Well, what a year!

I really can’t believe it that this time last year, I published my very first blog! https://slimminginspirations4u.org/2018/01/14/slimming-world-online-or-join-a-group/.

I had wanted to write my own blog for many years, but never really had the belief in myself to do it.

I decided in 2018 to make it my New Years Resolution to do it. I already knew what I wanted to call it, I just needed the courage. It wasn’t about making money, but a hobby. A way to reach out to others, provide help and support, and just have a bit of fun!

I researched the best way to do it, and on what platform. It seemed that WordPress was the right place for me, with GoDaddy as my website.

So on 14 January 2018, almost a year to the date I had joined Slimming World, I published my very first blog. Since then it has been ready by 36 people. OK, that isn’t a lot, but it is a start.

This blog is my hobby. If I only reach a handful of people that is fine! Ok that is a lie, of course I would like to see thousands of followers, but everything worth having takes time.

Since that very first blog, I have since written another 101. In total 3,783 people have viewed my blogs. I hope that people will see from how I write, that I am just a normal person, with the same problems and challenges as most of the people out there. I keep it honest and fun.

So which have been my most successful? Well they are both very different. In second place, my own personal cancer journey. I am very pleased about that, as I hope that my very own experience will help others to firstly get diagnosed, and secondly to beat cancer!

In first place is my blog about an amazing product. Slimline Wine. This product is only just slightly older than my blog. Since then it has grown so much, and I was lucky enough to get to see where it was made.

Since starting my blog, I have also ventured into YouTube. Again, I always wanted to do this, but was even more scared than I was doing the blog. When you are writing a blog no-one really has to know who you are. When you vlog, you are fully exposed. Bizarrely, I have enjoyed this so so much more than I ever thought possible.

I’m hoping that in 2019, I can grow both by blogs and vlogs. I publish everything I do on my website http://www.slimminginspirations4u.com. This has been another learning curve. I’ve never designed a website before and it has been so much fun.

Each week, I am learning so much more about how to build websites, and vlogs from tutorials from Youtube. More importantly though, I have learnt so much more about me. I feel so much more confident in public situations.

If you have a dream, follow it. It may be scary. It will put you outside your comfort zone, but if you don’t try it, you will never know what you can achieve.

If you are worried what others may think then don’t. Yes, there may be that one person out there who will make fun out of you, will try to use it to put you down. If they do, it says more about them than you.

If people don’t like your content, they won’t read it. If they do, they will follow you. Don’t expect it to grow overnight. It takes time. As long as you remember that, you will be fine.

So anyone out there writing their blogs in their heads, just take the bullet and publish it! You will surprise yourself and find a whole new you!

Happy blogging.

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Soup has never been easier!

If you have read my previous post, you will know that this week I have been suffering from the worst flu I have ever had!

Thankfully for me, I had planned my weekly meals.

One of these meals was lunch to take to work! Monday and Tuesday was a rice dish. The next 3 days was soup!

I find most shop bought soups don’t fill me up. I need my soup to be chunky and full of textures, so making my own is the perfect option.

On Tuesday evening, I had a Tesco delivery coming. With it was the key ingredient for my soup! Tesco does an amazing bag of chopped vegetable for soup. It is packed with chopped carrots, swedes, potatoes, onions and parsley. I know you can chop your own up, and it maybe slightly cheaper, but when you work full time, sometimes it’s worth taking a little shortcut.

The bag contains 720g, so makes 3 generous portions.

I pop this into my slow cooker along with a mug of dried red lentils, 1 pint vegetable stock, tin of chopped tomatoes and some ground pepper. I then leave it on low overnight. It is as simple as that!

If you like your soup smoother, just pop it into a blender. If you like it wetter, add more water ! It is really that easy!

Waking up Wednesday feeling as poorly as I did to such an easy tasty soup was heaven.

The plan was to spoon it into 3 microwaveable dishes for the week ahead, to put in my daily lunch boxes . Whilst I was no longer going to work, knowing I had 3 ready made, healthy lunches in my fridge, was a life saver!

This is one of the easiest, tastiest soups you will ever make. It took me seconds to throw it into the slow cooker, but will give me 3 days of lunches!

If that doesn’t get you running for your slow cooker how about the cost? This pot did 3 portions at around 60p a serving! The average chunky soup in a can costs from 75p to over £1!

