Guest Post: Exercise A.D.D.

I'm so excited to be getting to stalk, er, meet today's guest blogger in person while I'm in North America. She's my engagement-month-twin, she's my favourite gmail-chatter, and she's so, so sweet. And also, an exercising & wedding planning superstar, as you will read in today's blog. Give it up for xox, Britt!

Hi guys! I'm Britt from over here and while the lovely Aly is galavanting the world with her husband-to-be (and visiting me!! Eeeeee!!!) she asked me to write her a guest post ... and then I got writers block. Ha. I write mostly about my rambling life, so it's sort of amazing that I was completely stumped about what to write. But then I decided - You all should know about my exercise ADD. Because I can't stick with anything.

In high school I played basketball. I wasn't very good at it. It was more of a social thing. So my last year, I became the team manager instead. I got the social aspect without the fitness part. It worked for me.

When I was a University student, I was lazy. I also ate a lot of potatoes with ranch sauce (it was the only edible thing in residence!) and I put on a few pounds. Like 20. Oops. The last few months of school, faced with the prospect of coming back to my hometown and seeing old high school friends, I started going to the gym. I was mostly ADD there too. I'd try a little bit of everything, while not really doing much of anything. I remember completely embarrassing myself on that ab machine that holds your legs at 90 degrees and you lay back and then sit up. Except I couldn't sit up. I just hung there. And felt kind of silly. And like I have no abs (that part hasn't changed much.)

When I got home, I saw a show where an overweight girl made a fitness goal of running a triathlon. I thought that was a great idea so I roped my best friend into training with me and we hired a personal trainer. She worked with us individually and completely kicked my butt (think Jillian Michaels style). After 6 months of training, I completed my first triathlon. It was a 'try a tri' distance - 300m swim, 15km bike and a 5km run. I was so proud of myself when I finished. See?

Ya. Then I got a bit crazy. I though heck, why just settle for a try-a-tri. Why not do a half ironman? For those who have no idea what a half ironman is a 1500m swim then a 90km bike ride followed by a 21.1km run. It's a long day. A long, hard, crazy day. I hired a triathlon coach this time (who emailed me my workouts) and 6 more months of training, I completed my first half ironman. It was the craziest, best, worst, and most awesome feeling. Here's me after crossing the finish line.

So far, this isn't looking very random is it? But I promise you. It's getting there.

After the half ironman, I was tired. Burnt out. So I sat on the couch for a couple of months. Gained a few pounds. Then decided I was going to run a half marathon. So I joined a half marathon training group and I signed up for a race. And then I started running with people who run all the time. And I had been sitting on my couch. And I hurt myself. Badly. I injured my hip and I could barely walk. So back to the couch I went to sulk.

A couple more months and a couple more pounds later...

I decided I didn't want to run. So I tried the 30 day shred (got to about 15 days before I was bored stiff),  yoga, all sorts of exercise videos like P90X, Insanity and was bored.

And then I decided to run again. This time, I tried couch to 5k (well known in blogland!). I got about 3 weeks in when I got married (yay!) and went on my honeymoon (yay!) and stopped all that.

Most recently, I signed up for an online 5km program, with plans to continue to a marathon program.

Maybe a Marathon in May? Who knows. All I know is exercise ADD keeps me trying lots of new things and I can't complain about that!

Come check out my crazy (and sometimes not so crazy) adventures here!

Guest Post: Seven Things Married Life Has Taught Me

Today's guest is the super awesome Terra from She's a photo-taking, dog-loving, to-do list superstar and I absolutely love her blog. Plus, she also loves Harry Potter World, which makes her an automatic favourite of mine.

I’m getting really close to celebrating 3 years of marriage with my sexy-beast of a husband, Andrew. We’re still really new to this whole married thing since 3 years is just a small blip on what I hope will be a very long life spent together, but, to date, I’ve learned a few lessons I’d like to share with the (almost) married Aly:

1. It really is the little things. It’s hugs & forehead kisses. Grocery store bouquets & cheap chocolate. It’s brushing the hair out of my face, notes hidden in coat pockets & tiny, little inside jokes. It’s secret code words and a thigh squeeze during a tumultuous airplane landing. It’s those little things that remind me each day, in between vacations, romantic dinners and anniversaries, why I decided to get married in the first place. Those little moments, gestures and words give the day to day, the seemingly insignificant, a bucketful of meaning.

