Tag Archives: exercise

Detri – mental health ?

So I have previously discussed my mental health on my blog, it is not something I talk about openly. I mostly use my social media platforms for photoshare, promotion, pictures of cats… it is almost as if, to a degree I have compartmentalised them all… which is something I have discussed previously. My habit (ability?) to compartmentalise. I am not sure if this is a skill that was learnt through necessity, or just something I have done naturally. Visible mental health is the post I have previously discussed my personal mental health. I guess you might be wondering why I put it in a blog and not anywhere else. Well, yes, I could mention it on facebook, but you see, facebook is a community, although I know many of the people on my friends list and call them friends… facebook has this ability to break down barriers. I may never meet many of these people. Others I know only socially, or through work. Some are networking, so you see, many people on my friends list won’t care. Or I should say, I would be unduly burdening them. And I compartmentalise! I can show whichever side I chose on there, on twitter I can vent, on IG I can share selfies.

Now all of that took a lot longer than I intended. I am so sorry, and thank you if you have managed to stick with me thus far! So what I wanted to say is that, mental health, can actually cause physical symptoms, I am sure that you have come accross this before? But it isn’t simply ‘my brain is hurt, so my body follows suit’. It is more complicated, but again not really.

I have high blood sugar, I have done for many years, and generally speaking I manage it well. It is one of those things that, well you can’t see it? It doesn’t really effect me in a way that makes anyone notice. But it is there and has some serious side effects as well. And of course, the longer I manage it well, the more complacent I can become. Like I said, I have had it for years. It comes down to diet, and I will freely admit mine is pretty bad. But I manage it and take queues from my body as to what it is and isn’t happy processing.

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A few years ago, while working in my first NHS job, I developed mild ME – this had for me, similar symptoms to the blood sugar issue when it was first diagnosed. I was always tired, but no matter how I slept, even if I felt I slept well. I would have severe lethargy, I would fall asleep at a moments notice – including trying to do floorwork/yoga, there were more symptoms but generally speaking it left me incredibly frustrated. More recently, in the last couple of years, I had a couple of episodes of stomach flu. Which for someone who doesn’t drink because her aversion to throwing up is so strong, is … challenging. And this escalated in this last year to pain in my lower back/kidneys, keeping me away, also throwing up and all that you would find involved with this. I won’t go into it, but it involved seeing a practise nurse, a misdiagnosis (I will stop and say, giving a  good medical history is KEY to a diagnosis. So when a medical professional refuses to listen. Stop. Stop everything and demand that they listen.) and resulted in the conclusion that my kidneys were not happy.

Now, often when you already feel that you are drowning, a little reflection and introspection is the last thing you will do, or think of doing. To keep going, I would treat myself, I would have that cocktail, that ice cream, I would use sugary drinks to keep me going (I can’t tolerate caffeine) during the day. I never sleep especially well and when your job is already taking a lot of energy you need that little boost. Picking up take away on the way home because it is quicker, rewarding yourself on Friday night because you managed to make it to the end of the week, eating snacks, biscuits, sweets that are lying around at work, that patient’s bought it, eating the cake from a birthday/leaving celebration. So frequently during the day, you forget to take a break because you aren’t hungry, and by the time you are hungry, you pick up another biscuit. Or when you are working overtime with such frequency, that you manage to make it home 2 hours after dinner. You end up picking up something entirely inappropriate and have another sugary drink, because it doesn’t matter how close it is to bedtime, you have only just got in and dammit if you aren’t going to enjoy your evening.

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And that, that is the problem – my physical health was being made worse by symptoms of my mental health. It is not a simple thing to separate these two things. When people say, hey go to the gym, it will make you feel better. Or stop eating all those cakes, you will feel better, or pick up a hobby, it will make you feel better…. yes, I entirely agree that it will make you feel better. You will feel great, eventually. But the problem is, again that the physical and the mental health symptoms are inherently intertwined and you can’t just tackle one. You need to look at both. You need to understand how one is effecting the other. And yes, while you are drowning it is extremely difficult to be able to do this. So I just want to say, you need to find someone to help work you through it. Speak to your GP surgery to see if there are GP specialists that would be more suited to your situation (most GPs do have a speciality) and see if you can book a double appointment with them. There are resources out there, but they aren’t always immediately accessible or clear. And you have to remember that most of the time you will be talking to people who are not medically trained or specialists. 