Still not convinced? Ok! This is one of the easiest, tastiest soups you will ever make. How about it being totally free on Slimming World, compared to 5.5 syns and above for tinned chunky soups!

I read quite a lot that doing Slimming World is expensive. It doesn’t have to be! It also doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen!

Give it a try! Experiment with ingredients! You won’t regret it!

First week in!

So, today is the 6th day of my 2019 Slimming world Journey. As weeks go, it has gone really well.

I decided, as well as healthy eating, I would also embark on Dry January. I think my hubby has finally stopped laughing at that one. I know its only the 6th day, but weekends are when I would usually have my Slimline wine. I’ve really missed it, but I’m determined to go the full 31 days without touching a drop.

I know Slimline wine is low calorie, but it isn’t really about the wine. It is about giving myself a good detox and reducing my total syn intake to maximise my weight loss.

During the week, its easier as I never touched it, but come Friday, I was missing the taste. I don’t think it was about the wine itself, but the habit of it. I decided, to make sure I don’t fail, I would buy some alcohol free wine. I called in at my local Sainsbury’s hoping to buy a couple of bottle of Eisberg sparkling, non alcoholic fizz. I’d had it before and it is really nice. Sadly they didn’t have it, so I opted for a bottle of Eisberg flat white and another one, both non alcoholic. I have to say, neither of them did it for me, and at 3 syns for 250 ml, I didn’t think they were worth it.

What I did pick up also though, was a bottle of Winter Spice Ribena. I know from my Slimming World group that it was supposed to taste like mulled wine. I thought I would give it a go. It is actually gorgeous. The first one I made was too strong, but after that, I’m hooked. As it has been so cold recently, it is perfect. And it is syn free!

I have also been so good with my meals and syns. During the week, I struggled to have more than a couple of syns. Even at the weekend, with my non alcoholic wine, I was well within my syn value.

I’m allowed 5-15 syns on Slimming World, but I have set myself a personal target of a maximum of 12 syns. That way, I should hopefully have a better weight loss!

Below is an idea of some of some of my daily meals:

Breakfast

Omelette with Ham, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Cheese
Overnight Oats
Egg Muffins with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Peppers
Smoked Salmon, Eggs and Wholemeal Toast
A Slimming World Full English. Wholemeal toast with light cheese spread, bacon, mushrooms, baked beans and eggs

Lunch

Dinners

Sirloin Steak, Potato Wedges & Peas
Chicken Breast cooking in chopped tomatoes and Chorizo, served with mushrooms, tomatoes and potato wedges
Chilli with Rice
Cheesy Pasta Bake

In addition, I also had a beautiful pork medallion, topped with Stilton Cheese from my HEA, served with a selection of vegetables.

I know I probably could have had more speed vegetables, but I hadn’t done my shopping for some of the meals, so it was what was in the fridge!

All the meals were completely on plan.

For snacks, I would have fruit, bananas, satsumas, apples and grapes, Baby Bell Light (you can have 3 as part of your HEA), Muller Light (1 Syn each) or a slice of ham.

I haven’t been tempted to have any sweets, even though they would have been in my syn allowance!

Every day, I have managed to get my 10,000 steps in, if not more, and I have also done 30 minutes of sit-ups, while watching the TV!

I don’t have my official SW weigh in until Wednesday, but according to my scales, I have lost 2.5 lbs already since 1 January, so I am very happy with that.

Tonight, I am still going to have my roast beef dinner. I haven’t had any syns today, so I will have Yorkshire Pudding, but I will make mini ones, with frylight which will only be about 2 syns each! I will make everything else, including my gravy syn free!

I’ll let you know what my SW weigh in is on Wednesday!

Have a good week

Here are the links to a couple of the recipes above

Follow me on YouTube https://youtu.be/0_-AScYkZVg

50 things in my 50th year….

So this year, I am hitting a big milestone! The grand old age of 50. Unlike reaching 30 and 40, I am actually looking forward to this birthday. Why? I’m not completely sure, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I am finally very happy with my life!

I have an amazing husband, who I adore. We have a fabulous relationship. We have the same interests in common, (well nearly), and we compliment each other so well.

I have wonderful parents and family. I have great friends. All of this means that entering into the next chapter of my life is a time to celebrate and enjoy, and I intend to!

