Pregnancy, engagement and loss, an update dedicated to my beautiful mum.

For those of you who have been following me for a while you may have noticed that I haven’t written in a while. Yes I share my story across Instagram and Facebook but I haven’t taken the plunge and written a blog post for some time. Today on my beautiful mum’s birthday I decided that it was finally time to fall back in love with writing, so bear with me as this is going to be a long and emotional one.

2016 was a year of tremendous highs and tremendous lows, a year that should be remembered for all the highs will forever be remembered as the year I lost my mum.

As most of you know by now I walked in to my first Slimming World meeting on May 2, 2016, and five months later as I prepared for a holiday of a life time I was six stone lighter and I couldn’t have been prouder.

Many people asked me along the way what my motivation was and I told them, “it’s finally clicked”, “I want this for me”, and whilst that wasn’t a lie, it also wasn’t the full truth. Everyone always says do it for yourself, you have to want it. I always wanted it but the truth is I never loved myself enough to really believe I could do it, to really fight for it and make the change for good. I did however love my mum enough. So from the day I walked in I did it for her.

My mum was diagnosed with the cruel illness that is Motor Neurone Disease and as her health deteriorated I didn’t want to be the burden I had always been. I wanted her full focus to be on herself to keep strong and keep fighting in spite of there being no cure. I didn’t want her final moments being spent in tears worrying whether I’d be alive to celebrate my thirtieth birthday.

Each week I climbed those scales with hope, for 22 weeks straight I lost weight, I relished leaving group and dialling my mum’s number and telling her how I’d got on. Was it easy? No. I wanted to eat my feelings most weeks, the side of the story that you didn’t see was the struggle and reality of my mum’s health and how this really impacted me and my journey.

She always was a proud woman, she barely told her own friends and our extended family the extent of her illness, she certainly didn’t want me telling the world. If she’s reading this now I hope she forgives me for finally sharing her story. From her diagnosis to her untimely death I watched my beautiful proud courageous mother become a shell of the woman she was.

She was trapped in a body that no longer wanted to work for her. Each time I visited my mum she had deteriorated. We all put on a brave face determined to be strong for her. But I wasn’t strong, she would see me smile and tell her that she had better stick around because we were going to find a cure, I would be the positive person she needed. I’d hug her as she cried and I would tell her how much I loved her. Then I would leave and go home to my partner, spend evenings crying on him only to retire to bed and cry myself to sleep, this beautiful woman that I had spent so many years loving was slowly leaving me.

I didn’t have control over my mum’s illness, I couldn’t make her walk again, I couldn’t make her speak again,  I couldn’t take away her pain or make it easier for her, but I could make her proud. So I thrived on the control I had over my weight loss and made every day count.

Then something changed, I found out I was pregnant and what a shock that was. I was overjoyed but equally so scared. How could I continue to lose weight and make my mum proud whilst safely growing a baby? How could I tell my mum that I was having a baby when none of us knew if she would still be here to see that same baby be born?

Don’t get me wrong the plan had always been to lose weight and to have children. But I wasn’t done yet. I’d finally cracked this weight loss and now a new little life was forming that was going to change everything. So many people spend so long trying to have children and I would never want to seem ungrateful, but this little one was a big surprise, albeit a very welcome one and it took a while for it to sink in. I’m 24 + 4 weeks now and I still find it hard to believe that my very own baby is growing away inside of me.

I plucked up the courage to tell my mum a few days after we found out, it was way before 12 weeks, and the time people usually wait, but I knew I wanted her to know from the start. I was so scared. I didn’t want my mum to think that I was carrying on with my life like normal when she struggled every moment of the day. My mum’s partner tells me that learning that I was pregnant gave her a new sense of fight and happiness right when she needed it, this brings me comfort even now.

So now my mum knew I could focus back on Slimming World, let’s face it I was (and still am) a long way from target so all the midwives were ecstatic that I was hoping to continue to lose weight, safely and healthily and so was my mum. She wanted me to keep going, so I did. In the first 6 weeks of my pregnancy I continued to lose weight and then I went on holiday and ever since then it’s been a struggle.

Just prior to holiday my mum had moved into a hospice, it was only ever meant to be a temporary stay in order to get her pain management under control, she didn’t want to go in, and she was so scared. I can still see the fear in her eyes now, she was convinced that she wouldn’t make it home again, we all told her that of course she would, looking back that seems cruel, but it was the truth, we truly believed she would come home again.

