The thing I fell in love with this week

Alessi fridge magnets: £5.50 each via Amazon. 

I love Alessi design. I own quite a few pieces and have them out in my kitchen creating a fun and funky vibe. Some even appeared in the interiors book I styled – ‘Style Your Modern Vintage Home’ by Kate Beavis.   

Photo by Simon Whitmore for FW Media for Style Your Modern Vintage Home. 

When I saw Alessi had created minature versions of some of their most iconic designs I fell in love immediately! There are 8 fridge magnets currently in the range depicting 4 of the most popular and iconic Alessi designs. I think a mint Anna G bottle opener might have to be mine next… 

 source 

…Or maybe a Magic Bunny as I have the full sized version already (in real life it holds cocktail sticks).

At £5.50 each its a great way to buy into the range (Alessi designs can be quite expensive) or give yourself a little treat without breaking the bank. Mine sit on my orange Smeg fridge with pride and make me smile everytime I see them!

Find the full range of Alessi magnets via Amazon here and look out for a new item I’ve fallen in love with next week!

My health & fitness journey…the story so far!

I’m just back from a 5k run and its time for a bit on my health and fitness progress I think… My change started about 4 years ago –  going from a size 20/22 to UK 12. Now, I am by no means a preacher for how you should live your life but for me being fat was like being imprisoned in my own body. I hated myself, felt terrible, was a slave to panic attacks and suffered various aches and pains.  I had a family history of heart attacks and looking back I was a ticking time bomb.  You would never of know this though as I was always perfectly presented, with the nicest clothes, make-up etc and seemed bubbly and confident.

before and after…

 

before and after…

The history: my weight has always been an issue.  I remember being on my first diet at about 11 years old and my issues with food carried on from there.  My 16 I was about 11st ish and at a super bitchy girls school where I developed Bulima and via that, crash dieting and an old exercise bike got down to 9st 12lb by the time I returned to 6th Form that September. Of course I couldnt maintain that weight and I quickly put weight back on. During the early 90s working at Harrods, partying hard and enjoying the rave scene (plus a summer working in Greece) I slowly lost some weight and was around 12st 7lb on my return to the UK – ironically this weight became my dream weight throughout my 30s that I desperately wanted to get to. I was 13st 11lb on my wedding day – I felt great but in reality I was still a size 16/18 – my wedding dress was a size 20. I told myself it was ‘couture bridal sizes’ but the fact was I was still fat. Diets came and went, losing and putting on the same 3 stone. After the birth of my son I was at my heaviest – 16st 13lb and in desperation went liquid only for 100 days on the LighterLife plan. I lost 50lb but also felt terrible, my hair fell out and my blood pressure got so low even my doctor looked worried…and the minute I went back to normal eating my weight started going up again. I stayed big for a few years totally in denial telling myself I was big boned with a poor metalobism and that people should just accept me for who I was. I did no exercise, binge ate, had no portion control and suffered terrible anxiety.

after the birth of my son in 2006

In 2010 my best friend announced she was getting married and I decided to try and lose weight again as she had asked me to be a witness.  This time something felt different, I felt different – I was in my late 30s and so tired of being fat, feeling old and ill, being scared for my health (my father died aged just 52 of a heart attack). I joined WeightWatchers and over a year or so slowly lost weight, started walking as much as I could and going to the gym doing Vibroplate to tone up. This coincided with some big life changes and I stopped attending group and just kept up the dieting at home using the MyFitnessPal app to track my food and find support. By 2012 I was 11st 11lb and well below my ‘dream weight’ from that summer in Greece, a comfortable size 12/14 and for a while that seemed perfect.

But something niggled me…I knew I could do better. In 2013 I decided I would try one last push to see if I could lose another stone and started running using the C25k app. I was petrified of high impact exercise – it took me a year or so to run 5k without stopping but I run 3 times a week every week running on holidays and even on Boxing Day!
Its been hard.  Very hard.  And I haven’t got to that illusive goal weight. Who knows, but for now the pain required outweighs the benefits…the body I have at 42 is not going to be the one I had at 16! I’m still technically very slightly overweight but I’m ok with that – I am so proud of the body (and new person) I have created. The saddest part as I write this is I remember every weight, at every point in my life. That’s how I judge myself. Thats how I remember things. I realise now I am more than a weight, that I have beaten my demons and found a way to change my lifestyle forever.  Its not easy but its so worth it.

And most importantly I run whether its hot…

…or cold….with no excuses. And I watch what I eat. Simple really.

