So in January I was suddenly inspired to download the Couch to 5k app. I had started running on the treadmill last autumn and managed to keep it up instead of giving up after a few weeks. My stamina and cardio fitness have been issues for me since having to give up dance but maintaining progress has been difficult. Running is just something I never saw an appeal in. Which is odd, as I ran a lot, and long distances, up hill, cross country, as a teenager.
So anyways, back to my story, in January I downloaded the app, I decided that my first run would be on the following Tuesday. Tuesday came around and wouldn’t you believe it, so did a storm. I was undeterred and went for a run, wearing a bright yellow hoodie and an owl beanie hat to try and keep warm. To say I got wet would be an understatement. I was drenched. But what was important is that I didn’t use the weather as an excuse. Really after that introduction, it could only get better.
Well if i am honest, it didn’t really, not where the weather is concerned, it was pretty wet and windy for 90% of my runs, and I quickly learnt that it doesn’t matter how much lighting, bright colours, hi vis or reflective items you go out in… cyclists will always act like they can’t, or hadn’t see you and try and push you off the path.
As I progressed, I was finding my initial path ( the same I take to the gym at the weekend) was not long enough, so I sat down and had a look at possibilities. I am lucky, I have a river, canal and common land in what I refer to as my back garden. It means that I don’t spend a lot of time running on the road. I spend enough time as a pedestrian that running on roads has absolutely no appeal to me.
I also downloaded Strava to help me track my workouts – I wanted to see what my pace was, have an accurate way of analysing and recording my runs. And this does also seem to have helped motivate. A lot of the time, you need to figure out what works for you, what makes you tick. I found the map on this even easier to use and found a nice reservoir that I could run around… well not around. Every run I pushed myself to run a little further, and I was able to judge how far I was and when to turn around. But between the high winds which felt that I was going to be pushed into a lake or a river, and cyclists pushing me off the path (not as often as my original route) regularly, it was becoming frustrating.
Well, I have found a third route which I have done for the last 2 weeks and honestly, it is like an awakening. As its alongside a canal, so is pretty straight, and there isn’t much variation on the incline. Running around the lake, the path was so bad that I was worried about my knee or tripping and twisting my ankle. The final straw was having to walk back after my knee gave in which I am fairly sure has a lot to do with the appalling state of the path. But the path I am using now is almost bouncy and is a pleasure to run along.
Last night was my final run, I have officially completed the Couch to 5K but you know what really got me, I didn’t hit 5k! How? Well I was going with the timings and now the distance so tomorrow will be my first solo run and I am aiming to hit 5k.
So there are a couple of things that I have learnt – I do not yet have the ability to run without slowing down – I slow down for a few steps before setting off. This is mostly to catch my breath. I am not annoyed with myself, I try and go further and further between breaks and know I will get there, I am not training for anything so there is no pressure. I am a social runner – I take bread out to feed the local birds, ducks and swans.
I have learnt that some days will be better than others, and it is important to recognise when you have had a bad run. It is no good ignoring it, or glossing over it. If it was shit, it was shit. You know you can do better next time. I had a few bad runs but yesterday, my final run of the program? I smashed it! I ran further, faster and longer and there is no real reason for it. But go with the flow, don’t force it, don’t fight it. What is important, is that you tried.
What I can say, is that, outside having a pair of running trainers, and wearing high vis, making sure you are warm, the one thing that is REALLY important when running is a decent sound track! It helps you pace, even if its subconscious. Oh and leggings with a pocket 😉
Sooooo in my last post I explored the last year and what has been going on with me.
cently, I was at the gym, and I was actually really pleased with myself – both at what I was seeing in the mirror but also with improvements that I had been seeing.
I stopped myself from comparing myself to others, its easy to do, and if you are planning on hitting the gym … word of advice. Do not compare. There is no point in looking at how flexible someone is, how much stamina someone has, how much are they able to lift. There are so many variables and if you are going to compare, file it under goals. I have said it before, and I will say it again, everyone in the gym is there to work out. No one is looking at you and judging. Most people are wrapped up in their own workout and even if they appear to be looking at you, are not focusing on you!
Right, now that I have offered the same piece of advice …
A couple of things that I need to get off my chest, and I don’t mean to offend people but they are niggles that are pretty unhelpful when trying to make positive changes.
When you weigh yourself and your weight has increased. Someone telling you that your weight naturally fluctuates is true. But unhelpful. Do not just assume that it was a glitch and keep on as you have. Think about what you have or haven’t done, activity wise, food wise. And make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of complacency. I am not suggesting that you beat yourself up over a couple of lbs … as long as it is just a couple and you claw it back. But letting it slide, and not keeping it in check is a slippery slope.
Women …… HORMONES ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND BUT THEY ARE NOT AN EXCUSE. I have seen a lot of posts regarding a weigh increase due to hormones, and that time of the month. But think about it objectively. Do you eat differently? I certainly do. I have struggled massively with snacking. Its all the grazing, and frankly chocolate that I crave. And what is the obvious outcome?
Muscle is heavier than fat. Wow… yeah you got me there. That is exactly why I am not losing weight! Its all those gains…. yeah no. No it isn’t. Muscle is indeed heavier than fat. But its down to density and unless your body fat % is nice and low… so no, I personally, am fat, and my weight is down to fat and not muscle. Don’t get me wrong, weight training is amazing but you are just not going to be gaining muscle quickly unless you are eating super clean.
Telling people they don’t need to lose weight is NOT HELPFUL – it is the same as when you tell people to eat a burger. Do you know what they are going through? I have been told that I am fine, that I don’t need to lose more weight, what am I worried about etc etc I of course appreciate that it is coming from a good place. But ultimately it is not helping. It leads to complacency and that is not going to see you reach any goals.
