So Kyle and I are going on holiday tomorrow to Orlando... without Isaac. And yes I do feel like the worst mother typing that out. Now I know I don’t need to justify the decisions we make and realistically this isn’t the worst thing a parent has done ever, however the mum guilt I feel is intense.
Originally when we were initially planning this holiday, we were going to go as a big family holiday with Isaac, my parents and Kyle’s mum. But as the months ticked on last year and with the cost of living going up, the parents decided it was just too expensive for them. Considering they wouldn’t be going for the theme parks like Kyle and I were, it was an expensive family holiday for them.
I totally understood and that was absolutely fine, of course. So Kyle and I continued to plan to go just the three of us. But when we were planning and researching and seeing Isaac himself change and grow we realised that the holiday would be, well, stressful.
Maybe when Isaac was 6 months would be OK as he would be fine with being in the pram a lot and would nap on the go, but at 18 months old it would be unfair. He wants to be up and about exploring. But currently he just loves exploring fields, forests and pavements. He has no idea what Disney even is yet!
So we decided not to take him.
The levels of mum guilt are insane though. I’m a bag full of emotions right now. I’m going to miss him so much and worry about him constantly (even though he’ll be with his Nanas and will be absolutely fine), and I feel like the worst mother in the world.
Kyle says he doesn’t feel guilty at all. We deserve the break (18 months of rubbish sleep!). It’s not that he’s not going to miss him or doesn’t care as much as I do, he just has a different perspective. I admire him for that. A good number of nights I’ve spent awake considering our decision.
That said, we are going to go and enjoy ourselves. Kyle has never been before and I want him to feel as happy as I do when I’m there. We love theme parks, we love America food and we’ll get so many nights of uninterrupted sleep. It’s going to be amazing.
I know one day we’ll take Isaac with us – when he can fully enjoy and appreciate where he is and what he’s doing. But for now, he’ll have a fantastic time with his grandparents, who he loves very much. He won’t even notice we’ve gone!
And that’s not to say we won’t take him on holiday with us soon – we have one planned already. Just not one that cost a fortune that he won’t necessarily care much about.
I remember the first time I went to the gym. I was terrified. I had no idea what to do. I was also convinced everyone was watching me and thinking what a novice idiot I was. The reality is though… no one is watching and no one cares. Everyone is too focused on their own fitness journey. But these below handy hints may help for anyone who is new to the gym environment, which let’s face it, can be a bit intimidating.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to start going to a new gym. Perhaps it’s the first time you’ve worked out in a long time. Perhaps you’re just looking for somewhere new to workout. Whatever your reason for going to a new gym, it can help to have some survival tips.
Tips for going to the gym for the first time can make your experience much more enjoyable. So, take a look at everything you need to know.
Bring a Towel
Some gyms offer a towel service but most don’t in an effort to be as cleanly as possible. When you begin to workout, you’ll quickly realize that you’re starting to sweat. Even if you keep your first workout light, you’ll still sweat.
Keep a hand towel with you during your workout to wipe your brow or sweat could get into your eyes and impair your vision. If you want to take a shower before leaving the gym, be sure to take a body towel with you too.
Prepare Your Body
If you’re just getting into working out again, your body will need as much prep work as you can manage. It’s a good idea to get some protein and carbohydrates in you before heading to the gym. This will help you to keep your stamina up while working out.
Protein shakes will also help you to avoid muscle aches the days following. You’re likely to experience some aching but you can decrease the severity. Similarly, use SARMs for lean muscle development if that’s your goal.
Limit Cardio Time
Depending on the time you head to the gym, you could find that it’s busy. Many people visit before and after work on weekdays and anytime at the weekend. If the gym is busy, you may need to limit your cardio time.
People will often want to use cardio machines so you should keep your cardio workout to no longer than 25 minutes. Move on to weights or other machines and finish with a quick cardio burst at the end.
Forget Your Phone
You may not want to completely forget your phone but it can help to leave it in a locker. Hearing someone’s phone ring or someone answering the phone in the gym can be a real buzz kill. There’s an unspoken rule that phones should never be answered in the gym.
Avoid using your phone to listen to music if you can. However, if you do use your phone for music, send any calls to voicemail.
Germs and bacteria can be spread quickly in a gym environment so it’s important everyone looks out for one another. When you’re finished using a machine, wipe it down before someone else uses it. When you get into the habit of doing this, you can avoid picking up common ailments like the cold.
If you’ve found this article helpful, take a look at the others.
