Shout

It is a truth personally acknowledged that peace is my ultimate aim. I fucking hate fighting with anyone, for reasons which are now clearly and inextricably linked to trauma. It’s why my pulse races in situations where other people are being unpleasant. it’s the reason certain circumstances and situations are now actively avoided. It’s also crucially why criticism used to be the hardest thing in the world to take.

Lots of things have improved in the last two years. Being able to conduct myself with calm, to be able to rationalise those situations and step back objectively from them is a massive step forward. Criticism is now sought, positively encouraged, and has becomes the means by which significant steps forward have been taken in approach. It’s why what gets written and outputted from now on will different from what has come before.

This morning, as the UK begins to move into Second Lockdown, it is really important not to go backwards in terms of momentum. Therefore, everything will be readdressed and reconsidered. Output in various places is already being streamlined. There are other issues to consider this time around too, and all of them are as important as my professional goals, if not more so. Looking after myself is a real priority.

I’m dreadful at self-care at the best of times, and this can’t continue. If it means stepping away from social media for an early night, or rearranging the order things are attacked in the day, there has to be a change from what is undoubtedly ‘normal’ behaviour. The result, it must be said, is already significant. That’s not going to be lost in panic again.

This time, we keep moving forward, and with optimism.

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Time is doing That Thing it sometimes does when the Universe knows I have a lot on and it needs to cut me a break. I know, it’s all personal perception at play but still, it makes everything far less stressful. I also didn’t blog personally for the second time this week yesterday, and I won’t tomorrow, because there are MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO.

So, if you’ll excuse me…

Feelings

It is human arrogance which has assumed, up until this point, that for a planet to be inhabitable it would first need to capable of supporting human life. This is, of course, utter bollocks and if it now transpires that life exists here, on Venus… well, that throws quite a lot of stuff into disarray. Again, we are back at the point where thinking in one, very linear way, is just asking for trouble.

It’s odd right now, watching people begin to grasp uncomfortable truths that have perhaps not previously been obvious to them. The most stark one of all is the realization that people have been used as product online for some time, and are only waking up to this as there’s nothing else to distract from reality, and an inescapable truth.

‘Directly support the Creator’ is one of those horribly glib statements that could just as easily mean ‘then Twitch don’t have to charge you for making content’. The publicity blurb for this is worryingly upbeat too: ‘Ads are an important part of Twitch – they help keep Twitch free for creators and viewers, and enable us to continue to craft new and innovative features and supply unique and engaging content for our community.’

Except, of course, that’s not a profitable business model, and this planet is all about those. Yet again, this is one group exploiting another for massive material gain. It should be making far more people uncomfortable than is currently the case, but it still doesn’t. People are happy to let this stuff wash over them. As long as they are not massively inconvenienced, what’s the problem?

Only when stuff becomes personally frustrating or annoying do we react.

This comfort v discomfort dichotomy (go look it up) is a big deal right now. I watch it play out almost daily on my timeline. Sometimes it’s about summat petty, yesterday it was about politics, sexuality, gender and public accountability. For me, I rationalise these things in two ways, with a feelings v reality death match.

It’s very simple: how I personally feel about something is stuck in a mental space alongside the truth of what is happening, and one of two things takes place. My feelings will either a) align with the reality or b) they won’t. If the former is true, everybody is on the same page and I get to have an early second cuppa. If the latter pans out, then I will be face down on the canvas with a boot on my face, and will only have myself to blame.

The truth matters now than it has ever done at any point before.

Smart is a hard task. Distinguishing what is real and what isn’t has become the schism in so much of our lives and accepting you got shit wrong… well, it’s a hard ask for many people. I’m going to have to admit I seriously misjudged some timescales this morning, in a meeting, but I will still meet a deadline. It’s okay, I’ve got myself covered.

Feelings v reality ought to be a far bigger deal than is currently the case.

Musclebound

… and you’re back in the room.

This weekend has taught me a lot about stamina: not just getting my legs to a place where I can sweat out a training programme without fear, but how things really can improve if you stop giving up. It is about pushing through the pain and discomfort, and so much else. Knowing what you can and cannot do are important benchmarks. Once marked, eating into them, subsequently improving them is less terrifying, because they’re static.

Someone I care a great deal about pointed out to me recently my propensity to try and do everything simultaneously, and how that ultimately is destructive. Yes, it absolutely is. I freely admit this, and will happily attest that having a brain that decides everything is possible when nothing is fixed is a sure fire way to hamstring yourself. It’s happened for years.

Not any more.

As it transpires, taking a day off was all that was needed to let my brain relax into new ideas. Therefore, I will start scheduling rest days for writing as well as exercise. It also helps immensely that everything that was done last week was scheduled into next week, thus freeing up a ton of space that previously did not exist. I’ve also recycled an inordinate amount of old work into new spaces.

There is also some though being given to dismissing an original plan and producing something completely left field as my inaugural self-publicised work. It is already made, which in itself saves on effort. I’m still thinking about the options available. If you’re a Patron, I’ll be talking about it more this week via your blogs, and on the IoW website.

There is suddenly a great deal of possibility in the air.

Can You Feel the Force

Every so often, something happens and you are given a unique insight into someone’s mental processes. If you’re a smart person, you’ll look long and hard at this data and learn from it. In the past week, I’ve had a couple of crucial conversations with individuals involved in various parts of my life: one personal and one professional really stand out as being indicative not how others have changed during lockdown, but how I’ve altered.

The professional one is really disappointing, but on reflection is probably no real surprise. My aspirations are vastly different to the people currently handling me, their concerns and mine not meshing at all. So, we’ll do what has been asked of me and move on. No drama, no fuss. A project that I wanted to do my own has been quietly subsumed. No matter.

The personal one I’ve seen coming for a while.

Finding people who share my passion for hobbies or pursuits has always been quite hit-and-miss. In this case, lots of people are clearly still struggling with the details of lockdown, and with the potential for it all to happen again in September, there doesn’t need to be any more stress in people’s lives than currently exists.

What going back to weightlifting has demonstrated is that control is a very big deal right now: who has it, who needs it and (most crucially) who cannot cope when it is imposed. I love getting to know new people but also know that there’s a point in every relationship where you either get closer and stay there or move apart and never return to that crossroads. I’m gonna be leaving a lot of people behind this month.

I suspect a few have already gone.

Guilt can be a strong motivator, however the damage that can cause often negates the point of effort. Right now, I need realism in my life, and lots of it, and if that means that along the way people and opportunities are missed or left to one side, it’s okay. I can’t get everybody to like me, and it’s impossible to do everything. Pick the moments, and your friends with care.

Life is moving pretty fast right now for everybody.

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,Β 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.Β 

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…

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.Β 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.Β 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)Β 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.Β Fortunately I’ve not missed anything vital and the participation’s confirmed, though not gonna lie, I’m terrified.Β 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 Β£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.