Dukan did…

Today’s post is a big one. Big in the realisations it contains. It started off as a post on my first week on the Dukan Diet and turned into a complex examination of my relationship with food and the reasons we eat. It’s lead to some really deep thinking, on my behalf anyway, so I’d love to hear what you think.

Jennifer Aniston

I planned to start the Dukan for 2 reasons. The first, and I won’t pretend it wasn’t the main one, was my forthcoming holiday and the threat of being pool side in America, land of the botoxed brow, filled cheek and cosmetically enhanced (other) cheek. I don’t normally feel uncomfortable in a bikini, but being in mine next to others in theirs around a hotel pool seemed suddenly daunting. Secondly, although a previous fan of Weight Watchers, I have come to the realisation that trying to eat in moderation, or healthily, just seemed beyond my will power these days. I have always had a sweet tooth, but where I usually don’t have anything in the house that could be eaten in moments of temptation, first Christmas, then Easter brought piles and piles of chocolate into the house which I steadily consumed nibble by nibble mouthful. I had to face the fact that just one block of chocolate was never enough, and I ended up grazing. I needed a diet that was going to cut through the crap, that clearly defined what I could and couldn’t eat, and I needed results fast. So Dukan it was then. I won’t cover the ins and outs of the diet itself, you can read more here in the Daily Mail’s article and the ones that follow, but I started on what is the initial ‘attack’ phase, which consists of pure protein and 0% fat dairy products only.

I honestly debated sharing this. On the one hand, I (rather optimistically) thought that if I turned up on these very pages significantly smaller, I was going to have to come clean and why not share something that I thought would benefit you guys? The other part of me was horrified at the thought that people reading may take away the wrong message, that I would encourage women to feel the way I did, that slim-ish isn’t quite enough. I hold my hands up now and say that I would never recommend this as a doctor, but like you all, I’m only human.

So here goes…

Day 1 – Starting weight unknown, but three days earlier I was 10st 3lbs.
Breakfast: 2 eggs, scrambled, with smoked salmon.
Lunch: Smoked mackerel fillet with a dollop of cottage cheese.
Dinner: Surf and turf! Steak with a prawn skewer.
Water: 1.5L
Exercise: The prescribed 20 minute walk (part of the diet plan).

Day one, and I am already wondering what all the fuss is about. I was at work and didn’t have any more difficulty concentrating than I would during any other Friday(!) and the only unusual effect I had was a niggling headache. When I thought about it, not only was I forgoing carbs, but any form of sugar plus my usual caffeine intake, so it’s no wonder there’s some real effects to be felt.

Unknown source

Day 2 – Weight 9st 13lbs
Breakfast: Two eggs scrambled, and smoked salmon
Late lunch: Smoked mackerel fillet and cottage cheese followed by 0% yogurt with oat bran mixed in.
Dinner: (out with friends) seared scallops in sweet chilli sauce, sea bass on tomatopurée and wilted spinach, with dauphinoise potatoes (which I ate a few mouthfuls of) and then the big cave, warm chocolate brownie with pistachio ice cream.
Exercise: My usual Saturday morning BMF class.

Today we were already booked for dinner with friends and but when I decided to try the Dukan, there was always an excuse not to. Instead I decided to extend the recommended 2 days of the ‘attack’ phase for my weight to three days and just consider Saturday night a write off. I chose high protein dishes at dinner, tried to avoid the carbs and chose wine instead of sugar packed cocktails. I was too embarrassed to tell the people we were out with what I was doing which lead to me eating the dauphinoise in an effort to reduce its conspicuous presence on my plate and go on to have desert. Fortunately, I managed to get rid of the ever-present headache just before we went out for dinner.

I also got my hands on some Oat Bran. This is a non-negotiable part of the diet which is included for its (medically proven) ability to increase satiety and to cling onto fats and transport them through the bowel to be excreted. I wasn’t going to turn down something that resembled carbs although there was no cereal-like sweetness to satisfy my craving for sugar.