The here and now: So where am I currently? Ah the joy of weight maintenance and regular exercise with no excuses! I run 3 times a week without fail, my speeds are ok but I’m trying to get faster. I’ve been working on fat burning around my torso area to make it more defined especially my rib area (see pic below). The hardest part of all this is keeping the same weight while living a ‘normal’ life…holidays, parties, nights out and generally enjoying eating all are a part of life and not something that should be given up. After a bit of overindulgence on holiday I’m currently back dieting to lose a few pounds again. But thats the difference now – my weight will go up and down, the trick is only have to lose 1/2 stone not 3,4,5,6 stone…! Losing weight is relatively easy, but keeping it off? Now thats hard – for me its been like rebuilding myself from the inside out and a challenge I face every single day…

My current maintenance routine:

  • Restricted calories 5-6 days a week (1750kcals) but any exercise undertaken tops this up
  • All food tracked every day but treat day
  • 3 x 5k runs a week
  • Minimum 1 hour of walking a week
  • Low salt, low fat, teetotal

Saturday is my cheat day and I enjoy it, lets just leave it there 😆


What I’ve learned – 

  • Change is a very frightening thing for me.
  • The pain of exercise & not eating what I want is tough but the rewards are better.
  • Its hard to not obsess over every lb but weight is not the perfect measure of success.
  • Free apps and having the right kit can really help a fitness/weight loss journey – and they dont need a lot of money spent on them.
  • Mental heath and physical fitness are irretrievably linked. Wellness is everything.
  • Not giving into my food addictions is a non stop battle on par with alcoholism or drug addiction.
  • Find an eating plan that works for you. If you want fatty processed food once in a while (oh hello, Dominoes) then have it, enjoy it, but remember you’ll have to work harder the next day to balance it out. I eat a small chocolate bar most days but I make sure I keep my other portions small and within my calorie allowance. I realised early on that if I tried to live off of lettuce and juices I was just going to get depressed.
  • Vanity often drives weightloss (it did mine) but feeling healthy, strong and powerful is the best feeling in the world.
  • I’m realistic that having to stick to this for the rest of my life will be tough but I could never bear to go back to the old version of me.

…but I’m winning my own personal battle. I’m not totally happy with myself (who is?) but I’m very proud of the changes I’ve made – not bad for a 5’2″ 42 year old mum who used to be a size 20/22! No-one can or should tell you how to be or look, but for me being ‘normal weight’ has improved my life no end as my addictions had made me ill both mentally and physically.

me now…

 

Good health is everything and I aim to hang on to mine as long as I can.   

All photos via my Instagram

Find the c25k app here

Find the MyFitnessPal community here

Find your nearest weightwatchers group here

InstaNatural Organic Beauty Range

I was recently asked by American organic skincare company InstaNatural if I wanted to become one of their beauty reviewers, championing organic and ethical beauty to look and feel great. At 42 I have become more focused on keeping my face and body from aging any faster than they needed to so I jumped at the chance to try out their products! InstaNatural say their products are great if you have sensitive skin as the entire product line is made without alcohols, parabens and sulfates that can be irritating to the skin and none of the products are tested on animals.  So, what did I think?

instanatural organic vegan ethical beauty review via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog
Facial skincare – 

Eye serum £15.97/30ml: This product smelt lovely (the grapefruit notes come through perfectly) and felt very fresh and invigorating to put on. It claims to reduce eye bags, crow’s feet, fine lines, sagging skin and puffiness. So, does this work? Over about 10 days use I definitely felt the puffiness underneath my eyes had reduced and will definitely be continuing to use it. My fine lines appear less too as does the darkness under my eyes. Its bright orange but don’t be put off be put off as this disappears immediately on patting it into your skin and a little goes a VERY long way. I found if I used too much a residue was left so quickly reduced the amount I put underneath my eyes (using the rather nifty glass pipette) and a nice product to use day and night.  Find my original review with before and after photos here.

Facial toner £17.95/120ml: The toner is really refreshing and has a lovely fresh smell thanks to grapefruit, geranium, lavender and lemon oils. It has a high content of Aloe Vera too so it’s also very hydrating to help replace lost moisture and perk up a tired complexion. So, does this work? I use a lot of beauty products but every so often one comes along I absolutely love and this is one of them! On the one hand it is a toning product that kept my skin feeling clean and clear – my pores have never looked better and my skin is glowing and feels great. But I also loved it as a general skin refresher/cooler and it works brilliantly stored in the fridge on hot days and I think would be great as a holiday product for poolside use. It feels so refreshing to use and the zesty smell awakens you in the morning.  But the thing I liked most about it was the spray bottle as I’d never come across a toner dispensed like this before but its so simple and so good it amazes me that all toners aren’t like this! I just love it!

Night cream £17.95: Firstly you get a lot of face cream for your money – 100mls worth which is brilliant and much bigger than most pots of face cream. Its supposed to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, hyper pigmentation & uneven skin tone – all guaranteed! So, does this work? After using it my skin the next day felt nicely moisturised, refreshed and looked brighter. The product smelt lovely – the smell is quite calming and it was easy to use in a pump format with very little mess or wastage. Although it can be used day and night I only used it at night as it is quite a rich cream – again the rose like smell was a nice scent to go to sleep smelling! This cream definitely helped the general reddening which I experience on my face fade which was great and my pores seemed better too.


