I AM absolutely thrilled to finally bring to you the first ‘Your Secrets’ story on Pouting In Heels.
Kicking off this new blog series is a totally inspiring story which I just know you are going to love. It’s one that we can all learn from but is particularly perfect for anyone whom is looking to lose weight, get fit or take up a challenge this new year.
As Helen’s friend, I have followed her remarkable journey for months via Facebook updates and after being continually inspired by what I read, I decided to ask Helen to share her story with me – and you- on Pouting In Heels. Thankfully, she accepted my invitation and I genuinely couldn’t be more delighted.
What’s it all about? Well you’ll have to read Helen’s story to find out properly. But in a nutshell it’s about weight loss, eating clean, discovering the joys of exercise and the power we all have within ourselves, to change who we are and transform our lives.
I’m so pleased for Helen and what she has achieved. Both her determination to succeed and her new found enthusiasm for health and fitness is just truly fabulous.
Ladies, I now hand you over to Helen Stokes and her remarkable story. Please don’t forget to show her your love and support by leaving her a comment below, popping over to her fantastic blog ‘And That’s Just The Warm Up’ or sending her a tweet. x
(Oh and make sure to tune in tomorrow too, when Helen will be sharing her top tips and two of her favourite paleo dishes. I’m already drooling over one of them…x)
Helen Stoke’s story…
My weight has yo-yo’d for years and I was overweight when I was pregnant with my daughter Imogen, much to my Doctor’s disgust! I vowed I would shift the weight after the baby was born, but like many women, I really struggled post birth and clapped on even more weight. Then, when I went back to work I put even more on.
If I’m honest the catalyst for losing weight was to have another baby. I never set out to get into fitness or eat clean, I just wanted the weight gone and would do anything! I’ve tried all sorts over the years; Weight Watchers, Slimming World, counting calories and have even used a hypnotist (!) all with varying degrees of success.
Last Christmas I decided 2013 was the year I needed to sort it or I just wouldn’t be able to have another baby. I bought some Wi-Fi enabled scales, signed up to Sainsbury’s convenience food diet plan, and went swimming 2 or 3 times a week. I dropped a stone just by doing that alone.
But in February I decided the swimming wasn’t working for me. The pool was too busy and I wasn’t pushing myself, so I decided to join a gym. Again I thought I’d just end up swimming but they offered me a free personal training session.
I thought I’d try it as it was free but surprisingly, it turned out that my personal trainer Jason Horton was just what I needed! Someone who was able to get their head round a) what I wanted b) my insecurities with exercise and food c) develop my thinking from just weight loss to fitness and health too.
Now when I look back, I can see that I didn’t just need to lose the weight, I needed to improve my fitness too. I was getting out of breath just climbing the stairs. I hated going to soft play with Imogen because I didn’t have the energy to run round after her and I hated walking anywhere.
The other thing I had never thought about was what I needed mentally. Working out gives me something else to think about other than work. It gives me space to be me, not mummy, not wife, not teacher, just Helen. I hadn’t realised but I needed something else in my life to help me let off steam and relax.
Exercise and eating clean has changed my life in many ways – obviously there is the physical aspects – currently I have dropped 4 & 1/2 stone and 3 dress sizes. My body is more toned. I have muscles in my arms and legs and my stomach is beginning to flatten and tone up. My skin is also a lot better.
I am no longer out of breath and I sleep better. I am happier in myself, I am able to switch off from work a little more and am more confident because I know I can achieve things that I might have thought I couldn’t before. I’ve gone from someone who hated exercise and would do everything to avoid it to someone who loves being in the gym!
When I started I couldn’t do press ups at all, now I can do 10 in a row as part of my circuits (usually with a lot of whinging!). I couldn’t do more than 2/3 burpees at the start, I didn’t even know what a burpee was! But now I can do 15 – 20. It has also surprised me how much I love lifting weights! I’d never in a million years have considered weights as an exercise that would interest me or that I would want to do, but I love it! I love the challenge of trying to go a little bit further.