2. Passionate kisses have magical healing powers. It’s easy to get caught up in other things. Doctor appointments, school work, regular work commitments, social events, dog walking. It’s all got to get done, and sometimes, especially in my life lately, it can all start to feel a bit overwhelming. The remedy? Passionate kisses. Real, true, knock your socks off kisses that make time stand still and everything else fade away. Don’t believe me? Try it. You’ll see.

3. Sometimes yelling helps. I put myself in the camp of people who think a fight, every now and then, is a good thing. Sure, fighting sucks, but sometimes, and this has happened to me on more than one occasion, some little tid bit you didn’t even know was bothering you will burst forth and BOOM. Just like that, you’ll start to feel better because it’s out there in the world and not stuck, waging war, on the inside of your heart. Plus, making up is fun!

4. Time together doesn’t equate to quality time together. Andrew and I spend a lot of time together. We work together and spend almost all of our days together and it’s really, really easy to just assume we’re spending plenty of time together and staying connected to each other and blah blah blah, but guess what? The time we spend at work, or side by side in the car or parked in front of the TV doesn’t count. It’s time together, sure, but without the occasional dinner out or conversation about hopes, dreams or future vacation plans, things start to get a little wonky. Making time to reconnect, even if we spend most of our days together, is mandatory in order to preserve the sanity of our marriage.

5. It’s different. I didn’t expect anything to feel different when Andrew and I got married. We lived together before we got married and everything was already merged and joint before we said “I do.” But, things were different. They shifted, slightly, not even enough for me to notice at first, but, after a few months, I realized things felt more solid. Plus, getting introduced as someone’s wife for the first 100 or so times is really, really awesome.

6. Sometimes the simplest nights are the best nights. Right after Andrew and I got married and moved into our first apartment, the power went out. It was a Friday night and there was little hope we’d get it back on until Monday, even though it was electric company’s fault. But, we made the best of it. We played Uno and Scrabble by candlelight for hours, drinking wine and laughing until our sides hurt, running into furniture in our almost pitch black apartment. It’s one of the best nights we’ve ever had.

7. I never stop learning. Things that work for us one day don’t always work for us the next. I might thing I’ve got my husband all figured out, but, as it turns out, he’s still got stories to tell me, different parts of himself that haven’t even been glimpsed yet. I hope to never have it all figured out.

Guest Post: Tips from a Wife

I can't even begin to tell you how sweet Becky from Love Everyday Life is. Really. We suffered through switching domains together {technologically challenged, or at least I am!} to trying to desperately figure out a way to meet up in person {not going to happen on this trip, sadly} and to her sending me a whopping big parcel of Halloween treats {oh, bliss!}, the girl is just the kindest person ever. If you're not reading her blog, you should be!

Hi readers! It’s Becky from Love Everyday Life. Aly asked me to guest blog while she’s away and I was more than happy to help out! (Even though she’s using her new camera that I covet, visiting places I would love to see, and off having a generally good time while I’m at work daydreaming…but I digress).

I was trying to come up with something clever and engaging for this post because guest blogs are supposed to be funny and sassy and delightful (no pressure), when it came to me. Aly’s getting married! (Um yes, I know you’re aware of this and I promise that’s not what I’m blogging about).

She’ll be a wife soon and being the experienced wife of three years I have much knowledge to impart upon her and anyone else who wants to listen. (Still out there?) So without further ado, six things I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) about being married.

1) Your definition of doing the dishes and your husband’s definition of doing the dishes don’t necessarily mean the same thing. That’s what compromises are for.
2) You can’t be everything to your spouse. You have to be an individual to be part of a couple, so girls/guy nights are essential, as are date nights with just the two of you.
3) If your husband warms up your cold feet at night in bed it’s worth playing a video game you are horribly bad at. (Never underestimate the glory of warm feet).
4) Communication is key. Half the arguments my husband and I had our first year of marriage were because one of us was thinking one thing but not communicating it effectively. (Fights about socks? Yeah. Been there).
5) It is completely acceptable to create your own language that other people might not understand. “Babe, where’s that thing with the blade…it’s blue…” “Top drawer!” “Thanks and the…” “Yeah, right here, hurry, you’re going to be late!” (What, that doesn’t make sense to you?)
6) At the end of the day, nothing beats having an amazing partner to come home to, laugh with, cry with, and share your life with. It’s hard work but so worth it.

