Restaurant Review: Samphire in Whitstable

I mentioned in my January Life Update blog post that I’d taken my eldest, Ben, to a restaurant in Whitstable recently, so I thought it might be nice to do a review in case you’re ever in the area. Not sponsored, I just think it’s a lovely place to eat. The restaurant is called Samphire, and it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in Kent.

 

It’s a small Bistro with a big emphasis on using fresh, local produce. You can see from the evening menu in particular that dishes change according to what’s in season and they source ingredients from local farms, allotments and producers in Kent and the whole of the UK.

 

The first time I went, I was staying in a local Air BnB. I was on a date weekend and we went to Samphire on the recommendation of our host. If I’m honest, we were hungover, so we both went straight for the full English, but it was nothing like a stereotypical greasy spoon fry-up. Bubble & squeak, incredibly tasty sausages, black pudding (not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it) and sourdough toast. All washed down with a big coffee. Perfect. But do check out the brunch menu because there are delights such as Shakshuka, Salt Beef Hash with duck egg, and Kedgeree to try out. I need to work my way through the entire menu.

 

samphire whitstable

samphire whitstable

 

When Ben and I went for lunch, I’d reserved a table beforehand, and arrived to see my name chalked onto the table, which was a nice touch. The staff are lovely and friendly, and even though it’s a small bistro, it doesn’t feel cramped. It’s nicely decorated, with pieces of art on the wall … I spotted one of Peter Cushing, who was a local back in the day.

 

samphire whitstable

samphire whitstable

samphire whitstable

samphire whitstable

 

The evening menu is a lot broader than the lunch menu but my eyes were immediately drawn to lamb meatballs on flatbread, and Ben went for fish pie. Now I rarely eat fish pie, not usually my jam (I’ve got a weird thing about mashed potato), but I can honestly say it was the most delicious fish pie I’ve ever eaten. Totally changed my mind. Gorgeous smoked fish inside with creamy, crunchy mash on top. It didn’t touch the sides.

samphire whitstable

samphire whitstable

samphire whitstable

samphire whitstable

 

As for my lamb meatballs, the sauce was a preserved lemon tzatziki with pine nuts sprinkled on top, served with a mixture of salad leaves. I don’t think my description has done it justice but it was delicious.

 

We debated having dessert – they bring out a chalkboard for you too choose from – but we decided not to. Which is a shame because we were eyeing up the table next to us as one had chosen a coconut rice pudding and the other some sort of pie that we couldn’t make out without coming across as proper stalkers. Suffice to say, it looked gorgeous.

 

Oh, and they also offer locally caught fish of the day and again, we had a bit of food envy looking at our neighbours’ pan-fried plaice!

 

There’s so much else to say about this little gem of a restaurant, but proof of the pudding is in the eating. Just go, you won’t be disappointed. And oh my god I’m so hungry now!

 

kate sutton

 

How I Saved £100 In One Month

I have this daily ritual. Every morning, one of the first things I do when I wake up is pick up my phone, look at my social media (I can’t be the only one that does that?), but then, and this is every … single … morning, I go onto my banking app and pray that money has miraculously appeared in my bank account overnight. As the balance loads, I say out loud, “Make it £10,000, make it £10,000,” knowing that, of course, that’s not going to happen and, realistically, I’m just praying I’m not overdrawn.

 

Christmas took its toll on my bank account, and this way of living is exhausting. I live hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, like most families (even if they’re two wage families), just about getting by.

 

January is a notoriously difficult month to survive until payday, and it’s also my son’s birthday month, so it’s a bit … spendy. Scottish Friendly recently got in touch and challenged me to save money this month, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect and I was really excited to see how well I’d fare. OK, maybe not excited, but I was interested to see if I could challenge myself to spend less this month. Granted, I’m not a massive spender, you can’t spend what you don’t have, but there were some small changes I could make that I hoped would make a big difference overall.

 

My plan was to save £100 during the month of January.

 

The first thing that had to go were café coffees.

 

 

Nooooo! I love working from cafes during the week, the white noise strangely helps me concentrate and just being around actual humans is lovely for a billy-no-mates like me, but you can’t sit in a café and nurse one coffee for 8 hours. I should know, I’ve tried. I normally buy one coffee at £2.30, and make that last an hour and a half – I then either buy a fresh one or go home. Based on three coffees a week (minimum):

 

£2.30 x 3 = £6.90 per week

£6.90 x 4 = £27.60 per month

 

Whoa. I didn’t realise I was spending that much! So that’s a quick saving of £30 or so. £70 to go.

 

I’m not a big drinker, so couldn’t cut down on alcohol. I’ve also cut down already on eating junk food – we have one takeaway a week (I have a healthier version of whatever Dexter wants) and it gives me something to look forward to, so that stayed. Life is too short not to have a little bit of something you fancy, am I right?

