A Healthy Me – May

Things are not going well. My love of biscuits is not helping. At work we have a biscuit tin and a Co-Op up the road which always does deals on the best biscuits (Fox’s, Bahlsen). I weaken every time. I’m going to go back onto my Thinking Slimmer Slimpod, as while I didn’t lose weight on it, it was good for controlling my needs for chocolate.

It has been a busy month. I have been able to (mostly) keep up thanks to my back doing what it should do, with occasional twinges here and there. So I’ve been active. I’ve kept up my trips to the gym, and pilates classes have become a bit more challenging which is good. We’ve had lots of trips out and journeys into London with plenty of walking involved. My feet are not thanking me for this.

So… weight. It has gone up – 13 stone 6. But it has got me wondering – that point when the flab starts to turn into muscle, I need to measure myself as well. While I don’t think I’m becoming particularly muscular, measurements are important too – and my jeans don’t feel as tight. My waist is 37″, my hips 41″. According to the NHS this isn’t good. I have no prior measurements to go on, so it just needs to decrease.

Cholesterol spots. Possibly slightly less, but I need to get back on the lemon water again. I got a photo, and need to think about the dark circles under my eyes and how to make them disappear. I’ve read that coconut oil can help, so am going to start there. Let’s see how it looks next month… I promise to try and look less scary.  As a sidenote, one of my friends who is just a year older than me has just had a heart attack. He’s fine and well and recouperating now. Someone I used to work with who is the same age, died from a heart attack a couple of months ago and it has made me look much closer at me and my lifestyle. I should probably get another blood test to check my cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as I’m still at risk of diabetes.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Exercise. Quite a bit, actually. Going to the gym I’m meeting other mums I’ve got to know, and it has been nice to know I’ll have someone to chat to there. My stamina for running for the train has improved massively – good job really as I’m so knackered from doing everything I do, so I’m often running late for my morning train! The Rainbows events we have coming up will certainly keep me busy, plenty of walking and running around. I’m considering doing the Family Fun Run with Shaun and H at West Run London as it isn’t too far from us and I think is a good thing for us all to do together. So we’ll see.

Food. I’ve been eating quite well, occasional takeaways and less cake (but more biscuits). I feel like the junk food levels have gone right down again, which is a good thing for my cholesterol.

A Healthy Me – April

It has been my birthday month, which has meant cake. This has also meant I’ve put weight on. This is not ideal!

I’ve got more of a routine about going to the gym on a Wednesday night now, which works for me – and it’s quiet too so I feel less conscious. I’m not working out enough I end up sweaty and tired, but I can tell I’m doing something, and every week I do five or ten minutes longer on the machine than the previous one.

My back – no bother at all. I even fell over and didn’t twist anything. I had four weeks break from pilates due to Easter which hasn’t made things worse. All good there, and my Osteopath appointments are now nearly two months apart.

Food – could do with improvement. I enjoyed my birthday, and in doing so, ate badly.

Weight. 13 stone 5. Same as last month I think? Phew.

Cholesterol Spots. No change.

Vitamins. We’ve run out. I keep forgetting to get more.

So yes, a month where I pigged out, and I’m now curbing my intake, although it’s hard with a biscuit tin nearby at work (and they had Bahlsen biscuits in there yesterday). Onwards to May!

(as a sidenote, I’ve just seen some video footage of me, and I can see I need to lose weight. There’s bad angles and big chins, but I’m going with it as I’m happy with what is said in the interview)

Aveeno – Ellie and Eddie are Back!

Happy Skin Holidays is the latest book in Aveeno’s Ellie and Eddie stories, written by author Penelope Harper. Dry skin doesn’t go away when the weather gets warmer – and sometimes your child might need a bit of persuading to apply the cream too…

Happy Skin Holidays

Happy Skin Holidays is the second book in the Aveeno range featuring Ellie and Eddie. The first book has been a big hit, and quite often I find H reading it  – and she is getting much better at making sure she has cream on her dry skin areas – we’ve been using Aveeno a lot this winter.

