Monday, 27 June 2016

Polaroid balloons - party ideas by Bex

A really fun and effective way to decorate a room for a party is with lots of balloons.  I saw an idea on Pinterest using a few gold balloons hovering above a dessert table for a bridal shower and each balloon had a photo hanging from it.  I decided to adapt this for my twins' first birthday party but wanted to actually fill the whole dining room.  I have never been accused of being minimalistic!

Since I designed the twins' nursery with a rainbow theme, we've sort of continued that colour scheme into both their naming ceremony and now 1st birthday.  I bought 100 Belbal balloons in ten different bright colours from Click4Balloons (10 for £1.40) and hired a canister of helium which I picked up locally.

I was offered balloon valves (99p for 100) by the website and I'm so glad I bought them as they saved hours of time fiddling with and tying balloons.  You simply pull each balloon opening over the valve and then push that onto the helium nozzle, which fits perfectly, until the balloon is filled and that's it - it self seals.  They also came with the ribbons already tied on so that saved me even more time!

I ordered 96 Polargram polaroids of the twins (together and separate) taken over their first year.  I cut the ribbons to the length I wanted and taped the photos on before inserting the valves and inflating the balloons on the morning of the party.

I had planned to write a wee note on the bottom of each one, for example "Arriving home - 6 days old" or "Bathtime at 25 weeks", but I ran out of time!

Photo by Take Aim Photography

I hope you'll agree, they look really effective!

Photo by Take Aim Photography
Photo by Take Aim Photography 
Photo by Take Aim Photography
Photo by Take Aim Photography

My son is obsessed with balloons and when his great uncle brought him down in his party outfit and he saw them for the first time, he actually gasped in delight!  I wish I could have gotten a picture of his expression as he pointed at the ceiling of balloons.

Photo by Take Aim Photography

I also have a few ideas for what I can do with the photos now that the party's over so watch this space!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Cycle 2 results - 90 day SSS by Bex

So, Cycle 2 - I've actually really enjoyed this cycle, even more than Cycle 1.  I found the food so much easier and hardly prepped at all in advance.  I started to remember the quantities of which foods I could have since I mostly stuck to the same ones as I had a few recipes I particularly enjoyed with a bit of variety.  I have started writing a post on my recipes for anyone who's looking for ideas!

I was so worried about the longer workouts (more than double the time in Cycle 1) but have loved catching up with my Netflix series while doing my weights.  It hasn't been easy by any means though.  I have definitely felt more tired on this cycle, maybe as I have to get up even earlier, maybe as I'm having more carbs and feeling sluggish as a result but I haven't had as much energy generally.  Nik has taken up more slack at weekends, feeding the twins and getting them sorted in the morning when I couldn't bare getting up at 5:50am on Saturdays so ended up working out while everyone else was getting up.  (Thanks hubs!)

I haven't missed a single workout though and have again been pretty good at sticking to the food on plan.  I have to admit though I have had more cheats this time, not least because we had a Baking Club meeting which I wasn't going to miss out on, although I was much more restrained than usual and just had baked turkey with my broccoli for dinner that night I saved my carbs for the cake!  (They were SUCH good cakes too!)  I've also felt the need for more treats and had a square of 85% chocolate on a few days, as well as a cheeky extra shot of honey or passionfruit curd in my yoghurt occasionally.

However, I have still managed to get great results and am delighted with my overall weight loss now of 1 stone (6 kgs) in 8 weeks!  Again, the photos show the big difference since the start.  I didn't want to share my side profile before as it was SO bad, but now that there is a much bigger difference (there was a noticeable change before but not to this extent), here it is... Eeep, scary biscuits sharing this!

Start of C1 - End of C2
(8 weeks)

Start of C1 - End of Cycle 2
8 Weeks

Although my inch loss doesn't really show much change, just 2.5 inches overall this time, I've lost 2.5" from my waist and you can see my stomach has now shrunk massively, I'm finally back in my old clothes!  I can't tell you how excited I am to be back!  It's like having a whole new wardrobe as I haven't worn these things for about 2 years!!  I'm enjoying my fun, colourful clothes again and enjoying getting dressed in the morning.

Fingers crossed for more improvement in C3!

If you're interested, you can read more about my whole weight loss (and gains) journey, where I shared lots of pics.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Body issues & weight loss since having twins

I've been reading back a bit on the blog recently, I wanted to see just how much weight I lost 4 years ago after our wedding, to see what weight I was then when I felt so healthy and comfortable in my clothes.  I was 12 stone 2 lbs at my lowest.  It took me 14 weeks to get to that weight, having lost 1 stone and 2 lbs.  I did it on my own sensible (still included cake) healthy eating and exercise plan including swimming, body pump and Pilates, I blogged every week with my food diary, exercise and weight and it kept me motivated and it worked.

