Sing it Back

…ooh look, it’s two days into a new month and I’ve not put my belt on yet. Dun worry, that’ll all change tomorrow. For now, it’s probably time to celebrate last month’s achievement.

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4611 MEP’s to beat… that’s gonna take some work. I could strap on the belt 24/7, I suppose, but that rather defeats the object of the exercise. What’s needed here is CONSISTENCY, which is really quite easy to work on. Keep the rest days, know when it’s appropriate not to push, and ensure that there’s a proper balance between cardio and strength training.

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I always knew today would need to be an enforced rest day, and undoubtedly as we get closer to Christmas there will be other days where it is impossible to fit in the exercise required. If there’s a feeling on Tuesday morning there’s enough energy to catch up on today’s missed work I will, but it’s more likely to be a gimme. 22 days out of 31 with summat is brilliant. 

The aim is 20 days minimum on the calendar for November.

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With the news breaking yesterday that Google’s bought Fitbit, you’ll all soon be able to see my data, all over the interwebs without me needing to do screencaps… ^^ Until the changeover happens, I have plenty of opportunities to work on that 12k a day step total. If I wondered why I was so wiped after Wednesday night this week, I reckon almost 20k including a Blaze with hill incline runs probably had summat to do with it…

That’s tomorrow’s task too, with some heavy lifting thrown in for good measure. Why am I doing all this again…?

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However, I will be very much enjoying not having exercised today, oh yes…

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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.

This is Not a Love Song

… except of course I can’t, at least until about 5pm. There’s just too much shoved into the day: a scheduled PT (I AM OUTDOORS) followed almost immediately by dentistry to fix a problem that, if I don’t, is likely to ruin me when least convenient. After many years, future-proofing has become a Thing. Yes, being a grown up is indeed possible.

After that it’s a pile from one place to another to pick up the youngest (via shopping) and then, only possibly, will there be kippage. By that point, of course, it will be sensible to stay upright until bedtime, and that’s the best means by which we do the day. I am reminded of the past when this was every day and I was a good stone heavier and considerably less physically active…

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Looking at the Instagram generation making their lives appear a bazillion times more organised than I ever managed, it’s a reminder that image is a clever cover. Even those people who take pictures of exhausted faces and saggy bodies possess a foresight to record memories that has been completely lost from my subconscious. I see pictures from both kids’ toddler days and don’t remember them being taken.

In fact, large portions of their early lives simply does not exist in my subconscious: memory was dispensed with in order to just make it through to bedtime so I could start again. This is not a complaint either, but simply statement of fact. I threw heart and soul into their upbringing, and only now realise just what that meant at the time. There’s immense pride at my kids’ achievements, however. It was worth all the bad.

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If I had balls, some days it would have been like this. However now there is a luxury to be able to not worry or bother over exactly how stuff happens, just as long as it does, and in 95% of cases that is exactly the end result. It might take a while but outcomes represent acceptable progression, plus satisfaction derived from this forward motion is no less significant. I require more sleep to function correctly than any of my family who seem capable of surviving on very little…

…but I know they’re lying. Like me, they’re afraid that summat important might get missed if they’re having a sneaky kip. My son, right now is the exception: after a lads holiday and a weekend at Wireless, I doubt he’ll emerge from his room until Wednesday. Things like that were never enjoyable for me because of the lack of sleep. Maybe that’s been the problem all along.

On reflection, this is a fine way to be made.

Bicycle Race

You know I mentioned my e-mail address stopped working a while back? Well, yesterday I discovered a quite important e-mail that had gone astray.

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I made it into the Ride London 46 Ballot. Fortunately I’ve not missed anything vital and the participation’s confirmed, though not gonna lie, I’m terrified. It’s exactly seven weeks on Sunday, which is also the day before we go on holiday, and suddenly everything’s become a panicked, anxiety filled mess. This is not how it was hoped such a thing would initially be prepared for and so, as a result, it’s time to take a fucking huge step back at the weekend and quietly consider what is needed.

However, before anything else, it is time to start selling the reason why I initially signed up to do this.

I grow tired of the pontificating on Social media by people who talk a good ‘let’s all change the World’ speech but don’t ever push their own boundaries to do just that. So, I’ve set myself a £500 target, and have already contacted Mind, who will provide me with a jersey and encouragement along the way. This seems to me a far better means of making sure that the people who really need help are getting it, because I’m giving money to an organisation who’s sole task is to do just that. Rather than just sitting on my arse saying I care, this is a constructive means of making things better.

If the anxiety ridden depressive can do this, then maybe that will act as an incentive to others.

The End

Today is the end of a significant portion of my exercise ‘life’ as my long-standing PT leaves the sector completely for pastures new. It’s been interesting watching how other people have reacted to this departure: some have angrily blamed her for ruining their lives by leaving, others have demonstrated quite frightening levels of passive-aggressive resistance. For me, although there is considerable sadness at the loss of someone so influential, there cannot be anything other than joy and happiness that she’s off to make her life better.

She has taught me so much about myself in that regard.

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This is a woman who flat-out refuses to use any kind of social media. She is kind beyond measure, and immensely thoughtful. Her capacity to organise is often staggering, but it is her warmth and consideration that rank higher than anyone else I have ever met. It is unsurprising, given the frankly unpleasant and thoughtless nature of many of her clients, that she’s picked this moment to leave. Very few people seemed to be prepared to do the work, despite the fact they were paying her to do just that.

There’s a lot of sympathy for her frustration with other’s inability.

