Archive | December, 2011

What a fabulous year!

30 Dec

Around New Year I like to review, contemplate, look at my achievements and also start to set the scene for what the next year will bring. So what about 2011?

At the beginning of the year I felt panicked about the future, I knew I had to make some major changes however the thought of putting any sort of plan into action scared me stupid and made me run for the hills.

Weight and fitness were now an established part of my life, my knee surgery had gone well and the rehabilitation was on schedule. The changes that were required were around the rest of my life playing catch up. My job was no longer making me happy, all I could see were frustrations and the feeling that there was more to life?

In the end it took until April for me to make any decisions but it was almost like a light going on. My problem was that in my obsessive planning head I thought I needed a secure, safe, written down plan, actually what I needed and where I was now was to have no plan. After all, the last couple of years had not really had a plan, their success had been going with the flow, taking the opportunities and worrying less?

So rather than a job or business idea I decided what I needed was to take some time, luckily I had some savings to be able to fund it.  I booked two trips, one to visit some friends in Germany and to do some mountain climbing and interestingly a pilates holiday in Tuscany.

What happened then over the next five months was amazing.  I could go on and on but here’s a  quick summary!

Three mountain summits, meeting old friends without reservations, pilates, learning to cook italian, swimming under the stars, finding a real love of photography, writing, life coaching, asking for help and realising the beauty of what it can bring, new and old friends, family, sailing in the Solent, blogging, walking, getting fitter, going up, coming down, freelancing, sourcing lightshades and bathrooms, Rome, returning to Tuscany and trains.

What has been just as important is what I’ve learnt. There have been vital lessons that I hope may help you if you’re in that place of wondering ‘what next?’.

  • It’s fine to ask for help, it takes strength to be able to do that; keeping your head in the sand just means you bumble along, nothing will ever change. It is never a sign of weakness to ask for help or to show your vulnerability?
  • Often the plan should be to have no plan – I’m an obsessive compulsive so have a clear need for planning – however my growth has come from embracing the here and now, looking for opportunities but not over thinking consequences or what it could mean. A little risk is a liberating experience!
  • I booked my sailing trip three days prior to the start date, my dad asked me ‘if I liked sailing’, I responded that I had no idea, but by the end of the weekend I would know one way or the other. The old me would have wanted more reassurances. It also taught me that until you give something a go, how do you really know?  After all if someone had had a crystal ball three years ago and had shown me, me today, it would never have happened because I wouldn’t have believed it was all possible.
  • Never under-estimate what you may be capable of, I’ve been amazed at every step I’ve taken.
  • Surround yourself with people who embrace what you want and are.  My family and friends (new and old) are incredibly important. I’d been far too independent, we all need human interaction and importantly support. I love them all very much.

As Autumn ended and winter arrived, a new job opportunity arrived, it meant going through a process that before was enough to scare me off, but I did it and a few weeks ago I started my new role – it’s looking good and comes with some great benefits such as free gym membership and I have a clear focus to ensure that it doesn’t take over what is now an important out of work life.

I’m still writing, this blog will continue as will my baking one, I’m also writing for other people and you never know one day I may be able to at least do it professionally on a part time basis.  I am forever grateful and a little overwhelmed by the messages I receive from people who read this and find it inspiring.

My photography is something I really love, it fills a real need and thanks to someone very special I’ve now moved on from my trusty Digital Compact to an SLR and I am so looking forward to doing more with it in the coming months.

And finally the end of the year has brought someone special into my life. Thanks to my life coach Jackie and a lot of work over the summer on my relationship with myself I found the confidence to get out there.  What has happened has been pretty amazing and I’m very happy in a way that I haven’t been for a long time; I am being honest with him and importantly with myself, I’m having a lot of fun and I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling in weeks.

It’s been an amazing year, 2010 was pretty good but this time last year I had no idea what 2011 would bring, it could well have been the best year of my life, yes that it still possible when you’re 44! It is never too late!

