My Teeth Straightening Journey – The Big Reveal!

nearly 17 months ago, I sat at my laptop scouring the internet for a dentist in Devon who offered teeth straightening. It was something I’d wanted to do for many years, I’m talking 10 at least, probably more. I’d mentioned it to my NHS dentist a few times who seemed completely disinterested and offered very little advice. I knew it was vanity, but it was also starting to affect the way I smiled and spoke to people, my dentist at the time convinced me that as my teeth were healthy I shouldn’t start messing around with them.

I wasn’t convinced, I could keep them white and clean no problem, I’d not had a filling since my teens but still, I yearned for the perfect smile, and why not. 2016 was a horrible year, I had very little to smile about, so if there was ever a reason to improve my smile and try recoup some of my battered self-esteem it was then. I tentatively picked up the phone to book an assessment and turned up the next day at a private dentist.

This is where I first got a hint that not all private dentists are the same, as I sat in the chair I felt total pressure to go for the most expensive package they offered after a very quick 15 minute look at my mouth, he talked about removing teeth and the whole experience seemed like a sales pitch. I paid my £100 and knowing I couldn’t afford what he was suggesting. Then by chance, I ended up having a Twitter conversation with the Exeter Dental Centre, and realised that they were more about the patient and less about the big bucks.

The assessment here was completely different, much more thorough and photos were taken for a detailed idea of what was needed. Alex, my dentist, talked through the whole procedure (no teeth were going to be removed!) and was totally honest and transparent. I left there elated that I might at last, get the smile I’d always dreamed of.



Ceramic braces were fitted, just the top at 1st, them months later the bottom ( a more detailed post on my first fitting is here and update on them here ) I’m not going to lie, it can hurt at times, I had regular check ups every 5-6 weeks where the wire was changed along with the bands around each bracket. They would get pretty stained and I had to avoid foods which contained turmeric, red wine, beetroot and strong coffee. You soon learn to read ingredient lists and scour any menu at what you can’t eat.

I also avoided chewy foods such as bread and pizza crusts, sweets and toffee was a big no-no too. I didn’t miss them too much to be fair, and it helped me maintain a much healthier lifestyle as a result. Meals out I would check they didn’t have spinach and I felt very conscious of green food lingering in my braces, it’s where you really learn who your friends are. I made sure I always carried a mirror and toothpicks in my handbag too.

The worst times were when the wires at the back would dig into my cheeks, I’d use wax which my dentist provided, to cover the brackets and wires but they wouldn’t always stick. On those days, and it would only ever be a few, I’d stick to soups, yoghurts and smoothies and did end up losing weight because of it. You also learn to chop or cut up all your food. But the positive side is how quickly you start noticing the changes.

People would tell me they hadn’t noticed I was wearing braces until I mentioned it, and I very quickly became used to them, and the last few day before they were due to come off, I started to feel sad at the fact they were going! It’s been 24 hours now and I still haven’t registered that I no longer have to brush my teeth a certain way or put my elastics in.

I’ve had fixed retainers fitted to the backs of my teeth to keep them in place and will be going back next week for a removable retainer which I will have to wear every night for 6 months and a few times a week after that. I guess that saying no pain no gain really applies here, but OMG have I gained!

I haven’t stopped grinning like a Cheshire cat, getting ceramic braces have hands down been the right decision and to say I’m pleased with the result is an understatement! No more covering my mouth when I speak, smiling in photos which my mouth shut and feeling self-conscious when I meet someone with perfectly straight teeth.


My Top Little Luxury for the perfect home office

I love that word – luxuries, it’s something everyone needs in their life. Not in a fancy car, huge house, safe full of diamonds kinda way, just a little pat on the back for your efforts, a little luxury to keep up the motivation to work and reap the rewards.

I’m slowly falling back into love with my home after putting it on the back burner while divorce stuff was being sorted, and now my home office (by that I mean desk in the corner of my dining room!) is a settled feature and a place I can type away with blissful abandonment, but I’ve also been looking at making it a more functional area.

Yesterday was spent having a sort through of all the paperwork and receipts which were building up, I work much better in a tidy environment and a tidy desk, for me, is key to a productive day. my littlest boy is in preschool an extra day so I’m getting my work buzz on big style.

I just need to make my workspace as productive as I possibly can so get the most out of those kindred work hours.

“So what about these luxuries Ali!”I hear you say.

So, say you’re typing away at home, a diary to your right (I’ve gone for a Stick To Stigu again this year BTW, love it) glass of water to your left. An inspirational quote at eye level, amazing smelling reed diffuser to stir those feel-good senses. It all seems pretty simple, right?