But please understand that while it might seem that you are being weighed down by so many little things, that it feels as if it is insurmountable, that you can’t see the stars… things are often linked. In most aspects of life, there is be a common cause, a thread that once you can untangle will help make sense of things. The best thing to do is keep a diary – if you noticed something is different, write it down. It might be that when you are called on to explain, it won’t be easily recalled. But keeping notes will help you figure out patterns of behaviour or when symptoms are worse. I am only using personal experience to try and help others. I understand that everyone has different experiences but one thing that is important, we need to break down the stigma, we need to talk. 

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Fit for danger

So last night a friend shared a diet that was followed by an actress in preparation for a film role. Having followed various links on same subject it is easy to see how quickly the initial article has been disseminated in to the wider world, with the message becoming blurred.

The reason my friend shared it was her concern over young girls coming accross this article, and more like it and influencing them. Girls look toward images presented to them in the various mediums, whether it is via social media, TV, film, magazines for idea of what they should look like. As girls grow up, they look around, outside their own immediate family, and peer group to understand what is normal, social norms, what is considered attractive.

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When you are told a diet that works is 80% just fruit and veg with the images next to it of the actress having lost 12 lbs … it sounds like the perfect solution. It seems deceptively simple and easy to stick to. So of course, this will be a great idea to shift those imaged layers of fat. But it is a diet. Diets are short term. Many athletes use diets when training. You only have to follow someone like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on social media to understand the importance diet has when training. Actually please follow him, he genuinely is an inspiration.

We see it all the time as well on shows like Strictly Come Dancing, where the contestants lose weight, but what is actually happening is that they are toning up. Because they are dancing around 8 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week including the performances. This isn’t something most people will be able to replicate. It is an unrealistic look for people to attain.

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We need to change what we present to people, instead of advertising a quick fix, maple syrup diets, 80% diets that work in short terms, CRASH diets by any other name as a normal, and healthy way to get the body you want. Instead of focusing on the shape and size of the body, the focus should be on healthy living, doing things that make you happy and finding passion in your life, about spending time outside, finding a sport that you enjoy and doing it with friends, about healthy choices with food. It shouldn’t be about the size of your waist, thigh gaps, how prominent your hips or rib cage is.

The focus should be on healthy attitudes and eating, on being healthy, active and moderation. Of course there will always be sensational articles and sales pitches to do something quickly, to cheat, articles will be misquoted and torn up to suit an agenda. But if we can change the conversation so that teenagers see messages that are predominantly positive, so they are going to be able to make more educated choices about their life, so they are able to make more informed choices. So your body is not the most important thing in all transactions.

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Running from inspiration

So I did a rather waffly, self absorbed piece on fitness recently. It was my explanation that as much as I can try to excuse my weight gain on my injury, it isn’t entirely to blame. So I am making some changes, slowly but if you rush into these things they tend not to last.

I went to see my beautiful friend Ren run in the Silverstone half marathon on the 13th March. It wasn’t planned as such, I knew that she had been training to do the London Marathon later this year after smashing Tough Mudder last year. She mentioned Silverstone and since it is just up the road from me, I thought I should go give her some support.

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I used to run, cross country, long distance, with the dog… it was in my soul. I got to the track and felt…. in awe, I felt inspired, I felt sad that I wasn’t also running…. (although the course looks pretty brutal!). We walked over to the finish line to see people coming in, I wasn’t sure where Ren would come in so this seemed like a good place. I was seriously so knocked sideways by the emotions. I cannot really put into words how it feels watching people come over the finishing line, it was a collection of pretty palatable emotions from both spectators and competitors, the joy and in many cases relief as people realised they had finished.

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Now I mentioned that Ren is running in the London Marathon in a few weeks, the Silverstone half marathon is something of a ‘warm up’ for many competitors. Ren has done extremely well, and I am so proud, i may well burst by the time she makes it across the finish line. She is running for Mind – an amazing mental health charity that has helped her personally. It is important that we talk about these things, the work that is done to support people when they aren’t able to access it though the usual channels (as much as we may wish otherwise, resources are finite). They do a fantastic amount or work in the community – if you are interested please click here.

