Sunday, 25 February 2018

Banishing Debbie Downer

Now, I don't know about you, but I am my worst critic. The worst of worst critics. Think of that horrrible short man on Masterchef who always pulls apart everyones food, and that is me. 
That inner Debbie Downer is one mean cow, and boy does she like to be vocal. 
She's there every time you catch a heel in a pavement crack wilst rushing to work. She's there when you cave and get a Fat Friday at work (fish and chips, i'm lookin' at you), and she's definitely there at night when you're trying to catch some zzz's. 
However, I am on the quest to banish Debbie to the cupboard unde the stairs and firmly wedging a chair under the door. We are all so critical of ourselves that we begin to trust these thoughts, and ignore all the postive phrase which comes our way from friends, colleagues and your nan. 
In a bid to not spend my nights in a cold sweat going over the time I waved to soeone who was waving to the lady behind me. 
2018 is the year that I am instilling some ground rules for me and Debbie in 2018. 

1. Stop dragging up the past, Debbie. 
No matter how much we may want to, we can't change the past. 
Have a really great comeback which you wish you used when the office dragon belittled you in front of your office crush? Take a breath and chuck it in the fuck it bucket (or save it for when she comes at you again, you do you), but do not dwell on it. 

2. Cut yourself some slack. 
So, you ran 5km and hit your new personal best. You're feeling good, better than good even. Those endorphins are carrying you on their backs, and you feel great relish in smugly telling Janet at the printer about it whilst sipping your green tea. 
"Oh that's great" Janet beams, guzzling on her triple shot, extra hot skinny caramel latte "I can do it in x." 
Was that the sound of your endoprhins throwing you off their backs and running away screaming? Or just the sound of your heart shattering? 
You see, smug Janet does in fact enjoy the odd triathlon. Her idol is 'the quicker Brownlee' and she has a weekly balance to blow on Sweaty Betty. She enjoys brunching 'with the girls' and goes to weekly spin classes with Susan from accounts. You return to your desk, dispondant and scowling at your green tea. 
Forget about smug Janet for a second and focus back on you, you who have just smashed your PB. Stop looking at others and their journeys, you are not on the same path as them, and you are doing the best that you can. 

3. Pick some realistic goals. 
It's all well and good deciding you want to set some goals, but if that goals in to run a marathon in 8 weeks whilst wearing your Adidas NMD's with 0 training behind you, then you're going to end up bitterly dissapointed when you collapse at mile 8 with what feels like your aorta rupturing. You find yourself on the floor, screaming at the paramedics that you'll be okay if they could just source you some Jelly Babys - you saw this on a questionable blog which you have since taken that as a solid enough reason to buy 20 packets. 
You need to make your target SMART (See, my Business Studies degree wasn't a total waste); 
Agreed upon 
Time orientated 

4. It's okay to have set-backs. 
Just because you didn't go to the gym for a week doesn't mean that you're going to lose all of the training that you did, the same way that having a pizza isn't going to make you pile on the pounds from 'bad' food. 
You are allowed to have time to yourself, and time to enjoy yourself also. You might see those fitness people on Instagram smashing a salad on Christmas Day, but that's up to them, and it's not a reflection on you if you don't do the same. Life doesn't always work the way in which you planned, and if a hot date asks you out to an Italian restaurant on the night you were due to go to the gym and train legs; just ask yourself this - what will I be having as my main ; lasagne or pizza?

Monday, 19 February 2018

The rise of the Flexitarian

"Isn't being a flexitarian just cheating at being vegetarian?" was my first thought after reading about being a Flexitarian; however with 37% of households cutting out processed meat (Nielsen,2015) and 29% of evening meals not containing any meat products from the 12 weeks before January in the UK (Kantar, 2018), I can see why it holds sway over those who don't want to cut out meat entirely. 

Since January, I have shifted from having chicken for every dinner meal (really - every. single. meal. Unless I was being fancy, and having steak of course), to moving towards either having fish, a meat substitute such as Quorn, or a vegetable alternative. This isn't because of any documentary on Netlfix, or any magazine article which told me I had three years left to live as I ate meat and drank milkshakes, this was simply because I was bored of my food choices and decided to throw a load of new items in my basket whilst food shopping. 

Don't get me wrong, my favourite restaurant in the world is a meat restaurant, and I like nothing more than a KFC or a meat feast pizza whilst sitting hungover in my pyjamas on a Saturday evening; but I am enjoying trying out new things whilst still not venturing near salmon, prawns or tofu. 