Before I jetted off I was filled with emotion, I felt so guilty about leaving for a holiday when my mum needed me. But ever the stubborn woman she told me not to be silly, to go and have an amazing time and that she would be waiting for my return to hear all about our adventures. It also brought her much amusement knowing that I’d lost all this weight to finally feel comfortable going on all of the rollercoasters only to discover I was pregnant so I couldn’t go on any!

The holiday was amazing and it was topped off with my handsome man proposing in front of my favourite place, Hogwarts Castle. What a lot of people don’t know is that almost every day I woke up crying, I was in this amazing place, having an incredible time, but something just didn’t feel right. I was convinced that I would arrive home and my mum would no longer be here. Things couldn’t be going this well. We’re having a baby, we’re engaged something has to happen. And then it did.

We flew back on the Sunday, and from the airport I went straight to the hospice and I didn’t leave again until Thursday. I had left my mum confident that she was in the right place and that she was well enough for me to go, nothing could have prepared me for what happened. In the week I was away, my mum contracted a chest infection, which developed into pneumonia and then began to shut her lung downs. No one could have prepared us for that, no one saw it coming. By the time I returned home on cloud nine after my proposal and eager to tell my mum all about it, she had already begun to slip away.

Four days after I returned from holiday, my beautiful mum passed away surrounded by those who loved her. One of the very first things I said was, “how am I going to do this without her?” and even now I don’t know the answer. I had gone from the happiest girl on the planet to the most desperate and sad. It doesn’t get any easier. The past few months have been a blur and my weight loss has suffered along with it.

A lot of people tell me to enjoy my pregnancy and worry about weight afterwards but I want to make my mum proud, I need to keep doing this for her. But she was my main reason, who do I call now each week? Who am I fighting for?

The answer has to be me and this innocent little boy whose due date is fast approaching.

The past few months have been filled with every emotion possible and each day is a struggle to make the right choice.

If you had asked me six months ago where I’d be by now, I would have told you confidently that I’d be approaching my target. But the reality is I’m further away from it than I was a few months ago.

People always say “sometimes life gets in the way” and if I’m honest 90 per cent of the time I just thought that was an elaborate excuse, now I see how wrong I was. Weight loss isn’t one straight line, it’s a road filled with speed bumps, sharp turns, and u turns, you go back on yourself, and you go in the wrong direction just as much as you go in the right direction. I may not be closing in on my target but I will get there, my beautiful mum will be watching over me the day I receive my shiny  target sticker, and I will have done it all with a pregnancy and baby thrown in the middle and having faced my hardest moment to date. Losing my hero. If I am half the mother she was then I will be doing alright.

This post is dedicated to my beautiful, brave and courageous mummy. Who had so much love to give and life left to live but was cruelly taken away too soon.

If anyone wishes to donate to find a cure for the horrible disease, please do so here.

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My beautiful mummy – 1962-2016

Slimming World: Syn free hash brown and baked eggs. 

© Sarah Woodside

*Syn free if using the 20g cheese as part of your healthy extra allowance.

Ingredients:

2 small potatoes

2 eggs

1 whole pepper 

Mushrooms

Garlic powder

Salt & Pepper

20g Reduced fat cheddar (optional)
Method:

Pre heat your oven to 180/200.

Peel and grate two small potatoes. Once grated squeeze all the excess liquid out of them. I pile them into a clean tea towel and squeeze! Once the liquid is out season generously with salt and black pepper.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and a generous spray of fry lite.
Transfer the potato onto the tray and spread out thinly into your desired shape. Spray wit fry lite and pop into the pre heated oven for 15 minutes. Then take out and carefully flip over. Bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Whilst the hash brown base is cooking, slice your pepper and mushrooms and pop into an oven dish with fry lite, salt, pepper and garlic powder and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Once your hash brown is cooked crack two eggs on top and bake for another 8-10 minutes depending on how you like your eggs. I also topped with 20g Reduced fat cheddar at this point. (half of your healthy extra A choice) omit this if you have used your choice and don’t wish to syn it.

RECIPE: Slimming World Syn Free Sausage Rolls (Using Healthy Extra B Choice)

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Let’s be honest who doesn’t love a sausage roll, be it a jumbo one from your local bakery or those irresistible mini ones found at most buffets and parties. This of course does not taste like one of those, it does however taste bloody good and beat the cravings for a pastry rich one.

