Personal archive

Health, relationships and more besides. Read about my battles with PMDD, my mental health, surviving both childhood sexual abuse and a 12 years of emotional abuse as well personal projects and challenges, and anything vaguely Jem-related.

Not Giving Up (The Reality of Losing Weight)

A month ago I posted about my muddy run in London and noticing some bodily side effects:

it all adds up to a shit ton of alcohol, far too much junk food and not enough veg which ultimately means I have a lingering cold [..] and me going distinctly soft around the middle again.

Despite realising I wasn’t being kind to myself it wasn’t until last week that I a) finally got off my arse and made an effort to work out and b) stopped drinking. So a month of continued over-eating, little to no weight lifting and — I realised the other day — minimal activity of any kind as I’m not doing the school run every day. In fact, check out the disparity between June/July step counts and August (ignore May, I only got my Garmin half way through):

step-count-timeline

You don’t have to be a fitness guru to work out what the combined effects of more food and less exercise is going to be:

weight-progress

Two steps forward, one step back?

But this isn’t the end. I don’t want to just resign myself to being “a bit fatter” now. If I dwell on what I have done wrong, it’s going to drive me mad and madness brings comfort eating and binge drinking. I need to focus on, sure… I have put weight back on since March, but I am not the ‘me’ from July 2014. I can still squeeze into my size 12 jeans.

This is… no, this HAS to be motivation to try a little harder. Because there is no way in hell I’m going back to where I was before. Weight loss isn’t a one time thing where you put in some effort and bob’s your uncle. This battle is the rest of my life.

Protected: Admitting I have a problem

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One month since…

I jumped back into freelance
I had this rough plan in my head: I was going to ease myself into freelance, taking the first two weeks gently to try and get rid of some of the symptoms of burnout that I’d been experiencing previously, and then finish off some jobs that had been hanging around for a while and THEN go out and get new work in.

What actually happened was that I’d won a ton of new work before I’d even left my full-time job, existing clients suddenly dumped a load of ongoing stuff on me, and a long term client indefinitely reserved 8 hours of my time a week split over two 4-hour ‘days’ which I do onsite. This gives me some guaranteed income which just about covers my childcare, so that I can chuck everything else at my mortgage and bills.

Although I have had some days where I have sat staring at a blank screen for hours, my mojo is occasionally putting in an appearance and I’m getting shit done.

Gaz moved in
And everything is great. I wake up in the morning wrapped in duvet and limbs and feel utterly content. I hear the door open and close as he gets home from work and it doesn’t matter how shit my day was, it makes me smile from ear to ear. It’s the small things like coffee in bed on a Saturday morning or a quick phone call after work to see if I need anything picking up from the shops, and it’s the big things, like stepping up and helping out with the kids so that I don’t have to be in two places at once.

I was regularly working out
I touched upon this in my muddy in London post, but I’ve barely done anything physical in July: running and lifting both out of the window thanks to moving and work and holidays. I have been feeling squishy round the middle (although the number on the scale remains patiently the same, give or take 1lb or 2) and so chucked myself head first into a basic squat workout on Friday.

I still don’t have a squat rack, so it was basically overhead press into back squat, 27kg, 5 sets with the following reps: 6-8-10-8-6. I was dead on my feet by the end and was feeling pathetic and lazy, but then realised that (given my normal workouts are 5×5) I’d done 19 more reps than usual. Although I’m not lifting at my heaviest (32.5kg) this helped me feel a little more badass and reassured me that taking the month off had not too badly affected my strength.

Of course, I woke the next morning numb from the waist down and couldn’t get up and down the stairs, but that’s beside the point…

I need to clear out the utility, which is currently full of kitchen appliances shifted out there post-Gaz-move, so that I can re-convert it into my “home gym” and get my arse back on the wagon.

In completely unrelated news, one of the items on my 30 before thirty list is blogging every day for a month, a challenge I haven’t successfully completed in many years. I’d like to try and tackle that one sooner rather than later (to give me time to try again if I go wrong) so if there’s anything you want to hear from me about (updates on old posts, specific questions, etc) PLEASE speak up, I’m going to need all the help I can get :)

Barcelona, boobs and a bigass church

I ticked another item off my 30 things before thirty list last week when I flew to Barcelona with Gaz for the mystery holiday he’d booked us. He did quite well actually, I didn’t find out where we were going until check in when ‘unfortunately’ the destination flashed up on the screens above the desk (despite my best effort to keep my eyes on my feet). Considering many of my closest friends were in on the destination I was surprised I didn’t find out sooner.

Barcelona was great — very warm! — and I really enjoyed taking in another culture. It was my first proper holiday outside of the UK which made me a little nervous, but I made an attempt to throw in a bit of terrible Spanish as well as trying new food (including a weird seafood salad which contained sea things that remain a mystery to me) and drink (mostly cocktails).