What do you think readers? Do you agree? Am I full of it? Any tips you’d care to add? Thanks for having me Aly!

Guest Blog: This Movie is Not Yet Rated

I'm not only a huge from of today's special guest blogger's writing & awesome interior decorating skillz (and yes, that deserves a 'z') - I was lucky enough to meet her in person back in 2008! Janet is absolutely beautiful, and one of the loveliest people I know in the blogosphere: go and ogle her pretty blog right now!

Hello, everyone. It’s Janet from Love is Blonde hanging out here while Aly’s off being a global travel goddess.

How many people do you know who have a story like Aly and Jase’s? Met in Sydney, lived in London, got engaged in Prague, traveling across the world back home to their dream wedding?

It’s almost too much to handle (the jealousy, I mean.)

So suspend belief for just one moment with me here… assume that:

  • Reese Witherspoon once again has long hair.
  • Reese Witherspoon is not otherwise occupied at this time portraying The Pioneer Woman in a different Hollywood movie.
  • John Mayer gives up singing and moves over to acting.
  • John Mayer cleans up his look and does not look like this guy anymore.
  • Reese and John are both able to master a delightful Aussie accent.
Don’t you just think that the box-office hit, romantic comedy depicting Aly and Jase’s life could totally be played by these two?

Do you have a better celebrity look-a-like for the two lovebirds? Leave it in the comments – or better yet, do you have the perfect movie title?

Guest Post: Well Played, Universe

Well folks, this officially kicks off a string of guest posts from some of my favourite bloggers scattered around the globe. I can't remember how I came across Emily's blog, but I've loved it {and her!} from day one and was even lucky enough to steal her for brunch while she was visiting London. I hope you'll leave her some love as she's truly wonderful.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll probably know there are a few things I'm rather passionate about. Music, great writing, history, education, science, compassion, travel... these all hold special places in my heart. Bigger things, challenges, growth, introspection, and the psychology behind so many things we experience along our paths also fascinate me. I'd love to be a fly on the wall of humanity, witnessing the ways in which we live, interact with each other, think of and define ourselves, react and relate to people and events, and why every one of us is so very different. To watch our minds' internal hardwirings mesh with our hearts' deepest emotions, combine with the global supporting cast, and see the endless dramatic possibilities play out on the stage that is our lifetime.

Gravitation is one of the fundamentals of nature (I did say 'science'...), in which objects with mass attract one another. But I think the same philosophy can also be applied to our interpersonal relationships - applied to that global cast of characters that have starring roles at various stages in our life. I like to think people come in and out of our lives being gravitationally pulled in and out of each other's orbit, in an elaborate dance orchestrated by the Universe, only learning the steps as we go. Sometimes we try and make it work - just because the person has arrived in our life, we automatically think we're supposed to have some sort of relationship with them - but I think certain people are placed in our lives to teach us lessons, not just to befriend.

Interpersonal relationships and their subsequent timing, strengthening, weakening, death and resurrection absolutely fascinate me. I'm a firm believer that everything in life has its right time for happening, and a lot of personal frustration can stem from wanting to have control over when things happen in our life rather than having faith that they will, when they're supposed to. This can happen with wanting the right job, the right house, the right friends, the right partner... we grow up with this notion that by a certain age, we should have certain things, and if they haven't happened yet, we go into panic mode.

We start believing there must be something wrong with ourselves, especially when surrounded by Things Happening for Everyone Else, and it's natural to start comparing ourselves. We become frustrated and start delving into action plans, trying to take control over something the Universe will ultimately provide when the timing is right. I believe there are lessons that need to be learned before certain things can happen. These lessons will only get more pronounced and more difficult if we don't take the hint the first time around, and will ultimately end up being those Major Life Lessons we look back on sometimes as turning points, times when things started to turn around.