 

Which brings me onto clothes. Ah yes. Buying new clothes is my Kryptonite, as followers of my Facebook page will know as I keep posting photos of myself wearing new dresses I don’t need! I just can’t seem to help myself, especially as my body keeps changing … up and down like a yo-yo at the moment. (But hopefully more down than up.) So this was one way I could definitely save money. I could just not buy anything – but where’s the fun in that!? And I never buy high-end clothes anyway, because they just don’t cater for someone of my … stature. So I turned to eBay.

 

The trouble with eBay is that most people are lurkers. They bid at the last second (I used to do it when I had more time), and it IS fun doing it that way, but I just don’t have the time these day, or the inclination to be honest, to hang around waiting to put my bid in at the last minute. So inadvertently, the lurkers were actually helping me out by getting in that sneaky bid at the last minute. But I did manage to buy one mint green wrap top this month, for the princely sum of £2.80 (with postage, coming to around £7.) The wrap tops I liked online were circa £25, so I saved £18.

 

I mean I hate the top and will be re-selling it on eBay at some point, but y’know, you win some, you lose some.

 

The penultimate way I saved money this month is by dyeing my own hair. I usually buy dye at Superdrug, and take it to my hairdresser who puts the dye on for me. He only charges £10, but it’s still £10 I managed to save. And to be honest, it was much quicker doing it myself … if somewhat messier. If you’ve ever dyed your hair red, you know what your bathroom looks like afterwards. Personally, I think I look great!

 

 

Current saving – £58.

 

And finally, in the last year, I’ve begun having my nails professionally painted with gels every three weeks. That’s toenails and fingernails, at a cost of around £40. I’ve loved it! Honestly, knowing my nails will always look pretty and that they’ll never chip has been a revelation and, as costly as it is, it was just one part of self-care I was loathe to stop. But I was also aware my nails could do with a breather and when a few nails started to peel off at the end of their life-cycle, I just didn’t go back this month. My toenails look awful … the gel only remains on my big and little toes, and my fingernails have either been bare or look like the photo below. I feel constantly unkempt, and it’s probably the one thing I’ve found hardest about this Payday challenge. But I did save £40. (They do look grim though.)

 

 

In total, during January, I saved £98 … but we’ll call it a round £100.

 

I’m really proud of myself because as much as what I’ve cut back on aren’t essentials, they did make me happy, but I CAN do without them. Whether I will or not come next month, is another matter, but the Scottish Friendly challenge has shown me that with a little thought and effort, I can make some significant savings.

 

kate sutton

 

*  This post is in collaboration with Scottish Friendly

A Life Update

Hi everyone, how are you? Wanted to touch base and just say hello really.  So hello.

 

My head has been in such a (sort of organised) jumble lately. I lost one of my clients, it just came to a natural end, so I’ve been frantically trying to secure more work to cover that shortfall. Luckily, a good friend came to the rescue with a project for February that has saved my bacon. But I’ve been trying to focus on that, submitting my own tax return because I can’t afford my accountant, having to grit my teeth and borrow money to pay it and well … January has just felt like one long battle if I’m honest. Has it for you?

 

On the upside, it’s February tomorrow! And we all made it through the longest month in history, but looking at this quick photo I took, I can see what an effect the stress has had on me. I’m so tired. I haven’t slept well all month and it’s been a combination of factors. Night sweats that I think I’ve cured, at least for now, by taking sage tablets every day … can highly recommend them if you’re menopausal. I don’t know if I am as I’m still waiting to speak to my consultant, but at least I’m not a hot sweaty mess at 4am anymore. I’ve had parent’s evening to contend with … he’s easily distracted apparently, don’t know where he gets that from, oooh I just found a pound. I’ve gone through Dexter’s GCSE options with him, driven to Manchester and back and had a sickness bug.

 

 

I’ve applied for jobs I’m technically over-qualified for, and not even been offered an interview. I’ve spent hours chasing money I’m owed for work I completed on time. I injured myself at the gym so God knows if I’ve put weight on, but it’s been the least of my worries. I’ve gone back to listening to my Thinking Slimmer slimpods and that’s kept my eating under control, for the most part. Oh God and I can’t even begin to tell you about the amount of f**kboys I’ve had to deal with that have come crawling out of the woodwork. BAMO (Block And Move On) has been employed on more than five occasions this month.

Mum has been on my mind too. I mean she’s always on my mind in one way or another but I’ve heard a lot of sad stories recently about peoples’ mums dying and it breaks my heart because I know exactly what they’re going to have to go through. I don’t visit Mum’s grave often, never feel the need if I’m honest, but yesterday I did … I was drawn there. And as I looked for her plaque in the ground, I couldn’t see it at first as it was so covered in muddy, wet leaves. So I think she just got me up there to clean it up. 😀   But my grief for her comes in waves and I don’t know if it’s because I feel particularly overwhelmed right now, but I’m feeling her absence.