Ren has her reasons for running for Mind – so far she has shaved off her hair and done a half marathon, and as I may have mentioned is also running in the London Marathon. If you have a couple of coins to spare, I know she will appreciate it, as will Mind! Even if you can’t donate, read Ren’s story if you need any further inspiration – please click here to check Ren’s story!

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I said that I felt inspired by the runners didn’t I ? I was debating joining the Race for Life and going a gentle walk/job around the course. But being I came to this decision all of 3 weeks ago, I am going to wait until next year and try and train a little. What is difficult for me is that I am a little broken. I only have tarmac to run on, and that will only make my injuries worse. So as much as I may want to get back into running, it just isn’t feasible for me. However I have managed to find a dance class that is 5 mins away and have really enjoyed it! Great to get back into the swing of things! 

Now I want to take a moment to talk about muscle memory. It is pretty important and yet something we all manage to forget about. I have danced for a few years, and so when I went back to dance a couple of weeks ago, I found I was able to do things that I didn’t think I would be able to, purely because I have drilled certain moved over the years. I also walk for at least an hour a day to get to and from work, so I am relatively fit. Relatively. I decided on the first day of Spring to go for a bike ride. First time this year, killing two birds with one stone, the boy suggested going to the pet shop as there is a cycle path that takes us to the industrial park. I got into the ride pretty quickly however, the seat… help me the seat! And I am fairly useless at hills. By the end of the ride back, I was getting quite upset at myself and how badly I was coping. But as the boy pointed out – muscle memory. I run, I ride horses, I dance, I lift… bike riding is something I pretty much stop as soon as my booty remembers how uncomfortable it is. Muscle memory – riding is different kettle of fish. Every time you start a new exercise, you are more than likely using a different set of muscles than you are used to. So instead of being discouraged… embrace it. I love feeling sore after exercising. And it is also a great reason to mix up your exercises – using different muscles groups is great and it helps you keep motivated! 

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So I have bought a new seat for my bike – I will keep you updated with that and the rest of my fitness journey! 

If you want to get your hands on the leggings Ren and I are wearing – head over to Wild Bangarang by clicking here for the website and clicking here for the facebook page.

Truth behind injury

Specifically, my injury. I can’t and won’t talk about another persons injury – as if!

So, a few years ago, I came off a horse, I thought we would be continuing to the right of a bush, my horse decided at the last moment, to go left. I had a Hollywood worthy pitch over her head, landing first on my head and then on my booty (which luckily has plenty of padding). The worst thing was a. realising the other 2 riders hadn’t noticed, and secondly… most importantly to me …. how the hell was I going to get back on…. Yikes. But I managed it – I have years of experience of adjusting stirrups on the hoof so we didn’t hang around.

I didn’t really think much of it for the rest of the hack, I had bigger things to worry about, but once I got off… oh boy! Every part of my felt bruised. So off i went to the pub and enjoyed the rest of my afternoon.

Wow that was a short blog!

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But that wasn’t what I wanted to write about – shortly after my stunt dive, I developed a lump on the arch of my left foot. I am the worlds worst patient and will only go to my doctor when it becomes borderline fatal. But after six weeks, a pea sized lump was on my foot, and I couldn’t walk properly. So off I go to the GP…. I get fobbed off and asked to wait another 6 weeks. I go back to the GP and get told that I need to book an apt with another doctor at the surgery who would remove the lump under local anesthetic. Not a good patient, remember? So off I got to reception and book in an apt and duly attend in another couple of weeks for – what I thought – was an apt to remove the lump. But no, I am instead referred to my local podiatry department – another 6 weeks waiting, still not entirely sure what is going on… now I am going to have to cut this short because it is already ridiculous. I go to podiatry, I have a steroid injection directly into the lump. I go back for a follow up after 6 weeks, and get told that the injection should have been in my ankle… After another 6 weeks I go back to the GP because at each stage I had had a different diagnosis. At this point having already seen 5 medical professions, I finally see a doctor who can diagnose the issue and give me advice. Great.