One of the things I’m really trying to do this year is each more varied fruit and veg. I’m such a sucker for routine and the same old same old. I get stuck in food ruts. But I want to eat a bit more varied. Especially as I’ve been feeding Isaac so many different things to get him used to different foods – so why shouldn’t I, eh? Here’s some interesting ideas for foods you could include in your diet.
Most people eat the same foods week after week. The majority of calories come from corn, wheat, rice, meat, and their derivatives (particularly oils).
However, research shows that eating as widely as possible is beneficial. The more variety you can cram into your diet, the better you will feel.
The reason for this is simple: plants contain specific nutrients not found anywhere else. Therefore, you have to eat them to get the benefits. You can’t derive them from another source.
This post takes a look at some of the novel foods you should include in your diet immediately. These are substances that are fairly new to the western diet in the last twenty years and only rarely consumed before then. Check them out below.
The Amalaki fruit is prized in India and Bangladesh but is barely heard of in the rest of the world. It tastes awful and doesn’t go with any recipes, but it offers some of the most potent health benefits you will see from any ingredient.
For instance, peer-reviewed research shows that amla reduces blood glucose levels significantly in people with diabetes, better than the leading drugs. It also slashes cholesterol and blood pressure, again more than the leading drugs.
And the best bit? It’s dirt cheap. Amla is just pennies per day, meaning you can consume it all day long.
CBD or cannabidiol is a hemp-derived substance found in many products, including Delta 9 THC Gummies. Again, it’s a novel food in the western diet but may offer significant benefits.
For instance, CBD may reduce stress and chronic pain. It is also a prescription drug for some patients with epilepsy.
CBD works by changing the way the body’s endocannabinoid system works. It is one of the only substances known to do so which is why it is essential to consume it directly.
Hyaluronic acid is usually something you apply topically. However, consuming it orally offers substantial, additional benefits.
Regular hyaluronic acid cannot penetrate the skin barrier. But taking it orally can get it into your body. That’s because hyaluronic acid of a certain molecular weight is able to penetrate into the bloodstream.
Hyaluronic acid has all sorts of wonderful effects on the body. Everyone knows about the cosmetic benefits, but it may help to reduce cancer risk, too.
Researchers believe this because of investigations done on the naked mole rat, a species that lives many times longer than similar rodents. It has high levels of hyaluronic acid in its body which appears to make the formation of cancer nearly impossible. You can gamma-irradiate these creatures, expose them to heavy metals and even change their DNA to make them more prone to cancer and they won’t develop tumors.
Take between 200mg and 400mg of high molecular weight hyaluronic acid daily.
Never heard of rapalogs? Don’t worry, neither has anyone else.
Rapalogs are substances that are similar to rapamycin, a medicinal product originally found on the island of Rapa Nui, also called Easter Island. Doctors originally used this substance to suppress the immune system in surgery patients. However, researchers later found it extended life in model organisms.
Taking rapamycin in high doses is unsafe because it makes you more susceptible to infectious diseases. However, consuming compounds with a similar action in the body is generally regarded as safe.
But which novel food substances look like rapamycin?
Perhaps the number one is ashwagandha. This substance appears to act in the body virtually the same way while offering some of the benefits of metformin. It lowers blood sugar and changes the way cells operate to make them healthier and last longer.
Blue Zones are parts of the world where the local population appears to live longer, on average, than everywhere else. In the 1950s, the tiny Japanese island of Okinawa had a life expectancy of 85 and more centenarians per head of the population than anywhere else on Earth. Remember, at this time, global life expectancy was only a little over 30.
One theory locals lived so long is their consumption of seaweed. These individuals appear to have thrived on the stuff.
In the east, though, consumption continued. And because of this, local people thrived. Certain substances in seaweed activated their body’s defenses and made them less prone to chronic diseases. Therefore, they lived longer and healthier lives.
The Portsmouth Coastal Marathon is one of my favourite races of the year. It’s local, it’s festive and it’s a great time of year when there isn’t much going on in terms of big races. This is the fourth time I’ve run it and it didn’t disappoint.
This was going to be a special kind of marathon for me because on Thursday 15th December we lost Alfie, our 13.5 year old dog. Words can’t describe how much I’ll miss him and how much of a hit this has been to us. So, as silly as it might sound to some, I decided to run this marathon in his memory and use the time to just reflect and mourn.
The race started at 8.30am. This was fine as having a toddler means lie-ins don’t exist and we’d been awake since 5.30am anyway. This meant a relatively leisurely morning of breakfast, tea and us all getting ready. The weather was looking to be a bit pants… rain scheduled and nippy.
After Kyle’s mum had arrived, we got down to Southsea for about 8.15am where we met up with my parents. I hurried off to go to the loo (the great thing about Southsea is how many toilets they have around the place so I didn’t have to use a portaloo). Then I said goodbye and hurried to the start.
