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 – 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.

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.

A Healthy Me? November

I think as far as November and health goes, it’s a big fat FAIL.

Last week I developed a cough, similar to the one most of my friends have had with the flu – looks like the jab worked, but I’m just not immune from the cough at the end. So far I’m eight days in with around one to three hours worth of sleep every night – I am not a pretty sight. I even had four days off sick last week which I haven’t done in a very long time. I felt rough.

Add to that a rather violent cough which then put my back out – you couldn’t make it up. I have a new Osteopath who looks on the body as a whole rather than just sorting out the back, so I’m currently taking her advice. One of the things I said was how annoyed at myself I am for giving in to easy food and putting my weight back on so easily. She suggested eating apple and pineapple for lunch every day, and from making that change I now weigh 13 stone 2 – which isn’t too far off the 12 stone 11 I hit initially. I haven’t tried the dress recently either – too tired.

So, let’s break it down.

Swimming. Sadly, nothing. I have to stop doing breast stroke because of my back – it isn’t any good. I can’t do front crawl (I need to learn), so I’m going to take an induction for the gym and do cycling and cross training which are both okay for my back, as well as some gentle weights.

Being Active. I wish. We’ve been out and about but when the cough started I’ve pretty much stayed at home, weekends in my pyjamas. See also – getting out.


Food. I’m making improvements. At Blogfest we did the Unilever plate to eat all our food, and I’m thinking of ways to make sure all our food is used and we don’t throw things away needlessly, which seems to be working. I’m still not sure how showing an empty plate helps spread the word, but I did it anyway. I’m eating better for breakfast and really letting this cold get out of my system. Apparently my immune system isn’t that good, and seeing as I’ve been keeping myself awake for the last week coughing I invested in a Vicks Humidifier which will hopefully help. In turn, I’ll probably eat even better as I’ll get my energy back. I have not had a scrap of energy to prepare a Yumbox the night before work.

Weight. Pretty happy with that, could lose a bit more, that’ll come once I’ve picked myself up and we’re back on track. Next month? Eek. This time next month it’s CHRISTMAS EVE. Cripes.

So yes, a week and a bit of poorly time, and now I’ve a billion and one blog posts to catch up on….

A Healthy Me? October

I realise I’ve not updated in ages on my weightloss attempts, and actually, I’m doing terribly. I tried really hard to eat well but in the last month tiredness and illness got the better of us all – and more often than not, food wasn’t as fresh as I’d have liked.

Add to that a week we’ve just had in North Yorkshire with far too many meals involving chips, and I’m stepping away from the scales for a few days – my clothes are telling me everything I need to know.

Having said that, I got the dress to fit! So I’m doing something right somewhere – I did read that travelling to a different time zone can play havoc with your weight as you eat more (I know I do) to compensate for the mealtimes you’re missing that you’re used to.

With illness I haven’t been swimming, though we did lots of walking around Yorkshire when we were there which has hopefully worked off some of the chips and fat! I’ve had the flu jab, so I’m going to see if that makes a difference to my overall resistance to being ill. Shaun has had it too and has been constantly unwell.

So let’s get back to each section I’m working on.

Swimming – could do better. I feel a lot better and ready to restart. Revisit – although I am thinking about doing cycling in the gym upstairs for the days I don’t feel like swimming – then I don’t need to wait before I eat.

Being Active – I am going to wear the Fitbug Orb again and start tracking again. We’ve definitely got an active life – most weekends are booked up now until the end of the year so I need to find ways which involve walking to get there where applicable rather than driving.

Getting Out – we do plenty of that.

Food – needs some work, although right now Shaun is dairy-free so our diet has been adjusted a little bit where we all eat. Sandwiches at work have been a bit hit and miss, and with being so tired and ill I haven’t used the Yumbox as much as I should. That is going to change next week. We’ve had lots of nice vegetable curries though!


Weight – I think the 12 stone 11 was a freak measurement as I’ve never hit it since (and I did try twice when it came up)  so we’ll revisit that at the end of this month.

The chips tasted good though. I’m now looking for good Air Fryer deals as I think that’s the way to go. Don’t deny myself, just make them healthier (and use other vegetables).

