Posted on Leave a comment

What is Simple Candle Meditation?

Hope you are all well.

I do my own version of simple meditation if there are a few minutes to spare.  With the Coronavirus restrictions around, and so few opportunities to socialise or even work properly, I’ve been doing a little dabbling and learning, to help ease how I cope with the world.  With work being very different due to the restrictions, and life so altered, finding ways to push on through, is top of the priorities for many of us.  We cannot care for others, if we do not care for ourselves first.  Here in Scotland, things like facials are still banned, as we cannot remove face coverings, so my one and only little luxury to myself is not allowed to happen.

With meditation, I used to have a picture in my head of someone sat on a mat, legs in the lotus position, chanting ‘ummm,’ and arms out front, with thumb and middle finger touching and other fingers up in the air.  I find that a bit cringy, though each to their own, however, I’ve found that there’s nothing wrong with meditating by lying on the floor, waiting in the car, lying on the couch or even the bed.  We can do it anywhere we are comfortable and relaxed.

Disclaimer: Always ensure you are safe to meditate.  If you have any doubts, please contact a medical professional before trying meditation of any form.

This gorgeous wee cat could be meditating.  Don’t rule out meditation because we can’t do the lotus.

There are many different techniques to meditation, including guided and encouraging awareness, through to transcendal using our own mantra, sound, syllable or words repetitively to relax the mind.  Zen meditation is a form of Buddhist meditation and focuses on clearing the mind and many others, which also include movement, and/or prayer.  Personally, I like to chill out, relax and listen to soothing voices and focus on my breathing to help reduce stress of modern day life.  Raising challenging adopted children is fairly fraught on a day to day level, and finding a way to feel peaceful for at least a few minutes when I am stressed, helps me to concentrate and make better decisions in life.

Group meditation can be so relaxing, but isn’t the easiest thing to find at the moment with the covid restrictions, so here’s an easy one to do for yourself.

Simple Candle Meditation

Clear the Room of Negative Energy
This can be as simple as lighting your candle, or waving about a sage smudge stick, but not everyone needs to do this.  Clapping your hands before starting is enough.  If you can, reduce the lighting in the room you plan to mediate in.


A little low music can help us relax when new to meditating.  Soothing and calm, with no vocals.  I have a smart speaker and tend to ask it to play a meditation mantra, which usually gives me some lovely options.

Take Your Position

Stretch your arms up high and if you can, then touch the floor.  Choose where you will sit, lie down, or use cushions to prop you in a comfortable seating position with feet on the floor.  If lying down, bend your knees to allow this and perhaps use a rolled up towel or bolster under your knees if needed.  Try and keep your spine straight while you focus on around 10-15 minutes at the beginning, to learn how to get your head into the mindset of relaxing.  I prefer to sit on the floor for this, with cushions at my back and under my knees, with a small table in front of me with my chosen candle.

We can bring in colour therapy with candle choice, for example:

  • Rainbow colours to signify hope, happiness, confidence.
  • Black to whoosh away negative energy and allow contemplation and respect.
  • White to signify new life, new beginnings.
  • Red for passion, action, love and courage.
  • Blue for healing, wisdom and strength.


For simple unguided meditation, begin to focus on your breathing patterns, and how shallow your breaths are.  Concentrate to take slower, deeper breaths, concentrate on your breathing, breathe in and count to three, holding your breath and then slowly exhale, fully releasing that breath, pushing it out until you feel your abdomen contract.

Candle Flames

Try to have your candle at a comfortable level for your eyes to gaze into.  As you do your breathing exercises, begin to look into the flames, trying to keep your eyes on the flame at all times.

Look for:

  • Shapes of the flames as they flicker and move, dancing.
  • Look at the candle flames, think about the different colours you see.
  • Consider the thoughts come to the forefront of your mind, what are the images you see?
  • Try to let go of your problems and concentrate just on the flame.

Ground Yourself

Try to medicate for 10 minutes.  Don’t worry, as it takes a little practice to get right.   Before you are finished, it’s important to bring yourself back to reality and connecting with the physical life once again.

An easy way would be to:

  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a few deep breaths, imagining the breath travelling to the tips of your fingers and toes.
  • Raise your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, imagine them connecting with the earth, like the roots of a tree, solid, steady and secure.
  • Bring your knees towards your chest if you can, keeping your feet on the floor, and wrap your arms around your legs.  If you can’t do this, simply place your hands on your knees, feel the gentle peace surrounding you as you bring yourself slowly back to reality, imagining yourself strong, alive and aware.
  • When you’re ready, count down from 5,4,3,2,1, and open your eyes, and back to the room.
  • Take your time getting up, possibly have a pre planned glass of water for drinking before you stand up.


Posted on Leave a comment

The Hay Fever Survival Guide

I don’t know about all of you, but I suffer from hay fever these days.  I was lucky enough to avoid it for most of my life, then one day, I started sneezing after an outside run, and it’s bothered me ever since.

Believe me, there’s nothing safe about repeated sneezing your way home in the car when you’re driving, so I had to find ways of dealing with it on a day-to-day basis.  Mine started as exercise induced, but now it’s just your regular old hay fever.

We’re at the point in the year, where I have felt a few extra sinus headaches, and a more than a few sneezes, and it’s only going to get worse.

What Is Hay Fever?

Unfortunately for some of us, it starts with an itchy, runny nose, lots of sneezing and water eyes to go along with it.  Mine comes on suddenly, then stubbornly refuses to go away.  It’s very common in the UK, and it affects our lives in more way than we tend to think about.  I know I struggle to sleep and don’t work so well when my hay fever is at its peak.

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen.  It’s fairly simple, but there are different types, such pollen from grass, nettle rape seed, mould spores, hazel trees and more.  One, or a combination of these is what we’re allergic to.  Our bodies recognise that pollen as an alien threat and produces histamines which trigger sneezing, coughing, runny eyes etc, in a bid to get that pollen out of our bodies.  In effect, our bodies are doing us a favour, no matter how miserably we feel about it.

