some ground mixed spice. Then, I stir in enough vegetable oil to make the mixture nice and runny. After a good stir, it all goes in a lined cake tin in the middle of the oven at about 180 until it looks cooked. 

Sometimes I add a lemon drizzle, or use cocoa powder and dark chocolate to make it into a chocolate cake. The chocolate cake needs to still be slightly damp in the middle at the end of cooking or it can be a bit dry. If I don't use chocolate though, the cakes are fabulously moist and are always devoured by anyone I give them to, despite being somewhat healthier than your average cake! 

As for the ice cream, today Libby and I made some ice lollies using natural yoghurt, honey and frozen berries. I tend to prefer soya yoghurt, so I'd use that instead if we had some. The regular natural yoghurt tastes a bit sharper when frozen, so is much better when mixed with a generous amount of honey. The idea of making our own lollies was shamelessly stolen from my friend Maz on her fabulous blog. As you can see, Libby was rather happy with the result! 

I would love to hear of any other healthy recipe suggestions that can satisfy my sugar craving without being too unhealthy, please feel free to link to relevant posts on your own blog in the comments. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Getting fit... again!

The problem with having children (well, one of many...) is that after having each baby, I have found myself virtually back to square one with my fitness. It's also really difficult to get fit again when you have a baby that is breastfed, making it difficult to find time to go out and exercise. 

That's where running comes into its own. I have always loved swimming and even now I'm managing to go once a week, but running is just so much easier to fit in. I can be changed and out of the door for a 20 minute run and be back, showered and changed again and ready to feed the baby within half an hour. I also find it convenient to add a few stomach toning exercises onto the end of the run when I get home. 

I've managed to run 4-5 times a week for the last few weeks, along with one swim. Last week I managed a long run with a friend, which is going to become a weekly thing; we ran 7.25 miles across the hills. Alongside eating a little more healthily at breakfast and lunch, running has helped me to lose nearly all of the baby weight already, I've now got less than half a stone to go. I do intend to keep up with the weight loss though, I'm in the swing of it at the moment so it seems like a good time to lose a bit more. 

I'm not someone who can be inspired to train just to look good or lose weight though, there has to be something more than that. I haven't got time to train enough to do a fast time in a race this year, so I'm planning on waiting until next year and doing some aquathlons. The longer runs and triathlons will have to wait until I have a bit more time on my hands. In the meantime, I have discovered Parkrun, which seems like a great way to keep motivating myself to improve my 5k time. I've only been once so far but I can't wait to go again next week and try to beat my current Parkrun PB! 

The other little bit of motivation I'm going to use is my brand new Garmin watch, currently sitting at my neighbours house because it was delivered when I was out. I can't wait for them to get home so I can get my hands on it! 

Losing weight is much easier for me when breastfeeding, although I know it doesn't work like that for everyone. As I mentioned in a previous post, Lia will be weaned onto solids at 4 months, so I've just got four more weeks to make the most the weight loss that is the result of keeping her this chubby!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Our Thursday Photo #13

Unlucky for some, but Lia's 13th week has been fabulous. She has really developed this week, both physically and mentally. She is very clearly teething, which has led to her learning to grasp her toys (purely to put them in her mouth). She is also sitting nicely in her bumbo chair and has started to roll over from front to back. Perhaps most noticeable though is the fact that she has started to babble, quite noisily! She has obviously learned from Libby that the way to get noticed is to make a noise! 

Libby has also had a good week, we did her favourite outing yesterday - a trip on the train to get a milkshake at the station and watch the trains coming and going before we got the train home. She was allowed to choose anything she wanted to eat while we were there. She went for a rather crushed pack of plain digestive biscuits. Each to their own! She also did really well today at coping with disappointment. We were supposed to be meeting everyone from her playgroup at the park for a picnic, but couldn't go because the chap took longer than anticipated fitting a tow bar to our car. Remarkably, she wasn't at all upset when I said that we'd just go and eat the picnic in granddad's garden instead. In fact, she had a lovely lunch, especially as her aunties, granddad and two of their cats all came to join us. 

For me, the week has been hard work but quite satisfying. I managed to get out for a long run with a friend last night, running 7.25 miles across the hills. It took us ages because I'm really slow at the moment, but we made it and it was the furthest I'd run since the very early days of my pregnancy with Lia. We're off camping this weekend in our newly purchased folding camper. Fingers crossed the weather is kind! Here is our Thursday photo #13.