Ingredients:

Healthy Extra B Choice – I used 3 slices of Kingsmill No Crusts Bread (HeB or 6 syns) a Kingsmill Wholemeal Thin would work just as well.

Sausages of choice. I used Slimming World Syn Free Pork Sausages from Iceland.  But you could use any sausages you like just make sure to count the syns.

1 x egg

Method:

  1. Cook your sausages as the packaging suggests.
  2. Once the sausages are cooked, take them out of the oven, keep the oven on (or turn on if you grilled/fried your sausages.)
  3. Roll your bread so it’s a little thinner, place a sausage in it and roll up. Seal with some beaten egg and egg wash the exterior.
  4. Place on to a baking tray sprayed with frylite, season and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes on around 180 degrees.

I added spinach to the inside of my sausage rolls, but you could add sauce, mushrooms, cheese whatever you fancied, just remember to add the syns up!

 

Pinch me is this real? Have I really lost over 5 stone?

Pinch me is this real? Have I really lost over 5 stone?

Throwback to a year ago and I was attending monthly appointments in preparation for weight loss surgery. Yes you read that right. I was contemplating a drastic measure in order to lose weight, I was desperate and seeking an answer.

I applaud anyone who has taken the measures I was so close to taking. Weight loss surgery IS NOT the easy way out. There is no easy way out when it comes to weight loss, yes people may lose weight at a quicker speed after surgery but that DOES NOT mean their journey is easier. Weight loss surgery changes you for life, it completely changes your relationship with food and the quantities you can eat, but it doesn’t stop you eating, it requires a massive level of commitment, determination and risk.

What stopped me from going under the knife? I wasn’t ready to commit to life long change. I was scared. I am also not ashamed to admit, that I simply was not prepared to limit my food intake for the rest of my life. I wanted to give myself one last shot ‘doing it on my own’ before I reassessed whether gastric surgery was for me.

Flashback to today and boy am I glad I gave myself one more shot. Yes it took me a few months and more than a few pounds gained before I walked into my first Slimming World meeting, but today I am lighter than I have been for years. In fact I cannot remember the last time I was in the 16 stone bracket, but today I am!!

I keep having to pinch myself and tell myself that yes I have really lost 5 stone, I have really done it this time. I have spent my whole life wishing I was smaller, picturing all the clothes I wanted to wear, but couldn’t, fantasising over all the things I would do if only I lost weight. I spent far too many lost minutes and hours staring at my reflection loathing the person I saw in front of me. I was angry, how had I let myself get this big? Why didn’t I have the strength and will power to change. It was a viscous circle, the more I hated my size the more I sought comfort in food and thus the more pounds I piled on.

I could spend my whole life wondering ‘why now’, ‘why didn’t I do this years ago’ but that would get me no where. I wasn’t ready then, I wasn’t prepared and I certainly wasn’t committed to the lifestyle change. I am now and there is no stopping me, yes there may be hiccups on the way (I am yet to have my first ‘gain’) but this is it. I am looking forward to working my way through my ‘Fat List’, a list of all the things I want to do but won’t due to my weight.

I look back at pictures of myself and feel sad, not at my weight or just the fact that I clearly didn’t photograph as well when I was younger, but at the lost girl staring back at me. I spent far too many years trying to find the answer, when it was right in front of me, I’ve had all the answers I just needed the tools to help me.

More blog posts coming soon but for now feel free to laugh at the amazing photo gallery I have included below.

 

 

 

Focus on your journey and not the journey of others.

Okay I get it, there is nothing more annoying than walking into group feeling confident after a good week on plan only to mount the scales and not see the loss you felt you deserved. To make it worse and really add salt to the wound you then overhear others discuss the takeaways and wine they’ve had this week, and wait for it… they’ve lost more than you. It’s annoying, but does their weight loss really impact YOUR journey? No! Not unless you let it.

Everyone is different, everyone’s body is different, everyone’s metabolism is different, you simply cannot compare and the sooner we all accept this the better! Stop focusing on how well other people are doing and start focusing on how well you are doing, and if you aren’t doing as well as you would like address why this may be.

