Wednesday, 30 September 2015

No New Clothes Challenge

After losing a total of four stone (and two stone just since December 2014), I've had to buy a lot of new clothes. Jeans that I had been managing to keep up with a belt just weren't salvageable any more as the butt was so baggy! As I intend to keep losing weight (only a few pounds though) as well as exercising more to build a little more muscle and stop the jiggling, it's quite likely that I'm going to end up buying them all over again too. I have found myself gravitating to one or two different outfits that I know fit and work, but it's getting a bit samey!

I don't buy expensive clothes - mostly I use websites like Everything5Pounds to get end of line stock. But recently I've had issues with sizing as I seem to be in between sizes, especially in different cuts and styles, particularly with jeans. I went to Peacocks to buy some jeans, and I was an 8 in one pair (but they were too flared so I didn't like them) and the size 10 in a straight leg pair were too tight! So buying clothes online is out for the moment as I really don't know what size I am going to need without trying things on. 

With that in mind, and high street prices for clothes I am likely to only wear for a short while, I'm starting a challenge where I don't buy any new clothes at all. If I need something, I will raid the charity shops (and I look forward to seeing the gaudy one off pieces I can scavenge!) and hopefully spend a fraction of the cost - saving myself some cash - as well as helping charity too! This will mean I am also remixing my current wardrobe to find different and fun ways to wear things I already own to increase the number of outfit choices I have! 

Friday, 10 July 2015

My Life, According To Pinterest

I often wax lyrical about Pinterest. I don't care that for some it has the reputation of being mainly for stay at home Mormon mommy bloggers - I can always find something on there that interests me, that gives me an idea or at least some inspiration. Though yes, you do have to wade through the odd post about Jesus.

I joined Pinterest in 2011, about a year before I got married and I am so glad I did. A pre-Pinterest wedding would have been unthinkable! It gave me such wonderful inspiration about how to personalise my wedding and how to DIY parts of it to save money but still make it very "me". It made me realise that a run-of-the-mill traditional wedding that fitted in with everyone else's ideas of conformity wasn't necessary. I could do exactly what I wanted. Some of the time, I didn't even know what I wanted - until I saw it on Pinterest! 

So this is a little homage to Pinterest and the ways it's changed my life (hopefully for the better!) and the ways I now do things solely because of Pinterest! 

Make my bed every morning

Most people probably already do this anyway, but for me, I always thought "why bother"? We get out of bed and get ready for work and leave, and we don't go back into the bedroom again when we get home from work until it's time for bed. So what's the point if I'm only going to get back in it again 16 (ok, 13...) hours later? And who am I making the bed for exactly? But then I read a post on Pinterest about becoming an organised and less-stressed person and the point that really stuck with me was about making your bed every. damn. day. Why? Because it  starts off your morning with order, with things looking neat, and its like a little mini win first thing in the morning. Studies have (apparently!) shown that people who make their beds are generally then more tidy in the rest of the house and their lives, making them less prone to stress. And I have to be honest this really has worked wonders for me. I even bought a bed runner (its a cheap pashmina!) and a decorative cushion for the bed and it just helps me feel like I've got my life in order. One really small change but I can tell you, it's made a massive difference. 

Draw on thicker, fuller eyebrows

I used to have pencil thin eyebrows because that was trendy when I was at school. Then it became less and less trendy, but my poor eyebrows had been plucked so much that they could grow no more. So I just drew them on a tiny bit thicker, and in a really obvious thin arch. Soooo cool. Pinterest has shown me that thick, filled in bushy brows are now the trend though, and it's shown me lots of tutorials about how to get them looking sharp (I believe "on fleek" is the new terminology?). They are never going to look 100% natural again because there's so little actual hair, but now I literally never pluck them, and draw on a much more substantial brow. It also opened my eyes to the fact that brows out of place don't need to be plucked. You can trim them! Like normal hair! Who knew?! So that slightly too long brow hair that is out of place now doesn't get plucked leaving a bald patch - I just trim that sucker and it all fits beautifully into place. 

