Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Weigh in number three

If you follow my Life As Mrs R Facebook page, you will have seen my wobble last week. I'm not going to lie! I was scared. I had three days of madness.

Day one:- Yo! Sushi launch party where I was topped up with Prosecco all night

Day two:- Raging hangover which resulted in me ordering pizza and a can of Pepsi!

Day three:- 26 course tasting menu at a blogging event.

Yep I was worried! 

I shouldn't have been though. I didn't fall off the waggon as I had in previous attempts to lose weight and I needed to remember there is a full 14 day period between weigh ins. Apart from these three events I had counted calories, eaten healthily and walked for miles. Just check out my Instagram for proof. 

I must keep reminding myself that I am in this for the long haul - events with lots of Prosecco and hangover pizzas are probably here to stay and I need to be ok with this and not panic! As long as they don't happen every night, I'll be fine.  The recurring theme in my weight loss posts is that IT'S ALL ABOUT BALANCE and it really is. 

Weight loss report 

OMG I lost another 6lb so that is a total of 16lb in 6 weeks. Not gonna lie I was grinning like a Cheshire cat! It is 3.5 weeks until our holiday and my target for then was to lose 20 lb loss so I am pretty on target.

What is working for me

1 - Meal planning and ensuring I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner so don't end up binging on snacks.

2 - Calorie counting using My Fitness Pal

3 - Not denying myself anything - I still drink wine at home, have a takeaway on a weekend and will enjoy myself at blogging events - life's too short not to.

4 - Making healthier choices where I can - we exclusively drink water/black coffee now which is saving us A LOT of calories (we previously were a full fat Pepsi kind of family) and will now usually only order one course when we dine out in a restaurant instead of our usual three. 

5 - Walking a lot. I started walking right from day one and have found it gets easier and easier. I now walk in excess of 10k steps per day and often reach 20k. I think nothing of taking the stairs or walking everywhere and 9/10 I leave the car at home. I feel like I need to take on a walking challenge soon so watch this space. It is 10 miles from our home to Blyth Harbour and back so I think we'll give this a shot after May half term. 

6 - Support from Steve. Steve is completely in the zone - even more so than me and it is fab having someone to keep each other on track and go out for long walks with. 

7 - Having a healthy snack cupboard. I have created a space in our cupboard where I put all my 100-150 kcal snacks. This way I am not tempted to eat the kids' cakes or sweets. I am currently loving rice cakes, crackers with sea salt from Aldi (4 crackers are less than 100 Kcals), Snack a Jacks, Flapjacks from Aldi and baked crisps. I often crave a savoury snack and this cupboard really helps when I need something to nibble on. 

I think I would like to end up at around 11 stone 12 lb but I'm not going to set that in stone until I get nearer and see how I feel. This is only 4 stone away and feels really achievable now. We have booked an anniversary trip to Cuba next April, that's around 45 weeks away and to get to my target weight by then I would need to lose 1.25 lbs per week which I think is very sensible. I have had a couple of big losses which always happens when you start trying to lose weight so if I do only lose a little next time I need to remember the bigger picture. 

Follow Life As Mrs R on Facebook and Instagram 

Oh and if you are on Snapchat you can add be at NEFAMILYFUN

Friday, 20 May 2016

#WellWorkWeigh - a monthly linky for health, fitness, weight loss & wellbeing posts

Rules of Linky

*You can link up to 4 posts per month. Posts must have been published in the last few months and feature holistic health, wellbeing, motivation, fitness, work outs, healthy living, healthy recipes or weight loss.

*You do not need to add a badge or link back to this post but please comment or share a few other posts in the link up

*I will share all of the posts that take part across my own social media (including 8k+ twitter followers) - I will also comment on every post that takes part.

*The linky will open on 20th month and will stay live for a full month

*You can use #WellWorkWeigh if you are sharing on Twitter (find me @nefamilyfun)

  #WellWorkWeigh - a monthly linky for health, fitness ,weight loss & wellbeing posts

Monday, 16 May 2016

How I organise my blog

I love a bit of blog organisation and I usually have around 7-10 posts scheduled at any given time. I've decided to share how I stay organised when it comes to my blog and would love to hear your tips too.

Weekly Features

I have three weekly features that are a fairly new thing but I've found they really help me to focus my writing and ensure I write about things that I want to whilst providing a good mix of sponsored and non-sponsored content.

