The half-marathon mama: How I ran my first two half marathons

I randomly started running last year, after three decades of hating & avoiding it. Recently, I have completed my first couple of half marathons, only two weeks apart. When photos from both events emerged, my friends couldn’t refrain from commenting on how happy I look running those 13.1 miles. And I didn’t only look happy, I was happy sweating my baby’s milk containers off.

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I did very little (if any) training beforehand – I managed the odd jog with a buggy, weekly buggy parkruns and one 15K session around Dorney lake (which was by far the longest distance I have ever ran). When it came to the race, my philosophy was to run, run and run some more until I’m at the finish line – and that’s exactly what happened. Boom! I even managed to knock 8 minutes off my first half, and completed Slough half in under 2 hours. Not too shabby for a mum who has no time to train and eat well, right? I found it enjoyable instead of deadly hard. Do you want to know why? Well let me tell you about “hard”:

Soaking wet and shivering with cold after Slough half, we arrived to a pub. At that point, any normal race finisher would order a whole lot of food and flush it down with a gallon of beer, relying on Uber to get home because legs are tired.

I ordered a whole lot of food indeed, but my 6 months old miniature human was hungry – as if he ran the half marathon himself. So I fed him first. Then finally my meal arrived. Just as I was about to grab my first delicious piece of chicken, he went ballistic. Nothing worked and he screamed and screamed. I dragged him out (in rain) hoping he would fall asleep in his buggy. He was howling more and more so I returned to the pub, downed my wine and asked the staff to bag my food up. It was a good 20 minutes walk home, in rain, on aching legs, with a child screaming like an apocalypse survivor being slowly munched on by zombies. No matter how annoying his screams are, I always smile at him (that’s my personal rule) which is mentally exhausting. At home it took another hour of “servicing” him – food, nappy, toys, singing etc. Finally he fell asleep so I started the laundry and washed the dishes (the pile was already enormous). He woke up from his nap just as I was getting out of the shower. Then obviously he needed more “servicing”, including a broccoli dinner that he rubbed into his hair and eyes, and a bath time when he tried to drink the bath water (probably because it had bits of broccoli floating in it). By the time he departed into the dreamland and I (finally) sat down with my reheated pub lunch it was 7 pm. I crossed the half marathon finish line seven and half hours ago. F**k, in seven and half hours I could have completed a marathon and half!! And a marathon and half would most certainly be less exhausting than my standard afternoon anyway.

So when you non-runners say running 13.1 miles must have been tough, and you runners say that I did well so soon after having a baby, I do appreciate and love your support and acknowledgement, but… it was DEAD EASY compared to the never-ending ultra marathon of poops and mushy food and vomit and eternally dirty laundry and high-pitch screams and stupid baby songs on repeat… Easy!! 🙂

How to reduce your electricity bill

Winter is coming. You better get that heating on and wait for the dreaded electricity bill…

You all know how passionate I am about saving every penny so when I recently met a lady who was a real pro at reducing your electricity usage and therefore your bill, my heart rejoiced. Based on her advice and on what I have already been doing I put together a little guide on how to save you some cash.

  • Switch it off

Do you have TV on in the background without actually watching it? Switch it off. Is there a little light on your washing machine, microwave, printer and other devices you’re not currently using? Switch it off. Are you home alone but your light is on in three different rooms at the same time? Switch it off. Is your fancy baby monitor on even at times when your baby doesn’t need monitoring? Switch it off. Do you leave your router and TV on when going on a holiday or a weekend away? Switch. It. Off.

  • Insulate

Traditionally, British houses are terribly insulated, side effect of which is that you can hear your neighbour fart and sadly winter chills comes in. You might not be in a position to insulate the walls or get a double glazed windows, but there is still something you can do. Start with draught-proofing that is easily achieved with the use of a draught window seal, a draught excluder for your door and some thick curtains. Visit the Energy Saving Trust website for more info.