What Can We Do About It?

At first, my instinct was to try to ignore it, thinking I had just caught a cold.  When it didn’t tail off after a few days, I knew I had a longer issue to worry about.  Simple hacks to help ourselves can include.

  • Taking exercise earlier in the day and try to avoid evening jaunts outside, as pollen rises during the day, being higher in the evenings, before subsiding during the night.
  • Dry clothes and bedding indoors if you can, but if you have to hang them outside, take them in before evenings.
  • Consider using a saline nasal spray to wash out your nostrils after being outside.  Speak to your local pharmacist about it and anything else that might help.

See The Doc

I did end up having to see the doc.  I have chronic sinusitis, so having hay fever as well is just double summer misery.  I use a corticosteroid spray in the summer months, and I use an antihistamine all year round, to avoid the headaches.  Age seems to have something to do with it, as our immune systems start to need a little extra helping hand.   As with all allergies, you need to seek medical advice if any adverse symptoms begin to appear.

What Else?

I’m still unsure about alternative therapies, although may people swear by them.  I don’t know much about them, other than quercetin is said to help in a similar way to an anti inflammatory.  It’s worth checking out for yourself.  I’ve heard immunotherapy works in a similar way to a vaccine, where we’re given small doses, to help reduce symptoms

To find out more, visit the Allergy UK website, at


Posted on 2 Comments

Mindfulness is a new thing for me.

We’ve probably heard it called a multitude of other things, but learning to make time for ourselves is something we should all do, no matter what our budget or free time looks like.

It’s not the same, but as an example, I’ve lost count of the people who’ve asked me how I lost weight, but when I tell them I log all my food, they say they don’t have time for that, or they don’t have time to exercise.  What they’re really saying, is that they’re not prepared to do it, or they don’t want to, or they’re not yet ready to focus on themselves, or I somehow, magically, have many more hours in a day than they do.

Let’s talk about a stereotype of some women I met in the playground when my kids were younger.

I can’t help thinking they’re going to have a heart attack, due to being constantly on alert, always worrying about what people say about them, always worrying about whether their kids are clever enough, pretty enough, top of the class, a genius in whatever, or whether their husbands are making enough money or not.

They’re STRESSED…..  With a great stonking S…….   Not only do they have to contend with the playground mums these days, they also have to content with the mythical perfection that exists in family life on Facebook or Twitter, or Pinterest, or Instagram, or whatever their choice of social media, where the pressure to conform is massive.  Their phones beep every few seconds, and they’re always being at the other end of demand from someone or other…    And when it comes to appearance, many are doing the latest Botox, or fillers, or Microblading their brows to perfection, but what about their minds????

Mindfulness is a new term to me, and one that I might mention frequently from now on.   Looking after our mental health is a place where we tend not to go these days, as time is always just that few seconds ahead of us, and we struggle to catch up.

For relaxing treatments, a move to treating the mind, in order to relax the body, isn’t a new thing, but it has tended to be ignored.  A move to more holistic approaches to treatment is always going to relax the mind, body and soul.

Aromatherapy, Hot Stone Massage, Facials, Hot Stones, Reiki, Reflexology and much much more, are all examples of therapies where we can sit back, and let our minds wander, especially if we’ve turned our mobile phones OFF for the duration.  I’ve come late in life to the benefits of holistic treatments, but I’m finding the therapy, where we have time to concentrate on our breathing, sit quietly, and actually relax, allowing our minds to rest, is something I’ve been missing all my life.

Sleeping is a no brainer, and a big issue for many of us, whether it’s falling asleep, or simply staying asleep.  I find that my hayfever makes that worse from Spring to Autumn, but on the whole, whenever I’ve taken time out for me, I’ve found my sleep has improved enormously, especially if there are aromatherapy oils or a well delivered massage involved.

Do some research and find something that works for you.  You won’t regret it.

Posted on 1 Comment

To Breakfast or Not!

Now here’s a thing.  My time has been all up in the air recently, and the first thing that always suffers in my life is that thing called “breakfast.”  It’s that alien word that has spent most of my life being sent to Coventry, as it’s one thing I’ve very rarely had time for in my life.  For the past couple of years, I’ve tried to add some sort of brekkie in the morning, but true to type, as things get more busy, breakfast for me, goes out the window.

Now I hear from all sorts of people that breakfast is a must, it’s a metabolism kick-starter, or it stops us being hungry, which by the way, is one of the most silly things I’ve heard.  For one, eating breakfast actually makes me hungry later in the day, but no breakfast = no hunger at all for me.  Do I want food, yes, but am I hungry – no.

I now also know the difference between hunger and wanting to eat now.  That has been alien to me my whole life.  I’ve gone day, and I mean days, at some points in my life, eating only an apple or two a day, but didn’t actually experience hunger as such.  Some food cravings yes, but no physical discomfort.  For me, it was all a mental thing.

Perhaps my metabolism has been out of whack my whole life, and yes, I can lose weight now my diabetes and badly behaved thyroid are behaving themselves, but sometimes, I do actually feel some discomfort when my body needs food nowadays. Note that I didn’t say “wants food,” but rather “needs food.”

The fact I now know what this feels like, and have never, ever felt it before, tells me that my thyroid has probably not worked properly, for the whole of my adult life.

This being said, I only feel that kind of hunger in a day, where I’ve kickstarted eating already.  If I haven’t eaten, the discomfort of needing food just doesn’t come quickly at all, but if I eat a bite or two, a couple of hours later, I need some food.

I’ve come to my own conclusions over the last couple of years.

Not Eating Breakfast Doesn’t Stop Weight Loss

To all those naysayers, who are adamant that breakfast is the holy grail of weight loss, with a calorie deficit, you are most certainly completely wrong.  Timing of food isn’t that important in my view, as long as we eat balanced meals throughout the day.  I’m sure my body doesn’t care if its first meal is 7am, 10am or lunchtime?  I prefer to begin my eating day from at least 10am, and lunchtime onwards if possible.  I eat fewer calories over a day that way.