Tuesday:- Top 10 Tuesday (a top 10 list of anything)

Thursday:- Thursday Thoughts (an opinion piece)

Friday:- Friday Five (Five days out in the North East for the weekend ahead)

I also have two monthly blog link-ups:-

1st month - #LoveNorthEast (NorthEastFamilyFun)

20th month - #WorkWellWeigh (LifeAsMrsR)

These dates are all put in my diary in advance.

Life As Mrs R is nowhere near as organised as North East Family Fun as I don't publish as often or earn any money from this blog. I do post a fortnightly weigh in post though which you guessed it - is written into my planner in advance, mostly though, I just post on this blog when I want to.

My Stigu Planner

I use a Stigu planner as my blog planner and it really does the job well. Each week is given one page with a blank page opposite (handy for scribbling ideas). I use my Stigu planner for blogging only as I need to write so much down. I have a separate Filofax which I use as a diay. I find this system really works for me and helps me keep track of both my posts and my appointments/meetings without any confusion.

There are 5 columns per day (but I separate them into 4)

Column one - Weekly series (eg Top 10 Tuesday)

Column two - Post idea

Column 3 - Tick when I've written and scheduled the post

Column 4 - Date invoice sent and tick when paid (if applicable)

I tend not to post on a Saturday and Sunday if I can but sometimes when I'm super busy I will make an exception.

When I am discussing a post idea with a PR/brand, I find an available space in my planner where there is nothing scheduled and write my post idea for the brand under 'post idea'. I also immediately let the PR know the date I will schedule the post for and check that is ok. As soon as I've written and scheduled a post it gets a big TICK.  I can easily see which posts I need to focus on writing next and which posts I have a little more time for. It also stops me from getting bogged down with 10 posts for write for the same week which has happened before and isn't a good feeling!

So that's it! That's how I organise my blog. I'd love to hear how you organise yours :-) 

I received a Stigu Planner in my Blog On Msi Goody Bag but was not obliged to write this post - I genuinely love it and wanted to share how good it is for organising your blog! 

Friday, 13 May 2016

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

Founder Herb Kim told us that 'Thinking Digital is an investment in disconnecting from the pressures of every day life and a chance to sharpen the saw' as we took our seats in the packed conference room at the Sage. As one of the conference's 'street team' and a first time attendee, I really didn't know what to expect.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism
Sneaky peek of the Dine by the Tyne seats outside of the Sage

In all honesty though, the event BLEW MY MIND. There was so much to take in from such a diverse range of speakers. I honestly could write a 50 page essay about my day and it has been a real struggle trying to narrow everything down so have decided to break my posts down into sessions.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

The IBM Engineer

First up we had Bill Jinks, an IBM engineer who discussed their partnership with Wimbledon - a relationship that has lasted 27 years.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

1 - We want to bring tennis to life and to more people but we DON'T want to change the essentials. Wimbledon has a unique character and will always be played on grass.

This is a useful reminder for business - never forget your CORE values.

2 - Wimbledon's mission statement is simply to 'be the best in the world'.

In business, we could all have this ethos and always strive to be the best. This means always trying to stay ahead of the competition

3 - Wimbledon.com has been refreshed with a new design/technology every three years.

I think this is such an important reminder - you can't just have a business website or blog and then do nothing with it - websites need to evolve with the times, refresh their look and implement new technology regularly.

4 - Wimbledon/IBM use their Social Media Channels to attract new audiences and use a slightly more informal tone. Each channel has specific campaigns designed for that channel's specific audience. ALL with the same aim - to drive traffic to Wimbledon.com

Sometimes I feel that Social Media can lack purpose. I like how Wimbledon/IBM had very specific goals and aims for each channel - something I could certainly implement.

5 - Wimbledon's Youtube Channel has recently achieved 98% growth.

6 - Target online influencers through Social Media - is a 'celebrity' or 'influencer' attending your event, travelling through your region or has a passion linked to your business? Hunt these people out and connect & engage with them.

Twitter Lists are fantastic for keeping tabs on online influencers.

7 - Wimbledon.com break news before anyone else.

I find this on my Facebook page quite a lot - if I share a news story or I am one of the first to comment on a recent event, the post will often gain A LOT of interaction which I can then convert to 'likes' (invite anyone who likes your posts to like your page). Also, my analytics show me that a lot of my readers will visit me direct - I know they come to my site looking for something specific.

