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Seven

As I sit down to write this, it has been seven months to the day since life as we know it changed. Irrevocably. Seven months since I last drove to my office, parked my car, greeted my colleagues and drank crappy canteen coffee. More than 200 days since the world last felt “normal.” Since it felt safe.

For more than half a year, we have waited. Held in suspended animation. Unable both to plan and to be spontaneous. More than half a year has been cruelly taken from us. Pilfered. Erased. And it wasn’t just any year. I, for one, so looked forward to 2020. Eagerly anticipating what seemed destined to be the most momentous of years.

As with most of the pieces I write, I am aware that this too is written from a place of privilege. I am extremely lucky that this pandemic has not impacted my own health or that of the people closest to me. I have been able to stay working, albeit from home, and so has Phil. Financially, at least so far, we have been unscathed. I know that makes me a lot more fortunate than most, and I try to remain grateful.

It’s not easy.

I often want to scream about how unfair it all is. I have spent the time since early Spring bouncing between bouts of uber productivity and complete hibernation. It was easier in the beginning. Baking banana bread and revealing my lack of general knowledge in Zoom quizzes. There was a sense of solidarity in the early days. A sense too of novelty. None of us had ever experienced anything like this, and seeing as it was only going to last for a couple of weeks, why not make the most of it?

Spring became Summer and still we waited. We busied ourselves with DIY and BBQs. We talked to our neighbours across our fences. Enjoying a feeling of vacation time, lulled by the long evenings, and the sound of children playing.

All the while we were bombarded by data. Each of us becoming budding epidemiologists as we practiced our new vocabulary. The R number. The 14 day incidence. The death rate. We absorbed it all in the hope it might provide some clarity. In the hope we might one day learn our wait was over.

It’s not over.

It is the complete opposite of over. Autumn colours have overtaken Summer sun. The seasons have moved on, but we have not. We cannot.

The situation is so abstract that it has taken me seven months to even begin to process it. To try to name it. The feeling in the pit of my stomach that defies any label. It’s not depression, but it gets me down. I miss people, but loneliness doesn’t quite fit either. I try to make sense of being utterly exhausted when I have had less activity and more rest than ever before.

The best way I can think to describe it, is that I want to wake up from this. I want to recover. Like as if from the virus itself. I long for the feeling of knowing I have come out the other side. The feeling of being weakened, but looking forward to getting back to my old self.

You see, I miss my old self. I miss that girl who worked hard and was always busy. So many of the things which defined me are now either altered or gone entirely, that I find it difficult to recognize myself. I am now a woman with a hermit like existence. Working from home, in sweats or pyjamas, talking to people remotely. Trying to fill the hours between clocking out and falling asleep. Thankfully with gyms re-opening I have training as an outlet and some semblance of my previous life to hold on to.

I don’t know where all of this is going to end, and personally that’s the part I struggle with the most. Always a planner, I am used to being ten steps ahead at all times. I have spent my life constantly focusing on the next thing. Be it in my career, or with my fitness goals. There was always something to work towards. The absence of a plan beyond today and maybe tomorrow is unsettling and unmotivating.

I am sure we will look back on this time and be grateful. When it is finally over, we will recognize how much it has taught us. Maybe it has prompted us to rebalance life and work. Perhaps it has helped us to gain some perspective over what it is that really matters. Maybe we have learned how to slow down and be in the moment. I hope so. I sincerely hope this will not have been all for naught.

As I lay in bed last night with the idea for this piece bouncing around in my head, I began to get excited. Throughout this experience, I have not felt inspired to create, and writing had become something else that I “used to do.” A visit from my muse made me feel a tiny glimmer of hope. Perhaps despite what is happening in the world, I might be able to get back to myself.

Trying to coral my thoughts into some sore of order, the words of William Wordsworth kept coming to mind,

“Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters!”

They resonate with me because time has taken on a strange quality. Seven months have both gone by in a blink and have seemed interminable. As we learn to navigate this “new normal,” we can be overcome by a sense of aloneness. It comforts my to know lines written in 1798 still ring true today. As if to prove the singularity of the human existence.

