Saturday, 28 April 2012

New hair

Back at the beginning of February, I gave you the power to choose my new hairstyle. After the poll closed and the votes were counted, life (and 2 poorly children) managed to get in the way so I didn't actually make it to the hairdresser's until yesterday.

Are you ready to see the result?



The hairdresser must have cut off a good 6 inches of hair and it felt like a weight lifted from my shoulders when she did it. I feel lighter, brighter and much more fun.

This is actually the sleek and straightened version as styled by my hairdresser but honestly? I'm never going to style my hair this way. Not because I don't like it but because I don't have a hairdryer or the patience to do it! Instead, I'll be making the most of the layers she put in and I'll be rocking a much more out-of-bed messy look.

Next time, I think I'll get her to take an extra inch off the bottom so my hair stops either at chin-level or just below it; a bit more "bob" like. Of course that's assuming I manage to get back there in a few months rather than in 16!

The voting results were as follows:

Short and shaggy: 17 votes
Shoulderlength: 9 votes
Long and layered: 5 votes

Friday, 27 April 2012

A guide to staying fit and healthy during the zombie apocalypse

I'm so excited to introduce you to the first of a series of guest posts that I'll be bringing to you throughout the course of my Grr Argh! Challenge. This post is from the ever-lovely Claire Deeming; one of the first people I followed on twitter after I started this blog and with whom I've had many a conversation about various tv programmes including "The Walking Dead" and "American Horror Story".

In her own words, Claire is "co-creator & keeper of 2 small children, gallavanter, bit of a rubbish SAHM as incapable of staying in the house, lapsed blogger and future survivor of the zombie apocalypse".

After you've read her post, go and follow Claire on twitter and give her a good prodding until she updates her blog; Chapters of Claire. Also, read the very first thoughts she had about the zombie apocalypse in this post here.

I hope you enjoy Claire's writing as much as I do!

Know how keeping fit and living clean adds years to your life? Well you're going to be spending those years in a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by hordes of The Undead. Well done, you.

On the other hand maybe you spent the non-apocalyptic years troughing cake, guzzling wine, and sitting on the sofa so much that the cushions have been left with a permanent indentation the exact size and shape of your bum cheeks ...

Either way, the zombies are here and the non-savvy are about to become lunch. You need to play smart but you also need to live smart.

Keep fit, eat right, live longer.

Look the part

Many forms of exercise are about having the right kit. You wouldn't play football in a wetsuit and flippers, would you? The zombie apocalypse is no exception. Keep it simple - you don't need a fashion montage played out to 80's power chords (a training montage is, however, essential) - but stuff the budget and loot the best stuff you can lay your hands on.

A good pair of running shoes is the first item on your list. Realistically how much running am I going to be doing?, I hear you ask.

Lots. Lots and lots and lots.

Take heart, you don't need to outrun the many hundreds of thousands of reanimated corpses all hoping to have a chomp on your tasty bits. Yay! Good news! You just need to outrun the people around you. Save your partner and your kids, even save your parents and siblings if you can, but how attached are you really to Great Aunt Mildred? If the answer is 'not very' then make damn sure you can run faster than her because while the walkers are enjoying a mid-jog snack you're going to be enjoying a quick get-away. The right running shoes are pivotal in this. Yes, you'll look a bit like a prat, especially if they're the luminous chunky affairs favoured by sullen teens, but you'll be a living prat.

Second on the list is body armour.

I know, right? Where the hell do you loot body armour from? You don't. You make it.

Bet you're wishing you'd watched more episodes of Blue Peter now.

Resist the urge to coat yourself in sticky-back plastic, it won't help your mobility and will just annoy the zombies when they have to unwrap you. No, your cobbled together body armour needs to be two things - lightweight and hard to bite through. I've done some extensive research on this ...

... okay, so I've mooched around the house for twenty minutes experimentally biting various objects ...

You need layers of clothing, around four or five seems to be the optimum number, and the top layer should be some kind of nylon-polyester blend - check Great Aunt Mildred's wardrobe. Any less than four layers and it's too weak, more than five and it's too difficult to move. It'll probably still hurt to get bitten but it's less likely to break the skin which means it won't infect you.

Third on the list is a scarf to protect your neck. Zombies always go for the neck, don't become another mindless statistic. Throw some wristbands on too, after the neck they go for wrists. Not so much the face though so do what you like with that.