The third piece rule

My sense of fashion in general, especially for work, is pretty much all down to Pinterest. I just used to buy jumpers and black trousers and that was it. If I was feeling fancy I might wear a jumper with a fake shirt collar. Lavish. Now I actually think about what I'm wearing, what kind of look I'm going for and how that look portrays me to people. Before, I might have worn a chunky knit oversized cardigan and because I was much larger I'd wear baggy black trousers and just looked a state. With hindsight, at least. I didn't like spending money on work clothes, so the bigger I got, the more ill-fitting all my work clothes were, and it just got worse and worse! The main way I'm more savvy about my outfits is the third piece rule. Your outfit is not complete without three key pieces. Wearing trousers and a top? Ok, that's two. The third piece? It could be a scarf, it could be a pop of colour in some awesome shoes, it could be a statement necklace. But you must have three stand out pieces that all tie in together. Skirt and blouse is two. Patterned tights, a statement handbag or belt, or cardi or jacket is three. Always, always three, at least! I now check this before I leave the house every single day. "What is adding interest to my outfit here?". And I haven't really spent much money with this - just using different pieces in my wardrobe in different ways. I owe that to the blog Putting Me Together who helped me to re-think key pieces I already have and different ways to wear them. 

Packing for trips 

This ties in with my change in fashion sense really, because if I was going somewhere for 7 days, I'd take at least 7 different tops, maybe a couple of skirts that only one of the tops would go with, a couple of pairs of jeans, several pairs of leggings... and a huge bag full of luggage. Now I pack clothes that work well together. A shirt can can be worn open over a cami top, or a dress I can wear a T shirt over with a waist belt to make it more casual. Tops that go with every pair of trousers or the skirts that I'm taking, This gives me so much more space in my bag, and whenever I go to stay with friends that always comment on how little I've brought with me! I've also hugely cleared out my closet so I'm left with key pieces that work several ways, rather than one top that only really goes with one skirt that I've got and doesn't work well as a different outfit.


I never really liked tattoos all that much before getting Pinterest. I think I'd only ever really seen the old school green faded tattoos, or Sailor Jerry type tattoos, and just never really liked them. But Pinterest opened my eyes to the real possibilities of tattoos. Lovely muted pastels and greys, really personal quotes or mementos and tattoos that looked seriously classy. I don't think I ever would have ended up getting tattoos if it weren't for Pinterest, and I absolutely love mine and have plans for many more!


I've tried loads of different workouts on Pinterest before but the HIIT body weight circuits are the ones that have stuck with me the most! If the weather is grim and I can't get out for my walks then I often turn to a Pinterest workout to get some calories burnt and to get in a quick sweating session without ever even leaving the house let alone setting foot in a gym!


I'm still not a great cook in all fairness but I have found some really great recipes on Pinterest that I come back to again and again, especially slow cooker recipes. There is a plethora of fantastic recipes out there and whole blogs dedicated to slow cooking that there's always something I want to try! The BBQ shredded coca cola chicken is my favourite!! But also recipes like homemade chicken goujons or creamy turkey mince lasagna have been real hits too!


I've always been quite crafty anyway but now because of Pinterest I often see things in shops and think "I could make that for way cheaper, and tailor it to my liking!". I can't do as much as I would like here as we rent but I have SO many plans already for whenever we do move! My husband said our new house will no doubt be a continual work in progress with all the plotting that goes on on Pinterest!! I have so many boards dedicated to home decor and DIY, it'll take me many years to come to work my way through them! 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

How Fitbit Changed My Life - Part Two!

I've now had my Fitbit for seven months after getting it on the 3rd of December 2014. I remember the date vividly because it was the date that my life was massively changed for the better - and that's in no way an exaggeration!

The first month-and-a-bit of using Fitbit, I didn't have any friends on the app so was just competing with myself each day to get to my goals and beat my targets. I then joined a Facebook group called Fitbit for Weight Loss, and found lots of Fitbit buddies to take part in daily, weekend or week long challenges. I dont know any of these people in real life, but seeing their step count every day and getting support from them has pushed me further than I ever thought I'd take this whole Fitbit thing! 

The Facebook group is so supportive too, with members all offering tips and advice, answering questions and lending a kind word or two if you've had a bad week. There's also a real culture of celebration if you hit your targets or post your weight loss, and everyone is "in it together" (in the real sense of the phrase, not in David Cameron's sense).