And 2012?  Well I’m excited about what it to come – there’s a new job to get stuck into, new physical challenge, I’m starting a new training regime tomorrow in an attempt to tone and reduce some of the loose skin, now this is something that will be very interesting.  And I’m very happy at where I am today.

So my new year message to you is to not be afraid of change, you do however have to want it to make it happen but anything is possible!

And the photo – well it was taken by my someone special – a friend tells me I am sparkling, I’ll go along with that!

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Having that difficult conversation?

21 Dec

When I was bigger I remember having conversations with some friends about my weight, however it was normally about the fact I was ok and it didn’t bother me?

None of them or my family ever discussed that they were concerned about the impact on my health?  Maybe they should have?  It is an incredibly difficult conversation to have though, it’s a verypersonal thing and intervention could be taken in very many different ways and it could be damaging.

There’s an article on the BBC website dealing with this question, however it isn’t perhaps as simple as you’d like to think.  My advice would be to tread carefully, perhaps ‘you’re getting fat darling’ is a step too far, maybe focusing on the possible health implications would be a better approach.   Don’t be cruel, over-bearing and unsympathetic, especially if you don’t have a problem with your own weight it may just make the problem worse and further damage a delicate self-esteem.  

Also bear in mind that unless the person is ready to do something about it, your concerns may fall on deaf ears and you shouldn’t take that personally.  Losing weight and getting fit in the first place is a very personal, individual journey and needs a lot of self-responsibility and that can take time to come and be established.

Your role may come in being part of their support network, they will need you to encourage them (it’s very important though that you listen to how they want you to do this), it may take a while to make any progress, so be prepared for this, it’s one thing to tell them they need to lose weight, it’s another to be there for them during the tricky times.  However the good times and the rewards should surpass any of those!

And finally if you also need to lose a bit, be honest about that as well, there’s little point in encouraging your friend or loved one if you do nothing yourself?

When will you stop?

19 Dec

About two years ago when I had got down to a size 18 from a 24, a friend asked me when I would stop losing weight and be happy with my achievement.

At the time I was pretty pleased with myself, I’d had to buy new clothes and I was starting to feel a lot more self-confident and I remember saying to my friend that I would be quite happy if I stayed where I was.

This of course was before a few key things happened:

  • I discovered exercise
  • I found that losing weight wasn’t a chore or a negative experience
  • I developed a really positive relationship with food

And well the rest is history. However there has been a burning question in my head – where do I go from here, I’ve learnt how to change my life to keep the weight off, love the exercise and have had a year of fabulous new experiences, so what next?

This morning, I put on a skirt for work that I haven’t worn for over a year, I was surprised to find that it went on really easily; it was a little snug before. Now you all know I am not a fan of the bathroom scales but I do now own some, purchased purely for weighing luggage and large postal items! I have though stored them in the bottom of a cupboard, well out of sight; I never want them to be a big part of my life style.

However I was a little intrigued at the skirt situation so out came the scales and well I am now half a stone lighter than I was at my smallest just before the surgery a year ago. So my total weight loss is now six and a half stones.

I have been working in the gym and the pool over the last few weeks; I feel in control of my food at the moment, I also have a new very welcome motivation which is making me very happy so the combination appears to be working out well.

The good news is that as part of the benefits package for my new job, I get free access to the gym round the corner from my workplace, so I’ll be in there straight from work as soon as I can get it all sorted out. Hopefully there may be a pilates class as I’m feeling a real need for that at the moment.

So goals and challenges are needed for 2012, it’s been a fantastic year and I want to use what I’ve learnt to drive things further forwards.

My fitness is at a bit of a crossroads – do I settle for where I’ve got to, maintain it sensibly and be happy with that?

However I don’t however think that is enough for me any more, I have become very competitive with myself and that is really driving me forwards and this together with my new motivation is spurring me to take it to a new level. It’s not about getting superskinny (god forbid) but it about two key things:

  • Getting fitter, being able to do more and for longer, all about being healthy and pushing my body more, I’m still intrigued about what it can do considering where it was 2 and a half years ago?
  • Loose skin and toning – I have loose skin, we’ve talked about that a lot, it’s the result of excessive weight gain and the subsequent loss together with my age and biology. I believed it was impossible to do anything significant about it; however a good friend has had some pretty tremendous results this year with weights work so she’s going to help me out with a new intensive programme to see if we can make any impact. The objective is to tone and get smaller in a sensible, controlled way.