It’s all about doing what works for us.  For some of you, breakfast could be the biggest meal of your day, and you eat little in the evenings.  I like to do things the other way around.  I eat little during the day, and most of my calories are consumed from evening meal onwards.

I’m not hungry in the morning, so I don’t want to eat when I don’t need to.  I do, however, finally know, at my age, what people mean when they say the world is only three meals away from anarchy, ie empty bellies for the masses will cause devastation for the world.  I really didn’t know what that type of hunger felt like for my first few decades of life.

Arguments For Breakfast

Kick-start the day, and get in vitamins and minerals.

I can’t argue with this one.   Eating can kick-start the day, and it does give us vitamins and minerals for the day.  I just prefer to have them later 🙂

Stops mid morning snacking.

Um, not if you’re anything like me.  I eat breakfast, and a couple of hours later, I’m ravenous.  I eat more calories in a day when I eat breakfast.

Cereal is a good breakfast.

Have we all actually read the sides of cereal packets?  Honestly, I think a chocolate bar would be healthier than some cereal brands.  It pays to read the nutritional labels to know what you’re getting, or what your kids are eating.  Many are full of sugar and have very little fibre.   Take a look at Ricicles and Frosties, or Coco Pops and decide for yourselves.  It’s easy to get the kids to eat them, but I doubt they should be a daily thing for anyone.

Bacon and Eggs are a good breakfast.

Once upon a time, I’d have said I disagree with this, but in comparison to cereal, then yes, it’s a great breakfast when bacon is grilled and eggs are poached.

To Breakfast or Not?

As much as the people who’ve tried to convince me over the years are concerned, I’m still ignoring most of you,  unless I’m going for a run, or need to concentrate for a long period of time, where I’ll have something to eat earlier than usual.  What we eat in a day has more effect that the time we eat it, so sorry to all of those who keep pressing breakfast on me, as it’s just never going to be a 365 days of the year thing.

And just in case you do like breakfast, here’s a recipe for Mango Frozen Yoghurt.


Posted on Leave a comment

Personal Trainer or Not?

This is quite a personal post.  It’s pretty long, but I think it’s necessary to show how I’ve felt about exercise and my health.  It’s also as a very big thank you to people who have given me some very special time, and have recently been helping me enormously.

Ok, on with it.  None of us are getting any younger, well maybe Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz and Victoria Beckham are, but I’m traditionally ageing forwards, bulldozing my way towards retirement at a frightening speed.  I’m pretty proud of what my body can do these days though.  And that’s a decade and a half after entering menopause.  Yes, I did have the luck to enter mine early, in my thirties, so my worst days flew away with the cuckoo long ago.  It does mean that I’m more at risk of osteoporosis than everyone who hits hot flushes in their late forties or early fifties, so I’ve been desperate to begin taking care of my joints and bones.


With my weight loss, I’m feeling better than I have for at least two decades, with the odd blip of two of a runny nose and sore throat, when those pesky kids of mine take home precious germs from school, just desperate to share them around.

So, the short story is, I can run….  Very slowly, as I keep telling everyone, but that’s so I don’t have to get embarrassed when a ten-year old whizzes past me in public, or I huff and puff my way up a new hill.

Back to what I’d planned talking about.  It’s a simple question isn’t it?  Whether to consult a personal trainer or not!  Or maybe it isn’t.  What do we even mean by a personal trainer anyway?  Shouldn’t it be someone who knows more than how to train us, or someone who knows about how fitness affects overall health?

Honestly though, it’s a potential mind blower…with all the terms and confusion.

I can imagine about a quarter of you who are reading, silently thinking, ‘no brainer,’ yet the other three-quarters might either be sniggering their socks off, or wondering what else the money could be spent on.


All of the above, are actually valid reasons, as is the concern of hitting a gym full of late teens and twenty year olds, either pumped up or perfectly body beautiful.  In reality, few, if any, care about us oldies with wobbly bits, but how we feel, does often stop us from doing things that are good for us.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and when I was young, I longed for skinny legs and the smallest clothes I could fit.  I’m eons more sensible now, having realised that being strong is infinitely more attractive to anyone with a bit of sense.  And that’s not on the outside, but on the inside, where it counts. Think about it. What we look like on the outside, isn’t going to help us age gracefully or healthily, if we’re thin but unfit, or overweight and wanting to do something about it, but can’t get up the courage to take the next step, or perhaps don’t know where to start.

That was me.  After I was asked to run the Race for Life, I just kept going, not having a clue what I was doing really, but just putting one foot in front of the other, and building it up slowly.  It was the right way to do it, and I’d read and read about strength training, but just hadn’t figured out how to go about it.  I knew I had a skinny fat type belly, and I knew I wanted to do something about it, but somehow, I still felt embarrassed.  I thought about using the gym, but thought I’d look like a numpty newbie.  Even worse…was that my husband bought himself a home gym in January, but has never used it, so I wanted to, but never felt I was doing anything constructive.

For a while now, one of my secret wishes, was to add strength training as my middle body is weak, and not in good condition.  I look fine, but I haven’t felt fine about it.

I’ve often wondered how to measure body fat percentage over the last year, but a body fat caliper seems to be very far out, as most of the fat I’m left with, is stored in one area.  It could throw those results off.

I had the opportunity to have an InBody test done at Temple Medical, by the lovely Jo, one of their doctors, and the reading pretty much confirmed what I thought.  The test, which measures our body composition, is fairly comprehensive and does far more than simply measure body fat.  I know my body water, protein, mineral and fat mass levels….  It’s an enlightening and very quick test to have done.  It’s also an eye opener.  Lots of people are telling me that I’m soon going to be too thin, yet the InBody test tells me I still have a lot of work to do.

