Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My First Double-Date & Having Fun

Last night, I went on my first ever double-date.

And it was hilarious. We didn't have those awkward silences you end up dreading. We ate curry despite it being warmer than it's ever been. And I sampled my first ever Purple Rain cocktail. It was so nice to do something like that and meet one of Mark's close friends and his girlfriend.

And it is always going to be bittersweet, because nights socialising are also nights without my son. Nights where I don't get to see him and where my heart stings and I get a lump in my throat when I think about him.

But I'm learning slowly that I have to make the most of every second I get with and without my son. And so I'm embracing a little me-time. And you should too. I know, all-too-well, how quick mums are to cast their own needs aside. Treat yourselves to one of these...

A Night Out with the Girls

Treat yourself to something new from the range of occasion dresses from George and head out for a night on the town with the girls. Why not take in a show at the theatre, or maybe even a concert, or perhaps have a whole weekend away if you can cope with the time away from your littles.

Book a meal at a restaurant you've always wanted to try out, head to the races for the day or book yourselves into a swanky spa hotel. Slip into the warm waters of the relaxation pool, bubble your cares away in a jacuzzi, indulge your senses with heavenly treatments designed to make you relax and unwind as you feel the stresses of motherhood leaving your body. Treat yourselves to a hair appointment, before donning your gorgeous new dress and meeting for cocktails in the hotel bar ahead of an indulgent dinner.

A Romantic Night for Two

Enjoy a romantic evening with your partner without the kids and the distraction of everyday technology and work getting in the way. Mark and I did this recently and it was heavenly to have some time just me and him, where we could just let go and relax completely.

Some amazingly romantic hotels to choose from are The Connaught in London, situated in Mayfair. Home to the uber rich and boasting beautiful antique furnishings combined with modern finishes and an excellent butler service, it's a wonderful place to stay in the capital for a romantic getaway.

Headland House in Cornwall offers stunning views across Carbis Bay and, with just seven cosy rooms, you're guaranteed personal attention for the duration of your stay. Little touches like homemade chocolates in the rooms and hammocks in the pretty gardens make it all the more worth escaping to.

And if you fancy the good, old North, you can see where we went here.

A Night In

If you can't get a babysitter, or you don't have the budget for more than a few bottles of wine, why not invite your friends over and ask everyone to dress up and bring a dish or a bottle of something with them so you have a ready-made dinner party, without having to spend a fortune. You don't have to go out to have a great time after all and who'll care if you remove your heels and pop your slippers on in the comfort of your own home?

Whatever you decide to do, you're guaranteed to love dressing up and doing something you don't often get the chance to do, whether that's spending time without the kids or getting all your friends together.

I have to keep reminding myself of that.

*PR Collaboration.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Being A Fat Girl & Losing Weight

I think, since around my second year of university, I've been overweight. But not just in a "couple of pounds" way. I've not been healthy. A new lifestyle, a new freedom, and a taste for onion rings and too many alcopops, led me to pile on the pounds pretty quickly.

And I've always labelled myself as curvy in private. "It's okay Charlotte, eat that extra slice of pizza. You're invincible. You're curvy remember?" It's been a label I felt more comfortable with. Except I would self-depreciate publicly so I could beat other people to it. It was a defence mechanism. I said it first, so you can't hurt me.

And yes, I'd like to say that you can be any shape or size that makes you happy. This isn't me saying that big isn't beautiful. I'm saying that this is my body, my weight and my journey.

And boy it's been one hell of a journey.

Roughly around this time last year, I finished work and went straight to my grandparents' house to see my cousins and my auntie who had come up from Radlett to visit.

I was playing with my son and my cousin just so happened to snap some photos of me and Bill on my DSLR and, only when I flicked through them did I realise how big I had gotten.

And it caused me to look back at photographs of myself and really see myself clearly. And it hurt.

Because I had been damaging my health. I was a mother. And I was eating myself into an oblivion. I was not giving a second thought to my future. I just cared about the food in front of me, and whatever excuse I could use not to exercise.

That's the good and honest truth.

Looking back again, at the photographs below, make my face flush crimson. I feel ashamed.

I was still the exact same person inside, as I am now, but I was so unhappy, because being the fat girl does make people see you differently.

I used to get abuse in the streets. I tried to run once and I was yelled at and laughed at. Once, walking down the street, a man felt the need to roll down his window and shout to Bill's father: "Your girlfriend's got a fat ass!"