 

 

I’m sorry for the moan, it seems as if the entire month has been a shower of shit. It hasn’t. I had three (whole) dates with a guy I really liked and I know that doesn’t seem a lot, but it is for me. I opened up a lot to him and showed some vulnerability, all part of my healing process I think. I haven’t heard from him in a while and I think it’s come to a natural end. Maybe my openness put him off, or maybe he just changed his mind, but either way, I do wish men would just be honest about these things. If he doesn’t want to see me, cool … just tell me.

 

And my eldest stayed for his birthday week and it was lovely! I took him for lunch in Whitstable – Samphire restaurant was beautiful if you ever get the chance to go, I might do a full review on the food we had actually, it was awesome – and I cried like a baby when he left because I don’t really know if Empty Nest Syndrome ever goes away, but it hits me harder at some times than others. But it was lovely having him at home, so I’m grateful for that. I hope he won’t mind me sneaking this cheeky photo of him in! 

 

 

I don’t think I’m destined for an easy life. #Understatement. I always feel like I’m always being challenged by one thing or another, but I do try and find the positives in life if I can. I often go a bit Noel Edmonds and ‘put my hopes and wishes out to the universe’ in the hope that it delivers, and sometimes it does, but you can’t give up hope can you? The evenings are lighter, there are plenty more fish in the sea and even if I can’t rely on a fella, there’s always Netflix. That will never leave me! 

 

kate sutton

Why Losing 1lb Each Week Is A Good Thing

How’s everyone’s fitness journey going so far in 2018? I have a friend that’s running the London Marathon this year, who’s a big inspiration to me, but I’m still just plodding along at the gym, 3-4 times a week. My weight loss has dramatically slowed down, at least so far, but I want to talk about why only losing 1lb a week is a good thing.

 

I’m pleased that I’ve found the inspiration to go so often, especially as I managed to go during Christmas and New Year, but it’s a constant effort to motivate myself … it doesn’t come naturally to me I don’t think. I talked the other day about my top tips to motivate myself to get to the gym. Each day, I psyche myself up and almost visualize myself at the gym, and that seems to help. I try not to give myself the opportunity to talk myself out of going – leggings on, girls strapped down, water bottle filled up and off.

 

This year, I’m trying to add a few new ways of working out to my (somewhat unregimented) ‘routine.’ My thinking is that a) it’ll hopefully keep it interesting and b) it’ll keep my body guessing what’s coming next and I’ll hopefully lose weight.

 

Except … I weighed in last week for the first time, and I ‘only’ lost 1lb. And the same thing happened this week. I wasn’t going to tell you because I didn’t want to be ‘that’ person that moans about losing a small amount of weight, but I’ve had time to digest it, and I have, with the help of some of my online friends, come to the conclusion that actually, a 1lb weight loss is fantastic!

 

weight loss

 

Here’s why. I’ve consistently put weight on week on week during the latter part of 2017. I know because I can see and feel it. It’s so easily done, you take your eye off the ball and BAM, you’re a stone heavier. So the fact that I haven’t put weight on is a plus, and the fact that I’ve actually lost weight is an even bigger plus. A friend pointed out that if I consistently lose 1lb each week, by July, I’d have lost a stone and a half. By my birthday, two and a half stone. The key is consistency. (Sounds so easy doesn’t it?)

 

I’ve added a small amount of rowing to my gym routine. I hate it. My boobs and stomach get in the way and I’m just not very good at it and consequently, have only managed five minutes each time I’ve tried it. I’ve increased the amount of time I walk on an incline on the treadmill from 15 minutes to 45, and boy does my body know it! Knees and hips are giving me proper jip, but not to the point where I’m in pain, so I plough on, knowing that my firming butt is grateful. And I am trying to incorporate a small amount of running into that 45 minute walk … I’m up to four lots of 90 second runs. Doesn’t sound a lot, but when you’re not a natural runner, I think it’s a big achievement. Except my hip is aching so badly today that I haven’t been able to get to the gym at all. Someone recommended cod liver oil … I remember my Nan (God rest her soul) taking that! Is that what my life has come to?!

 

Yes, I think it probably has because I can’t deny that I’m getting older. In body, if not spirit, and that’s why it’s even more important I continue to get fitter and lose weight – I might think I’m 18 (on a very good day), but my body is telling me I’m clearly not. Kinda makes the whole losing weight/getting healthy ‘thing’ a bit more urgent.

 

And I think that’s the point of this post. What I do at the gym IS a big achievement. For me. There’s absolutely no point comparing myself to my friend who’s going to run a marathon, or my friend in Australia who is an ultra runner (her quick jog is 100km), because I’ll never be able to do either of those things, but the fact I’m running at all is brilliant. My body doesn’t particularly like it at the moment, but I’m hoping it’ll get used to it. And how wonderful is it that even at 47 I can even do all of these things?