Day 3 – Weight 10st
Breakfast: Oat bran mixed with 0% yogurt.
Lunch: A tin of tuna (in brine) drained with some smoked salmon and cottage cheese
Dinner: 2 Chicken Fillets

After getting weighed this morning, I wasn’t too disheartened to see the increase on the scales. I have always retained water the morning after drinking so expected something and I’m now waiting with bated breath to see if I can rectify it with another protein packed day.
As of yet, I haven’t been to the toilet, (to, you know…) so I took a laxative and carried on glugging the water.

As day 3 went on I felt more and more depressed. It was the bank holiday Sunday. Everyone was out having a good time. Normally, I’d be dragging Pete out for cake, or lunch, or both and I started to realised how ingrained my happiness is in food.To me, food means socialising, friends, chatter and laughter. In an effort to take my mind off things, we went to the cinema and literally everywhere I turned, it seemed there were adverts for treat bags of chocolate and Ben and Jerrys. The final straw was sitting down next to a man tucking into an ice cream sundae. I felt truly miserable and all day the headache was there taunting me.

Day 4 – Weight 9st 13lbs

Last night I lay in bed thinking about the Dukan, my diet. I was completely listless at the thought of another day without any enjoyment in the form of food. Bank Holiday Monday and no nice lunch out or dinner out, no baking, no time spent with friends doing either of those things. I began to think about caving, giving up. I had pinpointed my problem, I was desperate for sugar. Perhaps like some people say, it takes days of abstinence to quit the habit but every time Pete had asked me what I wanted yesterday the answer had been to eat cake or ice cream!

I started to think about my upcoming holiday and the effect suddenly going back to carbs would have on my body, or weight. Unfortunately, the bikini part of my holiday is coming at the end of a 7 days stretch of travelling (and eating more than likely,) none of it in clothes that will remind me to watch what I eat. I worried about undoing the progress I had made already by the time I got to bikini o’clock. I started to think about going back to ‘normal’ food and felt wracked with guilt, a failure and even more depressed. The strongest feeling however was that never had I felt more miserable, for such an insignificant reason. Was being a few pounds heavier that I would like worth feeling like this?

The diet had made me feel all these things and I decided to stop. I don’t consider it quitting, or failing, it was the right decision. It wasn’t sustainable, healthy or right for me.

Neon sign

It has made me think long and hard about my relationship with food though. I doubt I’ll ever extricate my personal happiness from the social pleasures of eating. What I’ve come to realise is that I need to address the internal monologue of ‘you’ve worked hard today, you deserve that glass of wine/piece of chocolate/dessert.‘ or ‘what a rubbish day, let’s have pizza‘. I need to stop putting food in my mouth when I’m not thinking about it or savouring it and I need to start thinking about what my body needs as opposed to what my mind tells me it needs or deserves. I need to take the time to shop properly and make healthy choices, to make sure I have appropriate snacks and I probably need to cut the sugar down. But for now anyway, I’m going to stop focusing on my weight and I’m going to focus on my health instead. Things I’m taking away from my attempt at the Dukan will be the daily 20-30 minute walks – something I always found boosted my efforts at Weight Watchers, and trying to have a drink of water first when I feel hungry, not immediately reaching for a snack. Of course, I hope these small changes will make a small difference and help me lose a couple of pounds pre-holiday but what is most important to me is being happy, not losing a few pounds or the number staring at me when I step on the scales.

The feelings of self doubt I had over the last few days were horrible to experience and hard to share too, I even felt ashamed to admit that I wanted to even try a diet, that I wasn’t strong enough to rise above the pressure I put on myself to be the perfect size. (I hasten to add that the definition of perfect was entirely self imposed… why as women are we so hard on ourselves?) However I’m sure there isn’t a woman reading who can’t identify with the feelings I’ve described at some point in this post. I wrote about it all because I don’t ever want people to look at my what to wear posts and feel inadequate, or think there is some super-humanly confident person staring back at them. I wrote it because I know there are women who through self confidence issues or mental illness would never be able to step back and choose happiness over weight loss rather than equating weight loss with happiness and I wish I could change that.

