Monday, 29 June 2009

Busy, busy, busy

It has amazed me how much NOT exercising has bothered me this week!

I got a very nasty blister from the marathon and also did something to my little toe. I'm not sure whether it was a fracture, a rub or another blister but whatever it was I haven't been able to wear full shoes or trainers all week due to the swelling and bruising - hence no exercise.

I can now understand the term gym junky! I have so missed not being able to pop out for a walk or nip into the gym for an hour but this week will be different. My toe is recovering nicely (although still quite black) but I've got three nights out planned so I need to get something done.

We've also had friends and family over from Ireland this week so it's been a week of laughing and enjoying ourselves.

The first people to arrive were Rebecca and Paul. I had the pleasure of meeting them when we all worked out in Cyprus in 2002 and we've remained very good friends ever since. Benjamin was page boy for them at their wedding two years ago and I think Paul got a bit of a shock when he saw how he's grown since then as that was the last time he saw him.

I think Becca too was a little shocked at the change but that was in me! She last saw me at Dads funeral and when I met her at the airport, she screamed at me and couldn't stop complementing me on how well I'm doing. It's so nice when people give you encouragement when they see a difference and it certainly gives me a real buzz as I feel everything is slowing down a bit now. She has signed up for WLR so it will be me screaming at her the next time we meet!

We had a girls night out planned for Tuesday and all four of us hit the town although we hardly made an entrance as I think we were the only ones out! It was good that it was so quiet though as it meant we could catch up and have a good natter with each other. It's been far too long since we did that and hopefully it won't be so long before we do it again!

We had another trip to the airport on Thursday to pick up my Uncle Ed, my cousin Catherine and her friend Paula. We dropped Uncle Ed off at mums for them to have their catch up. Poor Mum was so ill last time he was over and he ended up having to drop her off at the hospital almost as he was going home. So I would like to think they have well and truly caught up with the gossip and goings on by now.!!

With our last guests arriving on Friday we had a bit of a celebration/get together BBQ to celebrate the Moonwalk and welcome everyone and we had a blast! I lasted until about 3am then had to retire. I think everyone else stayed up to hear the birds morning chorus before eventually going to bed.

Then Saturday was the 80's party in the park. . . . . .


With T'Pau, Belinda Carlisle, Banarama, Human League and Go West playing and us all dressing in our 80's get up we had such a good night and danced till the small wee hours once again!!

With the advantage of the 4000 calories I burnt from the walk which I hoped would see me through my lack of exercise and excess partying, it was possibly the most nervous I have ever been before stepping onto the scales on Sunday morning. I wasn't hoping for anything but wishing for the world. . . .


It really does pay to account for everything you eat and keep tabs on it. I have been just under maintenance calories all week barring a couple of days but I've had my exercise calories in the bank. I can't tell you how pleased I am so hopefully with exercise back on the agenda this week the fabulous week we've had won't come back to bite me at next weeks weigh in!

I have had such a fabulous week and we've laughed until we've cried. Maybe I've burnt calories doing that too and that's where the pound has gone??

We've another busy week this week with birthday's and I would just like to take this opportunity of letting Al know he got there before me (1st July)!!! Oh and Tracy (4th July)!! Happy 40th guys, hope you have very special days.

Hope you have a great week



Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Marathons and memories

Preparation for the 2009 Edinburgh Moonwalk has been on going since I stepped onto the treadmill for the first time back in February this year. I remember so vividly getting very emotional as I contemplated crossing the finishing line at my first marathon. This was the week that this would become reality!

Despite our best intentions, we were still putting finishing touches to our bras into the early hours of Saturday morning. So it was an early 6:30 wake-up to finish packing and have our weigh in for the week. We decided to do this a day early rather than wait another full week.

My weekend was to start well. . . . . . I've lost another 2lb this week, bringing my total weight loss 3 stone 8lb. That's 50lb!!! . . . . . over 18% of my body weight!!! Whichever way you look at it, it is a lot of weight for any person to lose.

People are calling me an inspiration but I really don't feel like that at all.
I am simply a woman who, in January was down and depressed with everything to do with myself and everything that life was throwing at me. I decided that I simply could not carry on in this frame of mind so resolved to do something about it. By taking my tragedy and converting my sadness into hope and inspiration, I would not only help myself but also raise much needed funds for the British Heart Foundation, a cause that is now very dear to me.
I am getting to the point now where I actually like myself and I cannot remember the last time that ever felt that way. I feel healthier, I feel good, I feel alive and more more importantly glad to be alive!!