 

I had a chat with my Personal Trainer this week as we haven’t had any sessions together lately, and I started to apologise for my absence during November … wanging on about gynaecological stuff that no 22-year-old guy wants to hear! And (thankfully for him), I stopped myself because I don’t owe him an apology. Or anyone for that matter. I, you, we all do what we can on a daily basis, and it’s those small things each day that add up to make a difference. Some days I’ll crack out a hardcore session at the gym, other days, I’ll just be too damned tired and decide to take my son out for lunch instead.

 

So, whatever you’re doing right now, or not, remember … don’t beat yourself up. We’re all just doing our best and if you lose 1lb each week, that’s pretty amazing. Or even if you stay the same, remember our bodies fluctuate a lot and as long as you’re moving to the best of your (and no-one else’s) ability, everything will be alright in the end.

 

kate sutton

Targeted Fat Reduction with Silk’n Lipo

After losing four stones last year, and putting one stone back on recently, my weight loss journey is continuing in 2018, and I’ve had a fairly good start to the year. I will talk about what I’ve been doing in another post, but today I wanted to introduce you to a new product called Silk’n Lipo, that I think you will find interesting.

Silk’n Lipo is a targeted fat reduction system that uses clinically proven Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) and electric muscle stimulation (EMS) to reduce/lose fat cells. You’ll see from the pictures that you attach the product to whichever part of your body you want to target, switch it on and go about your daily business whilst it does its work. It’s cordless, so there’s nothing getting in your way.

SILK'N LIPO

The system works by applying electrical pulses through electrodes on the skin, ensuring muscle activity in the treated area. LLLT is a safe and non-invasive way to lose body fat. The device is designed for home use, it’s painless, without any side effects, and it’s a much better way to encourage fat loss than, say, liposuction. If you want to know how to lose belly fat, then I would give this system some serious consideration.

SILK'N LIPO

The reason I’m personally interested in it is because even though I go to the gym a lot, there are areas of my body that I just can’t seem to tighten up, no matter how hard I work out, and it would be interesting to see if a system like this would help, especially on my stomach, inner thighs and upper arms. These are definitely my ‘problem’ areas that I just can’t seem to target at the gym. And you maybe someone that, for whatever reason, is unable to exercise, so with the ‘Silk’n Lipo you have an alternative way to lose inches.

SILK'N LIPO

To aid the whole process, it is recommended that you drink enough water before and after the treatment – I’m a huge advocate of drinking water to flush out toxins, to keep me feeling fuller for longer and to cleanse my skin from the inside, so would encourage you to up your water intake.

Silk’n Lipo is priced at £454.92, so it is a big investment, but it costs a lot less than cosmetic surgery, without any of the possible complications. But if you’re looking for an alternative way to lose inches, why not check out Silk’n Lipo now.

 

* This is a sponsored post.

Sexy Black Swimsuits For The Fuller Figure

I don’t have a summer holiday booked. Yet. It’s on my list of things to do … along with actually earning enough money to be able to afford said holiday. But even if Dexter and I just get to go away in the UK, as long as I get a break of some sort, I’ll be happy. Although of course, the Caribbean would be jolly nice.

 

One thing I often get asked about as a ‘plus size’ blogger, is where to find a good swimsuit or bikini if you’re more voluptuous/curvy/well endowed/fuller figured like me, and so I thought I’d choose a couple of bikinis and swimsuits I’ve recently found from Simply Beach, that I thought you might like. I’ve chosen what I think are sexy, black swimsuits/bikinis because as I get older, I literally care less and less what people think of me, so I just wear what I like. I’ve talked about wearing bikinis as a plus size woman before and I’m passionate about encouraging women of all sizes to wear one (if they want to of course), so let’s see what I’ve found … just click on the headings for full details:

 

GLAMAZON UNDERWIRED DOUBLE STRAP TOP – BLACK

 

swimwear for fuller figure

 

This bikini really caught my eye because of the fishnet detailing, but the fact that it’s also underwired means there’s plenty of support there if you do have big boobs. I thought the price, at £26, was very reasonable, and it goes up to a 38G! It’s original, you certainly wouldn’t find anyone wearing this on the beach, and it’s also just a little bit sexy. I wouldn’t wear the matching bikini bottoms because my tummy needs a little support, so I’d just pair it with a pair of plain, black, higher-waisted bottoms.

 

 

sexy black swimsuit for fuller figure

 

Granted, a little out of my comfort zone right now but as I lose more weight and get stronger, I am getting more and more confident and think I could totally rock this swimsuit. Doubtful I’d be doing any exercise in it … but for lounging around the pool, perfect. You could lower the zip, depending on your mood, and you’d certainly get noticed! A reasonable £34, and it goes up to a size 18.