The V&A Digital Programmer

I loved listening to what Irini Papadimitriou had to say, Irini is a digital programmer at the V&A museum in London and spoke with real passion about both her role and the museum.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

8 - Collaborations and bringing things together is what the V&A is all about.

Collaborating with others really has lots of benefits - as well as halving the work load your are doubling your audience and reaching new people. It's win-win I reckon.

9 - Think outside of the box. The V&A have recently collaborated with the Met Office during a Climate and Fashion 'Hackathon'. This brought designers, scientists, artists, technologies and the public together.

I guess it's easy to collaborate within your niche but how about collaborations outside of your niche? 

10 - The V&A used psychological research during a simple experiment to try and encourage donations to the museum. EG If someone looks at you directly with their eyes you are more likely to donate. They used this information and covered a donation box with photographs of the Queen's eyes. Donations to the museum increased by 15%!

There is so much research out there - do any of us put it into use in our own businesses? 

11 - The V&A are continuosly hunting out trends and noticed a trend for 'fixing things'. They collaborated with Restart and held a Restart party at the museum where people could come along and learn how to fix their broken products. This was run alongside a similar even in Nairobi and both were live streamed to the public.

The key here is to be experimental with collaborators and think how much you can get out of an event - don't just hold an event, ask someone else to run one too or consider live streaming.

The Hacker Hunter

I have had zero interest in how people hack into your computer before but I have to say, listening to Mikko Hypponen talk was one of the highlights of my day! This man really knows his stuff and the whole conference room was hanging on his every word. 

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

12 - Ransom Trojans are the main ways in which hackers access our data, they send an email with an attachment - you open the attachment and it tells you you need to upgrade 'word'. You click the link and then BAM your compute is infected and your data is stolen. You are then asked to pay to retrieve your data.

I think most of us know this now (hopefully) but never open an email attachment from an unknown source.

13 - There is little difference in what the hackers are doing in 1989 - 2016. We keep running into the same problems.

14 - At least hackers are honest (haha). If you do pay, they do give you your data back. They need a good online reputation - if you are hacked the first thing you'll do is google the name of the virus. If there are forum answers up saying people have paid and received their data back - you're obviously a lot more likely to pay yourself. Mikko advises NOT paying though.

Online reputation is everything - even in the world of Criminal hackers

15 - Your data is most valuable to YOU that's why hackers will target YOU and will usually not sell data on to other people. 

Check your data is protected!

16 - The problem of ransom trojans is HUGE. 300 million euros have been transferred to cyber criminals in the last 2 years.

17 - In the future, everything will connect to the internet - even your microwave and toaster.

18 - There are a lot of things on the internet that shouldn't be - eg hospital bed information, control panels for home pools.....these have no username or password attached and can be accessed by anyone! Cyber criminals aren't interested in this as they only want ££ but what about terrorists and extremists?

Be very careful about what you put online. 

19 - Extremists are VERY unpredictable and extremist hackers pose the biggest risk to cause a likely catastrophic event. The Government take this very seriously and drones have been used to kill hackers in Syria. 


20 - We have just left a nuclear arms race we are now entering a cyber arms race.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

This first session provided so much food for thought and it was so interesting to think about life beyond my blog, my family and the North East. As we took a break for coffee there was so much excited chatter amongst us all and we were all eager for Session Two (Blockchains and BassDrums) to begin. Look out for my post on that session soon.

If you are a first time visitor to our blog - hello! I am a professional blogger probably best known for writing the award winning blog 'North East Family Fun'. Why not connect with me on Linkedin

Find out more about Thinking Digital:- www.tdcncl.com

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Weigh in number two

So it has been two weeks since my last weigh in so yesterday we popped over to Boots to check our progress

2 lbs off

I have to say I was hoping for more and I was a little disappointed in this :-(

But then I gave myself a shake and remembered THIS IS WHAT I WANTED. I want to lose weight slowly as then I know it is more likely to stay off and also I need to remind myself that I am not denying myself anything as I want this whole way of life to be sustainable.

9lb off in 4 weeks is not to be sniffed at.

The Good

I have walked A LOT more than usual. A couple of times a week I've been going out for 10k+ walks and I can really feel a difference. I have been out for a walk EVERY SINGLE DAY and I can definitely feel the benefit of doing this.

