Little Update!

I’ve not blogged for about ten days, which for me is quite a while! I’ve felt like there’s not been much to say over the last couple of weeks.

So what’s been happening?

Last Sunday, my lovely friend Karen ran the London Marathon for MS-UK. As she had a charity spot, she had a £2000 target to hit, which I’m pleased to say she did. She didn’t have the race she’d been planning because of the heat. But she did it! What an absolute champion!

Lou dragged me to Body Pump on Monday, then I spent the subsequent five days not being able to walk. I found this particularly amusing as I’d shared my story on our work intranet in aid of MS Awareness Week. All I could think was that people will have read my story, then seen me walking really strangely. Then put two and two together and ended up with five 😂. It certainly gave me a little chuckle!

The last couple of days, Dave and I have been glamping! When I found out about going for Lemtrada this year, I knew we’d have to get a break in sooner rather than later. We had thought about trying to get over to Athens for a couple of nights, but it’s just not going to he possible. So instead we’ve found ourselves in a “Pod” on a campsite between Blackpool and Preston.

Although the weather was abysmal, it’s been so lovely to just recharge. I actually prefer the bad weather to it having been roasting. Plus, as the weather was bad, it was nice to not feel compelled to do something just because it was nice. I think I needed to just more or less stop!

I’ve had increasingly itchy feet again – you know what I get like when I’ve not heard from my specialists for a bit. Today I came home to some fab news though.

I’VE BEEN APPROVED FOR LEMTRADA!

This is such a relief. I know I got told that the evaluation panel thing is “just a tickbox exercise” but it was still worrying me a bit. So now it’s just a case of waiting (oh there’s a change!) for a date.

On the plus side I’m still avoiding a lumbar puncture, YAY!

Finally, I’ve started reading a book called “The Unmapped Mind.” It’s written by a guy who has relapsing remitting MS, and has also had Lemtrada. It’s a combination of his memoirs along with everything he learned along the way. I’ll be giving a full review once I’ve finished!

“The Fear”

Ok. Confession time.

I’ve gone from being a 3 or 4 time a week gym goer to not going at all for two months.

Wanna guess why?

Nope. Not because I have MS.

Want another guess?

I’m shattered? Yeah well that’s true but it’s only a small part of the reason.

How about, I’ve been too bloody scared!

I’ve been a member of a budget gym for nearly four years but very recently, I cancelled. Sam hasn’t been personal training there for nearly a year (at a rough guess) and despite it’s recent facelift, the place is tired. It lacks a buzz. Although I don’t do many classes anymore, preferring to train on my own, the timetable has gone pretty naff too. If you like spin and boot camp, fill yer boots. Anything else and you’ll be disappointed.

So this year, through our employee benefit scheme, I moved gyms. Incidentallty, this is one that Sam teaches a couple of classes at, and she’s been selling the place to me for months!

I’ve been a member for 17 whole days and today I took the plunge and went.

The point is, why has it taken me 17 days though? I’ve been so excited about joining there, I should have been banging down the door at opening time on April Fool’s Day!

I got “The Fear”. And then I started thinking too much about “The Fear” and ended up in tears after thinking all the irrational things last Wednesday.

It all started whilst I was writing the “My Big Why” blog post. I came to the realisation that I’m probably still as mobile as I am from the work I’ve been doing in the gym for the last four years. I never saw myself as physically strong, but in the time I’ve trained with Sam, I’ve lifted weights I never imagined possible.

Then I started thinking how I needed to get back to the gym. I’ve been in a lot of pain over the last month. By a lot, I mean quantity of pain rather than level of pain. I’ve been getting stiffness and pain in my left knee, sometimes extending to cramp in my thigh. I’ve been feeling a LOT MORE spaced out than I usually do.

It can’t be a relapse, because these symptoms aren’t exactly new. They’re just more pronounced at the moment. Just because I’ve been told I have MS, it doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly in excruciating amounts of pain. Nothing’s actually changed.

