My Love-Hate Relationship With Exercise

Yesterday I went to the gym. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking ok, so what? A lot of people go to the gym. It was my first time going this year and it hurt. A lot. I talk a fair bit about my accident a few years ago, the impact that has on my life and being able to exercise regularly can often cause me a lot of pain.

My relationship with exercise goes way back. When I was a kid I had much more fun with my nose in a book than running around. P.E was the lesson I hated most and I was the most clumsy person I knew. For that to change when I started riding was a minor miracle, there was exercise that I loved!

In the past 3 years, my weight has gone up and down. I lose the weight, I’m happy and then six months later I’ve put it back on and it goes on, again and again. This isn’t a vanity project. This isn’t me wanting to shimmy into some size 6 jeans and get revenge. It’s literally just wanting to be healthy, to get back to the size I was at university.

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Now, I know that my body has and will continue to change throughout my life, but that natural change can be controlled. I haven’t been looking after my body the way I should be in the past few months, I haven’t eaten right, I’ve done minimal exercise so this is on me.

I feel good after a workout, I feel accomplished. Sometimes I feel better, a bit sore and I can get on with my day. Other times the old pains come back and I can’t move the next day, so it’s kind of a bargaining thing. I’m determined that, when I can, I want to exercise in one way or another on a bad day swimming is better, if I’m up to it I can go to the gym. I’ll get there slowly, I might even learn to like it again.

I guess I wrote this because it’s easy to look in Instagram and see amazing people with amazing bodies talking about how much they love fitness and healthy shakes. If that’s not you, that’s ok. A lot of people aren’t athletic but you have to do it your way, I certainly am!

 

How do you feel about exercise? Let me know in the comments below!

February Favourites!

It’s come around again it’s time for my monthly favourites!

Books: 

This month I’ve read a fair amount (although maybe not as much as I’d like) and three books have stood out to me. The first was sent to me by Diamond Press, it’s called March and is a graphic novel written by John Lewis, a key figure in the Civil Rights movement, this is the first in a three-part series and I can’t wait to read the rest. Secondly is Here We Are, I reviewed this (catch it here) and raved about it because it is an incredible book, full of inclusion, intelligence as well as being fun! And finally, although I haven’t finished reading it, I am in love with Giovanna Fletchers newest book about being a mother. It’s not something I personally know anything about, being a mother, but I love the way Gi writes (I found her on her Youtube channel)  and it makes me feel better about the prospect of being a mother in the future.

Music: 

This month was very Busted orientated, earlier this month Abbie and I went to see Busted live (again) on their Midnight Driver tour. I’ve listened to the album a lot this month it’s got an 80s vibe to it and a lot of great and upbeat tracks. Ed Sheeran also dropped a few songs this month which I’ve been obsessively listening to (while getting ready to go see him on tour later in the year). Last but not least two bands I’ve been listening to are Lower Than Atlantis and their new album Safe in Sound, I’ve also been listening to a band called Broadside thanks to my lovely boyfriend Ali.

Shop: 

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After the move it’s been a quite quiet month in terms of any spending. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of window shopping, particularly in Oasis’s where I’ve fallen in love with their latest pieces!

Watching:

Yep, my viewing has been a little dark and very Netflix orientated this month. I wanted to start a new series and had heard great things about How To Get Away With Murder, so I started to watch. I also noticed that The People vs O J Simpson had been added, which I loved when it aired last year. Hopefully next months viewing will be little lighter!

General: 

I’ve really embraced Lush baths to ease the pain of my back which has produced some beautiful colours! I also received some lovely gifts after coming home including a swear word colouring book and flowers! On the subject of food I’ve been loving Tetley Boost teas and getting into my own baking! I’m also loving the new Powerpuff Girls range that Primark are embracing at the moment, I LOVED the Powerpuff Girls growing up so my Mum treated me to these. And finally my first gym session post injection, I was so proud of myself- read about it here.

What have your favourite things been this month? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!

Recovery: Back To The Gym

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As my regular readers know, a few weeks ago I underwent injections in my spine in the hopes of relieving some of the pain I’ve had since my initial break back in 2015. It’s been a long, and quite painful, two weeks while I waited to see if they were going to work at all. I’m not sure if they have, it’s currently too early to tell BUT I managed to do a 30-minute workout today. It definitely doesn’t sound like much, maybe it isn’t too much, but I’m not in agonising pain afterwards. It gives me hope, that even if the pain never completely goes away, it might be able to be managed. I could have cried once I’d done the 30 minutes, because I wasn’t counting down the seconds so I could stop, I was enjoying it and it means everything right now.

