53 Goodreads Challenge

In 2018, I joined Jordan and Kathryn on taking part in the Goodreads challenge for the year. They were aiming to read 52 books in the year whilst I chose 26 books. I soon changed to 52 as I was reading one a week. I actually managed over 60 books that year.

The Goodreads site is a good place to record the books that you want to read and have read. You can add your friends and see what they are reading, write and read reviews (I don’t tend to write reviews) and receive recommendations based on the types of books you like to read. I use it mainly for the challenge. As it was my 53rd birthday this year, I decided to make this year’s challenge 53 books to read.

I tend to read from my kindle but encouraged (or bullied) by my kids, I do sometimes read a “proper” book! On Wednesday, I visited the town of Reigate. We enjoyed a lovely walk through Priory Park. I discovered this box which is a part of the Little Free Library, a place where you can exchange your books. When I opened the box there were books which could be exchanged with a book you’ve read. A brilliant idea which I’m going to look in to more.

Box in Priory Park, Reigate
Little Free Library open box

Here is a list of books I have read so far. I have included my Goodreads ratings which are marked out of 5.  My ratings are very rarely below a 3 because if I really don’t like a book, I won’t waste my time by reading it. I will try to write reviews for the books I have read:

1 The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, Stuart Kelly ⭐⭐⭐⭐
2 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
3 Nice Work by Celia Imrie ⭐⭐⭐
4 Lizzie’s Secret by Rosie Clark ⭐⭐⭐⭐
5 The Island Villa by Lily Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐
6 I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
7 Still Me by Jojo Moyes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
8 Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers ⭐⭐⭐⭐
9 Maybe Now by Colleen Hoover ⭐⭐⭐⭐
10 The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh ⭐⭐⭐⭐
11 Goodbye Clutter, Hello Freedom by Lena Bentson⭐⭐⭐⭐
12 The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
13 I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
14 One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly ⭐⭐⭐⭐
15 The Summer of Chasing Dreams by Holly Martin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
16 Happy: Finding Joy in Every Day by Fearne Cotton⭐⭐⭐⭐
17 You Then, Me Now by Nick Alexander⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
18 The Tattooist of Aushwitz by Heather Morris⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
19 Your Pace or Mine by Lisa Jackson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
20 The Little Perfume Shop of Champs Elyees⭐⭐⭐
21 The Promise by Teresa Driscoll ⭐⭐⭐
22 Sea of Memories by Fiona Valpy ⭐⭐⭐⭐
23 Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause ⭐⭐⭐⭐
24 The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon⭐⭐⭐⭐
25 Summer on the Italian Lake by Lucy Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐
26 The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
27 How to Find Love in a Bookshop ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
28 The Spitfire Girls by Soraya M Lane ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
29 Jog On by Bella Mackie ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
30 Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon⭐⭐⭐⭐

Currently reading:  Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

Speak soon!

Build me up buttercup (or peonies)

Although yesterday the weather started off promising, by the time we got home from our day out, Chris and I were cold and tired. It had started raining whilst we were eating our delicious lunch so we got very  wet running to the car.  The rain continued on the drive home making it seem never ending. I was ready for a cup of tea and to flop on the sofa but was greeted by two big boxes arranged by my Son and fulfilled by Freddie’s Flowers. I was so excited.

Exciting delivery

This year’s birthday had brought me lots of flowers: as I wasn’t on holiday this year, I actually got to appreciate them. Jordan had bought me a bit of a different gift;  flowers  that are chosen by Freddie’s flowers and are delivered fresh from the grower. There are hints and tips ready for you to arrange. How fun is that?!

Instructions!

I have to say that I’m not a gardener at all (I wouldn’t know a weed from a shrub) and artistic I am not! Having said that, I was up for this sort of challenge (it’s a tame one. If he had bought me a bungee jump, I would have not been so pleased).

So this is what I got in the boxes:

A vase which is beautiful and the fresh cut flowers waiting to be arranged.

Beautiful vase

A card with a message from Jordan in an envelope written beautifully. The card also tells me that I have a further two to expect.

Card with beautifully written envelope

Information about the flowers in the box and also a guide to how to style the arrangement. You can also find a video on how to do it. I couldn’t find this (I blame my age on this and also my impatience to give it a go) so followed the guide.

