We had an unexpected snow day today. I live on the south coast of England and we rarely have much snow to bother with - one or two days a year as a rule - but today was a good one. A bitter, bitter wind had caused the snow to drift in places, which left my little boy almost knee deep in it at times!
It certainly accelerated the housework plan along for this week, which is going well so far, leaving me a completely free evening.
The next major change to my life is diet, exercise and self-care. She exhales loudly.
A bit of background history first.
When I was in my teens, my diet was appalling. I mean appalling. I used to eat sugary cereal for breakfast, followed by a cup of weak and milky tea (I loved the way my mum made my tea, and I still drink it like that today, except I prefer it with soya milk). Sharon and I used to stop at the shop on the long walk to school and buy as many sweets and crisps as we had money for. I never used to take lunch, instead I'd stop at the shop on the way home from school and buy a pasty or a sausage roll because I was so hungry. At the time, we took in students for extra income, so our dinners were often something with chips - cheap and easy for my mum to cook up and the food of choice for the young Europeans.
Unsurprisingly I had a dreadful complexion. I was always really skinny, - flat-chested and ribs-sticking-out kind of skinny - so I wasn't too worried about gaining weight, but I was terribly self-conscious about my skin.
I began to do lots of research and became very interested in nutrition. When I left home, I turned into a bit of a health freak, and diet and fitness became a passion of mine. I ate wholefoods, mostly organic bought from local farms, dipped in and out of vegetarianism, avoided chemicals as best I could, juiced, and drank pints of water. I also did karate, played football for a local club, trained at the gym and ran miles.
This was me when I had just met my husband-to-be. I was 26, looked 16, fit, toned, healthy, not an ounce of fat on me!
My babies came along over the next 5 years. After the first one I gave up the karate and the football, but kept up the running and squashed in a fitness video here and there, and all was well. After the second, I was running a business, running a big house and garden, bringing up 2 kids and becoming increasingly unhappy with my husband who liked to come home from work, wait for his dinner and slob in front of the TV all night. Exercise went out the window and whilst I still ate pretty healthily and organically, I was allowing fast food and desserts to creep in on a regular basis. By the time I left him, I was a size 12 - almost three dress sizes bigger than my average weight, and I had cellulite for the first time in my life!
From then on in, I've struggled with my eating habits. I've been divorced for ten years now, eight of those I've lived on my own, and financially I can't afford to eat the food I am so passionate about, which depresses me a lot. I feel really strongly, I mean REALLY strongly about the state of the food in this country. It's shocking what you can discover about the processed food industry when you start researching it, and it saddens me that most food we eat isn't 'real'. Even organic fruit and vegetables - whilst there are strict guidelines which govern how these foods are grown, there are none in place for their storage, which means they are stored along with other veg in big vats of slime for anything up to a year. Don't even get me started on milk - the average child in their child years, consumes six wheelbarrowfuls of sugar just in milk alone...why?...why do we need to have sugar in milk? And now, because the government are so concerned about childhood obesity, they plan to replace the sugar with artificial sweeteners. It's what I have read, but it's frightening.
In the nine years I have worked in a school, the number of children coming through with special needs and disorders has increased dramatically to when I first started. I honestly believe it has everything to do with what they are being fed - mine included, I hold my hands up and admit that my children eat a diet I am ashamed of.
But the honest truth is, I don't earn enough to be able to eat organic wholefoods anymore. I try and make healthy choices, but so much of what we eat is covered in chemicals and processed in some way. If only the government would subsidise organic farming and health foods instead of funding millions to the NHS to treat our sick nation....
I feel so PASSIONATELY about this.
Anyway. Andrew felt the same way I did about all of this, which was refreshing for a man. Where he lives in Brighton there are beautiful fresh and organic wholefood shops - hundreds of baskets of all different kinds of fruit and veg, lovely freshly prepared dahls and other dishes, shelf upon shelf of organic everything. Heaven. I used to love shopping for our weekends there. (We did eat an enormous amount of Green and Black's Organic Chocolate though....and Booja Booja truffles...ohhhh).
I had regained my size 6/8 figure very soon after meeting him, sharing the cost and reverting back to a more healthy lifestyle. We used to walk for miles and miles aswell and I had been dancing Modern Jive several times a week for three years by then, so I was very toned again. After he left so suddenly, I was so broken, I just couldn't eat. I used to feel physically sick all the time. I lost a ton of weight really quickly, then came down with meningitis, which just about finished me off. My weight plummeted to under 7 stone and the doctor told me to do whatever it took to get the weight back again.
So for the last 3 years I have basically sat on my bum and eaten junk. Partly out of fear of being so ill again. Partly comfort eating. Partly lack of money to buy the food I really want to eat and severe disillusionment with the state of the food I can afford. Partly because I'm too exhausted to prepare separate meals for all three of us (my son likes most healthy food, but my daughter would rather chop off her arms than eat fruit and veg). My body is a mess really. I weigh nearly 9 stone, which isn't overweight at all, but it's all cellulite. I'm still bony and flat-chested up top, but my bum is way too big, I have a muffin top and nasty, dimpled thighs. My skin is horribly dry, I get huge spots, my hair is brittle and frizzy and I have shadows round my eyes. I haven't danced for four years now, and the only exercise I get is walking round the block with my son to get him out of the house. None of it is good at all, I have no confidence and I feel unattractive. And for the first time in my life I look my age!
It has to change.
I have to find a way to turn all of this around. I have always wanted to grow my own vegetables, for as long as I can remember. I know it's hard work and plants get eaten and succumb to diseases etc, but I feel so passionately about it. I have moved so many times that I can't put down roots in a garden and the cost of setting up a plant pot garden is just money I don't have to spare.
I will find a way. Gradually. Baby steps. One step at a time.
I refuse to buy into the belief that once you get to a certain age you can't fix it, that all the cellulite and the untoned muscles are just all part of ageing. I'm not prepared to accept that at all, and I'm determined to find a way to claw back my holistic lifestyle.
So this is my commitment to myself:
I will make slow, steady, permanent changes to my diet and lifestyle week by week, until I am once again living in accordance with my holistic principles.
Ultimately this means:
Changing from processed foods to fresh meals, even if I can't manage organic right now.
Scheduling regular exercise into my life.
Going back to dancing (my love)
Swapping chemical skincare products for natural, organic ones.
Buying a juicer and a breadmaker.
Growing as much of my own food as I can.
Taking care of my body, i.e. dealing with the horses' hooves that are meant to be feet, looking after my nails, exfoliating and moisturising my skin, getting my hair professionally coloured.
Each week I am going to make a change, commit to it here on this blog, and stick to it.
Please Universe, may I win the lottery.....