Top tips when planning a trip to the Isle of Skye

Are you planning a trip to this beautiful island?  Well if you are, you have made an amazing choice.  I cannot recommend the Island enough!

To help you enjoy your experience even more, here are a few top tips!

What to take with you?

Food and Drink

Are you self catering?   If you are, don’t expect to get to the Island and find lots of supermarkets.  We were there for a whole week, and the only supermarket we found was a Co-op, just as you come across the bridge.  Now for a small island that doesn’t sound bad, however there are a couple of things to consider here.

Firstly, choice.  From our point of view, when we went in there, it isn’t massive, its  a reasonable size, but I couldn’t see a lot of the things we would have liked to have bought.

Second, its location.  For us, it was 90 minutes away from where we were staying!

There is the odd shop across the island but they are small.  Also, if you are like us and going for the walking, there were days when we actually didn’t pass any shops.  When we wanted some fresh bread for instance, we had to go in the opposite direction to find somewhere to buy it.

I did try to get Tesco to do a delivery as I usually do when I go away in the UK, but unfortunately, they said as it was a commercial property they couldn’t deliver there.  We did see a lot of Asda vans around the island, so you could try asking them.  I will certainly be doing that next time.

There was a bakery in the next village, Dunvegan.  It is apparently, the oldest one on the island.  Sadly when we went there, it was either closed due to a family funeral, or had closed as sold out for the day!

Thankfully, a friend had warned me about the shop situation before we went, so we did take everything we needed.  We had a good sized fridge and freezer in our cottage, so apart from fresh bread mid week, we were fine.

Please don’t be put off by this, for me it is one of the things that makes the island so relaxing and beautiful.

Midge Repellent Spray

From the end of May to September, you are going to be bitten to death by the midges.  Especially early evening.  Make sure you go prepared.  You will see the locals wearing nets over their faces if they are outdoors.  You don’t need to go that far.  Take some repellent spray with you.  I bought Jungle Formula Maximum from Amazon which worked perfectly well!  (https://amzn.to/2JMjl6R)

Guide Books

Skye has so much to see and do that you really want to make the most of your trip.  Get yourself a couple of good books.  A walking book and a guide book.  It will ensure you maximise the time you have there.

A lot of what we saw or did on the island were not signposted, so without the books, we would never had known about them.

The books we used were The Isle of Skye by Charles Tait (https://amzn.to/2JMjl6R) and Walks Isle of Skye (https://amzn.to/2JJSxkx).  Both from Amazon

Each evening we would sit down and plan the next day.  It really helped us see the beauty of the island.

Walking Shoes

That might sound really obvious but you might be surprised to know, I actually saw a man trying to walk up the Old Man of Storr in sliders (flip flops!).

I’m going to make my own confession here too!  No I didn’t wear flip flogs, but I did wear my trainers!  You may think that sounds ok, but I struggled on some of the steep paths because I didn’t have great grip in them.  I was so cross as I had proper walking shoes in my car!

If you have ever worn proper walking shoes, you will know the difference they make.  You can buy some quite cheaply these days, if you just want them for this trip. You won’t regret it.  I walked over 110,000 steps in 7 days which included driving 1770 miles!

Drive Carefully

Skye is only small and very rural.  There is a couple of double lane roads, but most will be single lane.  There are a lot of passing places, but drive carefully as there are some tight bends, which reduces viability to see what is coming in the opposite direction.  I was initially a bit nervous about this, but you soon get into it.  Everyone is so polite and there are no problems getting around. It just take a bit longer!

You will also note that the quality of the roads is really poor, with lots of pot holes, so beware!

Sheep wander freely too.  They don’t seem to mind the traffic, but they don’t seem to mind where they lay either.  This could be in the middle of the road!  They do move but just take it slowly.  When we were there, they had their lambs with them.  Even these youngsters seem to realise they need to move out of the way of cars.

Look after your dogs!

As there are a lot of sheep about, dogs can get ticks!

People can catch Lyme disease from ticks, just as dogs can. Lyme disease is serious, so if you walk your dog in areas with deer or sheep, make sure you take precautions to avoid them and you being bitten.   Make sure your dogs are treated for ticks and remove them as soon as you can.  Lola and Fido both got them.

You can buy treatment from your vets or Amazon (https://amzn.to/2MmhTGH).  It is best to apply if before you go, but even if you apply it as soon as you get home it will still help.