So now Spring is here – but both H and I have a problem; we’re both suffering from itchy skin. For me it’s across my tummy area and my arms, and for H it’s her arms and lower back – it has been a pain – and it’s kind of awkward scratching my tum when I’m at work. See, Aveeno isn’t just for dry skin when it’s cold – it’s for warm weather too. Being someone who had bad eczema on my legs for a couple of years I know I don’t moisturise as often as I should – even if I’m drinking a lot more water than I did back then!


But the good thing about this is H and I moisturise together so she sees it as a normal thing that we do, rather than an inconvenience. She still hates cream being put on her, but will do it if I am, so our morning routine now includes putting cream on ourselves – and Aveeno makes a massive difference. She knows it’s important as it is really well worded in Happy Skin Holidays – and Ellie and Eddie are both good at putting the cream on.

So our morning routine is something like this – I wake up, Shaun goes for a shower, H comes in for a cuddle with me and we both scratch and tell each other not to. I have my shower, and H gets an extra nap for 5 minutes. After that she goes to get ready and we both put on our Aveeno together.

The cream is really soothing and stops the itching – there’s nothing worse than seeing your child scratching themselves in the night as their skin is so dry and itchy. I like the Ellie and Eddie books as it encourages H to get on with it, and how normal it is to use it – she doesn’t feel like she’s the only child in the world with dry skin (as it’s not exactly what they’d chat about at school, is it!). The bath oil is really good too at bathtime and has become one of our essentials!

You can download both books over here – and I’d recommend if your child is anything like H, needing a bit of gentle persuasion!

Aveeno oil

We were sent the Eddie and Ellie book plus some Aveeno samples – all opinions are our own. 

A Healthy Me – March

Hands up, I failed this month. Work got busy, really busy and I got to Fridays stupidly tired and opted for takeaways. My body has let me know it doesn’t like this by adding some weight.

However, things are moving along nicely. I never did get to swim when H did, and her lessons are moving to a later time next term, which doesn’t leave me enough time before pilates, so I’ve set aside Wednesdays to go to the gym and have a little workout on my own, which has so far happened just the once (I was crampy last week). But it is my intention to keep it up.

I’ve had to stop drinking lemon water for a bit as my teeth got too sensitive, but I’m going to try drinking it with a straw so the water doesn’t hit my teeth which should mean things will recommence soon. See, if I write it down I have to do it, rather than just talking about it and not doing anything as there’s no time.

So, onwards!

My back – things have been brilliant, I’ve had a four week gap between appointments at the Osteopath and I feel like things have improved a lot. I’ve upped the gap to six weeks now which is great (for me and my bank balance). Painkillers are rare, though when my muscles hurt in the sides I’ve taken one, but not very often which is good.

Food – apple and pineapple still every morning, I just need to cut back on takeaways. This will probably involve having a rest (come on this weekend…) and convincing H that a rest is a good thing as she often just wants to get up and do stuff, then gets tired later (when I’m wide awake…!)

Swimming/gym. When I went to the gym I found a tv programme which distracted me, and somehow did ten minutes on the cross trainer and ten minutes cycling minimum, as I was reading the subtitles and chuckling away. I now wish all machines at the gym had a special place to plug in an iPad so you could watch anything you wanted. I probably need a gym buddy but I have no friends who go – although a gym buddy would only need to get me out of the house rather than us chatting as we work out.

Weight. 13 stone 4 the last time I checked so I need to get rid of those extra bits before I’m classed obese again rather than overweight.

Cholesterol spots. One side is looking fainter, but the lack of lemon water means I haven’t noticed a lot of movement.

Vitamins. When I remember. Mornings and remembering are not working well at the moment.

March was a pretty busy month in the end but we got outside and started to breathe again. April looks like it’s going to be busy too, though at least it’s a six week term before the next holidays (but we’ll get these ones over with first!).

A Healthy Me – February

I like February – I wish every month could be like it, as it goes so quickly. It’s a month which feels a bit like a Tuesday or Thursday – kind of non-days? But of course that means the time has crept up and I need to do my monthly update.

Health-wise it was rubbish. I had no time off sick from work, but had really awful aches which stopped me sleeping. Eventually my Osteopath got something going again and I’ve had a week of blissful sleep every night which has been long-overdue. My only explanation is that maybe all those muscles are going where they should be since I got pregnant (which was over five and a half years ago) and something went wrong the first time. That or it’s a c-section issue (funny how these sort of things only seem to happen to women who’ve had them – I’ve met many).