Fit Not Thin

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I know that in the past few months I’ve slipped a little on my fitness. I’ve still got a strong appreciation that I can use my body after the accident, but there were a bunch of reasons I just lost motivation. You could say they’re excuses, maybe they are, but they’ve impacted not only my motivation but the way I felt about myself. I started reverting back to old ways, attempting to cut out food and give myself tiny portions, which made me absolutely miserable. I hated having to log everything and feeling guilty if I went out for dinner.

I like food, a big part of hanging out in my office revolves around the local burger place and I don’t have to tell you that sitting and eating some rice and possibly chicken if my calories will allow it is no fun when the guys are tucking into some beautiful burgers. I have the willpower, I’ve done it before but back then I didn’t mind, it was the only way I could control my body and the way I looked, now I have a little more scope for fitness and less time to faff around with calorie numbers.

I came to the conclusion that I need to separate being thin and being fit. I’ve been self conscious about weight since I was bullied at school. I was not fat, not at all, but I had a little puppy fat and most of the popular girls in my year were naturally very thin, I had curves and was frequently told to go to weight watchers. I used to get stressed about food, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t now sometimes. I don’t like salad and fruit on its own makes me really nauseous (no idea why, it just does), so eating lunch at school was a nightmare. Now it’s better I can eat vegetable soup or something where the veg is in a sauce (I know, I’m like a baby) but then I could eat the mush from the canteen or my packed lunch, that was it. I fretted and stressed because I didn’t have a ‘perfect body’ and hid under baggy clothes and jumpers whenever I could. Part of this was teenage insecurity, honestly though the picture below from my 15th birthday I hated and thought I was ‘fat’, I very clearly wasn’t.

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Anyway, back to the focus of this post. I realised I had some of these thoughts again, panicking and stressing about food all the time, it’s not fun and it’s not how I want to spend my life. I’m going to focus on being as fit as I can whilst recovering from my spine still. I don’t want numbers to dominate my life, because I’ve been there and it doesn’t always create the right results. I refuse to let myself have scales in my house because I know I’ll just get obsessed with some numbers and a BMI chart, where’s the fun in that? So there it is I’m going back to the gym, the workouts and just wanting to be as fit as I can.

The Gym Return.

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On Monday night I sat down and set up a gym membership, my goal was to get back to my workout routine pre deadlines. I have to admit knowing that I’m going to have to fit it around work rather than having my chilled sessions with Alice made me think twice about signing up. That said after my routine slipped I noticed that I put back on a little bit of weight and I wasn’t feeling as good in myself. With the move as well my mental health has been more tricky to deal with so I needed to dose myself up with some gym love.

I’m writing this, and I know it will be short, curled up in blankets and trying not to fall asleep but I feel SO GOOD. My body aches but I’m just proud of myself for getting off my ass and going after work. It helped that I went with my sister too and got to work out and talk to her. The most important thing is that I’m doing this for myself. I want to get fitter and try to help the pain in my spine, I want to be able to help my depression by working out. Losing weight is a plus but it’s not the reason I’m going any more, feeling healthy is much more important than what anyone else thinks of me or my body.

 

Image from Pinterest.

Feeling your heart beating – Exercise and Mental Health

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If you’d have told me 5 years ago that I would fall in love with the gym and it would become a kind of therapy I would have laughed at you. I was the clumsy kid who was awful at sports even from the first year of school…I look like a chicken when I run. I also get red, sweaty and gross whenever I do any sort of exercise and so when I tried to go to the gym at my college and beautiful skinny girls were draped over machines posing rather than working out I decided that maybe I wasn’t meant to  do sport, that’s cool. In fact I was more than fine with that fact.

Fast forward to when I found horse riding, I’d been told exercise was really helpful for people with depression but, let me tell you, in my darkest times I just saw myself as a chubby teenager with dodgy knees, you don’t like yourself and you don’t want to be around other people. I basically could go to the school gym, then the college gym, full of kids who couldn’t stand me and the thought of exercising in front of them sent me into a tear filled panic attack at 16. I looked into sports in the first year of university and found nothing that interested me, honestly I think I was so anxious about everything I didn’t let myself even think  about joining a team. By second year I felt more comfortable, signed up for horse riding and fell in love. I worked hard, only ever missing one lesson because I was sick and would always come away feeling lighter. That was a solid 30 minutes of the week where my troubles disappeared I had to work on my body, the horse’s body and making them work together. This was my first taste of exercise making me feel mentally and physically better in a long time.

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When I broke my spine and knew I probably wouldn’t be riding again it broke my heart. Not only had I lost the connection with the horses and my hobby, I’d lost a way to make my mental health better. I was scared, on a lot of painkillers and not ashamed to admit that I did slip back into depression after the accident for a long time. I’d gone from feeling like Jessie the Cowgirl, ready to try jumping and hack across Richmond park in the near future to the news that riding wasn’t going to happen. I still don’t know. It wasn’t until I was fit enough to start going to group physiotherapy in the rehabilitation gym that I found another way to get the hormones pumping and kick my negative thoughts back into gear.