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  • Shop around

I have a friend who switches her electricity supplier every year and saves over £100 each time. The process is actually easier than you think. To compare prices and find out which supplier offers you the best deal click here.

  • Warm Home Discount

Have you heard of Warm Home Discount? No one has. It is a one-off sum of £140 towards your electricity bill. Find out if you qualify and apply on your supplier’s website – simply type you “Warm Home Discount” and the name of your supplier into Goole. But hurry – it is awarded on a first come first served basis each autumn.

Finally, you can visit Community Council for Berkshire website for more information and many useful links.

Now that you saved yourself some cash, go spend it on wine that will warm you up from inside so you can turn your heating down and save even more money that you can spend on wine etc etc 😉

You better shape up! Core workout with a baby

Ask anyone who has anything to do with any kind of sport (yup, even the dreadlock-head in yoga pants) and they’ll all confirm the following: Strong core is the key! It will make your life easier, from picking up that little bundle of screaming joy to carrying out all sorts of other motherly duties. Besides, strong core leads to better abs. Yeah, you heard me! A-B-S! Let’s tone those bellies!

Following my post on workout ideas with a baby, here are some core core exercises (if you pardon the pun):

  • Baby sit-ups

As if the dreaded sit-ups were not difficult enough, now you have to do them whilst holding a baby!? Fine, go have a Big Mac instead but…did you know that your husband’s new co-worker is an ex glamour model and finds him kind of hot?

  • Plank

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Hoooollldddd it! For as long as you can. Time yourself and aim for a few seconds more each time. Don’t forget to entertain your bubba by reciting a rhyme 😉
Also, make sure you engage your core – not your back, otherwise you’d be in pain and will be hating me.

  • Plank variations

There are many plank variations so don’t be afraid to get creative. My favourite one is “forearm to full plank”:

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Start in the plank position, then move and straighten your arms, one at a time. Right afterwards go back down to forearm plank, again one arm at a time. And prepare to have your hair pulled 😉

  • Leg raises

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Beside leg raises, you can do many similar exercises (single leg lifts, leg scissors etc.) while holding your baby up above your chest. You might get thrown up on so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • Press-ups

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Okay, it might seem that press-ups are all about arms but I promise you they tone your midsection as a whole. There is also a ladies option – to drop on your knees instead.

 

These exercises should give you a good basis for a decent core and abs workout. Don’t worry if you can’t turn into Wonder Woman straight away – it takes time, bit by bit, increase reps each day until you’re so strong that you’ll finally gain authority in your household and even the neighbour’s dog will fear you. You go mama! 

 

 

 

 

 

Workout ideas with a baby

 

Hey mamas! So you want to look good but have no time & money for the gym? Don’t despair! As promised, I put together a few exercises from my routine that is perfectly achievable with a baby. Actually, the baby is an important component of it. All you need is spare 15 mins a day. Plus, I’m pretty sure your little one will have a blast being moved about and watching you sweat 🙂

  • Pram lounges

Step forward with your pram and lounge. Alternate legs.

  • Squats

Use your baby as a medicine ball. Squat and lift him up.

  • Hello firm bum!

Go on all four and lift a leg up. You can also hold your leg up for a certain period of time, or bend your knee lifting your leg to the side. There are many variations… Your child will probably try to pull (and eat) your hair so watch out.

  • Bench press

As your child gets bigger you will get stronger 😉

I still have in store some tips for core and abs exercises that I’ll share with you soon. God knows we need them! In the meantime start slowly and build it up. Be creative. Your baby is probably the cutest piece of gym equipment you’ll ever have, so enjoy!

Freebie alert: Pampers wipes

20180805_100544-picsay.jpgHere is a little hack for Boots Parenting Club members. You probably recently received a coupon for 50p off on Pampers wipes that usually cost £1 each. If you download the Boots app, you can load an equivalent coupon onto your Clubcard. Not sure if it’s a glitch or not, but you will be able to use both coupons at the same time which will make your wipes completely free. It already worked for me a couple times. Wiping poo and vomit is wayyy more pleasant if you’re using free wipes – trust me 🙂

Freebie alert: Tommee Tippee nappy disposal system

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t find another good freebie! From now on, your little one can poop as much as they wish since you will be able to store their toxic waste in an odour-proof Tommee Tippee nappy disposal system – completely free (RRP 27.99).

