Sunday, 8 April 2018

A is for Activity

As promised, the completed couple for the letter A.

Much to the surprise of my teenage self, I actually love being active. That is probably the most positive aspect of this whole journey. My weight has gone up and down and up and down but learning to love activity is something that I think stays with you when all is said and done. Thinking about it like this, this is just one of the problems with diet culture. You are not taught to love something tangible. The ONLY thing to love with the diet itself is the dropping of numbers on a scale. But when that's gone it's ALL gone. Learning to LOVE something never leaves you. When you love something or become passionate about something it becomes part of who you are.

There are times that I forget that I love activity. Usually this is as a result of injury or periods of inactivity. At the start of both of these things (i.e. the week AFTER an injury/ illness/ need for rest) I still remember that I love to be active. The longer the inactivity lasts the more the memory of enjoying activity fades until you get to the point when you're ready to get back to activity. And then. The HORROR. Everything bloody hurts. When I was younger and happier to be inactive, that would've been the end of me. The hurt, the ache, the moments of terror as you're attempting to place butt cheek to toilet seat the day or two after leg day would have chased me back to inactivity. But now, the love of being active has become part and parcel of who I am. I'm not always perfect, but I ALWAYS come back and I just wanted to address a few things.
Decadance #2K16

1) First and foremost, to get joy from activity you MUST find the thing(s) you love to do.

If like me, you have been inactive for a good deal of your life, this may well take some trial and error.  Things I know: I LOVE horse riding, I LOVE rock climbing, I LIVE to dance, I LOVE LOVE LOVE yoga. Even through ALL the injuries, I LOVE to run. There is nothing more freeing than lacing your running shoes, putting your headphones in and just going where your feet take you.
Things I also know: I HATE pilates (don't @ me with the similarities to yoga, I just don't like it), I HATE spinning (I'm sorry Heather, I tried), I HATE anything labelled legs, bums and tums.
And that is absolutely okay! If everyone LOVED everything or the same one thing, there would be no world records, there would be no phenoms it would just be everyone doing the same thing and it would lose its specialness.

2) Secondly, consistency is key.
Now, I know I am a pot calling the kettle black here. I spend my life falling on and off bandwagons. But in many ways this is why I know this is true. I feel (painfully) the impact of not having gone to the gym in a few weeks or disappearing from yoga for months at a time. I know exactly what it is to be an all or nothing kind of person and I am really trying to change that. For example, I was doing a yoga thirty day challenge at Sweat Studios. This would have been the fourth time I have completed it. But life, and weather, got in the way. My challenge isn't due to end for another 5 days. However, in those 5 days I would need to do 3.5 classes a day in order to finish the challenge on time. With my health the way it is at the moment, three and a half classes a day would finish me off. What is the point in doing something JUST for the sake of doing it if it'll a) kill me and b) truthfully set me back in the routine I am trying to establish. No.

3) Thirdly, it is NOT a competition.
There are people who thrive off competition. I honestly consider myself to be one of those people. However, as mentioned in my last blog post I am learning how to deal with my anxiety in a productive way. The anxiety I place on competition, not just with others but with myself also, is seriously damaging. I look at pictures of myself at my fittest or flit over progress charts and beat myself up. Sometimes it's gently- 'remember how amazing you felt'- more often it's scathing- 'ugh, you're so fat and useless sort your f*****g life out for f**** sake'- ALL of it is rooted in the past. I don't live there anymore, therefore all of that is unhelpful at least and damaging at worst.

 "I understand Tough Mudder is not a race, but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I DO NOT WHINE- Kids whine. I help my fellow mudders complete the course. I overcome ALL fears." 
4) Fourth, and finally, be active for activity's sake.
We live in a world where EVERYTHING is an equation. Whether that is 'if I go to bed RIGHT NOW I will get 6 hours and 42 mins sleep' or 'if I walk to work I can have that donut I've been day dreaming about all my life'. We are stuck in cycles built of guilt and when activity comes into these equations we stop having fun. If everything is simply a part of the equation, is there really any joy? I am trying to eat mindfully, but honestly whilst I'm sorting my mental health out I simply cannot entertain equations of food and exercise. I have to eat to fuel my body so that it functions properly, not deprive it because of some deeply ingrained guilt as to my weight. I have to exercise because I am doing something I truly enjoy which also has the benefit of being incredibly good for me.