I've had a couple of instances of this in my life, the biggest probably being the lesson of learning to have some sort of self-worth. Going through a string of terrible boyfriends in my late teens/early twenties; people who lied, cheated, became emotionally and physically abusive, that I continued to stay with because I didn't feel I was worth any better. I honestly thought I'd be better off taking what I could get, even it if put me at risk, because it'd be better than being alone. I want to take my younger self and give her a good shaking for allowing this to happen, but you know what? I had to go through it because it was a lesson I needed to learn. The Universe had hinted at it with the first Bad Boyfriend, hinted a little harder with the next, and slapped me in the face with it with the final one when I ended up questioned by the police about how I'd been treated, and spending a chunk of time in the hospital. If that's not a sign I needed to change things, I don't know what is. But it was the wanting to have control that made it get to that point. Lesson learned, however, and once I'd learned that I had to start believing I was worth more, and set some standards for what's acceptable, then I was delivered an incredible man who's helped me grow, believe in myself, and I'll be marrying in seven weeks' time.

The other big lesson is one I still believe I'm learning. Do you ever have people in your life who keep showing up, when you wish you could close the door on them and never have to see or hear about them again? People from the past who've hurt you, old flames, former friends, people who define you by who you were when you knew them, refuse to see the person you've become, and just keep showing up? It's frustrating. You see their face somewhere and you want to ask the Universe why - why are they still here when all I want to do is move on? The interwoven fabrics of our social networks, especially in the day and age of the Internet, can make this especially hard, and just because you've moved on from one relationship doesn't mean everyone else in both parties' networks feel the same way. So what's the lesson here? Lately, I've come to the realisation that the Universe is trying to teach me the lesson of acceptance. Allowing things to be, without reacting to them, without getting frustrated, defensive or annoyed. Accepting the situation that this person still exists and you may bump into them every once in a while, and that's okay. Let go of frustration, because you know what?

Who cares. This was what a good friend told me a couple of weeks ago when I started fretting about something I couldn't control. Who cares? Nobody. Nobody at all cares, and if you've moved on from a relationship with someone, it doesn't matter if they still show their face every once in a while. Yes, it would be nice if once doors had been closed on bad relationships, you never had to be reminded of them again, but the reality proves otherwise. You have no control over it, so just accept that they're here, without getting exasperated about it. Accept that you've become a better person since, and it doesn't matter what the other party thinks, because they're not in your life any more. There will always be people who'll talk. People who'll never move on from the chapter in which your lives intersected. People will be pulled in and out of your gravitational orbit for some reason or another, and you may not want them to. But that's okay. As long as you make the choice to live the life you want, make the right choices, be the best person you can be, grow from experiences, let go of the past, and focus on making the present the best you can, that's all you can control. I think I'm learning this lesson as we speak - and I'm already feeling a whole lot better.

Hear that, Universe?

Fare Thee Well, London Town

As I write this blog post, I'm lying on a mattress that's sprawled out on our living room floor.

Looking around the flat, I'm taking in my surroundings. There are moving boxes stacked in the corner, the corner where the treadmill used to lie and where Oscar used to sleep on. Looking around a little further, I can see the square alcove in the wall - we never did figure out what it was originally used for, but we turned it into a storage space for blankets & occasionally to store the cat toys. The huge l-shaped lounge, with its annoying pillows that always, always get messed up. Our orange kitchen, the one that is so modern that it doesn't need doors on any of the cupboards. The drawers, which we had to move all of our food products out of, because the cat figured out how to stand on his hind legs and open them. The full length windows with beautiful light and their view down Ladbroke Grove, the millions of buses with squeaky brakes, the ambulance, fire and police sirens that blare down our street every night, the tourists that hoard the neighbourhood each weekend for the Portobello Markets, that really pretty church I've always wanted to visit... this is our home. This was our home.

And even before this, our old apartment in the East side of London - with views across the Thames to the o2 stadium and to Canary Wharf. Our old noisy neighbours and our mouldy bathroom with its crusty ventilation fan. The place where we brought Oscar home as a kitten, lost him under the refrigerator that one time, and called home first.