Bob Martin Flea & Tick Clear Fipronil Spot-on for Large Dog, 3 TubesImage result for sheep ticks in dogs

Symptoms of Lyme disease include a circular rash, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.

Fuel

As with supermarkets, there are not many petrol stations on the island that we saw.  Again, if you are not going via any of the bigger villages, you won’t pass these.   The rule we had was to fill up as soon as we passed one, when the tank got to half full!

Petrol prices on the island are in line with the mainland, so don’t worry that the lack of them will make it expensive!

Toilets

One of the things that makes Skye so beautiful is that it is unspoilt!  This means that they have not ruined any of the main sights with toilet blocks too!  If like me, you have a weak bladder, be warned!

My advice is to make sure that if you do see a toilet you use it!  Alternatively look for great spots in the bushes!  There isn’t many opportunities, so when you see them, take them!

Enjoy Skye

Don’t be put off by anything above.  It was one of the most magical places I have ever visited.  I’m currently vlogging on YouTube my trip to try and show people, why it has to be one of the places you visit.  Check out my journey as I publish them by subscribing to my channel.  (https://bit.ly/2MnaWFe).

If you like seafood too, don’t miss the Oyster Shed!  The best seafood platter ever!  It is literally a shed, but well worth it!  Head to Talisker whiskey distillery and you will see sign posts for it!

So get onto the internet and start booking your trip to Skye!

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Our Journey from Warwickshire to the Isle of Skye

It was certainly an early start for us living in the Midlands.  The alarm went off at 4 am!  Wow!  We normally get up just after 5 am.  I thought that was early, but this was something new.   As we had such an early start, we headed to bed at 8 pm!  Making myself sleep was always  going to be a struggle!  Typically, the night before was a hot and humid one! I couldn’t sleep.  In the end, I decided to go into the spare room so I could put a fan on, and not wake up hubby!  For some bizarre reason my husband doesn’t notice the temperature or if there is a thunderstorm, so sleeps through! I can’t tell you how much sleep I actually got, but I was surprised at how quickly I got up when the 4am alarm went off.  In fact my hubby,  who doesn’t do mornings, bounced out of bed too!  I think that shows how much we were both looking forward to this holiday!

We showered and took the dogs for their morning walk.  We felt that giving them a walk would help them on the long drive.  According to Google Maps it was almost an 11 hour drive without any stops, so a long time for the dogs.

We got back from walking the dogs, and I suggested to hubby that he sit in garden with dogs while I packed the car.  That way, the dogs would have a chance to go to toilet before we left, as well as keeping them quiet while I packed the car.

Now I am not saying my husband could pack the car as well as me, but its fair to say I can probably get double the amount in.  Even my hubby doesn’t know how I do it!  My kitchen is the same!

I wanted both dogs to be comfortable as it was the longest time they had been in a car.  Lola has a terrible habit of sitting with her legs over the back seat, walking all over Fido to do so!  I wasn’t sure he would put up with that for hours!  So Fido had half the boot and Lola half of the back seat.

We originally planned to leave by 5 am but it was 5.30 am by the time we hit the road.  I thought I would start the drive, but hubby, who keeps asking to drive, got into the seat.  I was actually quite happy!  I am rubbish at sleeping in the day, and today was no different, but to close your eyes and relax was nice.  Before I knew it, we were past the Lakes!

The worst bit of the journey was over before I knew it!  That was a bonus, as the best was  yet to come!  As soon as you hit the Lakes area, the scenery changes for the better. Then when you go through Glasgow,  which isn’t that exciting in itself, but from there on wow!  Its is amazing!

We left our home near Stratford Upon Avon as I said at 5.30 am.  Our first stop was 4 hours later at a service station.  At Annadale Water Motorway Service Area at Junction 16 on A74, there was a MacDonald’s, which I think was the incentive for hubby to stop.  He keeps complaining that he hasn’t had a McDonald’s for so long! Sadly it was 9.30 am so he couldn’t have a burger.  He decided a breakfast meal was ok though.  I resisted, as I had made a couple of healthy rolls last night for me!  Gotta start the holidays on the right foot!

The stop is great if you have dogs, as it has an area to walk them with a lake.  While I popped to the ladies and bought my hubby a McDonald’s breakfast (yes seriously,  I was good honest!), he took the dogs or a walk.  We decided to fill the car up at this point too!  Wow it was expensive, however we didn’t know when we would get a chance to do it after this!  We didn’t realise it but we could have waited to get into Glasgow where the fuel is so much cheaper!