As ever, please let me know if this post has made you think, if you have had a similar experience, or if I’ve struck a chord today. It’s an emotive subject and I look forward to hearing your opinions…


Behind closed [Bloggers] doors

A couple of weeks ago as I took the shots that I shared as part of my dining and lounge make-over, it occurred to me how ridiculous it was. The house looked pristine, and the reason for that was that we were having it valued. I took the shots between viewings by estate agents and had also had some round the evening before so you can imagine, everything was polished to within an inch of its life.

As I took the shots I adjusted the chairs, turned the bottles so the labels faced forwards in unison, smoothed the rug and styled the room to look as perfect as it could. After all, nobody wants to put their home out there for all to see without it looking its best.

It lead me to thinking about the difference between projected image and reality in the blog world and how you all view Florence Finds. As a writer of a blog, I can see past the charmed life most bloggers present, and make a guess at the daily grind that lies beneath the surface veneer they show the world, but I know there are many readers of blogs who rather than feeling inspired by what they see, just feel they don’t match up to the ideal world onscreen.

It’s a fine line I think. Hand on heart, I don’t read blogs, just like I don’t watch films, for reality. I don’t enjoy reading about gritty reality or the mundane day to day. My favourites are a combination of escapism and inspiration. I read fashion and personal style blogs that inspire me to try new looks with my own twist, food blogs for the photography mainly and new recipes and lifestyle blogs for escapism into the perfect Californian world of magical light and year round balmy sunshine. (although right now in the UK, eat your heart out So-Cal girls!) Gardening blogs spur me on to perfecting my own and interiors blogs feed my creativity with everything from personal decor inspiration to heightening my awareness of using colour palettes together to refining my own design sensibilities for that perfect edited collection of artefacts.

All that said, I always hope that my twist on the more personal aspects of life that I blog is a healthy dose of reality. Yes, Florence Finds is here to inspire you BUT, and it’s a big one, I don’t ever want you guys to think I’m different… that my life isn’t exactly like yours. Granted, like most bloggers, I am not hiding a life filled with misery and mess, but it’s not always quite as picture perfect as the photos suggest.

You see when the house was being valued and I was taking photos, my prized cow hide rug was looking resplendent as the focus of the dining room, my favourite room, mainly because of said rug. In actual fact it was and now is merely a prop, having been laid down for the pictures and removed as soon as the agents left. In between, instead of getting my blog posts written, I spent the majority of the time chasing one of our cats around the downstairs as she continued to make a bee-line for the rug. It had recently transpired it was her new favourite place to have a sneaky little wee! Cats are awful in that sense, it very rarely happens as they are so particular about there they go to the toilet but if they’ve been caught short for whatever reason, once they have been somewhere, it’s forever a designated toilet for them. Despite cleaning the rug, Tabitha’s behaviour lapse had peaked the week before with a record four episodes in 2 days which were quite clearly just-for-the-hell-of-it on her part. A the end of our tether (and not before Pete threatened to have her put down – albeit jokingly,) we resigned ourselves to removing the rug and I jest not, I couldn’t even look at her for three days!

It’s just a little thing, but I hope it illustrates the reality behind the images. I guess you could say, then why not show the reality? I’m pretty confident that’s not what you come to Florence Finds to see. My bedroom piled high with washing that needs putting away? Dirty dishes? An office piled high with paperwork? It’s certainly not why I click through to my favourite blogs, rather to escape from it!

Instead, next time you scan these pages and think, I wish my house looked like that, or I wish I could wear that/try that/go there, rest assured that just as you might have had some less than glamorous event to deal with that week, so will have I… even if it is just cat related 😉

And then think, well if Rebecca can do it, so can I!

