Peer Pressure

I may have just been bullied into committing to running a half marathon.

In December.

Despite having only done one short run since I injured my foot.

WTF have I done…

The realities of being a lone parent

When I split up with Karl in May I joked to friends about the relief of no longer having to buy 5 packs of bourbon biscuits every week, not needing shares in a dairy company to buy the sheer amount of cheese he got through, etc etc. Har har, very funny. The realities of being a “lone parent” (single is clearly the wrong word in my case) extend further than that.

I’ve had to rapidly extend every frugal habit I’ve ever practised to every avenue of my life, which includes living off 4 slices of toast and a spoonful of peanut butter some nights just to make the food stretch further (and because I’m lazy).

I’ve had to actually talk to utility companies, which Karl used to do ‘for us’, and deal with the annoying levels of security each one in place. Severn Trent Water, for example, had absolutely no security in place and I was able to create and log in to an online account and change all the necessary details without any double checking on their part. PlusNet on the other hand wouldn’t speak to me or make any changes to the account, despite the username being “jemandkarl”, the payments for the Internet coming out in my name etc.

In fact, even now my Internet is still registered under Karl’s name, because when we finally managed to get through to the department we needed to speak to (after hours on hold and being passed back and forth) we were told that I couldn’t just switch the account to me without cancelling and recreating it, which would leave me without Internet for a week or more: not a workable solution for someone who requires the Internet to earn a second income.

And then there’s the monotony of the daily routine: school runs, tiredness tantrums, feeding and bathing two under 5s on my own. The constant stream of washing, cooking, tidying, reading bedtime stories and all the other mumsy shit that I have no choice but to get on with, because I can’t say “you do it tonight dear”.

No longer can I just nip out for a run because I need to clear my head, I have to schedule it around “daddy time”. No longer can I nip to the shop for evening snacks to comfort eat because I feel like crap. No longer can I go and grab some fish ‘n’ chips because I can’t be arsed to cook after a long working week.

And that reminds me? Working as a single parent. Ha. I don’t know why I bother. The second I get paid, my bank account is raided for childcare, mortgage and bills. There’s nothing like living off a single income and a series of mini life disasters to get you acquanted with your overdraft, that’s for sure. The only thing keeping me afloat at the minute is the fragments of self-employment income I bring in working a couple of evenings a week.

Of course it’s been just over 4 months now, and while that doesn’t sound like a lot written down it feels like a lifetime in terms of the scope of the changes that have happened to our lives. This lone parenting lark is bloody hard work… physically and emotionally.

Still. No regrets.

The Year of Me: An Update

In April I declared 2014 “the year of me”. Finally, after far too many years of existing for the pleasure of other people, I decided to take control and start being a little bit selfish… start doing things for me.

So far I have:

So what’s the grand plan for September? Well, I’ve made some arrangements with my mortgage dude which might see things progressing with buying Karl out, tomorrow I’m going to see my Granddad for the first time in years, and on the 26th I’m going to #revolutionconf again.

I have to admit I’m running out of ideas on what else I can do for me though – financial constraints make it much harder than I’d like to be completely selfish :p

De-stressing / chillaxing / “me” time [insert other clichés here]

You’ve probably been able to tell from my moaning on twitter and facebook that I’ve been a bit stressed lately. What with Isabel starting school last week (and the tantrums started by day #2), lots of stuff going on at work, money issues (a bloody great big tax bill) and general life chaos I feel like I just haven’t stopped and sat down.

Now things are settling into a new routine and I seem to have a handle on what the heck I’m doing day to day (honestly, I stress about stuff far too much) I can start to unwind. This coincides nicely with some candles sent to me by House of Fraser recently, with the intention being for me to “relax and have some ‘me’ time”.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been one for scented candles and all that jazz, and my ‘me’ time is spent minus children with a certain gentleman (at which point, candles are the last thing on my mind) but nonetheless I thought I’d give them a whirl.

candle-packaging

I used the first one with company here (which incidentally, is one of my favourite ways to have ‘me’ time… albeit not just with me, obviously) to make my guests think I’m posh and because I figured that Plum & Black Amber would smell better than the musty I-don’t-clean-enough smell which usually pervades my house ;)

The general consensus was that the packaging was fabulous and the candles themselves would make a fantastic gift (I can think of a couple of people I’d buy these for), but I’ll be honest: I just couldn’t smell the candle despite everyone else protesting that it smelled lovely! Certainly I think the candle contributed less to my enjoyment and relaxation than the 11 bottles of Smirnoff Ice I consumed that night, but I probably shouldn’t admit that publically.

I had much more luck with the second candle, scented with Rose Blossom & Cassis (as pictured above). Not to help me relax at all, that’s what vodka was invented for, but it did make my living room smell lovely… at least until Fudge vommed his wet food all over the floor.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I don’t really do ‘me’ time, and if I do I wouldn’t generally be lighting candles to help me enjoy it, but the candles ARE very pretty and at least one of them smells nicer than hairy cats and half-potty trained toddlers.