 

 

sexy black swimsuit for fuller figure

 

And finally, this black, ruched swimsuit is a little more traditional and supportive, but I think it’s going to be super flattering to wear. This stylish swimsuit has a double wrap front that will flatter your figure and moulded cups for bust support and a smooth shape. Priced at £38, this goes up to a size 22.

 

 

swimsuits fuller figure

 

I absolutely love the crossover detailing of this swimsuit, although you’ll be risking an unusual sun-tan mark. But I think it would be really flattering on a fuller bust. Priced at £34, going up to a size 18.

 

 

swimsuit fuller figure

 

The moulded cups of this bikini top looks like it would give a bigger bust sufficient support, because as much as I’m not averse to a slightly skimpier bikini on occasion, for the most part, I don’t really want to set my boobs free when I’m swimming in a pool. £22.50, up to 38G.

 

I hate to think there are clothes that people think I shouldn’t be wearing, just because I’m a bigger woman, and so I hope these swimsuits and bikinis have given you a little food for thought for when you go on holiday. Why not be a little braver this year and slip on something sexier than usual? I know I will. 

 

kate sutton

*  This post is in collaboration with Simply Beach

How I Motivate Myself To Exercise – My 6 Top Tips

I find it hard to get motivated to exercise at the best of times, and you may too. I know that once I’m at the gym (or doing whatever exercise I’m planning to do), I enjoy it. So why do I have to go through that whole rigmarole of huffing and puffing, moaning and groaning, when I know I’m going to do it eventually? Perhaps that’s a part of the whole process. But also, perhaps it’s because exercise is hard work! It’s not easy to always find the time when there’s a myriad of other things that need doing, but looking after ourselves should always be our number one priority. If we don’t look after ourselves, we can’t look after anyone else. But moaning is annoying, so I’m going to do something about it this year.

 

I’ve thought about how to make my life easier when it comes to exercise, and hopefully it’ll give you guys a little food for thought if you find yourself struggling, especially on these cold, January mornings.

 

1.  Lay your gym kit out the night before/pack in gym bag

 

I work from home so have the luxury (and it is a luxury) of exercising pretty much whenever I like. Not that I do … but I can. I have a routine of working from 7.30am to 11am and then try and muster up some energy to exercise, instead of watching Jeremy Kyle on catch-up. With that in mind, I’ve started to lay my gym kit out on the banister upstairs the night before, so that once I’ve cooked Dexter breakfast and seen him off to school, and just before I settle down to work properly, I can put my gym clothes on. Same goes for you if you work in an office – pack your gym bag the night before, even if you’re not going to go until after dinner. It just saves the faff of searching for clean kit and then thinking, “Sod it, I’m watching Eastenders instead.”  And don’t forget to fill your water bottle up.

 

2.  Jazz up your gym kit

 

Talking of gym kit, treat yourself to some new gym clothes. I wore an absolutely hideous mish-mash of the only clean gym clothes I had available today, and OK, it didn’t stop me working out, but I didn’t feel particularly confident in them. And yet when I wore my new M&S Sculpt Colour Block leggings last week, I felt great! They held me in (my stomach is my particular problem area), gave me a nice shape and I swear I worked out harder because I looked nice. You’re worth it, both those new trainers!

 

3.  Regularly update your music playlist

 

If you don’t have a music playlist for exercising, get one. I don’t think I could work out without music, but I do get bored listening to the same thing over and over again. So I spent some time this weekend searching for new music to listen to. It’s pretty eclectic, half of which I’m sure my kids would be mortified about if they knew I was listening to (grime/hip hop stuff mainly) but hey, I’m young at heart and if it gets me moving, it’s all good! I’ve got some dance music from my hay day (I vaguely remember having one in the late 90s!), some Rihanna, Faithless, Chemical Brothers … all sorts.

 

4.  Take progress photos

 

I took this photo on Saturday night down the pub, (some of you might have seen it on my Instagram.) It was just a snapshot, but when I looked at it the next day, I was really surprised to see how shapely my legs were. Where I’d been avoiding mirrors for months because I’d put weight on, it was a really nice surprise to see that the hard work I was putting in at the gym again was clearly paying off. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll remember that I used to do a before and after photo every week and as much as I probably won’t be reporting on my weight loss/fitness journey in the same way anymore, progress photos, even if they’re for your own use, are a great way to see how far you’ve come … and give you inspiration to carry on.

 

 

5.  Variety is the spice of life

 

Variety is so important when it comes to keeping fit (well, most things really), because you want to (as much as you can) look forward to your exercise of choice, and then you’re much more likely to keep it up then. That’s the plan anyway. Case in point. I’ve been working out at the gym again since just before Christmas, and I enjoy it, but I just had an urge to dance yesterday. I was dancing in the car, in the lounge and thought I have no idea where this burst of energy has come from (perhaps because we’ve now run out of Quality Street) but let’s go with it … so went to Zumba with my best friend. I had to stop going six months ago due to Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot, but it held up OK. My point is, keep it interesting – I’m looking forward to going back to Zumba next week, I thoroughly loved co-leading the first Breeze Network ride of the year on Saturday and the variety of exercise will keep you focused.