In my last post about how Fitbit changed my life, I went through how the Fitbit works and how this gave me the shocking realisations about why I simply couldn't shift any weight. In that first month-and-a-bit I lost 3lb, and changed my whole outlook on food and exercise. I am very, very proud to say that since having Fitbit and in the past seven months I have lost TWO STONE!!! 

I had an original goal weight of 10 stone when I first looked at myself in the mirror four years ago and didn't recognise myself any more. 10 stone was the weight I started at when I started university. Everyone puts weight on at university with a combination of sedentary lifetsyles, eating crap because you can't afford good food (and have no idea how to cook it anyway...!) and drinking A LOT. So I didn't really begrudge my one stone weight gain during university. It was after that - the extra three stone I put on slowly but surely after starting sedentary jobs and grazing on junk food all day long for something to do that I really did feel utterly disgusting. How my husband ever found me attractive at 14 stone I will never know (and that's nothing against anyone who's 14 stone and over - it just never felt like "me"). But it creeps up on you, one day your jeans are a bit tight so you buy a size up. And before you know it a year down the line you need yet another size larger. But it's not overnight - it takes time and it's not til you hit that point of "holy crap, how big have I gotten!?" that you really realise it. 

I lost almost a stone in that year prior to getting married, trying to go to the gym (running on a treadmill, how fruitless for weight loss!) and eating a little healthier. But it was such a slow and drawn out process with weeks and weeks of no losses and even putting a few pounds back on. 

I was 13 stone when I got married, a full three stone heavier than when I had met my husband, and as beautiful as my dress was, it wasn't really me that got married. It was the fat me. 

I lost another stone after I got married, but it took two full years and it was painfully slow. Again, I yo-yo'd and was never really making a concerted effort. 


I was 12 stone when I got my Fitbit. I don't like to tell people that because I looked alright and I don't think I looked 12 stone. But I was. And looking back, I looked terrible. 

Using Pact, Bounts and of course Fitbit, I have pushed and pushed and pushed myself, doing 10000 steps at least five days out of seven. I have started doing the Parkrun on (most) Saturdays and doing a leisurely 5km, and I have eaten healthily for the majority of the time. But I still eat chocolate, I still eat carbs, in fact I eat what I want most of the time within reason. I just make healthier choices when I can and I exercise away the unhealthy choices. 


I don't want to get too skinny because I like my curves and I've never been a stick (nor do I think I am designed to be one) but from here on out I am just seeing how far I get. Maintaining and continuing t be healthy and seeing where Fitbit takes me next. I need to tone up now, my arms and legs still jiggle, but I'm working on it. And Fitbit is there, every step of the way!! 

Friday, 20 March 2015

How To Earn Money By Being Healthy

We're well into 2015 now, and how many of you have kept up with that New Years resolution of working out more, eating more healthily and getting more sleep? Anybody?!

It's tough to stay motivated when you're trying to lose weight or simply trying to be a little more healthy. You might be initially spurred on by some weight loss, but is that enough to steer you away from the creme eggs (my current addiction)?

Well how about MONEY as motivation!! That's right - actually getting paid to stick to your goals, to work out and eat more healthily and try to take better care of yourself!

I blogged before about Fitbit and how it has changed my life - see post here. Fitbit is a little wristband that tracks your steps as well as your calorie burn and sleep quality. It also links to other apps which actually PAY YOU to be healthy. I'm really serious here!! I sound like an advert but I can assure you I am not getting paid for this, well other than because I am being healthy of course!


Pact is an app that will literally pay you to stick to your goals of either tracking your food intake (with MyFitnessPal), eating more vegetables (which you taken photos of and the Pact community verify) or working out a certain number of times per week. If you meet all your goals, you can earn between $1.50-$2 per week. It's an American app, but UK users can still use it and earn money, it'll just be sent to your PayPal in dollars whenever you withdraw it.

I have been using Pact since September 2014 and so far I've earnt $35 dollars of actual real money! It could have been more, but I didn't start using the food logging Pact with MyFitnessPal until December so I may have missed out on a few dollars there. But, $35 in six months, in a year I'll have around $70 dollars, simply for hitting my own personal goals and staying healthy. I have set my goal of "working out" 5x a week - but this is where Fitbit comes in really handy. A workout counts as 10k steps on Fitbit, whereas with apps like Runkeeper, you need to log 30 minutes of exercise within a 1.5 hour window (running, cycling or walking counts). So Fitbit makes it a lot easier by spreading it out over the day. You can also use other apps at the same time - so if you do go for a run or a walk and track it with Runkeeper, that will count too.

