Borderline

The airport’s quite close to my Gym. There isn’t a day where I don’t end up stopping to watch planes either take off or land, and it is always with the same thought: HOW DOES THAT STAY IN FLIGHT? Explaining the science is all well and good, but when I stare at a massive metal structure that is able to use air currents and propulsion to remain above ground… nope, does not make sense. My brain cannot cope with reality.

This is a pretty decent metaphor for my life right now. The logistics have been explained, there’s a plan and a direction… except, how does it work, exactly? Sheer force of repetition will ensure certain portions of the game-plan happen with minimal stress. For others you need to identify the flashpoint and then develop a coping strategy to address it. It takes time, effort and patience to cover them all.

The problems occur when you’re caught unprepared.

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This however does not make for a very enjoyable and spontaneous approach to things. So, occasionally one accepts that shit just happens and hopefully all the bits where planning supported you before allows an ability to just enjoy the moment. Amazingly, this does work. Leaning into stuff helps a lot. Not being up your own arse is a distinct advantage, and that gets easier over time.

There are days when I wish this wasn’t so mentally draining.

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Last night’s exercise was undoubtedly tainted by mental exhaustion. However, looking at other people who did the exact same percentage of effort, mine seems a lot more controlled and stress-free. It certainly felt that way, and a very important realisation came to light post-workout. Working to my capacity is beginning to matter far more than pushing myself past it. This is no longer an incentive to try harder.

In fact, the feeling today is not unlike the day when it became apparent I didn’t need to play a certain game 24/7 to maintain the illusion of being relevant. Reality and time both came together to demonstrate the correctness of this decision, and it continues to be a distraction for the satisfaction of true progress. Therefore, if I want to play, that time needs to be earned. Right now there’s not nearly enough work being done.

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As time marches on, the priorities keep changing. Ironically, as I alter, a worrying amount of stuff remains exactly the same. There’s not time to worry about that or the mechanics of flight. These things will continue onwards without me, as they have for decades previously. What matters most is making changes, working on that ‘transforming idea’ portion of my journey out of the hole.

Let’s work.

What We Leave Behind

It’s the first properly cold day of the season, and I am reminded of a moment that had, for many years, been previously lost in a haze of a past that was often uncertain. There’s been a lot of that of late, recollections of things that had been forgotten, buried under what can now be identified as historical trauma. Sometimes it’s TV shows or snatches of a song that was lost under stress. Very rarely is it stuff about being a kid.

Maybe that’s why I end up playing out so much of my adult life with wonder.

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Tomorrow I’m going to go try and have a chat with the management of my health club about the mental health consequences of their policies, amongst other things. The club, as a rule, is only really interested in what it’s done well, or what it needs to fix on a cosmetic level. Actual discussions over ethics and consequence don’t really seem to be registered or indeed acted upon. I do not hold out much hope.

However, as has been previously stated, I have to try. I was not given a choice, mental health issues are what they are. There is a choice therefore: accept your shortcomings, work on your strengths, and for all the time in between find a way to use rational debate and common sense to explain yourself. Tomorrow, we’ll see if that path will provide salvation or not.

It is only recently that having control of my existence has become really important. I am a realist, when all is said and done: sometimes, stuff is just best left alone. However, as is becoming apparent as more of the past emerges to challenge me over my actions and motives, not everything benefits from remaining where it is. A lot of that stuff should be thrown away, or removed with a sense of purpose.

As the world alters, inevitably you do with it. It’s apparent those people for whom this is not an option, or who believe that there is nothing to be gained from even trying. They are, inevitably, perfect as they are. I’m really, REALLY glad that will never be an issue I’ll need to struggle with. As a perennial work in progress, may there never be a day when it’s okay to let arrogance supercede a sense of proportion.

There is just so much that needs work and improvement.

Ain’t No Easy Way

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For the last week, I’ve been staring at this page of the British Heart Foundation’s website. Right now I can do approximately 20 miles in an hour, but that’s on a static bike with no distractions and nobody else to worry about falling into. If it is just me, everything is fine. If there is anybody else then a lot of other stuff comes into play, and I panic.

I think it is time to bite the bullet and just do what I know has to be done to save my own soul.

