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13 Month Anniversary Compare Photo

Ciao everyone! The ladies and I are back from Lagos, Portugal celebrating 1 year back in the gym. What started as a way for me to engage and share human experiences with others recovering from any immobilising illness, has evolved my audience into my on-line family. While the unseasonably good weather of mild days filled with sunlight and soft breezes have well and truly gone, your support on my inch loss journey has not only grown worldwide but continues.

In-built body image beliefs on who should be dating who is always going to make dating tricky. Fairy tales like Cinderella in which the overweight step-sisters are portrayed as “ugly” while Cinderella who was at their beck and call day and night, maintained a slim silhouette and the solitary slender foot that fit into the glass slipper. Chronicles like this perpetuate myths like “a woman must be smaller than the man she’s with” or “If a man is dating a big girl, he’s settling”.

These crazy myths will have us thinking we are not “compatible” with certain people even if they’re interested in us or that there can be no emotional connection between a fat person and a slender one. I am engaged to someone who loves me for me. My progression has been MY choice in MY time FOR ME. I cannot count how many times, after trying to hit on my boyfriend - right in front of me no less, another woman has turned her smirking face, looked my plus-sized body up and down before saying “You’re a VERY lucky girl…” What is that - a backhanded compliment? I internalize it and remind myself that unlike this person I AM NOT “all fur coat and no knickers”, I AM NOT insecure and I DO HAVE someone of my own.

As a plus-size woman, I know how hard we work to manage our body image issues and realise there are always going to be subjective viewpoints about the physical appearance on who should be dating whom. Life has taught me that any person worth his/her salt WILL NOT pass up on our other beauty, wherever it lies, just because we are “fat”. Do not absorb the snide remarks or snickers from insecure people. Do not let others dictate your dating decisions or let THEIR issues ruin your relationships. Most importantly Do not WAIT on your “ideal” WEIGHT before living your best life.

Dear Reader,

This plus-sized author can attest that …. At Windrush 2019 Saturday last, after the lights at the request of the DJ were dimmed leaving the hall bathed in a soft romantic glow, I felt the soft strong brush of my fiancé’s lips kiss my bare shoulders, sucking the breath out of my lungs and reducing my body to liquid fire. “Oh,” I groan, a world of depraved decadence in that single world….

Did I Say Yes to the Dress? - On Saturday 19th October MY GIRLS and I congregated in David’s Bridal Westfield Stratford to choose my 2020 Wedding Dress. We were boarding the plane in Portugal when I mentioned to Valerie in passing that I would love to go back next year and get married at the hotel. By the time we landed at Heathrow 2 hours and 20 minutes later Valerie had nominated herself “Wedding Organiser" and had planned the wedding. The following morning it was nigh on impossible to sleep in with the constant pinging and vibration coming from my phone. I opened an email from Valerie to find a list of things that I had to do for the wedding and knew there was no going back now. The full video of Saturday’s laughter and tears, trying on different styles of wedding dresses to see what looks good on my ever-changing silhouette, veils and other accessories is now available on this my WIX blog webpage if you scroll down to the video section when you open up my site or herewith the shortened video link (only allowed 15 mins maximum) on my YouTube channel - Ladies and in particular Valerie, thank you I loved every minute of it.

When getting dressed it isn’t necessarily the big things you do that make the most impact it is usually the little things. The small details that you just cannot quite put your finger on that make the overall look more interesting, chic, sophisticated and instantly look better. The secret tweaks that can have you well on your way to attaining the runway effortlessness that we all want and crave. Below I apply basic principles to my plus size recreations that I wore this week to see how they stack up to creating a more put-together outfit.

As the temperature drops, I find myself wanting to just throw on an oversized coat and call it a

day. I was one of those women who would shy away from layering simply because it might make

me look messy or worse, bigger. I used to believe that layering clothes on my plus size silhouette did not equal warm and polished. I was either chic and cold or warm and frumpy. I have discovered that layering need not be complicated and once mastered will keep me warm while allowing air to flow through and cool my menopausal body.

La Redoute Chunky Jumper

Jumpers are a fall style essential and to look like I threw on whatever I am wearing without thinking about it, I am trying quick

styling hacks to roll, tuck and refresh jumpers I love already own. Use this symmetry tucked into work trousers to show off a cool belt to great effect. Belt a Heavy/medium jumper to give a polished look. To create a clean look, roll the sleeve twice on the inner side of your arm before rolling or taking the entire sleeve up to where you want. It is not symmetrical but looks cool and again effortless. La Redoute Black French Style Crew Neck Chunky Jumper £21.60 with 40% off (RRP £36) Size 18/20 is the latest addition to my chunky jumper collection.

