Exercise, Life Journey, Running, Targets, Weight Loss

Quarter Challenge and Being a Hobbit

I’ve now completed week four of my Quarter challenge – the time is going in so quickly. But so far, so good. Six and a half lbs down, it’s not looking likely that I’ll make the rather ambitious goal of 13st for my holiday, but I won’t be too far off.

This could be an ideal opportunity for me to revert to the old ways of being negative and reminding myself of what a useless failure I am, and that I’m going to struggle all the way and that I can’t even set myself realistic goals. I did mention before that I am getting better at being kinder to myself, and I definitely feel in a much more positive frame of mind. Rather than dwelling on the coveted number that I may not meet (there’s time yet!), I’ve pulled my focus closer. Half a lb this week will see a silver seven and take me to within four and a half lbs of my ‘safe’ running weight. Although this particular goal is light years away from even being a healthy weight, it is one of my major milestones.

Running changes everything. It makes each and every pound I lose have purpose. It makes my step lighter, my knee better, my recovery faster and my times quicker. It makes me not want to ruin a ‘good’ day of eating after sweating like hell. The chances are too, that my first few weeks back out in my trainers will see an increased loss at the scales as my body adjusts to the extra exercise. Just what the doctor ordered.

lambWe are now full swing in lambing season, which translates as very, very busy. There are babies EVERYWHERE. It’s an interesting time as sleep is minimal and a pretty intensive schedule piles up on top of all the normal work. Regular eating patterns disappear out the window and this can go either way – some days there literally isn’t time to eat, and others I find myself shovelling in anything I can see because I’m so hungry. This may balance out in terms of weight loss, but I’m trying to remain mindful and track where and when I can.

 

One of the things that has struck me in the last few weeks is my similarity to Bilbo Baggins and his chums. And I’m not talking about the hairy feet. Hobbits are a race who thoroughly enjoy their grub, and are more than partial to a second breakfast. I too am now an advocate of the second breakfast. For long and weary a cup of tea and a banana have been my meal of choice first thing, which is a throwback to going out running early in the mornings. I don’t have a particularly harmonious running/digestive relationship, and I was amazed at how far you can go on a humble banana and sugarless tea. I find now that if I eat porridge/eggs/crumpets somewhere between 10 and 11am as well, my body seems a whole lot happier and I eat less at a later lunchtime, which then rolls into the afternoon and omits any snacking. So you can eat more to eat less. (Does that make sense?)

So in the coming weeks if I maintain my hobbit-ness and my positivity, I’ll make it through lambing and be back running in no time.

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Exercise, Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Targets, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

A Quarter-Challenge

I went to my new meeting. It was fabulous. It is indeed very small, and everyone is so supportive of each other. Because I’ve moved about a fair bit, I’ve attended a lot of different meetings. I can usually tell straight away whether I’m going to like it or not, and I knew the second I sat down in the little room that it was going to be splendid.

One of the things it did was lift my mood, and for the first time in weeks I’m beginning to feel better about myself. It feels nice. Getting up and getting on each day feels easier. I want to go out more and I’m becoming less irritable. In my normal pattern, this ‘up’ episode usually begins around the clocks changing at the end of March and I think the early turn is due to going back to Weight Watchers. That sounds a little dramatic, but sometimes isolation in large doses can skew your thinking more, and having a group of people who share your struggle can just be enough to knock you in the right direction.

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One of our farm walks – what’s not to like?

Having turned the proverbial corner, my mind has floated towards my weight loss and my holiday at the beginning of June. I tried on some of my holiday clothes that I kept from waaay back – I got rid of most of them when I started to slim down. The ones that were left were all too tight to put on. In most of the major/nice times in my life, I can tell you what weight I was, and my last holiday abroad was a long time ago and I was 13st dead.

That’s where we’re going.