During this time i have continued with my dancing, classes, workouts and walking (I walk for at least an hour a day to and from work) and consequently have managed to cause irreparable damage to the tendon on my foot, congratulations to me. It was certainly a combination of not understanding what the cause was, what the injury was, and certainly not having the right information on how to best treat it.

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So what does that mean for me now? Well frankly it means chronic pain in my foot, whereas I had previously had pain on getting up after being stationary for a while thanks to the plantar fasciitus, now I often find it painful and tender on the side and top of my foot, difficult to negotiate stairs, sudden onset of pain. Basically every step I take is painful, with the added bonus pain. It means that I stopped dancing, I quit high impact, and I slowed down.

What else does it mean….it means, that I got fat. I mean I was never thin, I was not skinny, but I had toned and honed my body so that I didn’t hate looking at it, that I would wear a body con dress and feel happy. But you know what, diet? Yeah you can have a questionable diet when you are burning those calories, but the moment you stop? Yeah that.

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Blue Weights, Green Apple, and Tape Measure

Things change, I used to run long distance as a teenager, worked with animals as long as I could remember, dancing has always been part of my life, but when you grown up, things change. Your body changes. What doesn’t change is your responsibility to your body. I am fat, I am not happy about it. And yes, I can say that I stopped my usual forms of exercise because of injury, certainly if I hadn’t had the injury I am unlikely to have stopped.

But equally, I could have paid more attention to what I was (am) eating, I could have made sure that I wasn’t putting in more energy than was being expended, especially as my job has become more and more sedimentary. I certainly should have looked at alternative forms of exercise. But I didn’t.

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This is what I am trying to say is that IT HAS TO STOP – I have literally no excuse, the pain is chronic, it won’t get better, I put up with it daily so I can damned well put up with it during some classes. With that in mind, I have signed up to a new local dance class, and I am hoping to go to a skate class as well. And you know, if the pain gets all that bad, I could even pop an anti-inflamatory…

No more excuses people, this girl, can and will stop hiding being the injury. It isn’t what makes me, it won’t be what kills me.

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A body of expectation

So in the show, and I guess, a follow on from my Body Shaming post a few weeks ago…. unrealistic expectations of body image. 

The images we see everywhere, in films, on TV, in advertising…. it is all smoke and mirrors, even day to day, people wear slimming aids, support wear, enhancing underwear, and dress to suit their shape. 

When you look at yourself in the mirror? Are you happy? I know I am not, some people look fantastic naked – others… (like me) look much better in clothing. And I mean that from a personal perspective. I don’t make a habit of looking at people naked, but all those I have seen in a state of undress look fantastic! For example, the always stunning Aura – she is a fantastic model – check out her page : Aura – Alt Model and I love seeing what she has come up with. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t look at her with any jealousy!

But when we are subjected to images from every direction it is easy to start doubting yourself, so it is important to make sure you understand the work that goes into the images you are seeing – for example, Victoria’s Secret Angels that walk in the VS catwalk show are contracted for 12 months, where personal trainers, chefs, physiotherapists, nutritionists are all on hand to make sure that they are on top form for their show. They aren’t living the same life as many of us. 

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Then we have people like Liz Hurley and Elle Macpherson who are refusing to let age be anything but a number. Liz quotes ; ‘it’s part of my job description to not be too fat. As you get older you have to make more effort’. She apparently avoids sweets, bread, pasta, cheese and crisps. For both these women, it is vital to their career to make sacrifices. 

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But more and more, we hear that children are thinking they need to diet – you know something is wrong. It is important to make sure that children understand the work that goes into looking so good. There is a rise in eating disorders in children. Reading more and more stories of people having ribs removed so they can have a more slender waist. The models, people in the public eye, like Liz are role models, but as much as they can do interviews and explain what does into their daily regime, people do need to make sure they take this in, and it filters down to the next generation. We need to start looking toward out athletes to provide a good role model for not only children, but everyone. Is there any other industry that has such a varied range of bodies, in both men and women? Any other industry where you body will not be judged on the outside alone? Where strength, commitment and endurance are lauded? So while I am not for a moment knocking the hard work the ladies I have mentioned already in this post, maybe we can look at people like Jessica Ennis-Hill as role models?

