I hate my shape!

Like many women of my age I hate the shape my body has taken on in recent years. I have become the stereotypical middle aged, menopausal apple shape and I detest it with a passion.
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I am only 4 foot 10 inches and have been petite most of my adult life. I felt that things started to change in my 40’s for me when I stopped working shifts and became a full time University student to study for my Masters Degree in Health Sciences. It was a great 2 years, studying at home sat in front of the computer for hours not having to dress smart. I could slob about in track suit bottoms. Then I would travel to the University every week along with my colleague. We were sponsored by our employer to attend and retrain. We were staying in a hotel every Wednesday night, eating in the pub, regular breaks in the University refectory. Within 3 months I had gained a stone and a half. No running up and down a busy Neonatal Unit burning calories. From that time onwards I was never able to lose this weight and despite taking up running, going to the gym and paying a Personal Trainer it stayed and I have continued to gain weight. It got worse again when I returned to shift work at 50, again for my role. I then returned to nights, days, 13 hour long shifts, short 7.5 hour shifts. Sometimes working nights and day shifts in the same week. This I feel totally knocked my metabolism off kilter. This coincided with the menopause.  Nothing has helped me shift weight. I can lose 7lbs and then I plateau. I have tried Slimming World, Weight watchers and an Extremely low calorie diet, living on liquid replacement drinks of 450 calories a day. This did help me lose 1.5 stone, but it didn’t stay off too long after my husband came out of work and took over the cooking. His Desperate Dan portions contributed to more weight gain.

 

18 months ago my GP advised me that I had to try and lose weight due to a medical problem. She had great empathy and prescribed me Orlistat, a fat binding tablet to help me. She and other medical colleagues have all said that due to my hormonal state and irregular shift patterns I could not maintain a steady Cortisol level and this was inhibiting my chances of losing the weight. I was informed by my GP that in some people these tablets do not work. Well yes, you guessed it I was one of the people they did not work for. I lost my usual 7lbs and that was it. If you’re not familiar with these tablets they bind to fat and help you excrete 25% of your fat intake in your stools. (Sorry for those of you with weak stomachs!). It also involves eating a low fat diet or the side effects are very unpleasant!

 

So here I am half a stone lighter but stuck! I feel I need a miracle worker. I am surrounded by colleagues who are losing weight for fun on slimming world and I’m not.

I am very interested in clothes and fashion. I regularly get compliments on my appearance. I have to say I work hard at buying clothes that disguise my middle. However they are not the clothes I wish to wear. I long to wear the lovely body con dresses worn by Lorraine or Ruth Langford. Sadly it’s not to be, to add insult to injury I also have big boobs! Fitted jackets are also problematic.

This week I decided to go shopping to buy some dresses for summer and a couple of social events I have been invited to. This was an unmitigated disaster on the whole. Changing room mirrors are brutal as we all know. I came away with nothing that I really wanted, no smart dresses, just a couple of casual tops for my summer holiday overseas. I came home feeling very low indeed.

But I am a very positive person – my cup is always half full, and I found some positives. I went to a charity ball this week and wore a cocktail dress that I have had in my wardrobe for a couple of years it had only had one previous outing. I admit it was tighter than when I last wore it, but overall I was happy with how I looked in it.
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I then thought about where I had got this from. It was from a design brand called So Fabulous, I have a few of their pieces that I buy online from Fashion World. Reflecting on this I realised that all my favourite dresses were purchased from that website. Other brands I have purchased from Fashion World that suit my shape are Joanna Hope and Closet.  This provoked me to have a browse and sure enough I found several that I liked. I ordered them and when they arrived I was delighted with them. There is light at the end of the tunnel – hallelujah! Thank you for this fabulous company.

They are a mixture of dressy and casual and are fabulous. They were a pick me up and made me happy about myself again. My best dresses tend to be A line and I have accepted, that although this shape is not top of the fashion charts at the moment, they suit me and can make me look OK. The message is find a style that suits and stick to it. It’s no point squeezing myself into a body con dress just because I want one if it’s going to accentuate my middle! My pet hate is ill fitting clothes.

