Exercise, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Running, Targets, Weight Loss

Fat Girl Who Runs

When it comes to healthy body and mind, I used to worry about what people thought of me. I used to slouch my shoulders to hide my ample bosom and avoid photographs with my ‘skinny’ friends. I was ashamed. I used to go out of my way to hide the fact that I’d suffered mental illness – no-one wants to deal with a nutcase. During my months of inactivity pre and post surgery, I felt as if I had to justify to people why I’d got fat, and why I wasn’t sleeping and looked like crap. Much as we live in a more accepting and open world these days, people still judge whether we like it or not.

Friday was a very special day for me. I laced up my running shoes. Running for me is about keeping a mental balance, proving to myself I can work hard and follow my commitments through to the end. It’s not about weight loss, that’s an added bonus. When I’m mentally ‘up’, I find it a lot easier to control my food intake, but also how well I cope with day-to-day life.

I was absolutely scared stiff.

Not only had I not run for over a year, but I was 28lbs heavier than the last time I pounded the pavement. My ‘big’ running gear was tight. Thankfully I’m a bit more level-headed these days, and my sensible, positive voice Cordelia sat me down and had a chat before I set out. She told me to forget what I’d done before. This was going to be a new start. Today was the first step. She patted me on the knee and ushered me out the front door.

I chose a 2.6 mile route simply because it was an easy out-and-back, and I knew 5k was out of the question (lamenting my 16-mile run to my WWs class in times of old). Come on Gem, be sensible. Okay. No expectations. Start with little more than a walk. Really slow. But I’m on a main road. Everyone can see me. So be proud. Show all those people you think are staring at you as they drive by that you’re a warrior, and being heavy or slow isn’t going to stop you. Yes. Cordelia, you’re right. I’m a warrior. No-one knows how far I’m running, no-one who passes by and judges knows my story. Screw them. Just run.

And I did.

I held my head high, puffed and panted all the way, wiped sweat away and talked to myself (out loud) pushing uphill. I stopped to walk when I needed, and I completely ignored everything else. As I came downhill on my last half mile, I felt strong, confident. I sped up a little. Three men in a white transit van approached, and they were looking at me. Uh-oh. Talk about a buzzkill. I looked straight back at them, waiting for the sneers and perceived taunting going on inside that van. Guess what? It never came. They beeped the horn and gave me a thumbs-up as they zoomed past. I sprinted the last tiny bit home.

If I had looked away instead of at them, I’d have taken the horn-beeping as a cruel, judgmental gesture. That might have been enough to kill my confidence completely. I suppose the point I’m making is that what we think others see is often what we torture ourselves with, and if we lack confidence in what we do, our own judgement can swing wildly from one extreme to the other. Don’t worry about what others think. It’s too delicate a balance to be upset.

So what if I’m big and I go running? So what if I’m proud of my 12-minute miles? One day I’ll be back at 8-minute miles, 16 mile runs, chasing a long-forgotten and insane 5k PB. The people I think are judging will be long-gone by then, and I’ll only have the Fat Girl Who Runs to thank.

 

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Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Weight Loss

The Beast Has Risen

And that’s exactly what I’ve turned into. A whopping, flaming great big beast. I feel huge. Exactly one year and one month from being diagnosed with an abnormal cyst on my ovary, I made it into hospital. Surgery went well, but the recovery process is slow and right now I’m six weeks post-surgery. I’m still not back to normal.

The State of Play

My body is wrecked. Medication teamed with the permanent discomfort towards the end has left me weak, flabby and with a lot of work to do. I’ve piled on over 3st since last September and been unable to exercise for most of that. I was absolutely overjoyed to be able to return to Weight Watchers last week, and after week ten of recovery I’m allowed to start exercising again (Not that I’m counting or anything). I’m pretty much back to normal mobility-wise, but lifting anything particularly heavy is still a bit iffy, as is twisting in certain directions. Thrown into all of this, my other half and I decided to move back to Scotland. It’s been a tough decision, but the right decision.

Silver Lining

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are positives to come out of the situation. I am SO GLAD to be home – the South of England is definitely not for me. It’s all the little things you miss (like hills, familiar accents and not paying for prescriptions) and I’ll stick out the crap weather for all the good stuff. I’m convinced all that good weather was turning me soft anyway…

I’m delighted to be returning to my old Weight Watchers leader who is fabulous, and my weight-loss journey just hasn’t been the same without her. I’ll look forward to weighing in again!

