New Life

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I’m taking a day off making headers. In fact, with the exception of the extended Gym session I’ll be involved in as you read this, the whole of today is being remade to fit a particular plan. Last night I looked down at my stomach and realised that the change is now inescapable. It may have taken months to get to the point where I can see this part of my body shrinking, but there is now no doubt. If I continue the pace of exercise started this week? My goal is close.

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I took yesterday off because after 4 days at 12k, I was fucked. Once upon a time all that number would have symbolised was 12,000 leisurely, non effort-filled steps. Not any more. I pushed myself REALLY hard this week, and every step in those totals is either sweat filled or includes lifting weights. Today I want that 12k to become 14k, despite the rain, but the reality is that I’ll make to and from the Gym count as my total and then do extra steps on top. I’ll also do a morning session tomorrow to try and incentivise my husband to do the same, as Christmas is coming.

The desire to push is coming not from the need to feel that there’s effort being made, but to help build on the strength I now exist within. It also has been reflected in the amount of work I’ve managed to achieve in the week, and the progress in other things that would not have happened without the physical toughness. This is the evolution of strength that is extending not simply into the stuff I lift, but the things I write. Last week’s output is some of the best I feel that has been written for a long time. The connection I felt was significant between mind and body is finally beginning to bear fruit.

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This week, I’m adding increasing amounts of running to my workout. Weights are increasing again and I have the beginnings of a second pull up hidden within me, just waiting to break out. Once I can do a number in sequence I’ll ask my PT to film it so it can be enshrined as proof, once and for all, that progress at this age isn’t just possible, it is viable. Next year is already being planned. There will be many new things to do.

I really hope that everything I want to do might now become a reality.

Sit Down

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This is new.

I am, this morning, in what is a robust amount of pain. However, there is no alarm or concern within that, because I know full well how my muscles now react when being conditioned. This is why the poking and prodding of physios and masseurs no longer hold fear for me. I am able to distinguish what is bad pain and what is good, and you can absolutely have good pain, people. Today is all about posture, and the fact my lower back is being asked to do things that, in 50 plus years, were never considered normal up until now.

It is, however, also a body’s request to rest, and I will be doing so for the day: not too long at the screen, lots of regular breaks, and much stretching of my lower back to ensure that the strength that’s being built is not ruined by poor posture. This is the biggest revelation of all: my body now will not let me slouch. Once upon a time, I could sit badly and not realise the damage being done, now all of the muscles in my core not only work properly but engage as a unit, there’s no way I can do so without being told as much. That’s a bad pain, and if I’m doing stuff properly, it doesn’t happen.

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Knowing this, and now grasping I want a full day’s rest a week, it is time to up my step count to compensate. I’d like to keep 84k steps a week as my benchmark: that would be 12k a day but as I’m effectively skipping Sundays now it needs to increase to 14k daily. That is easily done however by extending walk to and from the Gym, and better organising myself so that exercise gets done early in the day and not later. Therefore I have planned next week with a bit more care and won’t allow pixels to distract today, simply focussing on getting done everything I need to be to make this happen.

There also has to be a bit of thought given to Christmas, because if everything is going to be made that has to be, I’ll need to get started sooner rather than later…

Express Yourself

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Some days, I am incapable of communicating successfully.

When this happens, I force myself to go back to basics. Don’t tweet. Think before mouth is opened. Stop and take time to work out whether it is worth even starting a sentence. Only when all the criteria can be satisfied is it safe to go ahead and make your point. Believe it or not, this thought process happens with every blog post. Those who have been aggrieved therefore when they somehow decided I was chucking rocks at them? Just no. I don’t know how stupid you think I am, but if you’re dumb enough to take the piss out of someone in public, eventually it doesn’t matter how many locks and blocks are on your end of things, the truth gets out. 

That’s why you don’t do it, people.

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My bigger issue is making sure the point I want to highlight gets covered. Slowly but surely, I’m getting there, and I (again) have Mindfulness to thank for the step forward. The mantra ‘thoughts are not facts’ gets repeated quite a lot of late: just because it is in my brain does not make it some kind of insoluble truth. Searching for real meaning on the Internet is often a mug’s game, to begin with: I’ve had enough of being told what I should be thinking or be feeling to last several lifetimes. The only person who really understands what’s going on, in my head, is me and that needs to be communicated in far better terms than is currently the case.

That makes all this poetry and prose not simply entertainment, but education.