There are other fashion brands that I can always turn to such as Wallis and the wonder that is Pepperberry, by Bravissimo for ladies with big boobs. Their clothes are worthy of a blog post of their own.

Now I have decided on my personal style that doesn’t mean I am going to give up the quest for weight loss. I have a new strategy, after much soul searching I realised that I was probably consuming more wine and beer that I cared to admit. If I put my hand on my heart I was not counting these empty calories in my diets. I was probably consuming the equivalent of a day and a half’s extra calories per week. This is one of the pleasures and vices of my retirement. Lots of lunches with friends plus lazy evenings in front of the TV without the worry of an early start for work.

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So I am abstaining from alcohol for the next 4 weeks before my holiday and following a slimming world diet. Watch this space and see if there is anything to report on this front. Onwards and Upwards.

Have you got any tips for weight loss in the menopause?
Or is there a go to fashion style you favour for your body shape?

I’d be interested to hear from you

 

 

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Pet Bereavement

I have been married for 30 years and for 29 of those years I have owned dogs. Firstly a loveable westie, Paddy, who lived until he was 15.  And until a month ago a beautiful Border Terrier called Murphy who died aged 14.
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On both occasions we had to make the agonising decision to ‘put them to sleep’ or euthanasia. With Paddy, we had to make the decision in an emergency and the end of his life was fraught, a crisis. I remember just standing sobbing, I never held him in his final moments. Following his death and whilst preparing for my next puppy I read a chapter in a breed book which said that when it came to the final goodbye, it was better a day too soon than a day too late. Those words have always stuck with me.

When I got my beloved Border Terrier my heart melted, he was the most adorable, loving puppy and I always vowed that his beautiful, sweet life would not end in a crisis.
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Murphy was a ‘people’dog – this term was described to me by one of the Vets he saw through his lifetime. He developed digestive problems around the age of one and used to have attacks of severe abdominal pain and then blood in his stools.  This was finally diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), after a history was taken about his habits and personality. Where, Paddy would happily play and roam around the garden on his own for hours, Murphy just wanted to be with me or my husband and attacks were brough on by separation anxiety or by some stressful occurence. He was scared of cats! and one attack followed a cat hissing and scratching him when out walking. He could be a real drama queen! He always had to eat a prescription diet and occasional steroid treatment. I never though for a while that he would live to an old age, but he did! Once myself and my husband were at home a lot more due to changes in jobs, this settled down.

However,in the past 12 months he started to decline gradually with lack of mobility and change of habits -he began to slowly lose his spark.  I took him for regular Veterinary check up’s and I chose to take him to the same vet in the practice, a wonderful caring lady called Lynne. In June when it seemed clear to me that time really was catching up with him, we had a chat and came to a mutual agreement that once he was not able to manage the stairs and was living mostly in one room of the house e.g. he had no quality in his life we would say goodbye. Murphy always followed us everywhere and slept with us,if he couldn’t do any of these things he was just existing.

Finally at the end of September we knew the time had come – he was looking unhappy and his bones and joints looked to be really troubling him.

Leading up to this I knew I wanted a keepsake to remember him by. I didn’t have anything like that from Paddy, I wasn’t an internet user when he passed over so had no awareness of what was available, if anything in 2001. Also I had to consider his disposal. Paddy was buried in our garden by my husband, as I have said earlier, somewhere he loved. This time around this was not going to be an option, aside from the fact he didn’t like to be alone outside, we are in the process of selling our home and moving.

Pet keepsake

I chose http://www.a-lastingimpression.co.uk to make my keepsake. This is run by a lovely girl called Hannah. I had a silver charm made of Murphy’s paw print which I now have attached by a jump ring to a Links of  London bracelet. Hannah sends you a kit which comprises of a special cloth and paper, with which you take a paw print. You then return this to Hannah and she makes a rubber stamp that she stamps into the charm. I had this made in June, again as I didn’t want to have to do this in a crisis.