Except it has. I stopped training.

So then I started thinking about “The Fear” and that I need to get back to the gym and that’s the thing keeping me physically strong and mobile. Then I got REALLY upset and I couldn’t get past ending up in a wheelchair but I still had “The Fear” so how was I ever supposed to stay strong?!

(Are you following? I’m exceptionally confused myself now, and also getting mad at how ridiculous and irrational I was being!)

Anyway, “The Fear” was replaced by another fear. Fear of becoming immobile (we’ll call this “The Real Fear”).

Because “The Real Fear” had set in, it was time to get over myself and drag myself to the gym. For one reason or another, I had booked this afternoon as annual leave. My original plan fell through, but I decided to keep this afternoon booked off so that I could go to the gym whilst it’s quiet.

So today, I “announced myself” at the gym. All it involved was giving them a number that I’d had emailed to me. Well that was easy enough. I gave her the details, and she let me through the door and promised me that a welcome pack would be waiting by the time I was finished. She directed me to the changing rooms, but apart from that, I was on my own!

Gaaaahhh! This bit was my “Worst Fear”. Wandering around aimlessly like someone who didn’t have a clue. All my usual words of encouragement to others who are first time gym goers went out the window! I ended up tentatively taking two steps into the free weights area and then running a mile, quite literally on to a treadmill instead.

I hate running (that’s how big “The Fear” had set in again), but all the same I ended up doing 25 minutes of HIIT sprints. Urgh. What did I do that for?! It’s enough to put anyone off!

The main thing is, Day 1 is out the way and I feel good. I’m extremely happy that I successfully didn’t fall over my own feet (which is likely to happen at snails pace on a normal surface, never mind on a treadmill), and my legs felt the strongest that they’ve felt in ages. I’d felt really sceptical about them to be honest as I’ve been feeling so weak in that area over the last couple of months.

Today was a huge win and hopefully it’s the start of me getting my mojo for the gym back, if only for two or three days a week.

Next stop, Zumba with Clare and Lou. I bloody hate Zumba and I last time I did it, I fell over my own feet (of course I did!) so this ought to be good.

My Big “Why”

I have been obsessively on a diet for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t say I have an eating disorder but I’ve certainly had an unhealthy approach to food at times.

Last September I decided to put an end to that after reading “The Goddess Revolution” by Mel Wells. I highly recommend it to anyone that’s struggled on diets or has a love hate relationship with food. It’s a fantastic read and helps you to see how you can change your attitude towards food . You ditch the diet mindset and focus on intuitive eating. Trouble is, as I’ve not been banning pizza and chocolate, I’ve intuitively just eaten a lot of that stuff.

Not great!

Luckily, I’ve only put on about half a stone as a result. But it’s time to heal that.

Mel works on you finding your “BIG WHY”. Why do you want to heal? It’s got to be big and something that you emotionally connect with. It’s got to be big enough to make you want to stop and truly look after you by eating good, nourishing soul foods. And no, I want a sexy summer bod, ain’t enough!!!

For some people, it’s so that they can get a body that will give their unborn child the best start. For others, it’s so that they can lead a happier life filled with vitality and adventure – where they truly love and respect their body and don’t let it hold them back.

For me it’s something else. For me, my “why” is so that I’m strong enough to fight this battle I’ve got. My strength that I’ve built in the gym in the last four years is something I will eternally be grateful for – I seriously question if I’d still be as mobile as I am if I hadn’t built my strength as much as I have done.

This realisation is the immediate kick up the arse I need to get back to training and eating well.

In the spirit of this, I’ve spent the last hour prepping Buddha bowls and I’m off to a new gym tomorrow!

My Buddha Bowl! Wild rice, sweetcorn, edamame beans, roasted broccoli, squash and peppers, carrot and crunchy chickpeas. Topped with a nice cajun chimichurri dressing 😍

Unfortunately, the 10K that I really wanted to run for Wigan MS Therapy Centre this year, isn’t going to happen – there’s no way with going in for treatment I’d be able to be fit enough in time.

