Tag Archives: Keeping Fit

Keeping fit in the family



Like diet, it should be a four-letter word.

Tell anyone they need to get some exercise and images of sweating for hours at the gym sends shivers down their spine.

Or at least it does for me.

Which is why, with the weather improving and the nights getting lighter, I like to think of fun ways to get fitter and healthier. I prefer exercise where we don’t even realise we’re doing it.

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Win £200 of Sainsbury’s Vouchers with Active Kids



If your kids are sports crazy, you’re pretty much sorted when it comes to keeping them active.

In our town the majority of the local lads are either part of the junior football squad, or else they’re constantly kicking a ball around the local park or the school playground.

But what do you do when your boys aren’t at all interested in football – in fact, they’re not particularly sporty at all?

This is my quandary. When being active isn’t something which naturally occurs for your children in the school playground, or as part of a sports team, you’ve got to create opportunities for them to stay fit and healthy. Especially in this day and age when, left to their own devices, children like mine would happily sit staring all day at a computer screen.

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Eschewing the fat: Back on the wagon (again!)

diet wagon

Ever reached the point where you’d rather chew off your right arm than get on the scales?

That’s how I felt when I got back from holiday.

It was only a week in Cornwall. But the 2 weeks preceding it, I’d made excuses not to weigh myself.

Doing the Race for Life was amazing, but I told myself I needed to focus on my fitness, rather than the lbs.

The week after that, I had a really bad vomiting bug. I didn’t weigh myself – but then I wasn’t eating much because I couldn’t keep it down.

Then we headed off on our holiday.

By the time I got back, sheer terror had gripped me.

That’s what happens when you miss your weekly weigh-in a few times. Paranoia kicks in. You become convinced all the weight you’ve taken off has piled back on.

But keep running from the scales, and things will only get worse.

So I held back tears… and stepped on the big machine in Boots.

IMG_37122lbs on since my last weigh-in a month ago. Not bad, considering I’d had nightmares that I had piled on the 12lbs I’d already lost.

So I’m still 10lbs lighter than I was at the beginning of the year.

It’s not where I hoped to be at this time of the year. I seem to have stayed still for the past 2 months, and it’s been difficult to remain positive, I so want to feel less like an elephant and more like a gazelle.

But it was never going to be easy (otherwise I would have done it years ago).

So I’m pressing on. I’ll admit I’m not as full of confidence as I was at the start of the year. But giving up is just not an option.

I might be hitting bumps in the road (disguised as cheese sandwiches!) but I’ve just gotta hold onto the diet wagon for dear life.

falling off diet wagon


*Thanks to everyone who sponsored me for the Race for Life. You helped me raise a total of £120 for Cancer Research UK. I did the 5km in 37 minutes – only 2 minutes longer than my time when I last completed the run, about 9 or 10 years ago. So I’m not such an unfit bird after all!

Top tips to keep little ones healthy (without them noticing!)

blake on tummy

Ever since he was born, Blake has been a little chubby thing, with one hell of an appetite.

And being our second child, we were more relaxed about his diet, knowing that Brodie never came to any harm from the odd treat.

Now he’s about to start school. And Blake is a very different build to Brodie, who was always tall and thin.

My baby boy is going to be tall too. But how do I put it?

He’s got a…. fuller figure which may need to be monitored to make sure he grows upwards, more than outwards, as he gets older.


I blame us. We didn’t police his eating habits as much as we did with Brodie.

The result is that he doesn’t like all the healthy foods his big brother enjoys. He won’t eat salad, his fruit choices are limited to apples and bananas, and the only vegetable he likes (apart from potatoes) is broccoli.

But I don’t think it’s too late. He’s 4 and about to start school in August.

A huge part of his day will be about learning – and his food will be limited to the playtime snack and packed lunch I provide for him.

When he’s at home, I’ll resort to tricks to keep him active and healthy, to grow up strong and eliminate the puppy fat he’s carrying now.

It’s not going to be easy, but there are a few easy wins that are fun, effective and best of all, they leave the finances in good condition too.

I’ll be following these top tips to sneaky ways of keeping my little one healthy.


Plan fun days out on a regular basis

IMG_2911Having fun in the great outdoors is a good way of getting kids away from the lure of the TV and video games. Plan different activities for at least once a week and build in a level of exercise. Take the dog for a walk or have a trip to the park to clamber over climbing frames and run some of that excess energy off.

