Too Fat For Zara

Of all the signs that I need to go on a health kick, there is just one that has made me actually do it. Others, I ignored. Like the time I wore a maternity top to work (well it was the only clean plain black top I had…) and that day when everything I ate was beige. Oh and that moment my three year-old said to me, “Mummy, is there a baby in your tummy?” was one that filled me with joy.

But I’m now two days into a new healthy lifestyle (blergh, hate that phrase) and what’s the reason? I’m too fat for Zara.

Zara

Not being able to shop in Zara is quite possibly one of the worst things that can happen in life. Let’s forgive the fact that I’m being slightly melodramatic here and consider that it’s the best shop for basic tees, colour pop blazers, cute skirts and on-trend dresses, never mind the winter coats and knits when it’s cold weather. Nine times out of ten, when you admire something that a friend is wearing, she’ll tell you it’s from Zara. It’s the new Topshop, now that Topshop only seem to be catering for super-skinny fashion students. And it doesn’t even matter that lots of people have the same top/skirt/trousers as you, because it’s Zara and we’d choose wearing the same Zara top/skirt/trousers as everyone else over living a life without Zara.

But recently, my Zara purchases have been limited to jewellery (they do a ridiculously good statement necklace) and the occasional XL top (but not everything comes in XL – oh and it’s just brilliant that some of their clothes only come in S and M *eye roll*.) I can’t even buy shoes there because I’m a size 8 (their biggest size) and their shoes come up small. So I’m basically a big-footed fatty in their eyes, which does wonders for my self-esteem.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I genuinely needed to start eating more healthily anyway, I’d start a one-woman mission to get fashion brands to extend their sizes to reflect their customers’ needs. It’s crazy that so many high street retailers only stock up to a size 16. And don’t get me started on Oasis, who a couple of years back, changed to sizing some of their products as S, M, L (Large is a 14-16 according to their staff. How is that even helpful? It’s probably too big for a size 14 customer but too small for a size 16 customer.) Needless to say, after years of shopping in Oasis, I haven’t been in, since. If you ask me, fashion brands should do away with plus size ranges (which are usually stocked with JOLLY floral patterns for fat women’s BUBBLY personality) and just concentrate on offering their regular range in more sizes.

But it’s time for me to make a change. A change that I’ve ignored making until now because – bizarrely – I appear to have the reverse of body dysmorphia. I look in the mirror and see the slim person I used to be. I walk along the street and in my mind, I’m a size 12. It’s only when I catch sight of my reflection in a window or the time I saw a photo of myself at a kids’ birthday party and thought ‘Wow, who’s that fat lady?’ that I remember. Shit. I’m fat now.

So while I don’t believe in diets (The 5:2 can jog on, as far as I’m concerned) and I don’t think you need to be skinny to be happy (read Bryony Gordon’s ace piece in The Telegraph on this and Daisy Buchanan’s The Debrief piece on finally feeling happy about being a size 14) I do believe in making small changes for the better. And it’s time for me to stop ignoring the fact that I got fat. So sweets, chocolate, cakes are out. Chips are gone. Fizzy drinks are in the bin. It’s all about salads, lots of protein and veg, and small amounts of carbs. Two things I might still indulge in are my skinny lattes and wine. Don’t make me give those up. Please.

A Day At The Races

Back in 2003, I was 24 and the MOST FUN THING EVER was a day at Royal Ascot with my friends. To someone who was more used to Soho pubs and studenty clubs with sticky floors that played Girls Aloud songs, it felt ever so grown up and sophisticated to be going to the races.

A group of around ten of us bought tickets, booked a nearby hotel and then the real preparation began… looking for an outfit. I remember spending endless weekends in department stores, trying on dresses and fascinators until I found one I loved in Warehouse. I also wore it to my engagement party later that summer – back then it was much easier to wear the same dress to different events. Facebook didn’t exist in the UK so there was no risk of everyone I know seeing my frock. This snap (below) was taken in a pub near the Ascot racecourse at around 11.30am (rock. and. roll) and believe me, I thought I looked ace at the time. Now, of course, I’m thinking that side-sweep fringe was a mistake and that lavender fascinator? What was I thinking?! My friends’ outfits have definitely stood the test of time better than mine. In fact, my best mate Kim (red coat) could easily wear that outfit to Royal Ascot 2014 and look hot.

Royal Ascot

Of course the brilliant thing about 2014 versus 2003 is that now, there are more options when it comes to shopping for the races – trousers look just as good (and on many people better) than a frock. If I were off to Royal Ascot this year, I’d probably go for an outfit like this…

Royal Ascot outfit

Yes! No hat or fascinator. They just don’t suit me (see top pic for proof) and I’d much rather feel comfortable on a day out with friends. What would you wear to the races? Would you stick with the tried-and-tested frock and heels or try something different like trousers?

