Learning to accept my post-partum body

I have written about my weight before on this blog but to save you going back through old posts here’s a recap…

I wasn’t overweight as a child, or even a teenager, but by the time I was doing my GCSEs I had big boobs and thought I was fat. I spent most of sixth form not eating very much and had a breast reduction when I was 18, during my first year at university. For about six months I was thin, I had small boobs and I was happy.

Then I went to France for the summer, ate too many pain au chocolate and started drinking beer. For the last year of uni I drank too much and I ate too much and by the time I left I was probably a couple of stone overweight.

Over the next five years I mostly worked in France where, although I was still drinking too much, my eating got slightly better and I had a pretty physical job so I lost some weight and was reasonably happy with my body.

Then in 2003 I moved to Scotland to work for the company I had been working for in France. Over the next six years my weight yo-yo’d a fair bit – I had times where I went to the gym a lot, and times when I did nothing. I lost weight for shows I was in, but then put it back on again after. Whenever I made a big effort to lose weight it was always for something, and when that thing was over I would starting eating again and put it all back on. Oh, and FYI, if you have a breast reduction then put loads of weight on your boobs will just come right back, and if you’re really lucky like me they’ll be even bigger than they were before!

In 2009 I was the heaviest I had ever been. I am very much an emotional eater and at that time I was pretty miserable. I was single, I had a job I didn’t enjoy, I spent a lot of time at home on my own eating ice cream…

But then in the summer of 2009 I left my job and went back to university to start my teacher training. I wanted to be happier with my weight and I knew that I would be teaching teenagers and teenagers can be cruel. So a couple of months before I started my course I decided to follow the Lighter Life programme. I had two shakes and a snack bar each day with a salad for lunch. I’ve done quite a few meal replacement diets since and I know they’re not for everyone but they do work. They take away any need to make decisions about food. I know some people prefer diets like Weight Watchers, or Slimming World where you can still have treats but I am rubbish at self-control – I can’t just have one biscuit, I have to have four biscuits, or no biscuits. So Lighter Life worked for me, after a week or so you stop being hungry and seeing the quite dramatic weight loss is very motivating.

I lost a couple of stone and although I still had a stone to go I stopped doing Lighter Life because I fell into the trap of thinking I had lost a lot of weight and I was so much happier with my body that it would do. But left to my own devices I put nearly a stone back on. So back to Lighter Life I went. I lost the remaining two stone (making just over three stone in total) and was at a weight I was really happy with.

But then I finished my teacher training, met my future husband then went on holiday to America for three weeks. I probably spent another 18 months gaining and losing the same stone until we got married in 2012. Another three weeks in a America, on our honeymoon this time, and then not long after I got pregnant.

I loved being pregnant. I ate whatever I wanted and for the first time since I was about 15 I didn’t worry about what I was eating. I had a big pregnant belly, I wore clothes to show it off and I put on about three stone over the course of my pregnancy.

I didn’t really do anything about that weight until Toby was nearly one. I had lost about a stone without really trying and then we were thinking about having another baby and I didn’t want to get pregnant again still carrying all the weight from my first pregnancy. So the meal replacements came out again and by the time I got pregnant with Gabe in late 2014 I was about the same weight I had been when I got pregnant the first time.

I did try a bit more in Gabe’s pregnancy not to go completely crazy with my eating. I think the second time I put on about two stone, not including the stone of baby, placenta and water that I lost on giving birth. I lost some of that gradually over the next six months or so but then we moved house, and Gabe still doesn’t sleep, and I still eat a lot of biscuits and chocolate.

I have always said, and I still think, that mostly what we eat for our meals is reasonably healthy, it’s all the other things that I eat on top of my meals that cause the problem. So for the last few months I have thought on and off about trying to lose weight again but in the last few weeks I have had something of an epiphany.


The title of this post was ‘Learning to accept my post-partum body’ and the conclusion that I have come to is that, although I am not my ideal weight, although I have a big mummy tummy, that I have stretch marks, and big saggy boobs, this is what I look like now. And for now, that’s OK.

If I need biscuits, and cake, and coffee with all the sugar in to get me through the days, and to cope with the lack of sleep then that’s OK.

If I need to buy a few new clothes because most of my pre-pregnancy clothes are too small, then that’s OK too.

