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24 posts categorized "The body beautiful"

17 June 2013

School’s Out for Summer


So henceforth there’s going to be an awful lot more of THIS going on in our lives.



School finished last Friday (I still can’t get over how LONG the school vacations are here), so we’ve got a summer full of camps and visits and trips planned.

I’m painfully aware that this is probably the last summer that the Minx will truly be my little girl (can you believe she’s already eight?) so I mean to make the most of it. I think it will be good for me to slow down a bit too. All the stress-related issues I talked about at the beginning of the year are much better, but I’m still not sleeping as well as I should and a summer of fun in the sun, relaxation, stress-free photography, reading, cooking and dreaming is just what the doctor ordered I think.

I’m hoping to get fitter (just started using a Fitbit yay!), learn stand up paddleboarding, read lots of books, do a few workshops, cook up a storm and host lots of parties.

We have trips booked to Menton again (leaving on Saturday!) – we have rented an apartment there for three weeks – and to Canoe Island, and Grandad is coming to stay. The Minx will be going on her very first overnight camp (leaving mummy and daddy to have our first consecutive nights away together since she was born).





I WILL continue blogging, but only when it really feels like the right thing to do (though I have got tons of things I want to talk to you guys about).  If you want daily updates though, please come and find me on Instagram

Instead this summer will hopefully be all about this












and this




I hope yours is too.

I’m hosting ‘Mom Camp’ tomorrow. In the morning I will be teaching five eight year olds how to make pie and then we’re doing on a photography scavenger hunt. Think of me…

09 March 2012

WTF Friday




From the Sartorialist.

‘Trust me, French young ladies are still the ones to look to for the most aspirational new trends. The newest thing I’ve seen in the streets here in Paris are straight, wide leg jeans. Not flared or oversized jeans, but jeans with a wide leg hemmed right at the ankle and reasonably fitted at the waist. It seems simple, but in order to work the look just right the eye will have to adjust to this new proportion.’




Do you mean to say that I’ve lost all this weight just so I can look like a plumber? PLEASE someone tell me that this trend won’t take off.

Or am I missing something important here?


04 November 2011

How the Dukan Diet Worked for Me


IMG_1966 IMG_0863
IMG_1963 IMG_0866   

       November 2009 
            (at around 175lbs)

           November 2011 
                (at around 144lbs)


Remember how I’ve tried to lose weight before on this blog? With very little success?

I’d been trucking along at around 175lbs for the previous couple of years and the arthritis pain in my knee was getting worse and worse.  So on June 1st this year I started yet another diet. This time a friend in the UK recommended a regime called the Dukan Diet, a French diet which had recently become very popular in the UK, as it was reportedly used by Carole Middleton (mother of Kate). 

The Dukan diet is sort of Atkins on steroids and has four phases.

First you ‘Attack’ which lasts for 3-7days (depending on how overweight you are) and where you eat NOTHING but lean protein (0% dairy, chicken, fish, eggs, seafood, lean beef etc.) and two tablespoons of oatbran to keep things moving.  This is HARD, does horrible things to your blood sugar and bowels and has I’m sure contributed to the diet’s reputation for unhealthiness.  However it was effective, I lost 6lbs in 5 days.

Then you ‘Cruise’, alternating 1 day of lean protein +oatbran with 1 day of lean protein + all the low carb vegetables you can eat +oatbran. And you’re supposed to do this until you reach your target weight. I’ve been cruising since June and have lost a total of 31lbs, with a 11lbs to go until I reach my target weight and a normal BMI. 

If and when you hit your target there are two more phases, ‘Consolidation’ and ‘Stabilization’ but I’ll talk about those when I get there.

I’m finding the diet comparatively easy as it doesn’t involved any weighing and measuring and counting, you’re allowed as much as you want of the permitted foods. Also, and interestingly, it seems that my tastes are changing, my carb cravings have gone right down, I feel nauseous if I eat too much fat and things like cakes and biscuits seem much too sweet (you’re allowed Splenda on the diet but that’s it).

I also feel really well in myself – my skin is good, I have loads of energy and the arthritis pain in my knee has GONE, which is incredible, as I was almost crippled with it back in April on our trip to San Diego.  I’ve also been upping the exercise, either doing a Jillian Michaels DVD every day or walking as the diet suggests, and doing lots of swimming over the summer. Nothing too crazy though.

Unfortunately recent weeks have been a struggle and it’s only going to get harder as we get closer to December, but I am DETERMINED to knock this on the head once and for all and get rid of those last 11lbs if it kills me.

Let me know if you’re interested in finding out more, and I’ll blog about some of my menus and stuff in the upcoming weeks.

In the meantime on the left is a picture I had taken in May 2010 wearing a sweater I’d just knitted and on the right, as I am today, wearing the same sweater.


IMG_6271 IMG_0331

I thought I might try NaBloPoMo, where I commit to posting every single day for a month,, as a way of getting back into blogging again.  Of course, I’m two days late even starting, so we’ll go to December 3rd. ‘K?

29 September 2010

All About Me – 101 Things Update

Self-portrait taken on my recent Shuttertour (reflected in some broken stainless columns outside the old WaMu building)


I got some bad news yesterday. 

One of the key things on my 101 Things in 1001 Days list was to repair the damaged ACL in my right knee, which has been very painful and stiff over the summer.

I first injured my leg skiing when I was a student and didn’t have surgery then because sports’ medicine was in its infancy and the recovery would have been long and traumatic.  Maybe I was badly advised then, I don’t know - my current doctor seems to think so - but the upshot is I’ve been living with it for years, getting used to living with the constant dull pain in my knee and thinking that one day, when high-powered jobs, pregnancy, moving to Seattle, having a young child etc. etc. were out of the way I would take the time to have it fixed.

That time was now and I went in for an MRI yesterday, so they could assess the extent of the damage. And it turns out it is much worse than I thought and that the knee joint is so full of arthritis that repairing the ACL would put me in a huge amount of pain. Which is all rather depressing.