I’ve had to learn to love food. I hadn’t realised but my cycle of eating unhealthy, convenience foods and takeaways meant I’d forgotten how to taste foods and made me very fussy. I’ve had to persevere and educate my tastebuds again. It sounds daft but before I hated food like strawberries and raspberries and now I’ll eat them.
The most difficult thing I find is continuing to eat clean when I am stressed or feeling down. I love eating clean , the food is delicious but I won’t lie, it is time consuming to prepare – cooking steak and vegetables at 6am for your breakfast is no way near as quick as eating toast or a cereal bar!
So as much as I love the food, it is tricky to fit it in when you work full time and have a demanding toddler. However I try to cook things that give me reheats that I can have the next day for lunch which helps. As well as eating clean I have also introduced paleo eating into my diet as I find that it’s a little more flexible and allows me to cook ‘recipes’ so you feel more like you are eating proper food.
Family, friends and colleagues have been very supportive and people are always asking me questions now about what am I eating, what exercise am I doing and how have I managed to lose the weight. The honest answer is hard work. It isn’t easy. I sometimes see a look of disappointment when they realise it isn’t a quick fix.
There is no pill or ‘diet’ that will help you improve your health and fitness. It is something we are all told by the health professionals; eat better foods, exercise more. It isn’t witchcraft or black magic. You just have to commit to it and understand that it takes hard work.
A lot of people have said I am an inspiration. I am not sure how I feel about that to be honest. It’s pretty flattering that people say that and I never thought people would view me in that way.
I’m so passionate about this health and fitness journey that I have been on, that I want everyone to understand it, try it and love it too, which is why I decided to set up my blog ‘And That’s Just The Warm Up’ . If I can inspire people to become healthier and happier, then that for me, is a real positive.
I am proud of myself, that I’ve stuck with it. I never set out to work with a personal trainer. I thought I’d do it just for a month, but I am hooked! I honestly thought by now I’d have jacked it in. I didn’t even dream I could do half the stuff I am doing now! I feel more confident in myself now both in the way I look but also how because I know that I can achieve things that are difficult. There is still work to do but I now see that anything is achievable.
I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I slip sometimes, but I genuinely believe that I am fitter, healthier and happier as a result of this journey.
In the future, I hope to become pregnant. Jason assures me I can still train whilst pregnant and also eating clean will be part of staying healthy during any pregnancy. I certainly intend to keep going. Even if I reach a weight I want to be, I will still want to keep going with fitness and eating clean.
It is part of me now. There isn’t an end point.
I just want to finish by saying a HUGE thank you to Helen for sharing her story with us. Thanks to Helen, I’m definitely going to be experimenting with eating clean and the paleo diet in the near future and who knows I may even dig my ol’ gym kit out too. Watch this space.
P.S Each month I’ll be publishing one inspiring ‘Your Secrets’, could the next one be yours? If you’ve got a story to tell, you can find out all about the series here or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TODAY’S post is inspired by one of my favourite blogs, the lovely Florence Finds.
Yesterday, the founder of the blog Rebecca, published a wonderful little post about being thankful for what we have in our lives – you can read it here – and because I loved it so much, I decided to do my own version for today’s Friday Five.
Sometimes, we all just need a reminder of how fortunate we are (even if we don’t often feel like it) and Rebecca’s post did just that to me yesterday, so thank you Rebecca!
As Christmas is also the perfect time for some reflection, gratitude and appreciation, here’s what I’m thankful for, in my life, right now.
Those of you who visit this blog often will know how much my beautiful little lady has totally and utterly transformed my world. And my very existence.
To be honest I never really need a reminder to be thankful for Elsie at all, because I am truly thankful for my daughter, every single day. In fact, every night before I go to sleep, I always say a little prayer to him upstairs to thank him for Elsie and the gift of motherhood. Well I am a good Catholic girl after all…(kind of).
