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.

Cantaloupe Island

Hey there Sunday. I did the majority of the work for next week last week and had hoped that there’d be time to swap over my desk space today but honestly, it isn’t going to happen. For the next two weekends I’m a lone parent anyway: it’s possible I might be going to Birmingham for the second one, dunno, it will depend on various factors. Whatever does transpire going forward, there is a lot on, but I’m ready for it.

Let’s make the second cuppa and get started.

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I’m working on a new novel. There is, of course, nothing at all wrong with the old ones, they just need editing but that’s not something I’m capable of doing right now. So, instead, it is time to make something new from scratch. That means a cover. This might be the best cover I’ve ever made, most relevant to content.

Provocatrix

Needless to say, in the downtime between poetry in May, this gets chipped away at… it also has a playlist, which is always a good guarantee stuff will be successful. This one gets to be listened to in the car, at the Gym, when exercising, so brain can be stimulated as well as the other muscles. Let’s see how successful it is.

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I have a submission to finish. It requires an artist’s resume. I bloody HATE talking about myself but it has now been proven that doing so produces results. Therefore, I’ll jerry-rig summat from that last successful submission (can’t talk too much about it yet, more as it happens) and see if we can hit the target again. This is tough work mentally, but knowing now it is successful, that people notice… that’s the key.

Just keep moving forward, doofus.

The Chain

The last time new headers were produced was October, which seems like a lifetime away, I’ll be honest. It might be time to schedule some artwork, and other gubbins of that sort. In fact, serious thought is being given to a week off, plus cessation of regular ‘features’, which is likely to happen at some point around Easter. The boost to creativity this gave was considerable when it happened in August, though there was a massive downside: routine keeps me sane. So, the jury is currently sitting with their cuppas, considering options…

I dead-lifted 55kg at Saturday Bonus PT yesterday. That’s a new Personal Best.

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There are a lot of potential irons in my Fire of Creative Passion right now. Some are practical, others (frankly) downright ridiculous. Deciding what matters most is, of course, always a bit difficult: stay with safe and what you know, or go off piste for a grin? As time goes on, the grin options become increasingly more attractive, simply because there’s never any idea of such opportunities will ever present themselves again. Then there’s the need to keep pushing forward, which is why increasing weights are now a Thing again.

There’s no point unless there’s progress. It feels like the right thing to do.

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Days like today are great for getting these kind of issues addressed and concluded. They’re also useful for editing and submitting (both happening today) and running. Yes, there will be lots of running, which reminds me… I must charge my headphones…

No More Heroes

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


Day 1: That moment when it becomes apparent that if you want any job done properly, you have to do it yourself:

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Occasionally, we all need a little help. Even the smartest person in the World can’t solve all the issues they face, at least without the occasional supportive ‘you got this!’ or a motivational picture of a cat in their timeline. However, there is a point where all the support and understanding in existence is pointless if you decide you won’t. It might not be a won’t, as it happens. You could say you can’t, or mustn’t, or maybe even that’s just impossible. How does anything change in your life as a result, if it is easier to provide excuses than solutions.

Excuses are easy. Solutions are hard, and that’s where I keep finding myself.

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I realise just how lucky my life is, at this point, that opportunity even exists for improvement. It is incredibly easy to say ‘sort yourself out’ and there will be those who (quite rightly) in many cases might consider this as victim blaming or shaming. So, to be clear: I’m not a victim. My life, which is the only thing I can reasonably talk about with confidence, is not underpinned by any kind of issue where being told to get better is somehow making matters worse.

What my life has been ruled by is fear. This is something that’s only recently become apparent, as it happens: a complex combination of factors, which (with other mental shortcomings that will hopefully be better defined after I’ve spoken to some professionals about them) made for a potent cocktail of restriction. I can’t do that because used to precede far too many conversations. Lungs won’t work, can’t interface with people, unable to combine the mental processes required. All my shortcomings.

Nobody to blame but me.

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I had to hit rock bottom for my reset. Considering suicide, wondering what the point really was if nothing ever seemed to work in my favour, came the realisation that actually, I was the problem. This is still something to remind myself of in moments where life throws me a curve, that often brain is working against body in order to hamstring progress for no other reason than it’s easier than making the effort. Undoubtedly, that adage that you get what you give / you give what you get is spot on.