Hubby was quite happy to drive, but I felt it was right to share the driving!  Big mistake!  This was the most beautiful part of the trip!  I have a GoPro, but it took hubby quite a while to see its benefits!

We then stopped off at a service station at Ballachulish.  There has a lovely visitors centre and the all important toilet.  There wasn’t anywhere for the dogs to walk, but getting them out of the car stretched their legs a little!  There was a good Co-Op if you needed it.  At this point we swapped driving. Yey!

The rest of the trip was amazing!  I finally got the chance to try my new GoPro out.  I will down load any good clips, but as this was my first time out with it, you never know!

The highlight of my trip up, was our journey up the A82 which takes you past Loch Lomand.  Oh wow, it is so beautiful.  It goes on for miles.  We then go over a gorgeous bridge in Loch Linnhe!  Can this journey get more beautiful?

As we drive, my hubby sees a statue of some solders on the A87.  He realises that he has on old picture of his mum at that spot, on a slide, from years before.   We have to stop and take a picture of him in front of it.  Wow, what a surprise to pass the same place years later! We can’t wait to tell his mum!

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Our next stop was at Eilean Donan Castle.  The sun was shining and this was truly a sight to behold.  I was so excited to come on this trip, and the closer I got to Skye, the more I loved this journey!

The dogs loved the latter part of the journey too,  as it meant a good leg stretch.  Fido took the opportunity to get his paws wet in the sea.  The Castle was stunning.  We couldn’t go in as we had the dogs, but that didn’t matter.  We could walk on beach and take pictures outside.  It was so lovely, a perfect stop gap!

The next stage was to cross the bridge to Skye.  Wow it is beautiful.  Top tip!  Don’t use your sat nav for your next petrol station, as it is no longer up to date!  The rule we used was to always fill up after you hit half a tank!  A good tip as you don’t see may places to fill up your car!

I hope our GoPro works, and we can post some videos for you.  Skye does not disappoint!  Our cottage is 1.5 hours after the bridge, but it is worth it.

We get to our cottage exactly 12 hours after we left home.  I don’t feel tired or bored.  I am excited and recharged.  Skye is everything I thought and a whole lot more!  I can’t wait to get out and explore!

We couldn’t have picked a better cottage or location.  If you want rural, this is it!  We thought we had taken the wrong turning initially when we arrived.  All we could see was a little track with 2 farm gates!  I called the caretaker and yes that was right!

The cottage is remote, quiet and with the most wonderful views over the sea!

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Keep following me to see what the week brings!

Best laid plans!

For weeks leading up to the recent bank holiday, everyone has been saying it was predicted to be the hottest weekend this year so far.  May Day bank holiday was a scorcher, so if this was going to be even hotter – woo hoo!

As like many others, we had made a plan for the whole of the weekend based on this beautiful weather we were going to have!

Saturday – Hubby was to paint the fence – paint and new brushes were bought in anticipation, and I was going to clean the house and visit the butchers and supermarket to buy steak and salads for the Braai we were having for our neighbours.

Sunday – A lovely long walk somewhere in the Cotswolds with the dogs, then home to wash and clean car myself followed by a relaxing Braai.

Monday – A relaxing day, maybe a short walk with the dogs then home to start packing for our trip to Scotland and Italy later on in the month.  Probably a final Braai of the weekend.

So what actually happened?  Well I think someone forgot to tell the sun to come out!  Instead we had a mixture of showers, thunder storms, a little bit of sun and greyness!  It was all change for our plans!   The difficulty was, the weather seemed to change on the forecast daily!  From our amazing planned weekend, we then went to deciding very last minute based on the weather at that time.  So how did our weekend turn out?

Saturday – A trip to the butchers and supermarket for me, but this time to look for something to cook inside.  Sadly the housework was still on my agenda.  For hubby, a day relaxing at home on his computer and watching Rugby on TV.

Sunday – A lazy start and then a trip to get my car washed and cleaned inside.   We were hoping to call in on my parents but I couldn’t get hold of them!  On the plus side, my friends invited us over for Sunday dinner, so that was a really nice change to our plans.