Over the last six months, I also had to find something to occupy myself – the hardest thing about this whole process has been not being able to run. It’s killed me. I enjoyed it for about three days. Then I got a bit grumpy. Then I felt like I was in taper. Then I started climbing the walls. So I decided to start writing more – something I could do without hurting myself! Short stories, little paragraphs, and pages in my journal filled up my days after work. I joined a critique group, and have made a whole bunch of new friends who give me honest and experienced feedback on my writing. Then the unthinkable happened. On the second of June, I officially became a published writer. That little gem gave me such a boost, and I swear it stopped me losing my marbles completely throughout this whole ordeal. I’ll not make my millions any time soon, but someone has definitely been watching out for me!

To the Future

So here I am, back in not-so-sunny Scotland. I’m fired up and ready to go. My work schedule is sorted. I’ve started writing a novel. I know exactly what I need to do to get this weight off. I’ve done it twice before, I can do it a third time. I’m ready. I’m also really fired up about getting back running. I’m never going to let anyone or anything take that privilege away from me again, because that’s what it is. It’s such a massive part of my life. Due to my old knee injury, I’m not starting back until I hit 13st – which actually works in my favour as it gives me an interim goal in what is going to be a very long journey (again!) In the meantime, I’ll be back in the pool once my stitches have healed fully, and heading for some spin classes.

A long time ago (a decade ago!), when I went to Weight Watchers for the very first time, I promised myself I’d never get that big again. I really feared the worst when I stepped back on the scales last week, and fully expected to see 15st staring back at me. Looks like I’ve still kept my promise. Bring it on, Sissy.

Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Weight Loss

Being the Best Version

So the weight loss is slow, but it’s starting to come off. 5lbs since the New Year, better than 5 lbs ON. In looking at my weight, I’ve been forced to investigate underneath that Weight Watchers ‘layer’ and take a more holistic look at my lifestyle, to try and make the weight loss as easy as possible.

I’ll be honest – I’ve always known what the problem is. I’m not a stupid person. I have no issue with exercise, and never have had. My eating is the problem. Well, actually it’s not – overeating is the by-product of my behaviour, thoughts and what I deem to be ‘solutions’ to problems. I know that it’s actually anxiety and stress that trigger my eating behaviours, and that’s a very difficult thing to admit to yourself or anyone else. For some reason it’s easier to say ‘I’m a pig’ than ‘I eat as an emotional crutch’. I think the latter sounds more like a weak answer and possibly comes across that way to others, especially as to any logical person, eating does not solve problems (unless the problem is hunger). I take issue with it because it’s one trait I hate – being weak. I am NOT a weak person in any sense, and it’s something that doesn’t sit well with me.

As I’ve gone through the last 5 years or so of my life after my crisis, I’ve always tried to be the best person I can, and continually improve myself. Science has taught me that if we don’t evolve, learn and adapt, we get left behind and that generally leads to unhappiness and/or conflict with the rest of the world. Learning new things and exposing oneself to new experiences helps us to ‘grow’ as people, makes us more broad-minded and compassionate towards others. Plus, we get to know ourselves better. How do you know if you don’t like broccoli if you’ve never tried it?

As a person with a thirst for knowledge, I like pushing my boundaries and learning new things. But, if it isn’t on my terms, it causes me all sorts of issues. This is where the stress and anxiety comes in. If I have no control over a situation, it puts me into a state of very real panic. Sweating. Numbness in limbs. Raised heart rate and blood pressure. Upset stomach. In extreme cases, vomiting. (My partners first memory of me was throwing up before one of our finals at university – nice.) I like routines. I like to plan and know what’s happening. I’m happy to try new things if it’s planned. My automatic reaction to panic/no control situations is to have an outburst, and then go to ground and eat/drink myself into oblivion. That makes me sound like a nut.

Everyone has their own ‘triggers’ and mine are just a little bit more extreme than some, but the point is, we are all human and not perfect. It’s when you get to a breaking point (those holiday snaps from when you were 3 stone heavier?) that you usually realise that you need to do something to change.

