A Little Early Morning Walk

This morning we had a spot of car trouble so I couldn’t give my youngest daughter her usual lift to the station. I decided to keep her company on the walk and am so glad I did as it was a most enjoyable start to the day! The photos are from my return journey which I took at a more leisurely pace than the walk to the station- I was happy just to take in the early morning quiet and to appreciate my surroundings. I could feel my spirit lifting with every step.

Choices And Changes

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I missed a Fitball class this week. My body and mind felt like lead, moving my limbs was like trying to wade through cold, claggy custard and the deep stresses from the last few days caught up with me to overwhelm and devour my energy. Depression tried to claw its way back into my mind  and erode away my sense of achievement and desire to continue this journey towards a healthy, happy me. I stayed in bed and the day disappeared- this has happened before…but this time there was a difference. Thank goodness.

I was able to practise kindness to self, to allow myself the time I clearly needed to recharge and replenish my inner resources instead of castigating myself in ever increasing circles of recrimination. I nurtured self and took the time I needed as opposed to sinking black despair at having missed a class. I chose to take a positive view rather than falling into bleak negativity. This is real change! This is me being the change I want to see. This change in attitude is as meaningful to my mental health as my exercising is to my physical health. This is holistic progress

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I used the time in the comfort and warmth of my safe and beautiful bed to reflect on the changes and choices I have made since last September. The decision, the positive and deeply personal choice to change my shape, my physical health, my space, my well-being, my happiness has been huge. It has not been a smooth journey, nor has it been easy yet overall the momentum is all forward and like a pebble thrown into a pond the ripple  effect has translated into so much more than an increase in physical health through exercise.

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I have started taking better care of me more often, I have decluttered and taken books, clothes and shoes to charity shops, I have tidied and cleaned, I have gardened… not perfectly, not every day, sometimes not as much as I would have wished for but consistently just that bit more than before. I am proof that one change leads to another and the ripple effect is real

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The Wrong Knickers! Also…What A Fantabulous Run!

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Another cold and misty day for week five of Beginners Joggers and the Park was as stunning as ever. Unfortunately I had left my phone at home so no photos from me today. I found the above photo on line. We set off on a slightly different route so that instead of entering Knole through the Hole In The Wall we climbed over the old steps further along the boundary wall. It is a fun and charming way to enter the Park. I do have a photo of my own (on the left below) from a walk with one of my daughters last Autumn and found another on line to better illustrate the steps.

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I was really anxious this week about keeping up with the girls,  as I had missed last week’s session due to family commitments and had limped out with a pulled muscle the week before. I have also had a really bad time with my IBS playing me up a lot over the last five days so that was another reason for anxiety to play havoc…which in turn makes  unfortunate episodes more likely. It’s a catch 22 situation! So I dosed myself up with Imodium to feel safe enough to not miss out on this weeks Joggers

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IBS had led to me being pretty much housebound for far longer than I care to think about before I embarked on the FODMAP diet, under supervision of a clinical dietitian. It’s a difficult diet to follow, but the benefits have proved to be life changing as without it this journey back to fitness would have been close to impossible. FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (when in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose and polyols (eg. sorbitol and mannitol). This regime has seen my symptoms reduce by about 70%- as predicted by my lovely dietitian Emma and so now as long as anxiety can be kept at bay I am mostly good to tally forth from home with confidence.

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http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/research/divisions/dns/projects/fodmaps/faq.aspx has information from King’s College, London about the FODMAP diet.

I knew that the girls had achieved a couple of fabulous four minute runs the week before last whilst I was struggling with my pulled muscle and would surely have built on that in my absence last Wednesday. I was also very aware that, although I had managed to get out and about despite the ravages of flaring IBS, most of my outings over the last seven days were spent walking not jogging. I was worried my stamina had not improved sufficiently to allow me to keep up on my short legs with the lovely ladies!!

Well my stars and whiskers what a run! It was wonderful! Sure enough I did struggle somewhat and fell behind a couple of times, but not for long!  In fact the worst problem I had was not the running it was my knickers!!! Note to self: never wear the wrong knickers jogging! We spend much time discussing the right bra and indeed other bits of kit, but no time talking about knickers! Turns out this is an oversight: heed my advice now…. lacy french knickers are no good for jogging in! Constant wedgie!

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We ran 3.3 miles with intervals starting at four minutes- what progress we have made since starting out five weeks ago when we were running for thirty seconds intervals! We did do a couple of one minute intervals on the inclines but once we were thoroughly warmed up, had done our dynamic stretches we pushed the pace and time up to intervals of five, six and then….nine and then….ten minutes. Way to go girls! We shared a Hi Five moment as flushed with success and only slightly breathless we celebrated our achievement. As it turns out the target interval for this week was six minutes so we truly spanked that this week! Hehe! SLJ FTW!!

A Few More Snowdrops 

Today’s jaunt revealed a few more snowdrops. There are dramatically fewer than this time last year which is a shame as I love them so. It was a struggle to leave the house this afternoon but I am glad I managed it as discovering these little brave lovelies lifted my mood. The grey skies reflect the gloomy bleakness of depression that is trying to reclaim me so finding beauty along my walk helps to keep the blackness at bay.

