I have too many dresses

I nipped up Telford Town Centre today, because two invoices coming in on the same day made me feel rich meant I could get my haircut. I’m actually growing it out, but the back looked awful because it was about 5 different lengths thanks to a variety of asymmetrical cuts over the last 18 months.

Anyway, while I was up there I went into New Look for the first time in my life. I don’t normally feel fashionable enough to shop in there. I’m still not fashionable enough, but they had a nice yellow blouse that caught my attention. This was a slippery slope. Before I knew it I’d picked up the blouse, a warm top for the coming months (genuinely needed) and two more dresses.

Two dresses? No big deal you say.

O RLY?

dresses

Would you believe there are 41 dresses in that lot. FORTY ONE. Crammed into that tiny space. That doesn’t include the two that have fallen off hangers, the fact that there’s likely to be a couple in the wash, or the jumper that is long enough to be worn as a dress.

Or the two I bought today.

left-or-right

Is 45(ish) too many dresses?

The things I’m not saying out loud

I am currently sat in bed crying into my second glass of wine. Wine that I shouldn’t be drinking because I’m the sole carer for my children tonight, as with most nights, and if they wake up in the middle of the night with some sort of medical emergency I want to be competent enough to deal with that, especially given Oliver’s recent leg trouble, and yet here I am sobbing into this glass of wine anyway.

I didn’t want to write another whiny post. I want to tell you all about my awesome birthday yesterday and the fun I’m having lifting weights or the fact that I managed to run yesterday without my foot hurting for the first time in months… but instead all I can think about is trying to relieve this load weighing me down, constantly dragging my weary body into the dirt because writing helps and I can’t afford therapy right now anyway.

And so I sit here in bed, tired but lacking the will to try and sleep (because what’s the point trying when I know I’ll lie here tossing and turning all night anyway?) I’m googling for ideas to fix me, to stop me feeling like my life is spinning out of control and I hit upon article upon article about depression and I keep repeating to myself that I’m not depressed. It’s just hormones. It’s just stress. I’ve got a lot going on at the minute. I am busy. I just need some sleep.

But the truth is I’m not sure sleep is going to stop me from getting to work and staring at my screen for 3 hours achieving nothing because I can’t even formulate a coherant sentence to reply to a client. Sleep isn’t going to stop me being irritated by the very presence of my children because they’ve looked at me wrong, and the rage I have to surpress when they open their mouths and all I hear is whine whine whine. Are hormones really to blame for the utter loneliness and desperation I feel when I climb into bed, alone and insecure? Is it really just stress & busy-ness that makes me want to give up my job, give up my children, lock myself away and hope I fade into the background so that nobody notices I’m only just managing to keep my head above water?

I guess the truth is that I don’t want to admit that I might be depressed. I don’t want to admit that even though in my lifetime I’ve been through experiences that would make the strongest amongst you wince and I’ve carried on without a second thought, that somehow I’m being brought to my knees by imaginary thoughts and fears and I don’t even know what. I don’t want to have to admit that as each day passes it gets harder and harder to pretend that everything is OK and I don’t have a fucking clue where to go from here.

But it might be the sleep. The hormones. That I’m not exercising enough. That I’m not eating the right foods. So I’ll pour this wine back into the bottle, salty tears and all, and I’ll put down my laptop and attempt to sleep. And tomorrow I’ll take another birth control pill to manage the hormones, and vow to run a little bit more, I’ll skip the sugary chocolate and eat regularly to avoid blood sugar dips. I will keep smiling so that I don’t drive away those I need the most with my constant complaining about how shitty life is.

I’ll do everything I need to do to mask the symptoms and hide the pain. Because I just need a good night’s sleep, right?

Weight: Love, Loss and Lifting

It’s no secret that I have been struggling with my weight for a long time. Actually, struggling is probably the wrong word. I was fat for a long time, but I didn’t really do a whole lot about it except moan that I was fat, so struggling is perhaps over-egging it somewhat.

This is me on my 21st birthday —courtesy of Katy

(Yeah, you know, I don’t think you lot have been missing much by not seeing pictures of me for the past 10 years.)

Anyway, take a good look at that picture. Double chin, fat gut, huge boobs (in a terrible bra), thunder thighs; I can even see chub on my neck FFS. I was a UK size 18 in that picture. I was inactive and ate shit frozen food from Iceland on a daily basis.