 

ZUMBA FACE OF PAIN

zumba

breeze network

 

6.  Get support

 

And I don’t just mean in the boob department, although I should say I’m still putting my Panache sports bra through its paces and still loving it (full review HERE), but I mean support from like-minded people. It doesn’t have to be from your loved ones, although of course, that’s ideal, but if, like me, you don’t have a mum or partner say, then look to social media if you can. I’m a member of a small Facebook group of friends who are in a similar position to me – most in our 40s, overweight, fabulous women that just want to find what works for us. We’re all following different paths/eating plans/exercise regimes, but can support each other and advise. If there isn’t already a group like that amongst your friends, create one! Takes 2 minutes to create it (I can help if you need it) and it’s invaluable. There are a whole host of Instagram accounts you could follow too but I’d advise steering clear of the ones you can’t relate to – for me, that’s 20-something, slim, super-fit women. Nothing against them (other than jealousy) but I have nothing in common with them. And if I can’t relate to them, what’s the point in following them? I don’t .. I can’t aspire to be like them, so instead, I follow regular women who weightlift, women who aren’t Photoshopped, who aren’t afraid to show their cellulite and stretch marks. I don’t want to use the phrase ‘real women’, because we’re all real, but women I have things in common with.

 

So they’re my top tips for success. And success means something different to all of us … please don’t compare yourself to anyway you know or see online. Success to me is just getting out of bed some days, and on other days (like yesterday), it’s smashing out a session at the gym AND going to Zumba. But most importantly, success for me is feeling good in my skin. Feeling strong, healthy, positive and that’s all I want for you too.

 

kate sutton

My 2018 Personal Goals … And A Weight Loss Rant

I read a thread on Mumsnet last night (yes, I should know better) about a lady looking for plus size blogs to read, except, as per, it got a bit out of hand and became a bit fat-shamey. But it prompted me to write down a few thoughts about how I view the whole ‘New Year New Me’ weight loss ‘thing’ … and weight loss in general at the moment.

 

Heads up, it’s a rambly post that has turned into an essay.

 

When it comes to body positivity, and the BP ‘movement’, I’m not torn at all. I believe that women should be able to do whatever the hell they want, and that especially includes wearing what they want … no matter what their size. Who am I to say otherwise? And whenever I read anything about body positivity online, you can bet that there are hordes of people who are going to comment with their fake troll concern about an obese person’s health, as if they’re all doctors with access to overweight peoples’ medical records.

 

Get a life people, and concentrate on your own life.

 

But here’s the thing. I’ve put weight on recently and I feel rubbish for it. My joints are creaking again, I’m lacking a little in energy, my mood has dipped and I’m avoiding mirrors – God knows what’s going on internally. I’m 47, my Nan had a stroke in her 50s and my Mum died aged 60, so I have to be smart about this.

 

So, for me, it’s the right decision to lose weight. For me, for no-one else. I don’t feel I have to conform to fit society’s standards, even though I’m bombarded from every angle (ooer), but if people are happy to be fat, or thin, or anything in between, it’s their business and nobody else’s, and more power to them.

 

That being said, I’ve found losing weight bloody difficult … I’m a prime example of that, seeing as I’ve moaned about it in blog posts nearly every week for the last two years, so the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ nonsense really gets on my wick. It’s just a way for the diet industry to tap into our insecurities and make money. I know, I’ve bought into it for years! Trust me, if you feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing, and hit the gym hard in January, or suddenly go vegan, you won’t last the month, let alone the year.

 

I don’t want to feel like I’m ‘selling out’ by losing weight. I can still be an advocate of body positivity and bigger women and want to weigh less, I just think we should all mind our own business I guess and stop judging each other. I’ve spoken before about the main reasons I got to the size I did and everyone else will have their own story too, so I’m hoping that everyone can, perhaps, just be a bit kinder to each other this year.

 

I’ve gone from a size 16 in the summer, back up to a size 18, so I’m going to work on that … but I’m going to still try my best to enjoy every day whilst I’m a size 18. Because being fat isn’t the end of the world! I’m going to enjoy good food (just slightly healthier food than I’ve been eating over Christmas!), wear nice clothes, do fun things, date ridiculous men (until a nice one comes along, because this is the year it’s going to happen) … and live a normal life. I think a lot of people think that you can’t have a fulfilling life if you’re overweight, and that’s just not true. It’s just extra flesh. A lot of people on the internet with nothing better to do think that being fat is the worst thing you can be. Trust me, I lived with a man that proved there are far worse things you can be than fat, so I do hope society gets its head out of its arse and gets a little perspective.