You see, there was a dark time in my life, a few years ago when I honestly thought that motherhood was never going to happen for me. Becoming pregnant seemed to be the hardest thing in the world to achieve and yet eventually – and thankfully!- achieve it we did. It took my husband and I a pretty long time to conceive our gorgeous wee cherub and I still can’t quite believe my luck that she’s here.
Watching Elsie develop from a bouncing baby into a curious and wonderful toddler is just the best thing EVER. She fills my days with love, with happiness, with laughter and a whole lot of chaos and mess! ;-) But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being a parent is the greatest gift in the world and I will never forget how lucky I am to have been given this most precious of responsibilities.
My husband, Jamie
We’ve been together a very long, my husband and I. Coming up to 14 years in fact!
So there are times when naturally, we take each other for granted. It shouldn’t happen of course, but it does. Even with the greatest will in the world, thanks to life and it’s multitude of challenges, we all seem to take those that we love the most for granted on occasion and as a couple, we are no different. It’s not that we forget how much we love each other, but that we, sometimes, forget to show and express it.
So today, I’m taking this opportunity to address the balance and say that…..I am very, very thankful for my husband and his love and support.
Whenever I think about Jamie, besides feeling love, I also feel immense pride. Pride that he is my husband. Pride that he is the father of my child. Pride that he is the man that I am creating a life with.
For those of you who don’t know Jamie, all I can tell you really is that he is a belter of a man. A fine chap. One of Yorkshire’s finest. (He will so love me for saying that!)
He makes my life a gazillion times better, just by being in it and over the years has helped me heal many a battle scar and provided me with some ridiculously happy memories.
I’m so grateful that after all these years, somehow, the two of us have managed to grow up without growing apart, that he’s still the one that makes my heart go a flutter and that together, we managed to create the most wonderful human being (in our eyes!) and become a three.
My nearest and dearest
Family, both mine and Jamie’s, are another reason to be thankful. An obvious one perhaps, but we should never overlook those who share our DNA or history.
We both have pretty big families as both our parents are divorced, which can make life a little tricky at times (just who do you pick to spend Christmas Day with?!) but also brings with it a whole lot of fun and love.
In the good times and the bad, they are there. And whilst – as with all families – things sometimes can get a bit rocky or complicated – I truly wouldn’t swap any of them for the world. Which is a good job, as I think we may be stuck with them ;-)
It goes without saying that we love them all dearly.
Ah friends. Where would we be without them? And I’m not talking about close acquaintances or those flaky fair weather friends (you know the ones!) but those true, loyal, wonderful mates that you can count on one hand (or two if you’re very lucky) who make our worlds go round.
I was thinking about my closest friends just the other day whilst on a long train journey and realised just how fortunate I am to have such a fabulous bunch of gorgeous women in my life.
All of them – and they know who they are! – are fine examples of womanhood. Kind, considerate, funny, intelligent, sassy, they really are glorious women. They may not know it (until now) but they inspire and move me constantly. And *coughs* I love them all dearly.
My friends help to make me a better person, they make my life so much sweeter and I cannot imagine indulging in a cocktail with anyone else but them!
From old friendships that grow stronger every year to new ones that are only just developing, I am thankful for them all.
Opportunity (and this ol’ blog of mine)
In today’s modern times, we live in a world crammed full of opportunity and for that I am truly grateful.
I’m always harping on about how life is what you make it, but it really is! Life is about taking those opportunities that come your way and making the most of them. Seize the day and all that jazz.
Since I started this blog, opportunities have come into my life, that I could never have dared to even dream about. Pouting In Heels has brought excitement, fulfilment, creative contentment and friendship into my world and so many glorious opportunities.
Through blogging, I have met and connected with inspiring people, attended events, worked on exciting projects and achieved things that a few years ago would have seemed almost impossible. The opportunities seem endless with this ol’ blog of mine and because of that, I feel like the luckiest lady around.
Ok, so I know I’ve already covered five things but what the hell! I do so love to break a rule! And also, well, I couldn’t write this without including…YOU.
Yes YOU my lovely reader! Because, in case you didn’t know, let me tell you, I am grateful for YOU.