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My last holiday ~ 13st

The funny thing about it was how big I remember feeling then. There are no bikini photos, any time I stood up I put a sarong on and even now I still can’t stand the sight of my legs in shorts in those pictures.

But I was healthy then and still in my 20s. I wasn’t even aware I had any problems with my reproductive organs, let alone in agony waiting for surgery. I’ve come through a lot since and the thought of being back at 13st right now is delicious.

So I have 12 weeks. A quarter of a year. My challenge is to get to 13st by the night before my flight. Funnily enough, my class happens to be the night before I go. Once again, I feel like the gods are trying to help me as best they can.

That works out at a little more than a 1lb per week for the next 12 weeks – a goal that is not unreasonable. Every week I will set a different intention to help me get there. If anyone wants to join me, feel free – I’d love to hear how you get on.

Week one for me is about assessing my fitness routine. At the moment most of my exercise is covered by walking my dogs round the farm and mixed yoga practice most days. At some point in the next twelve weeks I’m hoping that will change. I’m a keen runner but a old dodgy knee injury will not carry me up and down the rough trails on the farm at my current weight. If all goes to plan, I should reach my ‘safe’ running weight sometime in the course of this challenge.

If I can establish a baseline fitpoint achievement this week, that will allow me to set myself minimum standards and increase it as I get lighter and fitter (again).  So this week I aim to track all of my activity using my Weight Watchers app.

It’s so nice to have found a bit of hope and motivation again, and have someone tell you that yes, you can do it, yes, it is feasible and yes, help is at hand. We can all do this, one week at a time and with a little help from some friends.

Exercise, Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

Someone is Listening

I’d been saying that I think some other-worldly force has been trying to send me a message. The breaking of the corkscrew was a hint – one that I should have heeded. Well, the cosmos hasn’t given up on me.

After last weeks’ corkscrew incident, I pretty much couldn’t get any lower. I’m hunkered down right now, fighting my way through a black episode and trying to function as best I can as a normal human being. For me, that means washing, brushing my teeth and making sure my animals are cared for, plus the absolute bare minimum obligation for work. If I manage all that, I’m done and usually knackered. I don’t even try to be socially acceptable in public. In fact, I try to avoid being in public at all.

Needless to say at times like this, watching what I eat and weight loss are the last things on my mind. It’s not that I don’t care. I do. I really, really do. It’s just that they are so far down the list of priorities that they get swallowed up, and it feels like and seems like I don’t care. When personal hygiene feels like a mountain to climb, there isn’t much hope for kale smoothies and 5-mile hikes.

Fate has definitely been listening and paying attention, if not, then definitely reading my blog. Two things have happened in the last few days that have helped me turn a corner. I’ve booked a holiday. This is a big deal –  James and I have never been abroad in nearly five years together. Being a farmer is sh*t for holidays, and we’ve always either been too skint, too busy, or moving house. I’m not excited about a holiday which is a shame, but my current mindset will not allow enthusiasm. However… I am happy. It gives me a focus, something to work towards and a really good, solid reason to lose weight.

The second thing is my Weight Watchers class. I had to stop going to the only class in the area for a few reasons. I am a person that needs my class, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. During low periods it can prevent me from being a shut-in and improve my self-esteem (even if that translates as a half-lb loss!). I was toying with the idea of travelling further afield, but didn’t want to because I really like my leader. As if by magic, my leader tells me she has started an evening class in town and that she misses me! (how nice is that?)

Again, no enthusiasm. Relief. I feel relieved that I have a class to go to again. I’m not going to get any bigger. I’m not going to struggle on my own any more. If I am struggling, I’ll have support. I can do this. There is a tiny chink of light peeping through the crack at me, and I’m cautiously smiling.

Whoever or whatever is responsible, thank you from the deepest part of me. It’s just the motivation I need right now.

 

Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Weight Loss

Staying Positive

I’m trying. I really am.