SFS: “So you’ve had no sugar AT ALL this week?”

Gaz asked me the other night “so you’ve had no sugar AT ALL this week?”

And I said “well yes, I’ve had a banana, and they contain fructose”

And after some further discussion he went on to ask with a raised eyebrow, “who made up these rules anyway?”

Well, I did. I did because nowadays I see sugar added to absolutely everything. Meat, pies, pastries, bread, drinks, sauces and stocks. In fact, if last year’s challenge taught me anything it’s that virtually everything that you can find in a supermarket inside a wrapper has sugar added to it in one form or another (and yet we wonder why we have a problem with obesity? Anyway…)

I figure that given our dependency on sugar, and the way it’s hidden in things to play tricks on our brain to make us want more, giving up sugar would be a fairly tough challenge. Certainly more tough than just not drinking booze for a month (which actually was a breeze — don’t know what all the fuss is about) and probably equally as beneficial for my insides if not more so!

Obviously not all sugar is created equal, and lots of foods naturally turn to sugars in the body, so that’s where the “double standards” comes in. Banana – fine, because the sugar is not added as an ingredient; can of coke? Not so much. Of course that doesn’t answer why I’m avoiding fruit juices as well – that’s more of a distaste for the juicing fad which sees a bucketload of high fibre fruit and veg (yay!) blitzed into a mushy sugary mess (boo!) but let’s not upset the diet and “lifestyle” bloggers here by dissing smoothies ;)

So what’s the shiz with my actual progress? Well, so far so good. I’m not seeing any noticeable withdrawal symptoms, nor any obvious weight loss. I’ve had a couple of random cravings, some of which are probably hormone-fueled and some my habit of comfort eating during times of stress, but have managed to completely avoid all obvious sugar sources. I did have one potential slip-up on Sunday where I consumed some salad which had a smidgen of dressing on that PROBABLY had sugar in, but I can’t be sure so am not counting it as a failure. I’ll let you lot decide if that’s cheating or not :p

Quick Update

  • Izz’s first day of school went fine :) the highlight of her day was apparently the chocolate pudding she had after lunch
  • I’m on day 3 of Sugar Free September 2014 and apart from some odd cravings on the 1st, which I think were hormone-driven, I’m doing fine
  • I’ve gained a new geek t-shirt, by thieving it from Gaz ;)
Badly lit insta-filtered pic of me in Gaz's atari t-shirt
Badly lit back to front insta-filtered pic of me in Gaz’s Atari t-shirt

:D

And so it begins: Sugar Free September 2014

Day 1 of 30, and what a shitty day to start. The end of the summer holidays, which means no more week nights with Gaz; the return to the monotony of the nursery run routine (although with the unhelpful addition of a school run from Wednesday — can’t believe Isabel starts school this week!); and, of course, the PMS Monster is making its presence felt today too.

However, I can’t be too grumpy, as I have managed to rope some volunteers into attempting Sugar Free September with me. Aisling and Other Katy are going sugar-free and navigating the complex world of gluten-free at the same time and Ang is going sugar-free and grain-free after previously doing so and losing a shitload of weight.

Maybe, just maybe, some sugar-free friends to help keep me accountable will see me actually succeed this time…

Absolutely Gutted

I had a bit of a crappy weekend.

Bear with me here through another moan, I know I’ve done a lot of it lately.

It started on Saturday morning after I picked the kids up from Karl’s mum’s. Within minutes of getting home both of them had whined at me at least once that they wanted to be back with Daddy. This continued all day, and what with that and Isabel’s constant questioning of “how many sleeps” did she was back with her Dad my patience was wearing a little thin. After a disastrous bedtime which left me in floods of tears (I can do natural childbirth without shedding a tear, but apparently my 2 year old sobbing that he misses his Dad hurts a shitload) I opted for an early night.

Sunday morning I woke feeling like absolute death — probably dehydration given the state I was in on Saturday — I dropped the kids off back with Karl as they were off to the Shrewsbury Steam Rally and set about trying to cheer myself up. I went back to bed (yes!), did an awesome 10.6k run in a decent time (YES!) and then cleared up the house (oddly satisfying, too). Mostly cheered up, I buggered off to see Gaz and consumed my weight in carvery meat & veg goodness (apparently running 10k on an empty stomach makes one quite hungry…)

Anyway. I woke on Monday morning with a sore right foot which I put down to a funny landing on it at about 3k into my run, but as I could bear weight on it fine I ignored it, and went for a wander around Powis Castle and Gardens with Gaz. Unfortunately by that afternoon, my foot had swollen right up and was bloody painful so I ended up in A&E having a few x-rays taken for good measure. There was nothing visible on the x-rays but the nurse said that apparently stress fractures don’t always show up straight away, and so I need to rest it and if it’s still painful in 2 weeks to go back for more x-rays.