Now everyone’s journey is going to be different – it depends on their starting point. How much you want/need to lose, why you want to lose, do you want to gain, are you more concerned about fitness, have you had to change up your workouts due to injury, are you switching from cardio to weight training, are you working toward a competition. I am absolutely down for accountability, it is a throw back to being a sports wear ambassador and it got me into the habit of posting my workouts. I mean if you don’t post it on SM, did it really happen? But it evolved into not cheating myself and showing some accountability for where I was with training.
But only do what works for you, are you posting so that you can connect with others on the same journey, is it a checklist, do you want something to look back on? You need to be honest with yourself, accountable for yourself and don’t make excuses. You can be reflective and offer a reason but only if that is going to help you understand, overcome and improve.
I guess this should be a whole, New Year, New me post.
It isn’t, it is reflective and a little bit of an apology.
When I started the series, I was fully immersed and training hard. Since then, a bunch of stuff has happened and to a degree I have probably mentioned it in previous posts. And if you follow me on SM you will already know.
A lot of it will be the same excuses I have trotted out but it comes down to, Life. Life happened. Things changed, I changed. But let us just quickly run down what has been going on before i tackle a few things.
18 months ago, I broke my wrist. At this point my training was, I felt, going really well so it really knocked me for six.
In that same period, I changed job 3 times, with 3 very different working hours and schedules. Things have thankfully settled down.
I put on A LOT OF WEIGHT
I got a PT (the last 2 are not mutually exclusive)
So lets unpack. When I broke my wrist, my consultant suggested it was probably safer for me to continue at the gym. Which I did. It was okay. But until you have an injury that limits you like this, its really hard to understand how limiting it is. This isn’t just the adjustment while you are recovering. It is how long the recovery actually lasts. I mean. I would say, even now because of the tendon injury and referred pain… I am still not 100%.
Changing jobs – so while I was at the hairdressers, I was working part time and this meant I had a greater deal of flexibility and could spend more time at the gym without worrying about time. It was great. When I changed to, ironically, working at the gym, I was working longer weeks and hours, and walking more. Now walking is something I will come back to. But one thing I struggled with, is getting to the gym. Because I was on a mid shift, I struggled to get to the gym on either side of my shift and when I was on a day off, I avoided the gym. So that didn’t help. I have since started another job which involves a lot of sitting, including my commute. Which leads me to my next point…
My current job involves little in the way of activity. With all my employment while living in Northampton, I have walked a lot, walking through town to get to the bus stop, popping into town during lunch breaks, while at the gym I spent a large chunk of my way canvassing, and working to and from work. So I have now got a job that sees me spend a great deal of time on the bus and at my desk. So yeah… not ideal.
My final point, arguably the most important, is that when i left the gym, I stayed as a member, and got roped into a PT session … and honestly I am so happy that I did. I had wanted to get a PT for a long while but seriously the money was a big issue but also finding someone who I felt I could work with.
Now, that is obviously more than a year, but it all is linked in. I put on a lot of weight when I changed jobs, not so much not going to the gym, because I was spending a lot of time on my feet, but changing to an office based job again. And what is worse, I didn’t realise. It sounds silly, I know. How did I not realise I had put on so much weight. I knew I was over weight, again something i had discussed before, and again I could pinpoint why the weight had crept on. But this was not slow, over a few years, lets not kid ourselves. I got lazy with what I was eating, and I wasn’t doing enough exercise to combat my lifestyle changes.
I started seeing my PT just over a year ago, and I would argue with him about the fact eating plans don’t work for me, that I know how many calories are in the things I am eating (to an extent this is true) and that I was fine. I can’t exactly remember what it was that pushed me. But I took scales into work for a coworker and jumped on myself. And nearly died. I was mortified at the weight. over 2 stone heavier than I expected. So I got chatting to a friend who also happens to work in the fitness industry and she gave me some pointers. The biggest was downloading MFP (and this isn’t an endorsement, just my own experience) and I then started logging my meals. I got a smart watch for Christmas last year (I spend a lot of time debating Fitbit or smartwatch but ultimately decided that this was better for me personally) and it tracks heart points (rate – time spent with an elevated heart rate… or cardio) and time spent walking. The recommendation is 60 mins activity per day and 10 heart points per day. Easy you would think. Right? Well on a non gym day, I would struggle to manage 45 mins / 8 HP …. so yeah, no surprise why I was putting on weight. So anyway, in May last year, that is when I changed up my fitness journey. I started tracking meals, I worked out 3/4 times a week. I averaged 1lb loss per week. Some weeks I maintained. But it was actually, was easier to do than I ever expected. It was a lot of gradual adjustments.
So, why did I go down the calorie deficit route, and not say, Slimming World or Weight Watchers. I have no personal experience of either. I have a lot of friends who have used them to lose weight. And for those who stick with it, the results and fast, and they are amazing. No honestly, they really are fantastic. However, once you stop following the program, the weight comes back and it comes back quickly. So I wanted rather, to make sustainable changes that worked for me. Do I fancy a donut today? (silly question) but then that means, I have to work a little harder. As long as I can stick in a deficit, or as close to… then it works. Of course I am not perfect, I mean I eat donuts. I drink. I enjoy myself. Now, the whole deficit thing, I am not being extreme, I am down to roughly 1400 per day. I won’t go below that. Because I still need to be able to function.