 

Huge thanks to Betfair for sponsoring this post. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.

 

BKD Biscuit Decorating Kit: The Coolest Last-Minute Father’s Day Gift

BKD Kids  Pin Wheel Baking Kit 01

If you’re anything like me, you spend weeks resisting the huge Father’s Day displays in shops everywhere (“Oh it’s WEEKS away, still”) only to have it creep up on you. I realised with a jolt on Monday of this week that Father’s Day is, in fact, this Sunday.

Cue: running around in a panic, hoping I can still order a kick-ass gift for Mr P, on behalf of his daughter.

Thankfully, BKDLondon have come to the rescue with this amazingly cute and simple biscuit decorating kit. Adelle, who runs cupcake and cookie decorating classes for kids, has branched out and opened an Etsy shop selling cookie cutters and biscuit decorating kits. The Father’s Day kit, which she kindly sent us to road-test, contains biscuits (the letters D, A, D and some cute shapes) pre-iced with white fondant, and two edible icing pens. All you need to do is get busy with the pens and decorate the biscuits in a way you think Dad will love. Adelle’s cakes and biscuits are properly delicious so not only will he be touched by the artwork, he can tuck into the biccies with his morning coffee. She also does lots of other shapes of biscuits in a kit too – like the pinwheel ones at the top of this post!

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When You Multi-Task Like A Boss…

… it makes you feel like you can achieve ANYTHING.

What is it about multi-tasking that makes you feel this way?

I recently started working from home (best. decision. ever.) and since then, my life has changed. Before, it was chaotic and manic, with me hurrying from one thing to the next, squeezing in work and family time while ignoring things that need to be done around the house…it’s fair to say my house was a tip, we were forever running out of fresh bread and milk, I’d rush my three-year-old to pre-school before jumping on the 7.58am train to work, I’d get home at 6pm after rushing the three-year-old back from pre-school and into a bath. Which was about as fun as booking a holiday and your passport not arriving in time (ooh topical).

But now… my life feels calm and organised. I can smoothly juggle work, home shiz and family fun with time to breathe. That breathing part is important, isn’t it?

Take right now, as an example. I’m currently doing all of the following (right now!):

  • Washing a load of clothes
  • Drying a whole rack of clothes
  • Boiling the kettle to make a cuppa
  • Replying to work emails and organising workload for the rest of the day
  • Arranging a meeting with someone I work for
  • Writing a blog post (this one!)
  • Sunning my legs, as I sit on my back door step

Earlier this morning, I was able to drop my three year-old off at pre-school, drop some stuff off at a local charity shop, come home and tidy up breakfast dishes into the dishwasher, book some activities for our forthcoming holiday at Bluestone Park and pay some bills. I’ve achieved so much already today.

Which makes me want to do the running man dance and high five myself (totally wish you could high five yourself, it would be such a brilliant thing to do at least once a day) because it contrasts so starkly with how I was operating just a few weeks ago.

What is it about multi-tasking that makes us feel such a success? According to Zheng Wang, assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, we get an emotional high from it. “There’s this myth among some people that multitasking makes them more productive,” he said in a statement. “But they seem to be misperceiving the positive feelings they get from multitasking. They are not being more productive — they just feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.”

Some experts say that multi-tasking isn’t the best way to do things – they think we should be single tasking instead – focusing on one thing really well at a time. But when it comes to being a working mum, I disagree. It’s all about how many tasks you can get done simultaneously. So later on today, I’ll be walking my daughter home from pre-school while testing her on how many words she knows that rhymes with ‘goat’ (“No, not submarine…”) and picking up dinner at the same time. That way, I’ll have really earned my 7pm wine, right?

mums

Work.Life.Mum: Mr & Mrs Smith’s Juliet Kinsman

Juliet Kinsman, Smith Hotels

Juliet Kinsman is Editor-in-Chief of Mr and Mrs Smith – the travel company which handpicks the most stylish places to stay, around the world. As well as being an expert in luxury travel, Juliet is Mum to six-year-old Kitty and lives in North West London with her partner. The recently-launched Smith & Family is the go-to place for perfect family hotels, with a child-friendly attitude and grown-up features alike.

Which, for someone who is as posh-hotel-obsessed as I am, is the most exciting thing ever. Being the typical Mr & Mrs Smith customer during my 20s (tripping off to Babington House of a weekend or arranging my hen do at Calcot Manor) I now can’t wait to try out the hotels recommended by Smith & Family.

In the first of a new series of Work.Life.Mum interviews with inspiring women, I caught up with Juliet for a chat about her own travels, how she balances work and life and (naturally) to get some travel tips from her…

Juliet Kinsman and daughter Kitty

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