Back then, and indeed until Isabel was born I lived in jeans and t-shirts. I told myself and others it was because I loved jeans and t-shirts — and I still do, don’t get me wrong — but the reality is that I thought jeans and t-shirts hid the flab. I thought that jeans and t-shirts meant people couldn’t see what a fatty I was. I hated the way I looked and I wanted to hide it.

Of course in hindsight the jeans and a t-shirt combo meant I a) looked like a dude and b) lacked any definition or curves which made me look WAY worse than a tighter fitting top might have. We live and we learn.

Years of gradual improvements to my eating habits and hyperemesis throughout my pregnancies dramatically decreasing my weight I get to roughly this time last year: a UK size 14, having once maybe snuck into a size 12 in a Dorothy Perkins changing room but only just long enough to stop me breathing and never long enough for it to be considered “wearing a size 12”. But I still hated the way I looked.

And I start running (for unrelated reasons), and I ditch the alcohol and I reduce my diet to 1500 calories a day and I still don’t see any improvement.

Meanwhile I go through a massive life change and fall head over heels in love with somebody new. Somebody who makes me feel attractive even though I can’t seem to lose weight. Someone who, for the first time in many, many years ever makes me feel like I deserve to wear something other than jeans and t-shirts. Someone who makes me want to buy sexy underwear and nice dresses. Someone who makes me love myself despite my flaws, and suddenly losing that weight doesn’t seem like the be-all and end-all afterall.

Of course I could end this tale of weight woes on that paragraph, leaving you all “awwing” over the fatty who found love, but it doesn’t really end there. Because it turns out that there IS a way for me to lose weight, and I can do it without massively restricting my diet or giving up the odd glass of wine.

Turns out my body likes it when I lift weights. And I’m not even doing it at a gym or with any expensive equipment: I bought a 20kg dumbbell set from Amazon for about £30. I am doing the same set of lifts once a week and even though people told me I shouldn’t lift weights (not sure why) and even though I only do it for 20 minutes once a week, I have gradually lost inches of fat. I haven’t lost weight, in fact I weigh more than I did 6 months ago (yay muscle gain), but I am comfortably wearing a size 12 for the first time in my life.

I wear clothes because I like how they look, and not because of how much they’ll cover. I eat real food (and plenty of it) and I still drink wine. I like myself, and I like liking myself.

But that’s nothing to do with my weight after all.

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

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.

My own worst critic

After yesterday’s moan about my lack of weight loss/improved fitness despite all the extra activities I’m doing, I went for my Wednesday run (bootcamp session) and came back feeling pretty damn hot about myself (this was rapidly killed when I buckled another wheel but more about that another day).

In doing last night’s bootcamp and thinking about my ‘performance’ I realised that I *have* made improvements:

  • When I started running again earlier this year I couldn’t do more than 3km, but recently ran just shy of 10km
  • My leg muscles ARE clearly more toned/defined even when I’m relaxed and not deliberately flexing them to show off ;)
  • My arm muscles are more toned/defined – I guess as a side effect of moving them during running and also the weighted workouts during 30 day shred
  • When we do the bootcamp sessions on Wednesday, we often split into 3 groups to do activities; one group does 10 reps of whatever thing we’re doing, one does 7 and one does 5; until last night I would have done the 5 group and been dead, but last night I did the 7 and (it’s not a race, but…) finished first out of the group and still had plenty of energy for uphill laps of the field.
  • Last week I ran the route that I used to do before I joined the jogging group, and despite it being blistering hot and having not eaten properly that day, I not only DID the route at a faster pace than normal but absolutely kicked the arse of the hill that used to have me dead by half way up.

So, OK, I haven’t visibly lost any weight off my middle (which is really what I would like to achieve) but I am kicking butt. I am fitter by miles (ha ha, a pun). I have improved my running pace and increased my distance. Hopefully that means if I keep this up and see it through, I will eventually start to lose some of the weight on my tummy that’s bugging the crap out of me. Either way, here’s to a fitter me :)

P.s. I am keeping a food log if anyone wants to nag me to ditch the last of the sugar / crap out of my diet ;)

Demotivated with weight loss (or lack of, rather)

I’m having a bad day. Personal crap, work crap, crap crap. On top of all this, I’m feeling really demotivated and disillusioned with the whole fitness / weight loss thing.