But most of all, be grateful for this opportunity
to be active. In one of my very first blog posts I wrote about running my second Race for Life. I ran for everyone who could not run themselves.

I ran for the people sitting through their third round of chemo wishing for the days when their body wasn't attacking itself. I ran for the service men and women who have lost limbs or have suffered hidden traumas that prevents life from going on as it once did. Most importantly I ran for my mum, every race I have ever ran has been for my mum, because she wishes she could run herself. My body isn't perfect, there are a LOT of things wrong with it, but whilst I have air in my lungs and power in my muscles I'm going to use it and be grateful for this body every single step of the way.

***** Update: I started writing this on 05/04/2018 and since then I have inspired myself in to doing another race for life. This is predominantly to get myself out of the negative mindset telling me I CAN'T do it. I bloody can. I have. ^^^ see photographic evidence of the finish line above^^^ I've got about ten weeks and whether I run, jog, walk or skip my way around the 5K course I am going to remember just how capable I really am. If you would like to help with Cancer Research UK's fundraising please see my fundraising page HERE. I'll update everyone of my progress between now and then. Good vibes only*****

Thursday, 5 April 2018

A is for Anxiety

To quote Maria Von Trapp 'let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start'.

I said in my last blog post that I wanted to examine the things I want to improve in my life or simply, things I want to be more aware of to protect myself when things don't go quite to plan. I wanted to do this alphabetically, with each letter having a theme and my examining that theme and its impact on my life. Whilst in the car today I realised that the themes I'd already pinpointed were likely to get VERY negative VERY quickly. As I have always believed that positive change can ONLY come from a positive mental attitude, posting particularly negative blog posts doesn't seem like a great idea. Which is why I have decided to do each letter in couples; the first post being about the thing I struggle with or want to change and the second post being about something I LOVE so that, at the end of each couple, I'm left with the positive rather than the negative.

So, without much further ado...

A is for Anxiety
Image result for the letter A
Brought to you by the letter...A
For several years I have described myself (at least in my head) as someone who has high functioning anxiety. I have worn this as a badge of honour. My type A perfectionist personality (I literally thought this was the epitome of personality types when we did the test in an early Psychology A-Level lesson). My drive for organisation, structure and routine. My high functioning anxiety has driven many of the positive aspects of my life. It has got me through exams, assessments, party planning, acting as part of committees and has had a knock on effect in just about every aspect of my life.

All well and good, until the anxiety part of the equation does what it is good at and brings you to your knees. For me, it signals a complete lack of control in the areas of my life where I most need control. My ordinarily tidy space is rendered a confused mass of stuff: boxes, laundry (both clean and dirty), shoes I didn't know I owned, the world's lost socks all appear en masse and turn my control into chaos. I always think of my mess as a metaphor for the inside of my head. When my head is a mess, so too is everything else. I don't sleep well. I don't eat well. I hide IN my mess (which only makes the feeling AND the mess worse). I get migraine after migraine and turn into my most pathetic snivelling self.

You would think, considering I KNOW which factors in my day to day life are attached to anxiety, that I'd see it coming. But often I am not aware of my crippling anxiety until I reach my breaking point. I have had two such anxiety attacks in the last three months and one had me quite literally rocking back and forth huddled against the Paperchase store in London Euston station balling my eyes out. {Thinking about this now, the irony of attaching myself to a stationers (my literal happy place) is not lost on me}. I had very nearly missed the last train home and in that moment I heard every criticism I throw at myself, every worry my parents would have if I had to call them and explain, the separation anxiety I'd be causing my cat, the fact that I didn't have my migraine medication and therefore was DESTINED for a migraine by morning, the commotion I would cause if I had to throw myself on the mercy of either my best friend or my brother and sister-in-law (not that either party would have made me feel unwanted; but that's the insidious nature of anxiety. It's your OWN worst fears, not necessarily the realisation of it). My train was called, I brushed myself up enough to get to a seat, turned my face into the window and cried my eyes out the entire time it took to get home.