I learned this when I had my breakdown, and it is why I’m always trying to bring out a better version of myself. I don’t need to change, and I actually quite like the person that I am most of the time, but I need to improve. In being able to identify that I have a few broken logic patterns, I took a step towards Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). I’ve done a lot of reading, and CBT is a tool often used alongside medication for depressed/stressed/insomniac patients. CBT basically invites you to break down your principle thoughts-to-action processes in situations that make you feel like crap in order to establish where you are going wrong, and how to make changes to positively adjust these processes and improve your general mental health and self-worth.

As I read through some of these texts, I was focusing on my anxiety issues. What surprised me was I could directly relate a lot of the examples to my eating behaviours. Nearly every, single time. that kinda shocked me a little, because I didn’t realise quite how closely tied the two things are. That revelation in itself made me feel a million times better about myself. So now I’m trying to implement a few of the things I have learned, slowly, in preparation for GemGem v.31.1.

I’m not suggesting that everybody runs out and starts taking sessions on CBT, but take a minute to think about what your triggers are, and why you think reacting in the way that you do is ‘helpful’. Having a think about this can help you to understand what’s wrong and a path to fixing it. If you want to be a better version of yourself, you’ve got to move forward.

Exercise, Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing

It’s All Psychological

I’ve not been brave enough to step on the scales yet, but I’m working up to it. I don’t know what has changed, but there has been a mental shift somewhere in my brain over the festive period – as if my psyche needed a period of mourning for my beautiful hills, my running routes, my eensy-weensy WWs class, and well, basically my ‘old’ life. and that’s the thing – it took me two years to start to build that life. Making friends, joining running clubs – when I did, my mental and physical health was absolutely top notch. I slept like a baby, had bundles of energy, ate the most wonderful healthy food, tipped out at a very svelte 11st 9 (size 12- the joy of carrying my weight well) and enjoyed everything – work, company, family and achieved some things I never thought I could.

At risk of slipping into the old ‘year in review’ post, I’ll keep it brief. I recovered from a hideous knee problem, and ran my first half marathon the day before I turned 30. I completed a long-time dream of running to my WWs class and did it in style (16 miles!). I pulled on a pair of size 10 leggings. I made two of the best friends a girl could ever hope for, and coached one of them up to running her first 5k. I’ve never felt so privileged to be part of something. I had the courage to join a running club. As a result of all these things, bouts of depression were reduced to a few fleeting moments. And now it is all gone. I’m starting again.

I think I’ve ‘let’ myself have this period of mourning because I’ve needed it. The majority of my family and friends were worried about how I would cope with the move, especially since I was doing the majority of the packing myself with 6 very mobile puppies under my feet. I don’t cope well with prolonged periods of stress (who does?) and everyone thought I would crack. I didn’t. No outbursts, no anger, nothing. (Well, I did lose the tottie one morning, but in traditional Italian style it lasted all of about 10 seconds then I apologised – poor James!)

What’s happened is it has all come out in the wash. The process of James applying for his job to sitting down in the new house took nearly 2 and a half months, and I think it’s latent stress. I’m okay with this, and I’ve learned not to fight against it, because it only makes things worse. I’ve had my period of hibernation, daily tears and wretchedness and not wanting to wash or brush my teeth. Now I’m turning a corner and the ‘woe is me’ stage is by, I’m starting to think about how I can turn positives from my current point. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose (well, apart from some weight hopefully – fnar fnar).

My main motivation is The Operation. I’ve got the ball rolling and I’m now in the English NHS system. Having a gammy ovary has caused more issues than I thought it would, and over time has affected me more and more. It is extremely important to me to be as light as possible for surgery because the recovery time is looooong and the risks under anaesthetic increase with weight. I can’t run, but I can walk. I have three dogs. Bingo. But I also need to be healthy ‘upstairs’ if you get me. And I’m beginning to fix that right now. I’m ready. Regardless of weight, athletic ability or anything else, the last year taught me about capability, self-worth and determination. I’ve still got those tools, I just need to blow the dust off them.

Being healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle has nothing to do with being ‘skinny’. It’s all about what goes on in your head. You’ll never be healthy on the outside if the inside doesn’t want to do it. So do yourself a favour. Ask yourself some questions about what you really want – spend some time and get to know yourself – the real you. Don’t hide from your flaws and imperfections. Don’t sweep bad experiences under the carpet. Face up to them and look them right in the eye. And poke them in that eye with a big spoon of positivity.

It’s all in your head.

Exercise, Life Journey, Running

Race Day

It finally arrived.