A Healthy Me?

I’m overweight, probably borderline obese again since we got back from Australia where I ate to my heart’s content (and the seven hour time difference threw things a bit as well). I need to lose that weight, so I’ve been doing little things here and there to make a difference – while in the back of my mind knowing that one day I will fit into THE dress I bought out there (for approximately £5).

fremantle dress

So here’s my plan:

Swimming – I keep clicking my back out, and I’ve had a stinky cold so I haven’t been as much as I should do. I intend to go back this week though and get kicking up and down the pool again. Because of the lack of swimming I’ve been trying to walk more and make sure I do a certain number of steps a day. The Fitbug hasn’t been used since I hurt my back, so I need to get back into that again.

Being Active – I like to think I’ve an active life, in fact I get told off sometimes that I never stop. Now school is back we’re into the regular routine, Rainbows (with me helping) on a Monday – this week I showed them how to skip… Tuesday is Football with my pilates class an hour afterwards. Wednesday H has swimming and it isn’t convenient to watch her without running over half of the gym to get a decent seat. Thursday and Friday I collapse…

Getting Out – on the weekend we’ve been trying to do trips and walks around a bit more. Last Saturday we went into Central London to visit the British Museum, and on Sunday after a party we had time to go to Nonsuch Park to finish H’s home learning for school.

Yumbox Panino

Food – I’m one of those meal deal people a few times a week and it has to stop. On the other days I’ve been buying a sandwich from M&S, a low calorie one with vegetables, however, I’ve had it so much now that I’m at the point of feeling sick if I see it again, and I’m bored of egg. The low calorie sandwich options are not great out there. So I’m taking things in hand – and have bought myself a Yumbox Panino. Two or three days a week I’m taking my own lunch in, on the busiest days so I’ve had some food beforehand. After a couple of weeks the Yumbox will have paid for itself. I was mocked today for having one, then praised at the layout and how ingenious the silicone seal on the lid is, so that was good! Today’s lunch was a sandwich and some vegetables and hummous – something I’d have probably paid up to a fiver for before now. How silly is that? Add some fruit and it’s all good.

I’m also on the lookout for an air fryer, or one of the kind of fryers which uses no oil at all and makes chips from scratch in no time at all.

So that’s the plan so far. Every few days I get an urge to start running, but then my back gets a bit clicky so it’s put to one side – I’ll concentrate on the swimming for now I think!

I weighed myself this morning, and after coming in around 13 stone 4 when we got back, I’m now weighing 12 stone 11 – so something is working somewhere. I have to add, the difference moving around when your back doesn’t constantly hurts is a big one too.

So this is my September update – back in October. Maybe I’ll try get the dress on….

A Quick Story About Back Pain

I’m no stranger to back pain, and have spent most of the last two and a half years having the odd flare up – that was until this weekend just gone. I felt like it was a good time to go through my treatments as well as seeing where we go next.

On Saturday morning as I was getting ready to go to BritMums, I sat on my hotel bed. The familiar shooting pain arrived, my back was playing up. I could walk, it was just hurting. As the day progressed  so did my back pain and I knew I couldn’t do much, so cut my losses and left by 11am, gutted. I spent most of Saturday in bed resting before eventually calling the NHS 111 line for more information.

They suggested I try some Co-Codamol which can be bought over the counter. That doesn’t stop the back pain but stops you feeling it, so I went with that.

The following day I headed to my local Walk-In centre and was prescribed stronger Co-Codamol as well as a prescription-only anti-inflammatory. I asked for advice about whether I should be thinking about an operation and was given good advice. I’ve had back pain for long enough and hate the big flare ups.

Today I went to my local Osteopath and had a treatment. £40. One off. If I need another it’s free of charge. My bones were checked, and I have a twisted pelvis – and it has probably been long-term too. My body is telling me that it can’t deal with it right now. Several clicks and twists and though I went into the office almost in tears (as I have most of the weekend, ugh), I came out smiling. While I’m not 100% I’m definitely feeling an improvement.

Which makes me think of the types of back care I’ve received with my problem.