I am not much of a crier, crying in general (and ESPECIALLY in front of other people) makes me feel uncomfortable - physically. I was abused so terribly by an ex-boyfriend for my depression and crying in particular, that I now get a head splitting headache every time I cry somewhere where I might be seen or heard by other people. Crying, to me, is the epitome of lost control and I have built myself up in such a way that control is what I do to keep my guard up. I NEED it to maintain my sanity. Unfortunately, my obsessive need for control is also the one thing that most often pushes me to the verge of insanity. I just started working with a new therapist and within five minutes of our first consultation she had picked out that need for control- I told her, after arriving two minutes late (thirty seconds late is enough to cause palpitations) that I had begun to rehearse my apology when I realised I was going to be late, some 15 minutes earlier. So it is very much a work in progress. For now it's just a daily effort not to abuse myself for all of the things I do which I think will let people down and realise that for most of the people in my life, the added trappings of my perfectionism is unimportant. Being well and appreciating the things that DO go right is what matters.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Strictly alphabetical

So. You may have noticed that I haven't been here in...a year? The truth is, I haven't really 'been' for a year. My life had become a constant stream of stress, depression, migraines, injuries, medication and anxiety. So, I want to take this blog in a slightly different direction. This is STILL about my weight, sort of. I realised that I'd been looking at my weight in a vacuum. My weight was a solitary being that had things happen to it rather than it being actively related to my life in general. I feel like, every time I've talked about the psychology of losing weight, of overeating or of under-eating I have been lying to you. All of that stuff is true. But the gods' honest truth about the matter is that I don't think I have ever yet applied them to my life. It's one of those things where you KNOW all the answers - so if someone asks you for your advice you're there with ALL the knowledge, ALL the goods. But when you have to implement that in your OWN life...nope.

So here's the truth. I am unwell. I am at odds with my brain, with my hormones, with everything. I always referred to myself as someone who had 'recovered' from depression. I have become SO GOOD at hiding my anxiety, my stress that the only way I KNOW I'm stressed is when I start exhibiting certain behaviours. I buy too much, specifically - cosmetics. I eat too much, specifically - pick n mix. I sleep too much. I do too little. But I am never AWARE that I'm stressed until finally I reach absolute breaking point. And there I am, having a panic attack on a crowded train home or hiding in my bathroom with the shower running because no one can hear me cry. I hide my stress until my body is at absolute breaking point and my health (both physical and mental) hit a dangerous low.

And I've had this idea in the last few weeks, of reigniting this blog. Not just about weight. In fact, the weight is inferior to the countless other lifestyle changes I need to bring about. When I think about the weight I have put on in the last two years, it is never because I wore X or I looked Y. It is 'I could do ANYTHING', 'I was so fit and well', 'I'd never HAD a migraine', 'I was unstoppable' and most upsetting of all 'I wasn't desperately unhappy'. The weight is secondary to all of that and many other things. So, this is now about more than weight. It's about my health (mental and physical), it's about my happiness, it's about my ability to take on any challenge and succeed.

What I propose to do, is think about things alphabetically. Each letter to have a theme and to REALLY think and be REALLY HONEST about how those themes relate to me. I have hidden and ignored things for so long and I've gotten so low in my spirits and in my overall health as a result. Truthfully, I just cannot afford to do that any more.
So, let's just see how that goes shall we?


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

What if?

This is a few days late...I've been struggling with migraines and computer screens are not my friend right now.