The flowers inside this week’s box were peonies, stock, alstroemeria, agapanthus and solidago. I have enjoyed watching the various different stages of the peony, from bud to opening up.  As the information on the life of a peony states, they have perked up!

Peony opening

I have loved the challenge of displaying the flowers and am learning lots about the flower world. I hope I have done justice with my effort.

My effort – the peony bud and one coming to life!

Looking forward to next month’s arrivals.

Speak soon.

53 Red balloons go by

Okay, so unlike my 50th birthday, I didn’t have any balloons for this occasion but I did have a very nice birthday cake made by lovely kids. I made one for work too so diet not going well.

Lovely birthday cake

For my 50th birthday, I was busking in the sunshine in Lanzorote (well I did enjoy wave jumping with Kathryn in Fuerturventura because my treat was a day trip there). This birthday, it was pouring with rain and I didn’t fancy paddling in the rough seas of the Solent. Did enjoy a lovely lunch with Chris whilst watching the rough seas. The food was not great for the diet but who cares on your birthday!

Delicious

One of the most memorable moments of my 50th birthday was my 50 challenges. They weren’t big challenges (the 10 mile run and making croissants were huge to me) but they did make the year stand out for me. It is something I would highly recommend. Challenges keep me on track and alert. I would fall asleep on the sofa after work at 5pm if I didn’t push myself to do exercise or dance round the kitchen making dinner. If I don’t exercise before work, I do my daily solitaire and sudoku puzzles on my iPad (warning: extremely addictive so do need to turn iPad off and not use it again that day!). So this year I plan to do more challenges. To start with, I plan to do 30 day challenges. I love books like Challenge Yourself I Dare You by Stuart Ralph and 50 New Year’s resolutions because they spur me on and give me tips on how to achieve something. I plan to put this in action and set myself 12 challenges over the year. I’m going to cheat with June as we are 11 days in and plan to do at least one blog a week. Before the end of the month, I will hopefully have a full year’s plan.

One challenge which has become a regular annual one is the Goodreads challenge. I took part in it last year for the first time, and initially I was going to aim for 26 books whilst Jordan and Kathryn were hoping to read 52. I did change to 52 and a smug me can say I was the only one who completed. I actually read over 60 books. We are all reading again. This time I have challenged myself to read 53 (age came into that). I am out in front again and have read 29. Jordan has nearly finished his 28th book so this year’s challenge is getting very competitive. The kids are a bit old fashioned and like to try to put delaying tactics in my way like giving me proper books to read. Well I can take that challenge. Not so good in the work bag though: takes up a lot of room!

Speak soon!

It’s all about the plan

I joined the gym in 2017 and for 7 months, I went to lots of different classes. The gym itself didn’t appeal to me at all. I did enjoy the aquafit classes and even liked going swimming occasionally. I will always look like a meerkat when swimming though: I don’t like putting my face in the water at all.

After June, I didn’t go to the gym a lot at all. I like to get my money’s worth from my monthly fee so when each session was costing me more than £8, I knew it was time to give it up. My running for the year hadn’t been spectacular but I did manage to complete the couch25k again in August and built up gradually. In December I did one run of 3.38 miles: my longest for a while. After that I pushed myself and can now do a 10k run (6.2 miles in old money!) once a month.

In January, I upped my game a lot. I joined a group on Rosemary Conley online to complete 1,000 miles by walking in one year and also joined RedJanuary, a community initiative to support your mental health by doing something active every day in January. I will tell you more about these later but whilst I was doing Red January, I discovered a lady called Jessica Smith and her walk strong workouts. I bought my first DVD, Walk the Weight Off 30 day plan, at the beginning of January and have worked out with her regularly every week. I now have two more of her DVDs in my collection. In the DVDs, she has two other ladies working out with her. There is Debbie, her mum, who shows you gentler versions of the exercise. If you want to up the game, you follow her friend, Beth. Jessica is a very likeable lady and it is like having a personal coach working with you. I’ve always liked cardio but not very good at toning. With the walk the weight off DVDs you have a 30 days plan, which includes toning with weights and a toning band. Jessica explains every move and you feel she is in the room when she suddenly tells you how to stand so you don’t hurt your knees. There are also some stretching plans too which includes yoga moves.

