Friday, 16 November 2012

Dieting with 360hft

In an attempt to live by my own words I am bringing my branding in line so to follow the rest of my 360hft diet experience just keep visiting my Facebook page marketingjd. Follow me on Twitter @marketingjd or visit my website:

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Dieting to Masterchef

Yes, with hindsight I think I would have perhaps given more thought to my decision to do the 360hft workout while watching Masterchef. As I raised and lowered my legs for the third set of reps it didn't urge me on to watch Greg open his mouth wide to taste a scrumptious looking dessert oozing with sugar and decorated with glittery sugar strands! But to be fair, my first day on the programme was easy. The online regime comprises a short, sharp exercise routine which looks as easy as pie (mmmmmmm....pie) but is actually pretty tough. So tough that when I got up off the floor one of my legs gave way! Directly after the workout Iain's slow, calming voice is a cool-down in itself and then he gives you your nutritional tip for the day. I've done a bit of a 360hft workout before and I know what's coming but my first order of the day was to simply drink more water. Now I should say that this is more difficult for me than it sounds. The last time Iain led a workout session for me and some of my friends we all ached in our thighs the next day which made getting on and off the toilet somewhat of an agonising experience. So putting more water in my diet is well...just cruel! So not too bad on the exercise and only a slight change to my diet. Bring it on day two.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Party Perfect or Party Pants?

Yes 360hft is my client. Yes I know I'm not fat. So now we have those statements out there. I have decided to rise to the challenge of the 360hft Party Perfect Plan and prepare myself for that 'red carpet moment'. never know when Hubby will whisk me off to the next red carpet do face to face interviews for his charity. I know this is a fitness and diet plan run by my client so I should be biased but...I figure Iain Pritchard and his fitness mentoring can only do 30% of the work...the rest has quit a lot to do with me. The success or failure of this challenge is down to me. And just as 'blogging' encouraged me to commit to doing the marathon, so I hope it keeps me on the straight and narrow tape measure that is the Party Perfect Plan. Have I ever been truly fat? Yes. Many many times I have told friends the story of how I met my would-be Hubby at Uni then left him almost immediately to go tour and work America for four months. Terrible diet, including loads of Budweiser, and a flatmate who worked at Dunkin' Donuts where the privileges were...err free donuts of course...led me to put on a few pounds. I arrived home and 'fairly new boyfriend' arrived with his mate on my doorstep to take out the beautiful young student he had wooed 4 months earlier. (MY blog. My recollections!) As I opened the door bestmate (questionable term) turns to said boyfriend and whispers, rather loudly if you ask me: "Eeee she's a whale...let's just drive away!" RUDE! So I have, in my time, found it necessary to *ahem!* lose a pound or two. Christmas is round the corner and in a desperate attempt to avoid the New Year depression emanating from overeating and putting on flab, I have signed up to this programme. This is being supported by Hubby who is determined to get me running again *groan*. The challenge really began last night when, in preparation for the challenge, I adopted just the same tactics as I did for the all the carbs in the house. I mineswept the fridge - both of them - and consumed more cake than I have in weeks! Don't ask why we even had a tonne of cake! And today I logged on to The Party Perfect Plan...