I’d love to hear about why you choose to read the blogs you do and what you think about the ‘bloggers ideal’ presented online, share your thoughts, as always.


My Month…

I can’t believe it’s the end of November already and almost Christmas!

It’s been a crazy busy month for me, only the second of Florence Finds but I’m so happy with how everything is going.

I thought once a month I might share some insights into what I’ve been doing this month using my Instagram photos – those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen these already, but if not, I hope you like having a little nosey!

Top row: Remember that Cinnamon bread? I got my new business cards 🙂 and treated us to some new bedding – the white set was getting bit tired and I fancied something cosy for winter… a grey toned checked pattern from M&S.
Second Row: Snaps from the Laura Ashley press day, Cupcakes at work for Children in Need and digging out my favourite winter bag.
Third Row: Stripping the red wallpaper in our Dining room, ready for our current decoration project – it’s in full swing – more to come! The tiniest visitor to our house when we had friends to stay with their 11 week baby. My Warehouse jumper purchased after this post.
Fourth Row: Rouge Noir for my winter toe tidy, A DIY necklace (coming soon) and the shop window at Blossom – full of snow and owls for Christmas – A.Mazing.

How was your November? And did your other half do Movember?


Funny Girl.

No ladies, (and gents?) we are not going to be talking about Barbara Streisand this afternoon, but funny women, and your take on them.

Barbara Streisand Funny Girl

For as long as I can remember, or at least since I have given any thought to the kind of attributes that make a woman attractive, I have wished I was funny. I would really love to be able to be constantly witty, albeit with a bit of an acerbic take on life, because that’s my sense of humour.  At best I think my humour could be described as ‘dry’, possibly so dry that people don’t get it at all… and therefore I maintain that I am in fact secretly funny.

It’s ironic that I should start by talking about qualities that make women attractive because actually I mean people. I’m not talking sexually attractive, but ‘fun to be around’ kind of attractive and I don’t think I’ll be the only one of the women reading this who thinks that funny men are amongst the most attractive men out there, regardless of physical attributes. As my Mum would say, ‘the ones that make you laugh, make you cry!‘ I’m pretty fussy when it comes to men folk and they’ve got to be a pretty good all around package for me to take an interest (*ahem, that would be before Mr Norris came along of course! 😉 ) but give me a funny man who makes me laugh and many other flaws will be forgiven.

But we’re not talking about men here and let’s not get distracted. Historically, ‘funny’ was never a female attribute and certainly not one that found itself amongst the list of attractive attributes. I’m no comedy afficionado ( – maybe I should start watching more comedy and build my personal repertoire?) but the female comedians I can list off the top of my head were typically known for their humour, rather than their looks.

And why is that?

Why do modern intelligent women prefer to be classed as pretty than funny, as beautiful rather than smart? I know I’d be super flattered to be told that I was funny, but would I prefer it to hearing that my hair looks fabulous today? Probably not!

Funny Girl poster

To me there’s nothing better than being funny for all the reasons above and more. Because making people laugh feels good, because I think good humour requires intelligence and it’s a more acceptable take (am I conforming by saying that?) on intelligent when meeting people than, hardcore political chat for example. Because I admire funny people, I have lots of lovely and hilarious friends that I love spending time with, and women who are confident enough to crack funnies and laugh out loud are usually very sexy in their self assurance.

I know my husband thinks it’s hilarious when I make jokes (not always because of the content you understand!) and I’m pretty sure modern men want interactive, intelligent women who can entertain them as much with their banter, as they do in the kitchen/bedroom. 😉

So it got me thinking, what do you think about funny as ‘female attribute’? But more importantly what is the quality that you aspire to people thinking of you when they first meet you… Attractive? Intelligent? Well dressed?