With this in mind, I have put together 50 things I would ‘like’ to achieve in my 50th year!

1)  Travel to China

Hopefully this is an easy one to achieve! I’ve been planning this trip for what seems like forever! I had seen the trip I wanted to do a few years ago, but had to wait for the company to release it. Finally, in January 2018 I received the telephone call I wanted! I could now reserve my place on the Viking River Cruise tour – Imperial Jewels of China, with added extra days before and after the tour! It is a holiday of a lifetime, but worth every penny I am having to save for it!

Amongst many things we will see the Great Wall of China , Forbidden City & Terracotta Warriors. I’m so excited. It is like a dream come true.

2)Visit Croatia

Again, another one I will be able to tick off my list this year. We have booked a 4 night trip to Dubrovnik. I am so looking forward to seeing the walled city, and where Game of Thrones was filmed.

It might be only for a few days, but I know my hubby and I will pack a lot into that time as usual!

3)  Weekend away in a VW Campervan

I have a little obsession with these campervans. I’ve never been in one, and they probably are not as cosy and comfortable as they look, but I’d still love to have even just one night away with them. There is something so romantic about them. Don’t ask me why!

The downside is though, you would have to go outside into the cold to pop to the loo! For one night though, I am sure I would cope!


4) Re-visit Lundy Island

Yes this might sound a bit unusual, but one of my best ever birthdays, and probably the only one I really remember in detail as a kid, was spent on a day trip to Lundy Island. For those that don’t know, it is a little island off Ilfracombe. It is a nature reserve owned by the National Trust.

I have very fond memories of this trip, even if my mum can’t stop telling people about how I fell in the sea twice on this trip, getting on and off the boat! I do not intend doing that again, but I am planning to spend my 50th doing the same trip!

5)    Eat at a Michelin star restaurant

I’m sure I have already done this once before, but not with my hubby! It would be nice for the 2 of us to have a beautiful meal, good wine, in an award winning restaurant. Maybe with views over the ocean or a city! I’m an old romantic I know, but why not!

6)   Bake with Paul Hollywood

It’s is no secret that I have a celebrity crush on Paul Hollywood! I’d love to have a baking lesson from him. I’m sure I could concentrate just enough to learn something new!

7)  Be my own boss

You will probably find this one a bit weird, but I would love to one day have my own successful business. Successful businesses don’t start overnight, they take time to build up. You have to start somewhere. I just need to find the right idea!

As you will tell as you continue reading, some of the 50 things on my list are probably not going to be achieved, but there is nothing wrong in having dreams and ambitions!!

8)   Buy a new car with the registration of the year I was born

I’m terrible with cars. I never usually keep them for more than 3 to 4 years. Mainly as I know they will be reliable and cost me less in maintenance. My current car is now just over 4 years old. I do love it, but that isn’t the reason I haven’t changed it!

This year, the number plate will have the number 69 in it! This is the year I was born, so I would like a number plate with 69 in it! Mad I know, but I’ve got this into my head!

9)    Get at least 1000 subscribers on my YouTube Channel

My new years resolutions last year were to start a blog. I did this, but I also really wanted to do a vlog. I was unsure if I would have the courage to do one, but in April 2018 I launched my first YouTube channel.

Having subscribers at the time wasn’t really that important as I was just playing around, but as the year has gone on, I have found I really enjoy it! I would love to increase by subscribers to at least 1000. Why? Just to know if anyone is actually interested in anything I am doing, or is it just for me?

I’ve learnt that the number of subscribers is a great measure of success. Not necessary of your channel, but maybe just 1 video! Just to say once in my life I have achieved that, would be great!

10) Take a hot air balloon over my home town

I’ve taken a hot air balloon over the Atlas mountains in Morocco and loved it. I often see them flying around where I live. I would love one day to go up and see where I was born and bred from above!

11) Have a weekend away with my parents

As I have gotten older, I’ve learnt to appreciate my parents so much more than when I was a kid! I am so proud to call them my parents.

When I was a teenager, I was very independent. My last holiday away with my parents was when I was 16. After that, they may have been in the same place, but I was very much with my friends.

As they get older, I realise time with them is precious. I would love just 1 night away with them, to build memories. A log fire somewhere in the countryside or overlooking the ocean would be perfect.