Because there is time, there is time to lose weight, and to exercise more. And that time will come when the boys are sleeping better, when they are at school and I have more time to myself, when I don’t have to be there for every single bed time, for every single wake up in the middle of the night. In two years I will be 40, and I think that will be the time, when life is a bit less full on, and hopefully I’ll be getting a bit more sleep.

But for now, my boys love me. My husband loves me. They don’t care if my tummy is a bit squishier that it used to be, or my jeans are a few sizes bigger than they once were. To Toby and Gabe, I am just mummy and I need to accept that, to embrace that, to stop worrying about what I should or shouldn’t be eating and to put my energy into loving them, and being there for them whenever they need me. I grew those two boys inside of me, they are part of me and I need to show them that we should always be happy with who we are.

And I think, I hope, that by accepting that for now this is just the way things are, by going a bit easier on myself, that I will be happier for it, and if I’m happier I can be a better mummy and a better wife.

So for now, this is me, as I am, and I can stop thinking I should be doing something to change that.

Remembering Childhood // Candyfloss & Dreams

It’s that time of week when another blogger is going to be sharing their childhood memories. This week it’s Kat from Candyfloss & Dreams.


Which decade were you born in?


What is your earliest memory? How old were you?

I think part of this is because I was told about it but also I have flashes in my mind when I remember it. I think I was around two and a half, we were on holiday in Ibiza and went to the beach. My memory is of toddling off. I have flashes of being toddler height and climbing some steps before a lady I didn’t know picked me up. My mum’s version is me running away from the beach and her thinking I’d drowned in the sea. Oops.

One I remember more clearly was asking for a bouncy carpet because I kept falling out of bed.

What was your favourite toy at 5 years old? At 10?

At five it must have been books. At ten I had a PlayStation and spent hours on Spyro the Dragon.

Do you still have any toys from your childhood?

No I don’t which is a shame. I wish I had kept some of my favourite books. They’re all really expensive now and hard to find!

Who was your favourite pop group/artist as a teenager?

Taking Back Sunday were (still are) a favourite of mine when I was around 15. Green Day were the first band I saw at 13 with my dad.

What was your favourite TV show(s)?

I loved Pokemon and Digimon – total nerd. But before that The Demon Headmaster, The Queen’s Nose and Blind Date kept me happy. I had a time in secondary school where I obsessively watched Neighbours and Home and Away too.

What was the first film you remember seeing at the cinema?

Oh gosh, I think it was 101 Dalmations.

Do you have any dodgy haircut/ outfit memories that you’d rather forget?

90’s kids’ fashion wasn’t really on trend to be honest. My mum insisted I had a bob cut all through school until I got to Year Six when I stopped letting her and stood my ground. I had hardly any hair until I was about five, so that was a bad stage for me.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

First an astronaut and then a journalist.

If you could go back to being a child again what age would you choose and why?

I don’t think I would go back to be honest. I wouldn’t want to experience some things again but I think the memories I have have made me who I am. But I would love to get inside my daughter’s brain. At six, she is fascinating and it would be awesome to remember how and why she thinks and says the stuff she does!


Thanks Kat for remembering your childhood – a PlayStation at 10 though, you’re making me feel old!

Please do come back next week when another blogger will be sharing their childhood memories.

Living Arrows 42/52 (2016)

It feels like we have finally turned a corner here in the Toby Goes Bananas house this week. In the last few days it’s like Gabe has turned into a different child. He has suddenly got a massive appetite and is eating everything I put in front of him, which after 8 months of struggling with weaning is absolutely amazing! He’s still got teeth making their way through but he doesn’t seem to have been in as much pain with them for the last few days. We’ve had a few nights of better sleep from him too – he’s still waking up but the other night he made it until after 4am before his first wake up, when it’s usually more like 10pm. Hopefully this is the first step on the road to sleeping through. I really hope so – three and a half years is a long time to go without a proper night’s sleep!

This week’s picture of Gabe is far from technically perfect – partly because Toby took it, but mostly because the light was rubbish. But just look at his big grin! When he’s wailing in your ear at three o’clock in the morning it’s hard to remember that sometimes he is actually happy but then you capture a smile like this and it doesn’t seem so hard any more.