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I’m going to start taking a notebook everywhere, which used to be what happened before I allowed gaming to overtake everything. Now that is back in its proper place, words happen a lot more organically than would ever use to be the case. It is, like anything, a result of constant training: my physical muscles grow from repetition, and so is the case with mental exertion. I’m becoming quite proud with not simply the poems, but the leaps of deductive reasoning and analysis that can be made. Discipline is allowing other talents to surface, and it is not simply fiction that benefits.

Today, however, I’m physically exhausted: PT was a slog, thanks to a body still struggling to recover from last week’s blood donation. Things are definitely better than this time on Saturday, so (body willing) I hope to be back to what passes for a normal routine before the week is out. What is left of birthday money will go to an extra session on Friday to make sure I’m recovering properly. This week, therefore, I’m back on the calorie counting, taking care of myself and trying to get early nights where possible.

This healthy living doesn’t organise itself, you know.

Audacity of Huge

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It’s a new month. I’m a bit behind, but not hugely so (which is progress in itself) and once I have caught up today (which I will) there’s an entire month of important and groundbreaking stuff from me. A list was written at the start of the year, and although some of it has not yet taken place, an awful lot of change and improvement has come to pass.

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I started an Instagram from scratch for this Project. I’m hoping my artwork will attract an audience because that is what this will be for the next 31 days: art based around poetry. I have no illusions either, but as I’m doing this right now completely for my own enjoyment and satisfaction? It doesn’t matter. It starts a process of using visual media in different ways. That’s October’s plan: push the envelope. Produce original work and escape the current comfort zone. There are still a few glitches along the way to overcome, but we’ll cover those too.

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I’m still not a poet, but the role is becoming easier to wear as time goes on. My main focus remains on fiction, and on that front, I announced yesterday my formal participation in NaNoWriMo this year. However, I’m yet to commit to the piece I’m working on. That’s causing a bit of concern, but there is now a distinct lean towards doing things ‘properly’ and planning an original idea from scratch. I’ve given myself a deadline of Friday to commit, one way or the other.

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I’m effectively using November to write, and blogging will pretty much completely encompass this process on the Writing Site. I’ve cancelled my Patreon output to accommodate this and will spend the month redesigning the ‘idea’ of IoW: when I began the journey, I considered poetry as something of an afterthought. This month I’ll be entering The Poetry Society’s official contest for the form. There’s a place I never thought I’d ever reach, and the next stage in my writing journey is short stories. This month’s offering is a forced and radical departure from previous attempts, for that very reason. You never learn by simply doing the same thing, over and over.

This month, many comfort zones will be blown.

Can’t Do

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On Friday evening, my husband suggested I watch a TED talk which has, quite literally, melted my brain.

What this talk does is explain how we lose weight. If you haven’t ever wondered where the fat goes when you get lighter, this talk is for you. Yes, you will get an exchange of fat for muscle, if your body has the ability to do so easily. However, most of your weight is exhaled. Yeah, just take a moment to grasp the amazing nature of that claim, and then watch this surfing Australian chemist BLOW YOUR MIND. Effectively it does not matter what else happens (within reason, of course) as long as you

a) eat less
b) exercise more and
c) KEEP BREATHING

The key is c) in this equation: the harder you work, the more you breathe, and (potentially) the more weight gets lost. Of course, this is hardly groundbreaking: however, what this explanation did for me was reinforce the basic point of exercise.

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I watch people at the gym pretending to do just that, far more often than should be the norm. By that, we’re talking about those who turn up, use equipment, but never push your heart-rate to a point where you have to breathe heavily. They don’t sweat, or indeed look as if there is any kind of removal from their comfort zones. This, by the strict definition of our science above, won’t let them lose weight. However, most of these people have no need to in the first place. These are the appearance exercisers: probably not eating enough to require major exertion, yet still aware their bodies need to be aired on a regular basis.

They look fit and healthy, but is this really true?

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I sweat like a pig when exercising, and always have. It is not pretty either, but what this does is make it aware to me whether the amount of effort expended is sufficient. As time has gone on, it takes increasing amounts of effort to reach the same point. However, on some days, you need very little. Those are the ones where I have breathing difficulties, or I’m less than 100% physically together. This scientific revelation means that every day has the potential for weight loss, if there’s the ability to grasp what body is capable of doing. Most significantly of all, steps have become completely irrelevant to my notion of exercise.

That will take some getting used to.