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Consider of the family

I have been overwhelmed by the welcome extended to me and my family during our stay in Texas. It has led me to consider what prompts people to open their doors and their lives to other people and to what extent do we do this in Britain?
I suppose it goes without saying that just to invite us to their home for 3 weeks was a huge gesture by my friends Stephanie and Greg.
Stephanie will, I am sure, agree that it was the kindness of strangers that brought us together in 1988. We were made welcome in Germany where we were both studied (loose definition) at Oldenburg University by not just the local people (one of whom I still consider a very dear friend) and the families with whom we lodged but also by the people who gave us lifts in their cars and the families who gave us beds in their homes as we travelled around. I wonder if these very acts of kindness were some of the most important lessons we learned as students.
From that year on Stephanie and I have taken it in turn to visit each other but I have seen the trips snowball and their influence affect others around us. Initially, it was our own husbands who were touched by the travel bug. My own husband had to be persuaded to go to America but soon appreciated what an incredible experience it can be to not just 'visit' another country but live the life of another native for a brief period of time, actually seeing the country through their eyes.
Then it was our children who quickly learned the huge benefits of travel...from the food to the TV programmes.
This trip, my children have eaten TexMex, tried out American football, trained as a cheerleader and, of course, learned the lingo. ("I'm going to sue you" now being added to their play-talk!)
I feel the link we have developed is having ripple effects through our wider friends and family.
Stephanie has stayed with both of our families (mine and my hubby's) enabling her and her family to see various parts of England from Gloucester to Edinburgh. They have benefited from the generosity of our friends- staying in Portugal at our friend Andy's villa for example. And, conversely, we have been able to travel and stay everywhere from Texas to New Jersey with Colorado in between thanks to the kindness of Stephanie and Greg's family and friends.
I only hope now that those verbal invitations I have left with the people I have met will be taken seriously.
My experience of travel is defined as cultural immersion, broadening horizons and, in short, coming home feeling you have brought back more than a suitcase of souvenirs but a heart full of memories.
Now -maybe it's time for a holiday - all that travelling is quite tiring!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Can't Believe the Tales of Folk

Anyone who knows me knows that above all else I thrive on life stories. Some may call me nosey but I prefer my Dad's term 'I have an enquiring mind.' Well, I wouldn't have made a very good journalist without that skill would I?
People fascinate me and there is no better way to collect amazing life stories than when you are travelling.
I have heard so many during my trip to America.
There are, of course, the many stories that my friend Stephanie and I exchanged about our friends and family on our week long road trip from Pampa to San Antonio but ...what goes on
Tour stays on I will tell of some of the snippets of the lives belonging to some of the complete strangers I met.
There was the woman attorney who I met at a workshop who I asked about her experiences of young carers.
Instead of offering anonymous case studies from her professional experiences she told me her own story of fostering and later adopting a baby boy whose sister had become his carer due to their parents suffering mental ill health. She told very frankly of how her family's relationship with the baby boy had worked out fine but that the girl had been so damaged that an alternative foster family had had to be found.
"She is coping now. She holds down a job and has kids. My son is at college and has already worked out that his birth family are not positive elements in his life."
Just on the journey home with Hubby and kids I got talking to a young man who told me of his dismay at having turned up at Houston airport to find that his Chinese girlfriend had been grounded overnight in Seattle.
Complete in cowboy hat, oversized cattleman's buckle and boots to match, he tells me and my youngest that he is from West Texas but teaches English as a foreign language in China - where of course he met his girlfriend.
"I was with her in China when we completed her Visa and we were successful on the second attempt. But they still got her name wrong on her ticket. She's going to stay with my cousin in Seattle until they put her on another plane."
Sleepless too no doubt!
I was sad not to be around to see their reunion and wondered, for a split second, what the Chinese English students think of their cowboy teacher.
Then there was the 65 year old nurse on her regular journey from East Texas down to Houston where she is working as a corporate nurse awaiting retirement. We discussed the cultural differences in our countries' approaches to retirement. Then she told me the story of her daughter's decision to adopt the child of a distant relative after the birth mother found herself in prison as a consequence of
substance misuse.
"She adopted the boy after 2 years of fostering. The adoption was co-ordinated by the local church which arranges 100 adoptions a year."
Ah the church. What a huge part it plays in the average American's life.
I was staying in the SouthWest where atheists are as rare as vegetarians!
One particular story of how vital faith is in the area was told to me in Pampa and I later posted the blog written by the person in question on my Facebook page.
It was the story of a woman diagnosed with a rare form of cancer whose mother admonished her for her lack of faith. A substantial dose of prayer later she found herself walking out of hospital after doctors diagnosed her cancer benign just minutes before cutting away a considerable part of her internal organs.
The point here isn't faith but that this woman blogged her experiences every step of the way.
This may be a choice made by many people experiencing a traumatic situation but I rather feel it is more symbolic of the openness of Texans to share their life stories.
I found people willing to share their most personal stories - was it just because I was a stranger passing through? Maybe. But I rather felt there was an urge to just share with a sympathetic ear.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Pride, Patriotism and the Power of Faith