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Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the womens long jump during the Loughborough European Athletics Permit Meet at Loughborough University, Loughborough.

What I am trying to say, is that transparency is great, and we need it. But you need to be honest with yourself. You need to be prepared to do some work. By blaming models for their bodies, is body shaming. It isn’t okay just because they are slender, and tanned, that they are tall, they work hard, and although I wish society would not put so much pressure on women to conform, beating each other up about it is not going to change anything! 

Remember, you are beautiful, you are strong, and it is your body. You are the only person that should matter when making any decisions with regard to your body, how you dress, how you eat. It does mean you take responsibility. It also means, appreciate the work that goes into that ‘perfect’ body you wish you had. Don’t try and find something negative when looking at WWE’s Naomi – just remember all the training, bumps, bruises, all the missed holidays, all the nice food she won’t be treating herself.

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In case you missed our show this week :

Lifestyle:MK Theatre and Film

Body Shaming

So body shaming, fat shaming, skinny shaming, slut shaming… it is all the same thing. It is taking a physical attribute and passing comment about it. Looking back at previous blog posts that somehow never quite made it to published.. it is just something that keeps giving. Below is a screen shot from my FB page – it was something I posted a year ago.

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Body shaming has been around in one form or another for as long as we can recall. Longer maybe. The ability for one woman to make another feel bad is limitless. As is a man to make a woman question her worth. And let us not forget, sex only sells when the object remains an object.

So is it just about sex? I really do hate to be crude, but on some level almost everything we do is to do with sex, or our need to appear desirable to others. So shaming another person by commenting on their size, is one way of deflecting negativity onto them.

But why, why is this worse that commenting on a poor wardrobe choice? (and I am the queen of poor wardrobe choices) Well, if my friend says to me, ‘Gill, I love your bold use of colour today, but maybe try sticking to a maximum of 3 in any one outfit’. That is fine, it is something easily taken on board, and you can adjust your future wardrobe choices with this constructive criticism in mind. But to comment on someone’s wardrobe choice, by calling them, slutty, asking for it, barely there, whorish (and I won’t go on but you get the idea) isn’t constructive. Sure, you are passing your opinion but really how is that helpful. Does it really matter if it isn’t to your taste, and why do you think they should care. There is a big different between offering some constructive feedback (although not always warranted or welcomed tbh) and just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.

For me, worse than commenting on how someone is choosing to present themselves to the world – commenting on body type. We have all seen the bikini ‘meme’ – ‘how to achieve a bikini body, get a bikini, put it on’. And it really is that simple. The size of the body wearing the bikini is beside the point and actually none of your business. What makes it worse, for me, is that it is a lot harder to change something. Telling people to one the one hand ‘eat a beefburger’ is as helpful and hurtful as telling them to ‘stop eating all the burgers’. While to some it may be a logical, and simple sum – more/less food in will result in a more desirable body shape.

But it isn’t easy, whatever way you are approaching the situation, you are naturally slender, and find it difficult to put on weight. How do you think it feels to be constantly told you need to eat more fried food?! And if you are already at a larger body weight (I won’t use BMI because I am not a fan) then simply not eating doesn’t work. These things are not quick fixes, they are not something the person hasn’t considered every time they dress, when they catch themselves in the mirror, when they see you looking at them.

Everyone is going through things that a not visible, and frankly none of your business. They don’t want or need your judgement. I am not saying you cannot think these things, you are welcome to. I am not for a moment suggesting you repress your natural inclination or reaction to a person or situation. But just take a moment to think before saying something to them, either online or to their face. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.

Side note : I want to touch on a subject getting a lot of press at the moment, and that is ‘plusisequal’ and various other plus size promoting that is going on at the moment. The fact is a lot of events still use models who are size 12/16 at the very most. Which is a massive slap in the face to ladies who are larger and would like to see how these fashions will realistically fall on their bodies. There is still the issue of needing to look desireable at a larger size, so if you are not rocking the hourglass look, you are just not the right , size, plus size. At the end of the day, every person should be able to wear what they want, and feel good about themselves. It is not a competition to see who can wear it better. If you want to make a change, do it for you. It is the only way that change will be long term. Remember that you are the one living in that body. No one else.