It's hard to miss the constant stream of mis-information coming from magazines, tv shows and social media outlets, with each source giving conflicting information on the health risks associated with eating meat, what type of meat you shouldn't be eating, and whether you're killing the planet (and a pig) whilst you tuck in to your bacon sandwich. 
I tend to strongly avoid any health documentaries which aren't looking at the pros and cons for a diet, which is precisely why I have never bought in to the Netflix shows What the Health and Cowspiracy. It's very easy to manipulate facts to serve your own cause, with Dr Hazel Wallace of the Food Medic slamming What The Health in a conference for it's outright dangerous message that it was sending to the masses. 

I, for the most part, only eat meat with my dinners a few times a week now, and will happily silent cheer myself for not eating meat every night of the week whilst trying to navigate what fish I can and cannot eat without gagging. This isn't for any particular health reason, although I have seen several studies documenting the correlation (not causation) of red meats and certain types of cancers such as bowel (this has been commented on by Cancer Research UK, as the bowel and colon cannot break down certain types of meat very well, which can (but doesn't always) cause bacteria build up in that area). My views are, as always my own, and if I still want to eat chicken fajitas mid-week, then I damn well will. If I want to eat a broccoli and stilton bake, then I will happily munch away whilst not feeling like something is 'missing' from the plate.

We, as a nation, are becoming increasingly aware of what we eat and how that food got to our plates, and for some people, that is not something they can handle or be a part of full stop, which is fine. I, for one, am educating myself in where my meat comes from, and I am now far more selective of what meat I purchase than a few years ago when I first started university (although, saying that, my diet did mostly contain pizza, new potatoes and the occasional carrot).

People can be a flexitarian for many reasons; health, diet, meal variety, partner/friend diets are all reasons in which people are turning away from meat, and several scandals involving horse meat within the UK readymeal distribution a few years ago saw the sales of ready meals fall off a cliff, as parents rushed to promise their children they hadn't eaten Scooby the Shetland pony who they hadn't seen in a few months.
Being classed as a flexitarian gives you the opportunity to ease yourself in to less meat dominated meals, whilst avoiding the raised eyebrows of your colleagues as you bring a Big Mac in to the office, whilst swearing blind just a month ago that you were becoming vegetarian this year as part of your new years resolution - who sticks to them anyway??


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

2018 : The year of being broken but fabulous

Now, you may read the title of this post and laugh out loud - I did when I drafted it. I was trying to think of poetic and graceful ways to explain my current situation, but then I would only be lying to myself. 
I spend so long trying to adjust my frame for photos so that no one can see the real me; I don't mean giving myself a bigger appearing bum, or sucking in enough to feel like I'm going to pass out, but by twisting my body in such a way that I can hide my scoliosis. It wasn't until recently that I realised I was doing it, and I laughed out loud at myself in the gym changing room, watching as I managed to get myself looking (mostly) straight. 
When I was younger after my accident, I had an encounter in a changing room where I had to get my cousins husband to come in and confirm to me that he couldn't "see my hip" in the shirt I liked. He swore blind he couldn't, but a part of me niggled away, telling myself that he was lying to make me feel better. 
We have become so fixated by the 'perfect body' through the use of social media that it is getting to the point where there are apps for everything - want clearer skin in an image? You can have it. Want to have an hourglass shape? Sure, however be careful not to have a Photoshop fail. 
So, 2018 is going to be a new start. Not a quest for a bigger bum, or a flatter stomach or slimmer thighs, but a quest for being broken but fabulous. 
Our bodies are diverese, and they are strong and they are capable. We are so lucky to have bodies that can work, but we don't appreciate them for what they are until we lose it. We become so fixated on what we want to become next, that we don't look at what we are doing now. 
There is more to life than slogging away for several hours in the gym, before taking enough selfies to clog up the memory on your phone. There is also a lot more to life than scrutinising the images to death - you could probably find faults with the Mona Lisa if you looked for long enough. But do people do that? No, they stand in front of that painting and "damn, what a banging painting - look at that painting". 
Tonight, instead of being at the gym exercising on a niggling injury, I am sat in my fluffy pyjamas binge watching Luther whilst cooking up my dinner (the only healthy part of which is the broccoli), before sliding in to bed to continue on the marathon with some chocolate. It's time we stopped seeing ourselves as machines pushing for the next physical upgrade, and start enjoying what we already have.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Review // Nikki Blackketter season 2

There are many things I enjoy in life; my dog bopping me for attention, a large box(es) of Hotel Chocolat chocolate, and decent gym wear which doesn’t flash my backside to the world through rubbish material.
Step in the season 2 Nikki B range.
As I mentioned in another post, I hopped off to Covent Garden for the release of the season 1 line of Nikki B back in the summer. I fell in love with the colour and the shape the leggings gave me – I did not fall in love with the sheer compression or the price, however. (Ergo, I had to wiggle furiously to get in to the leggings which I felt was a workout in itself).
When season 2 was announced, I was slightly wary. Would I be stuck shimmying my way around my bedroom whilst trying to get in to them? Would they be sheer like the flex leggings were?
Still, those worries clearly didn’t bother me that much as I was online at 2:55pm eagerly hitting the refresh button on the Gymshark site. I had decided against the bright print leggings of the range, purely for the reason that they were £5 more expensive, and didn’t seem to suit some of the models as much as others.
After watching a few videos, I purchased the light blue leggings in a small, and the sports bra in a medium. They were delivered pretty quickly, which is always hit and miss with Gymshark, and I excitedly skipped home with them to try on before heading out to the gym (note the nightmare I had with the sheer flex leggings? Yeah, wasn’t in private that I noticed they were sheer – it’s safe to say I daren’t return to my gym for a while, for fear of being ‘the flasher’).