12) Fly first class

I was once offered a free upgrade to fly first class to New York with British Airways. There were a few of us going on a trip with work. I really wanted to say yes, but was reminded by a colleague that it would be unfair if only 2 of us got to fly first class, when the rest of the group were in standard class, so I politely declined!

I wonder how many others would have declined the offer! I’m sure they would have too wouldn’t they? Sadly, I’ve never been offered a free upgrade again, or had the finances to pay for one! Viking did offer me a deal to upgrade our flights for our China trip, but it was way out of our budget! Ah well, you never know I may win the lottery one day!

13) Complete a successful ‘Dry January’

It is probably no surprise that my husband couldn’t stop laughing when I said I was doing dry January! Not because I have an alcohol problem, but I do like a glass of wine at the weekend after a hard week.

I’ve said I’m going to do it many times before and usually last a week or 2! This year though I am going to do it! Why is this year different from all the other failed years? I’m not sure. Maybe, I am just more determined this year. Or maybe, I want to prove my husband and some friends wrong!

14) Walk 5,000,000 steps in 2019

I have had a fitbit for a few years now and love it! This year as I’m 50, I think it would be good to set myself a target. As I do on average 13,000 steps a day, 5m sounds like just the right number of steps!

15) Learn to crochet

I recently knitted my hubby a scarf for our local rugby team. I only had about 10 days to do it in. This kept me quite busy each evening as I usually only have about an hour to myself, but it also took my mind off snacking! I thought it would be a good thing to find something else to do in the evenings, and although my gran did teach me to crochet as a child, I can’t remember how to do it.

By learning this new skill, I can keep myself occupied in the evenings, and maybe produce a blanket or something that I can donate to charity!

16) Visit Stonehenge

I can’t believe I have never been there! It isn’t that far away from me so I really don’t have an excuse not to go! I love visiting sites like this. Dogs are allowed, so have even less of an excuse!

17) Swim with dolphins

There is something magical about doing this! They are such beautiful creatures and to get up close, would be a dream! Maybe when I go to Lundy Island, although the see will be a bit cold!

18) Run 10k

Ok, the truth is, I’d love to say I have run a marathon, but lets be honest, there is ambition and dreams, and then there is clear fantasy and madness! The most I’ve done is 5k so 10k would be good to go for next! Especially as I’m not even sure my knees could do that now!

19) Learn to decorate a cake with icing

If you know me, you may be surprised to see this on my list, but the reality is, I would love to be able to do beautiful piping on a cake!

I’ve made cakes for family and friends, but they were quite basic. To do something like The Cake Boss produces would be amazing!

20)Learn to ballroom dance with Anton De Beke

Many years ago, I was able to have some dance lessons with Anton. It was just a day, with a group of others. I would love one on one training to surprise my family that I could dance ballroom. Not sure how the surprise would go, but hey, nothing wrong with dreaming!

21)Be on the panel of Loose Women

When I go to the gym at lunchtime, I will watch either the end of This Morning or the beginning of Loose Women. I day dream often about being on the panel and giving my view and opinion on the topics! Ok, I’m dreaming again aren’t I?

22) Own a designer handbag

I’m not a materialistic person at all. I would rather colour my own hair and paint my own nails than waste(my words) money on getting them done professionally. I would rather put the money to other things including treating others. It would be nice once, to just be indulgent and treat myself to a designer bag!

I’d probably buy it though and regret the expense immediately!!

23) Replace my greenhouse

When I moved into my new home in 2016, I promised myself a little greenhouse. Space for it was short, but I got one which is about 2ft wide by approx 5 feet. It’s only canvas, but I love it! I’d now like to buy myself a more grown up one! I still need it to be small to fit the same space, but it would be great having sliding doors instead of zips, or to be able to see inside it!

I keep looking, and maybe this year, I will find the perfect one!

24) Reduce my daily commute to work

Well this is another of my dreams that I probably won’t be able to change this year! Not unless I find something I can do, working for myself or winning the lottery!

I currently have a 3 hour round trip to work each day! It’s very tiring, and limits the quality time I have at home. I would love to have just an hour off that back each day, to catch up on housework etc.

By the time the weekend comes, I’m exhausted. Plus, I then have to spend the little time I have doing the jobs I don’t have time to do in the week!

25) Teach Lola to walk off a lead

My previous dog before Fido was amazing. He never needed a lead on his walks, and would wait to cross a road until he was told to do so!