In physio gym no one cares what you look like, everyone has their own struggles and a lot of us had pain while working out. Everything was very slow and most people were 15 years older than me and above. I could try and get into some kind of groove again under the watchful eye of a physiotherapist so my spine didn’t freak out, that was all the way back in November. Now I try and go to the gym weekly, I have the best gym buddy and although I’m still not very fast I’m getting there step by step. I left the gym after a session today with the biggest smile, in part because of my dazzling company and the other because I was covered in sweat and happy that my body had gotten a workout (my back can only sometimes manage a light walk but today, thankfully, was not one of those days.

Feeling my heart beating reminds me I’m going to be ok, just like the Sylvia Plath quote – ‘I am, I am, I am’. Sometimes you just need reminding that your head doesn’t control everything, because on a day here or there it can feel like that. I know that for some reading this, they might not be in a place where they feel they can exercise, getting out of bed is difficult enough and I understand, I’m not here to be preachy, just to say I was like you and keep going. Exercise isn’t going to have this result for everyone and it’s not the only thing I use to keep myself going, it’s’ a combination of talking, writing, exercise, being creative and working… keeping busy.

What helps you guys? Do you exercise or spend time doing something else? Let me know!

 

Be sure to check out my other posts for Mental Health Awareness Week on the home page!

Todays mood update: Tired and a little overwhelmed this afternoon due to a flat visit but right now I’m feeling pretty chilled out and happy, the gym session obviously worked!

Sunday 7 – 7 Things I’ve Learnt Since Breaking My Spine

I’ve been feeling fairly emotional in the last few weeks about today. It’s been one year since breaking my spine and I just feel kind of weird about it. I broke down in tears after a particularly bad pain day, because I’m still in all this pain a year later. I just felt so fed up but then I had a hug with Ali and he reminded me of what I’ve been saying to myself for the past 12 months. I may be in pain but I’m still here and I’m still walking. What happened to me was bad enough but it could have been a lot worse! I’ve also really grown as a person in the past year, my opinion on life has changed and I’m truly grateful. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I’m glad it happened, it changed a lot and I didn’t have the best year BUT I am really proud of myself, how I’ve reacted and what I’ve learnt.

You can have all the ridged plans you want, but life doesn’t work that way.

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Before the accident, I had a plan of how my life would go and it would go that way. I was like I’ll graduate then and I’ll go straight to my masters, then my Phd. I’ll have a house by this time, a dog, a child, another child, I WILL HAVE CONTROL. I learnt after the accident that life can throw ANYTHING at you, there was a point where I physically couldn’t walk. Of course, I didn’t plan that, no one plans almost losing the ability to walk. It made me realise that I can’t have this idea of infinite control, so I’ve let go a little. Things will happen as they do, I only have so much control.

Stop being so hard on yourself! 

Recovery was hard, super hard. I constantly get told by my physiotherapists, pain specialists, lecturers, family, Ali that I need to stop being so hard on myself. They’d remind me all the time this wasn’t a small break, this was a huge part of my body trying to fix itself. So what if I put on weight, if I didn’t get the top grade in my class. I realised striving to be great is good but I don’t have to be perfect all the time.

The human body is a beautiful and amazing thing.

For a long time after the accident and sometimes still now I resented my body. I hated that it had broken in such a simple fall, I hated the stretch marks that had bloomed all over my thighs, I hated the fact people commented on how much weight I’d put on and I hated that I didn’t fit into any of my clothes. I had a realisation at a point that I just thought my body has been doing so much work. It’s literally been healing the main pillar in my body that hold everything together, that’s amazing.

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When you’re sick enough, you can cope with your hatred of needles/hospitals/ claustrophobia. 

I still hate needles, I will always hate needles BUT when you’re sick enough (like when I was in the hospital earlier in the year) you get on with it. I still don’t like hospitals (who does) but now it’s just another place I have to go sometimes. I won’t lie having my MRI and CT scans were pretty nerve wracking and claustrophobic but the people running them understood that. Basically you can get through a lot more than you think you can.

The gym is better than any therapy session and any religion. 

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If you’d have asked me a year ago about loving the gym I would have laughed at you, now I’m stressed when I CAN’T go. The gym is a love and an obsession and I can’t wait to get back into routine and slowly keep building my muscles and be in so much better shape than I was a year ago.

It’s ok to have days where it all feels like too much. 

You’re only human, you need these days, it’s okay!

The people who stick around are the ones that are meant to be there. 

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My relationships changed a lot after the accident, I lost a lot of people and I gained some others. More than anything I learnt that the people that are meant to be there will be. I also learnt that some people are in your life for a certain amount of time and that’s okay too. I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason.