We all put a few pounds on over Christmas, and many of us managed to lose them again with the traditional New Year's diet. Some of you managed to stop drinking booze during 'Dry' January, or cut out meat with 'Veganuary'.
I , however, carried on picking at biscuits, eating junk food and drinking a few glasses of wine most evenings. I hate the dark evenings, and just couldn't motivate myself to get any exercise on those cold , rainy days. My gym membership payments kept leaving my bank, but I never set foot through the door. I stopped wearing my skinny jeans, and began to live in stretchy leggings.
Despite vowing to get back on track last month, I did not have a 'Fabruary' after all - and I hit rock bottom. I could give you a tonne of excuses. I'd been ill, my mother-in-law passed away, money has been tight. But really, there is no reason why I can't make good choices, and put my mental and physical health first.
Last week, I broke down in tears to a personal trainer – who I'd written an article about for The Shepton Mallet Journal. Al Stewart, runs a number of fitness initiatives locally, and I knew he'd really helped turn people's lives around. Through his business 'Transition4u' (www.transition4upt.co.uk) he's running a 12 week weight loss challenge at the local leisure centre – and I've signed up.
I've tried all kinds of fad diets, and been to every slimming club going. They certainly do work for many people but not for me. In 2013 I actually resorted to having gastric bypass surgery after becoming morbidly obese, at 20 stone and only 5ft 2 with a dangerously high BMI of 47.
Over the following 2 years I dropped almost 9 stone, but recently, as I've been able to digest a wider variety of foods, I have let over a stone creep back on. I've made regular video blogs about my weight loss journey and the surgery( you'll find all the archived video blogs at www.bariatricblogger.weebly.com ) and was so proud to reach my lowest weight of 11st 9 lb last summer , I was even featured in some magazines with before and after pics.
It terrifies me to think I could end up back where I started, I feel like a failure. At the first weight loss challenge session, I made lists of my motivations, learnt more about nutrition, and began to think about wellness in a holistic sense. I also got weighed on some high tech scales and was shocked to find out my metabolic 'age' was 55 , and I've just turned 40 !
I'm determined to make some long term lifestyle changes, and get back to good health and lose weight. Follow my blog to see how I get on.
This year, my 7 year old son was finally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. It's a form of high functioning autism. I've always been 'against' labeling, until I realised that it could actually be the way to get him the extra support he so desperately needed.
To us, he's just Rowan. He's different, unique and unconventional but so is everyone, and wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same ! He loves to collect bottle tops, hang upside-down off the sofa- usually naked, or wearing a cat costume. He likes milk, chocolate and fish fingers but hates anything spicy or chewy. He walks a bit funny, comes out with unusual phrases- and he is obsessed with aeroplanes, minecraft and black holes.
I like avocados, sushi and Prosecco, love having sparkly nails, and hate going in lifts. My husband loves Cypress Hill, hot curries and is scared of cows. Each to their own I say!
Autistic Spectrum Disorder ( ASD) is characterised by marked difficulties in behaviour, social interaction, communication and sensory sensitivities. Many parents have asked me how to go about getting a diagnosis.
The first thing to do is read up about your child's 'suspected' condition, be it autism or ADHD. Then make an appointment with your GP, with the express intention of getting a referal to a specialist paediatrician. Don't be fobbed off, and don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion. You will be your child's main advocate, and it may well be a long and testing journey- but well worth it.
The aim for many , is to get extra support within their child's school. People with ASD/ADHD often struggle both educationally and socially. Rowan was always being told off for 'not listening', or 'not sitting still, and fidgetting'. This 'bad behaviour' was actually a symptom of his condition. He also had problems with continence, making friends and bullying.
Altogether, it made school an extremely unsettling experience for him- and twice, we have pulled him out , to home educate. You can apply for an EHC Plan ( Educational Health & Care Plan) which will eventually allow your school additional funding for 1:1 support, and specialist equipment.
However, you don't need the EHC for you to request support from your school. Things you could suggest, may be a'wobble' cushion,'walking' breaks or fiddle toys, if your child is hyperactive and fidgetty. Ear defenders, or time in a quiet room if they have sensory issues.