Monday –  It was dry, woo hoo,  so we quickly took the opportunity to paint the fence!  I say ‘we’ as suddenly it became a job for both of us.   I have to say it does look amazing and very satisfying when you finally get the job done!

Being flexible and open to change

This weekend is, like so many others. With the great British weather, we can make as many plans as we like, but sometimes they just have to go out of the window.  Whilst we didn’t do half the things we planned, (I certainly didn’t even start to think about the Scottish and Italy trip), we did have fun.  On the negative side, I now need to fit a lot of jobs into my evenings after work, which is never my preferred way.

It is always good to have a plan but, trying to always stick to it can cause you a lot of stress and unhappiness.  This over time this can manifest itself, and bring on health problems such as depression and anxiety.

By being flexible, you are allowing yourself to experience new opportunities and skills.  If the sun had come out last weekend, I wouldn’t have gone to see my friends and had a fun relaxing evening.  If my husband had started the fence on Saturday, I wouldn’t have helped him on Monday.  You might be pulling a face at that comment, but actually, I had fun doing it with him, and I too can share the satisfaction of looking at it now its done.

This was one weekend, but if you think about your life in general, you will experience a lot of change, both in your personal and work life.  Some of them may not always be good changes, but by building up your resilience to change for the smaller things, it will help you cope with the bigger changes.

They say divorce, death and moving house are the most stressful things you experience in your life.  I’ve had all 3 of them and I can agree.  So, what can you do to help you get through these times?

  • Acknowledge the changeTrying to pretend it isn’t happening won’t help you. Understand what the change is and how it will impact you.
  • Write it downWrite down how you are feeling? Make a list of the positives and negatives of the change?  When you write things down, they sometimes don’t seem as bad as they did when they were just in your head!

    Keep a diary.  It is amazing how every day putting down how you are feeling, what you are thinking etc will help you.

  • Focus on the PositivesBy looking at the positives you can start to feel more relaxed and calm about the change.
  • Turn the Negatives into PositivesList next to your negatives at least 1 positive. For example, if you are getting divorced, think about something you didn’t like about the person – i.e. No more listening to them snoring!  The funnier it is the more relaxed you feel.   Could this be a new opportunity to meet new people, travel, have more time to yourself?
  • CryIt’s ok to show your emotion. Don’t bottle it up.  Having a good cry can sometimes make you feel better!  And that goes for men too!
  • Find a focusFor me, taking my dogs out for a walk really helps. If you don’t have a dog, you can still go for a walk on your own.   Exercise even just walking or the gym will help you.  Maybe read a book or play some music.  Anything that helps you relax.
  • AcceptanceAccept what you can’t change and focus on what you can.
  • Take Control
    By focusing on what you can change you once again take back control of your destiny.  You might not like the change but knowing about it means you can control what happens next.  Embrace it and make  the decisions you need for you!
  • Ask for helpIf you really don’t know what to do, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use your friends, family or support groups.  Counselling is also a good way to get through major change.  Don’t be afraid to open up.  It isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of taking control.
  • Step Away from the alcohol

    Whilst alcohol will make you feel better in the short term, it can lead to you focusing on the negatives.   You may say things you regret especially on social media.  The hangover the next day doesn’t help either.  And do’t forget the calories will increase your chance of putting on weight which won’t make you feel good about yourself either!

  • Don’t comfort eat

    As with alcohol reaching for the biscuits, chocolates etc may make you feel good in the short term but the weight gain won’t.   Healthy eating will help your mental state much more.

Whatever life throws at you, remember you are the only person who can make that change work for you.  It might not be your choice initially, but once you know the impact, you can take control and decide on your own destiny.

So, the next time something doesn’t go to plan, think about what happened next.  Think about the positives that have come out of it.  This will help you when change comes your way and you are not expecting it!  Take back the control and move foreward!

 

 

 

Blogging and Vlogging for a newbie!

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So this is me!  I’m just an ordinary person, working full time, who is now writing blogs and recording vlogs!  Who would have thought it?  Certainly not me!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fancied blogging for years.  In fact my dream has always been to write a book.  I’m not brave enough to start it yet, I know what I want to write about but just not sure I have the time to do it justice.  I always thought blogging could be fun though!   I absolutely said I would never never vlog!

Last year I shared my secret with a friend of mine over an Indian.  I thought she would laugh at me.  Instead she was really supportive.  In fact she was thinking about doing a website herself.  She is the most amazing artist.  She draws for friends and family.  I believe she actually could do cards, tea towels etc and make a good business for herself.