 

If you’re overweight, and you want to do something about it, or if you’re overweight and you don’t, either is OK, just don’t feel pressured by anyone, especially the diet industry, to panic in January and go crazy hard at the gym and cut out all foods beginning with the letter A (I’m surprised that isn’t a fad diet already tbh.)

 

So, with that in mind, here are a couple of my 2018 personal goals. I don’t do resolutions per se, but these are just a couple of things I’ve been thinking about this week:

 

Ditch the diet talk

 

I’m going to find, make and share recipes of food that I like. I suspect most of it will be deemed healthy(ish), seeing as I want to lose weight (see above) but sometimes, only a chocolate brownie will do, and you know what? That’s absolutely OK too. I may share a Slimming World recipe, but that will only be because I like most of their recipes, they taste nice, and are easy to cook … I won’t be joining Slimming World again (you can read why I stopped following Slimming World here), but if it works for you, then great. Certainly no judgement from me whatsoever. I guess I just want to find a way to live that is sustainable, so that I never have to think about the word ‘diet’ ever again. And as always, that is a work in progress, but I do feel better already in myself for giving more thought to what I’m eating and getting to the gym 3-4 times a week. I’m one chin down, and my jeans don’t feel like they’re giving me a hernia.

 

weight loss

 

weight loss

 

Be kinder to myself

 

Some days, just surviving the day can be seen as a win. That’s definitely something I learnt last year. I haven’t told you how unbelievably awful mid-Nov to mid-Dec was (whilst I was on this horrible hormone injection) but suffice to say, I clung on to surviving each day by the tip of my fingernails, so much so I ended up in hospital. And I know a lot of other people that feel the same, so even though I haven’t written that book (yet), or cooked up a gastronomic affair for Dexter (not that he cares), I’m doing OK. I HAVE to remember that, each and every day.

 

I’m going to also try and drown out that inner negative monologue of mine … you know the one, “Christ, look at your stomach Kate,” is a particular ‘favourite’, with lots of positive mantras. Even if it is, “That was a great cheese sandwich you made for dinner,” or, “Your boobs look great in that dress.” You get where I’m coming from. Drown that bitch out.

 

I’m my greatest fan, but also my harshest critic, and I need to find a balance where even if I feel like I haven’t accomplished a lot, lost enough weight, cleaned the house yet or a myriad of other things I’m ‘supposed’ to do, I’m still doing a good job. In the scheme of things, the kids are happy, we have a roof over our heads and we have a lot more than a lot of other people. Context isn’t it?

 

Get stronger

 

I thoroughly enjoy exercising. When I’m doing it that is, it’s finding the motivation beforehand that’s sometimes the problem! I’m back cycling on Saturday, co-leading another Breeze Network bike ride for local ladies and I’m excited to be back on my bike. The last quarter of 2017 was so rubbish that I just couldn’t find any enthusiasm for cycling, so it’s great that it’s back.

 

I love weight training, and want to continue building muscle. OK, so you can’t actually see the muscle because it’s covered in fat, but still, I know it’s there, slowly but surely growing, and the important thing is that weight training just makes me feel good.

 

And that’s where I’m going to leave this essay (sorry!) … vowing to only do things that make me feel good. Ditching the guilt. Embracing who I am, whether I’m a size 18 or a size 12.

 

And without being too depressing, I just want to end by saying this – it might explain why I feel the way I do.

 

As I said earlier, my Mum died aged 60, just as she was about to retire, as she was about to finally stop working and get to relax for once and properly enjoy life. I don’t know how she’d have spent her time, gardening, cooking, knitting and reading maybe?  But I don’t want to find myself in that position. I want to make sure that while I’m here I’m going to do my best to enjoy life. Whether I’m single or dating, fat or thin, rich (haha) or poor (more likely) … I want to try and find enjoyment in every day. Even if it’s just because I got through the day in one piece. 

 

Because some days, that’s the biggest achievement of them all.

 

kate sutton

BenQ e-Reading LED Desk Lamp – Review

As you know, I work from home and it has it’s good and bad points. This week is half term and it’s great that I’m able to be around for Dexter. And when I say around, I mean on standby for chef duties. And therein lies the rub, sometimes it’s quite hard to focus when you work from home because there’s always housework that needs to be done, and teenagers to be fed.

 

One way I’ve managed to (try and) define boundaries is by having an office at home. So that when I’m there, I’m in work mode and Dexter knows not to distract me. Two things to say about that. Firstly, my office is actually just a desk in my dining room and secondly, have you tried telling your kids not to bother you? Doesn’t really work.

 

Anyway, the principle is there. I have an ‘office space’ if I need it. One thing I’ve struggled with though is the lighting. I live in a rented house and the light fittings are so old fashioned that I’ve never been able to get the lighting just right by the desk area. I had a lamp, but it wasn’t bright enough and only focused on one part of the desk at a time, and it’s been tough in winter when it’s dark by 4pm. So when BenQ got in touch and asked if I’d like to test out their BenQ e-Reading LED Desk Lamp, I was like yes. YES PLEASE.