Wednesday 30 October Pinterest Recreation

ADD TEXTURE – This picture is my Wednesday 30th October Recreation. The black roll neck combined with faux suede boots a sleek red soft skirt, makes my outfit pip and pulls everything together. The feedback within minutes of posting this look on social media has been awe-inspiring. I bought the skirt back in May but I just didn't know how to wear it. I had to downsize on my roll neck jumper so that the hemline dropped in the right place without the need to tuck it in as the model has done and not draw attention to my stomach area. It is so exciting recreating outfits it makes getting dressed each morning interesting and exciting. To create the right effect I had to downsize on my roll neck 16/18 so that it doesn't fall too low over the tummy area giving the illusion of tucking in and not drowning, swamping or drawing attention to my stomach area I cannot express how good it feels to type that size. George Asda Red Satin Hanky Hem Skirt (Size 24) £14 (Bought 04.05.2019); JDWilliams Black Supercurvy Knee High Boots (Size 9EEE) £32 (reduced from £40).

With the correct layering dresses can be worn during the autumn/winter months. Accessorise

Maxi Dress & Trainers Recreation

with scarves - the bigger, bolder the colour, and more blanket-like the better. Keep your feet warm and layer socks with court shoes or a killer heel. Versace layered chunky white socks with killer heels giving an edge to the autumn/winter 2019 party season collection. Want to make it work for the office? Wear sheer socks with a mid-length skirt, pointed court shoe and hey presto you are good to go.

Maxi Dress & Trainers Outfit: Tuesday 29th October my interpretation of “Maxi Dress & Trainers” outfit. Leather against the chiffon of my maxi dress and texture contrast means I got everything going on in this outfit. I choose a lined maxi dress made from a winter-friendly fabric. The floral fabric has a dark shade i.e. black as the base colour. When it came to layering really anything goes. I could layer with a jumper on top and add a scarf or keep it more streamlined as I did in this photo wearing a leather jacket or blazer. La Redoute Black Floral Print Long Dress (Size 24) £25.20 with 40% off (RRP £42) PrettyLittleThing White Trainers (Size 8) £20.

Caramel Jacket & Tan Boots

That Third Layer: Layering makes such a big difference and gives an “intentional look” to your outfit looks. The camel jacket instantly elevates the black roll neck and black jeggings and gives the impression that some thought was put into the outfit. There is nothing wrong with the monochrome jumper and trousers but to look more polished that third layer really does the trick. It doesn’t have to be a jacket, it could be a cardigan or a shirt tied around your mid-section. JDWilliams Single Breasted Camel Jacket (Size 28) £27.50; JDWilliams Black Roll Neck Jumper (Size 16/18) £16; JDWilliams Tan Imogen Extra Wide Ankle Boots (Size 9 EEE) £25.

H&M Black Coat

H&M Black Coat with Belt £20 (RRP £49.99) (Size 26) - I love a coat like this at this time of year because it is not too heavy and still keeps me warm. A beautiful coat with silver studding detail at the cuff and hardware on the belt, something that you can throw on and inject a

little bit of fashion into a simple work outfit. The sale price paid was an added bonus.

White button Down & Jeans – A white button down and jeans are items most people have in their wardrobe. Today we slay the office attire with a semi-formal outfit. I paired this formal shirt with skinny jeans, leopard print kitten heels and matching belt portraying a subtle and sophisticated look. Cuffing a sleeve or half tucking in a shirt (if completely tucking it in makes you uncomfortable) are the kind of small tweaks that take have a massive impact and make your outfit look intentional and put together.

Notwithstanding the casual workplace dress code that allows for informal clothing choices, I like to wear clothing that is in good condition, attractive, and appropriate for work. A white crisp button-down never dates, elevates any form of tailoring or when paired with jeans like the one in this photo, creates a staple outfit in a casual work environment. I remember seeing Tina Turner in concert wearing skinny jeans, Loui Vuitton heels, a curly Afro wig and a white button-down tucked in. I have never seen her look more effortlessly chic.

Adding an “intentional twist” that are easy and take seconds to implement in the morning takes seconds is going to make the outfit look put together. That “intentional twist” could be cuffing your shirt, pants, blazer or jackets or adding belts like the leopard print belt in this recreation. Tucking in your shirt brings the eye up and by adding the leopard print belt this look instantly looked more polished and flattering on the silhouette especially if wearing jeans that work for your body shape. One subscriber posted “Oh wow! That is a daring outfit which reflects your increased confidence: There’s no hiding anything in those skinny jeans, but you rock that outfit!