Anyhoo. I had the idea for this blog post about two weeks ago whilst I was washing my face. It suddenly occurred to me 'I wonder what would happen if I actually kept up this routine all year rather than forgetting a month in?' And that simple thought expanded into 'I wonder what would happen if I built a healthy lifestyle and stuck to it?' Suddenly my lifestyle change became so much more than simply 'drop pounds, lift heavy things, run faster' and became an experiment of what my life would actually be like. This got me thinking about how I'd thought about these things before and I realised that, overwhelmingly, my thought process has been retrospective rather than forward thinking. And honestly, I've DONE the past. I don't want to waste today thinking about yesterday when I can be working towards tomorrow.

I know this might seem painfully obvious but I can honestly say this is the first time that this kind of thought process has occurred in terms of lifestyle change. I've never been particularly positive when it comes to my what ifs. Usually it's 'what if I hadn't done X? I might be so much further along', 'what if I'd kept up with ballet as a child? I could be a prima ballerina by now' or just 'what if I hadn't been too embarrassed by my weight, body or just had believed in myself more? I might have gone to that party or told that guy how I felt or...' And when I realised this, I was struck by how disappointing this was and ultimately how negative my world view has been well...forever.
Motivational things! (
In rediscovering the idea of the 'positive what if' I felt like I'd (re)discovered that quasi-childlike wonderment. What happens when I get to the top of that tree, I wonder if I can do a cartwheel or what happens if I mix the yellow and the purple play-doh (don't, it turns shit brown). And actually that really excited me. Because humans, whether we like to admit it or not, are curious animals. It's the reason that our ancestors spread out from Africa and came to live in just about every part of the globe (whether it's strictly habitable or not). It's the reason that one of our ancestors went 'I wonder what happens if I squeeze that cow's udders to collect milk?' (That literally makes my mind boggle, someone decided to milk a cow). Every scientific discovery has come from a simple question of 'what if?'

Now, I'm not suggesting that my 'what ifs' are particularly profound but in a world where we are bombarded with negative media, negative marketing and attitudes and approaches that are purely here to exploit our lack of confidence and human weaknesses; we have to cling on to anything that presents itself in a positive way. For me, this is especially important when I'm losing weight, upping my fitness or simply just trying to create a more balanced lifestyle. I do not do well with negativity. Being made to feel inferior, whether by my own mind or by others, is a sure fire route to failure. Of course, there might be SOME successes along the way- I know that I have had some exceptional weight losses when I feel awful about myself because I am at my most restrictive and most punishing in terms of calorie counting and activity- but it is certainly not sustainable and you end up far worse off than you may have started. For me, it presents as a significant drop in weight followed by a plateau which frustrates me into a) overeating b) purging or c) excessive exercise to the point of injury and illness. As if those three things weren't bad enough, you're left with the negativity meaning that absolutely nothing good has come from it. No. Thank. You.

I really just wanted to share this particular thought process because I know that there are people who will have thought about change the same way I was. I.e. thinking about it in terms of what has already happened (something we no longer have control over) instead of what could happen. Too often we live in the past at the risk of missing the present. I, for one, intend to make a change in my thinking by simply asking 'what if' more often.
Erin Hanson. Courtesy of pinterest...woohoo motivational quotes!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Please...don't lie to me.

Okay chaps, so we've made it through our first week of 2017. Now, if you're like me (and unless you've just got married or had a child or anything like that) the first 8 days of January have not been life changing. We have not woken up on January first; fresh faced, bright eyed and bushy tailed. If you're like me, you probably didn't wake up TODAY at all like the above either. Change takes time, and honestly, change takes serious struggle. It takes continuous effort to reinforce new habits, to limit the power that old habits had over you and your decision making abilities. This applies to ANY change. Even if you are told 'YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THIS THING OR YOU WILL DIE' that doesn't mean that you won't still have to actively say to yourself, no I can't do that or yes I must take that medication. No matter your reason for change, it doesn't stop it from being a challenge.

Okay, I think you've got the point. Change = hard.