Gabe giving a big grin

And as for Toby  – I mentioned in last week’s Living Arrows post that we were making some progress with potty training… well on Wednesday he went to nursery in a nappy but after he used the loo at lunchtime they made him wear big boy pants – I’m not too sure if I’m entirely happy about that part but we’ll just gloss over it for now. He has only worn a nappy once since and that was only because I was scared about him having an accident in the middle of Sainsbury’s (and I was right to trust my instincts as he informed me in the yogurt aisle that he was doing a poo!).

Apart from that one poo in the nappy though he has only had one accident and I think that was because he was too busy playing. Every other wee and poo has gone in the potty or the toilet. He has been out in the car, to baby & toddler group, to the garden centre, to the supermarket…he’s used public toilets (with the help of a training seat) and generally just been brilliant about the whole thing.

And not only has he not been wearing nappies during the day, for the last four nights his night nappy has been dry too. I actually think he’s been pretty much dry at night for quite a while but he always used to wake up and immediately do a big wee in his nappy. That wee is now being saved for the potty. So it looks like, after our initial struggles, he might end up being dry day and night at the same time!

I’m so proud of my biggest boy. He can still wind me up in an instant but then he is three after all, and he flashes me one of his lovely smiles and I can’t stay cross at him for long…

Toby and his lovely smile

Work starts on our new kitchen tomorrow and we’ll probably move out to my mum and dad’s house for a few days so it’s all going to be a bit hectic for a couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll still manage to get some pictures of my boys and I’ll see you next week for another Living Arrows.

Living Arrows

Siblings // Toby and Gabe in October

Another month gone since my last Siblings Project post and things are much the same for my two boys. A lot of the time they simply seem to exist in the same space. They are both such mummy’s boys and are really starting to compete for my attention now. I keep telling Toby that I’ve got enough love for both of them, and enough arms to hold them both, but when they both need me it isn’t always easy. I love this picture from a couple of weeks ago though, that shows just how I can be there for both of them. If you follow me on Instagram you might have already seen this photo but I wanted to include it here too. We were out for a walk up a local hill, I was carrying Gabe on my back but Toby wanted me to pick him up every time a dog came near us. I was pretty tired by the end of the walk but I’ll always carry them both when they need me too…

my brothers both need their mummy to carry them sometimes

but we are seeing more moments of a real sibling bond developing between them. Just yesterday I took them out to lunch by myself – it was only to the cafe in Sainsbury’s but I think it’s actually the first time I’ve taken them both out to eat by myself. I found a table right next to the food counter and left the boys there while I went to order the food. I had given them the little box of snacks I carry around in the changing bag, it only has breadsticks and rice cakes in it but I thought it might keep them happy for a few minutes. Toby is not known for his sharing, he’s much more likely to keep things for himself, but when I looked over he was taking things out of the box and giving them to Gabe, and even holding them up for him to take a bite of. Definitely a step in the right direction.

When we got home I decided to try and take a few pictures of them together as I hadn’t really taken any since last month’s post. Toby wasn’t really in a smiling mood though – all I got was silly faces. So for this month, these will have to do…





And then I think Gabe had had enough of Toby’s rather vigorous cuddles…


Maybe by next month Gabe will be walking and then Toby really will have his own little shadow.

The Me and Mine Project

Review: Milly & Flynn books

Toby loves books and we have loads but there are always room for some more on our shelves so we were very happy to receive some new ones from new pre-school retailer Milly & Flynn.

milly & flynn books

We were sent four books from their range; Bigger and Bigger Wheels; My Astronaut Adventure; Little Sliders Shapes and Flippety Flaps In the Garden.

I loved how all the books have something a bit different about them. Toby loved peeking through the holes in My Astronaut Adventure and sliding the tabs in the Shapes book.


The Flippety Flaps book is a perfect size for Gabe’s little hands and is robust enough to withstand his sometimes less than gentle play!


Both boys love the Bigger and Bigger Wheels book – Toby really enjoyed the story and looking at all the pictures. I think Gabe mostly just enjoyed the different sized pages but at that age anything that is easy for them to handle and turn the pages is great.


There are lots of different titles available from the same ranges as the ones we received, as well as lots of others. Milly & Flynn also sell a range of toys and games – I’ve got my eye on some of the jigsaws for Toby for Christmas!