To Tuck or not to Tuck - Before getting back into exercise tucking in my shirt/top/jumper was a definite no-no! I believed it would make me look a little too weighty or add bulk or excess weight to my tummy area. Whilst my compare photos above show a vast improvement in toning my stomach area, I am still not completely comfortable with exposing it. I am still playing around with different "tucks" to see what works best for me. A French tuck is when you take a portion of any top/shirt and tuck it in off-centre i.e. (a little to the right or left of your belly button) and leave the back hanging out. A dummy-proof way of creating the perfect half-tuck is to use an elastic band to create a ponytail with the centre hemline of your top/shirt, tuck it in.

Cuffing your Sleeve - There is an art to creating an effortless look simply by cuffing your sleeves. (1) Unbutton any buttons that are on the sleeve; (2) Do one long cuff up just above your elbow; (3) Cuff it up a second time i.e. cuff up to just below the cuff of your button leaving a little bit of that first original cuff peeping out so that you can; (4) Fold that cuff down over your second cuff. Most jackets don’t have enough material to cuff the sleeves but will look cool simply by pushing them up.

ACCESSORIES: Most people when they hear the word “accessory” immediately think of jewellery or maybe a handbag. Layers can also be used in terms of accessories i.e. a hat or head wrap.

Keeping it under Wraps – It is said that we lose 60% of our body heat through our heads

Windrush Black Tie Ball 2019

and so head wraps or wearing a hat have been my thing lately. One morning, too old to care about being judged in a corporate

environment just because I simply DO NOT want to style my hair every day, I wrapped my head. I received nothing but compliments from the moment I stepped into the office reiterating “just be yourself”. Besides if you can give yourself a face lift without going under the knife, would you not take it?

Lightweight Stretch Lurex Fabric

You don't have to go as big and bold as I did at this

year’s Windrush Black Tie Ball, if that is not you. This lightweight full stretch Silver Lurex Fabric formed the basis of my head wrap accessory on that prestigious night. My head wrap was unexpected, made a statement and unleashed my inner sparkle. This small tweak added texture and impact. That night I stood out a little more and send out a massive thank you to all the guests who complimented me on my head wrap, I am truly humbled.

How the Baker Boy Hat Trend Found Me - I was playing around with my I-phone one

Baker Boy Hat Sticker

lunchtime and added this GIF sticker, of a black

baker boy hat to one of my photos. No sooner had I posted this on Instagram when the compliments on social media began flooding in. The response got me thinking outside the box in terms of not only wearing a hat but styling and re-purposing pieces in my closet. I was dressed for a black-tie function in this photo but this hat would add just the right accent of hip elevating any outfit i.e. jeans and a t-shirt from ordinary to exceptional. My Black Military Baker Boy Hat (One Size) £8 was in my Boohoo website basket before the close of business that day.

Lip Lip Hooray – A bold lip adds a level of wow to any outfit. Lipstick or lip gloss is a beauty product but it can be seen or worn as an accessory. I have written before about never underestimating the power of a red lip. Sunglasses and trainers are other “accessories” that can add a certain street style to a look.

MAKEUP - The phrase Less is more is never more pertinent than in my new concealer technique from YouTuber. They say “there are no rules in makeup and that it has to be fun” but as I age and elastosis sets in I research what mistakes I might be making and how to avoid them. Makeup is so much fun to experiment with. When I decided to start wearing makeup, I had to learn which features of my face need to be highlighted or contoured. Over the years people have complimented me on my eyes so that is where I am going to start. Those of you that don’t own one clearly underestimate the power of a lash curler. Affordable Eyelash Curlers like the E.L.F Eyelash Curler work as good as high end versions. To hold your curl longer try heating your lash curler with a hairdryer before curling your lashes.

Frame your face by filling your brows. For thin and sparse brows, use a shade lighter than your natural brow colour and follow the shape of your brow. Use a pencil or brow powder for filling. If you have naturally thick brows, you don’t need much to do. Just apply brow gel to lock those brow hairs in place.

JDWilliams Wide Fitting Knee High Boots

CHANGE YOUR FOOTWEAR - All of us guilty of this especially as we creep into the cooler months easy to grab the same shoes we grab when going to work, run errands or whatever the case may be. I cannot

Tan Ankle Boots

impress upon you what a simple switch of

footwear can do for your outfit. Now at my age COMFORT IS KEY so when I find timeless, wide fitting, low heeled and comfortable footwear it has to become part of my collection. I would reach for this kind of footwear to complement any outfit as easy as I reach for my slippers the minute I come through the front door. The micro suede fabric of these knee high boots is lovely and soft. The top of the calf is loose but not enough to cause it to drop down but loose enough to tuck in jeans or leggings without restricting calf movement. I am going to order a brown pair of Microsuede High Leg Boots Extra Wide (Size 9 EEE Fit) Super Curvy Calf from JDWilliams £40. This autumn I was fortunate enough to find a pair of tan ankle boots and two pairs of knee-high boots.