Everybody’s answer is different, too, and that’s the problem with finding a mentor of becoming enamoured with a guru/influencer/snake oil salesperson who’ll offer an easy answer in exchange for your cash/follow/first born. I’ve followed so many people via Social media who think that selling their salvation is the solution: it’s never true, and so I unfollow and move on. This is the woman who read a ton of self-help books and nothing ever stuck, until the day I was willing to forgive myself and move forward.

Excuses are Easy, Solutions are Hard. Never forget this.

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The trick, it appears, is to pick the right metaphors for your journey. I am never going to win a beauty pageant, nor would I ever enter one… however, I can be strong. Telling me I’m beautiful will be met with short shrift, but praise my ability to think through problems or write a decent blog post and you’re on the right track. Seriously, that whole ‘you’re so beautiful’ stuff is creepy, however well intentioned or based on actual perception it might be. Tell someone they’re inspiring, or dedicated. Intelligent or capable is great. Leave the surface stuff for people who won’t look past appearances.

You can be the most beautiful person in the world on the outside, and a mess inside. Given the choice, I’d rather look a mess but have my internal shit under control, but to do that you gotta work out what needs fixing.

That’s Day 2’s conundrum.

The Second Time Around

Today, we upgrade to two Blaze classes a week. I tried this once before Christmas, but didn’t like the person who took the class. Amazingly it matters who screams at you to get in the Red Zone, who knew? This is also a night-time affair, thus freeing up days for more thrashing about with words. This whole exercise is a carefully-constructed set of move and counter move, as the world around me gets adjusted to most effectively sustain everything required in current existence.

Finding joy in the process of evolution is absolutely doable.

I see a lot of people getting angry about any challenge to their right to own what they please. This whole business of ‘finding joy’ or going minimalist (or indeed however you want to spin it) is important for two reasons. The first is that, without a slowdown in consumption, the planet cannot sustain us. There NEEDS to be a cutback in what you own, buy and consume.

Secondly, and more crucially, the more crap that surrounds, the easier it becomes to miss really significant problems because that material becomes… well, it’s like fat on your body. Sure, you can choose not to reduce it, but if that is your choice there will be consequences not just for you, but those around you. Human beings have evolved not as sedentary, but active. Excess weight can be damaging, both physically and psychologically.

It all boils down to making a choice that some people clearly resent being asked to do.

When you realise what a modern phenomena consumerism is, a lot of the issues become a lot easier to grasp. Corporations take our money, and in return there is the need to feel out money is well spent, that items are worthwhile and hold particular value… but eventually, there is only so much things can help us do. Many complex issues will never be solved with consumption: only by looking within ourselves as to why there is such a need to lose a grip on reality via immersion can the answers be found.

You don’t have to be lost in virtual worlds to be an addict, or unable to stop drinking. Food can be an addiction, dieting, collecting, buying things (and even selling them)… all these things were never an issue for our ancestors, because prior to the Industrial revolution there was very little to purchase apart from those things required to survive, and with life expectancy so low, it didn’t matter that much anyway. We are, as a species, at a precarious and possibly fatal tipping point in our history.

How we all act in the next few decades will dictate the future of planet itself.

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It is important to find joy in as much as you can right now, because there’s a better than average chance we’ll be looking back on this decade wistfully, realisation these were indeed the last days of consumerism and greed and how both those things condemned a large section of the Planet to destruction. To those of you gleefully sticking fingers in your ears and deciding this is somebody else’s problem? It isn’t. We’re all in this together, and the sooner you grasp that the easier it’ll be for us all.

Time to evolve, and to help save the World from your own greed.

The Great Escape

There’s a certain level of guilt that exists when you blow off an entire day of potential progress to cock about in your PJ’s, but yesterday, honestly, it had to be done. After an early PT I came back home and just ground to an utter standstill, so much so that there was a sneaky nap taken for the first time in what is probably six months. Suitably re-energised, the last thing wanted was to go back to work. So, after about three hours of trying to spawn a two player Civilization: Beyond Earth map that left me a continent away from my opponent, I went for a Supremacy victory, and got it.

This then made me realise that there’s a compelling argument for never letting the zealots and the mad people organise space flight, because if they’re then going to combine themselves with the indigenous wildlife, go back to Earth and wipe out the human population in the name of evolution, it’s all a bit shit, really. As I built unit on Military unit and sent them back to Earth under the auspices of ’emancipation’ there was, I have to admit, a feeling of increased discomfort.