Now that you're dressed in your four layers of synthetic fabrics, day-glo trainers, and natty woolen scarf it's time to move on to the next step:

Feeding the machine

Your body is a precision machine of something or other. It's a temple where muscles come to worship and exercise is king or however it goes.

I'd check Google for an inspirational quote about looking after one's body but it's the zombie apocalypse, Google is gone and nobody likes a pedant.

Your main activities for the foreseeable future are going to be running and hiding. Sometimes you'll shake it up a bit by hiding and then running. You might find time for some zombie slaying and the occasional narrow escape. If 'The Walking Dead' is to be believed you will also find the time and inclination to have sex with both your partner and your partner's best friend.

You'll be getting hungry at some point then.

High energy, nutritious meals that can be prepared quickly, quietly, and without delicious-yet-zombie-attracting-smells are your friend. The Simpsons once said 'you don't win friends with salad' but you do get to live longer when the world ends. Eat salad and for desert have a banana, bananas are high energy. Don't worry about fibre or looking after your gut or keeping regular. It's the zombie apocalypse, you're going to be so scared that you'll have no trouble keeping regular.

Salad is easy to carry, easy to prepare, has no aroma, and it can be foraged. Those fields that no one is harvesting are bloody full of salad so no matter where you decide to hide there'll be food available, plus salad keeps you slim and we all know it's the tubby slowpoke who gets eaten first. Save the BBQs and fry-ups for when you've secured a reasonably permanent stronghold with a defensible perimeter.

On the subject of BBQs and fry-ups, avoid eating anything that used to be alive before it was killed and chopped into food. Think about it. The zombies are reanimated dead people infected with whatever it is that's made them reanimate. It therefore stands to reason that anything else dead could also be infected. Imagine how much of a joke you'll be to the other survivors if you evade a zombie bite but are then infected by your celebratory hamburger. It's best to just steer clear.

Salad good, meat bad, glad that one has been cleared up and we can move on to:

Keeping fit

Never before has it been so vital to stay in shape. Not only do you need to be able to run (or at least outpace unpopular relatives) you also need to be agile enough to climb stuff, slim enough to squeeze into the smallest of hiding places, and fit enough to do it all on a diet of salad and bananas whilst wearing umpteen layers of clothing complete with scarf and stupid trainers.

Stretching is important before running for any sort of distance, last thing you want is for your hamstring to seize up part way through an epic chase because those zombies will not sit back and wait while you frantically massage it back to working order. Oh no sirree, they heard as far as 'ham' and started moving even faster. They probably won't allow any time before the chase for you to limber up either.

It would seem the best solution is to keep yourself in a state of constant readiness. Whenever you're not running you should do stretching exercises in preparation for when it's time to start running again. You'll be tired, loot some Pro-Plus, and the rest of your group will think you're a bit weird but who'll be laughing maniacally when they're struck down with a leg cramp while you're jittering your way over the hills and far away? You, that's who - and that's a sure sign that you need to lower your intake of Pro-Plus.

When the early days of the apocalypse come to a close and your survival becomes less run and more hide you can ease off on the stretches. They're difficult to do in confined spaces and the other survivors (the ones you didn't leave behind as zombie fodder) might decide to throw you to the walkers after you've done one too many squat lunges at 2am. Stay on top of the running though, even if they do decide to sling you out the nearest door or window for doing laps of the 6ft by 8ft room all twenty of you are huddled in at least you'll be able to run away from the zombies.

So in summary: you should eat right, exercise, and wear appropriate clothing so that when the zombies attack you can continue to eat right, exercise, and wear appropriate clothing .......

Or you could just eat, wear, and do whatever you want and hope that the zombie who eats you chokes.

Monday, 23 April 2012


Week one : Begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then alternate 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.

Making the decision to start the Grr Argh! Challenge was relatively easy. It was taking the first step into doing it that was hard.

So last Wednesday night, in an effort to stop my brain from overthinking the whole getting started issue, I got up off the settee, dug my trainers out from the very bottom of my wardrobe, put them on and generally got on with it!

I quickly learnt an important lesson: don't go running unless you're wearing a sports bra that keeps your boobs where they're meant to be. Not unless you want to spend the whole duration of your run with your hands tightly pressed to your chest to stop any unnecessary flapping. Yes I had to do that. No it wasn't fun.

Fortunately, I quickly learnt another important lesson: 25 minutes is really not very long at all, especially when you're alternating running and walking.