I’d been waiting for this day since July last year. From unsteadily limping 1.3 miles that first day in the summer. On Saturday, one day before my 30th birthday, 23lbs lighter and a non-smoker, I stood in a crowd of 170 people, flanked by my uncle and my second cousin, and waited for the klaxon.

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I had been a little nervous last week, and it finally hit me when I drove into town a few days before the race and the arrows and mile markers were nailed up round the course. That’s when it actually hit me that I was running 13 miles. That summer’s day didn’t seem so long ago (I realise that it wasn’t) and I was all of a sudden very aware that in terms of distance, I was a very inexperienced runner, and there was a responsibility on me now to run this and get to the end, for all the sponsors who had faith in me.

I ate very little, and paced about like a caged animal most of Friday. I had planned ahead (of course, this is me we’re talking about!) and forced myself to eat some pasta in the evening, but I might as well have been eating cardboard. I did relax a bit when my parents arrived, and mum helped me pack my bag and go through my checklist for the morning. I had a Jack Daniels to ease the nerves and went to bed.

Ready! Set!…….

As I stood at the start, doubt engulfed me. I felt sick, and looked at all the ‘professional’ and clearly experienced half-marathoners around me with their fancy glasses, sooper-dooper running belts and Rolls-Royce running shoes. Here’s little ol’ dumpy Gem, right in the middle.

When I woke up earlier that morning, you could have instantly scraped me off the ceiling. I was HYPER. Weighing myself bolstered my confidence, as did my quick Happy Wardrobe Dance before the race. I felt good, and almost relaxed as I stepped out the car at the start line, and thats’ when the doubts kicked in. The first thing I saw was a red-haired girl, probably around 5 years younger than me, and she was about 6ft tall. She elegantly strode the length of the car park, warming up and I swear her legs stopped at my shoulder-height. I felt instantly huge. I nearly did get back in the car.

………….Go!

And that was it- too late to pull out, we were off – the Klaxon had sounded. I had deliberately placed myself at the back of the starters, because I knew I would be slow, and didn’t want the psychological negativity of having  a squillion people pass me. The agreement between my Uncle, my second Cousin Christine and I was that we would stick together at my pace, but if either of them wanted to go faster, they were just to go. Both are experienced runners, with 18 years, 7 marathons and numerous other races between them, I wasn’t going to be the one holding them back.

I started the way I start every run, giving myself a few minutes to settle into my pace. Christine and Uncle were already away ahead and my body was desperately wanting to speed up to catch them up. I repeatedly told myself no, if I did that, I’d end up walking. There was to be no walking. Thankfully, they soon realized, and let me catch up.

The race went well, with the three of us laughing, talking about the most absurd things on the way round. Miles 3, 4, 5 passed quickly, and then the hills started. I was bizarrely looking forward to this, as my whole life is a hill run. As we approached the first very (steep) hill what happened in front of me was outrageous. We’d caught up with a tall, slim-built guy in his 30s, who clearly started too quick and was flagging. He didn’t even attempt to run up the hill, he just stopped at the bottom and started walking. Most would have felt sorry for him or tried to encourage him. Not me. I was angry. I was angry because I was busting a gut and he didn’t deserve to be in front of me because he clearly wasn’t trying. I was passing him and there was no two ways about it. I gave him a nod as I dropped a gear and sailed past him uphill. It’s the only time during the race that I was at an advantage. Christine did comment that maybe I should be doing some fell running or something, as I ran quicker up hills, still talking, than on the flat!

Jolly job, target pace (minus having to stop for water – it was paper cups, and if I’d known that, I’d have brought my water bottle. Advice – don’t try and run with cups of water. Soggy.) and my strategy worked – not a single person passed me, and we in fact, passed nearly a dozen people on the way round. This tells me my strategy was a good one. Either that or my hill work is super-fly.

Uh-Oh….

Then the last mile happened.  Oh. My. God. My legs started to slow, my heart rate shot through the roof and I could feel myself slowing down every step. I was tired. I was out of breath. I began to panic. Uncle and Christine pushed on, leaving me trailing. I started to hate myself. I started to cry. I hated myself for not being able to keep up with relatives twice my age, and how embarrassed I’d be at the finish line, knowing that they’d run most of the way round at a very slow pace for me. I hated myself for smoking for the last 15 years, I hated myself for ever getting fat in the first place, and leaving my life this long without doing things I really wanted to achieve – I could have done this at 23, the last time I’d lost weight and it would be me leaving the oldies in the dust. I’m really glad my relatives didn’t see me crying. I hated it all, and was ashamed that I’d let everyone down – James, my Mum, Dad, Aunt who were all waiting at the finish line and would have to wait even longer for me to wheeze across the line.

