The Christmas Squeeze

At the moment not a day goes by without an email dropping into my inbox telling me how many calories the average person consumes during Christmas lunch (6000) or how long it takes to burn off a mince pie, and so on and so on and to be honest I’ve had quite enough of it. There are a number of reasons that I find it quite maddening.

Christmas isn’t about gifts. It isn’t actually about food. It certainly isn’t about weight loss or slogging yourself at the gym. It’s not about normal life either. I may do some little work outs at home, I’ll share them on Friday, but life will be different over the next few weeks.

It’s about reflection, family, rebirth, renewal. 

Religious or not its a time for those things. For coming together and for gatherings. If that involves a glass of wine, a mince pie, even a whole box of chocolates, it doesn’t matter if you are doing those three things just up there.

It’s not what you eat between Christmas and New Year, it’s what you eat between New Year and Christmas.

Take my little family for instance. Christmas is the first time off that I’ve had in 3 months, Olly hasn’t had time off since June barr a few days when he went away to a festival. This is family time like we’ve not had in a long time. I won’t be eating for the sake of it but I will be eating what takes my fancy. I will attend parties, I will attend family gatherings, I will socialise, I will eat cheese, I will eat carbs.

What will happen after Christmas is I will take stock of what I intend to achieve in 2015. I will take stock of what I want to achieve beyond 2015 and I will take stock of what is realistic in my life. I will begin again with normal life, with the balance, with the drive forward in all areas of my life not just focussed on my weight loss, which will always be an ongoing part of my life, but what I want to achieve with my career and what I want from my future, what I want as a future, where I want to live and what I want to do! Lots of change is coming in 2015 and I want to be ready for it all! So as I wrap up 2014 I want to be looking forward as I celebrate what’s been a spectacularly wonderful year of fun and excitement which I’ll reflect on later on next week.

So when you see that mince pie, and you start to think about calories, have a word with yourself. Are you hungry? Do you really want that mince pie? If you do then eat it. Are you going to work it off? You probably will next year. Realism is Christmas is ONCE every single year. Once. I refused to be shamed, guilted or generally bullied into feeling bad for having a scoop of cornish clotted cream on a warmed up (in the oven) mince pie once a bloody year even if I’m overweight. So screw you posters in the gym asking me how long it takes me to work off that mince pie, you know I don’t care if it takes me all year, because that mince pie is being eaten with my grandparents, they are 82 and they made boxing day lunch for the whole family so we could be together, it’s carbs and fat based, I don’t give two shits.

Below the Poo

Recently I’ve hinted to the fact that my physical health hasn’t been great, well it started during the whole life challenge. Half way through I was put on a new medication and it’s had an effect on my overall health which has in turn impacted on everything else and I wanted to talk about that some more. I’m not going to name the med because I’m not here to give actual medication advice and I’m not a doctor.

So, something I rarely talk about is I am an epileptic. It’s not a major problem for me generally, until a couple of years ago I hadn’t had a seizure for nearly 8 years and I was completely unmedicated.

Then stress, a lack of sleep and a virus caught me out and bam I was down. My very brave son called an ambulance and I was checked over by very lovely doctors, given the all clear and a referral back to Neurology for follow up. That Neurologist thankfully wasn’t too over reactive and decided that no meds would be fine as long as that fit remained a one off. Which it did thankfully however what did begin to happen is regularly, about fortnightly, I began to experience pretty crippling migraines, ones that required a dark room and no pills would shift without sleeping. This unfortunately seems to be an indicator that my seizure threshold is being pushed a little so now is the time to be proactive before seizure number two may happen. The impact of having another seizure, before the obvious risk to my own well being and death is, that my driving license would be gone for at least 12 months. Not helpful when you live in a rural village and work an hour away.

So my doc has put me on some medication and I’ve slowly got to the full dose but the trouble is I’ve gone from sweating after a full hour pushing myself in the gym to losing my breath walking up the stairs. I met with my GP this week and she’s figured it out for me. My blood pressure appears to have fallen dramatically and my pulse has risen to compensate for it. Now usually your pulse is a little dot which falls within your blood pressure range. Mine is currently a little dot which sits way above my blood pressure range. I’m below the poo so to speak. The poo being the pulse dot.

What does this mean? Well what does exercise do? Well it raises your pulse and mine is already raised to start with so I’m out of breath before I even start getting warmed up. I am currently on an exercise ban, doctors orders, nothing more than walking so I’m attempting to get steps in which at this busy time of year is not too difficult. I’m finding it frustrating, also there is temptation at every single corner right now but I’m dangling the incentive of having my nails done next week if I manage to get to my lowest weight by the end of it, so I have to really focus on food. I’m not following any particular plan, not banning any food, nothing is off the menu, moderation is how I’m managing the end of 2014.