This is a drawing of Lola she did for me!

Lola

I decided that in 2018 I would start my own website and blogging.  I already had a name in my head – Slimminginsprirations4u.  I wanted to be able to talk to people like me who wanted to have a healthy diet and lifestyle.  Yes I do Slimming  World but I wanted it to be so much more than that.

In my blogs I wanted to talk about the usual, losing weight, recipes and body magic as they call it, but I also wanted people to see something more!  For me exercise for example isn’t just about going to the gym.  Its about exploring the countryside, seeing places and experiencing new things.

I love walking with my dogs and photography.  I can enjoy both of those and help to myself to lose weight.  I wanted my blogs to show people news ways of exercise through sharing my experiences and my photography.

Many people are on tight budgets, so I wanted to also show them that you can look good and eat well without having to spend a fortune.

I was really nervous the first time I pressed publish for my first blog, but I am so glad I did it.  I’m not saying I’m amazing, far from it, but it felt good to be sharing experiences with others.  I have a lot to learn but I hope by doing more blogs and reading other peoples blogs this will come.

I never knew though that blogging involved so much!  Setting up a website and a host for your blogs.  You can do it on free sites, but if you are serious it is worth investing.  I use GoDaddy and WordPress for my website and blogs.  I don’t earn any money off them yet, but I am hoping that one day I may.  In the meantime, I am building up a base of followers.

The biggest surprise to me was Vlogging.  I absolutely thought I would never never ever do one.  Most people think I am super confident, but I am so not!  I even surprised myself.  However, when one of my favourite wine companies launched a new product – Slimline Wine – Pink, I thought it would be a good way to introduce them!  Have a look at it  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-W1EqNeP0A).

I invested in a tripod for my iphone, sat in my dining room and pressed record!  I was actually surprised what I did!  Ok, looking back now, I could have tidied up the background, but to be honest, for most people that is real life.

My husband had some software on his PC which he transferred to my laptop.  I played around with it and produced a Youtube Video.     I also did one on how to make an omelette (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPkvXM7-N9o).  This one was so funny as my dogs got into the act.  You really have to see this one as Fido did a great star appearance!   Releasing those to Youtube was so nerve racking.    Now I will be honest they are not getting a lot of coverage, but you have to start small!

Since then I have tried to make a video a week.  It’s hard getting people to subscribe to your channel.  I’ve watch lots of YouTube videos about how you can increase your subscriptions overnight, but how true are they?  I really don’t know.  I’m a complete novice to this.  What I do know is that I am enjoying myself and learning all the time.

I already own a Nikon DSLR camera, but recently I have bought the tripod I mentioned earlier, 2 lights and this week a GoPro 6.  I’m determined to make a success of blogging and Vlogging.  I want to keep things fresh and natural.

My signature is Slimminginspirations4u, but I don’t want people to think that only means diets.  I want it to mean that you can be slim and enjoy life.  You can do things that will help you lose or maintain weight, get out and explore and feel good about yourself.  To discover new things about you and learn to love yourself and life.

I was even brave enough to share my cancer journey as I wanted to help others who may be going through what I went through!

If you have dreams, follow them.  You might not get them right first time, but keep going.  The important thing is you are following your dream.

I hope you will help and support me with my journey.  If you like my blogs, please let me know.  Have a look at my YouTube Channel and subscribe to it.  I can’t get a URL address unless I get 100 subscribers.

 

Travelling in a car with your dog

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It’s true that a dog is a mans best friend (and women!).  My two definitely are for me. It is therefore really important to me that I ensure they are safe, and well looked after at all times.   Taking them out in the car is no exception.

We all ensure our dogs are on leads when we take them out, have food and water at home, and go on regular walks, but what happens when we take them out in our cars?  Whether its a short or long journey we should still ensure they are well looked after.

The legal bit!

Did you know that if your dog isn’t secured in the car you could face a fine of up to £2,500, as well a getting 9 points on your licence?  Well you can.  Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: ‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.’  A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.

If it is felt the dog caused or contributed to an accident, you car insurance can also refuse to pay out.

How to make travelling with your dog easier and safer?

Firstly, take them for good walk before you start their journey.  Make sure they have been to the toilet.  Which reminds me, keep plenty of poo bags in your car too!