That’s the mark of a good game: makes you think, challenges your choices.

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This week there is a LOT to be done, because it’s February on Friday, and therefore backlogs should be organised and then dismissed. Actually, with a clear run at it, the rest of what needs doing can (and will be) sorted. After that? Still got two submissions to finish for the week, should probably practice reading my own poem a few times, am gonna work on editing two rejected works and then creating a .PDF Pamphlet to start raising funds for travelling.

It’s all go around here.

Future Boy

Day 1: Start again: in Good News PT is back today. YAY.

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Today I am here to remind you that the Future is not as forgiving and understanding as some of you seem to believe.

In the last week, a significant number of people in my timeline have seen some form of bank fraud happen in their accounts. Is it a coincidence that the biggest breach of data ever took place shortly before this? I dunno, but it’s a sage reminder to check your online accounts, making sure you don’t hold excess cash in your main account. Any excess (if you are that lucky) should be stuffed elsewhere, regardless of whether it gets saved or not. Also? Two factor authentication as standard on any app handing your money.

I digress however, but only slightly. It’s time to reference the fact that tons of privately marked tweets were, it transpires, easily accessible to anyone on an Android phone. This isn’t really news at all, because the idea of Private Messaging and Encrypted apps should be ridiculous to anyone who still holds onto any belief that the Internet is some kind of mysterious place like it was back in the 1990’s, where Government never listens and big business cannot capitalise.

Privacy, in a public space, is the biggest issue everybody should be talking about.

When you step back and consider facts, a lot of stuff is pretty well looked after. There are some basic mistakes that shouldn’t be made as consumers: online banking passwords really ought not be the same as the ones you use for porn site access. ANYTHING with a nominal value to your existence on the Internet should have a secondary form of authentication, preferably NOT tied to a mobile device.

However, what is abundantly apparent in recent years is that certain companies don’t really care about the privacy of the data you share. When you forget that Big Brother doesn’t need to watch you if you are dumb enough to use services without thinking through the consequences, the police and other organisations won’t even need a warrant to hack your Facebook account if every message you spew forth is tinged with hate. It’s just there, shouting into the void.

Just because nobody replies to you, does not mean there’s nobody listening.

The most amazing thing of all, of course, is that all this data combined adds up to an amazing way to unconsciously propel lots of industries forward. Targeting the right people online; not smart enough to grasp their news is fabricated but capable of casting votes, is one high profile example of using freely available data to influence all our futures. Yet people complain their privacy has been invaded, despite the unavoidable truth that this is not totally the fault of those doing the exploiting.

Let’s take an example: let’s say you wanted to train a camera to more accurately distinguish how faces age over time, as part of wanting to employ face recognition software for law enforcement. Picking the same person with… a ten year age gap between two pictures would be a decent starting point, wouldn’t it…?

[FX: Removes Tinfoil Hat] Okay, so maybe not everything is a government conspiracy, but on the other hand if you people could just stop sharing every single thing about yourselves 24/7 then the AI would have a far harder time deciding what you really like, before serving it up to you on a lovely, buy now and save 21% platter. I know that’s not going to happen, and a lot of people are betting on the same being true, or else I wouldn’t have a ton of people trying to invite me to a bazillion new ‘gamer only’ or ‘writer only’ social networks, or using my ratings to condemn delivery drivers and private cabs to personal hell if they don’t turn up on time.

‘Leave a review’ they say. Response to my blog posts is largely non-existent. What future is there in the writing world if you’re required to have a 3.6 star rating or above on your Blog before anybody will even retweet you? Has anybody thought through these systems properly, or are we condemned to a future where a Black Mirror episode looks more like a documentary of how life in the future was perfectly represented from a fictional past?

When I was a kid, the Future was shiny suits and flying cars. Now it’s all data and peer pressure and living a life online that should never be there in the first place. If your privacy really matters, stop doing shit online. It is terribly easy, and takes no effort at all to achieve: get your dick picks out of my DM’s, stop posting your cleavage in order to make you feel good about yourself. It isn’t difficult. You are the arbiter of your own destiny.

The only person making you share everything is yourself.