So, imagine me- if you will- last night scrolling through Instagram  and seeing a sponsored post by Weight Watchers UK. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am still an adherent of Weight Watchers, it has worked for me thus far and I like the flexibility of not having to count things like fruit and veg. I understand it does not work for everyone and even I don't like some aspects and have modified the plan to suit myself...back to post. This Instagram post was an advert. I know, surprising considering it's January and most of us still have a box of mince pies left over from Christmas. This year's Weight Watchers celebrity is Oprah Winfrey. I am not by ANY stretch of the imagination criticising Oprah or her efforts to lose weight and feel better for it. ALL I will criticise is the simple line 'I can honestly tell you I struggle no more'. Literally the first thing that came to mind, totally involuntarily, was 'Oprah! Don't lie to me!' Because that is what it was. A LIE. 
Pretty self explanatory...
Let me lay out my evidence for this. I'll go off my own experience firstly. I have 26 years of unhealthy habits with food to break. I know that even when I am 'done' with the weight loss element of this journey I may well still have a daily battle fighting for moderation and stopping my emotional relationship with food from sneaking back in. Weight loss is one battle. Maintenance is a whole other battle. Having sat in countless Weight Watchers, Lighter Life and Cambridge Diet Plan meetings over the last few years never once has a leader or a member on maintenance said that they don't still struggle. Certainly it gets easier as new habits become a part of your day to day life but that doesn't mean that if you've been an emotional binge eater for decades that you won't have that moment after a shitty day where you go 'f*** it, just give me the sodding crisps'. Regardless of the 'real life' community of people changing their lifestyle that I have had the fortune of meeting and getting to know over the last 4 years, a quick glance at before and afters on Instagram itself will show just how much effort, CONTINUED effort, anyone who has lost/ is losing weight must commit to.

To suggest otherwise is to discount the extraordinary effort of anyone who has ever undergone serious change. To suggest otherwise is like saying 'but weight loss is easy. Just eat less and move more and there you go'. I don't think that there really are THAT many people who hand on heart truly believe that weight loss is easy, but Weight Watchers' own marketing strategy is telling people the wrong thing. That if you DO continue to struggle after losing weight or whilst losing weight or during whatever change you are undergoing in your life right now that you are somehow a failure or not doing it as WELL as Oprah (who, let's be honest, can afford to have someone cook her meals and make her work out every day if she wanted to). It's not realistic, it's not supportive and actually I think it's damaging. A quick read of the comments under this post and I saw people talking about how they DO still struggle but they're trying really hard. Like they were trying to explain away naughty behaviour to a disappointed parent. And this is the thing. I get what Weight Watchers are trying to do here. They're saying this is an easy program, it's flexible, it's doable, you can eat what you want (in moderation) and still lose weight. But what they've done is set the bar for weight loss attainment far to high for the average person trying to lose weight. And for a system that is trying to be increasingly supportive and aware of how emotional health feeds into relationships with eating, to my mind, it's undone a LOT of its good work. 

So to anyone who was in anyway downcast by last night's Instagram post, or simply feels like they're finding this too hard, it IS a struggle. You are NOT achieving less simply because you do find it challenging. And never NEVER let anyone, not even the company that is meant to be supporting you, make you feel inferior or incapable. You've got this. 

Monday, 2 January 2017

2017...believe it or not. (Part two)

Okay, so I'm organised. I've sorted through my possessions, have the beginnings of a weekly fitness plan and my laundry is well underway. Yay! So now it's time to think about actually making it happen. It's all well and good saying 'on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I go to spinning, Tuesday and Thursday Weights and ballet both evenings and yoga at the weekends' and quite another thing to get those things into practice. I'm also aware of the fact that I'm contending with about ten days of overindulgences and less than beneficial habits so I'm actually very grateful that the way the New Year has fallen means that there are bank holidays and I get another day to sort myself out before regular scheduling activity returns.

So without much further ado.