A fair few people have mentioned that you can really tell that I've lost weight and have said I look like  I've lost a stone. So that's encouraging to hear. I've also been able to fit into trousers that are actually 2 sizes smaller than what I would have bought in the past. Whoohoo!

We've eaten a healthy, low calorie dinner every single night (follow me on My Fitness Pal or Instagram to keep up to date with what I am eating).

I've dined out a couple of time but made healthier choices including this gorgeous salad from The Cook House and half pizza and salad from Fratellos. 

The Bad

I say bad but it's not really bad. I could never give up these things but I do understand that they are the reasons I have not lost perhaps as much as I would have liked. 

I went away for the weekend to Manchester with some friends and obviously we had a lot of Prosecco which was followed by a Subway breakfast and lots of cakes. Not good! 

It just happened to be a gorgeous sunny day on our 'date day' this month which resulted in us drinking A LOT of wine in beer gardens around Newcastle. This obviously isn't good for me but I need to accept that I still want to do this and if I do my weight loss will be slower. It's all about balance.

Our Saturday night takeaway was a Domino's Pizza this week of which I had 4 slices. Although it looks bad, I still managed to stay in my calories for that day,

I have mentioned previously that when I eat breakfast I do better. I will admit I haven't eaten breakfast every day in the last 2 weeks so will really make the effort to do this in the next few weeks.

11/4/16 - 16 stone 13 lbs
26/4/16 - 16 stone 6 lbs
10/5/16 - 16 stone 4 lbs

Total loss = 9 lbs

Please follow me on Facebook and share my journey. Next weigh in is 24th May - I am hoping for a 4lb loss so here's hoping! 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

I haven't shared a recipe before so here it goes! This Thai Prawn Broth is one of my favourites. We used to make it with chicken thighs before we started calorie counting but have replaced the high calorie chicken thighs with prawns. It takes less than 10 minutes to make so is an ideal supper or lunch when you're in a hurry.


Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

Serves 2

Chopped garlic (to taste)
200 g Fine Beans

30g Spring Onions
100g Thai Green Curry Paste
200g Raw King Prawns

2 tbsp Fresh Basil
200g Beansprouts
250g Chicken stock
200g Reduced Fat Coconut Milk
1/2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Fresh Lime
A few Kaffir Lime Leaves
Brown Sugar (to taste)
Optional Red Chillies

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion


1 - Fry your chopped garlic in a saucepan, add your chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes.

2 - Add your coconut milk, Kaffir lime leaves and curry paste. Again simmer for a few minutes whilst occasionally stirring. Taste and add your fish sauce/sugar accordingly.

3 - Meanwhile, chop your spring onions, fine beans and basil leaves.

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

4 - Add the prawns, beans, bean sprouts, sliced chillies & spring onions. Simmer for final 3-4 minutes.

5 - Ladle into bowls and serve with wedges of lime and sprinkle with chopped basil.

I am AMAZED that this takes less than 10 minutes to cook, is packed with flavour and is only 330 kcal per portion. Enjoy!

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

Super easy Thai Prawn Broth in less than 10 minutes - 330 kcals per portion

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016

So yesterday I attended my first ever blogging conference with Karen and Lindsay. Blog On is held in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (which looks fab by the way) every year and you can attend for a rather bargain £40 ish which included breakfast, lunch, wine, drinks, snacks, three MASSIVE goody bags, the chance to network with around 20 brands (who actually want to work with bloggers), the opportunity to socialise with other bloggers plus a day packed with blogging seminars.

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016
Re-united with Hotter Shoes

Although it was my first blogging conference, I have been blogging for three years now, I run a successful bloggers network with Karen and have been in the Tots top 100 for the last year or so with North East Family Fun (not meaning to blow my own trumpet or anything here) so I did wonder what I could actually learn from a blogging conference. It turns out that actually, it's quite a lot!

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016

1 - Use analytics to my advantage

I do use analytics a little, but I really don't make the most of them. I attended the lovely Emily's session (from A Mummy Too) about earning beyond your blog and she mentioned quite simply if a brand would like to target a female audience and your blog has 10,000 readers of which 90% are female, this is more valuable to them than a blog with 30,000 readers of which 10% are female. In the next month or so I am going to make a detailed audience profile and really understand my readers and mention this more to brands.

