Mr Blue Sky

header26Some days I do not understand myself at all. Then, when I take a step back, it all makes perfect sense. I know why I’m angry this morning, and if I’d not done something a while ago I could have prevented this whole set of negative feelings from even happening. A sensible woman would have avoided the whole situation. I am not her. I gave myself a chance to dream, but ultimately it kicked me in the arse, and really, it would have been better never to have gone there. The day as a child I registered that dreams don’t go the way you want or hope rather more often than you’ll be handed unicorns and happy endings? That was the day I learned to save myself.

It is no wonder I feel like I’m going backwards in some places whilst moving forward in others.

The biggest problem that has ever existed for me is balance: keeping everything in check, and making sure if I’m doing something in one space it is balanced out in others. Right now, as it stands, this is the best fist I’ve made of domestic vs work for a while but what is suffering are communications with other people.¬†Having to think and tell the World what’s going on in my brain, frankly, is enormously difficult. Far easier right now is just to put my head down and get on with it, even though this often means over-stretching myself when others offer to help. I have things I will need help with too, and was reminded yesterday that there are people to ask, most of whom seem very willing to give me a hand.

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It’ll take a couple of days and my anger will pass. It doesn’t help that I have dentistry today, and even the six-monthly check-up fills me with utter dread. Once I get to Saturday and the last of my medical gubbins is over and done with I suspect there will be final relaxation, but until then the anger will serve as useful fuel. I’ll just rage in my head, and push on treadmills, through weights and around chores. I understand myself better than I realise, if I take the time to stand back and work out what is going on.

In that regard, I have learnt a very great deal in my time on the planet.

Running in the Family

I’ve not done Fitbit stats for a while, and there’s a reason I realised last night, looking at the numbers. Once upon a time, I was all about the steps. If I’d not done 12k a day I was somehow a failure. However last week, I only managed that total once in a week which was a triumph of hard work and genuine progression. To show you how well I did, I had to annotate a wee bit, which I hope you will forgive:

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Once upon a time, all I did was walk and use an elliptical trainer. Now, I have two 45 minute sessions of intense, sweat breaking Yoga, two focussed weightlifting sessions a week with a 30 minute brisk walk/run session built in and a day where I do just that on a treadmill and nothing else… and on Monday I have an hour of PT. Basically six days a week there is at least half an hour of exercise somewhere… and I would have exercised yesterday, had it not been Mother’s Day and I decided to take a rest. Even then I didn’t sit back and do nothing, or indeed even have a lie-in. I’m absolutely not the same person I was a year ago, and I really couldn’t be happier at the change.

It isn’t just a mindset adjustment either: I’m simply more comfortable when there’s exercise happening. A lot of this is, I know, due to the endorphins that this creates, that I’m naturally happier when being active. However, there’s the confidence factor to build into all this: being able to Chaturanga Dandasana with intent, as I mentioned last week, was a massive step forward. What now needs to happen is for me to start using my Fitbit to better record what I’m doing, so that I can apply this to understanding what can be improved long term in training. I’ve had the thing since Christmas and it remains no more than a glorified pedometer. This morning therefore I’ve been looking at how that changes.

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The Blaze has a function to record activity paired with heart-rate: this is useful when I use it to give an idea of how hard I’m working, and to ensure I’m doing so and burning fat whilst I do, as weight loss is what I’d like above everything else. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is the current goal to combine that with building muscle mass, and I’ve got some lovely graphs to demonstrate just that:

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Ideally all my exercise should now be like this: never going back to resting heartbeat, always working body and lungs. It was INCREDIBLY difficult as an asthmatic to do this when I began, but my fitness levels now mean I can maintain the up and down for a while. I don’t do this every day either, and there is now no need to. The balance of exercise types for me is perfect, and the yoga last week is the final piece of a puzzle I’ve been looking for. It means I drop off my daughter, come home and do 45 minutes of physical activity which focusses on mindfulness as well as the physical.

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I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the Mindfulness course has contributed significantly to my ability to push past the ‘I’m too tired, I won’t bother’¬†aspects of physical exercise that have been holding me back. Being able to imagine my body better and therefore feel how muscles are moving ad stretching has bought a completely new awareness to Yoga that simply did not exist before. The quiet determination therefore to build on these practices and to further develop the skills of stretching muscles is being balanced with learning how to not overstretch when weight training and to maintain good technique.

Really, I could not be happier right now with where I am in terms of progress. I’ll be packing my Gym bag now to walk for my weekly PT, and am looking forward to whatever I have in store.

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I dropped my daughter off at school early this morning, and was back home at 8.30 am. This allowed me to get a 50 minute Yoga session completed before 10am. It’s only the second I’ve done since I started my weight/stamina training, but the improvement in strength and ability is now very obvious.