So many memories. I could go on and on.

Somehow, I've reached the end of my London journey. I can't even describe what an experience it has been for me, but I do know that it's one I'll never forget. I'm surprised to admit that it even makes me a little emotional thinking of leaving here for good - who knew I'd grow so attached to a city thousands of miles away from 'home'? But, as people predicted, I learned to call it 'home' here too. And I will miss this place.

Jase and I accomplished a lot during our time spent over here. We moved in together for the first time. We celebrated our sixth, seventh & eighth anniversaries. We survived an apartment move, clear from one side of the city to the other. We adopted Oscar-cat and started our own little family. We worked and lived on a joint budget. We got engaged and we started planning a wedding. We used our long weekends wisely, and added some new European cities to our 'countries visited' list. We've grown up, so much, together.

I'll always remember these things as happening during the time I lived in London.

Tomorrow I set off on my travels - a month discovering Europe with two of my best girlfriends, followed by an amazing pre-wedding-moon with my amazing & hard-working fiancĂ©. I still can't believe how fast time has gone, but here we are. Farewell London: thanks for the memories.

This blog will soon play host to some fabulous guest bloggers that I am lucky to call friends, so please show them some love while they're here. And if you're in need of some wedding-related rambles, I'll be posting at Weddingbee while I'm away - so make sure you add my feed to your readers.

Be safe & well, friends - I can't wait to speak with you again from the other side of the globe in a few weeks time.  I hope you'll stick around as we embark on a whole new set of adventures back in Sydney.

The Band That Brought Us Together

This past week, Jase and I got to do something that I never thought we would be lucky enough to experience - twice! We saw not one, but two concerts put on by our favourite band. Now this isn't just any old band that we like: this is the band that brought us together. Speaking of that story, I recapped it for my blog over at Weddingbee the other day, so if you want some of the juicier details, click here to read it. But back to the story at hand...


{I took approximately 5,000 photos just like this one, only blurrier.}

This was a pretty big deal for us - bands don't tend to make their way down to Australia because it is simply too far for them to travel - so for us to get to see them twice in our last few weeks of living in London, well, it felt like the fates were speaking to us once again. Jase was in charge of booking the tickets, got excited while doing so and ended up purchasing a second batch as well, which ended up being their final show in London.

I can't even begin to tell you what an experience this was for us. The band are amazing live, they had so much energy and so much personality - and they sing better live than they do on albums. Jase has been listening to recaps of the concert on his iPhone pretty much every day since the concert, they are just that good.

{I am totally about to bust out of my chair with excitement.}

We've been undecided on choosing a song for our first dance for all these months, but we always agreed that it's only fitting it be a Lifehouse number. (And, you know, if the guys wanted to schedule a Sydney visit in June in order to make a live cameo appearance, I'm sure we could loan them a few sofa beds to put them up for the night!) But since I'm being realistic and all, we're playing it safe and deciding between audio versions instead.

Our top choice, and the song that we call 'ours' is Everything. We're not using it for a few reasons, though: it's too long, and I refuse to ruin the song by chopping it into pieces for a few minutes of awkward shuffling, and also because a cousin of mine used it at his own wedding and I don't want to repeat it. Instead, we're torn between a few other alternatives - and luckily, they played a few of them at their concerts. We still haven't made a decision yet, but I think we're a lot closer now.

It's funny how seeing the band live has made me feel like I'm eighteen years old all over again. I'll admit, over the years I started to lose interest in them - but watching them rock out in person brought everything flooding back. I'm always going to be in debt to the band that led me to my best friend, and to my soul mate.

PCOS Is Not My Friend: The Acne

By now you've read about my PCOS journey in a number of different ways: the problems with my cycle, the weight related difficulties and the body hair dilemma. Now we're onto the next, and probably most superficial of all of my symptoms: the acne. Oh, the acne. It's the bane of my existence. My chin seriously hates me right now.

I was a lucky teenager, I really was. Looking back, I never remember having problems with my skin - I had the occasional bad luck with pimples, and I always did have quite oily skin, but I never had acne like others did. I even remember being complimented for having such a nice, clear complexion. Oh hindsight, you are an evil, evil thing. My face is anything but clear now. Who would've thought that I'd ever wish for those days again?