This morning came the scheduled realisation that I cannot fix everything. Yes, I absolutely should continue to try making a difference, however, and it is the opportunity with this sponsored ride to do just that. I effectively ‘buy’ a place on the ride by giving £50 and then promising I can raise £300 minus Gift Aid. This should not be a stretch all told, and it is a very worthy charity that grabs the money… except I realise now what the problem is. I’d want to ride for a mental health charity instead. I should go investigate if that is a possibility, and if it is then go apply to someone whom I feel happier getting my money.

Yet again, this whole thing boils down to principle, and not simply taking the easy road to a solution.

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I know why I woke up like this. Last night, someone whom I follow made a comment about feeling left out on Social media, which linked in with a discussion I had in the Real World with my husband. Life is not about you expecting people to include you, or assuming that because you’re feeling unwell others should treat you differently. Sure, there can be sympathy and accommodation, but at some point feeling sorry for yourself will become detrimental. The best thing I did for myself yesterday wasn’t sit on a sofa and work my way through TV shows, it was getting myself on a bike and challenging my own concepts of self worth and dependence. Your experiences (of course) will vary but for me? If I allow complacency to dictate my actions, good work simply evaporates.

It is high time I grasped that change is constant and often vital at even my lowest ebb.

In the end, I do what I feel is right to move forward. This is not a popularity contest, or a means to become a better person. If you judge people simply by the way they respond to you via Twitter or Facebook? You will eventually be on a hiding to nothing. I need to spend less time worrying about what people think, and more time getting on with making a career for myself, because nobody else is going to do that except me. If principles matter, then it is time to stick by them and move forward.

If I want this enough, I just have to get on with it.

Work It :: The Beginning

Right then. Time to stop fucking about.

I spent an hour yesterday with my Trainer, and she made me a plan. It is, without doubt, quite a conservative affair, but has the potential to break me. Except, as I hung on the Roman Chair yesterday after 30 minutes of really very hard treadmill exertion, sweat literally dripping off me and onto the floor, there was a realisation. I don’t hang any more. Now I hold on and in my arms is the distinct realisation that, if I wanted, I could pull up. Sure, I wouldn’t get very far, but there will be a point not far from now where, when that happens, I will do pull ups. I will go up and down, and that will be another thing ticked off my list.

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I made this happen. Sure, my Trainer encourages, and lots of people support but, deep down I have become my own evolutionary process. I’m the one putting in the hours and working everything else around it. I know the limits of body and that’s why this new plan will be hard because there’s so much new stuff to learn. I’m gonna find a way to save every new cardio workout in my Phone, and then make reminders of all the other stuff in the same way. I’m gonna spend time at the weekend making new iTunes compilations. Then I’m gonna turn up on Tuesday after my PT on Monday and fucking smash the next five weeks into the ground.

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When I do pull ups properly, you can absolutely bet your fucking arse there will be video. Then it’s onto the next thing I couldn’t do, and the next one, until I run out of shit that scares me in terms of exercise. I’m too far into this now to turn around on January 1st and say fuck it, stopping now. This is not about proving a point or letting my progress slide. This is making absolutely sure that I am strong enough both internally and externally to do all the stuff I want to, for as long as is need, on my terms.

Fight me, fitness regime.

Change

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Right then.

Yesterday was, without doubt, one of the best I’ve had for organisation for some time. It helps that the back of work was broken on Sunday, and now I’m left with the process of scheduling (which will happen after this.) Then it’s all about finishing off outstanding stuff, and starting the next batch of Things to Do. After three months, there’s a schedule that works. 

Next up, it is time to make some important changes to Social media.

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I now have a ‘Professional’ Twitter AND Instagram, and having worked out how to use the app in Windows (how smart is that?) I can prep all my artwork beforehand and still schedule it. This is unbelievably useful, and will encourage me to further organise my sorry arse better. Then there are the changes to how social media is consumed:

  • No social media before bed, or before I sit down at the PC first thing in the morning
  • ABSOLUTELY NO starting discussions without being 100% awake and attentive
  • No social media when bored ^^
  • Complete removal of Twitter (and all online media) from places where I relax or sleep
  • Regulated use of social media when I’m supposed to be sociable
  • Making time for ‘silence’ and times when electronic interaction does not happen

This is a lot but really, it all matters. If I look at the instances when I have gotten myself into trouble, 90% of them are due to engaging with people at the start and end of days, plus when I shouldn’t be using Social media at all. So, maybe if I can keep at this for a month it’ll become habit too. The lack of a tablet at bedtime for two nights running has made for some quality sleep, I hope this isn’t just a blip.