Now that I am feeling good again having finally lost some weight 19 months after having the twins, I wanted to assess my goals as I'm now 2/3rds through my 90 day plan and want to keep going afterwards.  For now, I've been aiming at losing a couple of stone.  Ultimately I'd like to get back to around the 12 stone mark but for now, if I could even get below 13 stone I'd be delighted!  It's funny reading my shock of being over 13 stone back in 2012 when I got a kick start into sorting out my post-wedding weight gain!  And shocked again at being 14 stone when we were going through the stress of IVF and I turned to food as a comfort.  Who knew I'd end up at 15 stone after having the twins!!

I've found it really interesting reading back my old posts on the blog, I'd forgotten a lot about my weight and how I lost it and then gained it again.  I never realised quite how up and down it was!  It definitely goes with the ups and downs of life!  I'm hoping now I've found this plan and have managed to fit it in and enjoy it while also being a part time working mother of twins, I have proved to myself it can be part of my lifestyle and is definitely something I can maintain.  It's so much better to be feeling healthy and strong as well as feeling good in my clothes.  I hope this is it now and I can be a good example for my kids.  

I've decided to chart my weight here to show myself just how far I've come.  Looking up old photos (some of which have never before seen the light of the web) has been shocking and motivating!  It's quite interesting to see the drastic differences with the photos side by side as when it's happening gradually you don't always notice just how bad it's gotten!  Although I talk about my weight a lot in this post, I know that's just part of it - for me it's about being fit and healthy as well as comfortable in my clothes, it makes such a difference to my confidence and general happiness when I exercise and feel I have the balance right in general and not just on the scales.

Pre-wedding - 2011 - 161 lbs

Before our wedding, I don't really know how much I weighed.  I never really paid a lot of attention to it as I'd been a fairly steady weight and size since university.  I'd guess between 11 and 12 stone.  Size 12.

Me on Fraser Island, Australia 2004 - size 10-12
Weight 73kg (161 lbs) - I know because they wrote it on my hand when I bungy jumped in Cairns!

On my first holiday with Nik back in 2009.

It was only when I gained a lot of weight after our wedding that I knew I needed to keep an eye on it and make changes.

Dad and I on my wedding day

Post-wedding - March 2012 - 186 lbs 

I was shocked to find I was suddenly 13 stone 4 lbs around 8 months after we got married and a size 14-16.  I made changes to my diet and started doing a lot more exercise after being lazy for far too long.

Unhappy with my appearance in Feb 2012

May - June 2012 - 170 lbs

Before we found out just how difficult it would be for us to get pregnant, after almost a year of trying, I was at my lightest weight since being a student in my teens and early 20s.  Age 30, I had lost weight and was happy and comfortable with how I looked and felt at 12 stone 2 lbs.

On holiday in Sorrento, I can't wait to fit back in to my favourite dresses and skirts!

December 2012 

I still managed to be a happy healthy weight (although I don't know the actual number) after Christmas and LOVED my birthday dress that year.

30th Dec, my 31st birthday

November 2013 - 196 lbs

After 2 failed attempts at IVF and looking increasingly unlikely that it would ever work, I was 14 stone after months of stress and upset.  Despite needing to keep my body healthy for the IVF and a potential pregnancy, I just found it difficult to care about my weight and ate for comfort.

Pre-pregnancy - Dec 2013 - 181 lbs

I was just under 13 stone a few months before I got pregnant, back when it was all going wrong, but I'd started trying to get my body healthy again.

At my university 10 year reunion I felt pretty good about my body.

March 2014 - 185 lbs

I think I was around 185 lbs just before our successful IVF and then lost 8 lbs in the first 4 months with the horrendous sickness!

Right at the start of my pregnancy, at 4-5 weeks, we went to Thailand (having booked it thinking we'd need an escape when the IVF failed again!) and I was in pretty good shape considering.

Pregnancy - March - November 2014 - 
185 - 177 - 203.4 lbs

During the pregnancy, despite losing 8 lbs initially, I pretty much stayed the same everywhere except my huge bump.  In fact, I think my legs and arms were thinner by the end.  I was pretty healthy and loved my pregnancy once the sickness died down at 17 weeks or so.  I weighed 203.4 lbs at the end (14 1/2 stones), having put on 18.4 lbs over the whole pregnancy.