 

The first thing to say about the lamp is that it comes in a huge box but once assembled, is actually very slim, ergonomic and attractive. It comes in a few pieces but I put the lamp together in less than five minutes – it’s super simple, just screw the arm of the lamp into the base, assemble the plug (it comes with different attachments for different parts of the world) and that’s literally it. You only need one screwdriver, for one screw, no other equipment needed.

 

benq lamp

benq lamp

benq lamp

benq lamp

benq lamp

benq lamp

benq lamp

benq lamp

LAMP TURNED OFF BELOW

benq lamp

LAMP TURNED ON BELOW

benq lamp

CHECK OUT THAT SUBTLE GOLD SPARKLE!

benq lamp

benq lamp

 

Secondly, it is bright, super bright and what makes this lamp so special is the curved head because it allows for a wider dispersement of light. Check out this short video to see what I mean. The light tones down the centre, and brightens up the sides which helps to eliminate any glare on your screen, providing 150% wider than average lighting offered by a standard desk lamp.

 

 

The BenQ e-Reading LED Lamp is the world’s first lamp that is specifically designed for digital screen time. You can enjoy different tones of light, cool or warm, just by turning the knob on top to switch easily between both. There is no on/off switch, you merely tap the chrome ring on the top to turn it on or off, the light is evenly distributed and the arm is easily angled for maximum illumination.

 

And finally, it is just really aesthetically beautiful. The lead is in a gold material, and the head of the curved lamp had a very subtle gold sparkle to it so when the light catches it, it really glistens. So unusual, and so pretty. (As far as lamps go!)

 

If this lamp is something that you think would work for you, BenQ are offering a 10% discount when using the code: BENQ10EF. Just go HERE to use the coupon code. (Expires 31st March 2018.)

 

I’ve used my lamp for a couple of weeks now and it’s totally transformed my office area. Dexter has his eye on it though, and I think he’s going to pull out the classic, “But I need it for my GCSEs” any time soon. It was nice while it lasted.

 

kate sutton

 

* This post is in collaboration with BenQ

A Reminder To Take Time Off Over Christmas – With Treated.com

I’m unofficially on countdown mode for Christmas now. In my head anyway because, as a freelancer, I won’t really be slowing down any time soon. Work is still coming in, and it still needs to be done, but I can’t complain. (Well, I can but no-one would listen haha!)

 

And on top of work, I’m thinking about what presents I need to buy (I haven’t even started Christmas shopping yet), what food to take to my brother’s house for Christmas dinner (I’m in charge of dessert – the most important part of any dinner), I need to save up to buy new school uniform for Dexter because he’s grown out of everything, I’m applying for extra jobs because I’m not earning enough and I’m generally just worrying about everything and everyone.

 

Phew! Can anyone else relate?

 

I’m lucky that I’m generally a very laid-back person but even I’m getting stressed this month, so I think it’s really important to remind myself, especially as I’m my own boss, and because I’m single, that it’s OK to give myself ‘permission’ to have a break from work now and again.

 

Here are a few reasons why it’s so important to take a break:

 

  • In the long run, it makes us better at our jobs.
  • It makes us more available in our relationships. Yes, I’m single, but being stressed is not a good look when you’re dating!
  • It makes us have more energy for our families. Dexter is a teenager, which means he doesn’t really require a lot from me physically (just food and money!) but taking a break means we can do things like go to the cinema together.
  • It gives us a new appreciation for what we do for work. Well, in theory!
  • I’ve mentioned my battle with anxiety recently so for me, it’s vital I take time to re-set mentally. I know that if I keep pushing myself hard, the easiest of tasks becomes difficult, ideas dry up and I’m no good to anyone, so it’s important to give my brain a rest.

 

I think most of us feel like we’re constantly ‘on the go’, so why do we find it so difficult to take breaks when they’re clearly so beneficial to us? Maybe we feel that we’re on this hamster wheel called life and if we stop, we’ll just fall off. But we won’t. I tell you what we do need though. More Bank Holidays! I hope to God we’re going to get one when Prince Harry marries.

 

treated.com

 

Treated.com have written a really interesting blog post all about this subject, so I thought I would find out which countries have the most holidays. Did you know that annually, the UK only has eight Bank Holidays but Colombia and India have 18! And over the Christmas period, Russia observes the highest number of public holidays with a total number of seven days, compared to our measly three! (I’d move to Russia if it wasn’t so cold.)

 

treated.com

 

So whether you work for yourself, an employer or you’re a stay at home parent, remember to take some much deserved time off this Christmas. I know I will.

kate sutton

 

*  This is a sponsored post.