I sucked it up – I had to. There was no way that I had gone through all this to limp over the finish line like a wilted flower. (Plus, it’s just not my bag) I stuck my headphones in, sang as loud as I could, when I could, and sped up. I rounded the corner, and spotted Christines’ little pink hat. I ran faster. I caught her. Then I realised the finish line was RIGHT THERE. Across the road, through the gate, then on to the track. Uncle was looking back, waving from the gate, shouting “Hurry up! We’ll finish together!” I talked to myself all the way into the gate and I saw it. The finish line. I shouted, “I can see it! I can see the finish!”

IMG_0061

I have no idea what happened next, other than I broke into the biggest grin ever, and went into what I can only describe as Beast Mode. I’d just run 13 miles and I was SPRINTING. I ran as fast as I could, trying to catch Uncle and Christine, like a small child chasing their parents, still with the grin. I felt Uncle’s hand touch mine, and I reached for Christines’. I went “WOOOOOOO!” as we crossed the finish line, together, as a family.

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I freakin’ did it.

SAM_0429

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

To Post or Not To Post

It’s been some time since I’ve posted. For the first time in nearly a year of writing this blog, I’ve actually not felt like writing. That’s highly unusual for me, but there are reasons behind it, as you’ll soon find out. Anyway, I don’t know what has compelled me to proverbially pick up my pen again, but I think it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve got  much to catch up on, so I’m going to post 3 separate articles – this one, another tomorrow and the third on Friday morning.

I always said I would be honest when I wrote this blog and not sugar-coat anything or hide anything, in order to show the real story of weight loss, exercise and adopting a healthier lifestyle, like a real, normal person. Everyone knows it won’t be plain sailing, but sometimes things can get the better of you. What you have to remember is that we are human. It’s not like typing a command into a computer and everything just slots into place. Scientists always talk about factors and variables – things that affect the outcome of an experiment. In life, there are many variables, and if there were no tough times, no-one would have to go through a journey like I’m going through. Ever. So it’s not the things that happen to you that you need to worry about, but how you react to them and what the hell you’re going to do about it.

All my good intentions that I talked about previously for 2014 have been hijacked severely, through absolutely no fault of my own (for a change!). The last four weeks have been consuming, confusing, saddening and frustrating.

Sad

I attended the funeral of my great-uncle (Gran’s older brother). Of course this was a sad occasion, and many ask what all the fuss was about. He was 94, in excellent health up to 12 months previously, and died in no pain.
In a way, I sort-of agree – after all, he’s had good innings and was fit as a fiddle, sharp as a tack long after many others of his time were failing and ailing. Of course the funeral made me sad, as I’d had a great time with Uncle W, and used to send him letters talking about the farm and all the goings-on.

This is not what upset me. The funeral service was as lovely as can be, and everyone was very proud of a very extraordinary man. What upset me was my wee Gran, nestled in between the rest of us, sitting proudly and delicately wiping away a stray tear between readings – clearly proud of his achievements and the man he was. She coped well throughout the whole ceremony, and as she stood to leave, dissolved into uncontrollable sobbing. That ended me. My grandmother is 91, and has survived and coped with the loss of many. She shouldn’t have to go through this again at her age. For the first time ever, I saw my gran as a poor little old woman. And that made me sad.

Mad

My running has been going really well, and I was getting excited for my upcoming race at the beginning of March. I’d been reading a lot of magazines and website articles about how to plan a year of races – plotting in my head the best time to do what, with whom and how. This really gives me structure to my exercise and helps to keep a focus when things get tough. I’ve stuck to my half marathon training pretty rigidly, so I know this is something that works for me. Lists, plans, numbers – everything that makes me tick! Even reading about it makes me want to go out and run 😀

It’s out the window.

All of it.