Most of my fat is centered around my abdomen, and it’s not a great thing to have, considering my weight is inside the normal range, but I am only a smidgen under the line for dangerous visceral fat.  Yes, I have UK size 7-8 feet at just over 5 foot 4, so I’m never going to have a skeleton that lets me on the lower side of the weight scale without looking emaciated, and my InBody score came out at 72, which I am assured is fairly good.  Yet it’s not ideal either, considering that my body fat percentage came out at over 30%. That’s despite all the running and weight loss.  In other words, it was staring me front and centre, in black and white, that I’ve done nowhere near enough to be fully healthy.  I’ve had blinkers over my eyes..and stuffed cotton wool in my ears.  I knew this stuff, but whey hey, pretend it doesn’t exist, and I could fool myself that I was more healthy than I was.

Put that BFP into perspective.  In some places, they class people with over 30 BFP as obese!!  Compare that with the fact I take a UK size 8 jean in Next these days.  Usually 8-10 in most other places.

With a few tips from Jo about food, and advising me to eat at the level of 1300-1400 calories a day, with around 130g protein in 24 hours, and how to get that in, I set off to make a few changes, knowing I could ask her for more advice.  I don’t need to diet as such, as that would be daft, but what I do need, is to replace some of that BFP with lean muscle instead.  Yep, I’m back to strength training, aka weights, and lifting…

It’s laughable – lifting weights at my age, isn’t it?

Or is it?

Who doesn’t want to be strong?  I’m sure I do.  When I get to sixty, or seventy, if I make that, or even beyond, I still want to be able to climb stairs, go for walks, maybe even still run, chase around any potential grandchildren, and enjoy life to my potential max.  I’m never going to be ready for my pipe and slippers when I retire.  I’ll be blogging till I’m ninety….

Moving on, and back to the issue of personal trainers.  They’re scary…  Usually perfectly fit and able twenty somethings, who’ve never fought with life, weight, stress, or kids running around their ankles. That’s what I thought.  There are lots of gyms in Aberdeen, yet I wanted to talk to someone who’s had a bit of life struggle.  Someone who would understand that having a dodgy thyroid makes losing weight tricky, someone who had perhaps lost weight themselves in the past, and someone closer to my age. Regular personal trainers don’t seem to have that experience, even if they do have nutritional qualifications.  I can imagine they exist, but I hadn’t found them.

My one and only experience to date, a few years ago, was a very young lad, telling me to go longer and faster on an elliptical, which I hated, then onto a treadmill, where my legs wobbled like jelly and my heart felt like it would burst by the end.  I never went back.


I found what I was looking for when I didn’t expect it at all, and it’s changed my life in a single session.

Tracy is the Health and Fitness Consultant at Temple Medical, and she was my next stop.

I have to admit to being a little anxious when I first met Jo and Tracy.  This isn’t even what I initially went there to review.  I was asked to review treatments, which I naively thought were all based around the face.  On my blog, they’d spotted my weight loss and let me come to talk about the service as part of their aesthetics treatments and weight loss management.  I’ll talk about it in another post, as I’ve begun the body contouring phase of their Alevere Weight Reduction Therapy programme, although I don’t need the weight loss segment.

As an overview, I took advantage of the session with Tracy, secretly hoping she’d be able to help me decide what to do with my pathetically weak belly.

Have a giggle at the wee time-lapse below.

[fbvideo link=”” width=”500″ height=”400″ onlyvideo=”1″]

I felt fine with Tracy.  She’s around my age, has life experience, and knows about the difficulty of being fit, and struggling to find the nerve to do something about it.  In short, it seems I have lazy glutes.  Those backside muscles that seem to have withered away on me.  Honestly, there’s nothing back there these days.  I’ve got strength in my thighs and calves from running, but my mid section, glutes, and almost everywhere else, is pathetically weak.


By the time I left that one hour session, I could have kissed her.  Really.  The introduction to exercise is tailored at our ability to cope, and can be built up slowly.  I don’t think I stopped talking all the way through, asking questions over and over..

In the studio, she introduced me to kettlebells, basic stretch exercises, and has given me a great idea for using the redundant weights machine in my house, by adding an extension to the front instead of needing a cross hook.

I’ve had a mat for years, that I’ve finally unrolled for my home gym (in the pic).  I’ve bought a couple of kettlebells from Amazon and I’m all the bash. I’ve no intention of joining a gym, but I would if I had to. I just can’t get to one often enough to justify the expense, and I like the idea of being able to go to my gym any time I want to.  Whatever we can stick to is what we should do, if we can.

I believe Temple Medical has classes and Tracy has invited me along to see one, so I’ll try to stop my joints popping before I mosey on along.

I’m back to see Jo in a month or so, to see how I’m getting on for a follow on InBody scan, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed I manage to make a little progress. Kettlebells and protein, here I come.

Temple Medical are introducing a new product, which includes everything I experienced, which runs initially until Christmas.

New Temple Body Health Assessment in Aberdeen

  • InBody Scan, ie Body Composition Scan and Results.  Find out your percentage body fat, protein, minerals, body water and more.
  • 30 minute session with Jo, Medical Doctor, to discuss InBody results.
  • 30 minute session with Tracy, Health and Fitness Consultant.

You get all of this for £99, initially until Xmas.  Call: 01224 869997 for current offers.

I’d often wondered how to get a full body scan done, and thought it would cost hundreds and hundreds to have it done.  I had no idea how simply and quickly it could be done and analysed.

Find Temple Medical at:

Temple Medical Ltd
6 West Craibstone Street
AB11 6DL

Thanks to Temple Medical for my consultation and treatments.  All opinions are my own, based on my experience.  Other treatments available include light therapy, wrinkle relaxing treatments, skin rejuvenation, blemish removal, body contouring, ipl laser hair removal, and many more non surgical cosmetic procedures. 