My thoughts are turning now to aggressive arthritis management – I’m far too young to have a knee as painful and stiff as it currently is – and wanted to get any advice and help that the Internets have to offer. If you or anyone you know currently suffers from arthritis and has been helped by any sort of therapy, exercise, nutritional change, book, video etc. etc. then I really would LOVE to hear from you.

As a result of the above I’ve had to revise a few things on my list.   Instead of  ‘repair ACL’ , ‘do a triathlon’ ‘go ice skating’ and ‘run a 5k’, I’m going to ‘learn HTML’, ‘sign up for Pilates’, ‘go on an overnight sea kayaking trip’ and something else I haven’t yet thought of.  My revised list is here.

I’ve made progress on some stuff, but haven’t ticked off any one task as completed yet. I’ll blog about stuff as I achieve it – later this week I’ll be blogging about the fabulous Shuttertour I did last Friday with Valentina Vitols, which was the first step in ‘Complete 6 Photography Workshops/Classes’.

19 February 2010

A New Me - the Bald Hobbit



Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been a bit worried that I might have to give up on my running before I’d really even got in the groove.  Each time I’ve gone out my knee (with its torn anterior cruciate ligament) has been getting more and more sore and has been needing tons of ice after a run.  Even more worryingly even walking was becoming increasingly painful – which it never normally is.

I started fishing round the Internet and found more and more information on ‘barefooting’, which says that humans have evolved to run barefoot and that many sports injuries are actually caused by the heavy cushioned sports shoes we wear. More on the science here

I read that running barefoot was particularly good for plantar fasciitis, which you might recall I’ve also been suffering from, and for knee injuries. So as a bit of a last resort I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers KSOs (Keep Stuff Out), which have been designed to mimic the effects of running barefoot while providing a layer of protection against hazardous terrain.

They were waiting for me when we got back and yesterday I went for my first run in them. And what a revelation they were.  For the first time in years, my run was pretty much pain free and really quite delightful. It’s great to feel more connected with the terrain. Who knew how soft and pleasant grass and mud can be to run in? And I’m sure their lightness made me run a little faster.

They are of course just a teensy bit embarrassing (though the Minx finds them hilarious). Next time you see someone lumbering past like a geriatric buffalo with hobbit feet do stop to say hello.

12 February 2010

A New Me – February 2010, BodyBugg Here I Come!


IMG_1966 IMG_3697

              November 2009                                    February 2010

So, my body is a perfectly calibrated precision MACHINE. Perfectly calibrated, that is, to remain at 172 lbs (12 stone 4lbs) whatever I throw at it.

To be fair to my body, I did lose a couple of pounds in the first half of the month when I was working out a lot and being good, but slacked off a bit on the workouts and ate rather more than was necessary in the middle (which coincided with a certain time of the month, isn’t that always the way?) to get back to precisely where I started.

I definitely think I’m looking more toned though.  My workout regime this month has mostly been a mix of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred  DVD and continuing with Couch25K where I have now just finished week 4. Is anyone else still C25King along?

The Jillian Michaels DVD came very strongly recommended by Megan Not Martha and it is really good.  It’s a pretty tough workout which seems to cover all the bases (I’ve been alternating workouts 1 and 2 recently, haven’t yet plucked up the courage to try workout 3). The best thing about it though is that each workout is only 20 minutes long – so just when I’m really hating it, it finishes.

I’m REALLY enjoying C25K and can feel myself progressing from run to run.  I still run like a crippled geriatric buffalo but can now actually keep going at a slow but steady pace.  Week 5 is supposed to culminate with a 20 minute run which would have seemed impossible a few short weeks ago.  The really good news is that my plantar fasciitis has not got any worse and the torn ligaments in my right knee are just about keeping together (every run is painful, but not excessively so).  Of course, it would help enormously if I lost some weight. Do you hear that body?

In other fitness regime news, I have bought a Body Bugg!  You know those strange armband thingies that contestants wear on the Biggest Loser? What they do is precisely measure exactly how many calories you are using during the day (though if you still want to measure your daily calorie deficit you still have to upload intricate details of exactly what you’ve eaten).

I initially just bought the armband, which you wear all day and from which you upload your calorie usage and the number of steps you’ve taken to your computer. I was given a target calorie burn of 2250 per day (and 10,000 steps) which, if I ate around 1750 calories per day, a not excessively strict target) would mean losing about a pound a week.

I’ve been using it for a week or two and the results so far have been intriguing. Working from home as I do, and particularly now that the Minx is at school so I’m not running round after her all day, I can be INCREDIBLY sedentary.  On a normal sedentary day I only burn around 1700 calories, and one day burnt as few as 1450.  No wonder my weight has been creeping up slowly over the past few years! Every morsel I ate over 1700 calories was going straight to my humungous boobs (there have been a LOT of sedentary days in the last year or so).

Even 30 minutes of exercise added to my normal sedentary lifestyle only gets me to around a burn of 2000 calories a day, which would mean a very small loss if I exercised every day and maintenance if I exercised 3-4 times a week, which is EXACTLY what was happening. (And there I was wondering why a few hours of desultory exercise a week weren’t having any effect).

In order to get to 2250 calories, I either have to work out for an hour EVERY day, or add a lot more movement to my normal lifestyle (running up and down the stairs a bit more, taking movement breaks when at my desk, doing lunges in commercial breaks, going out for walks etc).


Here’s yesterday’s chart. I slept until just gone seven.  I spent the morning running errands and tidying up the house, went for a run around noon and then spent the afternoon at my computer and the evening watching TV.  

The only problem with having just the armband is that I wouldn’t usually upload my data until the end of the day, so it was very easy to have a bad day and then think ‘oh sod it’ at midnight. So a couple of days ago I took delivery of the ‘digital display’  - a watch like thingy which you wear on your wrist and which tells you how many calories you’ve burned and how many steps you’ve taken – which has transformed my level of engagement with the device.  I’ve been using it the last couple of days and have hit my ‘burn’ on both days, by exercising and generally running around the house and walking in the neighbourhood a bit more. It’s scary to see how slowly the calories tick by otherwise.

So my aim for this month is to hit 2250 calories ‘burn’ EVERY. SINGLE. DAY and see if that gets things moving. Onwards and upwards! (It better work because it was pretty expensive).

It’s going to be interesting next week as we’re heading off on Sunday for Vancouver Island firstly to visit my friend in Victoria and then off to Tofino to stay at the Wickaninnish Inn. I’m hoping that walks on the beach will be enough as I find it doubtful that I will only be eating 1700 calories a day. Bloggery might be a bit sparse over the next few days as well.

07 January 2010

A New Me – January 2010


               November                                         December                                                     January                         



               November                                          December                                                   January

Not sure what these pictures prove except that I need to wash my hair.  It looks like I’m a little blurrier round the post-Christmas edges but not by too much.

Well, last month was a DISASTER.

I got sick with the mother of all colds and felt absolutely dreadful in the run-up to Christmas and couldn’t move without exploding into a hacking heap of mucus. And what with mirrormirror busyness in the run up to Christmas and the Minx and the Husband being sick and getting under my feet, I think I’ve managed about five days of exercise in the past month.

And of course on top of that was all the Christmas food and alcohol and candy and parties and chocolate and entertaining and comfort eating because I was miserable with my cold and PORK PIE from the British shop in Vancouver etc. etc. And yes, I do know these are all excuses.

So I  was absolutely terrified to step on the scale this morning, and seriously considered skipping a month. Instead, knowing how heartbroken you would all be if I did, I took my courage in both hands.

And the scales said 172 pounds (12 stone 4lbs) AGAIN. Which makes this the first Christmas since I was about three I think that I haven’t put on a ton of weight. Which I actually consider to be a bit of a result, as I was convinced I had put on around 5lbs.

Anyway, this unexpected semi-good news has boosted my morale enormously and I’ve managed to get back into my exercise regime as of Monday. As well as Wii-based strength training and Cardio Coach rowing I did my first ‘Couch to 5k’ Podcast this morning. These podcasts are designed to be used with Cool’s Couch to 5k regime, which if you do it 3 times a week over a period of 9 weeks, gently eases you, through a combination of walking and jogging, into being able to run a 5k.

Just think, by mid-March I should be able to run 5k in 30 minutes, which, if you saw me creeping along the Burke-Gilman trail like a geriatric buffalo this morning, is a little hard to believe.  I like the podcasts as they eliminate all need to time yourself with a stop watch or anything – you just follow the recorded instructions -and I like bouncy the techno-dance music which keeps me motivated.  I started using them last summer but had to give up after two weeks because of crippling plantar fasciitis. My foot is feeling a lot better now, but I’ll be doing lots of my plantar fasciitis stretches (pulling my toes up and back towards my shins) to make sure.

Does anyone else what to ‘Couch to 5k’ Along with me? I promise you couldn’t be a worse runner than me IF YOU TRIED.

10 December 2009

A New Me – December 2009

So, I’ve been working out all month, and I was thinking that my eating had been pretty good – smaller portions, lots of fruit and veg, cutting right down on the evil white carbs -  so I jumped on the scales on the 6th December expecting great results.

IMG_1966 IMG_2485

              November                                                                            December

Only to find that I weighed 172lbs, for a grand total weight loss of nothing, zip, nada, zilch, NOTHING. My body is ridiculous sometimes. I truly think that the last few years of sitting on my backside working from home has taken a terrible toll on my metabolism.

IMG_1964 IMG_2484

                             November                                                                        December

I was feeling pretty despondent but thought I’d do this month’s photos anyway, for completeness’ sake, but was quite heartened when I put them side by side, as I really think there is a difference. What do you think?

I do feel HUGELY much fitter and my clothes do seem to be fitting better, so maybe I am toning up/building muscle after all. And I’ve definitely got the exercise habit at the moment, which is great news.  I’ve bought a couple of books I’ve been recommended on kickstarting your metabolism, so I’ll report back when I’ve read them.

How did everyone else do this month? Better success than me? Thanks for bearing with me - checking in like this and thoughts of doing a triathlon next year are focusing my mind wonderfully. (Speaking of which, I really need to start dropping some serious poundage if I’m really going to be able to do the tri – like that’s going to happen in December)

Anyway, see you on January 6th (or thereabouts)

Update:  I thought I’d let you know how I’m refining my regime each month, as this is basically an ongoing '’transform my body’ experiment.  I’m currently alternating strength training days with high intensity interval training days courtesy of the aforementioned Cardio Coach.  I’m coming to the end of the EA Sports Active 30 challenge which is full of killer squats and lunges (presumably why my thighs are looking a little more toned in the pictures above) for my strength training and have Jillian Michael’s new Wii game lined up next. Will let you know what that’s like. I’m also cycling more, trying to fit in a bit more swimming and walking more, but will be focusing more on those in January.

I’ve also been making some modifications to my diet (such as eating more protein) based on the books I’ve been reading, but I think they deserve a post to themselves, which I will do when I’ve read them.

26 November 2009

Exercise, Schmexercise

I’m still plugging away at my new fitness regime and so far have managed to fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day (except for three or four days around that very special time of the month).

I’m not convinced it’s having much of an impact on weight loss as yet, but I am certainly feeling FABULOUS, fitter than I’ve been since before the Minx was born.

In preparation for next year’s triathlon, I’m focusing this month on upping my general fitness and will probably do this next month as well, before moving on to more focused running, cycling and swimming training in January.

I don’t have gym membership – there’s just no way I’d be bothered to make my way to a gym every day – but have set up a small home gym in our partially finished basement.  It’s not pretty, but it’s OK for 30 minutes a day.

Here’s a summary of the equipment I’ve been finding helpful so far.


EA Sports Active for the Wii Fit  - fitness ‘games’ for the Wii Fit have come on in leaps and bounds (ha ha!) since the original Wii Fit game. This game doesn’t use the Wii Balance Board much but comes with an integral thigh holster for the Nunchuk, so it can measure running, jumping, squatting etc. It features a 30 Day Challenge – 20 workouts in 30 days -  which I’ve been using as the basis for my month of workouts.  Each workout includes lower body work – mostly lunges and squats, upper body work using the fit band that comes with the game, a few minutes of some fun activities such as boxing, dancing, inline skating, tennis, volleyball, basketball etc and a few minutes of running.  Each separate exercise is only a few minutes long and each session features 18-20 exercises, so you get to do a lot of different stuff in around 35 minutes. It’s not a terribly challenging cardio workout, and doesn’t include any core work, but it does give you a good all-body workout in 30 minutes.

Pros I love how it mixes up different exercises every day, so you end up doing a different workout every day. But each day is based on the same core exercises, so you don’t spend all your time looking at the demonstration videos. You workout alongside a trainer who demonstrates the moves with you, it shows you working out on the screen (although my avatar lady is a little frightening) and it precisely reads the positions of the Wii remote and Nunchuk. so you can’t cheat on form or timing.  The settings are nice and I really like music (but then I am cheesy dance music sort of person).

Cons All the squats, lunges and upper body work get a bit samey after a while, though not enough to make me give it up. I think the squats and lunges in particular have done wonders for making me feel fitter.  There are some higher impact exercises (such as jump squats) which are not good for me as I have a bad knee.  You can avoid them in the workout if you want, but it would be nice to be able to choose a ‘low-impact’ version.  I usually end up doing those exercises on my little rebounding trampoline (also the running sections).

I also sometimes end up getting tangled in the wire between the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk.  Would definitely suggest getting a wireless Nunchuk for this game. Finally it’s sometimes difficult to get the machine to register that you’ve completed a move – the remote and Nunchuck have to be precisely aligned – this is frustrating at first and though I’ve learned how to do most movements so that they register, I can’t for the life of me get it to read my ‘Fast Kickbacks’ (but looking round the web, I’m not the only one).

Here’s what GeekSugar has to say about it.



My Fitness Coach for the Wii

This is more like an interactive DVD than a true game. You don’t use the balance board at all or the Wii remote very much and there’s no way it can check your form or timing.  What you get is a very pleasant trainer who puts together a specific workout for you every time based on the equipment you have to hand (you can tell it if you have a step, hand weights, fit ball etc) and your previous feedback. You can also choose which areas to focus on and how long you want to work out for. I usually tell it to focus on cardio and core (to make up for the limitations of the EA SportsActive) and end up with a pretty strenuous step aerobic workout with lots of ab work – very similar to going to a step aerobics class.  (If you don’t have a step it will still devise a thorough aerobics programme for you).


It’s a good workout. I’ve been doing it once or twice a week and it’s like being able to pop into a class at the gym.  It definitely gets me sweating and my heart pumping.  Amazing really for a machine.  There are lots of different exercises built in so no two workouts are the same, though there are no fun little games.


I used to be a bit of a gym bunny so I can follow all the aerobics and step terminology, but I think you’d find this really difficult if you haven’t done step or normal aerobics before.  The machine doesn’t measure whether you’re doing the moves correctly though, so you can just bounce about if stuff gets too tricky.  It suffers from the same high impact issues as the EA Sports Active, but I get round those by doing some stuff on my rebounder or else just making the exercises low-impact. As I said the machine doesn’t check. Finally you need SPACE. Space to do all the grapevines etc, but also space to keep your step etc. close to hand.  There are no pauses in the cardio section, so you can’t keep pulling out your equipment.

Here’s what IGN has to say.


Cardio Coach


My only piece of true gym equipment is my Concept 2 indoor rower, which I have used in a desultory fashion on and off over the last couple of years, mostly to row for 20mins while watching episodes of Sex and the City (which is about as much as my brain can get round while rowing). But basically I find cardio workouts both tedious and hard work.

Over the last week or so though I have been incorporating a Cardio Coach mp3 into my workout and my attitude is transformed. These are basically a series of mp3s for your Ipod where coach Sean O’Malley takes you through an interval workout set to music.  You can use them on any piece of cardio equipment or even when running outside. You exercise using a heartrate monitor to take yourself to four different levels of perceived exertion, so it doesn’t matter how fit or unfit you are, you can tailor your workout precisely to your needs. (For the record I do the warm-up at between 120–125 bpm, the level 2 ‘cruise control’ portion at around 140 bpm, the sprint intervals at around 155 bpm and then nearly kill myself going over 160 bpm in the short Level 4 section).

I currently have volume 1, but am going to download the rest. They are currently on special offer on the website.


It hurts.  This is a hardcore workout, but I feel a huge sense of achievement and really energetic afterwards.  The time also seems mysteriously to fly by – O’Malley talks just enough to keep you motivated and the music fits perfectly. I really can’t recommend these highly enough.


It hurts.

09 November 2009

Not At All Authentic Thai Green Curry with Butternut Squash


When I give recipes for Italian, French or British food you can assume that they’re at least somewhat authentic, as I’ve lived in all those countries and have some idea how their food is supposed to taste.

The closest I’ve been to Thailand though, is the Thai takeaway at the top of our road, so I make no claims for the authenticity of this dish.  I can however tell you that it is indescribably delicious and actually fits in pretty well with our recent health kick. If you’re actually Thai though, I suggest you turn away now.

I got that basics for this recipe from our favourite jeweller Abigail Percy via a Facebook conversation but have modified it using my own imagination and the instructions from the green curry paste bottle.


(Enough for 2 greedy people + leftovers)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium red onion (sliced)

2 cloves garlic (pressed)

1-2 tbsps Thai green curry paste (or to taste)

1 x 14oz can coconut milk (I used low-fat)

1 x handful cherry tomatoes (halved)

1tbsp brown sugar

1tbsp Thai fish sauce (or to taste)

1/2  a butternut squash peeled and chunked (I used nearly half a large squash and roasted the rest to make BNS risotto later this week – you could also use sweet potato/yams or pumpkin)

1/2 pound peeled uncooked prawns/shrimp

Any other vegetables (I added some mange tout – French beans or baby corn would work well)

1 x bag spinach

Big squeeze of lime juice

Chopped spring onions/scallions and coriander/cilantro to garnish



Heat the oil in a wok and then gently saute the onion until soft but still retaining some shape.  Add the garlic and curry paste and swoosh around the wok a bit to release the flavours. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until softened (you may need to turn down the heat for this, so that the curry paste and onions don’t burn).

Add the coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, bring the broth to the boil and add the butternut squash. Turn down to a simmer (I covered it with a lid) and cook gently until the BNS is softened, about 10 minutes. If you need to add extra liquid you could use chicken stock/broth or water.

When the BNS is cooked through, stir the prawns and the other vegetables (but not the spinach) into the broth. Cover the curry with a thick layer of spinach and top with a generous squeeze of lime. Steam the spinach over the curry for around 3 minutes and then stir it into the sauce.

Garnish with chopped coriander and spring onions.

We ate ours with brown rice (Trader Joe’s does microwaveable pre-cooked brown rice in vacuum packs, which is SO convenient).

And it was incredible.

06 November 2009

A New Me

Or a post full of SOMETHING. MUST. BE. DONE.

We’ve talked a bit about weight loss before but this time I’m serious. I’ve had enough of being fat and unfit and I want to embarrass myself into doing something about it by blogging about it.

As of this morning I weigh 172lbs (12stone 3lbs)  which is NOT GOOD for someone who’s only 5ft 1ins tall. In fact, as my Wii Fit never fails to delight in reminding me, I am obese.

Here I am this morning in my work out clothes



I could win the Olympics for yo-yo dieting and have tried every regime under the sun.  Last year I had some success with Weight Watchers, but have managed to put most of that back on again.  In fact I’m currently nearly at my heaviest weight ever.

This time though I don’t want to count points, or calories or carbs or avoid certain foods. I LOVE food (as you’ve probably worked out) and restricting my eating in any meaningful way always ends up in a big fat fail for me.  I also don’t think I eat that badly – we cook a lot at home, so most of our food isn’t processed; I eat plenty of fruit and veg; and I don’t like the taste of soda or really junky foods.  But I do know I eat too much, and have been known to binge if there’s a pot of ice cream in the house.

Over the last month or so though, I’ve been reading a lot about the science and psychology of overeating (particularly white carbohydrate addiction), so this time I’m going to approach things in a slightly different way.

Based on my reading here are my new weight loss rules.

Paola’s 5 Rules of Weight Loss

1. Do a bit of exercise EVERY day

2. Cut right back on/avoid refined white carbohydrates, fats, salt and artificial crap

3. Eat as much fruit & veg as possible

4. Try to eat slowly and meaningfully

5. Cut back on portion size

We’ll be talking a bit more about each of these elements over the next few weeks and what is working/isn’t working  for me and I might refine these rules along the way. On the 6th of each month I will weigh myself and post up photos so you can see any progress.

I know we’ve been here before, but this time I’m really determined to keep going with it. I also have an added incentive.  Last week week I signed up to do a triathlon at Lake Chelan on July 18th 2010. Since at the moment I can barely run, I am rather daunted by this prospect at the moment, but it really is focusing my mind. And hopefully the long deadline means that I will be a completely different person come July.

Wish me luck!

Oh and coincidentally (since I’ve been planning this post/new regime for quite some time now) Megan Not Martha has just written up a long post on how she managed to lose 25lbs this year using a similar regime. We meet up occasionally to knit, and I can testify that she really does look amazing.

03 November 2009

Back with a BANG – on the cover of Ideal Home!

I bet you’re all chewing your nails with anxiety wondering what has happened to mirrormirror recently given that I’ve hardly mentioned it at all over the last few months. (Actually the way sales have been going I reckon you’ve even forgotten it exists).  I’ve hinted at stuff going on behind the scenes but haven’t been able to tell you the full story until now, when I can REVEAL. EVERYTHING. Aren’t you excited?

As you may know I have been running mirrormirror from Seattle with the help of someone back in the UK, who sends out all the orders, deals with customer and journalist queries and generally keeps the show on the road.

At the beginning of the summer my colleague Diane decided that she could no longer fit mirrormirror into a hectic freelancing schedule which increasingly involved lots of week-long business trips to the US (and who can blame her?) so I was casting around to find someone else.

To be perfectly honest I thought the chances of finding a replacement were slim to non-existent.  Most of my friends back in the UK either don’t have the space or have too many work or other commitments to fit mirrormirror in and I was in no position to interview someone I’d never met before for the role.

A vague and sad plan crystallised, involving me running the shop down over the summer, hoping Diane could manage one last Christmas and then transferring everything to the US in the hopes that we’d get our green cards through quick and I could open in the US early in 2010.  And after struggling so hard to keep the shop going through the Minx’s babyhood and our move to Seattle I bet you can imagine how happy this plan made me feel.

Now, I am not a believer in anything very much, but sometimes the world really does move in mysterious ways.  In August this year I hooked up, through the magic of Facebook, with an old college friend and his wife who we’d lost touch with a bit following our move to Seattle.  And it just transpired that said friends had moved to a big house very close to Cambridge where the mirrormirror stock was living, and my friend’s wife was casting around for something to do now that the youngest of her FOUR kids (yes, she is also crazy) is going to pre-school, and said friend’s wife is one of the nicest, most efficient and well-organised people you could ever meet. And bingo! mirrormirror is BACK.

Which is fortunate as today we just got our best bit of press coverage ever.


The Cut Steel Garland by Atelier LZC is featured prominently on the front cover of December’s Ideal Home magazine (see it on the back of the chair in front)

  and also inside


while the Tree of Life is also featured in the same article



09 September 2009

Adventures in Knitting - Knitting the Ocean

The only thing I have really been able to achieve this summer is a ton of knitting.  I was inspired by all the fabulous patterns on Ravelry to embark on a cardigan for myself, the first time I’ve knitted an adult-sized cardigan or sweater since I was at college (more years ago than I care to remember).


This Featherweight Cardigan was a really quick, simple and pleasurable knit, particularly as it was the first thing I’ve made out of yarn dyed by a Seattle-based woman who goes by the name of Sundara.  The woman is a colour genius and I’ve recently been bankrupting the family buying up her limited edition yarns, but the colours, oh the colours are a-maz-ing.  I will blog about her separately as she really is an artist who deserves to be seen by knitters and non-knitters alike.

But I digress. This cardigan was made in Sundara’s soft and sumptuous Fingering Silky Merino in a limited edition colourway ‘Macedonia’ and, with its variegation from dark to light blue with little flecks of pale ‘foam’ on top, it was just knitting up the sea. The photos really don’t do justice to the depth of the blue and how it glows in the sunlight.  Full project details on Ravelry as usual.



These pics were taken by my friend Kassandra at Seattle’s Golden Gardens beach on the last beach day before school started. Our kids are rioting gently somewhere a few yards out of shot.  

While we’re on the subject of rebooting and reclaiming one’s life after the baby years, looking at these pictures I think I also really need to start reclaiming my body – it seems a bit much to be carrying ‘baby weight’ when the baby is nearly five.

I’ve been hampered in my efforts to exercise recently by lack of time and crippling plantar fasciitis -an excruciating pain at the bottom of my foot, which I think has been indirectly caused by twisting my ankle very badly a couple of years ago.  At the moment the best exercise for me appears to be yoga, so I’m committing to doing a bit of yoga (either a class or a video) every day for the rest of September.  I used to do quite a bit of yoga before the Minx was born, and it’s horrible to realise how inflexible I’ve become. 

18 March 2009

Sabotage - or You Just Died and Went to Cupcake Heaven

I'm back doing Weightwatchers  and getting back on the Wii Fit again as, due to extreme laziness, I haven't lost any weight since I posted this

This has of course led to every blog I read to enter into a conspiracy to see who can post up the most enticing/intriguing pictures of cupcakes they can find. 

So, in a spirit of 'if you can't beat'em, join 'em' and with apologies in advance for sabotaging your diets here they are.

First up gorgeous things from Aussie Hello Naomi {via Whorange}


CropperCapture[2]  CropperCapture[3]


Then cupcakes that look like burgers, so you can beat two junk food cravings at once (from here {via Twig and Thistle}


Chocolate Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's buttercream (I am SO stealing that idea) to celebrate St Patrick's Day from Trophy Cupcakes (available through March 31st for all Seattleites).


Finally this has been around the blogsphere a bit but I am DETERMINED to make him some day {via Violet Posy}.


26 January 2009

Here's How To Do It


Susan Sarandon is 62 years old.  I think I need to do some exercise.

25 July 2008

Wii Fit and Paul McKenna Weight Loss Challenge - Update


Two weeks ago


Two weeks ago

Well here's a quick update on my 'progress'.

Apart from a couple of days off when I went camping, I've been Wii Fitting every day and also following the Paul McKenna eating guidelines, though not doing the self-hypnosis CD very often.

And I've managed to lose a grand total of 0.8lbs in two weeks. I also think that when I peer at the photos above, my hips and mid-section look a wee bit trimmer - a testament to all the frantic stationary hula-hooping I've been doing.


Here's my BMI according to Wii Fit. My immediate goal is to get out of the 'obese' category. I'm actually quite pleased with my progress so far, as I've been socialising so much recently, so I'm going to keep going for another two weeks.

Here are some specific thoughts:

Wii Fit

God, I love this machine.  It's fascinating to see how much more addictive it is than normal exercise - just because you get to set 'records', compete with others in the family and have your progress monitored in a very precise way.

The yoga and strength exercises focus very much on developing balance and core muscles and I do think my posture has improved. I've been doing strength training once a week with a trainer and she's been noticing that I do appear to be noticeably stronger.

People have been scathing about the aerobic exercises, but I'm certainly sweaty and exhausted after I've finished doing them.  I love the rhythm boxing, find the hula-hooping to be hugely hard work, and it's scary to me that I seem to prefer jogging in place on my rebounder following a cartoon dog round a cartoon island than going out in the fresh air and jogging outside. 

Paul McKenna

Well, if it does end up working it will be fabulous, because I can't tell you how much I've been enjoying my food these last couple of weeks.  I've noticed that when I follow my body my eating patterns change a lot.  I eat more in the mornings and more after exercise, but then really only want to eat a very small supper.  That's been the biggest challenge for me so far - making delicious food to eat in the evenings and then realising I can only have a very small portion. I've been very good at eating when I'm hungry (what a pleasure that's been), very good at eating what I want to eat (I've been eating crisps!), moderately good at savouring what I'm eating, but still need to work (a lot) on stopping when I'm full.  

I'm also finding it scary but motivating posting pictures up on the Internet, so you're all going to have to put up with wobbly fat pictures for a bit longer.

11 July 2008

Wii Fit and Paul McKenna Weight Loss Challenge

OK, so this is all very off topic and self-indulgent, so if you're here for some nice pics of cushions or something then it's probably best to go now.

As I've mentioned before, I've not been very happy with my weight since the Minx was born (and was hardly thrilled with it beforehand, to be honest).