There are three unquestionable loyalties evident here in the South West of America. Patriotism: evident in the proliferation of flags here. Utter unequivocal commitment to the armed forces: illustrated by everything from standing ovations to military personnel at public events and concessions for military personnel at all public museums and buildings. Faith: displayed in everything from historic monuments to bibles on sale in chemists.
Today we went to SeaWorld, San Antonio. An amazing experience for adults and children alike. My family
love killer whales and we were so excited about watching the Shamu show. We were certainly not disappointed. Just before the show began, amidst the build up created with music and emotive images on the big screen the presenter called for all the military personnel present in the building to stand up. Across the auditorium random people stood up and the whole audience then cheered and gave them a round of applause. In almost every public venue we have paid to enter- mostly museums- the concessions for entry have included seniors, students and Military personnel. It reminds me of my last visit, probably then around the time of the Gulf war, when Colin and I were asked at the dinner table of a friend to 'bow our heads in prayer for our boys in battle'. With the advent of charities such as Help for Heroes Brits have, I feel, become more aware of the impact of battle on serving men and women but this does not equal the pride of Americans in their serving men and women.
So what place does faith hold here? It
seems that multiculturality is accepted and embraced, particularly by the younger generation but it does seem that while in England we do have incidences of racism, such as during the riots, our cultures across Britain are
more diverse. I live, of course, in a city which has clear evidence of Multi-ethnicity. Here in the South West of America there is still strong evidence that the bible belt is as much a part of the area's personality as Tornados.
To enter a chemist and see bibles
on display as obviously as the magazines pertaining to Southwestern fashion and fayre is unusual to a Brit. Sitting in a restaurant in Dallas with the kids I witnessed a 30-something dad close by bow his head in silent prayer. And the churches are more frequently located than Starbucks.
Finally, patriotism. To illustrate this I need only suggest that readers look closely at my photos on FB to see that it hasn't been hard to include Old Glory in every photo. Pride and patriotism pervade.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Public Mourning

I think today was summed up by that favourite word of mine...dianafication. For those unfamiliar with the noun it is: our seeking of a shared public grief at any given opportunity. Today we witnessed an example of such in the form of a memorial to the Murrah building attack of 1995. This was, of course, when one American citizen, dissatisfied with the 'bullying' tactics of
his government took action by blowing
up a federal building killing 168 people, many of them children.
I am already aware that some of my English friends reading this might be questioning my decision to take an 11 year old and a 6 year old to such a 'tourist attraction'. My daughter was taken with the educational proviso of being tasked with making her own decision as to whether she believed the memorial to be fitting and appropriate while the youngest tagged along, listened to the 10 minute presentation then promptly 'needed a poo' thus enabling him to get mum on her own to pronounce his judgement: 'I don't want to go back there mummy, it's too sad'.

I have come to consider the appropriateness of grief in recent years and had many discussions with friends about 'public grief'. At what point does public grief become a spectacle or simple an excuse for people to jump on the grief bandwagon.
I have friends who strongly believe that the right to mourn the death of a family member is the right only of those closest to that person, those who have played a role in their life. Others have taken comfort in the shared grieving that takes place on Facebook. However I do believe that while we, as English people, have many memorials and monuments to historic events, we do not mark them in such a major way as Americans.

The Murrah memorial comprises not one but 8 component parts including two huge gates each marking the two seconds between which the bomb exploded, 168 giant statuesque chairs depicting the empty chairs now left at the dining tables of the victims's families, a reflective pool, a survivor tree, a fence incorporating well-wishers' personal tributes, a survivors' wall of names and a museum depicting the whole story.
My daughter offered her considered opinion today saying she felt the empty chairs were very 'touching' especially as those representing the children who died were fittingly smaller. But, she concluded, did they need a whole museum about it?
Do they?
My American friend puts the convincing case that this was the first incident of its kind, differentiated from 911 even in the fact that it was an incident perpetrated by a citizen of the country against his fellow men, and that, in her opinion and those of the survivors involved, the erection of the memorial was essential to ensure that the lives of those people were marked and remembered forever.
I considered comparative incidents and how they have been marked in Britain...Aberfan? A disaster which killed 116 children and 28 adults although not the fault of one person. Fred West? There popular opinion decided it was best to mark the deaths he had caused in a subtle way so as not to immortalise him.
Perhaps we should remember that the bigger we mark the tragic event the longer we will remember en masse the act of a perpetrator who might best be forgotten?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Can't Believe I'm in Texas