So, where does the money come from then? Well, this is the sneaky bit. The negative reinforcement if you will! You make your "pact" to stick to your goals, and you get paid if you do. If you don't? Well, then you gotta pay up!! And a LOT more than you earn! I have committed to paying $5 for every missed workout or food log. So if I don't do either for a whole week, I owe a whopping $50!! So, you can see why I make sure I hit it every week right?? It's really easy though - I used to hit my goals even before I got my Fitbit in December by going for a half hour lunchtime walk every day and tracking it with Runkeeper.

I haven't withdrawn my money yet as I am keeping it in there to build it up and really treat myself to something after a year or so. I may let it build up until the end of 2015 and see how much I have made in 15 months of being healthy!


I am relatively new to Bounts, signing up in December when I got my Fitbit, but so far I have earnt £15 in vouchers, again just for being healthy! Bounts also works with activity trackers, like Fitbit, but also MapMyRun, Runkeeper etc. I use it with my Fitbit, and you gain points for doing 7K steps per day, plus extra points for every 20 minutes you're active. You can get a maximum of 45 points per day, and I usually get 35 or 45 depending on my active minutes. Bounts partners with some really big companies, like Amazon, WH Smiths, and Love2Shop, and pays you in vouchers for those shops. You build up your points, and then use them in their online voucher shop. The £5 Amazon vouchers are 1275 points - so if you earn on average 35 points per day, you'd earn enough for a voucher every 36 days. So just over once a month! There are sometimes promotions though, where the vouchers cost less points - I recently got Amazon vouchers for 975 points, so cashed in and got £10 of Amazon vouchers. I have also previously bought a £5 Love2Shop voucher (this was before Amazon got
added!). I have already built up to 375 points after cashing in last week - it's really easy to do if you hit your 7K steps every day!

Bounts is about to change its app and how the points are awarded and also the cost of vouchers in the shop. It sounds like it'll be a really good change but I will no doubt blog about it once it happens and let you know if it's still as easy to earn free money with them!

So there you go, two completely free and easy ways to earn actual real life money just for being healthy. And the extra bonus, you actually really are being healthy - so you're keeping an eye on your food intake and you're doing your daily steps or exercise, and I have actually lost well over 6lb since using these apps and Fitbit, and I've earnt a decent bit of cash (vouchers!) too!!

Finally... I've Found It!

After years and years of searching - and most likely hundreds of wasted pounds over the years - I have finally found the foundation that is absolutely perfect!!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I have so many picky caveats when it comes to finding the best foundation. I am extremely pale, which renders most foundations out of the picture instantly, as even their lightest shade is just too dark. I did mix foundations with Make Up Forever white stick foundation for a while, which kind of worked, but with the foundations being different consistencies it never really worked as well as I'd have liked. I also HATE my skin - it's very blotchy, with uneven tone, and I hate my freckles. So I want something with really full coverage, but that doesn't look cakey and too unnatural. I just want it to completely eradicate any of my natural features, so I can put back better ones, is that too much to ask? :-)

I also run very hot, and find I am always sweating from my top lip and on my chin in the summer. So foundations either need to be sweat proof, or easily re-applied without looking like I've filled in a gap. So it needs to be blendable, even after being on my face for several hours. I don't however want something that stays "damp" and looks oily and shiny - it needs to have a satin to matte finish, and not make me look oily. I also want ease of application. I really don't have time to faff around with primers and brushes and beauty blenders. I want to be able to put it on my face, spread it around, and have it look half decent.

With all that in mind, you can see why I have really struggled to find anything that fits all my requirements! Several have come close, but have fallen short on one or two points. The main ones really are the colour and the coverage, but all my pointers are very important to me as someone who is very self conscious when it comes to their skin. So, which one has finally ticked all the boxes...?

Ta da!

This is Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick in Alabaster! 

