“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!

Five Minutes in the Morning

A few months ago I was in Sainsbury’s and picked up a book. It’s called “Five Minutes in the Morning – A Focus Journal”.

It’s usually priced at £10 but I was chuffed that it was only £4 (oh the joy of the January sale!)

The idea is, you take five minutes in the morning (duh!) to take stock of the day. Check in with yourself and how you’re feeling. Set some intentions for the day.

I’ve not used it really – it’s such a beautiful book, that I didn’t really want to write in it. I do like “workbook” style things though. I like having something to do.

Now even though this is designed for in the morning, I think I can get so much from this at any time of day.

So this evening I completed the first activity.

An exercise to start writing.

I was tasked with spending five minutes just writing about how I would introduce myself to somebody, and here’s what I wrote:

Hi, I’m Joanna, but most people call me Jo. Except Dave. He calls me Joey. Dave is my other half and he very much completes me. We’ve been together for five years and have a little boxer doggy called Poppy who’s three.

In my spare time I enjoy reading and writing (I have a blog), and going to the gym. I’m a bit of a fadder, but that just means that I never get too bored!

In my spare time, I work for a big energy company in learning and development. I’ve done it for 13 years and genuinely love it!

I’m originally from Essex, but moved to Wigan 8 years ago, which is the best thing I’ve ever done.

I love letters and I currently have six pen pals, and the list is growing.”

I reflected on what I’d written. I feel it’s a fair insight into me but I’m also shocked by what I’d missed out. My love for gin, herbal tea and coffee is missing. Happily, I don’t let my recent diagnosis define me; I felt no need to mention that in my introduction.

After my first experience with this book, I’m definitely going to start using it more. If you’re interested, I managed to get another couple of them on Amazon for £4 – they’re easy to get your hands on. I gifted one to Kate as she shares a love for writing and I got the feeling she’d enjoy using a similar kind of book.

I think it’ll be really nice to dip in and out of occasionally, and give me a little pre-blog warm up or inspiration!

Have a go at this activity yourself – I’d love to read your five minute introductions.

Hands. (Pt 4)

Week 4 of this fabulous challenge is to sum up everything over this last month, and I’m going to make some commitments to myself to help me continue with my new love for my hands.

So what have I learned?

My hands make my life. I take them waaay too much for granted and I wouldn’t be able to live the life I do without them.

I love holding hands. I love talking with my hands and I love using my hands to lift up heavy stuff in the gym!

I LOVE getting my nails done, and for the first time in ages, I’ve successfully got through a month without pinging a false nail off deliberately so I can have a good old chew (maybe a coincidence but maybe not).

I’ve found a love for making my own natural home made remedies too (yes with my bare hands) so they’ll be more of that too!

Oh – and I love rings 🙂 YAY!

So how do I keep this up?

  • Complete a weekly deep scrub and conditioning of my hands
  • Keep up the monthly manicures (I enjoy them and they relax me)
  • Make more homemade beauty products
  • At least once a week, get something hand related into my Daily Gratitude tweets
  • Buy more rings!

And I think that’s it!

I’ve really enjoyed the focus on my hands this month! I’m really looking forward to focussing on the next body part in February!

Limbo.

This week has been pretty rubbish.

Actually, emotionally, I’ve been having a couple of really really naff weeks. A few blogs back, I wrote about the fact that I’m currently going through diagnosis for MS. My position hasn’t changed; I’m still going through diagnosis.

This place that they call “Limbo” isn’t really doing much for me right now. I’m not one to really dwell on stuff though. Don’t get me wrong, I have an emotional reaction to something, but it’s usually over pretty quickly and then I just get on with it. But I can’t do that at the moment. I can’t get on and “deal with it” because I don’t know what it is I’m dealing with.

As a result, I’ve found myself in the last couple of weeks being quite short tempered, emotive. Actually, I don’t even feel like me.

On Tuesday I had a full scale meltdown. Sobbed my eyes out, the lot. Because I can’t “problem solve” the energy I’d usually put into that, has nowhere to go.

So many people have told me how strong I’m being, considering what I am going through. Because people have told me that, I’ve found myself wanting to live up to that standard and not allowing myself to cry (which is crazy really because if there’s one thing I am, it’s a crier!)

I definitely feel better for allowing myself to feel my emotions but I can’t help but have this air of sadness hang over me. It feels alien to me. As a general rule, I have a naturally happy disposition.

At the advice of a colleague, I’ve contacted our employee assistance programme at work. I need someone to talk to. I’ve used it before and it’s brilliant. She correctly pointed out, I need to talk to someone before it gets worse.

Having taken a couple of positive actions (I also called my Neurologist’s secretary for an update) I feel a bit better. I feel less like I’m allowing this to “just” happen to me.

Thankfully, I’ve got an amazing bunch of people around me, from family, friends and work colleagues, to friends I’ve only met online.

You can’t ever underestimate the value of having people that really care about you around.

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!

In my last blog post, I talked about my hatred for New Years Eve and the focus on self improvement seeming to come from more of a “beat myself up” place than a move towards personal growth.

The back end of 2017 was very much about self-love and connecting with myself for me, and this shifted my mindset as to how I perceive New Year. It is a great opportunity to think about the upcoming year, and give yourself some goals and something to work on for the next year.

In order to help me create my “Vision Board” for 2018, really understand what I want out of life, and to set me a clear plan of how to make my dreams become a reality, I sponsored a KickStarter project, from the girls behind “Project Love“.

The “Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018″ workbook is a tool to help you take stock of the year you’ve just been through and set some intention and focus for 2018. The audio guide that comes with it coaches you through the workbook and really helps you to answer some all important questions for how you want the year to look.

After reflecting on 2017 you are asked to think about what you want to do with you life in 2018. What I really found was that the fact that I’m still awaiting a diagnosis for my ongoing health worries, was that I was really letting that define (or rather stopping me from defining) my 2018. It was quite eye opening, and it really took some work for me to break that barrier down and see past what is currently unknown.

Finally, you are challenged to answer questions that will shape your 2018. Read on to see my answers…

2018 is my year of: self-love and me!

In my commitment to making 2018 my year of self-love and me I will:

  1. Complete Mel Wells’ Academy
  2. Buy a house so that I have my own space and spend less time living out of a suitcase
  3. Make time to blog, meditate, read and do all the other things that I love to do
  4. Give ME time – I’m constantly rushing around like a mad woman, trying to please others. I will schedule time in for me to hang out with me
  5. Say No!
  6. Learn not to worry about what I have no control over

Declare this commitment to someone who cares about you and wants you to live a life that you love: This person will be Lucy. She doesn’t know it yet, but no-one has my back like her, and she’ll definitely hold me to account if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do!

I’m excited to see what 2018 brings, and I’m excited to look back on this workbook throughout 2018 to see how I’m getting on. I really enjoyed doing this project and can’t wait to see how it works for me!

I’d love to know how you would answer the above questions in the comments below 🙂