How, one thing that I have found, is that your body is not predictable, some days I weigh myself and i have lost 3 lbs. Some days I have maintained, some days I have…. put weight on. It is hard, not going to lie. When you think you have tracked well and worked hard.. and then your body appears to betray you. Its one thing that I have found particularly hard. When people say, hey its normal to fluctuate, or its hormones… its just not helpful? It feels like an excuse and honestly that is the last time i need to hear. Did I forget something, did I not work out enough. After I had been doing well on the weight loss, I started to lose traction again and I gave myself a kick. I decided to take the long way how. Now … this is a great idea. In theory. Its along a canal and in the summer, I am sure it is a perfectly nice way of getting some fresh air. I don’t suggest it in the winter as walking home in the dark is not fun. So i reset, and decided to go for a walk at lunch. I had avoided this previously because I like to have the time to decompress, but I was out of ideas. It does seem to have worked though.
Now when I say I have run out of ideas, and this is an explanation… I usually get home at at around 18:00 having left the house before 7am. This generally means that I am really, really hungry. So if I have not gone to the gym that evening, the last thing I want to do is throw some food down my fact, let it settle and then go back out. What I am trying to say, is that it is all about being smart with your time. On a typical week, I have bellydance on a wednesday, gym friday night, PT saturday morning, gym & swim sunday. This means that I have a couple of nights off, and a day to play with. Sure, I could go for a run… or spend more time at the gym, work out at home. But if you are going to start a fitness journey, you try and see what works for you, and be realistic. This works for me.
Now, I have mentioned him a few times but lets have a look at the PT issue – like i said, I had wanted to get a PT for a while, I have had PT’s previously so I knew roughly what to expect. I guess for me, part of the issue with working at the gym is that I got to know them and how they trained. When I got roped into a session with Zack I didn’t know what to expect, which I think was an absolute plus. Now to cast back to my broken wrist. When I said recovery was a bitch, this was 6/8 months after the break and Zack had an uphill struggle with me and my inability to really do much with my right hand. But another way of looking at it, is that he also helped me strengthen my wrist so I could push more.
I am not going to lie, Zack had had an uphill struggle with me, I am argumentative, lazy, awkward, I like to chat shit. I also hate not being able to do something and half our sessions have been bargaining and debating. I am sure he has spent many a session thinking about throwing the towel in with me as a lost cause. He spent a got chunk of our sessions, undoing all the bad habits i had picked up or been taught. It was harder in a way because I was not new to the gym so I had things ingrained and that takes time to undo. One thing that I really wanted to get on with, is weigh training. That is one big reason that I knew i needed to have a PT for, as well as getting my wrist back in shape! So over the last year, I have made a lot of progress and am a lot more confident than I was this time last year. One thing that did also change… I had an epiphany … similar to the one relating to my stepping on a scale… I jumped on the treadmill. Now most of you will know that ‘not even my tights run’ but I just decided one day that… I felt like having a run. So I did. It hasn’t been easy, what with the whole ‘cardio is evil’ thing I have maintained for a number of years. I have also really made progress overall with my workouts over the last couple of months and actually feel like I have been getting there rather than treading water.
There hasn’t been a point in the last year that I didn’t want to go to the gym, that I felt I should give up. There have been several points where I was frustrated and annoyed, with myself mostly. And I think that a lot of that stems to where I was before i was injured. That I think is what is all boils down to. Knowing where I was and where I let myself get to.
As it stands, yesterday I hit my goal weight for 2019, in that I lost 2 stone. I have 2 stone to lose and i have given myself the deadline of August – because this is the same length of time it took for the first 2 stone to be shed. I have given myself an arbitrary number to reach, it is based on my ideal weight for my height. So yes, it may need adjusting but lets cross that bridge if and when I reach it.
So anyways, that has been my recent fitness journey – thank you for reading! I hope that you reach your goals for the next 12 months, stay healthy and smash some personal bests!
So in my last post i kind just walked through my first MCM comicon experience. I know it was long, and I appreciate people taking the time to read it. But also, if you didn’t? I completely understand.
So basically in my last post, i mentioned the length of time that we were waiting to see ‘the talent’ and honestly, calling them that feels …. odd. I mean, it really just turns them into objects?
How many times have we read that someone is difficult or awkward in an interview, that it felt that they were not bothered, interested, invested. That we hear about how they are doing ‘press’ surrounding a movie release, that they are doing appearences, that this is part of the package?
Well I never really thought about it before, not really. It isn’t that I hadn’t met famous people before. While living in London, I frequently brushed shoulders with ‘famous’ people, from TV, or film. But because of the situation… they were off duty, its the UK, you kinda just let them be? There are a couple of notable exceptions, but generally speaking I find it easier to pretend to be above all of this instead of acting like the flailing fangirl that I really am.
Now what I have become more and more bothered by, over the course of meeting 3 celebrities in such a way, is that they cease being people. They cease having their own life outside providing a service. I PAID TO SEE THESE PEOPLE DAMNIT. .. i sat on the train home, having spent all day on my feet, thinking about how much I ached.. and then it hit me. The celebrities (or talent as people kept referring to them as, but I find weird…) had been on their feet for the same length of time.
When I was waiting for Jason, I was in batch 23, they have opened up over 30 batched. The demand was certainly there…. while we had been asked to stand against the wall by his security (I get it, honestly I do) I looked over at the photographer. She was waving one hand around, and looking unhappy. I mean… how many photos had she taken by this point. It is just a production line. There was little or no personality. All the people involved, they just had to make sure that we all go what we wanted. A photo with someone we loved, admired, lusted after? But there was no break for them.
So as much as I was complaining about how much I ached and hurt, how annoyed I was at standing so long, all the people in the booth, taking photos, hearding, securing, hell Jason himself, they had all done it for as long. But he had a big grin on his face, he was generous, hell he gave my boobs a thumbs up (I will actually scan the photo on the make it clearer). Now I know that this is all down to good customer service, and they are all there providing a service, and that there was a lot of money made.