Look back at some of my more recent posts. Look at the weight loss. Back and forth, back and forth. I assumed the cause of this was my mental barrier at 12 Stone. Not so. There may be an underlying factor. I’ve found out that I have a problem with my left ovary, and not only is it causing hormonal strife (I thought my ridiculous mood swings were due to stopping smoking) it can, indeed cause issues with losing weight. DAMN YOU. This, however, is not a problem. It’s the fixing of the ovary that’s the problem. If I don’t have an operation, it may render me useless for having children (I don’t have any, and at thirty, won’t be leaving it much longer) and could cause further complications. I’m not even bothered about having an operation, it’s WHEN. Anyone who has had experience of the NHS will know that although generally it’s pretty good (Hell, in Scotland we don’t even pay for drugs anymore) they are notorious for being excruciatingly slow for procedures that aren’t life-threatening. I could be called in within a few weeks, or it could be months. The average woman recovers from this procedure in 8-10 weeks. No bending, no heavy lifting and certainly no running for at least 2 months. Raging.

I can’t plan. I can’t register for races, (well, I could, but might end up bankrupt) and I can’t plan training. When I found all this out I swear, I was the angriest woman in the world. I finally get my shit together and sort myself out, and now a gimpy ovary is going to ruin my racing plans for most of the year. I actually thought, “What’s the point?” I can bust my ass and still watch the scales yo-yo from week to week with no control over it, and then I get to sit on my fat ass for two months like a bloater, ending up back where I started.

Pffft.

Bring It On, Sissy

One of the traits I recognize in myself is the fact that I’m a typical hot-headed Italian. After I’d spewed all this information out at my other half, my mum, and my friends, stomped about, slammed a few cupboard doors, threw some plates (okay, I made that one up) I got drunk and went to bed early. It doesn’t sound like a good idea, but it always works for me.

I woke up the next morning, and thought REALLY hard about how I struggled with my weight the first time round – being out of breath after a 5-minute walk, looking frumpy in everything, and just generally hating myself at 21. I thought about struggling with my knee, and how it affected my exercise.

Then I thought about my first few runs last summer. I thought about the ‘Happy Wardrobe Dance’ and how amazing it feels when clothes fit that you couldn’t fasten. I thought about the joy of beating Walter into submission when it’s a loss on the scales. I thought about how I never, ever want to lose the freedom of running ever again. I have to keep fighting. I NEED to keep fighting. I’ve worked too hard and come too far to sling it in the slag heap now. Even if I gain everything I’ve lost over the course of this fiasco, I’ll know I’ve kept up good habits and pushed as hard as I can, so that when I am fit, I’ll just be carrying on as normal. I also reminded myself that this operation is the means to an end – once I’m better, I should have no further complications and hormonal blips, so my weight-loss efforts will be rewarded as normal. So now I’m ready. Bring it on, Sissy.

So you can see why I’ve not had a notion to write, as I’ve been digesting all of this in my little brain and turning it into positives wherever I can. A few days after the funeral, I called my Gran, told her I loved her and that I was as proud of her that day as she was of Uncle W, and promised her that if anyone else passes away, I’ll pop a cap in her ass so she’ll never know. She laughed. That’s a good sound.

As for my weight loss, I reminded myself that my weight won’t necessarily go up, it could also come down….. aaaah, see? In the run up to race-day I’ve been pretty nervous and not eating as much as normal, but I made sure I had plenty of carbs the night before and a good breakfast on the day. I weighed in at home on Friday morning as I couldn’t make class on the Saturday because of my run, and the scales read 11st 13.5. My scales read half a lb heavier than my leaders, and I knew it might be a fleeting number, so I ran upstairs and did the quickest Happy Wardrobe Dance you’ve ever seen! It put me in a great frame of mind for my race, and I knew I’d got my mojo back.

The size 12 jeans are ON!

Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Running, Targets

2013

It’s the 30th of December. What happened to 2013? I sit here and type, realising that my last post was on the 9th of December. That was 21 days ago. It’s a thing that seems to catch you up quickly and as you get older, soon overtakes you completely. I think I’m reaching that age where time disappears like sand through your fingers and there’s bugger all you can do about it. But this is also why it is important. I’ve posted many times about feeling guilty about eating/partying/living life over the last few months, and how that has affected my bid for a healthy lifestyle. And now as I sit here, swapping over diaries (yep, there’s at least 4 different lists in the new one already!) I look back over my year and have a think about all the stuff that’s happened.

In Review

Some pretty big stuff has happened this year. This time last year, James and I were already undertaking a huge gamble – packing up our life (some of it had never been unpacked) and getting ready to move 300 miles across the country just to get away from the nightmare we were in. At that point, we had one car, one working dog and only 1 job between us. If the move and James’ new job didn’t work out, we were penniless, jobless and homeless.