The service from Hannah, was so helpful and she has excellent communication skills. My finished charm is beautiful – the print looks so like Murphy’s paw -I know those pads anywhere! She also returns the original stamp she has made in case you should lose the charm and need to have a new one made. Now that he has gone, I am so glad I had this done. I treasure it.
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Rossendale Pet Crematorium

As Murphy’s condition was declining I planned what I would do with his body. I rang the Crematorium office and discussed options. Again, I received  great understanding and advice, when my voice was cracking with emotion, they were very empathetic.  My husband and myself decided we would have him cremated and have his ashes to return to us to take to our new home. I was informed that collection days at our vets were early on a Tuesday and a Friday morning. This then meant if I was planning the end of his life I wanted it to be on a Monday or a Thursday afternoon, so that he would not be lying alone in the Vets for too long.

When the fateful day came, it was on a Monday, in fact our 30th Wedding Anniversary! Not the way we planned to spend the day, but on that day it was all about his needs not ours.  I won’t go in to too much detail, apart from the fact that this time I hugged and kissed him till the end,  as it’s still very painful to us. I still shed a tear every day. However, the service from my Veterinary practice, particularly Lynne and Rossendale Pet Crematorium was excellent. His ashes were delivered back to the surgery on Friday and I brought his remains back home. Inside the box was a printed copy of a beautiful and apt poem that is displayed on their website.

If it should be

If it should be I grow frail and weak,
And pain should wake me from my sleep,
Then you must do what must be done,
For this last battle can’t be won.
You will be sad, I understand,
Don’t let your grief then stay your hand,
For this day more than all the rest
Your love and friendship stand the test.
We’ve had so many happy years,
What is to come will hold no fears,
You’ll not want me to suffer, so,
When the time comes, please let me go,
I know in time you too will see,
It is kindness you do to me,
Although my tail it’s last has waved,
From pain and suffering I’ve been saved,
Do not grieve that it should be you,
Who has to decide this thing to do,
We’ve been so close, we two, these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.

Anyone who has been through the loss of a much loved pet knows how raw and painful this is. It’s losing a member of the family, in fact I lost my best, most loyal friend.

If you wish to know any more here are the links to the websites of the Keepsake company and Rossendale Pet Crematorium

http://www.a-lastingimpression.co.uk/pets

http://www.rossendalepetcrem.co.uk

Also if you wish to contact me about anything in this post my contact details are: ellieblue1223@gmail.com

Autumn comforts – Why I like the Autumn

I know that many people groan and shudder at the start of the autumn. Not looking forward to months of dark evenings. I’m not one of them. In fact autumn is my favourite time of the year and winter holds no fear for me. There could be 2 reasons for this. The first being my passion for football – of course this is a winter sport. Secondly I love Cosy evenings at home. Luckily my husband is the same. There is nothing nicer than staying in, closing the curtains to shut out the rest of the world and sitting in comfort in the home we have worked for and paid for. I have a friend is very outgoing & sociable, who would go to the opening of an envelope! She never really likes staying in on her weekends off. I have always said that as most of my working life has been paying off a mortgage, I actually like to spend time enjoying the fruit of my labours.
I love subdued lighting, cushions and most of all candles. I love relaxing in my own surroundings.
One thing I love that I use more in the winter months than summer is burning scented oils and candles, complimented by shimmering tea lights in a variety of votives and holders.  This year I have discovered wax melts. I have become a huge fan!! I feel that the scents are stronger from these than other scented sources I have used before. I have invested in a new burner from Yankee Candles. I am also gathering a collection of their various wax melts. Another brand I have enjoyed so far is Village Candle. I bought mine off the internet as they are primarily an American brand, but when I visited a local shop recently and found they had a huge stock of these I got excited. My disposable income will be dented by purchases of these in the next few months. I have tried a Tropical scents one and at the moment I am burning one called Smoked Birch. As the name suggests it is a smoky, woody scent. Unusual but strangely nice. A pleasant muted turfy smell. Reminiscent of trips to Ireland.
As you will learn from future posts I am currently in the process of moving house. I will bore you to death with the trials and tribulations of this later. I am looking forward to spending winter evenings in new surroundings when I can try out more scents & melts. At present I am in the process of packing up and saving new purchases for my new home.

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Wax melts & burner

Life is Good

Having taken early retirement at the age of 55 in July of last year, I have a new lease of life and find the time to enjoy life and have a new found curiosity for many things – learning or trying something new every day – be it a new beauty or household product to a new website or YouTube page.