How do you manage set backs? changes in plan? when your go to things are taken off the menu? 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is something that I really decided to engage with at the beginning of last year and really found incredibly helpful in managing what has been an incredibly stressful couple of years – and I know when people read these kind of words on the internet they roll their eyes and think oh wow I’ll call the UN a blogger is stressed – just a word about my stress, I’ve worked, done a high workload degree, got divorced, started a new relationship which has gone from long distance to co habiting, been a single mother, supported a boy through all this, lost a grandmother and several friends, while dealing with all the other day to day stresses we all have. So while I’m not quite asking for Bob Geldofs intervention just yet, and yeah I know it’s Christmas, I feel that I’ve needed to manage my stress carefully to avoid some catastrophic kind of collapse of brain. We all have a bucket.

 

In the bucket the stress mounts up drip by drip, or cup by cup, sometimes wave by wave until the bucket overflows. Or so says Brabben and Turkington anyway, I tend to agree with them. How that overflow looks differs from person to person. Some people it’s an epic screaming meltdown. Some people clean. Some people sleep for 3 days. Some people hear voices and hallucinate. Some people it’s worse. For me anxiety creeps up, I become irritable, I don’t sleep well which just makes the situation worse and worse and my nearest and dearest suffer for it. Speak to Olly and he’ll tell you there’s been some tense conversations recently about my stress levels and the impact on the family happiness.

Anyway the point is mindfulness. Some write it off as hippy tree hugging guardian reading liberal nonsense but then they rush to buy their telegraph and are very tense and stuff so maybe they aren’t the best people to listen  to?

Mindfulness is simply acknowledging your feelings, bodily sensations and thoughts in the moment, accepting them for what they are at that moment without trying to change them. Reflecting on them and allowing yourself to be what you are for that moment. Sounds pretty simple but it’s a lot harder to just be than it seems. Our minds are trained these days to think that “multitasking” and busy are great things and so we do them all the time without even realising, we check our phones as we chat, we watch TV as we eat, we accept these as bad habits but try and note how often you do them, you’ll be surprised unless you already make a concerted effort not to.

I started doing a 20 minute type of meditation called a body scan which I absolutely love, it completely relaxes me and centres me and just gets me focussed on absolutely nothing but how I’m feeling at that exact moment. I use an app on my phone to guide me (and this isn’t a sponsored post by the way it’s just what I use) What I tend to find is I’m able to focus better afterwards, I am able to make clearer decisions, firmer choices and feel better about my progress afterwards as well. I highly recommend you investigate!

 

Sometimes I’m able to just stop in the middle of my day take myself somewhere quiet – even the toilet – and use the techniques to calm myself without the app. It’s really helpful to do it and helps me feel on top of things again when I’m feeling scared or overwhelmed.

Stress is a part of life now, I actually think we are encouraged to feel it (the cynical part of me thinks so we can be sold products to de stress us at the end of a busy day/week) so if you’re feeling it and want to rebel against the societal need to be busy and stressed give it a try you might start to feel the calm creep in.

End of Year Goal Round Up

I think I was terrible last month and didn’t manage to round up my goals, I know I wasn’t feeling good about them and may have ostriched them completely. Anyway to recap these are the goals I set at the beginning of the year. I’m rounding up now because I want to do a briefer round up at the end of the year and talk more about what’s going to happen from January.

Presentation2013

 

Lets round them up one by one. I will do them clockwise.

Lose 52 Lbs.

Well, I’ll say this didn’t happen, I’ve been honest from the start I was nervous about this from the very start and I’ve not lost any where close this year. I’ve been through a lot over the past 12 months and I’ve achieved a bucket load of stuff that has nothing to do with the scales or numbers on them. So while I may not of made those numbers much smaller I have achieved far bigger things, I’m not going to sweat it that much, I’ll keep working on it though, one month to go!

Run 5k without walking

I didn’t manage this one either, I got as far as 2 full k which was, at the time of running, the most I’d ever run in one solid run without stopping and I was proud of myself at the time. I’m still carrying considerable weight and when I run it’s still hard work, it’s not easy, I’m not light, every step takes effort and it quickly becomes a battle of wills. So I made some progress before medication set me back to zero really. I hope to pick it up a bit in the new year but that will have to be reviewed by my GP first.

Get my Grown Up Shit In Order

This I have excelled at this year. I feel massively proud about. I’ve purged a tonne of stuff and I’ve become massively better at doing that without mulling it over and saving things, I’m even considering doing a de cluttering challenge in January alongside another shot at the Whole Life Challenge. I’ve made connections with people, I’ve focussed on my career, I’ve sorted my personal life, I’ve become the parent that I’ve always wanted to be and the partner I’ve wanted to be. I have a better relationship with family and friends than I’ve ever had before and I’ve removed some more toxic elements from my life as well. All in all grown up shit – check.

Improve my Mental Health

My mental health has improved a massive amount. I’ve learnt more about my strength in hot water this past 18 months than I thought possible, I’ve learnt some tough lessons and I’ve learnt that I’m far from alone. I’m not the silo I thought I was for a long time. I have people who care for me – who knew? They come in the strangest of forms too. I’ve worked on improving my coping strategies for stress management and how I seek feedback on my performance (because when I’m not getting any my stress goes through the roof). In fact learning to recognise what sends my stress through the roof is a breakthrough in itself. So mental health. Big fat check.