SimplyBe White Trainers Silver Heel

SimplyBe White Trainers with Silver Heel (Size 8) £16 - You can swap

out your usual footwear for a pair of trainers and still keep your outfit polished and has that sophistication. When paired with the right outfit you can wear trainers to run errands, to brunch, see friends etc. while maintaining a level of sophistication. Some mature women feel that once you get to a certain age trainers are not for them. I have great fun rocking a maxi dress with sneakers. Ankle boots or sock boots polish off any outfit all year round.

HEALTH UPDATE - As my subscribers know, ill-health in 2015 meant that it would three and a half years before I would able to set foot in a gym. For many people, getting fit means exercising, dieting and weighing themselves religiously. I knew that if I went back to what I did in my youth I would be setting myself up to fail. It didn't work then and it was unlikely to work now. So, aged 56 recovering from DVT and two strokes, I decided to adopt a "get fit by only doing what makes me happy" attitude. Dear Reader, that is how my no dieting, no jogging, no weighing myself and no negativity regime began.

Each morning, I wake up and thank the Lord for my “Second Chance” and for “Every Tomorrow". We only have one life to live and I for one “refuse to WAIT for my ideal WEIGHT before living the life I want to live.” Now that I am relaxed about getting fitter and regaining good health, I am much more open to trying on different clothes to see what I like, fits me well and last but not least, I feel comfortable in. At the time of writing, as if on cue I received this morning greeting from a friend which she feels sums me up perfectly. “I’m not trying to look perfect, I JUST WANT TO FEEL BETTER, look great, know I’m healthy and rock any outfit I choose.

That being said, never doubt how far you can go just look at how far I have come in 13 months. If you have been following me on my no dieting, no jogging, no weighing myself no negativity, only walking on the treadmill inch loss journey, you will know that the 10th is my time of the month to post a side by side compare shot. Photo one was taken when it all began back on 10th September 2018 and photo two taken on the 10th of the month we are in. From each of these compare photos, we can evaluate with our own eyes any changes between back then and the present day.


I posted a photo on Wednesday with the caption “GYM AND I have been seeing each other 3 times a week for 13 months and we are still going strong”. Your appreciation by way of hits, likes and comments was gratefully received clear across my social media platforms.

In celebration of my accomplishments I have a condensed two minute YouTube video “A Year on Back in the Gym" or you can watch it on this my blog page.

Can you think of anything more rewarding after a workout than to sit in the sauna and feel the deep penetrating heat wash over your joints relieving muscular stiffness, relaxing painful knots and setting off the recovery process? Collagen plays a huge part in keeping your skin firm and resilient. Unfortunately, collagen naturally decreases with age and this reduction increases the number of wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin.

So if you want to amplify the reproduction of collagen, eliminate dead skin cells and promote the growth of newer and healthier ones, increase circulation, strengthen your immune system, rinse out pores and glands, eradicate infections and toxins while deeply cleansing and rejuvenating your skin simply sit in a sauna and heat your body several degrees. All of the aforementioned is why after a sauna your skin looks and feels so healthy.

This autumnal wet and windy weather is another reason why every chance I get, I head for the sauna. Although showering will help to remove dirt and oils from your body, having a sauna is literally “bringing out the big guns”. A sauna initiates heavy sweating that opens skin pores and detoxifies by removing impurities from within. It goes without saying that when wastes and toxins are removed from your body, you will inevitably have fewer breakouts.

The Ordinary Skin Peeling Solution

After a sauna, and thoroughly cleansing my

face that is when I apply The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution 30ml £6.75. Smearing the blood-red solution over my face did leave onlookers wondering why on earth I would want to look like a spare in a Dracula movie. The magic seemed to happen overnight because when I woke the next morning, I immediately noticed a difference. My mirror image revealed improved skin radiance, skin texture and a reduction in fine lines. Others commented that I was “glowing” and as it was unlikely aged 57 that I was pregnant I could only attribute the transformation in my skin to the peeling solution.

CONCLUSION: - 13 Months on this mother and grandmother has recovered from an illness that nearly ended my life; once a month due to the loss of “back fat” I have to set my car seat forward by a half turn of the dial; I am wearing clothes that I had hidden in the “I will fit into you one day section” of my wardrobes. I hope my plus size interpretations in this blog will help you to NEVER be afraid to try a trend and to wear what YOU LOVE….no matter your size! Finally, the best “accessory” a vixen can have is her self-confidence. Until next time X


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