Things have turned a corner anyway. I’m not taking any painkillers any more, still no caffeine since November, just water (and wine at weekends). The post-Christmas ‘eat up all the food we hadn’t touched’ commenced, and I still didn’t put on any weight. So let’s go through each part…

Food. I am still eating apple and pineapple every morning for breakfast, although I’ve started feeling hungrier afterwards so have had the occasional pack of Belvita biscuits to keep me going. Osteo says my drainage around my back looks much better, and I can definitely feel no pain or strain there, it seems to have transferred to the front!!

Swimming/gym. Okay, hands up. I’ve been rubbish. I have been to the gym though, although got so tired again and had a lack of energy that fell by the wayside. My gym must love me, getting their fees for so little time. I’m going to swim next Tuesday when H has her lesson though, I’m determined. I did run for a bus today and wasn’t out of breath, so I’m definitely getting exercise somewhere.

Weight. Still 13 stone 2, not 15 stone 2 as I said last month. Pleased with that as I haven’t gained anything which is a relief.

Cholesterol spots. I haven’t seen any movement in them, but I need to get a photo.

Vitamins – every morning I take a multivitamin and Vitamin D, and I’m definitely feeling better for it.

I need to start thinking about ways to treat the dark shadows under my eyes, but I’m not ready to go on a detox. I’d be interested to find out what has caused it.

March is set to be a fairly quiet month as well which is good – we need it! I’m starting to feel like I’m recharging my batteries, things are improving which is a good thing. I’m feeling positive, plus I’m doing Karin Joyce’s ‘Embrace Happy‘ every day over at her Facebook group – as like Karin says, ‘not every day is good, but there is good in every day’

A Healthy Me – January

A new year, and things are different to last month. The evil cold finally shifted, lasting approximately seven weeks. I had a week off coughing which was bliss, I got some sleep and started to feel like I was healing and resting, and then H brought home a cough from school. So far the back is staying put, although I have noticed when things start to go wrong they seem to switch sides which is odd.

I managed three weeks without seeing my Osteo which is the longest, but my back clicked on my first day back at work, enough to get an appointment that day, fortunately.

Food – I’m still eating pineapple and apple for breakfast, and last week my Osteo said she could see better drainage around my back area. Every time I cough I am still tense something might go (which probably doesn’t help), but if my body is starting to do what it is meant to, then that’s a good thing.

Swimming/gym. Harder to keep up with now the cold nights are here. I make myself go to pilates, and I need to try harder to get to the gym. I may need to go this week anyway. H is starting new swimming lessons at my pool which has an added bonus in that I can use the pool at the same time with my membership. It’s a half hour lesson, so slightly longer than I would swim, but that’s time for me to sit in the steam room afterwards (while carefully watching H of course). Pilates is back again and helping again – I had a month’s break from it when everything was bad last month.

Weight. It’s stayed the same – mainly as I didn’t overeat over Christmas as I felt too ill. I hardly drank anything either as I was taking so much medicine. I’m still there at 15stone2 anyway.

Cholesterol spots. I’m still convinced they’re disappearing thanks to my increased vitamin intake. I’m taking a monthly photo over on Instagram, and sparing everyone right now, they’re hashtagged #cholesterolspots anyway. My eyes look very dark and shady, accentuated by the white spots.

Colonoscopy. I cancelled the procedure, mainly as I read the forms and realised I would need to lie on my left side for a long time – which with the current back issues would be unbearably uncomfortable. In addition I would need a minimum of three days off work so I’ve postponed until I’m a little healthier. I do need it, and they agree that with my dad’s history that I should be checked which is equally reassuring and terrifying.

I’ve started taking Vitamin D as over the holidays I was convinced everything was wrong due to a lack of it. I’m not sure if this is the case or not, mind. I was SO healthy in Australia, and didn’t feel unwell at all – I felt like a different person – and we had a lot of sun out there.