During a ‘good’ depression, I can maintain my weight, but it takes every ounce of willpower and self-motivation (usually to the detriment of something else) to do it. Normally if things are ‘bad’ I’ll gain weight as I comfort eat out of emotional instability and boredom.

I’ve had a tough week. I’m still fighting with the weight I put on over Christmas and stopping smoking. I’m still too heavy to run on my duff knee.I’ve had some very frank conversations with my doctor which haven’t pleased me. My mood has started to tip downhill, and it’s not surprising.  Every year around this time I hit a cycle of depression and I can feel it. I usually occupy myself with a selection of my wretched personal attributes and wallow, hidden away from the world feeling guilty until it passes. I can’t do that this time. I won’t. This year is the year for weight loss. I promised myself. So I’m trying to remain super-positive to the best of my ability while I see out my black spell.

I’m not saying it will work and I’ll continue to lose every week, but it may help with damage limitation and I might have a few weeks where I lose a pound or so. I wanted to share the things that I’m consciously making the effort to do, because somewhere out there, someone else might be struggling too.

  1. Exercise and fresh air every day regardless of weather – Walking my dogs (even for 15  minutes) every day gives me a sense of purpose and helps lift my mood.
  2. Track food on my WWs app – This helps me to curb my emotional eating binges and remain mindful of what I’m putting in my mouth.
  3. Brain space – time to relax and reflect and leave the ‘guilty’ brain behind. Yoga every  day to help settle my mind.
  4. Mid-Week weigh-in – A gentle reminder not to lose focus!
  5. Continue to Blog – I clam up when I’m depressed, and I find it difficult to write. I’m going to do my best to produce a post every week for the next few weeks.
  6. Take one day at a time – Positivity and routine come easier when you don’t look at the bigger picture.

All of the above I’ll document as a tick-box list in my journal – this shows me a visual representation of how I’m doing and it’s something that I find helpful (Especially when I make it pretty with my coloured pencils 🙂 ). Here’s hoping I can get through the coming weeks with some level of success. I just keep telling myself that if I keep trying, keep bringing my mind back to my weight and keep positive, then I’m doing all I can.

 

 

Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Stop Smoking, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

That Man

I had a loss at the scales this week, which was important for me. I also had an epiphany. It’s been an interesting week.

Writing my post last week very much finalized the fact that I don’t smoke any more. It’s the first time I’ve ever called myself an ex-smoker, and it sort-of felt like the end of a chapter. Closure? I don’t know. But it’s an end.

I pondered this as I walked my foggy path round the farm one day with the dogs. I’ve conquered something massive that has blighted my entire adult life. It’s quite liberating. It almost makes me feel like I can get on with the rest of my life and achieve the things I want to now that it no longer cripples me. And it did – financially, socially and mentally.

That made me stop and think. Sub-consciously I think smoking has been an excuse not to lose weight. That horrifies me. I did say I felt like a fraud and that I’d never lead a healthy lifestyle because I smoked. (Go on, look back at the last post – I did say it, didn’t I?) How long have I struggled with my weight? Have I been sneakily sabotaging my weight-loss attempts with a sub-conscious negative attitude for years? Uh oh. I have. That thought sent all of my nerve endings prickling and brought the familiar flip-flop stomach that I hate so much. Right there in the middle of my ‘safe’ place among the firs and needle-cushioned paths of the farm, I returned to self-loathing Gem in a flash. Anxiety went from zero to ten in less than a second.

And that’s how quickly my triumph of the last few weeks came tumbling down. I mean, reality check. I am horrendously overweight. I’m back to being ‘fat’. Too fat to run. All my clothes are tight. My underwear doesn’t fit. I’m unattractive. I’m never going to achieve the weight loss I’ve longed for. I’m useless. I can’t do anything right. I’ll never achieve the other goals in my life.

By the time I got home twenty minutes later, I’d mired myself in a self-created pit of pure hatred and spite topped off with negativity. It was time to retreat to one of my other ‘safe’ places – playing computer games. I needed to forget all the thoughts that had just destroyed my confidence.