Thank you gentle reader. I will try not to be gone so long again. Wash your hands and be well xxx

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Fitty and Fatty Ep.88 – Returning to Training and “Have We Gone Too Far?” — Fitty & Fatty

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-fatty-s3-ep88-returning-to-training-and-have-we-gone-too-far/ This week we talk about returning to training after a lay off and Fatty asks the question “Have we gone too far?” We give updates on our Nutrition programmes and chat about TV Follow Fitty & Fatty on our Social Medias: Website:https://fittyandfatty.com/ Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/fittyandfatty/ Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pg/FittyandFatty/photos/?tab=album&album_id=866899313502196 Twitter: https://twitter.com/andfitty Snapchat: fittyfatty1 Email: fittyandfattypod@gmail.com

via Fitty and Fatty Ep.88 – Returning to Training and “Have We Gone Too Far?” — Fitty & Fatty

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Fitty and Fatty Ep.78 – Do you remember the before time?

This week, as isolation continues, we talk about the before time. We chat about how we are feeling and dealing with the new reality. As always, we chat about TV! https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-fatty-s3-ep78-do-you-remember-the-before-time/ Follow Fitty & Fatty on our Social Medias: Website:https://fittyandfatty.com/ Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/fittyandfatty/ Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pg/FittyandFatty/photos/?tab=album&album_id=866899313502196 Twitter: https://twitter.com/andfitty Snapchat: fittyfatty1 Email: fittyandfattypod@gmail.com

via Fitty and Fatty Ep.78 – Do you remember the before time? — Fitty & Fatty

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Dumb Dog!

I talk a lot about my dog Annie. She’s a seven year old German Shepherd and she is one of the great loves of my life. She is the sweetest creature. Full of fun, boisterous, incredibly loving and unbelievably smart. Too smart at times. I could swear she understand every word we say.  She is also acutely sensitive. In the years she has been in my life, she has taught me so much.

Occasionally though, and usually because of other stuff going on with me, I lose my temper with her. I snap, tell her she’s a bad dog and instruct her to go to bed. What happens next is both hilarious and heart breaking.

She is never quite sure what she has done wrong, but she understands that momma is mad, and she wants to make it better. She instantly starts cycling through her repertoire of tricks. Sitting, giving first one paw and then the other. Bestowing kisses, lying down and then going back to sitting. She will repeat this sequence, hoping to hit on the one that will make everything alright. She will only stop when I tell her she’s a good girl, give her a cuddle and let her know momma’s not mad anymore.

The funniest part of this, is that I have realised lately I do the exact same thing. When I go into a situation where there’s an atmosphere, I am compelled to try to fix it. When I am in contact with someone in a bad mood, I have an unquenchable desire to try to make them feel better.

Most of the time, this has the exact opposite affect. We all know there’s nothing more annoying than someone trying to cheer us up when we just want to work through whatever is going on by ourselves. Preferably in silence.

On a rational level I understand this, but some old instinct kicks in and makes me feel unsafe. The negative energy charges the room with a sense of the unpredictable and I am never quite able to relax. In short, I have the emotional intelligence of my dog!

A lot of us grow up pleasing and perfecting. Collecting gold stars and praise for being a good little girl. For being sweet. We perform to make others happy, finding safety in their smiles. Most of us grow out of this behaviour in adolescence. I seem to have skipped over that step.

I am deep into my third decade on this planet and I still have this innate desire to smooth everything over. As often as I tell myself your mood is nothing to do with me, I will still try to “fix” it. As much as I know your silence and withdrawal could have a million motivations, I will still find a way to take it personally. I will sit, give the paw and roll over until such time as I feel like order has been restored.

The irony is, doing so will most likely alienate you or make you think I am a crazy lady.

There is great power in self awareness. Now that I know I do this, I can try to stop myself from diving head first into every drama I encounter. Other peoples’ moods are none of my business and I am certainly not responsible for altering them. This is going to require a herculean effort on my part, because just sitting in the discomfort, without trying to do something about it is completely alien to me.

Just like Annie, I am too sensitive for my own good. Getting a thicker skin is most likely not going to happen at this stage, but I can stop putting my hand out to be slapped. I can stop taking on the problems of the world as if they were my own.