We visited La Sagrada Familia (nicknamed the bigass church by yours truly), designed by Antoni Gaudí. It was nothing short of impressive to look at outside, but for me its true beauty was on the inside: columns that seemed to stretch on forever, reaching up to an explosion of sunbursts in the ceiling; enormous stained glass windows that lit up the inside of the church with a fantastic array of colour as the strong Spanish sunlight poured in; complex shapes, spiral staircases and beautiful carvings as far as the eye can see.

(Gaz took more / better photos which you should be able to see in this Facebook album.)

We also visited Casa Batlló — another work of Gaudí’s — and walked for miles along La Rambla, the beach, up to and around the grounds of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya etc. In fact most days we were clocking up 10 miles or more.

I was surprised by how slim and beautiful virtually everyone in Barcelona seemed to be. The beach in particular seemed like *the* place to hang out if you were utterly gorgeous. I managed to find a spot near some middle aged women of various shapes & sizes who were sunbathing topless, clearly giving no fucks, and plonked myself down for a bit of boobs-out sunbathing of my own. I didn’t think I’d be doing that when I wrote my 30 things list, when even the idea of wearing a bikini had me virtually shitting myself.

Fun in the sun aside, I wasn’t expecting to look forward to coming home on the last day as much as I did. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m more of a homebody than I realised (and I do miss the stability of a regular routine) or if its just because I’m so used to being at home that anything else pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I guess the only way to find out is to go on more holidays… ;)

In defence of spur of the moment decisions

I think often as a grown up, being able to spend time thinking about and rationalising decisions before acting them out is considered a desirable trait. Sleep on it, we’re told. Write pro/con lists and weigh up consequences.

I say bollocks to that.

Last year I came out of a counselling session with the realisation that my relationship was toxic. I ended it straight away.

A week later Tony mentioned OKCupid on twitter and I suddenly decided I need to get laid (classy bird, me) so I signed up and uploaded the first picture of my face to grace the interwebs in over 10 years. I found Gaz. (Although he says that picture was terrible. Nice to know.)

Not so long after that, Gaz and I met. I made a decision that night which worked out pretty well…

While I was on holiday with the kids earlier this year, I woke early one morning and decided to ask Gaz to move in with me. He said yes. (He moves in this weekend.)

A month or so ago I suddenly decided I needed to quit my job. I asked Gaz if it would be a terrible idea. He said it was … but I did it anyway. I have all of my original clients’ ongoing support and jobs booked in the calendar til September.

So, you know… maybe spur of the moment decisions aren’t so bad. After so many years of letting my head talk me out of everything, letting my heart rule for a while seems to be working out OK.

Weekend in a Tent

Gaz and I celebrated our first anniversary by spending the bank holiday weekend in a tent.

I have to admit I was a little anxious about the whole thing. It’s May, and the weather is still changeable, so I expected a weekend of rain. Gaz only bought the tent (second hand) the weekend prior to us leaving and hadn’t checked for holes etc, so we could have put it up and discovered it was useless. Not to mention “camping in North Wales” was a bit of a come-down from Gaz’s original idea of spending the weekend driving a hired supercar around the country (scuppered by the fact that I’ve not been driving long enough).

Still: we did it, and it was good fun. The novelty of being able to erect a tent without argument isn’t lost on me yet, and I managed to not kill us with my dodgy BBQ breakfast. And, with absolutely bugger all mobile phone signal on Shell Island we even had to rely on Actual Conversation and Doing Stuff to get us through (this was probably tougher on Gaz than me ;)) We visited castles (Harlech and Caernarfon) and walked along sandy beaches and I even stripped to my bikini and ran across the beach into the FUCKING COLD sea. That’s another thing I can check off my 30 before thirty list :)

I didn’t take any pictures (I forgot to take my camera) but Gaz is a better photographer so I will just nick some of his when he’s finished editing them.

Thank you for an amazing year babe <3

Mortgage Free: Bumps in the Road

One of the biggest barriers to me being mortgage free in 5 years is a bad habit I don’t tend to talk about too often: I’m a comfort spender. If I’m stressed, I spend money on anything and everything. The ironic thing about this unnecessary splurging is that it ultimately leads to me adding to my stress levels because I end up wasting money that I need to save or use more appropriately. To put this into context: I recently had to give my credit card (which I took out at 0% interest purely for emergencies when solicitors fees swallowed my savings) to Gaz to look after because I spent £57(!!!) on a dress I didn’t really need.

I have good months and bad months. At the minute, despite being hugely anxious about work and my impending return to freelance, I am also incredibly aware that I have no choice but to cut all non-essential spends for the foreseeable future. Over the weekend I managed to keep my spending low despite being out and about, yesterday I spent just £15 on groceries for the week and I have successfully resisted the urge to buy an extra set of barbell weights (which I ‘need’ to progress my lifting).