Don’t have your dog on your lap or loose on the passenger seat.  You may think your dog is well behaved, but what if something distracts them?  What about if you have to do an emergency stop?  You could cause them significant injury or death as well as to yourself.

I have 2 dogs.  If I am going a short journey then they are both happy to be in the boot.  Fido is happy to lie down and just chill, but Lola likes to see what is going on around her.  She will spend the journey looking over the back seat or out of the window.  Whilst she is in the boot she is safe and can’t distract us.   If I break the back of the boot will stop her going too far.

For longer journeys though, I put Fido in the boot and Lola on the back seat.  To comply with the law and to make sure she and us are safe I use a dog seat belt.

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These are relatively cheap to buy.  This is mine and only cost £4.95 from Amazon.  If using one of these, I would suggest you use it with a harness as it allows the dog to turn around more easily.  You attach the lead part to the harness which is usually in the centre of the back.  If you have to break the harness will give greater support.  Putting it on the collar not only restricts the dogs movement, there is more likely hood of them becoming tangled, which will distract you as they will no doubt get distressed.  I also feel it would damage their necks if I braked heavily so don’t like the idea.

By separating the two dogs, I feel helps them to be more comfortable.  Fido just wants to lie down and sleep, which makes the boot perfect, and Lola likes to be nosy, so can look out of the windows.

Some owners like to use crates.  This is also a good way of transporting your dogs, but please make sure they can stand up and move around in it.  They also should be able to see out so they don’t feel frightened.

I always cover my back seat with a travel rug, with the underside upwards.  This way the dog hair won’t stick to it, and I can use it if we want to have a picnic to lie on.  I then cover this with a towel or blanket for more comfort for the dogs.

As with us, dogs need food and drink.  I would suggest you don’t feed them for a couple of hours before the journey, especially if they get travel sick.  Thankfully both my dogs are fine, but my previous dog was terrible.  He loved the car, it just didn’t love him.  The vets gave me some great tablets that prevented travel sickness.  They are not cheap, but worth it for my dogs happiness.

I always make sure I have plenty of water in the car.  Stop regularly to give them the opportunity to stretch their legs, just like you will need to.  You don’t need any fancy water bottles, old squash bottles will do just the job.  I do have travel bowls though.  They fold up nicely in the car when not in use, but I can also put them into my bag if we go walking.

Dog bowl

Again you can get these quite cheaply from Amazon for around £5.00.  If you don’t want to buy one, an old takeaway pot works just as well.

Take a small pot of food with you.  Just a little treat to keep them going will help them.  There is nothing worse than your dog starving when you are sat in the front munching on your travel snacks.  Just limit it to avoid car sickness!

Never leave a dog in the car.  Many people think that if they park in the shade or leave a window open, then it’s ok to leave the dog.  It is absolutely not.  The car can warm up faster than you think.  A dog can die in the car in less than 20 minutes.  If you wouldn’t leave a child in the car why would you think its ok to leave your dog?

If you need to pop somewhere such as the toilets at a service station, and you are on your own, securely tie it up outside, in the shade!  Maybe ask someone to keep an eye on them for you.  Pop a bowl of water down for them too.  If you can, take them with you.  I have taken my dog into a public toilet with me before now.

It’s always good to plan your journey in advance if you are taking your dogs.  Find places on the map you can stop safely.   Is there somewhere you can walk them?

Keep cleaning clothes and black bags in the car too!  Your dog might not have shown signs of car sickness before but you never know!  On one journey one of my dogs got a little sick.   I was able to pull into a parking spot, clean her bed up and put her bedding into the black bag, tie it up so it didn’t smell the car out for the rest of the journey!

Dogs are such a joy to have around.  Don’t be afraid to take them away with you or for days out, but as you do with young children, plan what you need to take.    This can make your life and theirs more enjoyable and relaxing.

 

 

Are you a Sleeping Beauty?

Do you ever get one of those nights when you are exhausted, and can’t wait to get to bed.  As soon as you lay your head on the pillow, zing, you are wide awake!   Or you drop off, only to wake up an hour or so later, then that’s it for the rest of the night.  Sound familiar?  Its so frustrating isn’t it!  That is what happened to me on Thursday night.

I was working on my laptop for most of the evening, but by 9 pm I was struggling to keep my eyes open.  I get up just after 5 am each morning to walk the dogs, so to make sure I get my 8 hours in, this would be around my usual bedtime.