Or do you just want to be a Funny Girl? 🙂


PS – How cute is this little girl’s bedroom? – pink but interesting and I love the reminder to be funny 🙂 Found on my Pinterest.

Welcome to Florence Finds!

So, a new blog!

Hello! and a massive welcome to all of you who are here to see what Florence Finds is all about.

Let me give it to you straight, (because I always do.)

Florence Finds is a lifestyle blog for everyday style in everyday life. Not unachievable style, or ridiculously expensive style, but style for everyone.

It’s not just about fashion, because style is everywhere. On Florence Finds you’ll find interiors and decor, beauty and travel too – all the things I love and I hope you will find something amongst my selection that you’re interested in! You can also expect to find cultural tid bits, books and films, outdoor living, foodie inspiration and intelligent conversation from like-minded women. Every single one of you is welcome here.

So many of you will have found Florence Finds and know me, Rebecca, because of the 18 months I spent contributing at Rock My Wedding. After my time there came to a close I found myself at a bit of a loose end and contemplating my next move. I was never only about ‘the big day’ in the first place, so why not branch out into another type of blog? So many of the comments I received reflected on the fashion and home posts I wrote or even just the posts about the every day dilemmas and decisions that we all find ourselves faced with in modern life. Time passed and as I looked around me I saw so many things to write about, that I wanted to share. A lifestyle blog became the obvious decision.

Since then I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what modern women want. I’m pretty sure that most of you are like me – you don’t want to read about just fashion or just interiors. You have weeks on end where all you can think about is updating your wardrobe but then something changes and you fancy redecorating or sorting out the garden. One day you might need a new lipstick to brighten up your life and another you might just feel like curling up in your jogging bottoms on the sofa with a cracking book and a great big mug of tea, or baking up a storm in the kitchen. And I think we all need a place where you can talk freely about topical issues, whether they be thought provoking headlines or not-quite-world-changing, but interesting-all-the-same subjects, like your perfect weight or advice on female friendship.

So this is the next chapter, in my life and yours. Perhaps you’re married and looking for a new blog to obsess over, maybe you’re a style savvy bright young thing or revelling in your thirties (or forties and even beyond) whilst keeping up to date with the trends. This is your new daily stop off with UK specific (where possible) inspiration, whether it’s for that hot date you have later, (lucky you!) something to try this weekend (Nom Nom!), or just simply a little ‘pick me up’ over a coffee or glass of vino, while you immerse yourself in Florence Finds.

Lastly, I’m not the only person you will be seeing around here. The bulk of it will be the Rebecca you’re all used to(!) but I am thrilled to be able to mix things up a bit with regular and one-off contributors, chosen for their knowledge or enthusiasm for the topics they’ll be covering and witty take on life, from books, to real home renovations, travel tips and more. You will also see me regularly inviting reader submissions on various things and I hope you will be brave enough to respond!

I am really excited. Ready-to-explode excited. I have so many ideas and would love to hear from you if you think there’s something we can do to make Florence Finds better. Drop me an email and please leave a comment to say ‘Hi’ – let me know what you think of the blog design too.

And here’s the big ask… I need your help. Please tweet your socks off today about Florence Finds, post about us on your facebook page, email or text your friends and if you know anyone who enjoyed my posts in the past, make sure they know about my new home!

So welcome to Florence Finds! Take a look around, if you like something, leave me a comment and be sure to come back everyday as we have lots of stylish finds (often twice a day) in store for you. 🙂


PS. If you’re a Facebook user and want to stay up to date please hop on over to the Florence Finds Facebook page (or click the link in the right hand side column) and like us. Florence Finds is also on Twitter @FlorenceFinds. All of the above images were taken from my Pinterest account where you can follow more of my finds.

PPS. Come back this afternoon for more of Florence’s Finds 🙂

(Image Credits: Hello – Sincerely Jules, Fresh Start – Five-Words.com.au, Awesome – Blush Events.)

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