These are all cost free and easy to schedule in. Mix this up with trips at the weekend to the beach for a spot of beachcombing or even swimming if the weather is nice, or head off to the countryside to take a walk through forests and fields. You can even visit a ‘pick your own’ farm to harvest some food for a healthy dinner.


Take part in sports

As a child, there was nothing I enjoyed more than team sports, being part of the school netball and hockey squads. There’s something exciting about playing together for each other, especially when the competitive side comes out. The best way to introduce this into your child’s spare time is to try things informally so grab a football and head to the nearest park for a kick about.

If you find they enjoy this then there are plenty of options open with school teams, local clubs and 5 a side centres available throughout the country. There are a number of tennis courts in parks, as well as basketball nets so take advantage of the local green spaces to get the kids involved.


Get into the kitchen

One of the best ways to get children interested in the food they eat is to get them cooking. Not only is it a fun way to spend time together, but it will also help them to get thinking about where their dinner comes from. Most importantly, a child is going to get excited by the prospect of creating something, whether that means sitting in front of the oven watching a cake rise or waiting to see how their healthy pizza has turned out. The fact that they’ve made the food will mean they’ll be more likely to trust the dish and try it.


Have fun with food

Having fun with foods is a great way to get children more enthusiastic about eating healthily. I’m not talking about hosting food fights here, more fun games you can play, such as giving foods funny names or making smiley faces on the plate from tomatoes, avocado and cucumber for example. Make them sample new flavours by doing a blindfolded taste test game – they’re more likely to try something new and enjoy it if they’re not put off by its appearance- especially if it’s green! Blake came to love broccoli as mini trees scattered across his plate.


Eschewing the fat: Fear factor

fat ass runner
So I’m purple-faced and shuffling along the pavement, passing through a typical suburban estate.

A couple of grandads are tending their gardens. They wave, grinning inanely and simulating a running motion with their arms – telling me to go faster.

Only their age is stopping me flipping them the bird and unleashing a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse.

That, and the fact I can barely breathe – from running longer than I have in about 8 years, and the 3 bra tops I’m using to suppress my oversized breasts, for fear they escape the thin lycra of my T-shirt and give me black eyes.

(You can mock, but unless you are the owner of a pair of 36FFs you have no idea!)

“I wanna scream and shout and let it all out,” Will.i.am blares from my iPod, summing up my frustration.

On Sunday I’m running 5km in the Race for Life.jog joke

Alongside a bunch of people who have probably trained a great deal more than just stumbling around their local estate a couple of times, gasping like they’ve swallowed a bee.

And I’m scared.

But when I think of the fear, I also think of the Summer of 2009, when I drove out to my friend’s house. We sat on her couch, and held each other as we sobbed at the news she was terminally ill.

She was going to die.

I think of the Summer of 2011, when my father-in-law cried in the hospice, pleading to go home. How he tearfully described to my husband what he wanted for his funeral. How I hid my emotions as he cuddled and joked with our sons, knowing this would be the last time the boys would see their Grandad.

That is fear.

So I’m going through with Sunday’s run, thinking of them.

Reminding myself that any apprehension I might be feeling doesn’t come close to what they went through.


Please sponsor me

If you want to support Cancer Research, even a £1 contribution would be gratefully received.

And I would be honoured if you would make that contribution through me.

You can give online here: http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/donnagrose

Or you can also donate by texting “DONS73 £1” to 70070.



To keep a positive attitude this week, I’ve decided to forego the scales.

My target has nothing to do with numbers on a dial, but crossing a finish line.

Normal service will resume next week.Â

Eschewing the fat: Vote Donna!


When this year began, I came to the conclusion that the only way to finally win my battle of the bulge was to take things slowly – and be as public about it as possible.

keep calm

Giving myself no place to hide, and revealing everything… right here. So I’d be less likely to give up, and might hope for some support from the blogosphere.

After last week’s confusion (I lost 1lb on one set of scales, and stayed the same on another) I’m pleased to report that all is well with the world again.

The numbers matched up this week to tell me I’d lost another 1lb – or 2lbs, depending on whether you believe I lost weight last week, or not.

Anyway, it brings my total to 9lbs in the 8 weeks since I started my journey on January 2.




A week into my new lifestyle of eating less and exercising more, the chance came to write a diet diary for UKMums.tv.

For me, it was an opportunity to make my efforts even more public, so I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) back out.

I’m 7 weeks into my 8-week diary for them, and I’ve lost 7lbs in that time (not counting the 2lbs off in the first week of this year).