I am a bit surprised about how I feel, I never at the start expected to feel like this however the benefits I feel both physically and physiologically from doing exercise make it a very simple choice! This new body of mine has made my life quite wonderful and I intend to respect it but push it a bit too!

So it continues and my message to you is two-fold. You might think you can’t achieve something because ‘it’s not you’ or ‘it’s too difficult’, however think again, have you even tried it? Start the year by doing something a bit challenging; see if you can change your mind-set even a little? You may surprise yourself.

Secondly if you’re thinking to yourself that after a festive season of over indulgence that you’ll be making some resolutions and hitting the gym in the New Year, think about this one?

‘Health and fitness isn’t just for Christmas?’ You will need to want to make bigger changes, otherwise this time next year not much will have changed and you’ll be going through the same cycle all over again.

And as a final little tip, enjoy the holiday but if you don’t over indulge you might not have to work quite as hard in the New Year?

And the photo – it was sent to me today by one of the lovely ladies I met in Tuscany in September! 

A Year On!

1 Dec

I had my knee surgery on the 1st December last year. I had a few concerns at the time, firstly that I would have four – six weeks of restricted exercise, that I would be stuck at home and the effect that this may have on my diet and finally that after months of getting super fit I would be starting again on some fronts. It was all an unknown experience, a little scary and in the end an education in getting to know my body even better than I already did.

December of course ended up being one of the coldest on record and thanks to the snow and ice I ended up even more restricted. And my plans to be at the pool and walking around town were delayed in the end by almost 3 weeks. This meant an adjustment to my food intake to ensure I managed my weight. Luckily I got very fidgety which actually helps, you’d be amazed at how many calories you burn just being ‘active’. My physio also made sure that I had plenty of exercises to do at home to keep me occupied.

The fact that I had spent the time getting fit beforehand did help too, it would take my body longer to react to the change.

As far as the exercise was concerned when I did make it back to the pool, initially it was a gentle rehab but it wasn’t as bad as I had feared and when I was eventually allowed into ‘cruciate ligament boot camp’ with the footballers and rugby boys, this 40 something girl was holding her own and that felt very, very good!

When I did the initial injury when I was 40, I was sent to ‘boot camp’, I managed one session, thanks to a combination of embarrassment and fear I only went once, I could barely do anything and I couldn’t face it.  So being able to go back in a pair of lycra shorts and able to keep up and surpass what the boys could do was something pretty special and gave me a lot of motivation to keep going until I reached full fitness!

So a year on I’m able to do most things, I do go on the treadmill now, there is never going to be ‘running’ going on, I’m not sure I like it that much and the recommendation from my surgeon is that not doing it to excess will help keep my knees injury free in the future.  There are a lot of other things that I do so it’s not the end of the world. I’m now swimming faster than before the surgery and the gym work is more varied, now I don’t have to concentrate on the knee exercises so much I can start to focus on other things – at the moment that’s upper arms for me!

The scars have faded, actually I’m quite proud of them and I don’t make efforts to cover them up.  One thing that has remained has been the lack of sensation on a large area of my shin, this was down to the nerves being damaged during the surgery and is a common side effect, sometimes it comes back, but mine hasn’t despite massage and a lot of rubbing but is a small price to pay – although I almost always have a bruise on it due to not being able to feel knocks and bumps!

So many thanks have to go to Mr Santish my surgeon and to the physios at the local hospital, I have climbed, sailed, walked and been able to do some many other things in what has been a pretty special year!

It’s never too late to do exercise, even if like me there’s an injury or a restriction, it can still be done!  And it does change your life in so many different ways!

And the photo – well I think we saw plenty of the white stuff last December!  This year if it comes I’ll be outside shovelling and playing in it rather than watching out of the window!

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