Thankfully, we’ve landed in a much better place, but you honestly couldn’t make up half the stuff that’s happened since. We’ve been snowed in for days, dug out, rescued sheep stuck in drifts, gained a dog, lost a dog, gained another one, lost an eye (dog, not us!) Been a midwife, adoption expert, had lambs in the dog’s beds, lambs in the cat’s litter tray, up doing night feeds, miracles, deaths, bought a vehicle, sold a vehicle, bought another one, baths full of silage instead of clean water, not to mention tackling the Indiana Jones House ( Everyone who enters needs to watch nothing falls on their head, or rolls out of cupboards!)

I’ve also had 3 jobs since moving, and the third is the one I wanted from the day we moved in early January. But I’m here, at the end of the year in one piece and in the best health (mentally and physically) that I’ve been in for years.

So why?

In amongst the madness, I took the decision to change my life for good. I’ve watched people’s health deteriorate, I’ve seen people pass away, and I’ve also seen people get fitter, stronger and healthier. It’s true that we will all meet our demise at some point, and that there are certain aspects of our life that we cannot control. But it is also true that there are many aspects we CAN control. I’ve been top of my game, I’ve been rock-bottom and a million shades in between, and in 2013 I decided to take control for once and for all and make the most of it – after all, life is for living and you only get one go at it.

I decided to regain control of my eating habits, and try and make healthy, calculated choices the norm. I actively worked on my knee injury to make running part of my life again. I’m more than a stone lighter than I was back in March when I started this blog, I’ve run further than I ever have in my entire life, and not only has it changed my attitude to life, but also been therapeutic too. It’s also thrown up the subject of marriage which may not have come to light otherwise. I feel strong, happy and determined, and ready to tackle 2014 head-on. It’s going to be a big year.

That Old Chestnut

Everyone talks about how we all make resolutions for the New Year and what a waste of time it is. I always make resolutions. Some stick, some don’t. I want to continue experiencing positive things in my life and achieve things to be proud of. So, resolutions are a must. (Plus it means I have another list to work off 😀 ) One thing I do know is that I need to be patient. As long as I keep fighting and chipping away, the things I want will become a reality, perhaps not as quickly as I’d like, but I’m willing to take a hit for that in order to enjoy myself along the way.

With that in mind, here’s what my year is going to look like:

Non-health Resolutions –

  1. Play more guitar. I’ve got a lovely little acoustic number called Betty Blue, and I love to sing. Not because I think I’m any good at it, just because it makes me happy. Betty needs more loving, and I certainly need to do her justice by being able to play well. Maybe I’ll start a Youtube channel or something?
  2. Keep in touch with people that matter. I’m pretty good at keeping in touch with my family, but my friends seem to languish by the wayside. Even if they don’t reciprocate, I’m going to try harder to be there for them, chat regularly and generally take an interest in their lives. After all, there is a reason that these people are my friends, and life is short.
  3. Get Engaged! This is technically linked to losing weight, but I think it deserves a slot on it’s own. And it’s not my fault – I never cut the deal. I WILL achieve this in the first half of 2014. (Do I sound like a bunny boiler yet??)

Health-related Resolutions –

  1. Stop Smoking. I’m at a point now where it’s just ridiculous. It’s expensive, I don’t really need it, and I feel like I’m cheating myself out of a decent set of lungs for running. I’ve signed up for a 12-week programme to help me quit, and I’m starting on the 1st January. The patches are sitting waiting patiently on the sideboard.
  2. Complete a Half Marathon. My race is now less than 9 weeks away, and I’m ready to do it. I can do it, I just need to do it well and finish in the upright position.
  3. Complete a Marathon. I ‘m leaving this as a latter-half resolution, as I may have other races to sort out and would also like to see what happens with my Half!
  4. Beast the Weight-Loss. I don’t think I’ll hit target in 2014. Being realistic. Getting engaged is the halfway-point for me, and I’d like to think that by the time I post a blog this time next year I’ll have surpassed that and hopefully be in my final stone-bracket.

I’ve had some excellent times this year, more so in the last few months with my running. I’m glad to have made the decisions that I have, and am proud to be where I am in the space of a year (no amount of mince pies, mulled wine and chocolate over Christmas can negate that) – and I’m proud to come out fighting in 2014.