A further boost to mood occurred when I spotted my first crocus and a couple of iris blooms- beautiful! Unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough to take my own photo as it was in someone’s garden so I found one as similar as possible on the good old internet

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A Little Local Wander

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Friday was a somewhat chilly day with low grey skies attempting to dissuade me from trotting forth from my cosy sitting room! However, as Sam so rightly points out there are few days when it is impossible to go out and particularly as I missed our weekly Beginner Joggers session on Wednesday I was determined to wrap up and get out there!  I decided to stay local as a change to the Park and I am so glad I did!

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I chose to explore a path that I have driven passed many, many times since moving here and at the back of the new houses behind Tesco I followed the river path and found this! I knew the River Darenth ran along here through Riverhead, but hadn’t realised the extent of the body of water there

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Even under the lowering skies it is stunning! I spotted a heron as well as plenty of ducks and moor hens

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The river is beautiful and peaceful despite the close vicinity of the huge supermarket, the new houses and the main road.

I walked and jogged as far as I could along the river side: the signs saying PRIVATE discouraged further exploration… So I retraced my steps back to the main road.

I headed through Dunton Green, over towards the path through woodland that leads towards the Wild Life Reserve.  I found a piece of  sheltered, flat ground and decided to do my dynamic stretches

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I have grown in confidence over the weeks so that, despite still struggling a little with working through the stretches whilst out and about, I able to complete these important movements. I still do my cooldown stretches at home ^^

The river reappeared, meandering through the woodlands so I was able to capture a few photos along the way. I saw another heron, but again it was too far away for my phone to be able focus and capture the moment.

I Pushed The Edges Of My Comfort Zone A Little Wider… And I Seem To Be Still In One Piece!!

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I have found the experience of expressing myself here to be cathartic, positive and somehow reaffirming a commitment to self to continue to be the change I want to see in me, it is part of the investment in self that I so need to do. I am taking better care of me and even more importantly, I think, am enjoying doing so. I dyed my hair for the first time in many months and gracious me it’s astonishing what a boost that can be! It’s not so much the result, though I have to confess to being well chuffed with my golden brown tresses, it is more about the process and investment of time in the nurturing of self that has enhanced my feeling of energy and interest in life. It’s refreshing to feel this level of connection and I feel sure that this is the reward from the effort and determination  I have put in towards reclaiming physical health and fitness. My mood seems to be lifting  overall and whilst some days are still an impossible struggle I can confidently reassure myself that things will indeed improve.

So… taking all this into account I decided the time had come to push the boundaries of my comfort zone a little further and to put myself out there to not just an unknown audience but to those who know me IRL: I made a My Own Pandora Facebook Page and posted links to my recent posts here. Scary! Vulnerable! Real!

I Did, Done Strung My String

It was a cold and misty morning for week three of Beginner Joggers  but whilst the clouds were low our spirits were high as we headed off into the park. The group was a little changed up from the week before as we welcomed back one of our lovelies who was absent last Wednesday and a newcomer to the group who usually runs with the Saturday Beginners. This is part of the SLJ ethos that I really appreciate: warm, welcoming, friendly, supportive and flexible. It is always possible to swap out a session to another day of the week if necessary so life doesn’t get in the way of this journey towards fitness. Indeed I will have to change my Monday Fitball as I have to attend a meeting in Brighton.

We warmed up well as the park was chilly in the mist this morning as we strode out, catching up on each others’ week and getting to know our temporary member. It was so cold this week that even this menopausal sweaty betty didn’t take her jacket off- which is a first as I normally strip off on the first hill as my ‘ReadyBrek Glow’ takes over!

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The jogging started sooner than on the previous weeks and we were well into our stride by the time we reached Knole House so we trotted on around the corner of the garden wall where we paused for a short while to do our dynamic stretches. As usual the laughter and banter flowed as we squatted and lunged together. Just to mix things up a little we added in some press ups using the wall.

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I was struggling a little today with aching calves and talked with our lovely coach about this and realised that whilst the homework run is, of course, important for good progression and stamina building my extra Sunday run with my daughter with its additional squats, press-ups, jumps and lunges had not really given my muscles enough rest time. Lesson learnt: slow and steady wins the prize in my fitness journey and taking time to rest and repair muscles as they improve is as important as the exercise!!

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So… an explanation of the quirky title. I moved a little carelessly over some uneven ground as we were jogging slightly uphill and ouch! I felt a nasty twinge of pain at the back in my left thigh! I think it was a combination of having over done the training and being a little tired and clumsy, maybe the cold weather didn’t help, but whatever the reason the result was a pulled muscle- it felt like a piece of tight string strung down my thigh. My coach responded immediately with care and advice and my fellow beginners were very supportive. The photo below is not of my bottom sadly though it does illustrate exactly where it was hurting! Haha!

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Stretching it out did ease things a little but running really didn’t feel good so it was decided that I would walk back to base. The others continued with their run with me walking and true to SLJ ethos I was not left behind as, bless them, they ran ahead, then walked back to meet me. The banter continued amid their warm concern as they laughed and joked about improving their step count for the day! I used the slower pace to grab a couple of photos of the park in the mist.

We finished off as usual with stretches and I was given follow up advice for the next few days and as I am writing this some days after the event I can report that a couple of days resting saw me up and about as usual and looking forward to my homework run…yay!