Initially it’s over the counter. When it’s bad it’s call the doctor. The doctor doesn’t do home visits, so it’s dial 999 (honestly, I felt terrible doing that). On being admitted to hospital, I was pretty much looked at like I was wasting time. I felt like I had too. I was given a painkiller which worked and sent home. I kind of wish I’d had an ambulance car do that for me at home rather than being blue-lighted to hospital. (n.b. this was almost three years ago)

When it happens again you get pain medication from a doctor. You get stronger medication if you go to see them. If you visit a chiropractor you get an x-ray so you can see what’s happened, but they get to keep it. You also have to keep going back, paying every time. I got my first three visits on a Groupon deal which I probably wouldn’t have done, were it not for the deal.

When you go to a Chiropractor, it’s a one-off treatment and they really hope you don’t come back. No medication is usually needed. You might even find out what the problem you’ve had is.

When you’re a blogger you get lucky sometimes and get a Backlife to use. I still use mine a lot and it helps – I thought that was worth a mention. As were the spiky balls I got from my Pilates instructor. They both help with pain relief, but not the problem. I’ll still be using both, anyway.

British Chiropactic Association

I’m still not 100% but feel like I’m closer to my problem. A twisted spine fits in perfectly with everything that was covered here at an event I went to with the British Chiropractic Association – six months after my first major back problem but full of useful tips and hints. If you’re not sure, give it a read. It makes you think about the everyday things you do and how to do them differently. I know I will now.

Fitbug Orb

The Fitbug Orb is the latest tracker from the Fitbug family.

The Fitbug Orb is the latest tracker from the Fitbug family – up to now we’ve been using the Fitbug Air, so I switched over when the Orb arrived in February, and found that while they’re identical (a straightforward setup and you wear them), there was quite a discrepancy in the number of steps I do daily. With the Air I’d be doing 5-6,000 a day, whereas with the Fitbug Orb it’s more like 12-13,000.

However, I’ve found it doesn’t matter it isn’t 100% accurate for me, as I do roughly the same amount of steps in the week, and a lot depends on what I do at weekends. So I’ve been using the Fitbug Orb as a guide to make sure I stay within a certain range of steps.

Fitbug Orb

The Fitbug Orb can be worn several ways too – I choose to wear mine like a watch. Wearing it like a watch can have its moments thanks to occasionally popping off my wrist, but overall it’s sturdy and stays on. An extra loop on the wristband would have been a good idea.

Every day I sync with the app on my iPad (my Android phone is running old software), which requires an internet connection. Every week I get new targets for the following week which I try to achieve, though more often than not miss – but for me it’s about keeping active as much as possible. If I go to Pilates or swimming I log it online (it would be great to do that on the app). I haven’t been as active as I should be and my Fitbug Orb is a good reminder when I could walk rather than drive.

Fitbug Orb

In summary, what could I say to persuade you to buy a Fitbug Orb?

I like that I can sync it easily, I like that it keeps me motivated and all I have to do is log any extra activity I do. There are a lot of extra things on the Fitbug website you can log such as food – hands up though, I am pretty rubbish at doing it – though might do it if you could within the app again. If you want to keep track of your daily steps and don’t like the idea of a pedometer on your waistband, it’s worth considering a Fitbug Orb. Given the other places you can wear it (attach to your bra or to your pants or just use the belt clip). I like that you can track your sleep, something I know I don’t get enough of.

The Fitbug Orb retains information for 14 days, so if you can’t send it to the app straight away you can do it when you’re ready.

So what do you get for £49.95? A years worth of Fitbug membership which gives you access to KiK – your own digital coach. When your year is up you have various options to continue to use the device, so can still be used. Check out the site here.

What do you get in the pack? A wrist strap, belt clip, lanyard and battery. I’d recommend a spare 3v cell lithium battery as mine is starting to lose its charge since February – but at 95p that doesn’t cost a lot. If you want a pedometer that will keep you motivated, I’m pretty pleased with the Fitbug Orb. I haven’t lost weight, but I’m keeping active – and that was my main motivation.