I first noticed that my skin had changed when I moved to London. I don't know exactly what the cause of it was, but I liked to blame the harder water here in the city; but my face did not react well to the move overseas. My face, once prone to oiliness, changed completely. It became very, very dry in some places, but remained oily in others. During the first few years here, I also suffered with problems with my skin after I travelled; it would become extremely red, irritable and scratchy - as if I'd contracted some kind of rash. The pharmacist in the UK recommended I use sorbolene/aquaeous cream for moisturising, but the pharmacist back home in Sydney prescribed me with a mild cortisone cream, which helped quite a lot. But that was just the beginning.

Since starting on the Metformin tablets, I've been experiencing quite bad acne; particularly around the chin and neck. Since I've never really suffered from acne before, it's safe to say that I feel awful - they are red and inflamed, and they often seem to form little cysts - so giant red lumps that don't really ever get any 'head'. {Gross, right?} The worst part is that even if I do my best not to pick or squeeze, they scar. The red cysts eventually disappear but they leave behind a mark. My once-clear skin is now very, very scarred.

I have also been getting little bouts of acne on my back, which again, is the kind that leaves marks. I've been using bio-oil to try and reduce the scarring, but it's not really doing much good - my skin is so fair that even the smallest of bumps leaves a spot behind. It's awful. Here's me trying to get in the best shape and physical health I've been in before, and I'm spotted and marked. What lovely wedding pictures I'm going to take, eh?

Quite a few adults suffer from acne, but I'll be honest: it was not something I bargained for. I never expected to suffer from this, and especially not in my twenties - so much for escaping the hormonal crap once you're out of the teens! If I'm still not happy with my face clearing up in the next few months, that'll be one of the first things on my agenda when I have my follow up visit back in Sydney in December.

Have you ever experienced adult or cystal acne before? What did you use to combat it?

Oscar's Travels

I realised the other day that I forgot to mention how everything was going with Oscar-cat and his transition to moving overseas with us. Let me just start by announcing this: SENDING A PET OVERSEAS IS FREAKING EXPENSIVE. Okay, I feel better already. Well, I don't really - I'm still in a bit of shock as to how much this is costing us, but you do what you've got to do when it's for your family.

Yes, we consider him to be a part of our family. No, he's not just a cat. Yes, we could have left him behind and saved some money. No, we're not those kind of people. Seriously, you should hear some of the things people say when we explain how difficult this process has been for us. They're beyond obnoxious. Do they think we don't know that this is a costly venture that not everyone would choose to pay out for? Do they think we don't know that we could have an entire farm full of kittens for what we're paying for Oscar? He's our pet. When we adopted him over here back in 2008, this was one of the decisions we were prepared for.

Okay, rant over. To summarise what's happened so far, here's a bit of background information for you:

Two years ago, I researched the cost involved in having Oscar imported. You paid a fairly hefty sum in British Pounds for his export certificate, his specially made travel crate and his actual plane ticket. And then, upon arrival back in Sydney, you paid the Australian quarantine agency a per day fee {like a boarding fee} which would cover his mandatory 30-day stay there. Back then, the cost was pretty reasonable: around $15 per day, in Australian dollars. Still a bit hefty, yes, but it's pretty comparable to if you were simply boarding a pet in a kennel.

Unfortunately, when I got more quotes in the past few months, the prices had skyrocketed. I'm not just talking an increase of a couple of dollars, I'm talking over double the original cost. And here's the problem: it's not like you can shop around and get a better deal. Quarantine is quarantine. You pay, or you don't take your pet home with you.

This threw a few spanners in the works, especially in budgeting terms, but we'd already made our minds up. Let's face it, we knew the day we brought his gorgeous kitten face home with us, that he'd be ours. Always. No getting around it. I mean: LOOK AT HIM. And he's gotten even more handsome as he grows up.

Fast forwarding to now: we have his flight paid for. We have a company organising his carry case. We've done all his shots. We have his final veterinary visit booked for next month, which Jase is in charge of chauffeuring. His place is booked in the quarantine cattery back in Sydney. He's all set to go. We've timed our own travels so time up perfectly with his release from quarantine. We fly home from Honolulu and pick him up that very same afternoon.