12k (which is my step goal) is achieved by a walk to and from the Gym, a couple of miles on the Octane machine and 30 minutes on the Treadmill. Except I could complete all of this and never really expend that much energy by doing so, and create the impression of exercise. Today therefore I made every step count, adding an incline to my workout, and almost fell off the treadmill. I can therefore attest that these 12,000 steps burnt a lot of calories, and that every subsequent time I go and exercise anywhere, that is what is going to happen.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing, but it is even better at that moment when you truly grasp the significance of what you have learnt, and then how to utilise that for yourself.

Rise

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Playtime is officially over.

Once breakfast (and written obligations for the AM) are dealt with, its off to the Gym (Push Day) and then back to knock off some backstage gubbins. Tomorrow is another bike ride. Monday’s a Bank Holiday here and so will involve getting my daughter’s school uniform sorted, and more stuff chucked out of the house: there’s a rapidly increasing pile of crap outside which shows that finally, everybody else is on the same page as I am in terms of regeneration and improvement.

Then, I have the task of trying to pull in more Patreons. I’d hoped to hit 30 by the end of August, which may yet still be doable. It involves selling myself quite hard, but I think that’s a task I’m up to, and so starting today there will be a series of posts on the Writing site to act as a sales pitch, in the hope I can get people involved. These will then be used as articles that form the content for promoted Twitter tweets starting in September. There’s a plan to everything, it is just extracting the digit to make it work.

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Leaves on trees are already starting the transformation from green to gold, red and yellow. This is the earliest Autumn I can recall for a while, but it is perhaps unsurprising on the back of what was a really warm winter. If I needed reminding of how much the Earth is changing, it will remind me on the walk to the Gym and back, in the forest tomorrow when we ride. I know I can’t change decades of systematic abuse by other people, but I can make sure I’m prepared with my family to cope with what may be to come. Once upon a time I would have shirked at responsibility, but not any more.

On the day my son’s GCSE results were published (A’s to C’s, he was unbelievably happy and that’s frankly all that matters) I was eating breakfast when I heard a cry from next door. Our elderly neighbour had fallen, and could not get up, and so the family mounted a rescue mission (via a lifted fence panel) to get her up and about. Last night her daughter knocked on our door to thank us for our thought and care, and to state she’ll be getting her mother to a doctor to check that everything is okay. Once upon a time I’d have not put two and two together and grasped there was a problem to begin with. I like being this aware, and long may that continue.

Here’s to a future full of positive action.

Ariel

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Whilst on holiday, we had breakfast in the ‘family pub/restaurant’ next to our budget hotel. The deal was very simple: £X for each person, pick a table, then effectively all you can eat until mealtime was over. This concept is brilliant for large families, and clearly relies on at least some people paying for breakfast via their hotel stay and not taking it. However, this restaurant also allowed anyone not at the Hotel to eat as they wished, and that meant on Monday that there was total and utter chaos for the entire time we were there. An awful lot of people ‘played’ this system, as I watched from our spot next to the food.

I spied one young girl, from the large family who’d walked in and taken over two tables, manage to get four separate serving staff to provide her with the same combination of packet breakfasts and juice boxes, which were all then squirrelled away with efficiency. To the two who were generous and provided double I am impressed, because under those circumstances there is no obligation to offer anything extra at all. From the napkins full of patisserie to the mum telling everyone that they won’t eat again until dinner, everybody had a reason for making the most of what was on offer.

It gave considerable pause for thought.

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Nobody should go without a decent meal, ever. Feeding everyone is a contentious topic in this Western country of ours, and it shouldn’t be, but the fact remains that both adults and kids current go hungry in the UK thanks to the belief that money matters more than humanity. It’s why I’ve felt chastened since Monday, that I can’t change the world, and that I shudder at what other people left uneaten on plates, that portion control is something only a few seem to grasp or adhere to. It has made me determined to think harder about the actual problems the World faces going forward and not bury my head in the sand. Food is a basic right, and yet many people simply don’t consider it as anything other than a consumable.

How this plays out for me is simple: less waste, more thought on choices, less impulse buying. The local supermarket runs a Food bank scheme which I’m going to make sure I contribute to every month. No, I’m hardly going to change the world with my actions but if everybody stopped and thought about the food on their plate, things might. It is tough to change yourself, but this is as important as helping other people or considering positive action to help improve the World around you. It is no different than picking up rubbish or looking out for neighbours.

We should stop assuming that everything is somebody else’s problem and not ours.

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There is a lot to think about going forward, and a belief that if I am truly going to reinvent myself, learning to write better is only part of that equation. It is as much about becoming a more useful member of society than any measure of personal attainment.

The future should not be me, but us.