Body skincare – 

Scar gel £21.95/30ml: I used this on a newish scar on my arm which was bothering me. The scar being new (well 6 months ish old) was red and slightly raised. The bottle says it helps to diminish and erase scars over time by making them less visible in appearance and can be used for surgical scars, acne scars, burns or other dark spots. So, does this work? It can be a little sticky if you use too much but I’m definitely going to continue to use this and try it on some old stretch marks too. The product is easy to use in a small pump action container and a little goes a long way. Since using the product the redness of my scar has disappeared and it has took on more a look of pigmentation in my skin. It also has gone a lot flatter. I’m using twice a day so definitely think continued use will make the scar look even less obvious.

instanatural organic vegan ethical beauty review via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog Stretch mark cream £21.95/100ml: This is a fresh smelling cream in a large pot, with a lovely fresh smell. It smells so nice – ingredients include aloe vera, rosehip, mango and grape.  You can use it anywhere you have stretch marks and I mainly used it on my tummy, thighs and hips where I have marks from having my son and growth/weight gain/loss. It feel very nice to put on and I used it regularly. So, does this work? It does! My skin is definitely feels firmer and I can see the few red marks going ‘clear’ already! I was very surprised. Its very nourishing too which I think helps…I am raving about this one!  I found that my skin looked in much better condition and it felt like it was tighter.  Obviously you cant remove existing stretch marks but this has helped significantly and definitely fades them. A little goes a long way too so although its not cheap (but hey what decent beauty product is!) I would say its worth it.

instanatural organic vegan ethical beauty review via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

Cellulite cream £21.95/100ml: This is a thick cream, with a very light flowery smell. I don’t have a lot of cellulite but definitely would like to improve the texture of the skin on my thighs/bottom. The main ingredients are caffeine, retinol and vitamin C and the cream is definitely highly moisturising and hydrating. A little goes a long way and it spread easily on to my skin from the pot and you can use it anywhere you have skin that needs firming. So, does this work? Well my skin is definitely feels more hydrated and the areas I wanted to treat feel less dimpled. My skin feels supple, smoother and pampered when I use it and I hope it will reduce the appearance of my dimples even more, although personally I think you’d need to add massage of some kind and exercise too.

instanatural organic vegan ethical beauty review via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

Look out for further reviews as I discover more of the range. The range is sold exclusively in the UK via Amazon.co.uk – find the full range here.  All prices correct on Amazon at time of posting.

All products – InstaNatural via Amazon*

The thing I fell in love with this week…

Peacocks bird print t-shirt – £3 (in sale original price £6).   

Loving fashion I always look out for quirky and fashionable clothing for my son and stepsons.

This gorgeous little number is available instore and online at Peacocks now and even better has gone into the sale! I love its print of old fashioned bird illustrations on 100% cotton. It is from the older boys range and comes in sizes 7/8-13/14 years.

I think it has a cool vintage vibe with a modern twist. Here is my almost 9yo son Reuben modelling his new top like a pro…  

I think its gorgeous and looks like it costs a lot more. What do you think?  Find it online while stocks last here.  Look out for a new item I have fallen in love with next week…

Top – Peacocks
Jeans – F&F at Tesco 

On Wednesdays we wear pink!

Ok, Mean Girls is a fantastic movie but as you become more *ahem* mature, how easy is it to wear pink?

I would say that I’m not a particularly ‘girlie’ girl but I do like wearing a bit of pink in moderation. Lets be honest, it is the most feminine colour and its always nice as a woman to feel pretty – that doesnt stop when you’re over 40. Actually, the need to feel pretty is probably even stronger (thanks magazine photoshopping/the worlds love of youth/women becoming invisible after a certain age etc) One of the ways I ‘do’ pink is by wearing the colour in a less girlie way such as the pink jeans I have on today.

F&F pink jeans & Primark top via Always a Blue Sky Girl fashion blog

I have styled these pink jeans from F&F at Tesco with a cute cropped boxy top from Primark and some pretty flats from New Looks teen range 915. These rolled up jeans are so versatile and easy to wear and for sizing I am wearing a 12 but they are available in sizes 8-20. Being petite I have just rolled them up at bit more than they were when I bought them.

The cropped top is pretty with its print but not overpowering but I have kept jewellery to a minimum with just a couple of bracelets and a simple chain necklace.

F&F pink jeans & Primark top via Always a Blue Sky Girl fashion blogA skinny white belt and white caged shoes complete the look and keep this pink look from feeling too Barbie.
F&F pink jeans & Primark top via Always a Blue Sky Girl fashion blog  F&F pink jeans & Primark top via Always a Blue Sky Girl fashion blogSo, what do you think – love it or hate it? Whatever your age and regardless of what day of the week it is  – are you ready to wear pink?

Top – Primark

Necklace – Primark

Jeans – F&F

Belt – Primark

Bracelets – Dorothy Perkins

Shoes – 915 at New Look