21 weeks

34 weeks

Post-pregnancy - November 2014 - January 2015 - 195 lbs

After having the twins, initially it was all just residual bump.  I even managed to wear some stretchy pre-pregnancy jeans sitting under the bump in November but I mostly wore my maternity jeans for comfort due to my Caesarian wound and big belly.  I had my amazing, gorgeous babies and I didn't care about how I looked for a long time.


I didn't weigh myself until January, about 2 months after the birth and I was 195 lbs so about 10 lbs higher than I'd been before the IVF which I was fine with.  Of course, after my section I hadn't been able to exercise, plus I had two newborns to cope with, was breastfeeding which made me hungry ALL THE TIME and it was winter.  We mostly stayed cosied up indoors and ate yummy things like mince pies with cream and lots of cheese.  Then Mum left to go home to Saudi and I did even less exercise and ate even worse as I was on my own with the twins all the time.

5 months after the birth (April)

June-July 2015 - 210.4 lbs!

By summer I was at my heaviest EVER weight at just over 15 stones (210.4 lbs) - more than when I had TWO babies inside me!

As a result of all the bad eating and lack of exercise, I ballooned and put on 15 lbs over spring and early summer.  I had no motivation to lose any weight and mostly wore baggy things to hide myself.  I was incredibly lonely that first year with no local friends to meet up with, I just trundled along, me and the twins taking it day by day.  I was a size 18-20 and wearing either maternity jeans or stretchy high-waisted trousers and massive tops due to my huge milky boobs!  (I never did get them measured but I reckon they were at least a G cup.  I had been a 36B before pregancy but then had to buy a 38DD when I was pregnant and just got XL stretchy nursing bras after that!)

Mum came back for a visit and then we went to Saudi and I managed to do lots of exercise there in the pool and lost 8 lbs.

It was in July that I discovered The Body Coach but I still didn't feel I was ready for that kind of commitment with the twins' sleep habits all over the place and knowing I was going back to solo parenting two (newly mobile) babies when I returned home.  Plus I was going to be starting a new job part time and just wasn't sure how I'd be coping with life generally.

August 2015 - 204 lbs - Jan 2016 - 204.6 lbs

My weight stayed around the same, fluctuating by around 2-4 lbs over the next few months.  I finally started getting back into exercise in 2016 when I became close to another mum from the twins' swimming class, she suggested we meet at a lovely local hotel pool where we ended up managing to get a good deal on day passes.  We would swim (and sometimes even gym first), then chat in the steam room and Jacuzzi afterwards.  It was wonderful and I finally started feeling better about myself.  I finally felt motivated to sort myself out and get fit again.

March 2016 - 203.8 lbs

By March I weighed 14 st 7.8 lbs and I felt ready to start The Body Coach 90 day SSS plan but we had a wedding to go to and Mum & Dad were back visiting so I knew we'd be going out to eat a lot, plus - Easter!  I bought Joe's first book and started making some of the recipes to see how I liked them and whether I thought I could stick to the plan.  I tried one of his youtube HIIT sessions and it killed me but I did it and it was only 20 minutes.  Once Mum and Dad left, I signed up.  I was pretty much back to the weight I was when I was 37 weeks pregnant and had to do something about it.

In full on spanx!

Minus the spanx!

April - May 2016 - Cycle 1
202 lbs - 195.8 lbs

I lost just 6 lbs, from 14 st 6 lbs to 14 st, in Cycle 1 of the 90 day SSS plan but lost 8 inches including 1.5 from my waist and 2.5 from my hips.  It was the before and after pictures where I noticed the big changes with my back rolls disappearing and stomach slowly but surely shrinking at last.  My old belts which I couldn't even get to touch round my waist last summer fit me again.

May - June 2016 
195.8 lbs - 190 lbs

On Cycle 2 I've noticed more changes as I've progressed and after 3 weeks on C2 (7 weeks into the plan), I tried on some of my old jeans for a night out at the cinema.  They fit!  I was delighted, so the next day, I tried some more of my old wardrobe.  My NON-stretchy trousers and jeans fit me again, I'm back in my size 16 clothes!  My size 20 trousers are now falling down, yay!  Not only that but I've also gone down another 2 holes on my belt too!  (My belts didn't even touch when I tried them around my waist last year!)

 June 2016 - 188 lbs

So here I am at 13 stone 6 lbs and I feel great!  It's funny how I was horrified to be 13 st 4 lbs four and a half years ago and yet now, I'm delighted to be this weight!  I never thought I'd be 15 stone but it happened and since then I've lost 22.4 lbs (1.6 stone)!  I do still need to keep getting fitter though and want to fit back into my "thin jeans" I wore when I lost weight in 2012.