The train journey to Scotland was a first for me and should have been very relaxing but in reality I was so excited about the challenge ahead of me and I just looked at the beautiful scenery and kept up to date with the goings on on Facebook - the wonders of National Express WiiFii!

Our hotel was fabulous and we managed to chill for a couple of hours before meeting up with Caz and Andy. We met them in the bar for pre Moonwalk drinks and a bite to eat. Carb loading I think they call it - baked potato with tuna mayonnaise - Yummy!

Then back to our room to prepare.

By 8:30pm we were ready to go, all dressed in matching outfits and bras. Nerves were already getting the better of me and we hadn't even got to Inverleith Park!

We had a 15 minute walk to the park and arrived by 9pm. The waiting was possible the hardest thing to contend with - we had to be on site by 9:15 and the start wasn't until midnight. . . so, we got our patch of floor and waited. The music and the atmosphere in the largest marquee in the world was electric with every shape and decoration of bra you could ever imagine! Over 10,000 people were participating in the 2009 Edinburgh Moonwalk and it seemed everyone of them had a smile on their face that night. It was more like a carnival atmosphere than a marathon. My eyes took in every last detail of the event. I could only find one word to describe it. . . INCREDIBLE!! The organisers called for a minutes silence to remember those who's lives and deaths had most influenced us and encouraged us to participate in the Moonwalk. It was enough to send my already bubbling emotions into turmoil but I had a long night ahead of me and I was determined to hold it together for a little longer.

We were eventually 'called' and it took us about 20 minutes to get to the start line due to the sheer volume of 'bodies' and then we were on our way. Wow - here I was on my first ever trip to Edinburgh, doing my first ever marathon! The number of people walking was difficult to comprehend and everyone seemed to be in party mode. The volunteer crew did a fantastic job cheering us on along our route and for the first couple of hours the atmosphere was incredible. We walked through and around Edinburgh city centre and then took on 'Arthur's Seat', an 824 foot high hill that during the day gives possibly the best panoramic views of the city - BUT NOT IN THE DARK! It was so strange because we couldn't physically see it - we could just feel it in our legs and it set our thighs aching for 45minutes!

As the night wore on the crowds dispersed somewhat as people settled at their own pace. It was also noticeable how quiet people were, hardly talking at all or conversing very quietly. Was it because we were supposed to be asleep at that time of the night? I really don't know - all I could hear was the low buzz of conversation, like bees buzzing around a hive doing their own thing, just getting the job in hand done.

At the half way point, there was a low loader with a disco on board playing extremely loud music and what a buzz that was! It lifted our spirits no end and we even managed a little jig and dance at the time.

Ray hit a bad point not long after that, around the 18 mile mark. His pallor was grey; his head was down and he was in his own world, plodding! He was counting the steps knowing he would get there but also knowing that he had to get through the 'storm' that was in his head.

We all seemed to pick up at daylight and the atmosphere once again changed - our heads were high and we were walking with new vigour.

I hit 20 miles and had a very emotional hour or so. I was now in new territory, I had walked further that I had ever walked before and had put myself through more than I had in years, both physically and mentally. Here I was on the dawn of Fathers Day without my Father for the first time in my life and it was killing me. I wanted so badly for him to see what I had achieved, what I was doing and for him to be proud of me. Deep down I know he was but at that moment in time I needed him to tell me that. My heart was aching in line with my legs - it was my time to be in a bad space and I just walked, thought and sobbed.

Mum rang me about 6 o'clock to see how we were getting on. Benjamin had woken her so she used the opportunity to ring us before they went back to bed. She was also very upset. It was her first Fathers Day on her own too and I suddenly felt quite guilty for leaving her on her own. I would walk the earth for her yet here I was, miles away when she needed me and I wasn't there for her, it hurt. Benjamin was there to keep her company though and I think he did a good job!