It’s far less than the other 4 diarists are claiming to have lost, and I’ve struggled to deal with that – still am to be honest (I mean, how am I supposed to compete with a woman who’s lost 5lbs a week, for 3 weeks running? For God’s sake, that’d kill me!)

And now, in their wisdom, the UKMums.tv lot have decided to reward one of us – the one who gets the most votes – with an overnight stay at Ragdale Hall.


I reeeeeeeeeeaaaallly want to win.

So I’m asking you for a little more than encouraging words.

I’m asking you for votes. Please vote for me here.

If only to prove (to me as much as anyone else) that it doesn’t matter I haven’t produced the biggest weight loss number. I will get there.

By the end of this year (maybe sooner) I will have reached my target of a size 12.

And because I’ve taken the weight off slowly, I will be staying there.

(But in the meantime, a stay at this posh spa would really be a boost to my confidence and my hard work).keep calm and vote

*Marches up and down, waving “Vote Donna” placard like a politician*


You can see how it all started (where I bare more than my soul) here

Eschewing the fat: Scales of justice

scales question marks


I went a little quiet last week….

OK, OK, I ran and hid under the bed in shame.

Because I got on the scales and saw…. no bloody difference at all.

My eating patterns feel comfortable and under control.

But my relationship with exercise is up and down. Some weeks I feel lethargic, other weeks I’m energised.

So it had been a bad week. I was going to write about it, but we were going away for the weekend and I got *ahem* distracted.

In the end, I thought I could just wait another week and report an actual weight loss.

This week…. well which version do you want?

Every Wednesday I weigh myself on the huge machine in Boots that booms “Measuring your weight and height” as I try to blend in and avoid eye contact with curious shoppers.

Then I go to the gym on Thursday and get weighed again by the fitness trainer, who measures me and discusses what I’m eating and how to improve my diet.

And this week, I stayed the same on my first weigh-in.

But my second revealed I’d lost 1lb.

Damned scales! Which one do I believe?

Well, you can probably guess I’ve decided to focus on the positive and believe I’ve lost weight.

I feel different – and people are starting to say I look slimmer.

My way of doing things is a lot slower than previous attempts to fight the flab. I’m going slower – in order to keep the weight off. But it’s hard to stay positive, when everyone else is bragging they’ve already lost a stone or more (I’m happy for them *turns green with envy* really I am!)

My 1lb (fake or real) will take me to 8lbs in 7 weeks.

If I’m kidding myself, it’s 7lbs in 7 weeks.

I suppose we’ll have to make this a cliffhanger and see what next week holds.

I’m still better than where I would be if I didn’t start this journey on January 2nd.

So I’m focusing on eating better, exercising even more (I’ve entered the Race For Life 5km) and positive thinking.

As I’m beginning to need motivation, I’m looking at dresses for the Summer.

I love this one:

feather dress


And this one:

purple dress


And then there’s this one:

scarf dress2

I’m planning my birthday party in the Summer, which is 22 weeks away.

Another 22lbs off would mean a total of 30lbs – if I continue to average 1lb a week.

And surely that would mean I could go down a dress size, maybe two, and buy myself one of the above.

Wish me luck.



In other news….Â

krispy kreme

My friend and press photographer Gordon Jack has been covering the opening of Scotland’s first Krispy Kreme last week.

This image shows me exactly why I should stick to the diet and stay well away from there. She’s got 48 doughnuts in those boxes. FORTY BLOODY EIGHT!

The doughnut restaurant and drive-thru just outside Edinburgh made a whopping £60,000 in its first day of opening, with customers queuing for hours – and fights breaking out between customers keen to get in!

Seriously folks, shouldn’t we be fighting not to look like this?


Picture: Copyright Scotimage

Eschewing the fat: Dear younger self

dear younger self


Dear younger self,

You’re only in your 20s and looking great.

Yes, I know you think you’re fat and disgusting. You’d like smaller boobs and a waist. But we can’t have everything.

And believe me, almost 20 years on you’re going to look back and realise what a great figure you had.

(Your hair could do with some work, but it won’t be long before hair straighteners are invented and that’ll sort you out!)

Society is telling you that you need to be a size 10 to be perfect. In the future, there’ll actually be a ridiculous size zero to strive for!

But a 12 suits you and it’s healthy. Enjoy it and stop all the crash diets. They’re only going to add lbs to your frame in the long run.