Having talked about my “problem” and my fitness/weight loss goals at the beginning of the month, I have buckled down with my eating and increased the amount of work outs I’m doing. I don’t get time to do the 30 day shred every Monday but I am incorporating some sort of movement into every day stuff. I do squats, plank etc while the kids eat their breakfast. I’ve adding a walk to my lunch break. I have cut out many of the daily coffees (although they were black / no sugar anyway) and am having water instead. I’m getting more early nights to combat the chronic sleep deprivation. I am still “dry for July” – no hiccups, no cheats.

Yet here I am, a week off the end of July give or take, and I just feel that nothing is happening. How is it that someone can massively increase their exercise and decrease their calorie intake and see NO improvement whatsoever? I don’t know whether I’m blinded by cynicism and I genuinely have made improvements or whether I’m just not working hard enough, but it’s really, REALLY fucking me off and I am not sure how to kick this feeling and move on.

I’m not going to give up. I am not going to stop running or moving or eating good stuff, but I would quite like to have something to show for all the effort :(

Accountability: You Guys Suck

It’s a good job I’m fairly motivated because you guys suck at this ‘keeping me accountable’ lark. One nag on twitter last week and then nothing this week. Useless, bloody useless. ;)

However, I did get up and off my arse on Monday: I finally took my copy of 30 day shred out of its over-packaged Amazon box and did a level 1 workout. I kept up with the lady doing the more difficult workout (two women, same workout, one more vigorous than the other). It was pretty good, I definitely felt like it was working out parts of my body that don’t get touched when I’m running, although made me feel ridiculously unfit as I was panting by the end (despite being able to run a good >7km now).

Wednesday night we (local running group) did interval training on the local playing fields of 4 x 1 min, 4 x 1 min 30 and then 4 x 1 min runs with 1 min 30 “rest” walks in between. It sounds easy but it was bloody hard work keeping up the momentum. However, I managed to actually run each time I was supposed to be running and even managed some faster runs in the final 2 of the 1 minute blocks. I was really pleased with that because up until recently I’d have been slow jogging or walking some of the last running sets. Progress! We then finished off with a 5 minute paired task, running up then walking down a steep grass bank (now THAT is hard work).

Tonight should be another running night but I’ve over-worked my thighs this week so may have to give it a miss. Might even consider getting up early tomorrow AM to do my first parkrun instead, but that depends on a variety of factors and not least my laziness :p

30 things before I’m thirty: so far

As I said yesterday, because of the big time difference between me starting my “30 things before I’m thirty” list and actually publishing it, I’ve already completed two of the things on my list… albeit with some confusion and/or not quite in the way I’d originally anticipated!

First to be completed: Go on a proper date

Last month I went on a not-a-date date. With a guy. Not with Karl (as I’d originally anticipated) :O It was apparently too early for me to be dating post-split, so we made it a not-a-date that was actually a lot like an actual date. And has since been followed with other dates that definitely were dates. (Currently now wondering if I can cram the word ‘date’ in one more time for good measure…) ‘He‘ is a local web developer, and has a cat. Clearly perfectly matched based on that alone :p

I was going to use meeting Gaz as an excuse to strike a 2nd item off the list: Make a new friend (offline) except there’s a slight problem… I couldn’t remember the original intent of this list item. Was I saying I needed to make a new friend who I could be friends with offline, or was I saying I needed to make a new friend offline without a screen to help hide the first interaction nerves, etc? As I met Gaz online initially, he strictly speaking wouldn’t qualify under the terms of the latter. Gaz has since pointed out that through him I’ve met his friend/colleague, although I’m not sure spending half a day with someone counts as friends.

However, having involved myself in the local running group I have made a few new friends through that based on entirely offline interaction so I’m checking that off as a success.

I am starting on another one of my ‘things’ this afternoon — Visit each of my UK based online friends — with a trip down south to visit Ben. Which brings me nicely to a request… if you’re based in the UK, and have ‘known’ me (by which I mean interacted on a semi regular basis) for more than a year, and would like to pop your name down on the list of friends I need to visit to meet this milestone, let me know in the comments / on twitter / whatever. I’ll only be taking requests til the end of the month so get a move on :)

30 things before I’m thirty

I started writing this “30 things before I’m thirty” list in a draft in January, but what with one thing and another never got round to finishing it. Here’s my original list…