Thankful for each and every one of you who take the time to read, comment or share anything to do with my musings and this wee blog of mine.
Without you, Pouting In Heels would just be another tiny voice lost in an ocean of noise. But with you, my voice is heard, amplified and travels just that bit further. All of which gives me much to be thankful for.
Your support, your encouragement, your words and your kindness never fail to astound and humble me. You help to make my dreams possible and are the greatest motivation I ever need to get my butt in gear, whenever I really don’t want to.
Thank you, thank you, thank YOU from the bottom of my heart.
Till the next time, what are you most thankful for in your life, right now?
IN just a few days time, my little lady will celebrate her first birthday.
And I honestly can’t believe it. Everyone tells you that time really does fly and that little ones grow up super fast, but I’ll let you into a secret, I never believed them. I never believed that was the case until well…now.
Not in a million years did I expect the last 12 months to have whizzed by as quickly as they have. Because they have and all those people were right. The speed of Elsie’s growth and development has been a total surprise.
And yet why this is the case, I have no idea, because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my first year of being a mum it is this:
When it comes to motherhood, we should always expect the unexpected.
Just like when my waters suddenly broke one morning and got the whole labour ball rolling, since Elsie has come into my world, life has suddenly become full of surprises. Lots of them pleasant. Others, well, not quite so much.
For starters, there is the unconditional love you feel when you become a parent. I never expected to love Elsie quite as much as I do. And yet I do and much more besides. My love for Elsie deepens every single day. In fact I’d even go so far as to say, my love for her knows no bounds, for amazingly, it just keeps on expanding. This I didn’t expect either.
When it came to breastfeeding, I did expect to find it tough and most certainly a challenge. And yet here was one of the loveliest motherhood surprises I have received so far. For I was lucky, it was an absolute doddle.
And to all those mums who are now thinking, you jammy ***, I don’t blame you, I would think exactly the same. But that’s exactly how it was. We found it ridiculously easy. From Elsie’s first latch, feeding her was effortless, painless and just incredibly special. What can I say? We were a happy breastfeeding duo.
When it came to ending breastfeeding, that was much easier than I imagined too. Elsie simply decided one day when she was about four months old that boobs were no longer for her and that was that. And whilst I was really glad she made that decision herself I was also – unexpectedly – incredibly sad that I’d never breastfeed her again.
Breastfeeding time was as much about bonding as feeding and I knew that I was going to miss it. I had never expected to enjoy breastfeeding as much as I did. In fact, scrap that. I had never expected to enjoy it all.
And then of course, when it comes to surprises, there is the small matter of sleep. From nighttime sleep to daytime naps, Elsie has been shall we say, constantly surprising. At just six weeks old she began to sleep a good 12 hours through the night. Yep, you heard right.
Through. The. Night.
This I wasn’t expecting. Not one bit. Although needless to say I was pretty pleased with that result.
But when it comes to naps, my goodness me. That has been a whole different ball game. I have lost count of the number of methods I have used over the last year when it comes to trying to get my stubborn little girl to sleep. But I have tried everything.
From rocking to singing, ssshing to holding, swaddling to long drives in the car, it’s been a battle of the toughest kind. Elsie, unlike some other babies I know, just doesn’t like to nap during the day. Not easily anyway.
When people have a great night’s sleep, they often say ‘I slept like a baby’. For them, I would like to add, well you have obviously not met my daughter. And before you say, yes but at least she is sleeping through the night, well guess what folks? This has changed too.
For the last two months or so, Elsie has slept through the night a handful of times. Instead, we’ve had long nights of constant waking (like every 40 minutes), nightmares, separation anxiety, teething and two long bouts of sickness. Unexpected? Most definitely. Utterly exhausting? You betcha.
So what else? Well as I’ve watched Elsie grow and develop, I can honestly say that I never in my wildest dreams expected my child to be as clever, bright, funny, loving and beautiful as she is. As she is becoming.
Elsie amazes me. She amuses me. She astonishes me. I’m totally in awe of her brilliance and like all mums, so incredibly proud.