I've tried other Bobbi Brown foundations before, just in Boots where they give you a tiny tester. And they have all been far too dark, even the lightest shade. But I had never seen this one before and wanted to give it a go, as it seemed to be a lot lighter than any of the others I had tried. It retails at £29, which for me is very expensive, but I managed to snag one for £20 with a voucher and I have NOT looked back! It's a stick foundation, but it's not really thick like a concealer stick would be. It's very creamy! It doesn't travel too well on the face, so I just draw a whole load of war paint lines all over my face, and then smooth out in between the lines with my fingers. The whole application process takes around 60 seconds for the whole face. The coverage is fantastic, it covers over all my spot scars and the redness around my nose, and the tiny little red mark I have under my right eye which I usually use as a yard stick for foundations. It even predominantly covers my larger birthmark too! My freckles are no more, and it is a lovely matte to satin finish. It's very easy to apply more if needed if some has come off, but actually it has very good staying power. I wear it for around 16 hours a day and it needs very little touching up. I ordinarily finish it off with a little bit of powder, but for these pictures I haven't done, so you can see just the foundation on it's own. Here I am in all my pale glory! 

I've done a side view, albeit a terribly unflattering angle, so you can see that the foundation which I finished on my jaw line, is the exact same colour as my neck! This literally never happens!! Hooray for Bobbi Brown!!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

How Pinteresting!

I still adore Pinterest, and I still spend the vast majority of my free time sat in front of it, but I have pinned markedly less things recently and I came to realise something... I HAVE REACHED THE END OF PINTEREST. I've won the internet, like, I've completed it! Most of the pins I see now on Pinterest are things I have already seen. And most of the time I go to pin something and it warns me I have already pinned it. Ah! Past Me was just as savvy and cool and awesome as Current Me for wanting to pin such things! All I can hope for is a sudden influx of new and awesome ideas from the Pinterest community so I can continue to pin new things to my hearts content!

I have however managed to find a few little gems that I was particularly taken by in the past few weeks that I wanted to share!

This amazing oven rack is just an absolute genius idea. Why didn't I think of this?? I am always clammering for more oven space for my roasted veggies and this even gives you space to cook your dessert at the same time. For someone like me who has the tiniest of ovens, this extra space is a god send! I definitely need to invest in one of these.

This simple and adorable paper bird cage would make a great wedding table decoration, or a table centrepiece for your valentines meal! I'd make one for our Valentines Day meal if my husband had an ounce of romance in him (oh and did I mention he is working nights that weekend...?) *sigh* young love...

I've been doing this stretch every few nights before bed (when I remember), and I've been holding it for a good few minutes at a time. It seriously hurts for the first minute or so, and it's quite difficult to hold the pose, because my shoulders are so stiff and so rounded. I get a good few clicks out of my shoulders too while I settle into this stretch. But it becomes more and more comfortable and afterwards when you release this stretch, your shoulders are obviously more retracted and natural and it feels amazing! I can highly recommend it. Especially good if you do a lot of driving or have a desk job where your arms are pretty much constantly in front of you (typing and holding the steering wheel are terrible positions for your shoulders!)

Some things when you see them just make so much sense, it's a serious face-palm moment of "why is this not already a thing??" This outdoor "lamp" is a solar light, stuck on a candlestick and with a lampshade on it. I mean seriously, of course it is, why wouldn't it be and why hadn't I thought of this? This is an absolute must-do for whenever I have some outside space. I can picture myself with a glass of wine on a balcony in a big old chunky knit jumper and with one of these lovely lamps for company! Perfection.


I absolutely love this idea for a "baby shower" (though I hate to use such an Americanism) or even just a house warming party where everyone gets a wooden letter, paints and embellishments, and adds their own designs. Then you're left with your baby's name (or whatever word you choose, maybe something cookery related for your kitchen or maybe "welcome" for your hallway) and it's decorated by the people you love the most! This would also be a really cute thing to do for someone's birthday or for their wedding - post everyone a letter and some supplies, get them to add their designs and write their name on the back and then present it at their wedding or housewarming as a present! Ah the ideas just keep on flowing. Pinterest sows the seeds for me and I grow the additional ideas!!


Another one of those "seriously, WTF brain why couldn't you think of this??" moments. It needs no further explanation than the picture really! It says it all! Certainly one to remember for future house decorating! 


And on that note I am off to chastise my brain for being unable to think of the initial ideas!! :)

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

How Fitbit Changed My Life

This made me laugh so much when I read it, I did have a Livestrong bracelet!! In all seriousness though I don't care if it makes me stupid or nerdy or weird, I am obsessed with my Fitbit.