Improve my Money Health

I feel that I’ve made massive improvements in this area. I’ve managed to work out some technical things about my credit report which have seen it move from poor to on the cusp of good meaning that my likelihood of having a secure financial future (i.e  a mortgage etc) is excellent. It should tip in to good before the end of 2014 when another technical issue around the change of my name is resolved. I’m undoing years of head burying and not understanding financial issues and misguided views here so it’s going to take longer than 12 months but I’ve made massive strides. I’ve paid a huge chunk of debt off while on a low income and I’m working on securing a better paid job and career path for the future.

Focus on my word for the year: Today

This has been a real point for me this year, it’s been inspirational in so many ways, being able to look at just what I have to do today, one day at a time, has been so helpful in managing my workload, my stress, my happiness, my joy, my interactions, my time. So many things seem so much more possible when you only have to worry about today. I’m very much a planner but sometimes just thinking about today has been a very wonderful thing.

Changing Seasons

It’s feeling massively colder here and the rain, the never ending south west rain, has begun to fall, and we can feel that winter is here and with it has come a definite feel of discontentment of how I’m doing lately.

Most of this year I’ve maintained. Looking back I’ve lost around half a stone (7 lbs) overall which is fine, a loss is a loss after all and we’ve a month of the year to go so I may lose those over 45 lbs targeted lbs yet ;) but you know it’s no where near what I wanted but life has a way of getting involved in best laid plans of mice and men. And very busy mums who want to make something of their lives other than a healthy BMI.

All year long I’ve had people telling me the same message and I’ve been brushing it off because really I’m not sure how else to work but lately I’ve realised that I HAVE to make a change or I’m going to do some serious damage to myself. I work on full blast. I want to do my very best so I work my very hardest. I expect my very best all the time. I do more. I do extra. I expect more. I take on more. Recently I’ve started to feel a little bit swamped while at the same time feeling disappointed that I’m not making progress with my weight loss or running further or faster.

This has come to be true of food as well. While I can’t keep eating in the slap dash way that I have, with little planning, long gaps between meals – 12 hours at times – and little consistency of health in those meals, I’m no where near getting a balance of carbs and fats or any kind of nutrition at the moment which is exacerbating my tiredness and general feeling of awful, I can’t put pressure on myself to eat perfect Paleo either. Whole 30 right now is not right for me and nor is any kind of uber restrictive plan. I need to eat to fuel myself well and eat to lose weight. Right now I need to simplify, take a step back and start finding my way back to something manageable for me again. I’ll try and remember to instagram my stuff but I’m bloody useless.

Not many people know this but I’m an epileptic, Until 18 months ago I’d not had a seizure for about 8 years, and was completely free of medication, then one seizure hit and initially we agreed I wouldn’t take meds as it was a one off but I started experiencing migraines and headaches recently which would literally leave me debilitated for a whole day and my neurologist surmised that this was likely linked to my epilepsy symptomatology and I was risking another seizure without medication. So during the past 3 months I’ve begun to titrate up on a dose of a medicine to prevent seizures and a medicine which will hopefully control my migraines. Sadly, as with most meds, I’ve had some unpleasant side effects, one of which is that even walking up the stairs has left my heart pounding and my resting pulse has raised significantly which obviously has an impact on a lot of things, I’m waiting for a GP appointment to discuss it further. Obviously it impacts how much I can do in the way of physical work so I’ve been trying to up my lower intensity stuff and stay on my feet more which at work right now is not a problem!

My diet though is whats letting me down but I’m trying not to let myself down any more in that area. I refuse to brand myself a failure anymore though. My life is not a failure. I am not a failure. My life is far from failure, what I see right now is a massively bright future, I am going to do awesome things with my future, but right now, this is part of my present that I want to move on a little and I have to start listening to the person who has done it, rather than the person who is struggling to do it.

Vegan Tuck Box

Now anyone who knows me will have raised an eye brow to hear me talk about a vegan product because I’m far from a vegan person, I eat meat and eggs like they may never reproduce again however I do love a great snack and I love a healthy great snack even more so when Vegan Tuck Box offered to send me one of their jam packed boxes I couldn’t resist.

Vegan Tuck Box are a monthly subscription box who send you yummy gorgeousness through the post every month to your door from snacks to crisps to chocolate and biscuits. You get the choice of a mini box (with 5-6 products) or a standard box (10-12) products and you can even just buy a single box or a subscription.

 photo 2014-11-10102749_zps1f686259.jpg

Inside is packed with loads of yummy things the whole family can tuck in to, my family decimated ours in a matter of days but your family is probably more controlled and less piggy like.

 photo 2014-11-10102820_zpsfb5d8ae9.jpg photo 2014-11-10103000_zps755ee959.jpg

 

Those cookie shots are amazing, AMAZING. I also loved the Almonds and they went down really well at work too, the Oloves and the cookies, the granola bites are delish too. I think they are great value at £17 a month for all these goodies which would keep you going easily through the month and keep you full up as you graze to your hearts content.

 photo 2014-11-10102754_zpsebf7a61d.jpg