The Fix

The poem began on the day I forced myself out of the house and into the countryside (such as it exists here) and that really proves the point that sometimes, external stimulation kick starts writing ability. I ended up with an opening line but no more: this morning after a night full of dreams where getting lost would finally provide inspiration to find the path back to my destination, ending became beautifully obvious.

My subconscious when all is said and done can be very easily read.

There’s two poems for this submission: after going to see the eldest at Uni and having a birthday meal (he turns nineteen this week) they’ll both be finally looked over and then sent. Next week is the re-write of an existing poetry collection for submission again. With the changes to style, content and approach that have taken place over the summer, I suspect little may remain of what is started with. We shall see.


I have a confession to make. I watch very little TV these days. It is therefore a bit of a stunner to have a bunch of things approaching that will be consumed, rather voraciously, leading up until Christmas. The BBC’s adaptation of His Dark Materials begins in early November. Tonight, the first proper TV adaptation of H.G.Wells’ War of the Worlds is on BBC1. In anticipation of this, last night, Netflix got fired up, and a new documentary series was begun.

This series is pretty much made for someone like me, and the opening episode did not disappoint. I’ll review it properly once all the content has been consumed, as the range of designers covers a fairly eclectic definition of the word. Let’s hope that the BBC does not shonk Wells’ original vision, and that the good vibes over their adaptation of Pullman’s work with all the contentious stuff left in really is as good as the trailers suggest.

At least it gives me summat to write about in the week :D

Happy

When I began my exercise journey, there were blog posts about it. In fact, if you go search my archive, you’ll find them. Things were considerably simpler back then, which seems quite bizarre right now to say, considering how much fear was felt. A great deal has changed in that intervening couple of years, not just my attitude towards working hard. The most significant change however is an ability to pull feelings from head to page without their inherent substance altering.

Let us begin this new venture therefore by looking at my year thus far using only the monitoring tools at my disposal.

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The Fitbit on my wrist has been on there for 51 of 52 weeks: there’s a small gap at the end of December when the Christmas present failed and needed replacement. That graph tells you when I was ill this year (March and August) and despite its monitoring shortfalls, is a pretty decent record of how hard I’ve worked. Since switching to a heart monitor, the actual scope of effort’s been far better recorded.

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For a time, this Fitbit became no more than a glorified pedometer. Using a heart rate belt for every piece of organised exercise is great for effort, but doesn’t recognise all the times my belt isn’t on. Therefore the concept of Active Minutes is gaining more prominence, especially on days when I’m not on a treadmill or lifting weights. This week’s benchmark therefore is 316 active minutes in the first four days of work. Once we have a seven day total, that’s going to guide thinking going forward.

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Then, there’s that ever-elusive Red Zone in my exercise classes. I tried on Thursday after Wednesday’s success but didn’t get close: it wasn’t a mental issue. I was just fucked. The best chance that exists to pull red minutes is when a) the workout is geared towards things I can get my heart-rate up for or b) I cheat. Wednesday night, that’s what I did. I just ran for 4 minutes and BOOM there I am.

Going forward therefore, it might be time to reassess some goals.

If weight loss is my key, this is probably the moment to start reassessing what my basal metabolic rate is being fuelled by. I don’t like using MyFitnessPal to keep a calorie goal but if I wanna get the weight to vanish, it might be the moment. All those people who tell me that knowledge is power aren’t having to fight nearly as many internal demons as me either, I’d wager. There’ll still be the occasional slice of cake. I’m not an idiot.

Learning to form good habits is one of the things I’ve been subconsciously doing for months. These are the kind of positive steps that need to be implemented as we head towards Christmas… and that’s why there’s a header for these posts. Once a week, on a Saturday, we’ll go through the week’s exercise and look where we are. Yes, there may even be a Bridget Jones’ style weigh in.

It gives me the chance to talk about other stuff in the week than getting fit.

Better Living Through Chemistry

Let us begin this week correctly.

This has been an earworm since my husband left hospital, so putting it here (hopefully) might finally release the pain of repetition, though I doubt it. There is a phenomenal amount of Real Life Gubbins to achieve today, and I have the uncomfortable feeling my PC hard drive is close to failure. As a result, this morning will also be spent ensuring I have a backup of everything important somewhere else.

After that? New calendars on the wall, new goals to achieve. A major collection from last year gets a re-write. I’m going to start a new one. There’s a plan for NaNoWriMo that this year I may actually be able to stick to along with everything else, if the planning will support it. That’s the key, in all of this. Proper organisation will win the day, it just has to start now and be executed thoroughly.

I think that means I’m gonna stop playing games again for a while.

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I came back before the holiday to play Warcraft which I’d not touched since before Christmas. Now I’ll admit that the urge to log on every day is rapidly diminishing, mostly because of the effort required to get what I want. There are no quick fixes any more, of course you have to work, and that time is better used doing other stuff. The next iteration of the game will be announced next month, and then we’ll see where we are.

Until then, what matters more than online satisfaction is real life progress.

The Sensual World

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Five out of seven days this week will have involved exercise. It has been really, REALLY hard work. I don’t have a problem with this either. In fact, yesterday on the treadmill, right about at that yellow bar, a piece of me detached inside before disintegrating. Holding onto fear is always a bad idea. Historic fear is even more dangerous. I don’t have that to worry about now.

