“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 first trip up North…

In March 2009 a five week business trip to Bolton, planted the seed for my life changing forever.

I work in Learning and Development for a well known company (who shall remain nameless) who asked me to come up North from my home in Rayleigh, to support in a sales coaching initiative. I can’t say I was overly enthusiastic at the time – I had a boyfriend and I was studying part time to be a barrister, and I couldn’t see how I was going to be able to hold everything down.

I was only given a week’s notice for the trip so before I knew it, it was the Sunday before the Monday and my colleague and I were making our way up the M6.  (The M6 is my most favourite motorway ever…where else do you get to see cows crossing the road?! I nearly killed myself getting distracted the first time I ever saw that! )

I was staying up at the Mercure (back then the Ramada) on the A6 at Lostock. I’ll never forget the feeling I got when I stepped out the car at about 8pm. It was dark but I could see the snow on the tops over at Winter Hill (although I was adamant it was a mountain). As a lover of winter and the cold, I remember the chill in the air and seeing my breath. And I felt like I’d come home. I’d never travelled further north than Nottingham, yet here I was, not more than 2 minutes out of the Vauxhall Vectra I had as a hire car, and I’d never felt more at home in all my life.

Like any southerner, I cracked all the Peter Kay jokes about garlic bread and cheesecake when ordering my dinner that night (which I now know when North of Watford Gap, it’s referred to as tea!). There was no malice in it though. I was genuinely delighted by the broad Bolton accent I was hearing.

First days in offices you’ve not worked in before are always a bit scary. It’s like being the new girl, all over again. For some reason what sticks with me about my first hour in the office was the discovery that they did cheese on toast in the canteen for breakfast – something that didn’t happen in Rayleigh. The other thing that was so clear to me was that my first day nerves were completely misplaced! Never in all my life have I met such a friendly, welcoming bunch of people. I felt at home pretty quickly, not an unwelcome feeling and one that seemed to be recurring.

Over the course of my five weeks away, I coached seven people and developed a great working relationship with them but I also felt like I’d developed one or two friendships as well. Every Friday when it was time to go home I was so disappointed to be leaving.

By my fourth week I was openly talking about how if I didn’t have the commitments of my studying and my boyfriend I wouldn’t think twice about leaving Essex behind for a new start. The end of the fifth week was heartbreaking. I cried as I got a lovely send off with chocolate, flowers and wine, promising to add everyone on Facebook so I could keep in touch and I continued to cry all the way home. I really wished I could have turned round and driven back up that motorway.

Because of the lifestyle I had chosen – to study so intensively part time, as well as work full time, I didn’t have much time for a social life. Most of my friends were now working in London and had made their own friends and were socialising in London after work. I’d stopped being invited out anyway as I always had to say no, so I gradually drifted from my friends. My boyfriend was pretty shit and seeing someone else behind my back, although I had no idea. I didn’t even know something was up, as my previous two boyfriends had been pretty crap too. I didn’t know any different. I just thought that was how a relationship was supposed to be. Although I didn’t realise to what extent at the time, my life wasn’t making me happy. I must have felt something though to crave the escapism of the North so much…