Fitbit is a little wrist gadget, no bigger than a slimline watch, that tracks your activity in real time throughout the day. But this isn't just an ordinary pedometer - it syncs with a mobile app / internet based dashboard to give you detailed insight into your daily activity. Depending on which model you have (I have the Flex), you can count how many steps you've taken, how many floors you've climbed during the day if you always take the stairs, how many miles you've travelled, how many calories you've burnt, and how long you slept as well as the quality of your sleep. It syncs with other apps, so you can track activity with Runkeeper and you can add your Fitbit data and activity to My Fitness Pal (MFP) to have a real time estimate of how many calories you have left that day to stay under your goal.

This is where Fitbit absolutely changed my life!

I have been tracking my calorie intake for months with MFP. It definitely made me accountable with what I was eating and made me think twice about that extra couple of roast potatoes or that chocolate bar (my diary is public, so anyone can see what I have been eating). I had also been using Runkeeper to track my daily walks, as I tried to walk for around 30 minutes a day at an average 3-4 miles an hour pace. At the end of the day I'd complete MFP diary, and it would optimistically say I'd be at least 7lbs lighter after 5 weeks if "every day were like today". But I never really seemed to lose that much, and certainly nowhere near what they were predicting, even though I was being really good! What was I doing wrong?

I wasn't burning anywhere near the calories needed - that's what I was doing wrong!! MFP gauges how many calories you should burn on an average day from your current weight, age, height and gender. Mine seems to think that's around 2400. But when I first got my Fitbit, and just went about my normal day for the first day (to see what I was doing ordinarily) I only burnt about 1900. A good 500 less than I expected, even with the 30 minute walk! That's what I get for being sedentary for the rest of the day, and expecting a 30 minute walk to undo all the laziness of sitting on my backside the rest of the time! I also found out that my 30 minute walk was only about 4000-5000 steps, with the recommended per day at 10,000 steps. So I was seriously underestimating my calorie burn and therefore, I was eating 1700 calories plodding along happily thinking I had at least a 500 calorie defecit (because MFP told me I still had 200 calories left to eat today once I hit my 1500 target and I ain't going to say no to free food) not realising I was only burning a couple of hundred more than I was eating, which is nowhere near enough for steady and focussed weight loss.

So that's the major way that Fitbit has changed my life. Instead of thinking a 30 minute walk is enough, I am doing as much as possible during the day, to hit at least my 10k steps goal. I average about 11k-13k depending on what I've done that day. If it's been a really sedentary day and I get to 7pm and I've only done 8k steps for example, I will pace my lounge for 30 minutes to make up the extra. Seriously! I wander up and down my lounge which is all of 12 steps long! Over and over and over again! My husband thinks I am absolutely mad! But it has hugely increased my activity levels and Fitbit reliably tells me I am now, on average, very active for around 60 minutes a day and I burn around 2300-2400 calories per day on average. Much more like it!

I find myself parking much further away from everywhere - the supermarket, the office, visiting clients. I haven't started parking down the street from my house yet but there's still time...! I find myself not wanting to move a muscle while my Fitbit is charging (the battery life is about 5 days before it need recharging) because I don't want to waste a single precious step. I watched a football match on TV a couple of weeks ago and I walked on the spot for the WHOLE game. I did around 15k steps that day! It makes fitness a game - with challenges each day to meet your step goal or be the one who does the most steps in a week (you can add friends to your Fitbit dashboard and compete against them). And I find myself thinking "I'm only 600 away from the next thousand... I might as well pace the lounge for a few minutes"!

I've only had my Fitbit since the 3rd of December so just over 5 weeks now, and I have lost 3lb! And that's including Christmas and New Year where I didn't put on a single pound. I kept up my steps over the week, kept to my calories (except for Christmas Day and Boxing day -  that'd be impossible!!) and I have lost three whole pounds which I am extremely excited about! And it's FUN that's the main thing - going for a 30 minute tracked Runkeeper walk was boring and I had to drag myself out of the house. Now, doing little bits all day and extra bits here and there with a bit of lounge-pacing, I am more active, more healthy, and having more fun! And, hopefully, I can lose that final stone and a bit I have left to go!