Smear for Smear

Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35. Smear tests are important. Today, Sunday 25th January marks the start of a campaign to raise awareness, Smear for Smear, in conjunction with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week starts today. The Smear for Smear campaign is simple enough – put on some lipstick, and smear it, take a picture and upload it to whichever social media channel you choose, using the hashtag #smearforsmear – and tag some friends. (disclaimer : I’m not taking part in the photo, but I am doing my bit in spreading the word)

You see, regular smear tests are important. Cervical Cancer is one of the few cancers which can be prevented. 1 in 3 women between the ages of 23-29 do not take up their smear test invitation. Nine women are diagnosed every day.

My mum had cervical cancer. She had a hysterectomy and is still with us. Smear tests are important, and I know I need to help spread the word.

Here’s the press release :

Smear campaign against cervical cancer launches as over one million women fail to attend screening

  • 1 in 3 young women aged 25-29 fail to attend screening when invited
  • Over a quarter of young women delay screening because they worry the test will be painful or embarrassing
  • 20% of young women think cervical screening is an unnecessary health test

The UK’s only dedicated cervical cancer charity is calling on women (and men) to join #smearforsmear – a campaign which aims to help reverse the downward trend in numbers of women attending their smear test (cervical screening) and in so doing stop the rise in numbers of women diagnosed with the disease.

Launched at the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (CCPW, 25th – 31st January 2015), Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is asking the public to smear lipstick across their face, snap a picture for social media and remind their friends of the importance of smear tests.

Currently in the UK 1 in 5 women fail to attend screening when invited – a test that detects abnormal cells on the cervix before they develop into cancer – and this number rises to 1 in 3 for young women aged 25-29 who are the first age group to be invited. In fact 36.7%[1] of 25-29 year olds in England failed to attend screening when invited last year. Worryingly the most recent figures in numbers diagnosed show a rise from 352 cases in 2010 to 427 cases reported in the UK in 2011.

A survey[2] by the charity has revealed some of the reasons young women give for delaying attendance include seeing cervical screening as an unnecessary health test (20%), concerns it would be painful (26.2%) and embarrassing (26.6%).

The charity is also concerned about the general lack of knowledge surrounding the test amongst younger women. Over half (56%) of this age group didn’t identify the cause of the disease as the human papillomavirus (HPV). One in ten thought it was a test for sexually transmitted infections and 13.5% thought it was a test for Ovarian cancer. Giving a voice to cervical cancer prevention is also vital as 48% said they never openly discuss smear tests with their friends or family.

Robert Music, Chief Executive for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “Every day we see the devastating impact a cervical cancer diagnosis can have on both a woman and her loved ones. But to know that for those that delayed their screening before diagnosis, this could have been prevented, is tragic. It’s now time that we see a shift in awareness of cervical cancer and an understanding of the importance of smear tests.

“We hope the public get fully behind this fun and simple campaign. The more women who take this life saving five minute test, the fewer who will face infertility, early menopause, more extensive long term effects and potentially even loss of life. It’s time we all acted as it may just save a life.”

How to share your lipstick smear:

  1. Apply your lipstick, smear it across your cheek and take a photo
  2. Tag #smearforsmear and @JoTrust in your message.
  3. Add the names of the people you want to nominate
  4. Post onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
  5. For more info on the campaign visit: Jo’s Campaign (this is last year’s link)

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (www.jostrust.org.uk) is the UK’s only dedicated charity offering support and information to women of all ages and their loved ones affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. The National Helpline is on 0808 802 8000.

Aveeno and Dry Skin

I’m prone to dry skin and H inherited it from an early age. Aveeno has always been our cream of choice – mainly for the varieties available and that it works. I like to steal a bit of H’s too as it’s so gentle!


Aveeno have asked for some hints and tips with dry skin, and what to do. So here’s a few bits from us.

I seem to be prone to dry skin on my legs, which develops into a painful rash. I’ve found that drinking plenty of water and applying cream at least three times a day on the painful areas seem to help. Oil-based treatments have helped a lot, as well as not shaving my legs. I had to make sure I didn’t let my legs get too dry, as that provoked the rash and made it itchy.