Because some of the walk was around Edinburgh City Centre we were forever stopping at traffic lights and whenever that happened we would stretch out for the minute or two so that our muscles wouldn't seize up. At 24 miles, en route back through the city centre we did just that and as I stretched I inadvertently popped a big blister that had developed on the side of my foot!! The pain was so intense I squealed! Why, why, why with just over 2 miles to go did this have to happen? I was in absolute agony. Tears fell again but this time in pain. I was determined to finish what I had started though and was not prepared to sit down and investigate the damage. I knew that my muscles would give up if I stopped so I hobbled the last 2 miles favouring the ball of my foot.

I can't tell you how I felt at my first sight of the finish line. Although we always said we would be happy if we completed the walk in under 9 hours and elated if we did it under 8 it was never really about the finish time with me - it was about the finish line!

So I completed my first ever marathon in 7hours and 39 minutes!!

I walked 26.2 miles or 138,336 feet!

I took approximately 104,000 steps!

I burned nearly 4,000 calories on the way round!

I was elated, I was dreadfully emotional and I was absolutely shattered!!!

Roll on the next one!!!!

I would just like to thank Ray, Caz and Andy for their unwavering support before and during this marathon. It was Caz who first put the idea into my head and before we knew it we were setting the world to rights on our training walks. Andy's training advice and his support was crucial as I really didn't have a clue what I was letting myself in for! Ray as always was my rock and it meant the world to me that he joined me on my marathon. I really don't know where or who I would be without him. His love, support and guidance through my journey means more to me than he (or anyone) would ever know. Final thanks to Mum - she had every faith that we would finish and has always been there to look after Benjamin for training sessions and have soup ready for our return! xxx

I wonder what my next challenge will be?????? . . . . . .

God bless


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Is time a healer?

This week in June is always a difficult one for me.

When I was 20 years oldmy first husband and I were told that without medical intervention (on both his part and mine) we couldn't have children so I went through life thinking I couldn't have kids. This was so hard for me as all I ever wanted out of life from a very young age was to be a Mum.

17 years later in February 2004 Ray and I realised we were pregnant and as you can imagine were absolutely overjoyed. I had a very healthy pregnancy and we even managed to be able to go on our cruise just before the 5 1/2 month travel deadline.

Our heartache came on the 11th June 2004 about a week after getting home from our cruise when I went into premature labour at 5 1/2 months pregnant and gave birth to our beautiful little girl Charlotte Amelia Birch at 14:10. Her gestation was a concern as she was on the border line whether she would survive or not but she was just too small. As soon as we said hello to our precious little girl we had to say goodbye.

Thursday was such a bad day for me as I relived every moment of what happened 5 years ago.

I think this year was made worse by the fact that Dad isn't here either so everything about losing him came flooding back too. I carried myself through the day with the thought that he would be up there looking after her and teaching her all he taught me as a little girl . . . . .If he bestows half the values he bestowed on me then I would be proud!!

So to my question . . . . . Is time a healer??

I don't think time heals I think you just deal with it differently.

I believe that things happen for a reason. Without Charlotte we wouldn't have known and maybe we wouldn't have Benjamin?

Anniversaries are a time for reflection and grief to overflow, I'm not saying we never cry or we ever forget the rest of the year, I think of her everyday! We just end up concentrating our ultimate sadness into one day!

Our loss certainly brought Ray and I closer together as we both dealt with our grief and now I know my Dad is up there watching over her and looking after her. Thank you Dad xxx

I held Benjamin closer than I had ever held him before and I'm sure he knew there was something wrong as he was so attentive and all he wanted to do was play and give me cuddles bless him. I then walked him to school and threw myself into work for the rest of the afternoon. Ray picked him up and they went shopping. By the time I returned from the salon there was a beautiful bouquet of roses and a card from him and Benj. Both it and the flowers melted my heart and made me smile.

I then realised once again why I was on this road! I love my husband and my son unconditionally and I couldn't imagine life without them. I'm not on a diet, I'm on a healthy eating plan which is going to last me for life!! I DO NOT want to go back to the dark, horrible, sad place I was in in January weighing nearly 20 stone. I want to FEEL healthy, LOOK healthy but more importantly I want to LIVE!!!

One of my clients asked me the other day 'What makes you so sure you won't put all your weight back on again Ellie?' My answer to Lucy was 'I much prefer the healthier happier me today to the overweight, sad, depressed, unhealthy me in January and in another 6 months I will hopefully like the me then better than the me now. I know it's not a quick fix and I know it's for life'.