First thing to mention is the material. I don’t know what they changed within this version of the leggings, but they are thankfully so much stretchier than the previous line, meaning I’m not left bright red by the end of it. The leggings do however appear to be longer than all of my other leggings. My legs are not short by any means, but I found myself having an excess amount of material down by my shins which required pulling from time to time. I am happy to confirm however that these are definitely squat proof (I checked in the mirror, and then got someone else to check whilst I dropped it low), and they seem to be pretty sweat proof too – okay, so I didn’t sweat that much when I exercised in them, but they did well, so I am giving it a plus. 

I always find it hard to talk about sports bras on here, as my breasts are not the ones I was born with, and were enhanced a few years ago. This usually doesn’t have an impact on my bra choices, however with tight material such as the Adidas sports bras, I find myself having to push my implant down, or readjust every so often. Usually I don’t buy sports bras online, as my size changes so much from brand to brand, that I don’t like to risk it. However, due to the colour of my very fancy new leggings, I decided to treat myself, and give it a ‘hope and pray’ tap to the screen before ordering.
Now, this may be because of the above, but I find the sports bra doesn’t tend to sit correctly, meaning I can only do certain weight training exercises whilst wearing it. I’m not sure if it’s the overlay design, but I find myself constantly having to check myself between each set or each sprint, which I fear is nudging me towards another nickname within the gym. I picked a medium for cup size, however in the back I do find it quite slippy. I am a UK 8/10, with a 32 size back, and I found that I had to keep pulling the top half of the back down to support me, which is no fun when you’re trying to do bent over rows.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with my purchases. The material is definitely much improved on this range, and they offer a very flattering fit whilst not making you feel like you’re about to lose blood supply to your limbs. I probably wouldn’t buy another sports bra of this design again, just due to the limiting nature of the style.
The order basket came to £85, which is definitely above my weekly budget, but I like to think these will make me run faster – maybe.


Thursday, 1 February 2018

When the going gets tough

As I write this, I am tucked up in bed watching Limitless of Netflix with a large mug of tea and my trusty sidekick (the pug shaped hot water bottle) wedged next to me. 
Where had I inteded to be this evening? At the gym, doing some cardio for 50 minutes before giving myself a clap on the back and marching proudly home to another cup of tea. 
Am I there? No. 
Will I be making it there tonight? Also no. 
I've made no secret of my previous injuries on this blog, even dedicating posts to certain aspects of my injuries in a bid to help encourage others to not ignore their symptoms. 
What I have, however, failed to omit from this blog is that I need my spine fusing. There, it's said. 
I have opened and closed this tab more times than I care to mention today, as this was one surgery I never wanted, and have had many a nightmare about. 
When I broke my pelvis, I lost all sensory feeling below my waist. All of the nerves to my legs were compressed, and I screamed and screamed to the person who found me that I was paralysed. To this day I have never forgotten what the panic and fear felt like as I tried to haul my broken lower half in to a sitting position. What I also remember is promising myself that if I could walk again, I would walk everywhere. I also remember the first time I walked unaided after my accident, and it felt good. 
So, why am I not at the gym now, when I said I would do all these amazing activities if I could walk again?
The answer is simple - I realised my limitations. Would you hop in your car when you knew it only had two working tyres? No. Would you force your 8 year old self to go out and run when they were clearly in pain? No (Well, I hope the answer is know, you sadist). 
My body is damaged, but it is not entirely broken just yet. I have overcome many hurdles since the 9th of June 2007; learning to walk, learning to climb stairs, learning to sit in a chair. All of this was made possible by the physios and surgeons and nurses of the NHS, all of whom took their time to build me up gradually. 
Unfortunately for me, my gym has an app where I can track what i've done in the gym and how often I have gone - I can tell you i've been 14 days in the past 4 weeks, and a large chunk of these have been in the last two weeks. 
But for now, I am sitting in bed, with my mug of tea and my hot water bottle and my Netflix, and I am thankful that I am here and able to sit up and watch tv. 
I am thankful that I can make the decision to not go to the gym today without feeling a crushing guilt, and I am also very thankful for Naproxen - thankyou, you clever little painkiller you.