Although… I did have a minor slip this morning and spent £1 on a box of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers, oops.

I know I’m doing it, even as I shop. I know I’m wasting money. I browse online shopping sites and tell myself as I go along “you don’t need this” and “you can’t afford this”, and then end up clicking “buy” anyway. Sometimes I add a ton to my basket and get as far as checkout before I come to my senses and browse away (but sometimes I don’t).

I know I do this for the feeling of pleasure I get both completing a purchase, and also when the things I’ve ordered arrive, but I also know that this feeling is fleeting and is soon replaced by spending regret, or (often worse) complete indifference: because that means the hole I’m trying to fill remains a void. I also know that I primarily spend like this on days where I don’t have my babies at home. I’ll leave you to fill the gaps there.

The question is how do I stop myself from doing it? How do I employ enough willpower to stop the spending (especially when I feel like my strength & willpower is exhausted just getting through the day at the minute)? I suppose I could buy a book on comfort spending habits…

Flippity Flop

Keeping with the “posts I didn’t think I’d write” theme, I have some slightly less traumatic but otherwise Important Life Stuff news.

Having earlier this week spent the Nth (I’ve lost count) night waking up — tossing and turning — stressing about work, I decided that enough was enough this week. The reasons are many and varied but… I just can’t lie in bed when the alarm clock goes off, dreading getting up and wanting to call in sick: it’s not sustainable and is having a massive effect on my mental health (which has been up and down over the past year as it is). I miss my mojo. I’ve handed in my notice at matm.

A couple of full time opportunities cropped up in the week (coincidence) but ultimately I’m 99% sure at this stage that I’m going to return to freelancing. The flexibility around the kid’s schedule will be a massive help, the ability to go for a run in the middle of the day if my mood hits a big low, not having to deal with petty office politics etc. It’s a win-win situation as far as I can tell. (Apart from having to earn a massive amount to cover my monthly bills, but eh, IT’LL BE FINE!)

One of the big things I struggled with last time, and a big part of why I stopped working at home, was an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I got to the point where I was talking to the postman and inviting Jehovah’s Witnesses in for a cup of tea. I don’t want that to be the thing that stops me from making this opportunity a success, so I will be addressing this as soon as possible. I am not sure how yet, but I’ve had loads of ideas (and nicked other people’s): volunteering somewhere a few hours a week, working in a client office occasionally, working in the local pub for a few hours (actually, maybe not this one… ;))

I want to be able to look at this opportunity the same way I looked at it last time: mostly positive.

It’s just a shame that this is timed so spectacularly badly, given that I’ve not long listed WAHMweb.co.uk up for sale because of lack of time to dedicate to it. And it’s too late to cancel the sale, too :(

Anyway, I’d appreciate your well wishes and crossed digits in the coming months. And if you need a website…

(TW) I have no idea how to title this post

Trigger warning: sexual abuse

I’ve started — and deleted — this post so many times over the past few years or so.

In fact, I’m writing it now, not knowing if I will get to the end before I change my mind and delete it all again. (more…)

Back on track: fitness, fatness and binging

So having confessed a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been slacking off on my workouts and binging on shit food, I decided that I was absolutely going to knuckle down, STFU and get on with not-being-a-fatty again. There’s no point in me whining about ruining my hard work if it’s me that’s doing it, right? Nobody is forcing cake and (gulp!) onion rings into my face except me.

I decided I need to clock a minimum of 2 strength workouts and one run a week to get me back on track. I’m doing OK on the strength and even getting closer to my pull-up goal, although I had a bad day on Thursday where I only managed 1×5 30kg squats and then when I couldn’t lift the barbell above my head to get it in place on my back (a cheap squat rack is top of my Amazon wishlist!) I tried an epic rage lift (failed) and nearly ruined my shoulder in the process. Turns out I was coming down with a snotty cold bug. Anyway, I finished the workout there (cried) and have decide to focus a bit more on cardio this week to give my shoulder time to rest. 15-20 minutes running round the local park on Sunday, 15 minutes on the bike on Monday, and am hoping to fit in a long run tonight (mostly because I’m supposed to be doing the Market Drayton 10k next weekend!) I completed a more gentle/lighter dumbbell workout last night and my shoulder seems OK so I’ll risk the barbell on Thursday I think…

(I sometimes wonder if me making this shit up as I go along is going to end up detrimental to my health, but I take the time to warm-up properly, and take it sensibly if my body says “NO” so let’s hope not.)