Let’s hope I can pick up new tricks just as easily as Annie can. Be well xxx

 

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Run Baby Run!!

My Crossfit workout today involved running. That was it, just running. It consisted of intervals of 1,000, 800, 600, 400 and 200 meters, with three minutes rest in between. What could be more straight forward?

Anyone who knows me, will know that to say running isn’t my jam, would be a fairly sizeable understatement. I hate it and it hates me right back. Up until very recently, and I am talking like yesterday, I would have done anything in my power to avoid doing this workout. I would have either skipped training entirely or if I had gone I would have come up with 101 reasons (read excuses) why I “couldn’t” run.

That has been my default stance since I began strength and conditioning many years ago. I have lost count of the number of times I have told anyone who would listen that I can’t run. Of course, what I actually meant is that I can’t run fast. It is not a strength of mine. It isn’t in my wheelhouse as they say in the biz!

You see, I have this innate fear of coming last. I am mortified at the thought of my glaring weaknesses being exposed and of letting people know just how much I suck. This has led to me sidestepping occasions where I think this could potentially happen. Not exactly the best mindset for growth.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that I am wonderful at all, or indeed any, other aspects of Crossfit, but nowhere do I feel more exposed and vulnerable than when I am running. Huffing and puffing and being overtaken by little old ladies out walking their pugs. It’s a struggle, and it’s painful but it’s also the only thing that has even the slightest chance of making me a better runner.

At the beginning of the summer I had started going out for some runs. But before long I had picked up a tiny injury. I wasn’t hurt so badly that I had to stop training, thankfully, but it was just enough to completely knock my new found confidence. Within a week or so the old thought patterns and self limiting beliefs had taken hold again.

It is extremely difficult to break a habit that you have had for a lifetime. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone again and again and again. Eventually it gets easier, but not over night. It isn’t a case that you face your fear one time and it never rears it’s ugly head again.

All week long I had been dreading today’s workout, and only half jokingly said it was giving me anxiety. I kept playing it out in my head. Forcing myself to feel the shame of being last to finish before I had even started. Talk about setting yourself up to fail!

When it came time to actually do the workout, it wasn’t so bad! Yes, it was a struggle and as predicted, I finished last. I would still say it wouldn’t be a workout I would choose, but I got through it, and also predictably, nothing bad happened. As Pat Sherwood would advise, I high fived some people and made it the best hour of my day.

I have always said that comfort zones are for resting in, not for living in. I believe that you should push yourself sometimes in your training and be prepared to leave your comfort zone. Because that is where growth happens. However, there is a pretty big caveat to this. Your training environment needs to be a safe space. You need to feel supported and empowered enough to allow yourself to risk failure.

If you are made to feel ashamed or humiliated every time a workout doesn’t go to plan, you will never take risks. If the atmosphere is super competitive, you will only want to do the workouts you know you are good at. I am so fortunate that I have great coaches around me and incredibly supportive team mates. This has been the biggest game changer for me this year. Knowing the guys and girls are rooting for me and genuinely want to see me progress, even when I am dead last makes a huge difference. Now if I could just get out of my own way…

Be well and keep putting one foot in front of the other xxx

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Think P!NK

Last weekend my best friend and I boarded a Ryanair flight from Dublin to Glasgow.  We were on our way to see P!NK.  We had tried and failed to get tickets for her Dublin show, so my friend’s husband treated us to tickets for the show in Scotland.

The trip was organised months ago, and I should have been eagerly anticipating it.  But, as often happens with these things, the closer it got, the more the little gremlins inside my head started piping up.  Saying things like “work is so busy right now, I can’t really afford the time off.”  Or “my house is a tip, I could really do with getting it sorted out.”

There was never a chance that I was going to cancel, but these nagging thoughts threatened to ruin the experience for me before it had even begun.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go.  It was that anxiety or apathy was trying to find an excuse for me to stay home.  Because let’s face it, that’s always the easier option!