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This is how you get it:

You need Amazon Prime (or free trial) and a baby wishlist that is easy to create. Ad some baby items worth at least £10 into your wishlist and then purchase them. When making your purchase throw the nappy disposal system into your basket. When you check out its price will be deducted so you’ll get it completely free. This promotion ends 15th August.

When I was pregnant I was convinced that a nappy bin is one of those items that are just a waste of money… I couldn’t have been more wrong! With Derry’s poop performance of 2-3 “surprises” a day my nappy bin is a life saver! Zero smell and zero mess! Praise the lord for this miraculous invention!

Oh I almost forgot – I have a brand new one for sale as I got too many freebies. If you want it, it can be yours for mere £6 🙂 Hail poop!

Don’t bother reading this if you love your post-baby body :)

We all love a good social media rent. Recently I read one about how this mum hates her post-baby body. It was not even a rant – more like a desperate cry in search of souls (and bodies) who feel exactly the same. And gosh, were there plenty of them! I knew that women struggle with their postpartum body image, but I didn’t think so many of them feel so strongly about their far-from-perfect shape and looks.

For me personally, the worst bit was pregnancy itself. I was huge. I gained 18 kgs and hated feeling like an elephant. By the time I popped my baby out I was so terribly fed up that I knew that was it. I had enough! I couldn’t wait to be my former self again.

Mums’ typical problem is that they “don’t have time to go to the gym”. Well, neither have I. I am a single mum who (thank god) has no family in her home country. I can’t afford a baby sitter. So time away from my baby is as rare as a hot, intelligent and single guy. Yet, I managed to get fit and lose 18kgs within 3 months. How, you ask?

Let me give you instructions 🙂

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What you need most of all is dedication and stubborness (which I have plenty of). They say if there is a will, there is a way – and nothing can be more true. They also say that who needs an excuse will always find one. So ladies, if you want to be as fit as before baby, your excuses will have to go. Now! Stop moaning! Stop hating yourself and grabbing biscuits from the tin just to make yourself feel better. Stop it!!! You are a tired emotional wreck, your husband is an unhelpful demanding moron and your kids are screaming little bastards. Yes. We all feel the same. But that’s not an excuse! So get of your arse and do something, and I promise you you will love your body once again!

Okay, there are some things you can’t change, like for example stretchmarks. But let me tell you,  stretchmarks look better on a toned belly than they do on a flabby wiggly one!

When my munchkin was 3 weeks of age I started running. With my pram. No, it’s not a running pram. And no, it’s not recommended to start exercising before your 6 weeks health check. But I did it, mainly because dropping dead from internal bleeding was more acceptable than feeling like a whale any longer.

fitbitshare_1130790125-picsay.JPEGSo grab your pram and instead of strolling through the park, jog. Or if you are unfit, alternate walking and jogging. Let me warn you that you will get some weird looks, mainly from other mums who are sitting on the benches munching on crisps and jelly babies while you are demonstrating (read: rubbing in their face) that there is another way. Also, you need to stay on reasonably straight paths because normal prams are not designed for a run in a dodgy terrain…

I’m a member of a running club so I kept turning up at all possible club events hoping there will be someone injured and/or not running who can look after my baby. 9 out of 10 times it worked so this is my way of saying huge thanks to all the Dashers who babysat Derry while I was sweating my tits off.

20180513_143827.jpgObviously, beside running you need some strength workout. I’m lucky enough to live in an area with free outdoor exercising equipment (see picture) at multiple locations. I either park my pram and do a workout, or use Derry in his baby carrier as a “weight”. I’m currently preparing a blog post describing different exercises you can do with your baby. You can even incorporate a little workout in your daily playtime. Derry loves when I do chest presses with him and always laughs his head off.