Posted on 1 Comment

Are you drinking enough water to be healthy and hydrated?

highland-spring-4Highland Spring is on a mission to encourage healthy hydration. Because when you’re 100% hydrated, you’re much more likely to be on top of your game – mentally, physically and emotionally.

As a fairly newish runner, who’s only been pounding the streets and treadmill since January this year, I’ve been drinking more and more water as I train, and often carry some with me on a run now, if it’s over 5k.  I find I need the hydration, even though other runners can often manage fine up to around 12k without any fluids at all.

The easiest way to stay hydrated for anything, is to drink water.  Research has shown that 66% of us Brits feel we don’t drink enough.

For an experiment, I had the boys drink nothing but water for a full day, to see how they got on.  For middler, it was simple.  He loves water, and always has done.  He happily went round with his bottles of H2O and needed nothing else at all.

For the other two, we had to change the format slightly, with the addition of a little squash, which did a great job along with the sparkling spring water.  It tasted like a fizzy drink, and looked like a fizzy drink, but without much of the sugar and additions we find in the regular fizzy drinks.

highland-spring-9I have to say, that apart from running hydration or in hot weather, adding a little squash and ice to fizzy water, is my favourite way to imbibe a drink that’s good for me.

We do tend to buy quite a lot of bottled water normally, so I’m used to incorporating it into daily life at some level, but it was lovely to have our delivery from Highland Spring, and to drink it, quite literally, all the time for a while.  I tend to dislike tap water, and have to be organised, putting it into the fridge to try and reduce the chemical taint.  It’s also nice to have spring water.  I used to love going hiking when I was young, just to be able to drink the water streaming down from the hills, fresh and quite sweet to drink, just like my family would have, a few generations back.

I’ve always been someone who drinks a lot of fluid.  It’s one of the reasons my diabetes was missed early on, as drinking a lot of fluid has never not been normal for me.  If I ever have a headache, a glass of water tends to be the first thing I reach for, as it almost always seems to solve the problem.  I’ve never been able to understand people who manage to get through a day with one or two cups of coffee……  My mum is one of those, and I don’t know how people who drink so little manage to survive.  Just overnight, we can lose a fair bit of water weight while we sleep, just through breathing and surviving.  If you’ve never tried it, weigh yourself before going to sleep and again when you wake up, to see how much lighter you are.  I can lose a couple of pounds overnight, easily….

I often think children who struggle to concentrate at school can be helped along their struggles by keeping well hydrated.  Without enough fluid, concentrating is tough going, even for me…


How to get water into daily life.  Our tips…

  • Drink from the regular plastic bottle with sports spout for the kids bags when out and about. These also make great packed lunch additions.
  • For me, carrying a bottle while out for a run, and being able to bin it at the recycling station I pass on the way back is great.  I don’t have to carry my hand bottle for so long.  There’s nothing worse than carrying it when it’s empty, yet I still have a few kilometers to go.
  • broccoli-and-asparagus-spears-3I made Broccoli, Sweetcorn and Asparagus Soup using some of our Highland Spring this week.  I wanted to see if it made a difference in comparison to using tap water, which can be a bit whiffy at times, due to the chemicals.  My soup did taste more creamy that I’d expected, so perhaps it was the lack of chlorine in the water which made it extra tasty.
  • Use fizzy water to make your own drinks, including Bucks Fizz, with some orange juice, and a little alcohol if that’s your tipple.  Fizzy water mixed with a little fresh fruit juice is especially awesome, and healthy.
  • If you can’t give up regular fizzy sodas, alternate them with healthy drinks and a water substitute in-between.  Add some whizzed fruit to jazz up the taste.  It’s easier to get young children into the habit of drinking water, so make the best use of their age while you can.
  • As adults, aim to drink around 6-8 glasses of water a day, or a couple of litres.  The European Food Safety Authority recommends younger children drink smaller servings, around 150ml each, whereas older children need around 250-300ml.
  • Drink plenty of fluid the day before exercising.  I find that if I’m well hydrated the day before a long run, I manage to run further.  If I’ve been skimpy on fluid the day before, it doesn’t matter how much I drink on the day, I can’t go so far.  Hydration really does help our performance.
  • The glass bottles look fabulous on a table during a meal.  Very sophisticated.


Here’s the official skinny on water from Highland Spring….

  • Drinking water can make you happier: brain scans show that when you’re properly hydrated the parts of your brain associated with anger, fear and alertness are de-activated.
  • Lots of us visit the doctors for fatigue each year, when actually the problem could be due to dehydration. Keeping hydrated can help give you the energy you need!
  • When you’re hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. It’s much easier for your body to pump blood through the blood vessels to muscles.
  • Staying hydrated before and during exercise helps avoid cramp. Hydration levels are affected by how long and how hard you are exercising, so if you are sweating or in a warm environment you might need to drink more than usual.

Highland Spring Water is natural water, that comes from Scotland’s beautiful Ochil Hills.  If you want to see other people’s tips for using water, check them out on Twitter, at the hashtag #HyGreat



Posted on Leave a comment

Me. Yes. In a Dress!

This is what happens when you ask a child who’s in a hurry to take some pix for you. Ever so arty, squint and wiggly, slightly sepia photos, but there was nobody else around to help, and as I don’t get the opportunity to dress up too often, I thought I’d share a part of my life….

lesley-4Wearing dressy clothes just isn’t usually on my radar, as I’m often uncomfortable in dresses.  For holidays, perhaps one or two, but when I go out at home, it’s usually with a pair of black trousers and a nice top.

This is the first new dress I’ve had for going out, for around oh, 15 years or so……  I do have a function coming up, and was on the looking for something I could wear, and then again to anything else in the next wee while.  I’ve still got a bit of weight to drop, but this dress will still fit, even if I go down a size.  It’s a bit like magic material in this one.

lesley-jd-dress-2From JD Williams, the lace detail dress is part of the Together range, and at £85, it’s a good price for an occasion dress. It’s part of their maxi dress lineup and there’s another one that I’m itching to get my hands on. I’ll have to wait a while for that one I think.

I changed the straps underneath for something more comfortable and supportive for me.  I’m not averse to changing something if it’ll be more practical for me.

lesley-shoesSo.  I’d had the dress in my wardrobe for a while, and had just been waiting for a pair of shoes to wear with it.

Finally, in Matalan, I found a bargain for £6 a couple of days ago, so although they’re not navy, they go fine, and I needed insoles for them.  I bought them too big, so I could put in nice squishy soft insoles.  I don’t do sore feet….

This could be the only time anyone sees a photo of me in a dress for going out in the UK this year.  I often wonder if I’m the only dress adverse person out there, but I’m sure there are many others, just like me.  I have to say a big thank you to JD Williams for persuading me that I could actually wear a dress over here in cold, wet and windy Scotland, and still be comfortable.

As for the shoes, I’m not quite sure I’ll be able to wear them for too long at a time.  On the night, I suspect I’ll be carrying a nice comfy pair of flatties with me, just in case…


Disclaimer: Thank you to JD Williams for providing the dress for my function.

Posted on 2 Comments

Losing a bunch of weight.

Pink Tape Measure

It’s no secret to my readers that I’ve lost a bunch of weight recently, and I’d still like to lose around a stone more, but I won’t worry too much about that.  I’m still heavier than where I started at the
beginning of all this blubbery inflation, but I fit into UK Next 8 and 10 clothes mostly, with the odd 12, so I’m happy with that. I know I might not be able to keep it up, but for now, I’m in control of my weight.

What I have been most surprised about, was the amount of people who constantly ask me how I’ve done it, as if there’s some sort of magic wand around that melts fat off.  When I tell people what I’ve done, they begin to lose interest, then some even turn round and say something dumb, like,

‘no really, what else did you do?’

Or they assume that now my thyroid is in a better way, that the fat dissolved itself away.  Now I know having thyroid issues helps with weight gain etc, but losing it isn’t any easier for us than it is for the rest of you when it’s sorted out.  My thyroid being in sync now might stop me adding to weight, but it does nothing for losing what’s already there.

It’s simple really.  Just CICO.  Honestly, all other diets work on basically the same principle.  Eat less calories than you expend, and you will lose fat.   CICO is simply calories in v calories out.  I don’t believe in the real plateau either.  It’s impossible to eat more and lose weight as such.  Nobody living in a real starvation mode will retain their fat for a sustained level of time, and three or four weeks of the scales not moving, is not starvation mode.

Weight loss isn’t linear.  

Just because you eat 1200 calories a day, most people won’t lose 2lbs a week, every week, forever.  Some weeks you might lose 3lbs, some 4, then maybe some at 2lbs, a week or two here and there of half a pound, and maybe a couple of weeks gain one or two.  And boy, does it get demotivating for the scales not to move at all for nearly two months.  Yep, been there, but eventually, if you stick with it, the downward trend begins again.

The closer to goal we get, the longer it takes to shift.  It’s a journey, not a fast track to skinny blingdom.

Losing weight should be about health first, and the weight on the scale way down on the list.  In second and third place, I prefer to look at fitness, endurance and before the scale, even how my clothes fit.

That’s my view, and you’re welcome to disagree with me.   My clothes still don’t fit as well as I’d like around my midriff, and that’s why I’d like to lose a bit more fat, but on the whole, I’m happy enough with the rest of me.

You can’t outrun a bad diet?

Hmmm, well, I see this all the time on the internet, yet it’s possible that it’s completely wrong too.

Certainly, you can’t outrun a diet where you take in far more calories than you burn off by running.  And given a mile roughly equates to around 100 calories, then a fairly long run won’t even make up for a pig out session in front of the TV with a good sized pizza.

What you can do, with exercise, in increase the size of the CICO calorie deficit, which means you can eat a little more on those days.  If your daily target calorie count is around 1400, and you run for 6 miles, you could technically eat 2000 calories that day and still be in a modest deficit of calories.

Some diets are better than others.

Of course they are, but some are absolute tosh.  Any weight loss diet has to have you eating less calories than you use up in a day.  Whether you count in points, pounds, kcals or packets, it all adds up to the same.  I’m not a fad of diets that replace the calorie with a fancy name, and it isn’t any way to help someone maintain their weight when they’ve finished losing it in the first place.  If you find something healthy that works for you, then go for it.  Otherwise, learn portion control and nutritional value of foods and work it out for yourself.  I learned that I’ve spent much of my life with far too little protein.  I’ve fixed that.

There’s no easy weight loss method.

Losing weight sucks, big time, but if you’re determined and ready for it, nothing will stop you.   Good luck to anyone on a journey, and I hope you feel as good about yourself as I do for what I achieved over the last year.

Posted on Leave a comment

Race for Life 2016 – Aberdeen – 10K – Done

Well, it came and went, and I finished it, running all the way….  For a new runner, I can’t even begin to say how chuffed I was at the finish line, although the last couple of K were quite tough for me to keep running, especially after pulling a muscle at around the 8k line.

We rocked up around 9am, to see lots of women making their way to the side of the Ice Arena, where there was a stage set up for everyone.  As usual, when I’m doing anything, there’s a complete lack of photographs to show me doing it, as my nearest and dearest aren’t the best at taking photos for me.

Race for life 2016 10k 4

I raised £262 for my run, which I was happy with, given that my circle of real life friends is pretty limited these days.  As a carer, I don’t get out terribly much any more and I really have to thank everyone who donated from the bottom of my heart.  I gave a show of strength against cancer for my mother in law, who was taken too soon, both my mother and father who are cancer survivors and my friend, who is about to start her second fight against the disease.

I’d no idea what to expect, and half thought I’d be the only old huffer on the route, but I had nothing to worry about.  I’d done some training, and although the furthest I’d gone before this was 8k, I was hoping to get to the finish in one piece.

There’s a group warm-up at the beginning, but as an older runner, and one who used to be very unfit, in hindsight, it wasn’t enough for me.   If I do this again, I’ll do my five minute walk beforehand, to ensure my leg muscles are ready for getting feet off the ground.

Race for life 2016 10k 3

Before setting off, nerves gathered in my stomach, but once we were in the starting area, they eased off as he began to hike it up the little hill from the field to the beach boulevard.  It was a fairly easy route, but I’d expected it to be completely flat, which was a little misleading, as at the Bridge of Don end of the route, it’s a slow climb back to the level and flat run for the rest of the way, right to the roundabout beside the Beach Ballroom, and back to the Bridge of Don route for a full second cycle of running.    It’s effectively 2 rounds of the 5k circuit.

Water was handed out at around the 5k mark for us, and with only around 600 entries for the 10k, our route was very pleasant indeed, after the first kilometer, when people began to find their place and the crowd opened out.  There were some cancer uk supporters helping to chivvy us along and it did raise a smile, as in general, running is quite a lonely pursuit.

Starting off, I went too fast for me, but not at all fast for many others.  I think it was the need to find a bit of space to run in, and when that happened, I settled into a steady pace, getting around half way in around 32 minutes, which is ultra good for me.  At that point, I realised I had to do it all again, so I slowed down more and took longer for the second half of my 10k.  I’m new at running, so pushing it would have been daft.

In the second half, I suspect I could have speed walked/partially run in cycles and been faster, but my goal was simple…  Just to finish and still be running, from beginning to end.  And I did it, as my show of strength against cancer.  It affects us all, so if others can go through chemo, pain, uncertainty and misery, surely I could finish a 10k, somehow!

I’ve run at the beach before, but the pavements are definitely easier to run on than the road, which has a fair few stretches of uneven tarmac.   The pavements were reserved for the general public, so running on the road it had to be.  Apparently, I ran past my family and never saw them at all.  With my headphones in and music blaring into my ears, I think I had no idea what anyone else was doing, for almost all the time.

By the end stages, I heard my app get to around 8k, and I signed in relief.  I still felt ok, and my legs were fine, then I landed awkwardly on a rough patch of tarmac and slightly pulled a muscle.  Determined to keep going, I sort of hopped for a few steps until it eased, then slackened off my pace a bit more.  Keeping my legs going was all I cared about at that point.  9k was announced in my ears, and I knew I’d finish it by still running.  It was slightly disheartening to hear 10k announced, and realise I still had to go from the roundabout to the finish line, so in total, my app told me it was 10.44km.

I was about 75-80 minutes, not counting the forgetting to switch off my app when I’d finished, and it added on a few extra minutes where I walked over to meet my sister in law who was running the 5k after me, and my boys.

Race for life 2016 10k

Race for life 2016 10k Dog Tags

I’m chuffed to bits about finishing it.  Time was never a goal for me at this point, but distance was.

ps:  Remind me never to let anyone take a picture of me mid step again!

Posted on 2 Comments

I cut my expensive Hoka Clifton 2 running shoes – yes I did!

Before I say any more, this isn’t sponsored.  I bought and paid for my Hoka’s, and yes, I cut them……

I know, nuts right?  Especially considering they cost me £100.  To see the slit when I’m wearing them, you have to know it’s there.  If you look closely in this pic, you can see it on the right shoe.

Hoka Clifton 2

It’s hardly noticeable at all really.  But makes a huge difference to wearing them.

Hoka Clifton 2 (e)

They’re like pillows on my feet, and running with fibro isn’t the easiest thing in the world.  I get pain, and it’s not nice pain in most shoes I’ve tried so far, and when I saw Hoka running shoes, they reminded me of my well worn Fitflop clogs for the soles.  Anything that reminds me of Fitflop soles has to be good.  Well, that’s the plan.  I wanted to hate these, so that I could find something that didn’t look so much like clown shoes, but sadly, I’ve had to become a fan, and the colours are mostly just eye wateringly offending.  These aren’t too bad, but still bright.

So, with my credit card out, I scratched my chin, and duly bought a size to match the Saucony ones I already had.  This finding the right shoe can be expensive.  After my first run in the Clifton 2, I got a blister at the ankle behind my heel with the cuff, but that sorted itself out after a couple of more sensible short runs to break them in.

Then the problem started.

My right foot felt incredibly cramped, and after a little run, my little toe was squished against the side.  My toes would start to go numb and I had to stop every five minutes to stretch my foot and ease off the numbness.  I couldn’t return them as I’d worn them outside, and I didn’t want to either, as I struggle with forefoot cushioning in my right foot, which is the foot I have the biggest problem with.

A quick search online, brought up other squished toe runners with the same issue, as Hoka shoes seem to run quite narrow for women, even many men too.  Some online people mentioned cutting a slit at the side, to give that extra couple of millimeters needed for comfort.  Specifically, I came across Stephanie, a Hoka Cutter, who’s an awesome ultra marathon runner, and her blog is quite funny too.

Who’d have thought it – me – taking a blade – as a destructive force on an item that cost over a ton…..  I’m am established Hoka cutter now too..

Slightly glowing with the thought of completely destroying something that cost so much of my hard earned dough, I tried to poke a hole with a normal kitchen paring knife.  Not to be recommended.  Almost sliced my finger off.

I duly gave up and sent the hub for his stanley knife.  Needless to say, he huffed and puffed, but finally gave in and slit around an inch, which seemed to help, then I tried a run, and found I needed another half inch at least.  I decided to widen the slit myself, but this time, lady luck wasn’t on my side, although I did manage to avoid my fingers.  The errant slit went slightly upwards into the plastic, and I spent a few minutes in frantic regret, but it’s totally relieved the pressure, although it’s a very untidy cut.  After another 30k on the shoes, the slit hasn’t widened or torn any either.

Hoka Clifton 2 (c)

Forgive the wonky slit, I’m a novice at mutilating my shoes!!!

Hoka Clifton 2 (d)

That’s if you don’t count the elasticated ballerinas that I cut the elastic on, and made them fit my feet perfectly.

The Result

  • I don’t have to spend more money on a bigger pair of Cliftons in a size that would swamp my left foot, as the Cliftons are long enough for both feet.  I will however, order men’s next time round, as women’s are a B width, and men’s are a D.  Newbie Hoka running shoe buyer mistake.
  • The toes on my right foot are doing a happy dance now they have freedom and no pressure, with no numbness.
  • I’m convincing myself that it’s impossible to spot the slit in the shoe unless you know it’s there.  Humour me on this!
  • It’s like finding the holy grail of comfort.  I don’t want to run in anything else, really, everything I try now, feels like I’ve got blocks of cement on my feet.  But.  I have a perfectly good pair of Sauconys to wear out.  They might become my walking trainers, as they’re also plush, but harder under foot than the Cliftons.
  • The bouncy pillows might slow some people down, but I’m a slow runner anyway, so comfort wins out over speed for me.  I’m a plodder.
  • I’m wearing shoes that mean people expect me to be a better runner than I am.  Laugh at me, go on, it’s ok.
  • Don’t buy shoes with the express intent of butchering them….really…..unless you’re me, and you’d do it again.

Hoka Clifton 2 (b)

When these babies wear out, I’d love to try another different pair with even more cush.  I wish Hoka would make their shoes more foot size friendly with softer uppers, but hey ho.  I’ve worked around it.  Will I always be a Hoka cutter?  Who knows, but I wish their uppers were as good as their soles…

My absolute dream shoe would be Saucony Triumph ISO2 Upper, with the Hoka Clifton 2 sole.  Wishful thinking. 🙂


Posted on 2 Comments

Race for Life Training – A few weeks to go….

Well, what can I say….  I’m pretty rubbish at this running thing.  I’m doing it, but almost everyone else I see, seems to have got it licked, whereas I just plod along, step after step until I’ve had it.

The treadmill, I can do, but I’m struggling getting above 5 + k outside.  I get to around the 5k mark and I seem to have this mental block for actually continuing to run terribly much further without stopping for a good walking break.

I went out with a friend this week, for her first day of couch to 5k.  I really actually enjoyed redoing the walk 2.5 minutes and run for 1 minutes spells.  She struggled, as I did when I started, and I found it quite strange to not even get the slightest bit of change to my breathing while she struggled…  BUT, I was there a few short months ago…..

I’d love to be able to run the whole 10k, I really would, but with only 4 weeks to go, I’m nowhere near ready to manage that distance.  I’m not young, and I’m about a stone away from where I’d like to be.  I tell myself that running will be a whole lot easier when I’m carrying around that 14lb less, but I know that’s only fooling my brain while I’m reaching the end of a run… 🙂


I’m still self conscious outside.  Actually, I find it excruciatingly embarrassing to plod along, as people tend to look up.  I know they don’t give a fig, but hey, we’re only human, and it’s tough to ignore people looking when you’re very self conscious.  I’m ignoring it as much as I can, and persuading myself not to care, although I’m still only very rarely running in our village.

It goes a little like this:

See a car coming towards me, lift my head, speed up a bit till it’s passed, then slow down a bit to get breathing under control.  See someone walking towards me, close my mouth and breathe through my nose till they go out of sight…….

But, it’s for a good cause, right?  Without the race for life, I wouldn’t be outside at all really.  I’d still be plodding on my treadmill, sweating buckets and thinking I was slower than a sleeping tortoise.  At least I know my timings are faster outside now, even if I’ll still struggle to finish the 10k in the alloted time.  I’m practicing speedwalking too, in the attempt to finish my 10k in the hour and a half, even if I have to walk half of it.  I’ll be alone, so I hope to have a bit of a crowd somewhere I can get lost in.  It’s a daunting first public distance outing.  I’m half wishing I’d opted for the 5k.  At least I know I could finish that, but then I wouldn’t be pushing myself, would I?

Raceforlife4Perhaps doubting yourself is common for a new runner who found it tough to get this far.  I love running, I really do, but seem to be taking much longer than other people to build up distance.

There’s no shame in walking though, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed there will be other walkers on the 10k, and they’re not all the local super speedies I see out and about 🙂  I know lots of people walk the 5k, and I wouldn’t mind having walkers on the 10K, but with only 456 people signed up to my local 10k so far this year, I’m starting to worry…..

In the meantime, I’m off out for another run, and intend to walk a 3k afterwards to build the distance to run and walk outside.  Oh, and if anyone has any tips for how to stop myself going scarlet in the face while I’m out running, I’m all ears…….

Sign up for a race for life place yourself at Race for Life – Cancer Research UK

Posted on Leave a comment

Sponsor me for cancer research.

Raceforlife2Ok, you know by now that I’m doing the Race for Life Aberdeen 2016, 10K.  I’ll be walking some, but I’m going to run as much as I can.  I have a slight knee injury, which means I’ve cut back on training this week to let it heal, but hopefully it doesn’t last for too long.

I’d like to raise £150 if at all possible, and if you want to sponsor me, feel free to use my widgets and badges to help you along.

My race for life Just Giving page is lesleysmith001 or click on the image below to take you to my fundraising page.  Cancer Research UK funded my place for running, so I’ll also be donating the entry fee I saved to my account.  If you do sponsor me, and you’re comfortable, leave a wee message so I know who did an awesome thing for me and the future of cancer research.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
If you’re a text person, and want to sponsor me, even if it’s a pound, simply text in a donation if you’d like to.   You can donate in numbers of £1, £2,£3, £5 or £10.  It takes a little while to show up.

The number to text for Race for Life: 70700