As I’ve only just started to noticeably lose fat, and I’m really getting into my bodyweight + running routine, I’m absolutely bloody gutted that this could sabotage me now. I just have this image in my head of me in 6 weeks time, foot still giving me gip, all of my new muscle definition gone and a big fat belly. How fucking depressing is that :(

Uh oh, it’s nearly Sugar Free September again

In July, I had a whinge at a friend of mine via Facebook about how I was putting a shit ton of work into this fitness lark and seeing no obvious returns and then blogged my frustration too. I was beginning to feel demotivated and was ready to give up. Two things were said to me that gave me the kick up the arse I needed me to keep going. The first, from Claire on Facebook:

You’re starting at the place where most people stop, the place where your body wants to stay and every little change becomes a major achievement.

and the second from MrsB on that blog post:

remember this – what comes easy won’t last and what lasts won’t come easy!

With renewed determination, I took some pictures of myself in my underpants so that I could see my natural / relaxed body shape and buckled down with the workouts. I started doing a fairly intense bodyweight workout at least once a week with some weightlifting to improve my upper body strength (in place of the 30 day shred which I found a bit meh). I am still running, although not always twice a week as I would like. I’m doing a walking circuit of the work building at lunch (most days) which is approx 0.8 miles and find opportunities to fit squats and stretches into my day too.

Having weighed myself yesterday and realised I am now 5lbs heavier than I was at the beginning of July, I decided to take another set of photos of me in my underwear to prove that I was doing all this work for nothing: that it was making no difference whatsoever (if nothing else but to give me that excuse to give up). Except, I got a bit of a shock, because by putting the pictures side by side I realised I have lost fat. My stomach is noticebly flatter, my thighs are smaller and I have a butt! A BUTT!

So, you ask me, what’s this got to do with Sugar Free September?

When I decided in March that I’d retry giving up sugar for a month, my main motivation was to beat my record of 3 weeks last year. However, having sat there in my pants last night with the realisation that now I’m pushing myself I don’t WANT to fill my body with crap, and that this effort IS making a difference, Sugar Free September suddenly becomes more… relevant? Less a challenge of my willpower, and more just a continuation — an upgrade — of the effort I’ve put in so far.

So my rules for the month will be as follows (from last year):

  • No sugar (white/brown) in coffee; no cake; only sugar-free bread; no pastries, cereals or sauces sweetened with sugar; no squashes or ‘fake’ juices
  • No more than two pieces/portions of fruit a day
  • No replacing everything with honey / agave syrup / sweeteners etc

As well as a couple of new/updated new rules:

  • No fruit juices or smoothies (I’ve stopped drinking these anyway)
  • Avoid the wine!

And I will get through the whole month without sugar this time.

State of Mind

it's not a bug, it's a feature t-shirt
Not wearing this t-shirt, but apparently tee + pants is a common theme in my life
I’m sat here in my pants & a t-shirt having done a pretty intense workout earlier, and post-shower I just couldn’t be bothered to find clean PJs. Laziness aside though, I’m suffering from hormone-driven sugary carb cravings and for the first time in forever I am NOT acting on them.

Why? Because I feel like if I’m putting my body through the shit I’m throwing at it lately… squats and planks and push ups and lunges and bent over dumbbell rows and all the other crap that I forget the names of but basically has me sweating like hell and wishing I was snarfing down Ben & Jerry’s on the sofa? Well then it deserves better food than sugar-laden cheesecake and what’s left of Aisling‘s Canadian candy that’s sat in the back of my cupboard.

This is a total mind fuck though. Since when do I give a crap about the shit I eat? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have always eaten pretty well at meal times; salads and protein and all that crap. But since when do I care about how much cake I stuff in my face between meals?

Turns out that this exercise lark, this “getting fit” crusade I’ve embarked on… it’s all about state of mind. It’s all about pushing your body til your head catches up and realises what’s good for you.

I reserve the right to change my mind, though.

Mojo

A developer without their mojo is a bad thing. A terrible thing. Imagine sitting down at a file, scrolling through line up line of your own code and nothing making sense. Imagine staring at that file not knowing where to start, and as the hours slowly tick tock tick tock past, instead of clarity and concentration, all you feel is the wetness of the tears of frustration rolling down your face.

I’d like to tell you I’m exaggerating, but that basically sums up August for me. And, in honesty, July too: my mojo got up & left me… bereft, unproductive, listless. The harder I tried to push through, the more stressed I got, and the feeling of failing to achieve anything overwhelmed me. I knew it was bad when I managed to spend 4 hours last week staring at a single line of basic code.

But this morning I woke up with a fire in my belly and I knew today would be a good day. And it was: I was in the zone and kicking butt.

My mojo is back.

:D

Oh tits.

Just when I thought this week couldn’t get any worse:

cracked-windscreen_mini

Large crack in my windscreen, right across my line of vision. Replacement windscreen: £105 + VAT

I still have that kidney for sale, if there’s any takers…