But this is still bothering me a great deal. We are all used to consuming what we want, we want our celebrities to be accessible, to be relatible, to be viable. We want to be able to follow, to see, to be able to use our knowledge and experience of them to make informed decisions. We base our choice of movie, of entertainment, hell we even base medical decisions like whether to vaccinate our children based on celebrity culture.
We sit on SC, IG, Twitter, we consume everything, we want to have what they have, we buy what they tell us to buy, we want to look like them, live like them, we mimic their diets, their fashions. We have almost forgotten that these are people, just like us. Lets not layer this up. They are like us. Their jobs may be different, and we really won’t understand their lives looking in. They do live in a glass house. There are held accountable for everything that they say and do.
Speaking of which, I adore Jason Mamoa, I really do. I won’t lie, he is very attractive, he is physically my type. Along with 80% of the population. But there is more to it, he comes accross as just… so nice, he has just a life force, he is passionate, he appears to be fun to be around. Right? These are all qualities that we manage to pick up from various appearances, interviews, videos. But a couple of years ago, at a panel, he made a comment about his time in GoT which I think we are all aware of. I am not going to condemn or defend the comment. He is one of many who have been caught up in an age where things are shared instantly.
We do not own these people, we do not ‘pay their wages’, a phrase anyone working in customer services will have heard numerous times. I am incredibly grateful that I had an opportunity to meet these people, all three are very special to me, for different reasons. I am happy that they exist, that they have made a difference. And that I have something to remind me of the time i got to meet them.
But they own me nothing, not at all. I don’t have a hold over them, I don’t even want to know how much money even goes to them at these appearances. But you know, it has given me a much better respect for the hard work they do, that they sign up to do, are contracted to do, that they are expected to do.
I honestly can’t say if I will ever do another photoshoot at a convention, whether I will buy an autograph. Getting to meet someone you admire is always scary and exhilarating. But we all need to remember, that they are giving their time to do this, and it is not easy. Just a little sense of prospective.
So on Saturday, 27th July I finally made it to MCM London Comicon. I have only been to local ones previously and honestly my anxiety was making even the idea of such a big event impossible.
However, I had a lovely FB friend who invited me along and we even cosplayed together! This is not to say that i wasn’t utterly terrified about everything, meeting new people, the sheer amount of people there, the cost, let alone the cosplay.
Now i am no stranger to cosplay, but there is a big difference between taking photos and sharing them (albeit publicly) and having to worry about everything looks and how it will last.
So lets go back to the costume, I had a dress which i had bought last year, for a cosplay. Now I am fairly sure it was always destined for a Cersei cosplay but you never know with me. Now, as it stood, it was plain and a little frumpy. I sat down and tried to see what I could do to it, how it could start to look like something she would wear, while staying within my ability. Also please note, I am bloody lazy.
I had a few ideas, bought a few bits but shipping was taking too long, so i had to come up with some new ideas… and eventually it all started coming together and took shape. Now the final bit was sewing into the panel at the front of the dress.. but more on that later.
Because, as I have mentioned, I am lazy, I also procrastinate and I was still working on the dress a couple of days before the con, and the wig… well it was a little hot this week and i can tell you, doing wig restyles in a bathroom in the heat… it leads to a very melty face and a tiny bit of frustration. For this reason, I really didn’t do a dress rehearsal before putting it all on, on Saturday morning.
And now. Now we are on the day of the con, because of the weather, I had planned to wear a maxi dress and get changed at the con, get changed and changed again when I was on my way home. But of course when Saturday rolled around, I was met with a lot of rain. Instead I got on a train in my outfit sans the wig. At the station, I had a member of staff ask what was going on in london as a lot of people had already left for London dressed in costume.
Now, the train, the train was on time (unlike the 2 trains that were running vert late) and not all that busy, and journey was quick. I got a message to say my friend was meeting me at Victoria so it was a shot couple of stops from Euston. So far, so good. Although while chilling at the station, she called to say that there was a burst water main and delayed. Added was trying to find somewhere to park… but we figured it out, headed toward the Olympia and …. tried to find a space to leave the van.
And so we join the queue to get in, which moves quickly, and enter the con. Already there are a lot of people standing around and so many amazing costumes, but in a panic over when the photoshoots would be taking place I ran off upstairs to find out who was when.
Now I finally manage to locate the list of when, and where people are having shoots, and spend far, far too long looking for my first, with Sylvester McCoy. I finally find him, and try and work out when his shoot would be taking place. A guy I am standing with, leaves his son with me and goes to find out. We get told that we are early, come back in 45 mins. Fine, no problem.
I go for a walk around. get stopped by a gentleman with a camera asking for a photo (quick possibly by best.. ) and get offered a chip. I head downstairs to see what is going on. As I walk past a group I hear ‘is that supposed to be a slutty Cersei?’ and move along. Now the reason they are asking is that my thighs are viable when walking. This was not intentional, but a symptom of my leaving things to the last minute and not realising that the waist of the dress sits higher and therefore I needed to pin the panel in further down.
Now a few seconds after the above comment, while i am debating how annoying my dress is going to be, I get chased down by a Daenrys who asked for a photo. Now she was gorgeous, and cute and we had fun taking photos. While we were having a play, a few people snapped photos and suddenly we had a Arya running toward us. Who I proceeded to strangle. Luckily I managed to control myself long enough to rope her friend into taking photos and we eventually made our own way. I went back upstairs, and there was a massive queue still waiting for Sylvester, as there was yet another photoshoot going on and over running. Eventually I got in the queue, and got talking to a few of the guys who agreed that McCoy is pretty damned amazing.