I know we're doing the right thing by sending him home - but I still have The Guilt about doing it. He'll be travelling by himself, he'll be looked after by strangers for an entire month, and he'll exit all of that in a very hot Australian December to a brand new place to live. I plan on spending as much quality time with him this week as I can.. because I know how much I'll be missing my little man for the next two months.

Operation Healthy: Three Months In

This is an ongoing battle for me - catch up on the journey so far by visiting these links:

Operation Healthy: One Month In
Operation Healthy: Two Months In

It's nice to be eating real food again. Since I'm basically the world's fussiest eater, I knew that eating pre-prepared meals for two months straight would be a stretch. In truth, I made it through probably half that time before starting to dread the thought of eating another one ever again. Aside from a few granola packs that I'm finishing off, I'm back to my usual diet now, and loving it! It's so empowering to be able to pick and choose everything that I fancy eating, provided it's within a reasonable portion.

Writing that out above still makes me feel a bit embarrassed. It's the basic mantra we all know about a healthy diet - everything in motivation. Yeah, I'm just catching on to that now. But better late than never, right?

This month, we've had a lot of visitors. I have thoroughly enjoyed running a bed and breakfast type home-stay for everyone who's been passing through, it's been great - but it's also so much hard work. The constant cleaning, organising your day around other people's schedules, planning meals in advance wherever possible and eating out way more than usual, well, it completely threw my routines out the window. But I tried to pick decent meal choices, I kept up my gym visits and I jumped back on the bandwagon as soon as I felt wobbly.

For the first time, I noticed that quite a few of my clothes are fitting differently. I'd noticed it in a pair of jeans last month, but that was just a one-off, so I didn't think anything of it. While trying to pack for Europe, I pulled out some of my clothing from last winter, and it's definitely looser. Unfortunately I'm somewhere between my clothes looking a bit big, but not quite being a smaller size yet. The conundrum of baggy clothing vs muffin-top? I can't win!

As I expected, and similar to last month, the weight loss slowed down again, but it's still a loss, which I'm grateful for. I'm down four pounds this month, which brings my total weight loss to twenty-seven pounds.

I weighed in early, too. We sold our treadmill and our television set in anticipation of the move, and with that gone, so goes my weighing in - I use the Wii fit to track my weight loss. So four pounds in three weeks, well, I'm just fine with that! (Plus, that means my weekend in Paris didn't result in any crazy gains, even after enjoying some beautiful, beautiful food.) Anywho, I didn't quite get to 190lbs or 85kg goals I had set myself, but I'm oh so close. I'm hoping I'll manage to hit those goals while travelling, but who knows how that will turn out.. it'll be a secret.

I won't be weighing in again, or likely even talking about weight loss for a while now. It will be interesting to see how the numbers look, and how I look after the time spent travelling - I guess we'll find out on the other side soon enough!

On Cats and Cameras

Oh, Nikon D3100, where have you been all my life?

{On pre-order, of course!)

I've had a DLSR on my wish-list for the best part of this year and I've been researching them for just as long. Let's face it, I'm no photography expert. What did I want? An easy to use camera, one that I could learn with as I went along, and one that wouldn't cost me my first-born child cat. I tested out my brother's Canon 550D while he was visiting and fell in love - but I was won over by everyone telling me how great the Nikon models were. Add the fact that the D3100 was a newer, lighter, revamped model of the D3000 classic AND shoots video, well, I was sold.

I pre-ordered the camera at the end of August. I knew it was a bit of a gamble, since no official release date was announced, but there were so many pre-order deals going that I bit the bullet and went for it.

Things were all going fine, until I noticed that the estimated delivery time on all the websites stayed as an estimate. I was worried. What happened if the camera release was delayed? What happened if the delivery was late? What was the point in ordering a fancy pants camera that didn't even arrive in time for me to take it with me to Europe? Imagine, if you will, me in a mild state of panic.