I'm not going to bore you all with a blow by blow account of each of the 3 runs I completed. Instead, here are the highlights:

I can run for 60 seconds! Each time I thought "I can't run anymore", I'd glance at the clock and realise I only had 10 or 20 seconds left so I'd keep going. It's much easier to tell yourself to carry on running when you know you only have to do it for however many seconds.

90 seconds of walking feels like an age by comparison to 60 seconds of running. It gave me enough time to get my breathing back under control and feel ready for the next stint.

I immediately felt energised after the first run and found myself looking forwards to the next 2. My mood has been noticeably happier and more relaxed. My appetite has increased and rather than skipping meals, I've been making an effort to fuel myself and drink more (although my nutrition knowledge is pretty rubbish and I have no idea about what makes a decent pre and post workout snack).

It's early days but I'm already starting to rethink my attitude towards running. Rather than finding it boring, I'm enjoying the peace, the opportunity to be by myself and the freedom of not having to think of anyone else. So far, it's been a liberating experience. I just hope that carries on through the remainder of the plan.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Extending an invitation

Now I've announced the details of my new Grr Argh! Challenge, which will take place over a period of 9 weeks, I'd like to invite YOU to get involved by writing a guest post to appear here on my blog.

I want to hear about the challenges you've undertaken to improve your health and fitness. What made you start? What were the high and low points? How did you get on? What did you learn about yourself?

Maybe you can share your tips on how to keep yourself motivated when it comes to exercising and how you find the time to fit exercise into your life (especially if you're a parent of small children).

Or maybe you'd like to share the music you listen to when you exercise. Why did you choose it? What makes a perfect playlist?

If you're not one for writing on the topic of fitness, don't be put off. Instead, why not come and share your thoughts about the zombie apocalypse? Do you have an action plan? Have you picked out a safe haven? Planned some emergency supplies? Got your weapons sorted? I want to know!

Don't think you can't contribute because you're a newer blogger and you've never written a guest post before, you just need to be enthusiastic and I promise your post will find a happy home here!

If you'd like to guest post, please email me at OR leave a comment and your email address in the comments section below so I can get in touch with you.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Grr argh! A new challenge

"Look! There's a ready made perimeter we can defend"

"We can pick them off one by one from that vantage point up there"

These are just 2 of the things I've said to husband recently. What am I talking about?  the zombie apocalypse, of course.

You see, if we're going to be overrun by hordes of the undead then I want to be prepared and that means, as a bare minimum, I want to have picked out a safe haven we can head to in order to reduce the risk of us becoming zombie fodder.

Except, I realised the other day there's a flaw in my plan. There's no point in having a zombie apocalypse action plan if I can't actually evade them in the first place. After all, it's highly unlikely that when a plague of the undead begins, we'll all have time to leisurely troop to our cars and make our escape. What if I'm in town with the boys in the double pushchair? How am I going to keep us all alive then?

It pains me to say this but the answer is I have to be able to run, potentially at speed, potentially carrying the extra weight of the boys, and without getting a stitch or collapsing. Crap.

I have what is described in healthy living quizzes in magazines as a "sedentary lifestyle". I don't exercise at all and although I'm not averse to starting some form of exercise, I find it hard to figure out when I will fit some in and to motivate myself to get started.

So it's time to be honest with myself. I'm unfit. I'm severely lacking in both stamina and endurance, and without wanting to sound overly dramatic, I'm setting a bad example to my children and I'm ultimately putting my health at risk.

Running is the last thing I want to start doing. I find the whole idea of it boring and uninspiring and I just don't get why so many people are so "into it". But, I'd rather run than have to sacrifice myself to the undead so the rest of my family can make their escape because I'm slowing them down.

That's why I've decided to set myself a fitness challenge and for me, it really will be a challenge.

For the next 9 weeks, I will be following the Couch to 5k plan devised by the NHS (or, as I've "affectionately" named it; the Grr Argh! Challenge). The idea behind this running plan is to get people off the settee and help them build up to running a distance of 5k (or for 30 minutes).

The plan is much less daunting than a full-on running programme because (1) it starts off by alternating short bursts of running with longer periods of walking (2) it's initially only for 25 minutes and (3) you only have to run 3 times a week. It's also a big plus that I don't need any special equipment (apart from a decent pair of trainers) and it doesn't cost anything.

I'll be posting a weekly update every Sunday to let you all know how I've been getting on.

Wish me luck.

Grr Argh!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Commercial break : I spy with my little eye

...something beginning with U


Click on the badge below to join in with Mum of One's game of I Spy and to see the other entries:
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