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I have a new trainer lined up and promise not to take too much personal baggage to our relationship. It’s an opportunity to start fresh, without expectations, and should be considered a new set of challenges. My left arm’s at about 80% right now but there are press ups in me plus weights to be lifted, so it is all good. Plus, the rehab is going remarkably well, and my cycling is getting stronger every session.

This is the start of an exciting chapter of my life.

Saturday

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I know, instinctively, that the days of not pushing myself are over. The moments when I’d rather just curl up with a duvet and a good book, especially after a poor night’s sleep, are over (at least for now.) Lying awake at 3am this morning, in the midst of a hot flush that was so fierce my skin felt as if it were melting, I remembered the mindfulness practices I am learning and reduced panic to an inhale, exhale, focus on the breath. Amazingly, it worked. There is always this rueful disbelief when something I’ve been taught turns out to not only be helpful, but a revelation.

This week has been a lot of that.

Journeys are not simply getting to your destination: more often than not is the stops along the way that define the final trip. Today, that means sitting in a clubhouse built as Legacy content for the 2012 Olympic Games: a place that is buzzing with life and enthusiasm, where a continuing commitment to sport has become the true significance of events from five years ago. Watching women warm up outside the window, a really decent men’s hockey game on Pitch One below, is the reminder that life happens in ways I forget.

The TV above me is the reminder of a constant backdrop of concerning and often disturbing World news: Brexit, Iran’s missile testing, an escalation of world tensions that then put my existence against an even larger backdrop. Once upon a time all I would have cared about was the stuff that directly affected me. Now I realise that, with 50 years on the clock, the time for such selfishness must be over. The moment has come to try and find ways to give back beyond my personal bubble. How I do that is still very much in flux.

There are starting points, however: the Patreon this week, when I focused on personal development, got more interest than at any point in three months, and I’ve learnt an important lesson in combining academic and individual experience. I’m writing something this weekend to help a friend hopefully resolve a personal issue successfully, grateful I can utilize a skill for good. Then, I am giving back to my husband, which to my shame I should have done a long time ago. He is the kindest and most forgiving of men in that regard, and I am very grateful that there is still the opportunity to do so.

Once upon a time, a Saturday alone would have been my desire, but I’ve spent far too much time alone already. Destiny remains mine to dictate only to a point, and the understanding now that I willfully, for so many years, wouldn’t push myself out of that bubble… it is like looking at someone I no longer know or understand. Most importantly, at 3am this morning, came the final understanding that introspection makes for great poetry, wonderful fuel for fiction, but crap content when I write a blog. The days of blaming myself for things out of my control may finally be coming to an end.

Sometimes I am told I care too much about things that do not matter, in the wider scheme of the planet. When this happened before, my reaction would always be the same: well, it matters to ME and that is all that is really important. Only now do I grasp the truth, that only by stepping back from emotion and truly thinking about WHY things happen can you ever expect to improve as a person. Only after having children has there been the ability to put self aside and truly learn how basic emotional reactions matter, and that you have a direct control over consequence.

Only by being able to accept what is wrong with me have I been able to change.

I’ve officially had enough of introspection. The best work I do however is with that quality at my core and not the periphery. The trick now is to put aside the stuff that doesn’t matter to focus on the people and things who do. Next week is the most important week of my new ‘career,’ where my own actions will effectively make or break a potential stream of revenue. If I’m going to succeed in this venture, I cannot afford to allow myself to lose belief I am able to do so. Sometimes, you instinctively know when you’ve fucked up, and then there are moments when you simply have to trust your gut that this is the right path.

I am on the right path. This is the way forward.

Look Away

Yesterday, something fractured in my head.

I went upstairs into our bedroom and pulled out all the trousers that have been waiting to be tried on, once I’ve lost weight. Many of them now fit comfortably for the first time. A couple are never going to be large enough, others are simply too big. The realisation has finally registered that I could be waiting forever to fit into a size or style, or perhaps it is time to just accept what is here and live with the consequences. Therefore, there are four bags of clothes sitting by the front door, which simply won’t ever get worn. I was holding onto them out of misguided belief, in the end.

A lot of my life is retained on that principle, and finally there has emerged means of escape.

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I know what triggered this, that the second week of Mindfulness Training has started the process of meditation, and as soon as I quieten my mind to everything else, reality is simply unavoidable. I don’t need all these clothes when I live in a small and well-curated subset of one type of apparel. There is no need to keep things ‘in case of X’ when X is never going to happen, and if it did, I’d be better served just going out and buying what was required. I’m beginning to detest the excesses of materialism with a passion that was normally reserved for politics and stupidity. I don’t need anything except a notepad and pencil on most days, a basic PC as a luxury. Everything else is dangerous and potentially addictive, when all is said and done.

So, the house is going to lose a phenomenal amount of content and weight at the time of year when one is normally considering the excesses of Christmas and New Year. In fact, I am going to go fully digital for gifts this year with a number of exceptions who’ll get something hand-made and personal to them. I need to start planning now, on reflection, but it won’t be a huge task to get my arse in gear, especially when so much of my ‘old’ life is going out the door in the next couple of weeks. It is true what they say about de-cluttering, how cathartic it is to release from constraints of the past. It is also very comforting to know that deep down I’m beginning to accept what I am for the first time in my life, that there is no need to conform to anyone else’s view of what is right.

I realised when I began the Minimalism course that it had the potential to fundamentally alter what I am, because I had simply been too afraid before to listen to my basic self unhindered. Now that is happening, life is less about worry and anger than it ever was. Self-control is becoming a tool of liberation.

There’s a revelation in itself.