Oh btw – once your child is walking and talking, your extra pounds can hardly be called “baby weight” ;)))

So mummies, if I did it so can you! I’m no better than you in any way – I’m just a proof that it can be done! You managed to grow a human so you sure as hell will manage to love the body that made it all possible. And trust me, your evening glass of wine will taste even better after some exercise 😉 So stop moaning and start acting! Chop chop!

 

 

Freebie alert! A pack of 260 WaterWipes for free :)

From my previous blog you all know I love a good freebie. Here is the latest one I discovered: if you’re an Amazon Prime member and have/create a baby wishlist, you can receive a free value pack of WaterWipes (260 wipes). All you have to do is spend £10 on baby items from your wishlist.

This is how it works: save items to your wishlist and shop as normal. Add a value pack of WaterWipes (4×60 wipes sold by Amazon) to your basket (make sure you have the right item) and the price will automatically be deducted at checkout.

If you’re not an Amazon Prime member you can get a free trial as long as you cancel within 30 days. Btw the WaterWipes promotion lasts till the end of June.

Now let’s do some maths: to qualify for the freebie I bought a pair MAM bottles and spare teats that I needed anyway. In Boots they retail for £13.50 and £5.09. On Amazon they were £7.50 and £4. Plus £10 for Waterwipes (they are currently £9 on Amazon but I’m comparing to Boots prices). So overall I spent £11.50 on items that would cost me £28.59 if bought on the high street. That’s £17.09 saved! Bargain!

Any questions please ask, and let me know about your favourite bargains!

(Are you) a good mum

To tell you that as a mother you are under pressure would be old news. You ought to raise a decent human being, beat other mums (because whether you admit it or not, it is a competition) and most importantly you have to perform and conform to your own expectations and standards that are (at least initially) higher than those imposed on you by the society. As a first time mum, you had this vision of being simply perfect, not compromising and doing a stellar job. Well, you are doing a stellar job (unless you shove your baby into a cupboard while you peacefully drink a bottle of Jack Daniels). Although, stellar in a slightly different way…

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So I’m not going to write about the pressure you are under. I’m going to write about you being a good mum. Because you are a good mum even if you:

  • Let your newborn boy’s wee somehow get into his eyes mere hours after he enters this world.
  • Accidentaly drop your phone on your baby’s face while trying to get the best angle for an adorable photo.
  • Just to stay awake during night feeds you watch The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and/or Jeremy Kyle’s Show, despite knowing that neither is suitable for his innocent eyes.
  • Wish your baby was as well behaved as your friend’s one, although you suspect that your friend is actually faking it and her newborn too is a nightmare.
  • Let your child scream like hell while you peacefully finish your toilet business.
  • Think of ways to manipulate your friends and family members into (seemingly) voluntarily offering to help with your baby and/or housework.
  • Seriously consider taping a dummy to your baby’s face so it doesn’t fall out every twenty seconds.
  • Make your cup of tea and open a pack of biscuits before you feed your screaming baby.
  • Call your doctor at 2 am describing the contents of your baby’s nappy in a (gross) detail.
  • Wonder if you can auction your child on eBay and if he could earn you enough cash for an early retirement.
  • Get curry stains on your baby’s white outfit when you’re trying to scoff a meal while breastfeeding.
  • Use your baby’s cuteness to your benefit, whether it is a free whipped cream on your latte or a better place in a queue.
  • Have a gulp of wine straight from the bottle each time you think that you can’t cope any more.
  • Ignore everyone’s advice and do whatever feels right. After all it was you who created this human being so you have every right to ignore all the smart books and people’s advice, and do it your way.

Finally, I need to point out that I have never done any of those things. Because I am not just a good mum. I am a perfect one! My only flaw is that sometimes I lie. Honestly! 🙂

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