Anyway. FOOD. Food. Oh my darling food. Why do I reach for the food when I’m feeling like shit? It doesn’t even make me feel better any more, doing the whole30 robbed me of that pleasure. Now I basically just over-eat, then feel like a dick for letting myself do it, THEN feel stupid for feeling like a dick because if I want to eat 3 bags of onion rings in one sitting I should be able to and fuck anyone who says otherwise. So many emotions wrapped up in what is effectively fuel for my body. I’m trying to be more pragmatic and remember that it IS just fuel for my body. I’ve started using MyFitnessPal to log what I’m eating (despite calorie counting being one of the most annoying things in the world, ever) for several reasons but mostly so that I can remind myself I do eat well 99% of the time and that the occasional bag of onion rings isn’t killing anyone, least of all me. Well, hopefully.

MyFitnessPal is also helping me track my protein intake, which I’m trying to increase in the hope that as I lose weight I’ve just put back on I don’t lose too much muscle with it. That’s the theory anyway. I’m using MyProtein Impact Whey protein powder blended with a banana and a spoonful of cashew nut butter and water for breakfast (protein, carbs, fat) and then on strength days will the end the day with the MyProtein Bedtime Extreme blended with either milk or water depending on where I’m at with my calorie count.

It’s funny, because the idea of doing this… working out, keeping an eye on what I eat etc would have made Fat Me roll my eyes so hard they’d have fallen out of my skull. I guess it’s easier to take a “nothing to lose” (ha) approach to stuffing your face when you know you’re overweight anyway.

Fun Days and Holidays

This post was originally written a week ago, so the first paragraph probably doesn’t make much sense now…

Having told you all back in March that I’m blogging wrong, I then went on to not blog at all, which is probably as wrong as you can get if your aim is to actually blog. Unfortunately this was in the most part due to me coming down with some sort of mega cold which left me barely able to function (but without the fever and sleepless nights of flu, thank goodness for small mercies).

On the plus side, it got the lurgies out of the way just in time for the Easter school break, which whilst not normally significant (because we don’t celebrate Easter and I work full time) this year I’d actually remembered to take advantage of the Easter bank holidays and booked 4 days off work (equivalent to a full week with the BH) so that I could take the kids away.

I was meant to blog before we went away to tell you how terrified I was of the whole idea. Long journeys! An entire week with the kids and no break! No adult company apart from strangers! Potentially having to listen to “I miss my Dad” / “I want to go home” whines and not being able to do anything about it! A week without sex Gaz!

Anyway, to ease myself gentle into the whole “being a parent” thing (because I might have them for most of the week but they’re asleep or I’m at work for most of that), I accepted an invite to join various other bloggers and “VIPs” at the Sealife Centre in Birmingham on Saturday 28th March. I was supposed to be telling you all about their new exhibit, the Sea Stars, in time for the Easter holiday. Unfortunately that’s not quite gone to plan.

sealife-centre-birmingham (more…)

You can’t go wrong with chocolate cake

After last week’s crushing failure to get back into the clean eating rhythm, recent anniversary of my oldest brother’s death, a bit of a breakdown on Saturday night where — with a room full of guests — I sobbed all over Gaz and then took myself off to bed, and a terrible morning on Tuesday which ended with both Isabel and I in tears I’ve been a little MEH.

But, on the plus side:

  • I have realised that the mood swings and desire to consume a few hundred thousand calories a day are “new pill” symptoms – I had the same thing when I started the pill for the first time so it makes sense that it’d all come back when restarting after a month break. The eating a million calories thing has already calmed down.
  • My awesome friends Aisling and Katy sorted me out with a Mother’s Day breakfast and a card on Sunday, just in time for my ugly mug to be splashed across the Telegraph moaning about how I don’t get a Mother’s Day cup of tea in bed.
  • I am taking the kids away for a week at the end of the month, so in theory that’s something to look forward to (although I have to admit that the idea of spending 5 days in a tiny caravan with 2 small children on my own is also very terrifying).
  • I’m trying a modified (harder?) version of Stronglifts 5×5 workouts as a bit of a shake up from my usual workout routines, which is exciting (I know how sad that sounds)

I re-read my “manifesto for life” this morning and I’m trying to be conscious of both what I’ve achieved and how much more I have to do (I mean that in a positive way: life has so much to offer) to keep me plodding along.

I never realised how all-consuming depression and anxiety could be until I got sucked into this whirlwind of self-doubt and negativity. The days where I wake up feeling low, it’s like a black cloud surrounds me threatening to swallow me whole. As I drag myself out of bed and make my way through the day I can feel the impact that my low mood has upon others than that just makes it worse: the feelings of guilt for wearing people down, the frustration at not being to “just cheer up” and so on.

Anyway, that sounds glum but the reality is I can see this ‘bad patch’ fading away. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, which gives me something to aim for. In the mean time, I’ll settle for self-medication: with lifting to make me feel strong, running to chase away the brain chatter, and chocolate cake… because you can’t go wrong with chocolate cake.