Stage three: Think about positive habits.
Kind of related to getting organised but more focused on the end goal. So for me, I want to get back to running fit this year- I'm not suggesting I take on any marathons any time soon (perhaps never- I may simply not be built for long distance) but I want it to become a habit that I stick to again. I'm at a weird period where I remember the endorphins and fun that came with my runs; being outside, taking in the fresh air and just reaping the benefits of the greater cardiovascular health; but I know the pain and lack of capacity that will come from starting again. But no matter- every expert was once a beginner. With the knowledge of your goals, you then have to think about how to make it happen. So, running- crack out the Couch to 5K app and do it. I want to make sure I have a greater variety of fruit and vegetables so produce a list of seasonal fruit and vegetables and try and increase my intake so that where I had one type of vegetable at lunch I now have two, where I had two at dinner I now have three OR take the time to find an interesting use of a vegetable so that's it's not just the same boiling, steaming, roasting that happens day in, day out. My family have decided to split meal production a bit more evenly so now my family get to experience my weird and wonderful dreams for vegetables too! (Mwahahahahaha). Drink more water, download a water tracking app or tick your glasses off on your calendar every day. (Most importantly for me) Sort out my atrocious sleep schedule. I'm writing this at 01:44...I should be in bed and I should not then be waking up at 10am (if I'm lucky) and repeating tomorrow evening. Nope. Must stop. I think it's much easier to try and do something new rather than STOP doing something you used to do and the logic is that you're actually adding something to your life rather than restricting yourself or denying the way you feel. But with the knowledge that the healthier I eat, the less I crave the things that make me feel unwell. All I need is some consistency (which is what is so great about a New Year) to let these new habits sink in and chances are I won't think about pick n mix or if I do I'll be able to approach it with the clarity and perspective I need to say 'no, you're not 15 any more. You cannot eat that without impunity and wake up feeling fine the next morning'.

Which brings me on to:

Stage four: Create a rewards scheme.
For most of us, we prefer the carrot over the stick. If you're like me (or the whole world...let's be honest now) our single most reliable reward is food. That stick of chocolate after a job well done, a piece of cake on a birthday, the unacceptable number of sweet treats that oozed from every corner of my house over Christmas given as a reward for...something. I've said it before and I'll say it again, from cradle to grave food is there. Now, if you've had an unhealthy relationship with food, like I have, food can no longer be your reward system. It just can't. Now (this can take some imagination) it is vital you find something you love that you can reward yourself with for hitting a goal or a target on the way. Not only that, you need a variety of different rewards at different levels of rewardiness to delineate between 'I went to the gym today' *well done me, I'm going to crack open the Laura Mercier bubble bath* and 'I annihilated my second tough mudder' *well done me, I'm off to the spa to have someone soothe those aching muscles*. Having these mini rewards keeps the steps along the way attainable, and when you have a longer journey ahead of you, you NEED something that can keep you going when it honest to god feels like you're just trudging along. Hard work will (maybe) eventually be its own reward but even then it can be extremely hard to see your own progress. When I was at university, progress was easy because I was surrounded by loads of people who could tell me I was looking better/ behaving differently. When I looked in the mirror and saw no change, people I hadn't seen in months would walk past me at the train station because I was that much slimmer. That's a heady feeling. It keeps you motivated even when motivation is hard to come by. Obviously when you don't have a cohort of students to inform you of your progress you need to become your own monitor and do it in an objective way. Keep a diary detailing your weight loss or your inch loss, or better even how fast you ran that kilometre or how much of a heavy thing you lifted. Write down personal bests and take stock of things that are easier now than they have ever been before. Celebrate every victory no matter how insignificant it may feel now. 

And finally.
Stage five: Be kind to yourself
I have not been very nice to myself in the last trip round the sun. Honestly, if I saw a person saying some of the things I've said to myself to any other person I'd give them a strong piece of my mind. So why can I say it to myself/ about myself? Be kind to yourself. Accept that there will be days when you're not feeling up to much or your motivation cracks and you feel bad habits slipping back in. We're only human. So, I'm going to be kind today and bring my old progress jars out of retirement. I've spent far too much time feeling like there was no point dealing with them simply because I didn't feel like pounds I'd already lost was progress. I'm going to release my jars from their prison, give them a clean because they're a bit dusty, and take all the beads back out and put my current total back in. It may not be as high as it was, sure, but it's still a hell of a lot of hard work and determination and I'm done seeing the negative instead of the positive. 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2017...believe it or not. (Part One)

So everybody, somehow it's 2017 today. I'm not going to agonise over all of the awful stuff that happened last year. I will just say this. 2016 was simultaneously the shortest and longest year of my life.