**Disclosure: I was sent the featured products in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

We're going on an adventure

Living Arrows 41/52 (2016)

Honestly I feel like all I do in these posts is whinge about how tough things are but the last week really has been a hard one. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Gabe was getting his first molars – well in the last few weeks all four of his molars and one of his canines have cut and I think another canine might be on the way. The teething (and possibly still a reaction to his immunisations) has meant he has had very horrible nappies for a whole week, and all of that has led to some very sleepless nights. Hopefully now all the teeth have cut, and his poos are solid again we are over the worst of it. And perhaps he might even get a bit of a break for a while.

There has been a lot of crying over the last week but it’s not all been tears – Gabe is a trooper and has managed a few smiles in there too with his cheeky chops – and you’ll just have to excuse the biscuit crumbs!

Gabe managing a cheeky smile despite teething

Toby has been really good this week – we’ve not been able to do very much because of Gabe’s exploding bottom so he’s had to spend a lot of time in the house. I wrote last week about his potty training struggles but we are making some progress. He is still insisting on wearing nappies but, at home at least, most of his wees are ending up in the potty. Every one of those stickers you can see in this week’s photograph represent a wee that made it in there. And yesterday he even did a poo in the potty too! I really think I need to just let him do it in his own time and he’ll get there soon enough.

Toby's stickers on his potty - one for every wee

Apologies for the excessive poo mentions in this post – hopefully normal service will be resumed next week!

Living Arrows

Remembering Childhood // Belle du Brighton

Last week I was remembering my childhood in the first post in my new series. So now it’s kicking off properly with the first guest blogger. First up it’s Lauren from Belle du Brighton.


Which decade were you born in?

I was born in the 80s! (1984 to be exact!)

What is your earliest memory? How old were you?

I was about 3 and I distinctly remember telling my mum I could DEFINITELY feel a frozen pea under my mattress so was actually a princess.

What was your favourite toy at 5 years old? At 10?

At five it was probably toy trucks and cars, I loved them! At ten I was into more girly things like Sylvanian Families and dolls pushchairs.

Do you still have any toys from your childhood?

I have one hand puppet (a mouse!) And my mum has a Sylvanian Family caravan in storage somewhere!

Who was your favourite pop group/artist as a teenager?

I didn’t get into music until quite late on in my teens, and never really had a favourite, but I knew all the words the No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom album, then after that I got into Muse, Placebo and the like.

What was your favourite TV show(s)?

Oooh… so many. I was a CBBC kid rather than Citv. I remember a lot of Blue Peter,  the Wild House, and Grange Hill and Byker Grove too!

What was the first film you remember seeing at the cinema?

The Little Mermaid. I went with my friend and her mum and they still had cartoons before the main feature!

Do you have any dodgy haircut/ outfit memories that you’d rather forget?

So many dodgy outfits. I remember wearing pastel checked jeans from Tammy Girl with a red checked shirt. Urgh, what was I thinking!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A vet! Needless to say I’m not a vet.

If you could go back to being a child again what age would you choose and why?

Ooh probably 11 or 12 ish. Old enough to go to the park and to town on my own so I had the world of freedom… or it felt like it!


Big thanks to Lauren for remembering her childhood – I’d totally forgotten about Tammy Girl, I spent many a Saturday afternoon there as a teenager!

Do come back next week when another blogger will be Remembering Childhood.

The reluctant potty trainer

Toby is three years and almost three months old. Three months ago he would cry and complain if you even suggested he go near a potty. He knew what it was for – if you asked him where wees and poos go he would tell you they go in the toilet (thanks Bing Bunny!) but he still wouldn’t contemplate sitting on the potty or the toilet, even with his clothes on.

As we were moving house in July we weren’t about to start pushing things but did mention to him that perhaps he could start using the potty when we lived in our new house and he seemed fairly open idea. We went out and chose some big boy pants together and we got a chair type of potty (this one if you’re interested) – I realised that because he is so tall sitting on a standard potty was really uncomfortable for him.