Everyone embarking on a weight loss journey has different reasons and different amounts to lose, we all have different food demons to face and reasons why we turn to food. Draw inspiration, tips and tools from others but don’t compare. Comparing will lead to resentment and disappointment. It could also lead to unhealthy techniques that we all know so well, the vicious circle of binge eating and starvation.

You couldn’t compare the journey of someone starting out at 23 stone to that of someone ten stone smaller, of course they would lose weight at different speeds. You may even be envious of their big weight losses but ask yourself are you envious of the long journey they have ahead of them? I bet if you asked them they would give anything to be your current or ‘start’ weight.

I have had consistent ‘good’ losses (FYI all losses are good even those cheeky half pounds!) but I also have in excess of eight stone to lose. I am lucky that my group is very supportive, but I have to admit sometimes I hang my head in shame when I’ve had a good loss, I don’t want to see the disappointment in peoples faces when they haven’t lost as much as me. When I see the occasional look I want to remind everyone that even though I’ve lost nearly four and a half stone, I still have another four and a half stone to lose before I reach my interim target, let alone my end target! I have a long road ahead of me.

Now I am not saying this to make ANYONE feel bad, it’s a natural feeling and we all feel a little envious now and again, me included. But this week as I mounted the scales to see a loss of 4.5 lbs I was met with a comment: “God are you even eating.” And do you know what it made me feel really sad. Just to reiterate I LOVE my Slimming World group and am a member of the social team so this is in no way meant to be detrimental to anyone at my group, again I LOVE my group!! But I wanted to use this as an example.

I left group this week feeling a little disheartened and sad at that comment and one other comment I overheard when I received Slimmer of The Week. When I got home it took a lot for me not to take that sadness and bury it in my friend food, or my best friend chocolate. I found myself right back at the start of my journey feeling a little lost and seeking comfort.

But I realised that I don’t want to do that anymore. I want the best life for me, this is my journey and I am proud of all I have achieved. As we all should be. Everyday I decide what to fuel my body with, it is me that is making the right choices for MY body. We need to be accountable for ourselves, own your journey and focus on you.

For years I wasn’t accountable for myself, I wasn’t in denial I knew it was me who had eaten myself into the ‘morbidly obese’ category, but at every opportunity the blame shifted to someone or something else.  Here are just some of the reasons why it wasn’t my fault; I’d been fat my entire life and doomed with the ‘fat gene’. I was a big child and my parents fed me! When in reality I didn’t help myself. I would have a healthy meal and then hoard chocolate penguins in my room, eating in secret. I would be packed off to school with a healthy packed lunch only to buy an iced bun or a slice of pizza from the school canteen.

But for the first time in a long time I am accountable and I am focused.

I am focused on ME. I am not comparing my journey and getting side tracked. When other people are doing well, I am not trying to match their weight losses, I am seeking inspiration and applauding their efforts. When I don’t do as well as I would like, I look back at my food diary and OWN where I may have gone wrong.

This has begun to sound like a rant which in no means was it meant to! So I’ll round up before I’m renamed Diary of an Angry Fat English Girl.

The only person who can lose your excess weight is you, so stop focusing on other people, stop comparing, start feeling proud of your achievements and start owning this journey. We are all in this together but ultimately only you have the power to make a real change in your own life.

p.s On an entirely different note and just in case anyone missed the memo… I am officially a graduate!!

©Sarah Woodside

©Sarah Woodside

RECIPE: Slimming World Sausage Casserole

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Ingredients:

Sausages of choice – I use heck chicken italia sausages 0.5 syns each –
300ml veg stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Punnet of button mushrooms
Punnet of chestnut mushrooms
3 large carrots
1 onion
1 tbsp sweetener
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp garlic – I use lazy garlic in vinegar –
Salt and pepper

For Mash: Potatoes, how ever much it takes to feed your family!

Method:

Prep all the veg and then put the potatoes on to boil. Meanwhile fry the onions and garlic in fry lite.

Place your sausages in the oven.

Once the onions are browned add everything else to the saucepan, let it boil then turn down to simmer for 20-25 minutes. You can come back to taste and tweak but I find it really it better left alone to work its magic.

To serve, mash your potato, top with the casserole and then sliced sausages.

You could add your sausages to the casserole, I cook mine separately so the man and I can have different sausages (he needs more calories/food in general than me.)

The only syns are the sausages you choose. Enjoy.