I slowly got myself ready for bed, settling down around 9.30 pm.  I fell to sleep almost immediately, only to wake up around 11 pm.  That was it for the rest of the night.  By midnight I decided enough was enough and got up.  I  took the opportunity to put the dogs in the garden for a quick toilet break.  I was tempted to make a cup of green tea, but decided against it.  At this point, I thought I would be able to get back to sleep, so didn’t want to have to get up again to pop to the bathroom during the night!

Half an hour later, I go back to bed.  Now here is a warning, don’t keep looking at the clock when you can’t sleep!  It makes you even more frustrated!  At 2 am I decide to play a bit of Candy Crush.  At this point my husband wakes up.  He tells me off for playing on my phone as he says it won’t help me get to sleep!  I don’t know why, but this sends me into a fit of hysterics.  Not helpful when you are trying to sleep, but it did stop me feeling as frustrated!

By 4 am, I finally dropped off, only to be woken at 5.22 am by Lola, who was wondering why we were not up getting ready to walk her!   She really does like routine! My alarm goes off at 5.25 am which is my latest time I should be up to walk the dogs, and she knows it!   In fact you don’t need an alarm clock with her around.

I am absolutely exhausted.  I have a full day at work ahead.  The only saving grace is that it’s a Friday, so tomorrow I know I can have a lie in!

The day was as busy as I expected.  I even managed to get a session at the gym in.  It was a good job that I was on the go, as the minute I stopped later in the evening, I was completely done in!  I can understand why they used sleep deprivation as torture years again!

Why couldn’t I sleep?  I really don’t know.  I had been stressed out for the few weeks previous, but that had been resolved.  Maybe without realising it I was still thinking about it, or maybe it was the fact that unlike other evenings where I would watch TV before bed, I had been working on my laptop!    What I do know is that I need my sleep!

How much sleep do we need?

Most people need around 7-8 hours a day to properly function.  Young children and especially teenagers need a lot more.

Some people can manage on a bit less than this, everyone is different.  The key is to ensure that whatever your body feels comfortable at, you ensure you give yourself enough time to achieve it.

Some people are good at having a nap in the middle of the day.  I personally can’t do this.  On the rare occasion I do, I wake up more grumpy!  I am better going to bed earlier and making up the time.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

If you don’t get a good nights sleep, you will probably feel exhausted, even a little grumpy, as well as difficulty in concentrating.

The odd late night won’t hurt you, however if you continuously deprive yourself of sleep, this could effect your health.  Potential conditions could be obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety.  Your immune system will be low so you are more likely to catch colds and flu.  Your body is less able to fight off any bugs flying around.  Your sex drive drops and you may suffer reduced fertility.  Not forgetting the risk of having an accident as you lose concentration.

Diabetes – Type 2 Diabetes is caused as your body struggles to process glucose (high energy carbohydrate which our bodies use for fuel).

Heart Disease – Increases in your heart rate, blood pressure and chemicals linked to inflammation, can put additional strain on your heart.

Sex Drive – Libidos drop in both men and women when they are tired.  Lack of energy can reduce your interest in sex also.

Fertility – A reduction of the secretion of the reproductive hormones can impact on your ability to conceive.

Can lack of sleep make you put on weight?

You may be surprised to know that yes it can!  Studies have shown that the less sleep you have, the more likely you are to be overweight.  Why?  It is thought that the less sleep you have, the more your leptin levels are reduced.  Leptin is the chemical that makes you feel full.  In comparison, your ghrelin levels increase.  Ghrelin is a hunger stimulating hormone.

So how to I ensure I get enough sleep?

There are a few things you can do to help you get a good nights sleep:-

Get into a good routine – It sounds silly but by going to bed at the same time each night will help your body clock.

Relax – Make sure you are calm and relaxed before you go to bed.  Have a soak in the bath, listen to music (obviously not heavy metal!), read a book or magazine or watch something on TV that helps you relax.  Avoid having that argument just before bedtime!

Ban the mobile phone or laptop – Playing on your phone or computer in bed is thought to suppress the bodies production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep.

Cut out light – Having a dark room will help you sleep.  Try blackout blinds or curtains, especially in the summer months.

Don’t drink alcohol & caffeine – These are two of the biggest culprits of you not sleeping!  Caffeine is a stimulant.  Great to help you stay awake, but terrible for getting you to sleep!  Alcohol is a sedative which does make you feel tired, however it disrupts the quality of sleep you have.  You should avoid alcohol for 3 hours before going to bed.