Another friend asked this weekend 'Because I'm calorie counting does that mean I'll never be able to taste my wonderful cheesecake again?!' Yes I will Al because I can eat anything I like and if there is one thing I like it's food!! We have always tried different foods I was just sick of cheesecake as we seemed to be having it at every 'dinner' party we held.

A singing friend of mine, Tracey and I were talking about dunking digestive biscuits (in wine heehee) when she asked me to send her some willpower! I replied whilst eating a Curly Wurly!!!! - Everyone seems to think we sit and eat salads all day, we really don't. We eat all sorts of foods just in the right quantities!!

I have to say at this point that am aware that some people do not like calorie counting and might possibly be sick of hearing me go on about it but it works for me! I have consistently lost weight every week and I can eat anything I like as long as it's with my daily intake. Yes we eat healthier foods but that's purely so we can eat more of it!!!!!!

Weigh in . . . . . . . . . . ANOTHER 3LB BITES THE DUST!!!!!

OH MY LORD!! The Edinburgh Moonwalk is only a week away. Apart from marrying my husband and getting pregnant it is probably on my top ten list of greatest achievements in my life - MY FIRST EVER MARATHON!!!!!!

For you cynics out there I'm under no illusion that it is going to hurt!! What I do know is that we have done 20 miles (albeit during the day) and we still had another 6 in us. We have trained hard. Mentally we are ready - YES we are going to ache but with the training that we have done our recovery time is going to be so much shorter, so much so I am going to dress up to the nines on Sunday night and go out for a slap up meal and eat all the calories I burnt off on the way round!!!!

So with my training where it should be, my mental attitude in check and my bra decorated I'm ready. We will be happy to do it within 9 hours and delighted to do in under 8 hours. But in whatever time we complete our 26.2 miles we do not really care, the euphoria will see us through until the end collecting our medals.

I look forward to telling you all about it next week

Until then

God bless and once again thank you for all your love, support and help on the long,, rocky road!


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Anniversary wishes

The photograph opposite was taken on 1st June 2005 when we were married aboard the MV Sea Princess just off the Bay of Biscay.

We always try to make every Anniversary special, this year being our 4th.
The weather was so beautiful we set the patio table for a champagne dinner, bathed Benjamin and put him to bed and between us cooked the most fabulous dinner.

We started with tiger prawns cooked in chilli, garlic, sweet pepper and white wine and served on ciabatta. Our main course was BBQ trout on a bed of herby potatoes with a summer salad. To finish we had homemade chocolate cake with ice-cream followed by cheese and crackers. This was possibly the most romantic meal ever.

The whole evening seemed to have a different feel to it and I still don't know what it was. Maybe it was the fact that we both felt and looked so much healthier? My wedding outfit was a 2 piece suit and having tried the skirt on earlier that day, it was at least 2 inches too big.
For dinner I wore a beautiful pink summer dress that I'd only ever had on once before and then it felt so tight that I 'd subsequently lost it at the back of the wardrobe. I was wearing the dress and feeling pretty good in it! Rays shirt was one that he had bought on holiday abroad and for all that he loved it, it had always been too tight for him.

The chiminea was duly lit and we sat out until late into the evening. Thoughts drifted and inevitably turned to my Dad. He was on the wedding cruise with us and I still remember the look of pride on his face as he walked me 'down the isle' to my future husband. He's been gone now just over 6 months and not a day goes by that I don't think of him and miss him. God I wish I could see the look of pride that would surely be on his face today as he realised just how far I had progressed on my weight loss journey. Dad and I always used to stay up later than everyone else, talking and putting the world to rights. I miss that time so much and I'd give anything to have it back even just for one more night!!

Ray seems to have a knack of knowing exactly what I'm feeling and exactly what's going through my mind. He knew my Dad was on my mind and we just sat in the darkness watching the flames dancing in the pot. From the moment I told my Dad that Ray and I were seeing each other he said he was so pleased and that finally we had both met our soul mates. Maybe that's why we know each others thoughts and feelings so well!! We went to bed a little tearful but happy after having spent the most wonderful evening.