Motherhood has been the greatest surprise of my life and Elsie most certainly keeps me on my toes. Just when I think I’ve cracked one little problem, up pops something else to tackle.
But despite this, there is one thing I absolutely know for sure.
The intensity of the love I have for Elsie may have been unexpected but she can fully expect to know that I will feel this way about her, forever.
Till the next time, it’s true, little ones really do grow up fast!
SOMETIMES when I occasionally lose my blogging mojo, I wonder why I am spending so much time beavering away, when I could be sat with my feet up relaxing.
And the incredible thing, is that, usually, just when I’m feeling especially fed up, something amazing happens and my blogging joy returns.
Something, just like this. Yes folks, I’m not going to deny that I’m as pleased as punch to tell you that Pouting In Heels has been cited as one of the top 100 baby related blogs to follow in 2013. *punches air* ;-)
Here is the full list in all it’s fine glory. You’ll find this blog at number 90. Enjoy! x
Till the next time, protect your precious mojo.
An infographic by the team at CouponAudit
AS a woman in my early thirties, I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked this question over the years. Safe to say it’s probably in the hundreds.
It seems that once you’re in a committed relationship of some description – or in some cases, even if you’re not – everyone wants to know when you’re going to have a baby and if you’re married, well, quite frankly the level of baby scrutiny increases 10 fold. (If you’re planning on getting married one day, don’t say I haven’t warned you.)
Over the years, it’s been interesting to note that this question has pretty much always been aimed at me – the woman – not at ‘us’ the couple, although admittedly in the latter years my husband has found himself having to answer the dreaded question too occasionally.
It’s also never failed to amaze me that the majority of people ask ‘when are you going to have a baby?’ not ‘would you like to have a baby’ as if by the very nature of being born a female, it’s a given that you will be having a baby at some point. Talk about presumptuous.
Now don’t get me wrong, I can quite understand immediate family and friends being interested in our family plans and this isn’t really what has bothered me over the years. It’s more the fact that every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to think they have the right to ask somebody – mainly women – such a personal question.
Since my early twenties, I have been interrogated as to my baby plans by distant relatives, people I’ve met in business and even strangers, I kid you not. I’ve even been asked by one person if I knew ‘what my womb was for.’ Pleasant ey?
The fact is, asking such a personal question of anybody – especially when you don’t know them very well – can be very intrusive. Firstly, perhaps the person you’re asking doesn’t actually want children. After all, not everyone does.
Or, just maybe, the person you are asking is desperately trying to conceive but isn’t having any success or worse still, maybe the women you’re asking has recently suffered a failed preganancy. Imagine just for a second, how being asked that question will make them feel. Can’t be very nice, can it?
So for those people who continue to ask this bombshell question, I say this, please, just think on. If you’re a family member or close friend, then tread carefully. Have some tact, ask gently and don’t just presume that everyone wants a baby or can have one naturally. And, if you don’t know someone very well, play it safe and don’t ask! Stay clear of baby questions – unless perhaps the topic naturally pops up in conversation – and try asking them something else instead, like what their holiday plans are for the year. Something less prying if you like.
Finally, if you’re a woman sick to death of having to deal with baby questions all the time, then you have my sympathy. If you’re brave, you could tell them (politely of course) to get knotted. Cheeky? Tell them you’ll have a baby when they get some manners or if all else fails, do what I’ve done in the past and answer every baby question with a simple generic answer like ‘maybe one day’. Not great options I know, but they may just make it a little more bearable.
Till the next time,
P.S For everybody who’s asked me this question over the years, this is just for you….
All being well, I WILL be having our first baby, sometime in July. There, you can all go and knock yourself out now. ;-)
Hello! I'm Kate - an award winning family & lifestyle blogger, freelance writer & mum.
1st book & 2nd baby both due in 2017. (Yep, I'm a little excited.)
Here I share my tales of how I try to strut my way - but often find myself hobbling (don't we all?!) - through life & parenting.
I do hope you'll enjoy what you read. Thanks so much for popping by. x