Now I had no idea what would happen, basically we are called in, still in a queue, and got to briefly speak before a photo is taken and printed out. I was super excited by the photo and that I had managed to meet one of my childhood heros (true story, while I don’t watch Dr Who now, I loved it growing up and McCoy was most certainly my doctor. although I was most certainly expecting someone taller!).
After McCoy, I had to shoot over to the other side to the venue, difficult given the sheer amount of people and having no bloody idea where I was going. Eventually I was somewhat sure that I had the right place, and asked a girl if I was in the right place. I was – but I was batch 9. Luckily so was she, and we got chatting. It really is great to meet people who understand your desire to dress up, and fan girling etc. Her SO was having to keep half an ear out for her on another photo shoot. You see, you couldn’t pick a time for these things, they are batched out. So you might end up having 2 at the same time and have to make a mad dash. Another issue, is with so many people, it was hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, and it was gone 14:00 and I had been on my feet since 9:30am. We also couldn’t hear what batch had been called, it got to batch number 8 and we joined, knowing that we were in the next batch. Well our batch didn’t get called which just shows how much stress and confusion was involved.
Now, Christina Ricci might seem odd, I mean I don’t often mention her, or suggest I have a deep love for her. But its Christina FUCKING Ricci. As we got closer, we started getting excited. She was so gorgeous and doll light up close, and I … I may have told her that she was beautiful. As I grabbed our bags while waiting for the photos…. we hand flapped our excitement at having met Christina Ricci. We were feet away from her, and I honestly would be surprised if she hadn’t noticed.
Now, at this point, I have a break, I went to find the toilets, find one set with men and disabled. While waiting, a disabled person joined and I couldn’t wait longer so I ran off to find an alternative. Heading over, I ran into my friends hubby waiting for her – I ran in, found her and we decide to have a little walk around while I waited for my final photoshoot of the day. This was pretty much the only time I spent with her – how awful?
At 16:00 I trotted upstairs and attempted to find the right booth for Jason Mamoa, basically I kept going around in circles, until I came accross a Mamoa lookalike asking for… well Jason. He was being told that we were in the wrong place and the steward went off in search of answers. However, a couple of people in front of us turned around and told us were in the right place. Apparently another photoshoot had overrun so Jason was moved at the last minute. I get chatting to a couple of people and suddenly I was aware of something behind me… that something turned out to be Jason Mamoa, which led to a lot of cheering, clapping, and chanting. It really was quite something. Now, during this time, a lot of people were coming and going, asking where we were. Another steward escaped the scrum and for reasons that now escape me, we collared him. He mentioned not having had a bio break since 7:30am so we suggested he gets on. He was collared by a deaf couple looking for another photo op (basically the one that had moved since Jason had taken up residence) and it was causing a deal of frustration.
Now at this point, the crowd had gotten worse, more people turning up and melting away when they realised exactly how long a wait they would have. We started getting concerned that we wouldn’t be able to hear the batch being called. This had been an issue for me earlier, and clearly others. Well, nothing to worry about, we had a Scottish steward who happily stood on a stool and bellowed. He got standing ovations for his services to geeks. And caused backlash from our escapee steward working accross the room.
As I stood, and stood, and stood some more, a couple of friends that I had made, while standing, and were in the same batch had agreed that there was really no point in moving forward until our batch was called. I am not going to lie, I nearly expired waiting, it felt like there was no air conditioning, and between the outfit, wig, and amount of people… my mood was really heading south. We then had a guy trying to make small talk, and when his batch got called, stating ‘well, you should have bought a ticket earlier’ .. riiiight. It was at this point that I gave up entirely and sat down. I was joined by one of the people who peeled off earlier on realising that they had a long wait. My friend, who I had all but abandoned for photo opportunites, needed to go, and was trying to find me which as I have pointed out, I had no idea exactly where I was. And amongst all of this, my new friends looked over when our batch was called. I said good bye to my new friend, left her on the floor and ran to join my friends while basically also cutting in.
Now, the queue moved pretty quickly, I was surprised by the number of people bringing babies to meet Jason because it wasn’t really an environment i would personally have bought such young children. As we got our ticket scanned, we nervously waited, but got told that we had to wait with our back against the wall by Jason’s security detail. Now we joked about Jason not wanting to see what was coming… on reflection, it is more likely a safety precaution. My friends went ahead of my, and the female half was extremely tall. As she had her photo taken as I was called forward Jason joked with her, and they realised that they are the same height. That is pretty impressive (side bar, Peppa Pig is apparently 7ft tall?). I completely lose my cool, realise I am sweating buckets, don’t get a chance to really pose and it is over before I realise.
So now, I have lost my friends, I have my photos, I am leaving the con… I am wondering if there is any chance I can make my train…. I decide a taxi as I hadn’t really spent any money…. could I find a taxi? Nope. No problem I think… I can hop on a tube….. the district line… being the district line… was FUBAR. After waiting for what seems FOREVER, it moved.. but not far. After 2 stops it was the end of the line, so I switch to the circle line, and finally get a seat (been on my feet since landing in london at 9:30) and … well of course this is stopping early. I get off at Paddington and head out for a taxi. Clearly, nothing is easy, so I end up walking against traffic to flag one down.
As I near Euston, I mention my travel woes, the driver quipped, ‘ there was me thinking you liked taxis’ … dude where were you outside the venue.