For now however – I’m just going to do me, without a diet plan and without setting myself stupid goals that I obsess over and then feel crap for because I’ve failed at them. They make me unhappy and they do not nourish my soul, never mind my body!

Here’s to strength and vitality!

This Girl Can

Today I finally dragged myself back to the gym. Most people get to January and they can’t wait to hit the gym. I on the other hand ALWAYS lose my mojo.

Thing is, all it takes is one session and this evening, completing run one, on week one of the Couch to 5K has done the trick…

My goals in the gym have changed dramatically in light of my recent diagnosis. I’ve always been obsessed with losing weight (and failing miserably because I’m an emotional and boredom eater). Now, my goals are about being as strong as possible whilst enjoying the exercise I do.

As a youngster, I danced. This carried on right until I was about 17, and there was no longer time for dancing, what with part time jobs and a social life.

Throughout my very late teens and into my early twenties, I flirted with the gym. My friend Hayley and I often went to the gym just go a Jacuzzi and a sauna. I found a love for Les Mills classes. I enjoyed the choreographed element of them, even with Body Pump which completely appealed to my dance background.

With one thing and another, at the age of about 23, whilst I’d knocked the gym on the head, I came back to dancing but this time to Salsa dancing which was a whole new thing for me, having historically ballet danced my way through life.

I really struggled with salsa dancing whilst I lived in Essex – I didn’t like to follow the male lead, but when I moved to Manchester I carried on dancing and quickly got the hang of it!

I loved this time in my life! I was out dancing almost every night of the week! Once I met Dave though, it stopped.

Roughly four years ago, I decided enough was enough. I was the most unfit I’d ever been and probably the most out of shape too. I joined a gym.

Me after my first personal training session with Sam. That smile is NOT real!

As part of my sign up deal, I got two free personal training sessions with a trainer called Sam. She totally understood my body, the fact that I wasn’t that fit and the fact that I HATED cardio! I’d had pretty clueless personal trainers for the odd session here and there, and it never really clicked for me.

Wigan Colour Run…I. HATED. EVERY. SECOND

I decided to carry on training with Sam, and still do to this day. She’s become an important part of my life – and if we had to part ways I’d genuinely be very upset. She’s one in a million!

Anyway, it didn’t take long for Sam to help me find a real love for weight lifting. The relief that I didn’t have to spend hours running on a treadmill was incredible!

About a year after I started training with her, she upped the ante and got me into lifting the heavy shit. Our previous sessions had always focussed on lower weights and high reps.

Looking back now, it’s funny. I never saw myself as strong. I was pretty feeble, but the buzz when you tell a guy how much you can deadlift (95kg for 1 rep) and he realises you could deadlift HIM is pretty awesome!

I’m definitely not in my best shape, but I’m definitely the fittest I’ve been in all MY adult life now. I can do things with my body I never imagined possible and I’m finding new things all the time.

But I still struggle to run.

It’s that thing that I’ve always wanted to be able to do though. So this year I’m torturing myself by signing up for the Wigan 10K in September. My plan is to run, walk or crawl it in aid of Wigan MS Therapy Centre who do some amazing work.

I’ve still not had a chance to go down there yet, but naturally I feel an affiliation now. I realise I’m lucky to have MS but be really mobile. A lot of this I put down to all the effort I’ve put into my fitness over the last four years.

Tonight, I did my first run on the couch to 5k running programme.

It took me 28 minutes to travel 2.5km and I only ran for 8 minutes of it, but we’ve all got to start somewhere. And I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it but the sense of achievement when it was done was worth so much more than the marginally less enjoyable than the previous 1680 seconds.

But do you know what. I’m a determined soul when I want to be. And if I can deadlift 95kg, I can bloody well run 10K!

Post work out today!