Red January

Jessica’s workouts can be found on YouTube and you can join the community at Jessica Smith TV. You are sent newsletters with new challenges coming up. I have just started a Summer of Strength plan and it is great. You are given two options; a DVD workout or something from YouTube. Now I have finally learnt how to watch YouTube on the TV, and as I don’t have the DVDs, I am working from YouTube.

This plan is more about building up strength rather than cardio so there is a use of weights. It also includes stretching, something I need a lot of practice in. The challenge is over 5 weeks and is broken down into:

Week 1 – stamina
Week 2 – endurance
Week 3 – power
Week 4 – function
Week 5 – total strength

Each week is over 5 days with two rest days to do what you want to do. I always make sure I have one day of rest although I aim to walk for pleasure on that day.

I love the plan as I wouldn’t normally choose these type of exercises. My last day of exercise for week 2 was total body barre. I did 52 minute ballet burn. I loved it. It’s a sort of cardio and strength ballet inspired workout so I didn’t have to point my toes too much! Some days I have said glad that is over but I’ve always been chuffed I’ve done it!

Maybe not getting ballet burn quite right!

Basically if you love the gym, keep up with the membership. If not, find something that suits you. I much prefer working out on my own and in my own time so this is perfect for me. One thing that I try to do is plan my exercise each week especially now I am fitting in this plan. I am trying to use my bullet point journal for this (more about this another day) and planning week two was great as I could fit it around going out.

It’s all about the plan

Happy exercising whatever your choice.

Speak soon!

Weighting for that day (you can get what you want)

When I approached my 50th birthday, I had a very trim figure. I was determined that I wasn’t going to be one of those people that believed excess weight came because you were older. I knew that it didn’t: most of the time it comes from eating too much and/or lack of exercise.  I had lost my weight in 2012 and I was proud that I kept it off.
A week before the big 50th

So what happened between 2016 and 2018 when I started putting the weight back on. Well I could give many excuses but it was mainly to do with eating too much. The biggest culprit was cake. I do love baking and I love eating it. I also decided not to get on the scales. What a mistake. Whilst I don’t think you should get on the scales daily, I would recommend once a week weigh in (or once a month). It helps you keep on the straight and narrow.

Every month in 2018, I sat down making a  list of 10 aims for the month. Each month I aimed to lose 4lbs. It never happened. I got to September 2018 and decided that the only way I was going to lose anything was to rejoin Rosemary Conley online so I joined up for 3 months. Pleased with my achievements, I continued my membership for a further 12 months.

Unlike my 2012 weight loss, my loss this time has been slow but steady. I have even had gains some weeks but they haven’t been a shock. This week saw a gain of a 1/4 lb. I wasn’t surprised (I actually thought it would be more). Here are the reasons why:

  • Sunday roast made by my son Jordan and his lovely girlfriend  Thais. (Not the roast itself; I blame the banoffee pie we had for dessert)
  • Carrot and Pecan Squares from my Baking Club subscription (so worth the extra 1/4 lb. More to follow!)
  • Pimms and more Pimms
  • Thursday’s macaroni cheese (one of my favourites and it did include broccoli and spinach) whilst eating out on a night to the theatre

    Yummy Cake

Whilst I know that I would have had a loss if I didn’t indulge, I enjoyed all I ate and drank so I don’t have any regrets.

I do believe that following any diet and exercise plan is going to help you lose weight;  you just have to find the right one for you. For some people, going to a weight loss club where they are weighed and can share their experiences, is the better option. I like online because I can go on to the website when I want. It is more of a self accountable experience; you have to be totally honest with yourself. Why wouldn’t you though? You’ve paid the money so it isn’t any good cheating.

So what do I get out of it:

  • Rosemary’s daily motivation minute (also a daily exercise challenge. I will try to do this from today!)
  • Recipe of the day (see my favourite breakfast at the moment).
  • Recipes – there are lots. I love cooking and a lot of my favourite meals come from this collection
  • Weight loss challenges (I’m in the Summer 2019 challenge at moment)
  • Coaches who you can message and also send you words of encouragement. They do have one-2-one coaching which is an extra cost. If I lose my motivation, I would give this a go
  • The community chat – I look here daily. I find tips here as well as encouragement and motivation. Most of my Fitbit friends are from this lovely group of people.
Overnight Strawberry Oats

I have only got 4lbs to get to goal. I’m hoping that with a big effort in June, and I will be there.

Speak soon!