We were sent a Fitbug Orb for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

My Local Drugstore – A Family-Friendly Giveaway

Warm weather may well be here, but I like to be well stocked with my vitamins, spring colds seem to love visiting me! Our next giveaway is with My Local Drugstore, an online store started by professionals who have been in the healthcare industry for over 30 years.

my local drugstore logo

My Local Drugstore source all your regular vitamins and healthcare products and offer free shipping with a £30 order – as well as sourcing the best price possible.

Today we’re able to offer a fantastic giveaway with My Local Drugstore – a family supply of Centrum Vitamins – one pack per family member. The two types on offer are Centrum Kids Chewables and Centrum Advance, both of which we’ve been trying out. H loves the kids one and was the one reminding us every morning when they needed taking. Shaun has taken the adult ones and has definitely felt a difference too… I feel an order coming on!

Centrum Kids Chewables

Running around, getting up to mischief, learning new skills or just growing; kids bones and brains never rest! Centrum Kids Chewables has been developed with a unique combination of balanced nutrients to give them the nutritional support they need to stay healthy.

Why Choose Centrum Kids Chewables?

  • Contains 16 key nutrients, including Vitamin D, important for the normal growth and development of your children’s bones.
  • Supports energy release, cognitive development and the bone health of children aged 4 to 10
  • The world’s no.1 multivitamin
  • Backed by 30 years of nutritional expertise and proven science

Centrum Advance

A busy social life, work or family commitments don’t always make it easy to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Centrum Advance Multivitamin is designed to help you fulfil your nutritional needs and support your everyday health and wellbeing.

Why Choose Centrum Advance?

  • Complete multivitamin: Centrum Advance contains 25 key nutrients including all 13 essential vitamins.
  • Supports energy release, immunity and contributes to healthy skin & metabolism
  • The world’s no.1 multivitamin
  • Backed by 30 years of nutritional expertise and proven science

The giveaway starts now and runs until the 6th May 2014. The Rafflecopter widget will select a random entry. If you do the mandatory entries, you’ll find a special one-off Mum Friendly code offering free delivery with My Local Drugstore too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lift the Lid on Bowel Cancer

Will you take up the challenge and join Beating Bowel Cancer to Lift the Lid on bowel cancer? Bowels, bottoms and poo are still a taboo and they need our help during April as they Lift the Lid on all things bowel cancer.

Lift The Lid on Bowel Cancer

My dad died over seven years ago due to Bowel Cancer. It was something nobody expected him to have, yet he ticked all the boxes as far as symptoms go. We had four months from diagnosis until he died in October 2006. Things which make sense in retrospect made no sense at the time. He had secondary tumours in his liver which left him at Stage 4. Beating Bowel Cancer campaign every year to help raise awareness of Bowel Cancer, and symptoms we may not want to talk about. As a parent I can happily talk about H’s poo, but myself? Difficult. Please read on.

One in four of us have been affected by bowel cancer in some way, either personally or through family or friends. Yet how often do you think we talk about it? The truth is, not often enough.

Whilst this may not be easy, we want you to open up and get a conversation going during April.

We need you to start your own conversation and Lift the Lid – whether it’s with family members, friends, workmates or neighbours. All we need you to do is share the message that bowel cancer, bums and poo are nothing to be embarrassed about, and that learning the symptoms and acting on them can save lives.

Beating Bowel Cancer have designated Wednesday 16 April as Lift the Lid Day when they’ll be making lots of noise and encouraging everyone to get involved.

There’s lots we can help with; from putting up posters in your community, watching our video, spreading the word through social media and getting involved in activities around the UK.

All of these conversations could be lifesaving, so please help us to Lift the Lid. So what are you waiting for? Visit www.beatingbowelcancer.org/liftthelid

How you can Lift the Lid:

– Download the Lift the Lid and symptoms posters to put at work or in your community

– On Wednesday 16 April get involved and show your support on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #LiftTheLidDay

– Text LIFT14 £3 to 70070 to donate £3 or visit donation page for more options

– Have a collection or awareness event in your community
More info

– Watch the awareness video and share it so more people can learn about the symptoms

Every conversation you have and every time you Lift the Lid, you’re moving us all closer to beating bowel cancer.