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 Β£50 and then promising I can raise Β£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.Β After three months, there’s a schedule that works.Β 

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.Β 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.Β 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.

Eat to the Beat

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Today, someone took the time to explain to me how one properly flosses teeth. I realise that this has never been pointed out before, and understanding WHY something happens is probably more important than the fact it is done. Sometimes, that extra step is hard when everything else matters. I’d never visited a hygienist until today either, so please feel free to chuck a disapproving look this way. However, I made sure to tell her how gentle she was, how nobody else had ever taken that care before with my teeth, and that being willing to learn brings great reward.

Remember to tell someone today how important they are, and how much they matter.

Last night, I rented a movie as I was alone in the house: Dr Strange now explains a lot of the motivation in the Marvel universe, the location of one of the outstanding Infinity Stones, and that however much I love Benedict Cumberbatch he’s fucking wasted as badly constructed combination of Tony Stark and Star Lord. The cut of the film feels horribly off in places too, and the effects sequences… it was like watching a migraine. However, I may yet give it a second viewing to see if stuff improves. This does mean however that two of the best British male character actors of a generation now hold significant store in a Comic book Universe. There’s always a bright side.

Last night was also my first lesson in what my body enjoys digesting post operation and what is unacceptable, and an important correlation was made. I understand why a certain Chinese dish makes me unhappy: it’s not the fish, but the batter they’re coated in. Sadly that means last night’s chicken also makes it onto the ‘avoid like the plague’ list, which is sad as it was lovely at the tastebuds stage. There was a warning I might also need to lay off trigger foods that were an issue pre-Operation, but as yet I think I might yet get away with going back largely to normal.

Today is the last day of playing with back end stuff for the other sites. Starting tomorrow, it’s T Minus 15 days to full-on Patreon awesomeness. I’d better get on with my to do list :D

Deliver Me

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This week’s turning out to be quite the significant landmark. At 8 am I arrived at the location for a well-known reality TV show to begin a two hour health MOT, conducted with a nurse and a doctor, which involved me sitting on a static bike with a breathing tube in my mouth, plus a selection of other exercises and tests. The plan was to see how much better my health has become in the five years since the last time this kind of thing was conducted. The results, quite frankly, blew my mind.

That number, believe me, is a revelation. It puts me in the top 10% of people in my age group for fitness.Β Everything has improved since my last visit, the only exception being a slightly elevated cholesterol rate, but it is hardly cause for concern. I apparently have a stupidly relaxed resting heart rate and an incredibly efficient system for converting fat to muscle (which I already knew, but is lovely to have confirmed.) My grip, which I thought was average at best is apparently beyond good and into amazing. Mostly, what the two hours this morning did was confirm that yes, it is possible to get healthy from a standing start. If you make the effort and put in the hours, it can change your entire body for the better.

The only cloud on the horizon is my gall bladder, but the scan for this is tomorrow and assuming that everything is clear, I can stop pussy-footing about and get back to Hard Bastard Training. In fact, I suspect I’ll now have no excuse to avoid doing a Tough Mudder type challenge later in the year, which my husband got roped into by someone at work and was afraid of completing alone. I’m hoping to get working on the monkey bar traverse next week, which is my next major obstacle to overcome. Right now, I’m looking forward to everything that is going to be thrown at me, because I suspect exercise shit just got very real indeed.

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The biggest surprise is now being told to eat more each day to cover daily body maintenance. Because of my current level of exercise, I’m simply not taking in enough calories to maintain basic bodily function, which I have to admit explains a fair few things about levels of fatigue. There’s a couple of other issues to take care of too, but mostly I’m celebrating the fact that I have done what I set out to do, in almost exactly a year. Now I’m here, of course, I have to remain long term and not go backwards, and that’s always been the part of the equation that’s never been managed.

I can do this. I know I can. Here’s to the next year’s worth of progress.