Now, I get into the station, and of course. More delays, apparently nationally. So I start walking to pick some food or drink up. As I had only had breakfast and a cola during the day. I am on the phone when I start listing trains off… and … and there is one leaving imminently . I start heading down to the platform… I feel it is a good time to mention that I don’t even run my tights. I made it, just… and collapse in a seat near the toilets. In a world of my own but a little people watching, I settle into the relatively short journey home, letting Pete know that I have made it onto a train, albeit an hour late. Now the toilets on the train are quirky with a rounded sliding door. A couple are sitting opposite. As the journey leaves MK, a girl uses the toilet, she sits next to me, and she is closely followed by a guy. On exit he announces ‘And tonight Matthew….’ which just shows how ingrained some things are in a national psyche. This ended up turning into a rambling conversation involving his friend who had then used the facilities, leaving Trip Advisor reviews for the toilet and how no-one is ‘from’ Northampton and having abandoned one of their friends in MK. Which I have to be honest, is standard on this journey. Every time I make the trip, random conversations erupt around me.
I am going to end it here for now, it really got away from me, but I wanted to get it all down while it was relatively fresh in my brain. As always the time between writing and publishing is … yep!
I keep meaning to write a blog relating to my fitness journey – I mean honestly I just keep meaning to write anything at all. So this is going to be a little bit of an odd approach but please bear with me…
I was walking to work, thinking about how I am trying to be as waste free as possible, and this led me to thinking, wouldn’t be awesome if places like Lush gave you the opportunity to refill instead of having to buy another bottle, jar, pot. Specifically I was thinking about their face masks.
Now, this led me to think about how things have changed, exercises was where this thought led. These days, going to the gym is normal. How many people do you know that don’t have some sort of fitness schedule, either classes, or the gym, maybe its cycling, running. We have all realised that with our lifestyle changes, and the ease of access to quick fix food.. we need to look after our bodies. Indeed, my mother would probably be the first to point out that it is better to do this as a preventative measure.
So … this brings be around to the title. You are getting 2 for the price of one with this – climate change. We have been blissfully, or willfully ignoring what is painfully obvious. Plastic is everywhere, and it is killing the planet. In Germany, for as long as I remember, recycling is standard, taking back bottles, normal, reusing bags…. you get me? But we are all so immune to what happens to the plastic we throw away. We are all so blind to the fact that it isn’t somleone elses problem, that having 2 bins instead of one is not actually such an issue.
The plain fact is that we have gotten so used to everything being ..easy. The point for me that I realise the level of reliance on convince is when StarBucks opened a drive through locally. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time in a cafe, chatting with a friend and enjoying cake. But StarBucks (and all the other coffee shops it seemingly spawned) created the take away coffee in a way that was previously unseen.
Now I am not ANTI starbucks as such, I even spend money in their cafe’s – now i am not sure if it is because I don’t drink coffee, but a lot of the attraction is lost on me. I mean, surely you can wait to get to your destination to have a coffee if you aren’t going to stick around? But also, think about the amount of waste this generates. This alone, I mean if we are going after straws… take away coffee with it has so many elements, the cup, the lip, the stirrer, and i could go on. But does any of this get recycled? Because if you are on the go, and so desperate for a coffee fix, are you going to be able to dispose of it properly or are you going to dump it in the nearest bin?
There are so many elements to recycling, why we need to do more, but it feels as if we are doing less, but lets stay with fast food – not long ago, we would bring in lunch and maybe have a treat on a Friday and go get something locally. Now, it is normal to pick someone on our way in, say a coffee. At lunch, go to SubWay, Greggs etc and for our way home? Why not pick up pizza or a burger. This is not only extremely wasteful but how much more additional packaging is needed? Even if you go pick up lunch in a store, a prepacked sandwich, a drink, it is all packaging that isn’t needed. And let us now forget how expensive this is.
Honestly like most things, exercise, recycling, climate change, cutting meat, it isn’t about a grand gesture that seems difficult, insurmountable, and your brain breaks figuring out where to begin. It is about small gestures, don’t have that coffee, use a paper or metal straw, cut down meat to a day or 2 a week, try getting off the bus stop early, try working out with a friend. I am not preaching, it is merely personal experience. So many people come accross as … all or nothing. A gym instructor at a previous gym once told me that if i wasn’t in the gym at least 4 times a week, why bother. If you are not completely over hauling your diet, why bother, if you are not sorting and washing every recyclable… why bother. Well the answer is that, collectively small changes amount to big changes and if everyone made a couple of adjustments it would really make a difference.
So I am basing this on the above image. This image is an argument that i have been having over the years, both directly and indirectly.
You see, the comeback to announcing that you are fat is ‘..but your pretty..’ Not every time, and maybe the wording is slightly different, but the intention is the same. I know some of you will not use the word fat as it is not fair to label people. And honestly, I commend your postive action. I am not merely a fat girl. I am more that what I present to the world or rather the first impression that I leave. However, please don’t stop me from using it. If I am using it to describe myself – it is what i need to do.
You see, as per the other posts, being told that you are not fat, you are perfectly fine, you have nothing to worry about. These are damaging things to say to a person. What you see in the mirror is completely different to what others see. I might think that I am not too fat, but I then stand next to a slender friend and what can I say? I am fat.
I am going to keep using the word. Fat. It is important and empowering. By using the word, I am giving it meaning, and strength but I am also owning it. I am fat and I am the only person who can do something about it.
Telling someone that they are pretty when they are discussing their weight, shape or dress size is extremely unhelpful. Have they asked about how they look, have they dropped a hint about wanting a compliment? Or are they just having a moment of clarity or honesty. Are they explaining why they don’t want to have a slice of cake, or that they won’t be joining drinks after work, or why they have switched to a packed lunch.