Each school has a SENCO ( Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) ask for a meeting with them, your child's class teacher, and the principal as soon as you have concerns.
As a parent carer, you may well need a bit of support and help yourself. Get in touch with the following groups for advice www.somersetsend.org.uk
or ring Somerset Parent Carers Forum on 01458 259384 .
I love my boy just how he is, and I think if the world was a bit more autistic, it would be a nicer place !
Published in Mid Somerset Series / Local World Media - 16/02/2017
I'm one of those mum's who swore my kids would never spend hours glued to an ipad. I imagined fun filled evenings sitting around the kitchen table eating organic vegetables, and laughing about the days events. Well, things dont always go according to plan.
Most days, my eldest, who has Asperger's syndrome – rushes home from school, and spends up to an hour playing Minecraft on his tablet. My youngest will spend the time watching PJ Masks on his Sky Kids app, then we'll all sit at the table to eat chicken nuggets and chips, because I know they'll eat it without a fuss.
Wayne will attempt to discuss his day at work, and I'll ask how school went. The boys will mutter “It was okay” before droning on and on about the latest 'Stampy Cat' video ( a Youtuber who makes videos about gaming ).
I try to set limits, and at ages 5 and 7, I am winning the 'screen time' battle, just about. I got a shock last week, however, when I attended an Internet Safety workshop at St.Paul's Junior school in Shepton Mallet. While the legal age for a child to have a social networking account, like Facebook or Snapchat is 13.
It's estimated that almost 50% of 11 year olds are using social media, and two thirds of 5 – 7 year olds go online for one reason or another. This leaves them vulnerable to seeing inappropriate content, making contact with strangers, being lured into sexting, or becoming a victim of cyberbullying.
Tuesday 7th February is 'Internet Safety Day'. Most schools will be running workshops , and sending home information with their students. Make sure you discuss it with your child.
You can get a lot of information, and age appropriate videos at www.saferinternet.org.uk or www.childnet.com . A great magazine called 'Digital Parenting' is available from www.vodafone.com/parents It includes tips on how to set strong passwords, change parental settings on tablets, laptops and games consoles – and also gives tips on how digital technology can be used to encourage and document 'real life' activities.
We often make YouTube videos of our boys learning new skills, or upload animations that they've created. We even used Minecraft to engage our son with his dreaded Maths homework.
The internet is an amazing resource, and who hasn't 'asked Google' to help answer children's questions! The key is to be one step ahead, a cool 'cyber-savy' parent...or at least try.
AS PUBLISHED IN LOCAL WORLD MEDIA - SOMERSET
"Shepton Mallet Journal ", "Wells Journal " "Central Somerset Gazette" and "Cheddar Gazette"
"Family Life Column" p.22
Was January a total fail ? Did you aim to lose a stone, only to gain a muffin top? Join a gym, and go...like twice. Try to go wheat-free, and end up with a serious croissant addiction?
It's totally OK- because you have a second chance! It's called #Fabruary – you are going to totally rock it this month.
Why? Because the mornings are getting lighter, you aren't quite as skint – meaning more money to spend on fresh veggies and fitness apps.
And, even though you didn't quite manage to complete the 'dryathlon' or 'veganuary' ( look after a night on the Prosecco, we all need a bacon sarnie!) you still have the best intentions, and it's five whole weeks until Easter.
That's easily enough time to lose half a stone. I know all the chocolate eggs are already in the shops, but you can pick one as your treat, and when you lose that half stone – you can go eat a whole lindt bunny, because you deserve it!
Mental health is just as important as physical health – so get out in the crisp frosty air for a 15 minute power-walk or just run round the park like Phoebe from Friends.
Do a Facebook Cull. Throw out all your out-of-date make-up and greying underwear. Make home-made honey and oat face packs, then post the results on Instagram. Learn a new skill – like how to say “I am Fabulous” in Japanese.
Only drink wine on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. We all deserve a #MidWeekMerlot afterall. Wear odd socks ( It's supposed to be lucky!) and write a haiku. You can post in on twitter #3linesOfMagic.
Think positive. Whatever you do, don't beat yourself up. January is a terrible month, but you survived. Bring on #Fabruary !
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)