Donns and Geoff Georges1

If you want to tone up, watch your portion sizes and do some exercise. That’s all you need.

Socialise and enjoy yourself. Just because there’s a skinnier woman in the room doesn’t mean you should avoid the party, or go home early in tears.

You’ve met the man you’re going to marry. He loves you for who you are, so don’t keep worrying about how you look.

Beware his love of food and restaurants. Remember he’s almost a foot taller than you, and you shouldn’t be eating the same portion sizes he does.

Donna the outdoor Queen

Join him on more of the hill walks he enjoys. Not only will you get to see the beautiful Scottish countryside, you’ll tone up and keep your figure in an enjoyable way.

Even if you don’t take any of this advice, make the most of your figure while you’ve got it and have a good time.

Stop worrying that you’re not thinner, and trying to live up to some impossible ideal of “the perfect 10″.






Oh, and a note to my present self. Well done on shifting another 1lb this week – making that 7lbs since January 2 through eating less and exercising more.


That’s half a stone in 5 weeks. Go you!

Since your younger self didn’t have the wisdom to take any notice of any of the above you’re going to have to put things right this year.

And you’ve made a great start.



Eschewing the fat is all about turning 40 this year, and not wanting to be a fatty! Check out my first post in the series here – along with the startlingly rotund photos – to see how I started out on January 2. These images will be a distant memory by the end of this year, when I plan to be a lovely, healthy size 12 again.




Please vote Donna in this competition, where I could win a spa break to Ragdale Hall, for sharing my diet diary with UKMums.tv. It would be a huge boost to all my weight loss efforts.

Eschewing the fat: Why diets fail

diet failure


The old saying goes “feed a cold and starve a fever”.

And this week I’ve had a stonking cold.

But while it was tempting to hit the comfort foods, I’m proud to say I resisted.

So I was a little disappointed (more than a little) when the scales showed I lost just  ½lb this week.

I can understand why, having abandoned the gym mid-week to shiver on the couch.

Plus I lost track of what I was eating – so I probably served myself a few too many portions of the healthy stuff.

But feeling sorry for myself with a tickly throat, congestion headache and blocked nose, I just prayed for a miracle when I got on the scales.

I felt so deserving of a good weight loss.

But I’m determined not to be disheartened, especially at this early stage.

I’m back on track. And this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve still lost 4 and a half lbs in 3 weeks.

As long as I’m losing, I’m winning.

shouting at scalesStill this week’s got me thinking of reasons why I’ve failed in the past. Why so many of us fail at weight loss.

I read an article, in which nutritionists and doctors from the British Dietetic Association gave the top 10 reasons.





And sadly I can relate to all of them:

Thinking short term
Starving yourself for short periods will only end in failure – because it’s too difficult. Dieticians recommend a woman eat 1300-1500 calories a day to lose weight. Any less and you will give up and binge out of hunger.

Deluding yourself about what you’ve eaten
Many people forget that biscuit, or piece of birthday cake, or somehow hide from themselves the fact that they have eaten them. But they add up. Writing everything down – everything – both food and drink, is the only way.

Not including exercise in your regime
Exercise boosts metabolism, meaning your body burns calories faster.
And for each pound of muscle added, you need an extra 75 calories to maintain it, so toning up will also help you lose weight. Exercising for around 20 to 30 minutes a day will do the trick.

Banning certain foods
Denying favourite foods makes it unlikely you’ll stick to a diet. People should have an occasional treat, otherwise they will be miserable.

Skipping meals
You may think skipping a meal is a weight loss bonus. But you are only fooling yourself. Your blood sugar level will drop, making you crave sweets. Research has proved people who skip breakfast eat more calories a day than those who don’t.

Thinking healthy food is low calorie food
Even some healthy foods are fattening. A tablespoon of olive oil contains 100 calories. An avocado contains 190 calories and almost 20 grams of fat, and a handful of peanuts contains 150 calories – and 13 grams of fat.

Big portions
Weighing out food is one of the most off-putting aspects of dieting. But many dieters unconsciously go larger on portions after several weeks.

Not counting drinks
A standard cappuccino has 120 calories – and 8 grams of fat.
Alcohol and fizzy drinks are other big calorie traps. Alcohol contains as many calories as fat and boosts appetite (well, who hasn’t had the wine munchies?)

Weighing yourself too often
Getting on the scales too often can make weight loss more difficult. Weight fluctuates throughout the month because of water retention. And if you’re toning up, muscle is heavier than fat. Weigh yourself once a week at most and first thing in the morning.


fat friends


I could add a couple of my own to this list.