I was doing Weight Watchers at the beginning of the year and managed to lose a bit, but I do find all the weighing and measuring and logging food etc to be very tedious, and I really didn't feel it was improving my already warped relationship with food.

I've recently been reading a book by Paul McKenna called I Can Make You Thin which I've been finding really interesting. 

He's very 'anti-diet' and instead suggests following four simple rules.

- Whenever you're hungry, EAT.  I've been trying this for two or three days and it's a revelation to be able to go and find food whenever you feel hungry, instead of trying to hold out until the next mealtime.

- Eat what you want, not what you think you should.  This is amazingly difficult to get my head round. So many foods are labelled 'bad' in my head. But I've been trying to consciously examine what my body feels it needs when I'm hungry,  and not eat stuff I don't really like and which isn't emotionally satisfying just for the sake of it, or else eat treat foods just because I can.

- Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful.  Again, really difficult for me.  I'm always picking stuff out of the fridge or eating on the run or at my computer without really noticing what goes in my mouth.

- When you think you are full, STOP eating.  The most difficult one of all.  I actually eat quite a good diet, with very little junk and processed food.  But I do eat the most enormous portions (not helped by living with someone who's 6'2" and naturally skinny).  I just love my food. So now I'm trying to pay attention to when my body feels full, and it's scary just how small portions have to be.

And that's it. The rest of the book is full of NLP stuff and before-and-afters and also includes a self-hypnosis tape, which is relaxing if nothing else.  He's also put out a 90 Day Success Journal, which is probably a bit of a waste of money as it mostly encourages you to record whether you followed the rules with a daily inspirational thought, but I've got it anyway as I like the thought of having a bit more focus for 90 days. 

In addition I've finally managed to score a Wii Fit  which, on the first day of using, appears to be much, much more fun than going to gym, though I don't quite understand why. So I'm going to commit to playing on the Wii Fit for between 30 and 60 minutes every day for the next 90 days to get some basic exercise in.

And that's it.  I'm doing this post to challenge myself to stick to this regime for the next 90 days.  I'll post updates every couple of weeks (Paul McKenna suggests weighing yourself only every two weeks if that) and hopefully some gobsmackingly gorgeous AFTER shots at the end of September when the 90 days is up.

This bit is absolutely not self-indulgent.  In fact it's probably one of the scarier things I've ever done.  But here are some BEFORE pics of me in tight-fitting clothes, online for all the world to see. 

IMG_6279 IMG_6280

04 April 2008


So, I know we've been somewhat mean about her in the past, and that she's recently had a facelift, and is no doubt Botoxed to the hilt and airbrushed to the max, but good grief, her Madgeness is looking HAWT in her latest vid.  And very inspirational to those of us who may be past our first flush of youth.

The song is the best thing she's done in ages too.

30 November 2007

Tedious Minutiae

I have joined WeightWatchers!  I have been very inspired by my friend in New York who has lost a ton of weight on their programme. 

It's been OK so far - the online tools are really helpful and easy to follow since nothing is out of bounds - though I'm somewhat staggered by how small the portions are.  It needs to be done though, as apparently I look like this.

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving.  We've decided that we really like this holiday as we're under no pressure whatsoever to spend it with family, can't be bothered to celebrate it ourselves at home and so can instead go for a walk on the beach in the morning and get friends to cook for us in the evening.

This year we were treated to a fabulous turducken - a turkey, stuffed with a chicken, stuffed with a duck.  Tony - now known as the Turducken King - had apparently spent the best part of 48 hours researching how to make it on You Tube, brining the birds, deboning them, assembling the whole thing and then sewing it up, and I have to say every single minute was worth it. 

It truly was the most delicious turkey-related food I have ever eaten, and I can now never eat normal turkey again, which might prove problematic.  It is possible that this is not a good time of year to be starting WeightWatchers.


Here are the Minx and her friends enjoying themselves enormously on the same day.  

The following day Seattle got its gladrags on and we went downtown for the morning parade and the evening lighting of the tree and star.














Since we've been here just over a year, we're starting to do things again which we did at the same time last year - it seems odd to have actually started some family Seattle traditions.

13 June 2006


So, I've been taking my spoonful of oil every morning and afternoon and have by now ingested thousands of extra calories in neat oil. I am deliberately not doing anything else which might be construed as 'dieting'. I am eating everything I want to eat and only exercising when I feel like it. By rights I should have put on a least a couple of extra pounds in weight.

But, my body appears to have been taken over by an alien. A thin person. The sort of person who forgets to eat, who can eat three-quarters of the way through a chocolate bar and then put the rest away.The sort of person who pushes plates away announcing that they are 'stuffed', and who eats her favourite things first because she knows she won't have room later on. I have lost my taste for sweet things and heavy carbohydrates and am craving fruits, vegetables, fish and light foods such as Thai stir-fries. I'm drinking loads of water. If I don't do some exercise during the day I start to get stir-crazy.

In short I am doing everything that one is told to do to lose weight, but unlike every other diet I have been on ever, I am not having to exert a single ounce of willpower. On the contrary I spend most of my time feeling like I've eaten too much, until I analyse what I've eaten and it's not half as much as I was eating before. I have no idea how this is working, but something is definitely different. And, not surprisingly, I have lost 3 pounds in two weeks without the slightest effort.

28 May 2006

Shangri-la la

The reason you haven't been updated on my spectacular weight loss recently is that there hasn't been any. To be fair I haven't exactly been following the Paul McKenna rules over the last couple of weeks either, so it's hardly surprising.

In my ongoing quest for the ultimate weight-loss quick fix, I have, however, become intrigued by the online discussions of the Shangri- la diet.

I first came across the diet (which isn't really a diet at all) via a post on Creating Passionate Users which is a very sensible blog with much of interest to say to marketers and geeks alike. It seemed so wacky that at first I thought it was just an elaborate hoax, but further reading seems to indicate that it is genuine.