My youngest dog is super intelligent, but very energetic and independent. I would love to be able to have the freedom to walk her without a lead, however I fear that may never happen! I’m not going to give up though. I’m contemplating this year, taking her to dog training! Now that should be fun!

On the plus side, she is doing wonders for the muscles in my right arm!

26) Teach Fido to not bark at the door

Fido has this really annoying habit of barking every time anyone tries to exit our front door. I can’t even remember when it started, but it really is a nuisance and annoying. My hubby and I are trying all the techniques we have read about to stop it, but it’s really a slow process! If we cracked it, it would make for a less stressful life that is for sure!

27) Teach Fido not to bark at noises

I love Fido to bits, but he has some problems! One of them is noise! I am sure he would bark at a cloud some days. Door bells, phones, televisions, you name it, he will bark at it. In fact, it is more than that! He looses complete control!

We are working with him after having a behaviourist in to help us. It is very slow process and so stressful, but we will keep at it. It isn’t his fault. Something happened to him in the 16 weeks before we had him, that has effected his behaviour!

If we cracked this, I think I will be dancing on the moon!!

28) Have 5 minutes of fame on T.V. – preferably on This Morning

Ok, back to the day dreaming at the gym again! I love Phil and Holly and Ruth and Eamonn. Wouldn’t it be great to meet them on This Morning? No? Is it just me then? It would be a laugh I’m sure! Maybe I could help Paul Hollywood cook something on the programme, or even get a make over from Lisa Snowdon! You gotta have a dream!

29)Go to see a musical at least once in 2019

I love musicals. For many years I used to go to loads in London, but in the last 12 years, I have gone to very few! This year is a time to change that! There are so many great ones to see. The challenge will be choosing which one to go to first!

30) Go to a music festival or concert at least once in 2019

Again, I love live music but haven’t been to a music festival for about 9 years! I recently saw Madness live and they were amazing. There are so many more opportunities out there to see music live. Time to change this year and see more me thinks!

31) Write a blog at least once a week

Last year’s New Years resolution was to start writing my own blog, which as you can see I have done. I want to continue doing this so I can grow my audience. I want to feel I have made a difference to others, through my blogs.

32) Improve my photography skills

I’ve been into photography for a few years now, but last year, I really got the bug. I was so shocked and pleased when I entered a photo I had taken of Fido, into a Countryfile Magazine photo competition and won! I now want to build on that. My blog and vlog will help me do this, but I also want to try and improve my techniques by studying other great photographs.

33) Clean out the garage

I really do hate clutter, but you wouldn’t know it from my garage!

Because I am so busy, I just dump things in there! I have an exercise bike somewhere in there. The plan was to use it in there,while watching TV on my laptop! That was 2.5 years ago!

This year, I really need to be ruthless! Throw things out I don’t need, get my hubby to put the brackets up I bought 2.5 years ago, so we can hang things up properly, and start using it!

I may just wait until it warms up first though!

34) Help raise awareness of homelessness

I see so many people sleeping on the streets every day, and it breaks my heart. I do try and help when I can but if others could do the same, even in small amounts, it would really help.

No-one chooses to sleep outside in freezing temperatures. Just a little bit of kindness to them could mean the world.

35) Help out someone at least once a month

I feel very blessed with my life, and if I can do something nice to just one person a month, then it could make a lot of difference. It could be speaking to someone who is lonely, looking after my nieces to give my brother a rest, carrying someones shopping. Absolutely anything. It would be nice just to give something back.

36) Have a professional make over

I never spend much time on me! I’m always too busy, or feel the money should be spent on more practical things. I also haven’t a clue what really suits me, so putting myself in someone’s hand would be great.

This is probably one I won’t do this year, for the reasons above, but you never know, maybe for once I will just take the bullet and do it!

37) Have a ‘hot’ Christmas

This isn’t what you may think!  I’ve always seen Christmas as being a cold time.  My hubby is from South Africa so every year until he left South Africa, he had Christmas in what was his summer.  I would like to see what that is like.  To cook a turkey on the braai rather than in the oven.

I would imagine Santa in speedos may be a bit too far, but it is always good to experience new things!

38) Remember friends and family’s birthdays

I used to be really good at this, but over the last few years it has been very hit an miss.  This year, I want to pre-write my cards a month in advance, date them in the corner of the envelope, put a stamp them, and send a week before!  That is assuming I have their dates in my diary that is!