If someone is making changes, by all means take an interest but make sure that you don’t make a big deal about it. If someone is trying to make a change, having a spotlight shone can be damaging and their motivation or willpower can evaporate. Swinging words around like diet, likewise can be unhelpful. Don’t start wading in with some magic pill that worked for you, because it worked for you. It may not work for someone else. And be aware of why someone is making lifestyle choices. Often we are given ‘quick fixes’ we are told how to drop a dress size, or lose a couple of stubborn pounds.
What is most helpful, is being honest. Not to the point of rudeness. Don’t start expressing that a person shouldn’t be having that snack, or wearing that dress, or asking how much they have lost. If someone says they are fat, let them use the word. Lets not sugar coat it. It is a word, and an explanation. I personally, am carrying too much fat on my body. Until this has been resolved, I am fat.
To summarize, I am fat, I am pretty. These are not mutually exclusive terms. It would be better if we could all learn to separate the two.
Vagina, vixen, vaccination, vinyl….. I won’t go on.
What i would like to talk about Vegan products. Disclaimer: I am not vegan.
I have a number of vegan friends, and the reason for their diet is varied, it can be down to health, going ‘free from’, not liking meat, animal rights and everything inbetween.
Now this isn’t the first time that I have spoken about being Vegan – and i was of a mind to write this in January when we were all having the benefits of joining in on Veganuary but you know, life happens!
One of the things that I came accross and that seems to garner a lot of backlash, is Holland & Barrett’s Veganuary campaign. The idea was that you could be a vegan part time. Either you chose to go down the cruelty free makeup route (there is a difference between vegan and cruelty free) or you are vegan only when you are at home. There were a lot of other examples, like I said, an entire advertising campaign was designed around this idea that you could be ‘Vegan: your way’. This seemed especially abhorrent to be people, on both sides of the fence.
Now there is an argument, for example, people not using a brand (Urban Decay, Body Shop) because they are owned by a company that isn’t vegan or still uses animal testing. But this argument for me, fails. SImply because these same people are still shopping in supermarkets that sell animal products, buying a latte in a coffee shop that serves 90% of their hot drinks with cows milk.
Like my previous blog, I would say that buying vegan/cruelty free products no matter where, sends a clear message to companies that this is something to invest in. Now like I have said, I am not vegan, but try my best to buy vegan as and where I can (to the point i rope the fiance into it by making him vegan meals). I don’t like meat, I don’t like the smell, texture, flavour. So for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why people would eat ‘fake meat’. I mean if you won’t want to eat meat, why would you want to eat something that reminds you of meat.
Well it is pretty simple. The meat industry is failing, the amount of stock needed to break even, let alone make a profit makes the farm a bad business model. We don’t have the space either, and with leaving the EU soon, farmers will be losing the EU subsidies that they have become reliant on. That is just the UK. Globally the population continues to rise, and we aren’t able to produce enough food.
So yes, the idea would be that we all become vegan, it would be great if we could help our planet, our selves, stem global warming, and be kinder. But lets be realistic, as anyone who had attempted to diet will tell you, the moment your restrict access to a certain food; the more you want it.
So what do we do? Well we start looking at alternatives, we start looking at like for like swaps, so that people won’t miss the animal by products. And you know what, I am all for it – I am here for the vegan cheese, the vegan pain au chocolate, for the vegan burgers. And I would honestly encourage you to try some. Even if you just do it for one meal. Pop into a super market ( I personally recommend M&S and their fab range) and grab a vegan meal. Sit down with friends or family (both) and see how you enjoy it. Because trust me, you will.
And every item sold, encourages the company to make more, try more, invest more. Which can only be a good thing.
Now, ladies, let us get serious Smear tests. They are embarressing, awkward, and in some cases, painful.
I had my first one at 20, I remember the letter arriving on my door step, some sort of ‘coming of age’ – Congratulations, your officially a grown woman! And off I trotted to the G.P surgery to have my first experience of how utterly humiliating it can be to be a woman.
You see, I was not longer living at home, and certainly have no female friends to discuss this with, so I went in blind. There were stirrups, and a metal contraption that was wound open once inserted, and then the swab? YEOWCH!
So I have have had more than a few of these, pretty much every one has been uncomfortable to a degree, and after being repeatedly told I have a small cervix, asked about bleeding after sex, and having anomalies with each result… it is just not something I look forward to. But it is something I still eventually get around to doing, because a moment or 2 of being uncomfortable is a pretty small price to pay. And let’s face it, we are all going to go through it!
I remember vividly Jade Goody, both her rise to fame, and then how important she suddenly became. If you don’t remember, Jade was a pseudo celebrity, but her legacy is discovering she had cervical cancer and she died after a tragically short battle with it. Whilst battling cancer, she campaigned asking people to get their smear test, explaining how important it was, not to leave it, to leave it too late. And following her death, there was a spike in attendance.
However, somewhere between my first test and Jade’s death, the age for your smear test was raised to 25. That may seem like a small jump but it is significant. Getting girls, and women to start this routine early is as important as detecting and catching cancer is. It then becomes habit forming, another check on the to-do list of womanhood. While I understand that there is some medical backing suggesting that waiting until 25 makes some sense, I suspect that this is financially motivated as despite some people’s assumption, the NHS is a business and each letter, each appointment, each test, costs the individual trust money.
Now, speaking of money, where do you get your smear test? It is important to be comfortable with the person and environment. I have switched between GP and Family planning. As I mentioned early, smear tests have never been especially comfortable for me, and especially after moving to Northampton, I tried to do all my family planning, at the family planning clinic. I liked and knew the doctors and nurses there and felt much more comfortable. However, funding changed and now I can only go to my GP to have the test.