Finding my motivation

© Sarah Woodside

For years people told me that in order to succeed at weight loss I had to really want it and I used to get so upset and defensive, taking everyone’s comments as a personal attack. How did they know how much I wanted it? I was working hard and it felt like every comment was undermining my weight loss efforts. But in reality it is only this time around that I really understand what they truly meant.

My motivation is me. Now that may sound egotistical to some, but it’s true. I have spent years looking at other peoples weight loss and transformation pictures wishing it was me, but this time it will be. Of course I still take massive inspiration from everyone I come across, every Instagram account I stumble on and every blog I read, but the only person who can lose this weight is me.

Is it easy this time around? Of course not as I’ve said countless times before weight loss is hard work, if it was easy everyone would be the perfect weight. But this time I know I want to see the change. I want to feel comfortable in a sleeveless top more than I want a takeaway. I want to be healthy to start a family more than I want chocolate. I want to wake up feeling good about myself and not hating myself, more than I want full fat coca-cola.

Every day is difficult for me, I am 27-years-old and have spent a lifetime shovelling in food and damaging my body.  A lifetime of bad habits are hard to break, especially when you live with a man that is tall, skinny and can eat anything and everything he wants. Everyday I fight with myself to make the right choice, it’s a never ending battle, but one I am happily winning so far.

It isn’t easy sitting on the sofa next to the man, as he eats all the bad food I crave non-stop. I can smell the chocolate, practically taste the crisps and cakes and it’s safe to say I want it all! My hearing must perk up whenever he has something I want but can’t have, every chomp and slurp makes it harder. He’ll be the first to tell you that on occasion he has been at the receiving end of a torrent of abuse for chewing loudly or eating too much, he’s also been at the receiving end of, “it’s not fair, why am I fat and you’re skinny, you eat more than me,” but that’s the luck of the drawer, he can’t lose my weight for me.

Only I can motivate myself to make good choices, work hard, and push for the healthier life I so desperately want. So how do I do it?

Every day I look back at my Slimming World journey so far, looking at my progress inspires me to keep on going. I stay on plan, and when confronted with temptation I make a decision. Is this tempting item worth the guilt and my sadness when I step on the scales or shall I find an alternative and feel amazing on the scales. Nothing is more liberating than standing on those scales feeling confident and being rewarded with a loss. Of course weight loss isn’t all about the numbers on the scale, inches and non scale victories also play a massive part. But nothing compares to seeing numbers I haven’t seen in years flash up in front of me.

I am a competitive person at the best of times, I was the child who kicked the monopoly board, stormed off and slammed doors, I thrive on competition, but I don’t want to compare to others and push myself to compete, that sets me up for disappointment. I want to compete with myself so I write monthly goals.

Monthly goals allow me to push for something, to use my success so far as a tool to motivate myself to continue doing well or dare I say it, do better. It has helped me maintain the belief and  knowledge that I can do it because I already have. Mini goals may not work for everyone and if you are the type of person that makes themselves feel like a failure if you don’t meet your goals than I implore you to find something else to motivate you.

As all of you know there is no magic secret to weight loss, no matter how many wishes you make you won’t wake up ten stone lighter, but you can wake up half a pound lighter (or more!) Find the reason you are doing this, remember it and use it.

If you are slimming for a wedding think about how amazing you want to look in your dress, is that worth the family galaxy size bar of chocolate?

If you are losing weight for your children, think about them, think of how proud you are making them, think of all the good habits they are picking up from your weight loss, maybe that will stop them entering a life of yo yo dieting and sadness related to their weight, is that worth jeopardising for a takeaway and a bottle or two of wine?

I’m not saying deprive yourself but make good choices for you. Only you can lose the extra weight. If you want the wine have it, but count the syns and stay in control, if you want chocolate have it, but in moderation, do you really want the sharing bar more than a loss on weigh day?

The last thing I want is for this post to sound cruel, or even preaching, as you all know my history of weight loss and it certainly hasn’t been a smooth ride. But I want you to realise your self worth, you are worth more than binge eating because you didn’t do as well as you wanted, or stress eating because everything is on top of you and food is your comfort, you can do this. Every time I choose not too have something I shouldn’t it gets easier, I don’t feel like i’m missing out and it’s a win for my will power, this can happen for you to, you just have to believe that you can do it.

You can be your biggest motivation if only you let yourself.