39) Be surprised

I love surprising people, but it doesn’t really happen to me.  I would love someone to arrange something as a surprise for me.  It doesn’t have to be big, just something that I haven’t had to organise or choose!

40) Have dinner out once a month

I get so tired some weeks.  Having to always think about what to eat every day can be a challenge.  Some nights, I could just pick up a takeaway menu for eat out, but I always think I could use the money for better things, so only eat out for a treat. 

I should at least once a month put myself first, and go out.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, but I wouldn’t have to cook or wash up after!

41) Take an hour out a week for ‘me time’

Going back to some of the things I have said above.  My time is so precious, but I really need to take time out for me to do something relaxing. Recharge my batteries without worrying about anyone or anything!

I do try and get an hour on the sofa each night before going to bed, however that is usually also spent dealing with 2 dogs who decide that is the exact time for them to play fight, right in front of me and the TV!

42) Get 8 hours of sleep a night as much as possible

I seem so tired most of the time.  As I get up just after 5 am, I have to be in bed by just after 9 pm to get 8 hours.  Sadly, as I rarely get to sit down before 8-8.30 each night, I’m not relaxed enough to go to bed to sleep, so that time slips.  I then end up with only 6-7 hours sleep!

Come the weekend, even if my body clock won’t let me lie in, the dogs certainly don’t!  Once I am awake, I really struggle to go back to sleep! I’m not sure how I am going to achieve this one, but I will give it a go!

43) Drink more water and less diet coke

I am so bad with coke.  I really need a healthy kick and cut it down.  It isn’t good for my teeth either!  I just need to try and like water!!

44) Have a girls night out at least once every 3 months

Because I am so busy, I am always tired, so when the weekend comes all I want to do is chill.  This means I neglect my friends.  I need to make sure I make more of an effort this year for them, as they are great loyal friends.

45) Have a date night with hubby at least once every 3 months

I have an amazing husband and relationship.  I don’t want it to ever be taken for granted, so having time away from home together is really important.  When we do, we feel so much better for it and have such a great time.

46) Take a canal trip

Wouldn’t it be great to take life at a slow pace!  Seeing the scenery around you.  Stopping off each day in different places!

I’ve been promising for years to do this with another couple.  I really must do it.  Even for a weekend.  It would be so relaxing, and just what the doctor ordered!

47) Go to see Wasps at least 3 times during the year

I love going to see this team play.  It is close to me and a great atmosphere.  I really should support my local team more and have time out with something my hubby enjoys.

48) Learn the rules to Rugby

I have seen so much rugby with my husband.  I was addicted to going to live matches for the World Cup in 2015, however what I know about the rules of the game are so basic!  After 11 years with my hubby, I think it is about time I took more of an interest and understood why penalties were given etc.  At the moment, my only real knowledge is if the team players I’m supporting have the ball or not, and if they score!

As my school report said – I must try harder!

49) Take up a new hobby

Why not!  It is always good to broaden your horizons!  Our local village has a choir which some of my neighbours are considering.  I may go along on the 7 January for a taster session with them and see how I get on!

50) Keep in touch more with family and friends who live away

I have some amazing family who live down south or up north.  I love them dearly, but I am a nightmare at keeping in touch.  This year I really want to make sure I check in with them more often.  

Sometimes we leave it too late.  I don’t want to have any regrets.

So, as you can see this is a very long list. I’m realistic that some of it won’t happen, but it is good to have dreams and ambitions. I think it makes us more proactive.

Follow me throughout 2019 to see how many I can tick off!

Happy New Year.





New Year, New Start

So 2018 is almost over! I still can’t believe how quickly this year has gone.

I am now like millions of other people! I’m sitting here planning what changes I am going to make for next year!

First one – lose weight! This year, I have really struggled to maintain my ideal weight. I think a big part was to do with my hubby, family and friends constantly telling me I was too thin! I decided that the odd pound on didn’t matter then! Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there!

Over Christmas, I feel I have just eaten rubbish. I am not having the balanced meals I would normally have. I am actually craving fruit and salad!

So from 1 January, I am back on Slimming World properly. I’m also going to put one of my temptations out of my way! I am going to do Dry January!