So when I called a couple of weeks, imagine my surprise to learn that not only can I only go to my GP to have the smear test, there is only one nurse covering 2 GP practises. Now I am not going to lie, this is not making it any easier!
Now, something that prompted my booking of the test is a post in a FB group that I haunt called Queens of the New Age. There was a status about having a smear test and having glittered the lady garden. I love a challenge so I made sure I had styled my downstairs with some glitter for me appointment and used some Snow Fairy powder to try and keep things fresh.
Things have moved on since my first smear, should I have led with this? Possibly but I don’t like to do things in a sensible order. You will be shown into an examination room by the nurse, asked a couple of questions, and asked to undress – waist down, lie on the couch and place the paper towel over yourself for modesty. A plastic speculum is inserted to allow the nurse to use a ‘brush’ to get a sample of cells. That is is. Now I managed to chat throughout with the nurse, and we joked about the glitter and lack of shaving (an over sight) and it was over in seconds. I have never had such a quick test, and it was completely painless.
What I am saying is that, most people will have completely painfree and painless experiences. You will be seen by a nurse who has seen it all before, probably several times that day before your appointment so you will not be presenting herself with anything new. But I cannot say this enough, please, even though the starting age is 25, do not forget, forego or not book an appointment. It is not even 20 mins of your life every few years that could quite literally, save your life.
This morning I watched a man break down toward the end of an interview about having ‘come out’ as being sexually abused as a young footballer. He was asked if he had felt that it was safer now, for children going into football. No, he felt it wasn’t any safer. And is it surprising when you look at the figures?
In the last year, 748 victims have stepped forward, and 285 people coaches, and otherwise connected with football, have been named. That is a lot of people. This spans decades, the majority of cases from 70/80 and 90’s but there are earlier. And I imagine that there will be more recent.
So is it surprising that Andy suggested that little, if anything had changed? Not only does change take time, statements are still being taken. When you look at those involved, we are looking at people who have since passed and you can’t ask a dead man to give evidence or stand accountable for their actions. And on the other side, we have victims who are older, are parents, potentially even grandparents who have moved on with their lives and don’t want to drag up things from the past.
I admire the strength it has taken this man, to stand up in a very macho environment and call out abuse. He has risked everything in doing so, he has bought a spotlight onto his life, his family, and meant that the last 30+ of his existence has been pulled apart by the media. He has been questioned, risked ridicule, abuse, loss of friendship and breakdowns in his family.
This is the same old story, one we see played out again and again. Money and power, people are afraid to said something because the people involved are powerful and often, good at their jobs. This can lead to collusion and a witch hunt again the accuser to ensure they are not a believable source. And on top of this we have to remember how slow these things are to move. Is it worth the years of going through questioning, courts, giving evidence and having it all dragged up repeatedly, have to relive stuff that you have spent so long trying to forget, trying to bury, trying not to effect your everyday life.
Now, this bothers me on several levels but as you know, I have a keep interest in banishing mental health stigma, especially among men. And this is what concerns me. This is a footballer, and call them what you like, it is a male institution and concern.
I started writing this post in 2017. So really I should be trashing it, starting over, rethinking. This blog was initially written in the pre #metoo world. Now you might think, considering some of the things that i have written about, that I would not really concern myself with things being pre or post such a movement. That it was a long time coming, that eyes should have been open to this a long time ago.
However, one of the big names to have come out of this is Amanda Heard. We all remember the images of her bruised face, of her harrowing tales of life with Johnny Depp. How the papers salaciously rooted around in their life together, that he didn’t have any money. That one of the reasons that he didn’t have any money is because he was spending an obscene amount on wine. Which in a round about way, was explaining his behavior.
So what relevance does this have? We have spent at least a year of reports about Johnny Depp losing the plot. that he is putting on weight, he looks haggard, what has happened, how the mighty have fallen. And fall he did – work dried up, and the fact he wasn’t sacked from the Harry Potter films was questioned with some enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, Amanda has gone from strength to strength, going from a relatively unknown actress, to the sweetheart of Hollywood, a survivor of domestic abuse, the perfect spokes person.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, there was a whisper that Johnny Depp had filed a defamation claim against Amanda. I searched and couldn’t find anything. Nearly a week went by before I found a couple of articles. The basis of Johnny Depps claim is that Amanda had gone ahead and written an article regarding being in an abusive relationship. This went against the agreement on their previous court case, and subsequent divorce, which was one of none disclosure.
Now what this also includes is proof, ranging from impartial witnesses through to surveillance videos that it was Amanda who was the violent partner.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with the beginnings of this article, but this is it. Men do not get believed. There has been extreme silence on Johnny Depp and his court case. On the possibility that he was not him, but his partner, his wife, a woman, who was the aggressor. There have been a lot of sympathetic articles, pointing out that he was doing his best to protect her. That he allowed it all to play out – in front of the world, took it, and lived with the consequences. Right up until she decided to continue following the settlement. But there have been as many articles questioning why he waiting, why not make a big deal. Why not call her out.
But mostly, everything is quiet, is there a degree of embarrassment about everyone having turned their back on him. Not believing him, throwing him away.
And that really is what it is to me, men do not come forward because like Terry Crews who was asked why he didn’t stand up to sexual aggression, there is an unbalance of power.
Women often are not able to fend off, be it due to physical circumstances, maybe it is down to financial, or any number of reasons, but a man? Who would believe them? They will have their entire being questioned. What man isn’t able to fend an assault off, what man allows themselves to find themselves in that situation, that isn’t able to get out of it, what man allows themselves to be emasculated.