Yet there’s but one little thing missing; the coffee break. I don’t have the luxury (see there’s that word again) to pop out to a barista for the perfectly brewed latte, but if there’s one thing in life which I refuse to compromise on, it’s coffee.

So my top little luxury, the top of my list for all the above, the one which completes the perfect home office has to be a small yet funky coffee machine.  The type which will guarantee me the perfectly roasted caffeine hit at the touch of a button, my Dolce Gusto is one of the more a compact coffee machine with a minimalist design, which won’t take up too much room.

small luxuries for a home office

I simply don’t have the time to faff around grinding beans, measuring out, waiting for machines to heat up or pots to brew. I’d much rather walk 10 paces to the kitchen, pop in a pod, fill up the tank, press a button then get back to my desk and crack on. (And the great thing about a coffee machine is you can buy pods to suit whatever coffee mood you’re in, now the braces are off, I’m not tied to lattes.)

I draw the line at a water cooler though, I know they’re a pinnacle meeting point of most offices, it’s just I can’t argue that one,

what with having a tap and all that, which pretty much does the same thing!


This is a collaborative post 



I’m sticking with a fitness theme for the minute, mainly as a way to inspire you to keep your fitness motivation going in the hope my last post gave you a few pointers to get started, and also to give myself a gentle prod along as I’ve not made it to the gym this week.

It’s been one of those where work deadlines and family have taken precedence over pouring myself into my lycra, although I did sneak a few lengths in at a kids swimming party to quash some of the exercise guilt that was setting in.

My aim for this year is to keep working on my ab’s and general overall toning.  Daily planks and weekly gym trips as well as runs, have really paid off but it’s not like you can stop once you’ve reached your goal, there’s nothing more disheartening to see your hard work slipping away. There’s ALWAYS room for improvement and it helps if you’ve got an end goal in sight.

Mine, along with many others I imagine, is a holiday. Somewhere hot where I can wear a bikini (or swimsuit if there are any water slides involved!) which, although months away no doubt, it’s still an end goal and knowing I can walk along a beach without worrying about having to suck in my stomach is my motivation!

Track your changes

Taking stage photos really helps, you don’t have to show anyone (put them in a hidden folder if you have an iPhone and you’re worried about anyone seeing them) it’ll really help you track your progress. Just make sure they’re taken in the same spot and pose. It’s amazing how different you look in various poses, just check out this post from Finish health blogger if you don’t believe me. I’m still to crack the perfect Insta pose if I’m honest, so I try to stick to the same room and background. Just remember not to try look as though your modelling swimwear but do hold a steady pose rather than a slump, you’re only cheating yourself, this is for your own motivation only, no one else.

how to keep the up the motivation to get fit Keep A Bench Mark

If your goal is to solely improve your fitness rather than toning up, then a fitness tracker with heart rate monitor is your friend. I use to judge how fit I was by how quickly I got out of breath speed walking up 2 very steep hills on the way to pick my kids up from school. Although useful, and boy did I notice it after school holidays, I soon realised it wasn’t a consistent way to gauge my improvement.

Now I’m doing a lot more exercise, I try to stick to the same treadmill or runtime then using my Fitbit and a NikeRun app, I’m able to push my pace up and see how my heart rate changes. Just remember illnesses will affect it so don’t be downhearted if you dip.

You can try upping your pace even if you’re walking to see your fitness improve gradually. I love seeing my weekly progress report on my Fitbit app and seeing how far I’ve come.

Find A Motivation Friend

And lastly, why not buddy up. Any challenge is more fun when you have someone to motivate you, a little healthy competition goes a long way. I’d stick to just the one though, no one likes being bottom of the group and it’s a shore fire wat to feeling downhearted and dipping out.

If it’ just the 2 of you, and you’ve have a bad week, you’re 2nd. Not last!


3 Easy Ways To Keep Fitness Goals Going

I want to share a secret with you, I’m going to let you in on a little behind the scenes look into how I’ve gone from a sort-of fit / can manage a family bike ride / walk to the shops pushing a buggy mum, to one who’s embracing a holistic healthy lifestyle and reaping the benefits.

You’re welcome.

You see, after several stop-start attempts to get fit, usually on a sunny morning, feeling inspired to start running or waking up on New Years Day and deciding THIS was the year I’d complete that 10K challenged, in 2016 I finally took fitness by the horns and stuck to my plans.

No more excuses.

Spurned on by the realisation that as a single mum, my health was more important than ever and that there was a possibility, at some point some lucky fella would see me naked! So I let out my battle cry to sort mum-tum – the pressure was on, I needed to tone up, and fast.