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The plan here is to try and be less reactionary and more reflective. This is fairly atypical of my life up to this point, but I’d like to believe that even at this age I can change and become more mellow. Sure, there are still going to be days when the table gets flipped, but at least now I’ll be better prepared to clear up the mess made afterwards, rather than just stomp off in a teenage huff and leave it to somebody else.

If I can get at least a part of all this to stick, it will totally be taken it as progress.

One Better Day

This last weekend was, on reflection, EXACTLY what was needed after a tough week. Yesterday’s change of location for writing was, it transpires, a masterstroke, because it has ungummed the wheels of creativity. Being able to define and steer my own future is, I know, what ultimately needs to happen, and the confidence and optimism bought to the keyboard this morning are all the encouragement needed to know that this is the right way forward. Nothing of what was written was a terrible mistake, and ultimately the key to continuing this progress is simply the same, repeated. Maybe that’s why that burger above last night tasted so good. I really enjoyed it, just like the salad the night before. They tasted better because there’s the ability to appreciate what a great sensation it is to be in control and not lost or uncertain.

Now comes the task of keeping the momentum going.

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Normally there’d be planning on a Sunday evening but yesterday was chauffeur duty after 100 miles of Velo Birmingham for my husband. That means that, after this, there’ll be a protein bar and my planner, to catch up on what is going to be a packed week of content. Thursday is National Poetry Day, and I’m at least part of the way through my allotted ‘content’ planning. There’s Wednesday’s short story to finish too, plus (hopefully) a return to my favourite MMO without a lot of the baggage that used to accompany it. There’s also been a move to introduce more ‘silence’ to my day: only checking Social media via this machine, not while I’m out (unless it is justifiably work related) and NEVER at bedtime or in the early morning. If I want to read in bed now on, it will be a real book.

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Last night was the best night’s sleep for weeks. I have no idea why this is, whether my changes have done the trick, because it will need several weeks to be able to conclusively prove that with statistics. Whatever happens, this new enthusiasm and drive needs to be seized on.

Time to do all the things.

Jilted John

header79At the start of July, I had a plan to lose weight. With two days to go until August 1st? Well, let’s see how that went:

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I’ve been beyond good. I’ve stuck to a strict calorie goal for the entire month, limited both carbs and sugar, never exceeded my totals once. Yesterday’s totals, according to My Fitness Pall, should have put me around the 11 stone, 5 pound mark (159 pounds.) Except My Fitness Pal does not understand how my body works:

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Now, I might have cause to be angry after four weeks of living so strictly, but these numbers are, as it happens, a step forward. That is the lowest fat percentage I’ve clocked in over a year. My BMI, for the first time in several years, exists in the 25 range (albeit not far but still.) However, if I was the kind of person who just looked at numbers and didn’t understand the fat exchange with muscle process that is going on? I could see myself being really upset.

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Here is where science, yet again, doesn’t serve someone like me very well. I do all of this work, put in a pretty superhuman effort to limit the two things that should affect my weight, and my digestive system just becomes more efficient at converting energy whilst continuing to ignore superfluous body mass. The physical changes to my body are so noticeable for it to now be inescapable, too: areas that never had muscle before now possess it, I’ve lost close to three inches off my waist… but I may not get close to my weight goal for some time, until the most stubborn and (currently immoveable) fat deposits start being eaten into. However, all is not yet lost. I still have things to do in order to make the scales move, and that means August is not only more exercise, but more protein.

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I’ve had a treat today, favourite chocolate bar that I’ll see again over the August Bank Holiday. Until then, all bread is off the menu. The carb content will be trimmed back further, replaced with more veg, chicken, fish and meat. I have options that will allow me to continue to train well, and hard, provide the calories I require but not the stuff that I think by body’s burning instead of taking my own fat. Carbohydrates will be eliminated as the potential source of the issue and if, by the end of August I’ve still not dropped some weight, we’ll go zero sugar.

I’m going to crack this bloody puzzle by process of elimination.

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I’ve also completely reset My Fitness Pal to take into account all the changes, setting a desire to lose weight in a measured and graduated fashion. It will mean having to avoid a lot of stuff that I’d normally live on, and making meals for myself, but I think that’s entirely doable under the current mindset. Then, it’s all about getting my arse properly in gear and doing the work. That doesn’t scare me any more either.

Time to make things happen.