I've just submitted my results for Cycle 2 and am awaiting my 3rd and final cycle to complete Joe's plan before I am off on my own.  Although I'm nowhere near my lowest weight of 12 stone 2 lbs, I'm definitely getting slimmer and more toned.  I've lost a stone in 8 weeks!

Start - End of C1 - End of C2
Start - 4 weeks - 8 weeks

I know I will never have the same body as before, no matter how much weight I lose.  I have crazy loose, saggy, stretched skin on my stomach which hangs down after carrying two babies at the same time for 37 weeks, followed by a Caesarian, plus my boobs have gone all flat and empty (and also covered in saggy stretch marks) after breast-feeding the twins for 15 months but I just need to remind myself of what an achievement those things were and how amazing my body is to have managed it!  Cheese alert!  Not to mention the amazing little people we now have bringing us joy every day!  I wouldn't be without them, whatever the cost to my body.

I will write more about Cycle 2 very soon.  Obviously as I have more muscle from the weight training, I weigh more than I would if I'd just lost fat, despite probably being thinner so I only use weight as a rough guide nowadays.  I'm trying to find my measurements from 2012 to compare.  (I wrote them on a scrap of paper which may or may not have made it here through the move.)   I know from which clothes I can fit into how I am doing and use them as my targets.  I also got a great idea from a friend of mine recently, she tried on her wedding dress on her 5th wedding anniversary.  Ours is in 2 weeks, I wonder if mine will fit!?

Here's to Cycle 3!


Monday, 20 June 2016

Polaroid Display Ideas - DIY craft by Bex

There are so many different ways to display polaroid style prints, if you have a search on Pinterest you will find lots of inspiration.  I found a few images of frames with polaroids hanging from strings across them, and decided to made my own version using photos of my twins and bright ribbons in rainbow colours to hang at their first birthday party.

It's so simple to do, I just used an Ikea frame we already had, took out the glass and backing and stuck the ribbons to each side with hot glue.

Then just choose your prints and peg them on with mini pegs.  I bought mine in a local haberdashery.  

I played around with the prints using a mixture of black & white and colour before settling on my final layout with just colour photographs.

Alternatively, for something really simple, just framing four of them looks really effective too.  I placed four black & white polaroids in a plain white frame.  I also quite like them sandwiched between two panes of glass to show the wall colour through as a different look to the usual white background.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Books & Bunches, Mud & Snot - Twin Update by Bex

AKA - the best bits (part 6)

Her never ending love of all books.  LOVE it!

Tell tale signs of toddler-hood - muddy hands and snotty noses.  She'd been helping Daddy planting pots in the garden.

Sneakily stealing Mummy's phone before demanding CBeebies while I made breakfast (and sneakily took photos of them).

Watching the horses:


Building towers - he's getting pretty good at building them up high!

All the bouncing on Mummy & Daddy's bed!

Kalyan has so many words now, he's learning new ones every day.  Priya's getting more vocal but still doesn't have any more clear words.  She's pretty awesome at the animal noises though!

K loves to run everywhere.  He also has the cutest little happy dance where he basically runs on the spot and he even does fist pumps!

They love gardening - helping to rake, put in plant feed, dig and fill their little wheelbarrow with leaves.

They're both still obsessed with water, they love their sand and water table in the garden and bath time is always fun time!

P has started wanting her teddies when we put her to bed, she holds her arms out until I put one in her arms, then another and another...  She once ended up cuddling all 8 teddies that were in her cot!  Arms wide and overflowing with dinosaurs, bears, bunnies and puppies!

When K gets upset (it's usually him), P gets concerned and tries to comfort him, usually patting him on the head or giving him a toy.  He doesn't like being patted on the head so it only makes him worse but she does it out of kindness and love.  It's very sweet.

Uh Oh!  I taught them this, oops.  They say it a lot!  If there's any mess, they drop something, they get dirty hands, their milk spills, there's something out of place, there's a stringy bit on their banana....  "Uh Oh!"

Priya's gesture for "all gone" or "empty".  She twists her wrist with her hand splayed (sometimes both hands).  Often combined with "Uh Oh" as above!

Priya calling Kalyan, she does this a lot now too - it sounds more like YaaaaYa than Kalyan but it's the intonation and way she does it - so CUTE!

They still love spinning and dancing, especially Priya.

Priya's gestures in general, although she's the one with fewer words, we always know what she means!  She is super cute when she shrugs, be it with one shoulder or both for different reasons.  If you ask her where something is and she can't find it, she shrugs with both palms up.

Priya also LOVES tidying.  She hates mess and is often picking things up and putting them away.  If something falls over, she will right it.  She puts her books back on the shelves (when asked) and likes lining things up.

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