And that's not fair. But I've come to learn, in the harsh way that you do when you're an adult, that I can't change society. But I can take a long look at myself and change myself. Because their words, though hurtful, weren't making me unhappy. My weight was.

It wasn't really, until Boxing Day last year, that I realised that, for the most part, it was just me and Bill from now on. So I owed it to him to be a healthier and happier mother.

And slowly, but surely, it also made me realise who I was again. I felt more confident, bit, by bit. And I remembered how it felt to leave the house and feel happy and healthy.

And, if I'm really honest? I was falling in love with someone. And I wanted to feel like I was beautiful enough for him. Not because he made me feel like I wasn't. But because I couldn't, and still can't understand why someone like him wanted someone like me. You can frown at that all you like - but find me one woman, or man, who hasn't wanted to look good for the person they love. You can't.

I still have days where I feel like the girl in the photographs above - it's a very hard image to shake and I have become very aware of my reflection. Not out of typical vanity, but out of that sort of feeling where I need to check it wasn't all a dream sometimes. It's actually why I take so many selfies - as I want to capture my good moments as a reminder to my less confident self.

All of the above photographs were taken in the last two weeks. And I have to stop and scroll up and down as I write this, because I know there's a big difference there.

Even if I still feel like I have far to go.

Before, I was an 18 pushing a 20.

Today I'm a 16, sometimes a 14 if I'm lucky, but someone that keeps buying size 18 out of habit.

But this is the difference, side-by-side.

You can see that my stomach is still a little plump. And my thighs are pretty chunky too. But - you know what? They're improving.

So what did I do?

Honestly? I changed my diet and quit lying to myself. 

  • I don't drink wine every night anymore. I have it Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, if I really feel like it. 
  • I have cut out fizzy drinks, pretty much all of the time. Aside from treats or mixers. 
  • I drink much more water than I ever deemed possible. 
  • I'm making the very taxing journey of cutting my one sugar in my coffee down to zero. I'm at half a spoon now. Go easy on me.
  • I don't eat sweets or chocolate often anymore. I've actually found sweet joy in strawbs. I love the things. 
  • I just think about what I'm eating. It's actually very easy. I don't put a load of cheese on something that's already got some good carbs and protein going on. I don't need it. 
  • I've swapped my lunchtime meals of burgers and heavy food for salads and healthier sandwiches if I really fancy some bread. But I've noticed that wheat makes me sleepy and sluggish. And so I avoid it where I can. 
  • I do eat a pizza when I want one. Because what is life without pizza?
  • I try and keep moving in the evenings and weekends. Park trips and walks with Bill. Endless chores or DIY. And it helps. 
  • I don't starve myself. 
  • I haven't tried crash diets.
  • Because they don't and will never work. 
  • And they are bad for you. 
I honestly wish I could say that I did one thing and it made me lose weight, but I didn't. It's been hard. I've had mouth-watering moments of jealousy. I've fallen off the wagon countless times, and woke up after a cheese-induced food coma, red with shame. 

But this is my achievement and my hard work and my body. And it's worth the hard work. 

And no, I'm not 100% happy. I know I'm no ten out of ten. And I'm presuming I'll always be a little chubby in places. Sometimes I leave the house feeling good, but then I see all of these beautiful people walking the streets of Manchester and I feel myself hanging my head again.

But I'm soon to go away on holiday. With that person that I never imagined would want me. And my little boy. And I want to be that mum running after her son and splashing around in a pool without worrying about how my belly wobbles as I dash around. I just want to enjoy it. And I also want to be the girl that appears in the doorway, looking nice, and ready for drinks with someone who feels proud to be with her. 

So I am upping my game. I imagine the 30 Day Shred will feature. And I will try and be a little better behaved and stop nibbling on the bad stuff, when I get bored. 

Because I've kind of got a nice bikini to fit into. 

And I'd really like to look nice in it. 

Cushion For The Pushin'

Excuse the title of this post, sometimes you just have to take your kicks where you can find them.

Since buying our new sofa on Saturday, I've been planning out our lounge in my head and, as you often find with these things, it becomes rather addictive.

While our sofa may be on the neutral side, I have every intention of jazzing it up with some bright and fun pillows. These are some of my favourites, mainly from H&M, as you do.

Volkswagen Cushion - I already own.
Fox Cushion - I already own.

I still feel like I need a pop of red or something. I'm not sure? I also want to add my love of chevron in there too. So any suggestions are welcome...
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