  1. Learn to swim
  2. Actually complete a parkrun (that should probably be “actually take part in a parkrun”)
  3. Volunteer … somewhere, anywhere, just volunteer!
  4. Make a new friend (offline)
  5. Visit my Dad
  6. Finish one of my projects so that I have a regular source of passive income
  7. Earn £5000 in passive income
  8. Try a new food (I’ve never had proper sushi, never had venison, never had lots of things!)
  9. Send a letter in a bottle
  10. Post a blog entry every day for a month
  11. Work with another developer to improve my colab skills
  12. Actually read the JavaScript book I bought
  13. Complete 5 random acts of kindness
  14. Go on a proper date (Karl and I have never dated)

And here’s the other 16 random things I’ve thought of off the top of my head:

  1. Go somewhere, anywhere on a spur of the moment weekend away
  2. Go to the cinema on my own
  3. Visit each of my UK based online friends
  4. Finish my rainbow ripple blanket
  5. Fly somewhere in a plane
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Drive across the country and back without a map / sat nav
  8. Get dressed up in a ball gown (I’ll settle for just trying one on in a shop)
  9. Go to a festival
  10. Climb a mountain
  11. Participate in a race (I’m thinking of doing a 10k)
  12. Read the 100 Best Novels
  13. Give blood
  14. Wear a bikini on the beach
  15. Get a pay rise
  16. Replace coffee with water for a month

I turn 30 on January 7th, 2016 so I think I’ve got PLENTY of time to achieve all these. In fact, as it happens, in the time between starting this list and actually getting it published, I’ve done a couple of things already and I’m working on a couple of others. More on that in another post, though ;)

(ETA: The full list and most recent updates can be found on my 30 things before I’m thirty page.)

Manifesto for Life

I will not settle for just-about-surviving in bad relationships for the sake of others.

I will not model ‘making do’ to my children.

I will climb a mountain and more if it means achieving my goals.

I will not let other’s opinions stop me from being happy.

I will allow myself to be vulnerable around the people I love so that they see ‘me’.

I will laugh every day.

I will love and respect my body, because I only get to use it once.

I will enjoy good company, good food and good wine.

I will not let anyone define ‘me’ ever again.

Accountability

Continuing my ‘year of me’, June is all about accountability. I am offering myself out there for you guys to hold me accountable. I am finally getting off my arse, stepping up to the plate and saying “this is who I am and I want to change”.

What the fuck am I talking about? My health, my fitness, my weight.

I have never been a skinny girl. I was picked on for my weight in school and I carried a lot of excess weight into college. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the hyperemesis causing 2 x 9 months worth of vomiting I’d probably still be pretty large now. I was a UK size 18 at my largest, dropping to a size 12 (my smallest) shortly after I had Isabel. I am currently a size 14, occasionally a 16 depending on brand (and wear a lot of size 16s up top because of my boobs). I weigh 73kgs, and I only know that because I had a doctors appointment this week. (I don’t weigh myself, or keep track of measurements, because I am not that sort of person.)

I don’t want to be a stick thin size 4 or whatever the cool kids are these days – if nothing else I’d look weird at that size because I have wide hips and broad shoulders! However, I do want to be able to put on a dress for a night out and not feel like the michelin man. This summer, I want to be able to put on a bikini for the first time ever and feel good doing so (perhaps oddly, the fact that I am chubby bothers me more than the ridiculous amount of stretch marks I have?) I want to get back into those size 12 jeans which are hidden in the bottom of a wardrobe somewhere.

Having started running again in March, usually twice a week (Weds + Fri) with a local group, I am now up to distances of 7km and plan on entering a 10km race at some point. My legs are slimmer, and my fitness has increased massively. Unfortunately, running doesn’t appear to do anything for overall/general weight loss (not sure if that’s a ‘me’ thing or just the type of exercise) so I need to add another workout day to the mix and this is where the accountability comes in.

See, I don’t need anyone to kick me up the butt to get me running. I enjoy it and the social aspect is motivating. I do, however, need someone to kick me up the arse on a Monday evening when the kids are in bed, the animals are fed and I have a couple of hours in which I could fit in a pretty intense workout but just want to veg on the sofa with my laptop, a bucket of ice cream and twitter. Because if I can crack that Monday evening, it gives me 3 days a week of decent exercise with rest days in between.

So I am asking you to help me make my June thing the gift of accountability. A team of hardcore supporters to keep me motivated, nag me into my leggings and make sure I’m not slacking off. Anyone up for that?