My hubby couldn’t stop laughing when I said this! Ok, I fully understand why. I mean, I do like to have a glass or 2 of wine at the weekend, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go without it too! Slimming World have dropped down the syns you can have daily. You can now only have 12 per day, so with Slimline Wine, that is only 3 small glasses. I know I could stick to this, but I want to be able maximise my weight loss by having the minimum of syns possible.

By not drinking, I can save my syns for other things like the odd piece of chocolate or hot chocolate!

I plan to get fitter too! Don’ get me wrong, I’m not unfit. I already do a lot of walking and go to the gym around 4 times a week, but this year, I want to see if I can start running again. If not running (I’m not sure my knees could stand it), power walking!

I’ve also stopped doing my 100 sit-ups a day. I used to have quite a toned stomach. I need to start making sure I do it every night while watching my soaps.

So what else to I plan to do? Well I’m going to keep telling the stories of Lola through my blog – The Adventures of Lola, as well as building on my website and Youtube channel. I’m still a novice on Youtube, but it has been fun doing it and trying to improve.

I’m also going to hit a certain birthday in 2019! I have a list of things I want to achieve during the year. I will share that list with you in a later blog!

The main thing for me is to be happy and healthy! Life is too short to waste it!

Whatever next year has ahead for you, make sure you enjoy it!

Feeling like a beached whale!

Is anyone else feeling like they have eaten and drunk far too much over the last few days?

I laid in bed last night and my stomach felt so heavy. I feel like I’ve eaten a months food in just a couple of days! The scales said the same this morning too!

I’m a bit surprised that I felt like that, as I didn’t think I’d been that bad! I know I have been running around so much prior to Christmas. I even had a few days where I never actually sat down, until bedtime. Surely that must have helped me? Exercise burns calories, right?

Christmas day and Boxing day, I had only a light breakfast, consisting of a roll from my HEB and a ‘free’ filling. So why do I feel like a beached whale?

Well, as today is my weigh in day, It’s a good time to be honest with myself! I might have made some really good choices, but portion control? Who can say honestly, they kept their portion of Christmas Dinner to a minimum? It’s so difficult. When you think about what you serve up, there is no way I had portion control.

I cooked the dinner this year, so I know how everything was cooked. We had roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, pigs in blankets, turkey, gammon, prunes wrapped in bacon, butternut squash, cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts with bacon, carrots, parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, bread sauce and of course the cranberry sauce. I missed out the mashed potato and the 2 sauces, but the rest were all on my plate!! Even if I had on a spoonful of each veg, that is a lot of food!

Starter was healthy. A prawn cocktail with freshly made bread! Again, I made the bread so I knew what was in it! Ok, it might be healthy, but i’d already had my HEB for breakfast!

Dessert was a challenge too. Why is it, even though you are really full, you decide you can still manage a small pudding! This year the options were Christmas pudding (which I hate!), my mums homemade trifle and apple pie, chocolate Yule log and custard or cream. I opted for the yule log, but to be good I didn’t have the custard or cream!

Then of course, we had champagne. It’s Christmas after all!

Boxing day, I had a wholemeal roll with turkey and poached egg for breakfast. A good start!

I didn’t start finishing the 2 open bottles of wine in the fridge until the evening, so that was good. I wasn’t bothered about drinking last night, but as the wine was bubbles, it would have ended up being poured down the sink, which was a waste!

I have so much left over food, I decide to make a turkey and ham pie for dinner! I only had a pastry lid, to help keep the calories down! I didn’t have pudding.

I’m finally on the sofa relaxing, before I have to go to bed, as I have an early start tomorrow as I have to get up for work. Ooh look, some Galaxy chocolates. I’ve been good all day, so a couple won’t hurt!

So now I’m lying in bed feeling awful. I can’t even think about food or drink. I feel like a beached whale! I really don’t understand why!

WHO AM I KIDDING!!

I know exactly why I feel this way! Today, I’m back to work. It’s time to start again! Today is another day! I’m going to group tonight. I’m going to make a commitment to myself! I’m going to do this!

I know what I need to do, and I’m going to do it! I don’t need that chocolate! I don’t even really enjoy it! I have a goal, and I’m going to achieve it!

Starting to feel a lot like Christmas!

I know everyone says it, but I really can’t believe it’s Christmas eve already! Where did this year go?