I’d not had the courage to wear a bikini in years, although I’ve stayed a consistent size 8 – 10 between pregnancies, there was still the telltale signs of 3 babies and it was time to change that. I didn’t want to just accept that at 40 I should hang up my 2-piece forever, toning up and fitness became my priority and above all, it made me FEEL good.

and here’s how I did it;

Never underestimate the power of planking

Starting small, I began planking for 2 minutes every morning building up to a 5 minute morning-kick starter workout – 1 minute full plank (pushed up on your hands), a 30 second elbow plank, 30 second right side and a left side one, same again for leg planks, one left one right another 30 second elbow plank and a final 1 minute one. The results kicked in pretty quick luckily.

how to sneak fitness goals into everyday routines Set a steps goals

Next was to set 10,000 steps per day goal. My job can mean I’m sat down for long periods of time, yet it’s amazing how quickly you can notch up those steps in a day without trying, and I could make up for less active days as I knew how much I’d slacked out on. I started just using a step counter on my phone as I always had it on me, then bought a fitness tracker.

Moving on to a FitBit more recently meant I could add friends who also had one and we could challenge each other. My Charge2 also has a gentle nagging approach to getting me off my butt and doing a few extra steps when I’ve been sat still too long! It also makes you consider if a car journey is really necessary when you can walk it and notch up those numbers.

Retrain your brain – Exercise as headspace

I’m a huge believer in balancing your emotions and clearing out your thoughts ready for any unexpected upheaval. A healthy body and healthy mind go hand in hand and no matter how busy your life is, you need some time in the week away from social media, emails, TV, chores and any stresses in your life. Just some time to steady your thoughts, process your week and step away from the norm.

As well as using a guided meditation app (I use Headspace, it’s ace and more recently, my Amazon Echo.) I also find swimming is a perfect escape and I don’t get distracted. Even when I’m running or at the gym, I’m guilty of checking messages and emails. But armed in my Speedo swimsuit and I’m in the zone; right tools for the right job and all that, top tip – it always helps if you’re wearing the right clobber to mentally think you can do it. I now have a very healthy collection of sportswear! Think of it as a double work out for the mind and the body if you need extra motivation.

So there’s my secret, nothing too heinous, these are the bare bones of my fitness routine.

I top off all the above with a few classes at my local gym, but on stupidly busy weeks, where work deadlines take preference over BodyPump. Just doing the few things I mentioned means I don’t get that fit-guilt as I’m still sneaking little goals with minimum effort and still reaping the rewards.

how to sneak fitness goals into everyday routines


This is a collaborative post 


About 2017, I’m not really sure what to say…..

I was planning writing a big inspirational post to round up 2017, the kind where I share all the amazing things which have happened in my life and look forward to total excitement and optimism for the new year ahead. The reality is, I’m not really sure what happened.

It was an epic year of sorts, I had big plans this time last year. Still in the throes of navigating my way and getting my head around being a single mum, I grabbed 2017 with both hands and planned some big changes and adventures.

My goal to take my boys on a holiday was trumped when I got to do it twice, with gumption! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get to go to Florida   and despite the chaos of being caught up in the British Airways disaster at the start of our Mark Warner break  to Sardinia in May, it was just what the Dr ordered, a stepping stone into realising just how much holidays are important to the boys and I, and I’m already looking at where we can go next year. Learning to sail on a Mark Warner break in high priority as it ticked all the boxes for us.

about 2017, Im not really sure what to say

I was so hoping to start the year a legal single lady, the end is in sight in divorce land, there’s been ups and downs but nothing as horrendous as you see in the movies and I’m still undecided on the whole divorce party thing, maybe just a few drinks with friends and family to toast new beginnings?

Oh, and that thing about single parenting and broken homes, it’s a total myth. My boys are thriving, it still sucks being the single lady in a village of happily married families and yes, you do get overlooked in social occasions for fear of husband stealing.

about 2017, I', not really sure what to say

But on the flip side,  I’ve managed to rack up some amazing friends, hooking up with someone else in the same situation is my sole advice for anyone who’s finding themselves on the other side of coupledome.  Sure, I’ve lost a few along the way, but like one friend reminded me recently as I moaned about my crap single lady status…..

people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime

which is so true, see, optimistic Ali is still here!

So, in a nutshell, 2017 was a year of reasons, a couple of seasons and a lifetime of heading in the right direction and positive decision-making.

So tonight I’ll be putting in my glad rags, knocking back the gin and dancing my way out of another year of false starts, new beginnings in a kick-ass LBD and sparkly heels…..

how did your 2017 pan out?