He sat on the potty a couple of times but didn’t do anything then seemed to lose all interest so we just put it in the living room and mostly ignored it for a while. We asked occasionally if he would like to use it and about six weeks ago he said yes one night. So, we got into a bit of a routine; Toby would sit on the potty in front of the TV every morning and every evening before bed. But still we didn’t even get a drip. He obviously has good bladder control as he could sit on the potty for half an hour and do nothing but do a massive wee as soon as he got a nappy on.


We were quite happy carrying on like this and I was confident that Toby would get there in his own time. Near the beginning of September though nursery forced the issue a bit, and I’m still not entirely happy about it. When school started back nursery moved all the kids who will be starting school next year up into the pre-school room. All the kids except Toby. Nobody had mentioned anything about it up to that point but it turned out they didn’t want him to go into the pre-school room while he was still in nappies. However, I spoke to the manager and explained I didn’t want him being held back. I understood that there were no nappy changing facilities in the pre-school room but he’s only changed two or three times a day so it can’t be that much trouble for someone to take him to the other room to do it. I also thought that maybe seeing all the other children using the toilet might encourage Toby to do the same.

Anyway, nursery were actually fine and moved him up to the pre-school room the next week. But a week or two later when I went to pick the boys up they told me Toby had used the toilet and apparently didn’t want his nappy back on after, he wanted big boy pants. They suggested I put some in his bag the next day so if he asked again they could put him in them.

The next day, and the following week he wore his big boy pants at nursery but had lots of accidents. In fact I’m not convinced he did a wee on the toilet at all. We tried to keep up the pants at home but still had quite a few accidents and still no wee on the potty. It seemed to me that Toby was scared of doing a wee anywhere but in a nappy (or in his pants).

So last week we spent a whole day at home. Toby seemed to know when he needed a wee and would sit on the potty but still nothing came. He would start panicking when it felt like he was about to wee…but eventually he did one. A few drips at first and then a full proper wee! He did two more big wees on the potty that day, and didn’t have any accidents. But he did spend pretty much the whole day just sitting on the potty watching CBeebies! And he got a sticker every time he did a wee so that seemed to help too.

Both days at nursery last week he wore pants but still had a few accidents. He did manage a poo in the toilet though which he was very proud of. But by Thursday lunch time he was crying and begging me to put a nappy on him, and he’d woken up crying a couple of nights too, which I think must be related. So I put a nappy back on. On Saturday we tried pants again and although all his wees went in the potty he did two poos in his pants.

Since then he has only been wearing nappies and just doesn’t want to wear his pants. We have made progress though. He will now occasionally tell me he needs a wee (or sometimes just ‘I’m doing a wee!!’) or if I see him doing his ‘need a wee’ jiggle I will get him to sit on the potty and do it. So at home, most wees are going in the potty even though he is still wearing a nappy. We use cloth nappies and for that reason I don’t really want to go down the pull up route.

I had been trying to encourage Toby to wear his pants, and put him off nappies but I realised that if I don’t want to completely put him off I need to go back to listening to him and going with what he wants. And for the moment if he wants to wear nappies but still use the potty most of the time then I’m happy to go with that. I always said I would wait until he was ready and I think in the last couple of weeks I’ve been ignoring my own instincts. It’s come close to really causing an issue but hopefully by letting Toby go at his own pace he’ll get over whatever fear it is that he has and I’m sure it won’t be too long before he decides for himself that he is really ready for his big boy pants.

How old were your little ones when they potty trained? I would love to hear if any of you have had similar experiences to us.

Remembering Childhood // Toby Goes Bananas

Over the coming weeks I’m going to be sharing some childhood memories from other bloggers. I don’t know you but I love reminiscing about my childhood, talking about the toys I used to play with and looking at old photos.

Before I start sharing the responses I’ve been collecting from other bloggers I thought it was only right that I share my memories with you too.

Which decade were you born in?

I was born in the late ’70s.

What is your earliest memory? How old were you?

This is difficult because I think a lot of my early memories actually come from having seen photographs. (On a side note, I wonder if this will be different for our kids because there are so many photographs of almost every moment of their lives?) However, we went on holiday to Sweden when I was two and I definitely have memories of that holiday that don’t come from photos. I remember the campsite we were staying on had a brick wall at the bottom with a wooden door that went to beach. And I remember dropping my apple in the sand and my dad telling me to rinse it in the sea – I thought salty apple was very tasty and kept dipping my apple before taking a bite!