Yee Haw! We're experiencing life as a member of an ethnic minority. I can't say that we've experienced any negative reactions to our vampirishly pale skin, dark hair and, of course, 'funny British accents'. No, I suppose the main response from people here is to treat us like novelties, persistently asking us to speak so they can hear that 'overseas talk'. Going through the supermarket today our friend's eldest, Samantha, stopped at two boys she knew. Without looking at us she said to her mother: "Mom. Make them talk British."
In today's Global community this quaint fascination in this town with the Brit factor is as fresh now as when I first visited Texas 23 years ago.
The supermarket encounter made me question what other things have remained the same since that first visit. This thought was further fuelled by the news that during our trip I would be going back to Dallas, the city where I lived, worked and even had a minor car crash (!) when I was 21...not far off the age that Samantha is now. How would life as a 20 year old Texan, born and bred in the state, compare to my memories of being a visiting student?
We'll see.
After only a day in Pampa, situated in the barren, windswept cowboy country of what is known as The Panhandle, I have been reminded of so many of the things that I realise many people, including fellow Americans, hate about Texas but which I love.
The Texan drawl, the 'Y'alls randomly thrown into sentences like we Brits throw in swear words.
Then there's the enveloping heat and the 'traditional' heavy interior design (no Ikea here).
But these are superficial things. I'm here to investigate, absorb and analyse the many more deeper differences from health, diet and fitness to schooling and, of course, politics.
I get to Texas on average once every 4 years. I'm in my element not chilling on a beach holiday but consuming culture (sometimes literally) and absorbing the way of life and I am privileged to have like-minded friends in the Kellys who see the huge benefits of being able to expose our children so deeply to another culture. It's not for everyone but it sure is for me and hubby...y'all!

....more to come

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Can't believe I ran a marathon 8 months ago

I always feel in a slump after Christmas but on January 1 my mood changes and becomes what I can only describe as 'optimistic'. No matter what has gone before and no matter how much it is purely psychological I do feel like a New Year is a metaphorical new page. Just like many people, I make my New Year's resolutions and they tend to always read the same.
1. Lose weight and/or eat healthier
2. Get fit
3. Commit to church regularly and/or a bible study
4. Take on a new project to completion...usually one of the books I've started writing.

So no change this year in any of these items on my list.
I stepped on the scales, ate a salad for lunch, dutifully went to church on this New Year's day and opened my Dropbox file on my computer to the notes of my latest book project. But it was that 'other' item on the agenda that has me really challenged...getting fit.

I can't believe I ran a marathon 8 months ago. Not just any marathon at that but THE London Marathon.
And yet, here I am pledging once again to 'get fit'. I have no idea what happened following the amazing high I experienced after the London event. I just ...well...lost the desire or will to run. I've tried...with friends, without friends, with the pressure of a race, without pressure. I've tried forgetting running and getting on my bike instead. I've even tried forgetting about fitness altogether, taking a break over Christmas.
Slowly, during my 'break' I have felt stirrings of desire. I've found myself wistfully craning my neck out of the car window to watch other runners.
Last night I read an article on the Internet about Burn Out...true burnout...when you have over trained and pushed yourself into a sport so much you develop an aversion to it. And the optimistic conclusion to the article was...all is not lost. The general prescription was for remotivation?

So today I added 'running' to my fitness resolution and, furthermore, resolved to find a way to REmotivate myself.
I started small...really small. I made three decisions...
1. To start from scratch and learn to literally love the experience of running pain and no intention to gain
2. To blog my journey because, after all, writing is my most consistent motivator so I reckon to combine it with running will help
3. To run with an aim...not a race or an event or a time or distance schedule but purely to run as part of my daily life...

Here's my first blog (check objective 3). I started with my firt 2k run (very small) but felt every step....the cool, wet air, the darkness that I once loved to run in, the music that helped me when I started and, with today's Deuteronomy passage 'Choose Life' echoing through my head I ran to my friend's house and back to feed her pet for her before my healthy tea.

Tomorrow is another day.