Sadly, I have had to go to work today, but that isn’t going to stop me getting into the Christmas spirit! It is one of the most magical times of the year for me. It’s a time to spend it with your family and loved ones.

I have my parents to thank for my love of Christmas. As kids, they made it so magical. They also ensured we knew the true meaning of Christmas too.

We always had a real tree that reached the ceiling. It would be placed in the bay window. Decorating it was a family affair. The more tinsel we could put on it, the better!

Our house was very old, so we were fortunate to have an open fire. Sitting in the lounge with the Christmas lights on, a warm log fire and a home made mince pie, were common place.

Santa was a big thing in the house. We would write our letters early and leave them out for Santa to take.

If we needed something like shoes or clothes, Santa would ask mum and dad to take us to try them on and buy them. We would then leave them out for him to take back to Lapland, to be delivered with the rest of our presents on Christmas Eve.

We were in the church choir, so attended all the festive services during December. Being able to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas is so important to me. I still attend church when I can on Christmas Eve. The church fete was always a must too.

On Christmas Eve, we used to go to midnight mass, where either I or my brother sang a solo of ‘Once In Royal David’s City’.

When bedtime came, we would all pick out one of my dads socks. We would proudly place them on the end of our bed! A mince pie, carrot and glass of milk or something stronger was left out for Santa and his reindeer.

Oh the excitement on Christmas morning, when there, on the end of my bed was now my Christmas Stocking. I say stocking, but it was always a sack! I often wondered what Santa did with all those socks!

We would then run into my parents bedroom with sacks in hand and sit on their bed. One by one, we would empty our sacks to see what Santa had left us. As young children it would be things like crayons, colouring books etc. As I grew older, make up would slip in. Today, my parents still do us a sack, but it is now filled with things like washing up liquid, cling film, foil, shower gels etc. It may sound weird, but it’s still one of my favourite things about Christmas. I now save this until boxing day to open, so I can savour the pleasure of it.

Once the sacks are opened, we were so excited to see what Santa had brought us. Dad always warned us not to go downstairs ourselves, just in case Santa was still there! It was ok though, as Dad could check for us. If he had been, he would put the lights on tree and light the fire as he went back up the chimney!

So every year, we would creep down stairs and wait, while dad would pop his head into the lounge and check for us! Yey, he had been!

I still remember the feeling as I walked into the room, the warmth from the fire and the bright twinkling lights on the tree, and there in 3 piles (one each for myself, and my 2 brothers), our presents. I was so excited! I didn’t care necessary what was in them. It was all about the magic of Christmas.

This routine carried on right up to my last Christmas at home, when I was 18. I don’t have children of my own, but I still love the magic of Christmas.

Christmas dinner is also a great time. As a child we would have dinner at home, just the five of us. Crackers were a must, as was the paper hat! Then a visit to both grand parents.

We always went to church Christmas morning too. I still feel it’s important to remember the real meaning behind Christmas. I do worry that sometimes it can become all about the presents, rather than the birth of Jesus.

This year, I have the family coming to me for dinner. I’ve done dinner for the last few years. I feel it is my turn to take the reigns from my parents these days. They have done it for so many years, it is nice to let them just relax and enjoy the day.

I have between 8-12 people and I love it. Cooking for this many isn’t a problem. It’s no different that cooking for 4, you just need more food! I love the noise, and seeing my family all sat around the same table, laughing and enjoying themselves.

Last year, some friends introduced me to the Nigella’s turkey recipe! You leave it in brine for a few days! It was so moist and tasty, we have done it again this year. As we speak, my turkey is soaking in a large plastic box in my garage, in a mixture which includes cinnamon sticks, oranges, onions, a mixture of spices and herbs!

I’m so excited to taste it again this year.

In all the excitement though, I still have time to remember those not as lucky as me. The homeless and those with no family around them. If I could, I would try and help them all out, but I know that is not practical. I will try to help though through charity.

I recently heard of a family who had lost everything. Someone had donated them a Christmas lunch, but the 3 children, 2 girls aged 8 and a 5 year old boy, were probably not getting anything for Christmas. I bought a little present each for them. It’s not much, but if I can help put a smile on someones face on Christmas day, especially a child, then I feel happier.

However you are spending Christmas this year, have a great time. Remember the real meaning behind it. Make it as magical and memorable as you can.

Have a lovely Christmas, and god bless everyone.