I emailed the store I'd pre-ordered through. I emailed other stores, to see if they'd heard anything. I even emailed Nikon Europe to see if they could tell me when it was due in - but I still didn't get an answer. I got a call last week though, to tell me that it was in stock! The store I bought it through were really fabulous, and shipping it next day for me - complete with a free memory card, storage backpack & photo editor. I've been playing with it constantly since, trying to get my head around all the bells and whistles.

Unfortunately it's been gloomy and rainy outside for the past week, so I've spent my time capturing two subjects: Jason and Oscar. One is being more co-operative than the other in regards to having his picture taken, so here are some of my favourite snapshots so far, straight out of the camera. I hope you like them as much as I do!

PCOS Is Not My Friend: The Hairy Stuff

The PCOS saga continues: this time focusing on the fairly hairy (oh ha!) subject of body hair. One would think that having a whacked-out cycle and a tendency to put on weight like nobody's business would be as awful as it gets, but no. It's not. Another common symptom of PCOS that I have found myself suffering from is excess hair growth.

When I was on the pill, I didn't really have any noticeable problems with body hair. I have fair skin and fair hair for the most part, and I didn't have anything to complain about. It wasn't until I stopped using the birth control pill that things went a little haywire; obviously the shift in hormones was to thank for that.

I began noticing that my leg hairs grew back seemingly thicker and darker after shaving, and at a faster rate than before. I started paying more attention to the fuzzy blonde hairs that were on my cheeks {I like to call them my mini-sideburns.} I saw hairs that had started growing on my belly. I began playing with the hairs that had sprouted out of my chin and neck, without even realising I was doing it. I remember Jase calling me out on it for the first time, and feeling absolutely mortified. How long had I been doing that for? Was I drawing people's attention to my lady-beard? Was it noticeable? I began constantly examining my face in the mirror & wondering what to do next.

The hair growth started off fairly mild. But as I'd began plucking them out, they grew in quite coarse and again, seemed darker. I've never waxed any part of my body before {let's not talk about my one ill-fated home waxing strip experiment, remember that one?} and I was petrified of taking any step that would result in me having to constantly remove the hair for the rest of my life. I'm a low maintenance kind of girl.

It took me a while to figure out what to do, but I eventually went with a hair removal cream, which worked out quite well. I use it sparingly on my chin, and it helps get rid of the nastier dark hairs - I only do it every couple of weeks, and it makes my self confidence soar afterwards! There's not much I can do about the hairs, to be honest - much like acne, it's hormonal and will probably settle back down again if I were to go back on birth control.

But, thanks to the never ending random cycle of annoyance that is PCOS, I'm trying to avoid being back on those for the moment, to monitor my natural cycle and to eventually figure out the best way to conceive.

Boo to the hairyness!

And it doesn't even stop there. Unfortunately, as I've found out for myself, women with PCOS are prone to ingrown hairs, due to the coarser hair that grows on our bodies. That explains why I've suffered from more of those in the last few months than I can ever remember. They're painful and they're gross and I hate them.

Now, I should add here that I also suffer from a different dermatological problem that I've had for as long as I can remember; I'm fairly sure it's hereditary, as my dad has always had it too. It's called keratosis pelaris and it's basically a skin condition that presents itself as lots of dry, lumpy spots all over the back of my arms and my upper thighs. It's one of the reasons why I have issues with my arms, because those bumps often lead to pimples which lead to redness and scarring. Add in the pre-disposition to suffer from ingrown hairs, and it's not a pretty sight.

I have scarring on my arms, on my upper thighs and on the inside of my knees. I exfoliate all the time, especially since I shave my legs - but it doesn't seem to help. I've read somewhere that tea tree oil can help with ingrown hairs, so I may try this next. I've never been a skin baring kind of girl, but it's still hard not to feel embarrassed by all the marks and wobbles and other quirks that I've discovered as I've gotten older - and I haven't even gone through the pregnancy stage yet! But it's the only body I've got, so I'm learning to love it anyway.

Looking back, these posts do appear to be all about me complaining and whinging about the problems I'm facing - but let's face it, this syndrome sucks. I'm hoping there will be more positive outcomes as the months progress, depending on how things go with diet changes in particular. But for the meantime, this series is documenting how I'm feeling right now, which I think is important. Thanks for following along with me, I appreciate you letting me vent it out.

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