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016

2 - Blogs change perceptions

Another tip from Emily - remember your blog isn't there to generate sales and it is more a tool that can help change perceptions and 'improve brand warmth'. This is particularly useful to remember when brands are asking for a follow link. As @Justhipper mentioned too - it is the job of a brand's SEO team to improve their google ranking - not the job of a blogger.

3 - Discover your best content

Third tip from Emily - use your analytics to find out your most popular content and write more of the same. SIMPLE!

4 - How can you make your blog stand out?

Graham and Mindy from ICOM/Portland Street shared lots of tips during their 'content tips that inspire' session. There are MILLIONS of blog posts published every day and competition has never been higher. We were asked to think about our own blog - do we follow the same old format every post? Is our format the same as other blogs we read? Why not mix it up - draw pictures, add GIFs, create a podcast, use video, create our own infographic.......how can I make my blog stand out has really given me food for thought.

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016

5 - Read these publications and research before pitching

NEVER cold pitch a brand - always make sure you do your research. Emily recommended dipping in and out of Marketing Week, PR Week and good old Google News. Spot that Tesco are pushing children's toys? Might be worth an email. Read that your favourite hotel has a new marketing assistant? Again, could be worth an email to introduce yourself. The best way to pitch to a brand is to reference previous campaigns (which proves you have researched the brand) and ask if they work with bloggers or have any relevant campaigns at the moment which opens a conversation.

6 - It's not about the product it's about the brand

Sorry to keep going on about Emily (but I think her session was the best!) but another tip was to not think about a product. I'm sure we all have something in mind that we would LOVE to blog about (for me it is definitely a family holiday abroad). Instead of getting hung up about our dream product we should instead focus on dream brands - which brands really fit our blog's ethos and audience? These are the people we should want to work with. Then when we are paid, we can pay for our own dream product (or in my case holiday).

7 - Where to search for content inspiration

Graham and Mindy from ICOM discussed writer's block and how when you blog for a living, it's not really an option. They provided us with LOTS of places to search for content ideas. As well as the more obvious Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner (which I have used before) we were pointed in the direction of the rather fabulous 'Answer the Public' website. You simply type in a keyword and then choose 'questions' and are provided with a visualisation of the questions the public are asking google for around that subject and are therefore provided with LOTS of ideas for future blog posts. I love it! Here are the suggestions for 'Northumberland' (I know you probably can't read this but take my word for it and go and try for yourself).

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016

Another place to try if you are really serious is Buzz Sumo Pro which is where you can find out which content performs best and check out your competitors too. This does cost around £60 per month though so probably not accessible to most of us. 

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016

A final simple idea if you are suffering with Writer's block is to sit in front of a piece of paper and write down 50 questions your audience may ask themselves around the topic of your blog. Don't stop until you have 50 questions and then choose the best ones to turn into a blog post.

8 - YouTube subscribers don't matter

I attended a session by Channel Mum who work closely with YouTube and were able to give us lots of insider tips and knowledge. The main tip is that YouTube don't care about subscribers and you shouldn't either. YouTube focus on audience retention and the number of people who watch your video right to the end.

The best way to tackle this is if you try to have something to add interest to your video every 30-40 seconds whether this is a flash of text or change of music, it all helps. YouTube use this metric when deciding which videos to put on their homepage. 

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016

9 - First two hours of a YouTube video going live are vital

Another tip from Channel Mum is to make sure you have a YouTube schedule and stick to it - even if this is 'I will post a video on the first of every month' or maybe 'every Friday', like scheduling with blogging, it really helps. The first two hours of a video being published are vital to it's success so make sure you publish during the day then share across social media and comment on other videos in the community straight away. 

10 - Don't share YouTube videos to Facebook

I have already learned this for myself but more advice for Channel Mum is not to share YouTube links to Facebook as they notoriously don't work together and are unlikely to achieve a high reach. Instead, make a 30 second intro trailer to your Youtube video specifically for Facebook and upload it directly to Facebook. You can link to your YouTube video at the end of your trailer. If you are really keen you can create a 15 second trailer specifically for Instagram too. 

This is just a snippet of everything I soaked up - I have a notebook full of ideas to get my head around now. Thank you so much to Laura who organised Blog On - it really was a superb day. We had heaps of fun chatting to the various brands who were there too as demonstrated by Karen below :D

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016

We are definitely returning to Blog On next year and I would recommend it for bloggers old and new.

Top 10 Blogging Tips from Blog On 2016