I’m currently enjoying a zombie-mashing, button-bashing affair (Dead Rising 4 if anyone’s interested) on Xbox. I got playing with this American guy in multiplayer. I knew nothing about this man. Zero. After playing with him for two hours, I knew him well. He was very polite.

I could hear him smoking. He had a wheezy sort of breath which his microphone picked up when he spoke. He told me that smoking calmed him as he suffered with severe anxiety, and that was why he allowed himself to smoke. He coughed in a short, sharp rasp roughly once every six minutes. He told me that if a doctor told him he was dying of cancer, he’d stop, and he could stop no problem. Through other routes of conversation I established this man to be between thirty and thirty-eight. He lives alone. He drinks spirits because beer doesn’t get him drunk, and he can and does drink a lot. This man is overweight. I was this man.

It made me realize how far I’ve come. How much I’ve already achieved. What I no longer am. The habits I’ve dropped and how my life and attitude has changed. And that my earlier internal outburst (I realize that doesn’t entirely make sense) was out of proportion and very, very harsh. There was still a grain of truth, though. A chance that I might stay this way forever, or worse, return to being ‘that man’.

I took action. I have the tools, I know the rules. I no longer need food as a nicotine replacer, I am aware of that now. So, it’s time to boogie. I fired up my Weight Watchers app, and I’ve been tracking ALL my food and exercise properly. A few pounds off and I can run. I feel better already.

This isn’t about failing at weight loss. It’s about picking battles, timing and appreciating the positive steps that have changed your life. No matter how small. It’s those things that keep you positive and turn you, however slowly, into the person you actually want to be.

I’ve come a long way.

 

 

 

Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Stop Smoking, Uncategorized

After 18 Years

Being hard on myself is somewhat of a hobby. Anything that I can use against myself, I probably will, and I have a few pet subjects that I’ll keep harking back to when I’m doing a bit too well generally. A fine perpetual example of this would be my weight.

My Dad asked me the other day if I was happy with the person I turned out to be. Surprisingly, I answered yes. I said I was happy with the person I turned out to be on the inside and that I’d consciously worked on that, but I was still working on the outside, which was less complicated and not as important.

If he’d asked me the same question six weeks ago, I’d have said ‘No.’

On the 5th of December, I stopped smoking cold turkey. I’ve smoked in some capacity for nearly 18 years and made numerous attempts to stop with nicotine replacement, classes, cessation programmes, the lot. The longest I’ve lasted is two months, and that was a New Years resolution a few years ago. So why am I mentioning this now and what’s it got to do with internal happiness?

The motivation to stop is usually the glaringly obvious health facts about smoking and the increasing cost of doing so. (A 20-a-day smoker will now spend up to £280 a month.) Stopping for me had very little to do with either.

I’ve not lasted as long as the last time I quit (yet). I don’t need to. I know that I’m done this time – I’m not ‘lasting’, I’m an ex-smoker. I’ve gone from strength to strength over the weeks, and I now know I’m not going back. Ever. I can honestly say hand-on-heart it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It really, really is. I’ve put on weight. Everyone knows that’s the last thing I want right now. There is no way I’m ever putting myself through those first two weeks of withdrawal EVER AGAIN.

Stopping for me was completely about the impact on my mental health. Smoking was one of those subjects that I could keep beating myself up about – I’m intelligent. Intelligent people don’t purposefully give themselves cancer and pay for the privilege. When it comes to running, I’m a fraud. Proper runners don’t smoke. I’ll never lead a ‘proper’ healthy lifestyle because I’m a dirty smoker. I struggle with social anxiety and quite a lot of the time I’m uptight about what people (even complete strangers) think of me face-to-face, and I assume they are searching for flaws and judging me. People seeing me smoking made me anxious. “What must these people walking past think of me?”