Our next evening was spent in completely different surroundings at one of the top restaurants in the area. Winteringham Fields, a 16th Century Manor House in a rural village in North Lincolnshire is a ***** restaurant 'with rooms'. We had the beautiful "surprise" menu consisting of 9 courses ranging from foie gras, to lamb Wellington, to passion fruit souffle and an award winning cheese trolley!

I bought a dress about 3 years ago intending to 'slim' into it. In true Ellie form I in fact gained weight and never got the dress on and just like the pink summer dress it ended up in the back of the wardrobe. In January when I began my sponsored slim the dress came out again with the intention of wearing it for my 40th birthday. Whoops!!!. . . . . .I wore it for our Anniversary meal and I have a very funny feeling it will be too big for my birthday!!! Ah well it seems I will have to get a new outfit for that occasion. . . .

I know I still have a long way to go but I'm starting to feel good about the way I look for the first time in a long time. My weight is still dropping and at a steady pace which is all I can ask for. To add to that I'm enjoying my new healthy lifestyle.
The rest of our week was spent in the gym and walking, trying to work off everything we'd eaten at the beginning of the week. We laughed as we worked out and reminisced about how we used to be and how far we had come. We both said that we wouldn't particularly worry if we put on weight this week although to maintain would be better.
Weigh in Sunday. . . . . . . . .
I stepped on the scales in trepidation truly expecting a gain: I've lost another 1lb!!!!!!
I couldn't contain the joy. I've had a fantastic week, I've exercised hard and it's all paid off. Now it's time to put my feet up for the evening and have a night off!!
Next weekend Caz and Andy are over for a walk and final touches. It's the weekend before the Moonwalk and our outfits are almost ready. I'm sooooooo excited.

Until then

Monday, 1 June 2009

I'm disappearing!

Once again I must apologise for not doing a blog last week. Caz came over and we spent Friday night sewing lights on our bras in preparation for the moonwalk in 3 weeks time. We were up early on Saturday morning to go for a long walk and once again spent it chatting and catching up. We also spent a couple of nights in Newcastle at the beginning of the week so it's been a little hectic to say the least and everything got out of sync.
At last weeks weight in I maintained and to say that I was a tad disappointed was an understatement - I cried! I was just so desperate to get to the 3 stone mark!. Why do we do this to ourselves? We build ourselves up for something only to be so disappointed when we don't achieve it.
I was sat at the kitchen table feeling very sorry for myself on Sunday morning after weigh in when Mum told me to do my measurements again as she could see that I had lost inches. . . . So out the tape measure came.
I realised then had something to smile about!
3.5 inches of my chest!
6 inches off my waist!!
6 inches off my hips!!
So there you are - I really am disappearing and it gives me a buzz that I just can't describe. . . . so thank you Mum xxx
We then decided to sort out my wardrobe which certainly needed doing as a lot of my clothes were just falling off me. It was debatable whether I gave them to charity or pack them away in a vacuum bag. I decided however, that I never wanted to go back there again so the British Heart Foundation shop benefitted from 4 bin liners of clothes! The only 'BIG' clothes I kept was the suit that I wore for Benjamin's Christening. . . . . just as a reminder . . . .

When we returned from Newcastle, the rest of the week was spent exercising and enjoying the sun. Ray bought me a new heart rate monitor as an early Anniversary present. Then it was getting ready for weigh in on Sunday morning before the Race for Life and our follow on BBQ.

Sunday started off on an extremely good note. . . . . . . . I lost 4lb this week!!!!!!! Making up for my previous week and bringing my total weight loss to 3 stone 2lb. That is an enormous amount of weight and exactly on track with losing an average of 2lb a week.

So with new vigour we departed for the Costello stadium to join over 5,000 more women in the Race for Life and my challenge had once again been set! Ray said he would sponsor me £30 for the race with an additional £20 if I completed it within 45 minutes! Last year I completed the 5k Race in over an hour (about 1:17 I think it was).

I was determined to run at least some of it this year and being a true Virgo, I was determined to get £50 for cancer research and prove to myself I was more than able to complete the run in less that 45 minutes. I shattered my previous 3 mile time coming in at 37 minutes 51 seconds!!!! I was absolutely elated and just hoped no one had a camera pointed at me as I crossed the finish line as I was crying!
I'm looking forward to a good week. It's our Wedding anniversary today (1st June) and it's certainly starting well.
Until next week