Looking for immediate results is one. First sign of a setback like I’ve just had, and I’m usually reaching for the biscuit tin, telling myself “this isn’t working”. I’m impatient. I want to be slim – and I want it now!

Having friends or colleagues who struggle with their weight can also make you feel in good company. Especially if they’ve thrown in the towel, or they’re bigger than you are. It’s taboo to admit it, but let’s be honest here, how many of us have looked around the office, or the school playground and thought “Well I might be big – but I’m not as big as her


It’s hard. If it wasn’t, we’d all look like Cameron Diaz.

And I can’t pretend I’m not bricking it over my next weigh-in. One bad week is enough. Two in a row is a serious head-f*ck.

Pray for me.

Eschewing the fat: The blame game

jack sprat


I’ve had a long hard think about it and decided that my putting on weight…. is all my husband’s fault.

Only joking.

But don’t we all like to make excuses about why we’re heavy?

“I’m big-boned.”

“I’ve got a medical condition.”

“I’ve had children – and they’ve ruined my figure.”

While there’s a smidgen of reality in the last one, the harsh truth is that most of us are eating too much, and not moving around enough.

Yes, my husband likes his food. A lot. And he would happily serve up the same portion-size for me as he eats himself – even though he’s a foot taller than I am and never seems to put on weight.

If I ask him whether I’m getting fat, he always says: “You look fine to me.”

So if I was looking for someone to take the fall for my expanding figure….it would have to be him.

But I need to take responsibility for myself.

I was thinking of this when watching a documentary a few nights ago, about Claire Richards from Steps.

We all know she’s currently in Celebrity Big Brother – and she’s one big mother.

But the documentary was filmed a couple of years ago, showing her slimming down to a size 10-12 for the cover of a magazine which had previously featured her posing in a bikini as her larger self.

A punishing regime of working out with a personal trainer (contracted to the magazine to get her thin) and eating dry chicken and broccoli ended in her hitting her target of 10st 4lbs for her photoshoot.


claire richards 2 - big and small


And then she started flailing about, like many of us do.

The personal trainer left. No-one was watching her weight for her.

She went to see her GP, convinced something was medically wrong to make her gain weight. She cried when the doctor said she just needed to get herself under control.

Then she read about some crazy celebrity diet tip, and started sprinkling coal on her food (yes coal!)

I switched off. I didn’t need to watch the end to see what happened.

Even if Claire couldn’t be found lumbering around the Big Brother house, I’d have guessed how she ended up.


claire richards - big brother


Because I’ve done it all.

The extreme diet, which I gave up as soon as I reached my goal.

The bizarre fads when I realised the lbs were piling back on.

The search for something/someone to blame.

Every diet out there will work – if you do it for the rest of your life.

That’s the small print none of us bother to look at.

Existing on cabbage soup alone, or milkshakes, or a punishing regime of bootcamp exercises will get us to where we want to be.

But it won’t keep us there once we go back to normal life.

*Steps down off high horse*




So my new normal life is now going to the gym 5 times a week, and doing a 30-minute circuit.

It’s eating 3 balanced meals a day, and trying to keep the calorie count below 1500 (although nobody’s perfect, I’m bound to slip sometimes).

In my second week, I’m pleased to report another 2lbs off – making 4lbs in a fortnight.

I’m chuffed with the result, considering we went to a wedding reception last weekend.

Being the designated driver helped a lot. I only got to drink one glass of wine.

And I ate dinner before we went, so I wasn’t too hungry when the hot buffet was rolled out. I just had a couple of pieces of salmon, in a tasty tomato sauce.

Then I hit the dancefloor as the desserts came out.

Ditching the bottle (or two) of wine I have at weekends has been a major help, I think.

Instead of burying my head in a large trough of Pinot Grigio (and you think I’m joking?!) I’ve been buying a couple of ready-mixed cans of gin and slimline tonic to have in the fridge.

A lot less calories when I fancy a tipple, and I don’t get the munchies afterwards.

My next aim is to cut down on the coffee drinking and have more water instead.


diet diaries



By the way, I’m now also a diet diarist for UKMums.tv. Would be very grateful if you could pop over there and leave some messages of support.



And if you want to check out some fellow bloggers who are on their own weight-loss journey, I highly recommend The Musing Housewife and Autism Mumma.

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