After years of working crippling shifts including nights and day shifts in the same week, I now feel rested, have less aches and pains and more energy. It is the best thing I could ever have done – and I know I am in a privileged position to be able to do this. Thanks to the NHS Pension scheme. I would never have saved and provided for my future myself.

My head is a jumble of random, excited new thoughts and experiences. I will endeavour to organise my thoughts and write about my experiences in retirement.

The above words were for my very first post on this blog, it was short and sweet. I’ve now decided to revisit it and expand on how I feel a year further on in retirement.

Time has flown and there are never enough hours in the day. I know I can hear the groans of you are still working full time and juggling childcare. But it’s true! I remember hearing many newly retired person say the same thing and I was cynical. But here I am confirming that statement.My husband has frequently asks  ‘How did you find time to go to work?’

I fill my time in many ways, reading other blogs, thinking about this one, but yes I know, not enough posting! Indulging in my hobby of entering competitions, I meet friends for lunch and coffee, now attend other retirement do’s as more and more of my friends and colleagues also hop off the hamster wheel, and sadly to say attending funerals of colleagues and colleagues partners.

However, my favourite ways to pass the time is just by being at home, pottering about doing ordinary household tasks and spending quality time with family. In my career as a nurse I have mostly worked unsocial hours and the aforesaid crippling shifts. Most of my time was spent working when everyone else was out socialising or in bed. My husband got used to continually having to apologise for my absence at gatherings and parties held by friends and family. These are things that I think many people take for granted. Here are just are a few of my thoughts on these ordinary subjects.

I was permanently exhausted after a week of ever-changing shifts. In my last role I would regularly work day and night shifts in the same week. I used to feel like I was permanently suffering from jet lag. Unless anyone has worked night shifts I don’t think they appreciate the damage it does to your body. By the time you get to bed at the end of your first night shift you will have been up over 24 hours. Most of us would plan to lie in bed the day of the first shift but my body would say otherwise and I would wake as normal. I again would try to sleep again in the afternoon but my body would not sleep. Shifts were long often 13 hours  without a break, and driving home was a challenge, the last thing I’d want to do was vacuum, or dust before sleep. I was lucky that my husband could see how I was struggling to get to the finish line – my 55th birthday and took on nearly all the household jobs until that day came.

Housework

This used to be a chore that I did not relish – just something to be done in as quick as time as possible. I used to wish I had that show home that others seem to have. Now I can’t say I have a show home but it is closer to that vision than it was when I worked.

I take joy now in all my jobs, I even wipe down my skirting boards and clean the microwave regularly! I can honestly say that I love my home and enjoy being a housewife and homemaker. I had a successful career, studied hard even managed to gain a Masters degree by the skin of my teeth and climbed to a senior level in a high paid role. However, once I got there I decided it was ‘tough at the top’ and not what I hoped it to be and yearned for a more simple life.  I’ve got the simple life now and I love it!

Quality time with family

Due to shifts and unsocial working patterns I missed a lot of time with my own family. When I was getting close to retirement and re-evaluating my life I looked round and realised that all my senior relatives had passed on. I had spent so little time with people who had such an impact in my childhood years, that made me sad.

John and I are happily childless. However I have  nephews and nieces who I spent as much time as possible with when they were growing up. I like to think I’m a friend as well as an auntie to them. They now have their own children. My brother and Sister in law look  after their grandchildren a couple of times a week.  I help with their care too now I have the free time. I treasure this time with my family it’s so precious.

My husband has 6 nephews and nieces, again with their own children now. Sadly my husband’s older brother, Jim, passed a way this year after a long battle with cancer. We all spent a lot of time together during his illness and subsequently. Johns sister held a girls night to raise money for Macmillan in his memory. Many of the girls there, nieces or nephews partners were intrigued about me after they met me. I was asked where had I been all this time. They hadn’t really realised I existed as I was never around due to work! Anyway by the power of early retirement I have now reconnected with all my family and loving it.

How do you feel about housework – a chore or a joy?

If you work shifts what do you feel you miss out on the most?

I’d love to hear from you – please comment or email me

Thanks for popping by

Elaine