Previously Chaturanga Dandasana has been something I simply did not possess the upper body strength to pull off. I vaguely remember being able to manage the position when I began practising Yoga alone, but certainly not in the sixteen years since my son was born. I use an ancient DvD of Ashtanga variants (from of all people MTV because its performed with a dance music accompaniment) which isn’t actually complete and misses out a key repetition which I have now added in myself out of habit. It’s a sequence of key stretches, classic poses and not nearly enough relaxation at the end, but I have now come to really enjoy the synergy of the experience. This morning I also managed Warrior Three in its most difficult form, and the joy from that’s going to keep me going for the rest of the day.

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Yoga isn’t just exercise, in fact it is more about the way you breathe your way through the poses, how you listen to your body in the process that really matters more. The spiritual side of the journey isn’t lost on me, but I’d be lying if I said this mattered more than the exercise. I grasp the significance for those who seek solace inside the practice, and being able to focus solely on inner self should never be ignored. I’ll feely admit that I do a ten minute de-stress and brain clear before my PT session, just so I’m more focussed on what I have to do. I’m going to complete my first part of the Mindfulness course today, and hopefully that too will then find a spot to exist with everything else. All of this then forms a complete daily routine, it is just the means by which I co-ordinate everything that will matter more long term.

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Then, quite possibly, we can start trying to push that envelope too. However, right now is a period for refining and consolidating technique. I have a habit of not keeping back and shoulders solid when I lift certain weights, and yesterday’s PT was the basis of relearning a couple of basic principles. Because I have hypermobility in my wrists and elbows I’m having trouble maintaining good positions in certain lifts and pulls. It is also why Chaturanga Dandasana has been proving so problematic but now I can place and position correctly, that issue appears to be largely academic. It is a reminder that every day is a School day and even the most experienced will always want to be refining and reconsidering their positions and technique over time.

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I’ve left the mat up in the front room, and I’ll be going back through the day to think about and focus on getting my body in the right places: also, it is a nice change of position from sitting down and working. I’m expecting a delivery of new blackout blinds for the bedroom: once they arrive there’ll be a walk to buy some lunch.

The plan right now is to just keep getting stronger.

Mr Blue Sky

Before I sat down to write, I took a rubbish sack and a food recycling bag and removed everything bad with an excessive carbohydrate count from what is known in this house as the ‘treat’ cupboard. No, it won’t cure me or anybody else in this house of their sugar addiction, but it draws a line in the sand for my tolerance. If I was living with a bunch of virtuous, healthy and happy people then I’d argue the approach would be different. It is time to move forward.

I’m not doing this to make me happy. What ails me is nothing to do with comfort eating. I am well aware of where the shortcomings are in my life and, like it or not, many of them will never be mine to fix. I can simplify gaming to make it more relaxing and act as a substitute for sugar, but again this doesn’t deal with the addiction. I can continue to lose weight and move forward but until I deal with the causes of anxiety, I’ll always be on the back foot. That means today, I’ll make a phone call.

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However, I anticipate a significant wait (as has always been the case) and so, whilst that happens, here are other things that can be done. One of them is to try and stop stressing about the stuff I cannot change, and to focus on the positives I already have. It’s all very #FirstWorldProblems stuff right now, which is why it feels a bit bad and wrong to discuss it as if there’s more relevance… but it matters to me. Decluttering will help, as will tidying generally. Getting out with the camera is another way to help alleviate stress that I’m not taking full advantage of, and with better weather on the way, I should be out more.

In the end, becoming the arbiter of my own destiny was always going to come with a catch. Nothing is ever smooth or perfect in its execution, and anyone saying otherwise is an all out fraud. This is a new journey, only just beginning, becoming one with all the other places I am moving towards, and I will find the means to fit it into the fabric of my existence eventually, but until I do? I promise not to complain, or indeed to mention it again. Needless to say, stuff doesn’t get fixed unless you work to do so. Bodies are no different to brains.

I’ve got this too.

 

Ballad of the Mighty I

Sunday is my day for personal reflection, and it is particularly satisfying this week to look back on seven days that have not simply moved my life forward, but allowed me to relax into the process.

Last night I was drunk: it took four homemade Margaritas (yup, I’m a cheap date) and the stresses and strains of the week simply got lost in the fuzzy haze of a loving husband who not only suggested I could do with the night off but arranged the Mexican dinner to accompany it. I don’t remember the last time I just allowed myself to relax enough to laugh, sing and smile like this. It has been a journey thus far of lots of work but perilously few rewards and I now grasp that maybe there could be more of that and less running myself to the limit. Having accepted that I can only do so much in certain areas of my life if I wish to excel in others? Now comes the process of rearranging the parts of my life to truly reflect the changes I am now going to make.