Because of this, I stopped smoking in my car over a year ago, when I bought a new vehicle. Six months later, I was no longer smoking in public, unless I was standing outside a pub having been drinking. I was ashamed. The anxiety far outweighed the pleasure of actually smoking in public. I’ve never smoked in my house.

One of the things that all the health groups tout is the ‘Amazing benefits’ and ‘how healthy you’ll feel’ after stopping smoking. I’m telling you now, it’s a load of crap. I don’t feel full of energy, I’m not sleeping better, (I had withdrawal insomnia for the first three weeks on top of my normal insomnia problems) the money I’ve saved has been spent on other things, and my skin still looks like that of a pubescent just before the school dance. Non-smokers morning breath is the most horrendous thing I have ever encountered. As a smoker, you know you wake up with a mouth like a stale ashtray. But that’s okay, because as soon as you’ve got some coffee, it’s going to be a fresh ashtray. As a non-smoker, oh my god… what IS that?

However… I am at peace with myself. I’m no longer killing myself a cigarette at a time. I have one less thing to beat myself up about. I have one less social anxiety to deal with. It made me answer my dad positively. After 18 years, that’s worth more than all the health benefits in the world.

“If you do not like where you are in life, move. You are not a tree.”

This is one of my favourite quotes just now. And I did it. I realised I’m not a tree.

 

 

Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Relationships

A Knock-on Effect

So I’ve been absent for two weeks. Rather than snivel and apologize for not providing blog posts for the last two Sundays, I thought I might explain why.

James’ last remaining grandparent was diagnosed with a very aggressive strain of cancer which basically destroyed her within three weeks. James was close to her and naturally took the news hard, which was quite upsetting to see. He managed to take time off work to nip down to England and visit her. She hung on to dear life to see him, and passed away little more than half an hour after he left. (How sad but nice at the same time is that?)

Dying is something that we all have to deal with. I wasn’t prepared for the situation. This is the first time James and I have had to go through this as a couple. I was forever nagging him about calling Nana and having a chat with her, because one day she wouldn’t be here anymore. Well, that day came.

My main concern throughout this ordeal has been making sure James is okay and that I’m doing everything I can to make life easy for him, which is all very logical and practical. I wasn’t prepared for how it would impact me. It made me sad, obviously – I got on incredibly well with her and always called her ‘Nana Brenda’ – she was such a character, and on top of that it’s never nice seeing your partner upset about anything.

I walked about for days unable to shake off the melancholy that had shrouded me, which in turn made me feel guilty and selfish. This was nothing to do with me, it was about my partner losing someone he loved, but I couldn’t help the feelings I was getting. I found it very difficult to ‘place’ myself – I didn’t know whether to leave James alone, try and talk, or comfort him and tell him everything was going to be alright.

As Nana’s condition deteriorated over the following days from the diagnosis, I slowly began to stop exercising. I stopped cooking dinner. Then I stopped sleeping.

I’m sure the rest of you can fill in the blanks. It got pretty bad. The thing that got me was that it came completely out of nowhere! I mean, she’s not my grandmother, and it’s not like James was a snotty, shaky wreck rocking in the corner of the room. Why would I feel so shitty?

It came to me yesterday. It’s that feeling of being completely useless. Anything you say or do is NOT going to bring the person back, nor is it going to make the grieving person feel any better. It’s hopeless. Having no control over a situation and that feeling of hopelessness is something I strongly associate with depression.

I haven’t suffered a period of depression in well over a year, so it was like getting hit in the face with a brick.

So here I am, picking myself up to restart what I ‘should’ be doing. I can’t let this recent situation take over, nor can I let those sorts of feelings take over. I refuse to let that happen without putting up a fight.  I know I’ve put on weight, I haven’t typed a single word for nearly three weeks and my training plan is shot to hell. I’m still fighting. I’ll get back to it. One day at a time.

At least I know what to expect the next time… cheery, eh?