As soon as we arrived at the airport and ordered a drink I started to relax.  All the annoying niggles began to fade away.  The weekend was a great success.  The show itself was amazing, and we had a blast for the whole weekend.  We sampled Glasgow’s gay bars and casinos.  Neither of which we had actually set out to do.  Furthermore, it reminded me of a few important things.

Something old

My travel companion has been my best friend since we were 16.  That’s not today or yesterday!  We have literally been through everything together.  From family drama to being bridesmaid at each other’s wedding.  She knows me better than I know myself at times.

In recent weeks, I had been feeling a little sad.  There wasn’t anything specific I could put this down to.  But I suspect being in therapy had made me a bit raw.  Last week in particular, I was struggling and the only way I can think of describing it is as being heart sick.  The feeling of unexplained loss and unnamed longing.

Spending 48 hours in the company of someone who knows me so well and loves me warts and all has been like a balm.  As we stood among tens of thousands of people, singing tunelessly and drinking Tennants out of plastic glasses, I began to feel like myself again.

It’s becoming obvious to me that when we are at our lowest, being around people who just get us is so important.  They don’t need to do anything or say anything, other than offer to hold your drink while you pop to the loo.  When you feel that you are barely able to recognise yourself, it helps to be reassured that you are still who you used to be.

Something new

As we waited to board our flight home yesterday evening, I was tired from two late nights, and perhaps a tiny bit too much alcohol.  But deep down I felt revived.  Being in a new city, having a change of scene and getting away from it all, had restored me.  Had we gone to the Dublin concert, it would have been the same artist, and the same show.  The effect, however, would have been different.  It would not have been a “new” experience and could not have been so uplifting.  The mind loves novelty and it thrives on it.

Also, we often underestimate how much confidence can be gained from doing something new.  Navigating a strange city and managing the logistics can make you feel very accomplished.  (Remind me to tell you about getting lost in Rome another time!)

Girls just wanna have fun

One of the reasons I am in counselling is because I am having what I am calling an “Existential Crisis.”  I am trying to figure out my purpose in life and what I want to do when I grow up.  I find myself thinking “there has to be more to life than this” on a regular basis.

This issue is exacerbated by my awareness that I am not getting any younger.  I will be 38 this year, and I can’t help feeling like it’s all getting away from me.  I am sure a lot of people go through this as they approach midlife, and it is a season that will eventually pass.

Until that happens, it is really nice to be reminded that I am still capable of having fun.  That I am not too old to try new things or to enjoy myself.  It was so lovely to see traces of my younger self alive and well.  Maybe it’s not too late?

It turns out that as much as I tried to talk myself out of this trip, it was exactly what I needed.  The next time you find yourself thinking that you can’t be bothered to do something fun, or telling yourself it’s too much hassle, ask yourself, “is this my anxiety talking?”  “Am I stuck in a rut?”  Try to figure out what exactly is making you feel that way.  If you genuinely don’t want to do the thing, that’s fine.  However, if it’s a case that avoiding adventure has become your default, challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone.

Unfortunately, when we are struggling, we are often tempted to pull away from people and avoid trying new things.  This only leads to greater feelings of isolation and boredom, which in turn breed further struggle.  It’s a vicious cycle and one that can seem impossible to get out of when you are in the middle of it.  I try to think of it is as bicycle wheel spinning.  All it takes is a small rod in the spokes to interrupt it.

Of course two nights away hasn’t solved all my problems.  I still don’t have the answers.  However, I have been given a glimpse of what lies beyond this, and the assurance that if I can keep persuading myself to put one foot in front of the other, I will eventually get there.  In short, I feel better and you can’t put a price on that.  Be well xxx

 

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Feminism is Not a Dirty Word

For the longest time, I resisted identifying as a feminist.  I felt it was almost a dirty word.  The label seemed to suggest an instigator, a trouble maker, a boat rocker.  None of which I wanted to be known as.  Besides, who was I, in all of my educated, white privilege to bemoan my lot in life?  How dare I cry bias, when I was afforded opportunities, so many others are denied?

Growing up, a strong sense of fairness was instilled in me.  A belief in meritocracy.  When I started my career, I had no reason to doubt that if I kept my head down, I would be rewarded.  Surely effort would be recognised above all else?  Anything else defies logic.

I have come to learn that this belief is so common among women, it has been given a name.  Tiara syndrome.  Lots of women believe, as I did, that if you work hard, and keep your nose clean, good things will be bestowed upon you.  We shouldn’t need to kick and scream for what we deserve.  “Be a good girl, try a little harder,” as Alanis would say.

Furthermore, I had the idea that if I should ever speak up about gender issues, either for myself or on behalf of my female colleagues, that I would be vilified.  So, I put up far more than I should have.  When my male boss called me a “smart cookie,” I let it slide.  I played small and made nice.  Never daring to ask for the raises or vie for the promotions.

In my first ever “grown up job” I was harassed by a male colleague.  He persistently made lewd comments and behaved in a way that made me so uncomfortable, I dreaded going to work.  When I eventually plucked up the courage to complain, my request was simple.  I just didn’t want to sit within ogling distance of him.  The complaint was handled badly.  I was made to feel like it was my fault.  That I had encouraged him, or that I should have just kept quiet.  I was only 21 when this happened and it was an early lesson that speaking up won’t get you anywhere.

Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time reading and listening to audio books.  Two titles that have made me re-evaluate my stance on feminism are “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and “That’s What She Said” by Joanne Lipman.  Both of these excellent books tackle the thorny issue of gender equality, and it is important to note, neither bash men.

Working my way through these books the seed of an idea began to take hold in my mind.  Equal does not have to mean the same.  We can accept that there are differences between the sexes, and still insist on fair and equal treatment.  We can begin to see these differences as complimentary rather than contrary.

Both authors also converge on the idea that in order to close the gender gap, we need men.  Women cannot go it alone.  Without the advocacy of men, we are on a road to nowhere.  We women are in a double bind.  By not speaking up, we get nowhere.  But when we do speak up, we risk reciprocity.  It kind of reminds me of the movies when the sane person is accused of being crazy.  Anything that he says or does to prove his sanity after that, only serves to make him look crazier.

It is an awkward dichotomy for me personally.  I want to play with the big boys, but I don’t want to be there simply to make up the numbers.  This issue came up recently, when there was a social media kick back about a nutrition conference.  Of the panel of ten speakers, only one was female.  This incited a lot of backlash in the community, with several people threatening to boycott the event.

My feelings about this were really complicated.  I must admit that when I initially saw the promotional posters, I failed to notice the male to female ratio.  I have been telling myself that it’s a non-issue for so long, I have become blind to it.  When I started to become aware of the outrage it had caused my reaction was “who cares whether the speakers are male or female?”  I want to listen to the most qualified and influential people in the industry.  It matters not a jot whether they are men or women.

However, my thinking was fundamentally flawed.  My argument would only be valid if speaking opportunities were awarded on merit alone.  The level of heterogeneity among the panel would suggest this is not the case.  Apart from the single white female speaker, the rest of the panel is made up of white men.  It would seem statistically unlikely that the best and the brightest in the field, all fall into this category.

This situation is not unique.  From orchestras to operating theatres, women continue to be under represented.  I am the first to admit I don’t know what the answer is to gender inequality, but burying my head in the sand and pretending it’s not my problem, certainly isn’t going to help.  I once heard someone say “if you’re not an activist, you’re an in-activist.”  Every time we see inequality and ignore it, we widen the gap.  I know I have been guilty of this in the past and I want to apologise to the next generation of women for failing to forge a path for them.  I will do better.   Be well xxx

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Dear Florida Man – America’s Gun Violence Epidemic

Straight out of the gate, I am going to let you know that this is not the type of article I usually write.  Normally, I am very careful to avoid voicing my political opinions on this blog.  I try to stay in my lane as it were.  Gun violence is definitely not my usual scope.  However, a headline caught my attention this morning that made my heart hurt.  It had such an affect on me, that I cannot stay silent.  It was this.

“Florida lawmakers to approve bill allowing teachers to be armed.”

There is so much wrong with these ten words, that I scarcely know where to begin.

Gun violence is a huge problem in America.  It’s a problem I thought I understood the scale of, until I went to research this piece.  In the month of April alone, there were 35 mass shootings.  That is more than 1 per day.  I struggle to wrap my mind around this, as I scan the seemingly unending list of numbered but unnamed victims.  So far this year, 120 people have lost their lives in mass shooting events.  Hundreds more have been injured.

I don’t know why this phenomenon has come about.  In the 20 years since Columbine, mass shootings have become literally a daily event.  I can’t tell you why this is.  Neither can I speculate as to why this seems to be a uniquely American problem.  I don’t know what the answer is.  I do, however, know what the answer is not.  More guns.

The idea that the solution to gun violence is more guns, is akin to thinking the obesity crisis can be solved with more cheese burgers.  It is ludicrous.

As I read this story on the RTE website, I felt my stomach turn.  My morning coffee soured on my tongue.  I experienced a deep sense of foreshadowing, and all I could think was how long will it be before we see a headline reading “Florida teacher shoots unarmed student.”

I understand that, as Americans, your right to bear arms is protected under your constitution.  Similarly, I understand that a lot of you are fiercely protective of this right.  For many American people guns are a part of life.  But what about your child’s rights?

Surely a child’s right to be educated without terror should be just as inalienable.  It makes me incredibly sad to think of the lasting impact the trauma of gun violence will have on the survivors.  However, the ripple effect goes far farther than I think we realise yet.

The kids in school now are the first generation of children who have had to deal with this crisis as part of their reality.  They are the first who have had to practice drills, and make their way through metal detectors.  They are constantly reminded that the threat of violence is very real.  I honestly cannot imagine trying to survive in such a high stress situation.  Let alone trying to learn in it.

These kids are in their formative years.  The time spent sitting in classrooms and fooling around in the hallways will absolutely shape the adults they will become.  How can they hope to grow into trusting, whole hearted adults when they spend the years between 5 and 18 facing clear and present danger every single day?  Your children are growing up in a warzone.  Unfortunately, there will be no refugee status for them.

On March 15th, New Zealand had a mass shooting incident of its own.  Within one week, their Prime Minister had taken steps to ban automatic weapons.  America, and in particular Florida, seems to be taking the exact opposite approach.  Putting guns in the hands of those who may never ordinarily have owned them.

Teachers, educators, those responsible for nurturing your young child’s mind and imagination.  Those responsible for empowering your son or daughter to reach their potential, will now be able to literally end their life.  I have dealt with angry, bad tempered teachers in my time, but I never had to worry about them shooting me.

It is not a question of if an innocent child gets caught in the crossfire, or if a stressed-out teacher mistakes a child reaching for a cell phone for an attack.  It is a question of when.  Under the new legislation, teachers would be required to undertake 144 hours of training before carrying guns, but that doesn’t reassure me.

The internet is littered with “Florida Man” memes.  We all like to joke about the crazy, surreal things that go on there.  Somehow, I don’t think that particular Florida Man headline would evoke the same response.

There is a saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second-best time is now.  Some would argue that American gun laws should have been tightened up on April 21st 1999.  I would count myself among them.  However, it’s not too late.  The time to to speak up and take whatever action we can, is now.

This outrageously wanton loss of life is becoming part of our culture, we cannot allow ourselves to be numb to it.  We need to stand up and fight for every child’s right to come home from school.  We owe them that much at least.  Be well xxx

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You’re a Liar!

Did you ever have a day when you just feel bleuch?  You look in the mirror and you don’t like how your clothes fit, how your hair is sitting or basically anything about your appearance?  I am willing to bet you have.  Even people who have sky high confidence and positive body image can have these sorts of speed wobbles.

Last week, I experienced this very thing.  It was the Tuesday after the Easter weekend.  Between having a bit too much to each and drink over the bank holiday and having missed a couple of weeks of training due to illness, I just felt like a whale blob.

I looked in the mirror getting ready for work and struggled to find one thing I was happy with.  Panic started to set in.  It was a little over three weeks until I would be setting off on a sun holiday.  You know what that means.  Bikinis (or any swimwear,) shorts, little dresses etc. etc.  How could I feel happy and confident baring all, when even my office attire wasn’t doing the job?

Realistically I knew that even the most extreme diet and training program wasn’t going to bring about any sort of “transformation” in such a short period of time.  But this was no time for realism, I was spiraling.  Instead of looking forward to the holiday that has been booked for almost a year, and that I have saved for, I began to dread it.

I started to berate myself.  Why hadn’t I tried harder to lose weight?  Why hadn’t I cut out alcohol, tracked calories and done all the myriad other things which I know would have helped me look slim and slinky on the beach?  Why, why, why!  By the time I was driving home from work that evening, I was that upset, I was ready to cancel the whole thing!

But then, some little things happened.  I went to teach my Zumba class and I had a few minutes alone before the ladies got there.  Time enough for me to practice some gymnastic movements I have been struggling with.  Weirdly, they felt easier than usual.  Then I did my 50 burpees that were part of my April challenge.  By the time the girls arrived, I was glowing and energized.  The class was awesome, and when I got home that night I felt a renewed sense of positivity about my body.  Maybe my body didn’t look the way I wanted it to, but damn, it could do some pretty amazing things.

These little dominoes continued to fall as the week progressed.  I got back into the gym and felt more and more like myself each day.  I even tried, and loved indoor rock climbing.  Truly terrifying for someone who isn’t a fan of heights!  Towards the end of the week I was getting dressed in front of the same mirror.  The girl reflected in the glass hadn’t changed, but how I felt about her had started to.

The thing is, how we see ourselves is never objective.  It is coloured by every single thing going on in our world.  When we are down because we have been sick, or haven’t slept well, we project that negativity on to the image before us.  The opposite is also true.  When we feel happy and confident, we find it easier to see something we like in the image before us.  In short, we lie!

I have struggled with body image for as long as I can remember.  It’s not as much of an issue as it once was for me, but the little gremlins are still there.  Lying in wait.  Sensing the perfect opportunity, when my defenses are down, to slink out of the shadows and undermine me.  Theirs are the voices who say “you’re too fat for the beach,” or “you should have lost 20lbs by now.”

I may never be able to silence these monsters completely.  However, each workout I do, healthy meal I eat, relationship I nurture helps keep them at bay.  Every hour I spend in my therapist’s comfy armchair, puts another layer of sound proofing between them and me.  My body is so much more than how it looks, and so is yours.

Any of you who regularly read this blog will know that the last 12 months have been tumultuous to say the least.  When I take a step back and think about it, I feel should congratulate myself for doing as well as I have in the circumstances.   Even though, I will admit it feels extremely uncomfortable to write that.

The first part of 2019 for me has been a season of preparation.  I have been getting to grips with a new and challenging job.  Getting used to commuting again, which I hadn’t been doing for 3 years.  Perhaps most importantly I have been putting a lot of work into my mental health.  If, as the song says, there is a time to reap and a time to sow, perhaps this has been a time of tilling the earth.  Doing the heavy lifting so that what gets planted in the coming seasons has a chance to bloom.

Truthfully, I do wish I was a bit closer to my fighting weight heading away, but there’s no point in crying over it now.  If I keep beating myself up over not reaching some arbitrary weight, it will only serve to make me miserable and ruin my holiday.

This holiday will come and go, but my overall health goals will remain.  A week in the sunshine, relaxing and reflecting will serve to help me focus on my return.  I think we sometimes look at holidays and events as finish lines.  We can think to ourselves “I didn’t reach my goal by that deadline, so there’s no point to keep going.”  More lies.

A good friend of mine talks a lot about peaks and valleys.  Often it is only in hindsight that we gain the perspective to tell the difference between the two.  With my training and nutrition this year it has been very much 1 step forward and 2 steps back.  But imagine where I would be if I hadn’t kept at least trying to move forward.

I look forward seeing what the next season will bring.  I hope that it will be a period of calm which will allow me to get dial things in.  However, if it doesn’t pan out that way, I will roll with the punches.  If the past while has taught me anything it is that I am more resilient than I once thought!  Be well xxx