I actually remember the day before this picture was taken too. My mum had commented she should have had my fringe cut for the play group photographs the next day so I took myself off to her bedroom and had a go myself with the nail scissors and I remember doing it and thinking she would be so pleased!


What was your favourite toy at 5 years old? At 10?

At 5 I had a soft toy panda that I got from London Zoo – he was wearing a little red bow tie and so had the imaginative name ‘Little Bow Tie’. I think I was just starting to get into Care Bears then and they were a big favourite for a long time. I collected all the pose-able figures, even the Care Bear Cousins. At 10 I loved playing outside on my bike or my roller boots. I think it was probably a prime age for Lego too – my brother and I had a massive bucket full of Lego that we played with all the time.

Do you still have any toys from your childhood?

I still have all my Care Bears and have just got them back out of the loft for Toby to play with. I’ve got a little knitted teddy (Little Ted) that was given to my mum for me before I was born, and I think there are still quite a few other soft toys in my parents’ loft too.


Who was your favourite pop group/artist as a teenager?

In my early teenage years I loved cheesy pop – Kylie and Jason, New Kids on the Block, Bad Boys Inc, and a bit later Take That (Mark was my favourite – still is!). I remember going to the Smash Hits Poll Awards Tour when I was 14 or 15 and saw Ant & Dec and loads of other pop acts from the time – it wasn’t cool but I loved it!

What was your favourite TV show(s)?

We were only ever allowed to watch the BBC (I think so we didn’t pester my parents for things we’d seen on adverts!) – when I was younger I loved Play School, Blue Peter, and cartoons like Mr Benn and King Rolo. As a teenager it was all about Byker Grove and Grange Hill. Oh and Neighbours!

What was the first film you remember seeing at the cinema?

I went to see Transformers: The Movie at the cinema with my brother when it came out in 1986 so I would have been 8 at the time and he was 10. He convinced me to go by telling me I’d like it because there was a girl Transformer in it! My dad took us and then I think sat outside in the car while we watched the film.

Do you have any dodgy haircut/ outfit memories that you’d rather forget?

Oh my, so many! When I was 10 I really wanted a perm but my mum wouldn’t let me so we compromised with a straight bob and permed fringe!


The full perm came a year later, and was a proper poodle perm. And look at those glasses!


And as a teenager in the early 1990s I made some horrendous fashion choices – super baggy joggers, shell suits, purple jeans, hi-tops with the tongues stuck out…I wore it all. I’m very glad there aren’t too many photos around from that era! There is this one though – taken on holiday in Holland when I kept being mistaken for a boy…


What did you want to be when you grew up?

Honestly? I really didn’t know. I did a lot of dancing all through my childhood and for a while I had dreams of being a professional dancer but I was never the right shape. And I had a vague idea that I might like to be a teacher – which is what I eventually trained to do, but not until I was 32.

If you could go back to being a child again what age would you choose and why?

I think I would go back to being 9 or 10. I loved primary school, I was in Brownies, I went to lots of dance classes, it was before I started worrying about what I looked like, or what other people thought of me and basically I just had a lot of fun.

So that’s it from me for this week – come back next week when another blogger will be remembering their childhood.

Living Arrows 40/52 (2016)

We are sometimes a bit rubbish about getting out and actually doing things at the weekend – there are always jobs to be done, I worry about disrupting Gabe’s nap routine, and sometimes we are just a bit rubbish and it’s the middle of the afternoon before we know it and we haven’t done anything.

Yesterday though, the sun was shining so we made an effort to get out. We went to Beacon Fell, which is a smallish hill about half an hour from where we live. You can park quite near the top so it’s not too much of a walk for little three year old legs.

Barry took loads of photos so I might do a full post about it another time but for now I just want to share these two for this week’s Living Arrows post.


It was a lovely sunny day but not that warm in the shade and I knew from experience it could be windy on the top. I’m glad Toby’s rainbow snuggle fleece still fits him though – it looks like it might see us through another winter!

For the second week in a row I am also in Gabe’s picture. I’ve only carried him on my back a few times in our Lillebaby but he seemed very happy yesterday. It’s really comfortable to carry him this way too. We did need a bit of a rest when we got to the top though…


Living Arrows