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Next week’s gonna be a bit odd: I have two days enforced rest because I give blood on Monday night and I learnt the hard way last time there is NO WAY I’m doing anything major until Thursday at the earliest. That means arranging everything around a Thursday/Saturday Gym routine and then on Sunday, the youngest is 12 and I have a day up in the trees doing climbing and other adult activities. This I’m not 100% looking forward to, I will admit, but as my upper body strength is now better than it was the last time I did one of these and I survived then? I should be okay.

I just hope the weather is better than it was last week.

I’m beginning to enjoy planning a daily photograph too for Instagram, now I’ve been doing this for a couple of months it has become habit forming and I’m really pleased with the quality of picture being produced. I am still to do any major work with my camera however, and as it is March next week, it is time to fix that. I’ll be looking for a chance to go to some local spots as the weather gets better and make a point of take pictures.

Lots is planned, now all I have to do is make it a reality.

Go

I have a couple of heavyweight posts coming up this weekend, that have taken me a while to write ‘properly.’ Because I’m trying to be a grown up about non-fiction, there’s a level of technical competence I simply don’t grasp without approaching process¬†in a particular way. That means a series of drafts and rewrites until I get to a stage where I’m not only happy with words, but comfortable with the ‘story’ I’m trying to convey. Over the years I’ve become quite good at ‘spoofing’ my way through daily blogs, but when a reasonably serious subject matter is involved, there does need to be research, or I sound like an utter twat. Effectively, I’m now constructing blog posts in the same mindset¬†I approach fiction, and that might take some getting used to.

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The last five days have been a revelation for me. In a way, I feel somewhat vindicated for the decision to shift away from gaming as a primary focus. What the move¬†has done, which came as something of a surprise, is release pressure to perform I’d not previously grasped had existed. Now I am more concerned with subject matters that demands a more complex form of technical difficulty, there’s a challenge I’d forgotten¬†is enjoyable. It also helps that in the last 10 days the Warcraft community’s undergone a bit of an epiphany for itself, which makes writing an ‘idiot’s guide’ (where I’m the idiot) somehow more significant as therapy and less as a means to keep people interested.

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Progress is real and significant on the personal front too: more weight has been lost, and the focus heading forwards for me will be less cardio-focused and more around building upper body strength. My shoulders particularly are beginning to suffer as the weak point in a chain where arms and back are both increasing in density and ability. If I can continue shifting weight at this current level (which means aiming for a kilo a week) I will be sub 70kg at the end of March and at that stage I may well decide to stay there: right now, physically, I feel in an extremely comfortable and sustainable position. I’ll do a separate post on running next week, but I have found my happy place now, and I can get there without too much effort. Now I’m back to Monday PT I’ll run across the weekend and we’ll see how things stand afterwards.

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Once upon a time I would have been obsessed with the scales, but now I’m far more aware than I ever was of how I need the mass in good ways, especially when it comes to stamina and endurance. It isn’t just my brain’s that changed this week, body is not far behind, and now it is time to reflect what I need to alter in long-term planning going forward.

However first, it’s time for a cuppa.

Forget You

Today, despite a distinct and obvious wish to tell the entire planet to fuck right off, I’m doing okay. A list was made of things that Need to be Done¬†and as the day wore on, it did the job¬†pretty well. The problem normally in situations¬†such as these is the overriding and often debilitating need to just go and sleep for the entire time I don’t need to be a grown up. It doesn’t help I’m in a new level of fatigue not¬†previously experienced as body is¬†pushed hard to better things. It also doesn’t help that eating would be de rigeur¬†as distraction, means to sway brain from wanting to think dark and dangerous thoughts. So, I have to work out a new method of deception, that is better than simply living in Social media from dawn to dusk. So far,¬†the Bullet Journal and lots of distraction is doing the job.

My writing skills however have very much gone South for the Winter.

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Next week is Half Term, and there will be Novel work, plus getting the Websites to some better form of working order. I’d like to start Early Spring Cleaning after that, because LORD KNOWS this house could use it. After that, everything pretty much revolves around a willing mind. I’m hoping desperately that I get back the desire to write more than just blog posts, and as a push into this I’ve pulled out some old fanfic efforts to take a look at. Then, if all else fails, I can now celebrate that what used to take 50 minutes to complete on a treadmill is now finished in 40. That’s a mahoosive step forward.¬†It is also a significant step up in calorie burning, but most importantly I’m finding recovery times going right down. I think the spoofing is almost complete.

However, undoubtedly the best thing of all about today will be the Nandos I’m about to be served via the wonders of take away. I love this job.