If you want a drink, go for herbal teas, milk or a glass of water.  Be careful though!  If you drink too much before bedtime, you will be up visiting the bathroom during the night, which will again impact on your sleep!

Get comfortable – Is your bed comfortable?  If not, is it time for a new one or a new mattress?  What is the temperature like?  If like me you are going through the menopause, you could be having a lot of hot flushes!  Or it could just be your room is too warm!  Open the window, get a lower tog quilt.

Don’t forget about what you wear in bed!  Make sure it is comfortable too!

Who is in bed with you?  I am referring to our furry friends!  Get them to sleep in their own beds.  I know with my two dogs, given half the chance they would take up all the room, or sleep so close to us they are almost lying on us!

Go into the spare room! –  I don’t know about you, but some nights I could seriously harm my husband with his snoring!  Rather than that, take yourself off to the spare room, or send them to it if you can wake them up!  Believe you me, you will be surprised at how many couples say the secret to their relationship is separate beds!

What do you do if you can’t sleep?

You would think that if you lie there long enough you will eventually fall asleep.  This isn’t true though!  If you haven’t dropped back off after 15-20 minutes, get up!  Do something relaxing, then go back to bed and try again.

If something is on our mind, write it down.  This may help you put it to the back of your mind until tomorrow.

If you continue to struggle with sleep, go and see your GP, just in case there is any other health condition stopping you sleeping.  It may be a simple change needed in our lifestyle, medication or they can give you other strategies to help you.

Drawing a line!

 

So yesterday, when I stepped on the scales at group, I had expected a couple of pounds on! Although I’d done a lot of walking at the weekend, I also had a few glasses of wine! I was ok with that !

I arrived at group prepared or so I thought ! A 5 lb gain! I was absolutely horrified. I struggled to hold back the tears as I put my shoes on and left! Trying to avoid eye contact with any of my fellow slimmers.

As I walked back to the car where my husband was waiting, the tears came! I’ve come so far on my journey and to put that much on in a weekend made me feel sick !

I’d also had some news at work that afternoon that had sent me into stress mode, and will continue for at least another week! It was all over whelming ! I decided to give myself a break. Allow myself to cry and have some wine. Tomorrow was going to be a new day!

So the next morning I’m still emotional, but as far as my weight is concerned I’m drawing a line!  We can’t always control the stress in our lives, but we can control our weight loss.  It is time for me to take back control!

It would be so easy for me to comfort eat or drink, but ultimately, for a few moments of pleasure, I would have a long time of regret.  I had to ask myself what was more important – being on target.  It was a no brainer!

Every time I feel low, I look at a photo my husband took of me in Portugal last year.  I looked absolutely amazing in my bikini.  So much so, I didn’t mind him posting it on his Facebook page, for all to see!  I want that person back.

Work is hectic at the moment, I’m stressed and tired. Planning is going to be key to getting back on track.  Last night I prepared breakfast of overnight oats and a chicken salad for lunch.   I don’t want to get tempted during the day so I also fill my coolbox with an apple, banana, mullerlight and 3 baby bells!

I don’t know if I am going to have time to visit the gym over the next week or so, but I’m going to make sure I have my gym bag with me just in case.  It is better to have it and not use it.  Exercise really helps you when you are stressed.  It relaxes you.   I always watch T.V. when I’m in the gym.  I find it helps me refocus my mind.  So as well as keeping in shape I’m also looking after my mental well being.

 

I travel to work by train and car – a trip of 1.5 hours each way, so I have plenty of time to think.  In the mornings its about the day ahead, but on the way home it’s about what I’m cooking for dinner.  This is a good time to get my head straight before I get home!  If I have a plan in my head about what I’m going to cook, I have more chance of success.

My fridge, freezer and cupboards are all full of healthy ingredients, so there really isn’t any excuse.

For the rest of the week I have managed to keep in control  of my food and drink intake.  I feel so much better for it already!

I know the next few days are going to be hard, but at least I have one part of my life that I am now back in control of.

Life throws challenges at us all the time.  Some things we can control, some we can’t.  Don’t focus on what you can’t change but what you can.  It will help you more than you know.  Draw a line under that bad week and move on!

The only thing holding you back is you!