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Numbers help make planning easier. I’ve found it hard over the last year working out how much effort is being placed into exercise relative to feeling. That’s changed in the last month: it is becoming far easier to balance energy and output. Internally the issues of the last month are now classified as ‘past’ and that’s all that is really needed. There’s also a number of significant physical changes taking place. I might even take pictures.

If we can get the posting back on track? Things will begin to fall into place.

Believe

There was a point, in last night’s Blaze class, when I lost confidence in myself. If you’ve been following this fitness journey, you’ll know that particular class uses heart rate to encourage greater effort, via a special wearable piece of tech. It then broadcasts said effort onto a screen where you’re placed beside everybody else in the class. All the instructors will also tell you it’s not a competition with anybody else except yourself.

The truth however is anything but.

Last night, at a crucial moment when I was flat out on a treadmill, looking up to the screen above showed everybody else in the max (red) heart-rate zone, with me in green. The mental v physical disconnect hit like a punch. By the end of the class, I was in floods of tears: fortunately for me, there were people there who not only helped me, but reminded that everything is relative, including the level of effort.

I underestimated the amount of work I’ve done this week. If I add up all the active minutes in the last four days (using Fitbit as my guide) it isn’t 225 minutes, but 353, and this does not include Tuesday where the watch was very intentionally not recording. So yeah, maybe I should factor that in when it gets to Thursday. Also, I did a Synergy Gym class before the Blaze one, and probably didn’t manage my energy output that well whilst doing so.

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Most sessions, my brain’s awake enough to see past the lie of ‘if you’re not in the red zone you can be working harder’ but a month’s worth of mental stress could not be dodged last night. The visual was, quite frankly, just too powerful to ignore. It’s the underlying problem with these classes that’s always existed, but nobody ever talks about. If you allow the red to fool you, everything can and does fall apart.

This morning, truth is far easier to rationalise.

There is nothing wrong with competition: it’s a healthy, normal part of sport. The concept’s there to give you an idea of how other people’s fitness compares with yours, but it is up to you to factor in the variables: weight, age, ability can’t be quantified as colour on a screen. Except I’ve seen what people do when they get tired in this class: they forget which lane they’re in. They forget what exercise they’re doing and just run on autopilot.

The numbers and colours affect mental ability in many different ways. Today, I used that as a basis for a poem. Stepping back, looking objectively at what happened, it is clear that my brain fell for the lie: this isn’t about effort expended, but a longer term view of the journey this is a step within. I wish my club did more work on mental health within it’s auspice and didn’t just assume members have that covered.

I suspect they’d not consider it important because it won’t turn a profit.

P.S.: This is also the problem.

The Sensual World

I’m still having trouble sticking to a daily schedule, but now my husband is back home, things will get easier. It’s been a month since all his health issues kicked off and although he’s nowhere near recovered yet, having him here’s made everything about 1000% less stressful. However, what the last four weeks has done is focus my mind towards what needs to be done.

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Heartrate’s been a constant indicator of health issues for some time and that tiny spike was the start of what felt like a cold but which is now fading away. Tonight I’ll have finished the first week of three exercise classes in five days, added to which there’s been two PT classes, two very brisk thirty minute walks plus a thirty minute general fitness class.

225 minutes of exercise over that period seems a decent starting point.

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64% is the new benchmark for effort. I reckon this can be improved.

Time to get started.

That Thing

I’m gonna end up writing a gaming post today, on the back of comments that I’ve seen, despite having muted a key phrase in my Twitter feed. It’s inescapable, like the march of seasons and the annoyance of those who think waiting for someone else to solve their issues is the answer. What amazes me, and continues to do so, is the perception of different as better.

Often, different is exactly the same as it was, except you forgot that was the case.

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Porridge for me is a case in point. Oats have, for many years, been my way of getting energy throughout the day without the stress of over-sugaring myself. Except, over time, pre-packaged snacks have risen to challenge that dominance. Energy bars, conveniently presented, luring me into excess sugar I don’t need… making me think they’re somehow better than the first bowl of morning oats, with some fruit chucked in for good measure.

Hospital was a benefit in that regard. Porridge, small bowl, handful of berries. No fuss. No stupid concept treats with ingredients I don’t need. This is the fuel needed to get me through lunch without stress. Today therefore will be day three of the Huel shake plus a planned porridge and pomegranate snack that doubles as part of lunch, with some extra fruit and nuts. Why did I forget that simple was best? Why was I that dumb to begin with?

Mostly, on reflection, it is my own stupidity to blame.

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I know I’m not supposed to be so hard on myself. Don’t worry, I get that. I also grasp, only too well, that improvement isn’t just a notional set of numbers, or a line or two that gets drawn in the sands of expectation. The problem for me is obsession. Separating need from desire is a tough ask sometimes, but things are improving on that front. I know I’m capable of great things. The problem’s in execution, not ideas.

So, it is no wonder that occasionally the path is deviated from. To fix it isn’t just about knowing what matters however, but how that’s reached with the most amount of enjoyment along the way. Let’s face facts, that’s summat I’ve forgotten how to do in the last six months. Enjoying myself, as it happens, is not nearly as stressful as used to be the case. In that regard, counselling is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Time for porridge, and then let’s see if we can start making sense of the bombsite that is this house.