It was cold. It was windy. Rain was scheduled to come. I felt really sorry for my family because it’s one thing running in these conditions but an entirely different thing standing around in them. But they weren’t going to be standing outside the entire time. They would be driving to two different locations and then spending some time in The Ship Inn, which is literally on the course.
As the race begun I was just keen to get warm. I probably started faster than I’d intended but my mission was to make haste in the first few miles so I wouldn’t get bottlenecked when we hit the small path to get on to the pebbles. Having run this race three times before I was well aware of these things.
To be honest, I had zero plans for this race (do I ever?). I was just going to see what the legs did and sit at a comfortable pace and see how long that lasted. The wind was a south easterly one so while it was annoying in the first couple of miles to have it against us, I knew I would be grateful at mile 24 to have that behind me for the end.
I made a very rapid pitstop at mile two for a wee. I needed to get it done fast as to not hit the bottleneck which came just after. Thankfully I was super speedy and hadn’t lost much ground. We got to the little path to get onto the pebbles and it was plain sailing. The pebbles at this point aren’t that annoying, but the wetness of the sand and mud here made for slippery and soggy work, but it doesn’t last long.
Then back onto more firm ground and off we went. I was in familiar territory now as we were cruising along routes I regularly use during the week. I had my phone and headphones with me but was quite happy just letting my mind wander and listening to the outside world.
I was still clipping along at a relative speedy pace (for me) but decided to just embrace it because the wind was in our favour as we headed north to Farlington Marshes. I knew it would be harder on the way back so I might as well use the wind while we had it. As such, the first 6 miles flew by. Annoyingly though the rain had started a lot earlier than I thought.
I saw my family at Farlington Marshes (a great spectator spot) and they cheered me along. I saw big smiles from Isaac which were lovely. And then I was off again past the marshes to get to the more boring and less supported part of the course.
I really like this course because you can break it down into different sections. I love an out and back as well because once you get to the turnaround point you know you “just” have to make your way back the way you came and you know exactly what is to come.
There were some precariously muddy and slippery parts which I knew would only get worse on the way back and I questioned by choice of road shoes. That said, I’ve never worn trail shoes on this marathon and it’s only brief moments that they’re needed I think.
Then we hit the another pebbly bit. This is a real ball ache in the marathon. It’s a significantly long distance to be running across uneven terrain and really does sap the energy. Knowing you have to come back that way is mentally hard as well.
Eventually though we were back onto easy terrain and heading towards the road again. This part of the race is very dull because it’s through an industrial bit. However as most of the race is relatively scenic going along the coastal paths, it’s actually quite a nice change.
At this point a man, who I now know is called Justin, was running next to me and we started polite conversation. To be honest, at the start of the marathon I really didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was in a bit of a low mood and just wanted to be in my own head with my thoughts. But this was now at mile nine (I think!) and it was nice to chat to someone.
We actually ran together for a good few miles (I think it was 6 or so?) and it really did make the miles fly by. We chatted about all things marathons, training, races and even children. We ran past my dad and Kyle (the mums and Isaac were nice and snug in the warmth of the pub) and they cheered us on. Then we headed down to the turnaround point.
I can’t actually remember much about these miles because I was so lost in conversation. I was aware though that we were clipping along at quite a speedy pace. We decided to pull back just a little so not to burn ourselves out though. But I remember feeling that this just felt really nice and comfortable. Of course we still had half the race to go though!
We headed back past my dad and Kyle once again and then off we went back to where we’d come. As we hit the industrial estate bit again Justin said I should go on as he wanted to pull back a bit and I was speeding up. We said our goodbyes and I gradually pulled away.
I felt really good. I was so chuffed that we’d hit 16 miles and I was feeling strong.
OK I still had over 10 miles to go but I knew what I had left in the course and knew at some point the wind would help. I’d also decided at mile 20 I would pop some music on which I knew would keep me going. The rain was definitely picking up and it was getting colder though.
I saw my family again at Farlington Marshes, only 6 or so miles to go now. I then went to mission Get Music On. This involved taking a glove off, taking my Airpods out of my FlipBelt, popping them in, then grabbing my phone and getting to the Spotify playlist on. It was really raining and really cold now and this wasn’t pleasant. Then trying to get my glove back on afterwards was a near impossible feat. The glove fingers had gone inside themselves and peeling them out was taking so much time, while trying to run and not let my hand freeze to death.