H seems to get dry skin on her arms and legs, as well as very small patches on her face. Now she’s five I can squirt the right amount of cream onto her hands, and she applies it to her face so she can be ‘just like mummy’ – though I am able to rub my own cream in, she’s still working on that one*!  Aveeno’s Dry Skin lotion is soft enough for the face and light enough your five year old won’t pull too many faces as they rub it in.

aveeno book

H does understand the importance of moisturising, mainly thanks to the book Aveeno have produced, featuring the cartoon characters Ellie and Eddie, which is available as a free download from their site. Anything that helps spell it out is a good thing, as you can guarantee she’ll listen to a book more than she will me! Also, she feels more in control of her skin – she understand why she needs cream on there.

There’s always the chance your strong-minded child will refuse to put cream on; but a bit like blending onion into a pasta sauce so they can’t see it; Aveeno’s Bath Oil does the trick. Add it to the bath and there’s a nice gentle moisturising going on – and it doesn’t make the bath slippery afterwards, thank goodness!

aveeno ellie and eddie

But what is eczema? I know when I have an outbreak of spots it’s usually classed as that. 1 in 5 children and 1 in 2 adults have eczema. It is a dry skin condition which can vary in severity from person to person, and is triggered by different things. Aveeno’s range of products feature Colloidal Oatmeal which is clinically proven to restore the top layer of skin, keeping it feeling soft and comfortable. Having oats in the lotion is beneficial for dry skin – it moisturises, soothes, protects, buffers and cleanses. When H has had bad outbreaks, we’ve even been given Aveeno on prescription.

* stop press – tonight H got in from school, rubbed some Aveeno on her face and did a marvellous job – I think she’s got it!

Aveeno’s website is here

We were sent a selection of Aveeno products to use.

A Healthy Me – December

This month has been pretty rubbish, health-wise. I’m at the end of a six-week cold which has been pretty horrendous – pulled muscles, pulled back and twisted pelvis are three of the things which came with it; it hasn’t been much fun. Plus – it never seems to actually go away. Oh, and I lost my sense of smell and taste for three weeks too.

The worst thing has been my back. A violent cough knocked it out – I went to my old Osteopath to get clicked back into place so I could move again, which worked, but the coughing just meant I pulled muscles in my abdomen instead or just felt like my internal organs were popping out of my ribs – it was horrible. I’ve since found a new Osteopath and we’re taking a different approach. This time we’re looking at my body as a whole, and I believe it’s working and helping a lot. My next appointment is three weeks away now which is the biggest gap we’ve had between treatments (my bank balance is relieved). I’ve also got myself referred to a specialist for an MRI to look at my back. The colonoscopy is also booked for the new year.

Food – My biggest change has been my breakfast, having just pineapple and apple to boost my vitamin intake. I’ve noticed something because of this – my cholesterol spots seem to be going! This is a BIG thing, as when I asked my doctor about them, I was told I was stuck with them for life – to find that an even healthier diet could make them disappear is really motivating me – they WILL go away.

One little matter which has raised it’s head again, the old pelvic floor. Keeping my fluids up and coughing so violently has led to me keeping various companies in business on the old leakage front. Tena Lights now exist and you no longer feel like you’re walking around with a brick between your legs keeping your dignity intact. They’re really quite good.

Swimming/gym – I have had my induction at the gym. I can use the machines now – I started off gently with some cycling, a bit of cross training and some weights, but haven’t made it back since as I feel so tired. Five weeks of a cold with broken sleep and I need a proper rest – I’ll have plenty of time for that over Christmas – plus I can do it after eating my tea, rather than having to hold off with swimming. I feel like things are taking a turn for the better.

So yes, 2014 didn’t end that well, but I’m hoping 2015 will bring me answers and a much healthier me. I still weigh 13 stone 2 as well, despite this cold.


Things are a bit quiet around here, and there are reasons. I’m in week five of an evil cold which has put my back out twice (by coughing). This has meant more trips to the Osteo, but I’m slowly being pieced back together like some crazy mass of Lego with instructions.

Which has meant limited time on the laptop and more iPad and mobile time. So the blogs are suffering.

So I’m just popping in to say why. Things will pick up again. I’m getting better, even though I’m a bit more skint (good Osteopaths don’t come cheap!). I have many posts in draft I haven’t been able to finish, so they’ll appear first. See you in a week or so…!