The diet has been devised by Seth Roberts, a Professor of Psychology. He seems to be saying (I haven't read the book, just paraphrasing stuff I've read online) that our natural instinct is to eat a lot when food is tasty and plentiful in readiness for times when it is not so easily available. Our weight problems are caused by the fact that nowadays food is always tasty and plentiful so our body sets a high natural weight 'set point'. What the diet does is to trick the unconscious mind into believing that food is scarce by suggesting that we eat tasteless but calorie-rich foods - after all we would only choose such foods if there were nothing more tasty available. This apparently sets the body's 'set point' lower.

The two foods he suggests are light, flavourless oils or sugared water. So apparently we should all be taking a tablespoon of neat oil or drinking some heavily sugared water a couple of times a day without eating anything else during a two hour window. And that's it. Apparently this is quite enough to suppress your appetite, reduce the amount you eat and lead to permanent weight loss(Check out the CPU blog entry for more details or Seth Roberts' own forums). .

Yes, I know it all sounds completely ridiculous. But too intriguing not to try for a couple of weeks or so. So over the last couple of days I've been chugging 1 tablespoon of oil mid-morning and 1 tablespoon of oil in mid-afternoon (I'm not doing the sugared water as I suspect it will play havoc with my blood sugar levels). I have decided to use Cool Oil, so that at the very least the oil I'm swigging is healthy, though rather than being tasteless it is completely disgusting. I don't think I've lost any weight yet, but I do seem to be eating less and craving more healthy options such as fruit and vegetables rather than cheese.

Is this thing f*cking with my brain?

28 April 2006

The Body Beautiful - Part II

Well, here as promised is an update on my weight-loss (I use this term loosely) regime.

I am mostly trying to follow Paul McKenna's book I Can Make You Thin, which is quite a slim tome itself as it basically contains only five golden rules and then some stuff about reprogramming your mind to behave like a 'naturally thin' person.

The golden rules are:

  1. Eat only when you're hungry
  2. When you're hungry, you can eat ANYTHING you want
  3. Eat consciously, and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When you think you're full, STOP
  5. Listen to the brainwashing CD which comes with the book as often as possible.

I have to say that after dieting for my entire adult life, my mind is pretty screwed up when it comes to food. I've been following so many conflicting rules over the years - low-fat, no carbs etc. etc. - that the very act of eating makes me feel guilty. But I do love good food, and it was so refreshing to be able to take things back to basics mentally.

So, how did I get on?

  1. I found I was able to stick to Rule 1 most of the time - which made a huge change because since I had the Minx I've been eating when bored or stressed rather than hungry. And I realised how much I had been using sugary snacks to get over the afternoon tiredness hump, because some days I had real cravings. But I've been trying to get more sleep which has helped.
  2. I found Rule 2 unbelievably difficult. I've been so brainwashed over the years that it was difficult to think that it was actually OK to eat 'naughty' food like butter or cheese when I wanted it. Interestingly Paul McKenna is right that one naturally does gravitate to a healthy way of eating - surprisingly I didn't actually want to eat chocolate all the time .
  3. I also realised that having a baby was making it almost impossible to eat consciously and focus on every mouthful. I'd been stuffing in 'fuel' every so often during the day and hardly noticing what it was I was eating. It's still almost impossible to focus when you have a toddler trying to pull the food from your plate but I shall persevere.
  4. This was also very difficult as I think over the years my body has overridden the 'full' sensation so often that now I don't feel it. And sadly it seems that I actually need only very small portions to make me full (I'm short so really should not be eating very much). But I've definitely been eating a bit less.
  5. The CD was lovely. I've only been able to listen to it a few times, but it is incredibly relaxing. I've no idea what it says as I always drift off into something almost like sleep but not quite, but I do come round feeling more motivated and inspired.

But does it work? Well I've only lost about 1 and 1/2 pounds so far which is somewhat depressing, though the good news is that I have not felt in the slightest bit deprived or like I've been on a diet at all. And I have to say that I've been sticking to the rules badly overall. And I definitely need to add more exercise to the mix. So onwards and upwards.

I will report back.

07 April 2006

Super Size Me

By a timely coincidence the film Super Size Me was being shown on Channel 4 tonight, so I sat down to watch it as part of my weight-loss campaign.

I have never been so horrified by a film IN MY LIFE*. The bad news is that the thought of taking myself and my daughter to live in America is now scaring the living daylights out of me. The good news is that henceforth I will be living on carrot juice with the occasional alfalfa sprout salad.

*Actually it was a really enjoyable, watchable movie in the Jamie's School Dinners vein. Highly recommended.

06 April 2006

The Body Beautiful

I've just weighed myself for the first time in ages and I appear to have put on one and a half stone (21lbs) SINCE giving birth over a year ago.

I wasn't exactly sylph-like before the birth either, though I was very careful whilst pregnant and fairly active throughout the pregnancy, so I actually weighed LESS a couple of weeks after giving birth than I did when I conceived.

But since then the weight has piled on. I used to be really active - cycling to work, rollerblading in the park and going to the gym - but since the birth I just haven't had the free time to exercise much at all and over the winter even long walks to the park haven't been on the agenda. And being at home with a baby is so boring and stressful sometimes that I may have occasionally sneaked one or two more slices of toast with (lashings of) butter and Marmite than were perhaps strictly necessary.

But I don't want to be fat when I go to Seattle, and I have lots of pent-up fashion spending which it is impossible to indulge when one's bosoms are this enormous, so I'd like to drop a couple of stone (28lbs) in the six months before we go.

To this end I am currently reading French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano, the GL Diet by Nigel Denby and I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna because I really need to address (I originally wrote 'lick' here, but that doesn't seem entirely right in the circumstances) the mental problem of comfort eating (which I do mostly when I'm bored or stressed) once and for all. There is nothing like a bit of of strenuous reading, I find, to make those pounds just drop off (and into someone else's pocket).

I will report back.