Anyway, I got it done and then went into “go go go” mode. I had some good music. I had thought we’d be going the winding route round the houses as I’ve always done in the previous races because the tide comes back in and makes the pebble route impossible. However we were sent back to the pebbles as the tide wasn’t in. This wasn’t a welcome thing I have to say. My legs were tired and the pebbles were handwork. This was my hardest mile.
I knew I just needed to get to the seafront as then it would be two miles left and plain sailing with the wind behind us. I could convince myself that it was the last half of the Southsea parkrun as well (a particularly hard parkrun!).
It was such a relief to hit that seafront and I just knuckled down and pushed as much as I could. I knew my time was looking pretty good and I just had to hold on. I was almost nearing my PB but realistically I knew that wouldn’t be possible now in the final miles. But faster than my Goodwood time earlier this year? That was looking possible.
I got past the Pyramid centre and suddenly my mum was on the pavement waving. I almost collided with her! It was lovely to see her but I could barely manage a smile as I was pushing so hard and was now so cold in the biting rain.
And round the corner, Kyle and my dad cheering me on, and I was finished! Whew! 3.17.37 – my second fastest marathon! And what a marathon to dedicate to Alfie.
I was so cold at the end, I was grateful for the foil blanket I was given (and firmly told to put on quickly). I felt so grateful to those volunteers, they were true legends.
Then we got in the car quickly, I headed home for a very quick and hot shower before we headed out for lunch.
I’m so pleased with how this race went. It means a lot to me, because of Alfie, I while I was definitely giving my all by the last four miles, the previous 22 felt really relaxed and comfortable. A completely different story comparing it to Goodwood at the start of the year where most of the race I was pushing hard with concerted effort. So it’s nice to finish the year with a race like this!
Life lately has been fairly busy. Work has gotten a lot more manic, which I’m enjoying, and having a 17 month old toddler definitely makes life hectic. But the lack of sleep that continues for us is the killer.
I wish I could say that the sleep had gotten better, but it hasn’t. I mean there are definitely better days and worse days. Overwhelmingly though, sleep is poor. I appreciate it might not be the most exciting of topics to discuss, especially if you don’t have children, but I want to keep it real and document the realities of having a small child who apparently doesn’t like sleep.
Throughout Isaac’s life he has always slept less than he apparently “should”. As a newborn he wouldn’t sleep in a cot, only on us or in a Cuddlepod thing (which we reluctant to allow as they were said to be unsafe). But newborn life you expect sleep to be terrible and you roll with it as this is a BRAND NEW HUMAN.
16 months on though and I would have hoped sleep would be better. On a good night Isaac will wake up once, then easily go back to sleep after a quick feed (yep, still breastfeeding over here) and then wake up post 6am (6.30am is an utter dream). However these nights are few and far between.
We normally get 2+ wake ups and somewhere around 5.45am full wake up. On worse nights we get 3-4 wake ups and a 5-5.30am start to the day. On truly terrible nights, like last night, he’ll wake up at 10pm and then stay awake till 1am. I go in, I feed, I try to leave; he loses his mind.
We can’t bring him into our bed as he starts playing and crawling/walking around. I can’t stay and sleep in his room (as I attempted last night) because he then stands and peers down at me or peeps his head through the cot, like a terrifying horror movie ghost child.
I’m not as naïve to assume Isaac would be consistently sleeping through the night but I don’t think it’s wholly unreasonable to have thought waking 2+ times during the night wasn’t ideal.
Isaac has recently been popping canines out like nobody’s business and has been jumping from colds to ear infection back to colds. And of course the dreaded 18 month sleep regression everyone keeps harping on about… Who really knows what’s happening? We sure don’t.
Of course we’d love to assign reasonings behind why these disrupted nights are happening (a lifeline to desperately hang on to so we can believe it will end) but in general we always go back to the fact that we’ve never had Isaac sleep through and he generally likes to be awake.
On the truly terrible nights there is definitely an element of external factors (teething and illness), but the general consistent wakings is a mystery. Have I made a rod for my own back by always attending to his cries? Should we have sleep trained? Am I overindulging him? Spoiling him? Creating habits? Letting him learn that when he does X, Y will follow.
Perhaps. There are a lot of opinions out there (social media, books, family and friends). But when I’m lying in my bed listening to my son scream for me, I cannot ignore him. I’m not judging anyone who can go through a process of sleep training but I’m not sure it’s for me.
We have a slight hope that things might change in January when Kyle and I go on holiday for nine days without Isaac (don’t even get me started on the mum guilt I’m already experiencing about this upcoming trip). He’ll be potentially unlearning habits when he stays with the Nanas (who, by the way he tends to sleep absolutely fine for!).