But. We move on.

Now, obviously the year has only just begun. So I can't tell you exactly how it's going to be different, I'm just telling you that I'm going into this year with all the optimism I can muster. So today, just to ease back into this whole 'being on top of my life thing' I want to lay out some of the things I plan on doing with my optimism.

Organisation is great because it means new stationery...
Stage one: Get organised.
This is somewhere where I often fall down and being organised applies to the small things just as much as the big things. If I haven't done my laundry my motivation to go to the gym disappears because I know I have to move into the 'uncomfortable' segment of my workout gear. Should I just get rid of that stuff? You know what...yes. In fact, LET IT BE SO. Today, Sunday, January 1 2017 I shall finally go through my gym kit and pack up the things that are uncomfortable, that are too short, too long, etc. If I take them to a charity shop, especially since some of the half length capri pants (mistaaaaake) have only been worn once, maybe someone else can get use out of them and I'll have to remember to do my laundry regularly.

Taking the last few days of my Christmas study break to really think about the time I want to dedicate to fitness, followed by the amount of time I'm ACTUALLY ABLE to commit to fitness will help no end. Actually making a date with yourself that 'on Tuesday morning between 10-11 I do circuits at the gym' and then slotting the other stuff around it is not going to prevent you from giving the sufficient amount of time to the 'more important things'. No, you'll know when you go to the gym, when you study, when you practice a language or pick up an ageing instrument and chances are you will be giving yourself MORE time to do it and LESS time worrying about ‘whether I should go to the gym today'. Trust me. If you work best with a full schedule like me, this is the way to go.

Stage two: Just, stop and think.
Hello, my name's Florence and I'm addicted to pick n mix. There. I said it. I would love to say that I don't think about what I'm doing when I'm digging into the self serve Candy King and missing the days of Woolworths Pick n Mix stand but that would be a lie. Not only do I think about it. I fantasise about it when I DON’T have it to the point that I can almost taste those pink and blue fizzy bottles and then the inevitable 2am raid of Tesco's happens and...yeah, it's not pretty. Do you know what I SHOULD think?! 'This shit physically hurts you'. I am NOT joking. Sugary sweets of any type, no matter how small a portion causes my body physical pain. And yet, whilst it's happening I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about how good it is, how tangy it tastes and how tingly it feels. I'm not talking about guilt. Sure, I've had moments when I have eaten SO MUCH pick n mix, pizza, Chinese food etc. that I feel guilty about my behaviour and that is no good in itself.

But loving yourself means taking care of your body and I HAVE to realise that when I eat certain foods my body simply is not happy. So step two is mainly about thinking about the things that are harming your interests- really having an actual concerted think about it rather than just a cursory 'that makes my tummy hurt' or 'following this person on Instagram makes me feel bad' and really stop and think. Make a list of the bad stuff and then, I don't know, burn it or physically destroy it and just get that shit out of your life. Or, alternatively think about the positive things you can bring IN to your life. My immune system has been barely functional this year and scientists are increasingly telling us that our gut health is crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system. So I'm going to stop and think and research the kinds of foods and habits that will positively impact my health so that going forwards I don't have any 'I ate too much sugar, I think my stomach is about to explode...send help' moments in 2017.

The main reason I’m banging on about this now is that year in, year out I have seen people (myself included) start the New Year with all these great schemes but with no forward planning. Failure to plan is planning to fail. What is the point of saying ‘New Year, New Me’ if the new you only lasts a month and a half? I have known for the last few weeks that I was really going to pull the finger out after the New Year. I’ve been back on track more or less since Thanksgiving (26th November in my house) but I knew that it was going to be primarily damage limitations before the Christmas period. But NOW is the time that I get back to building the habits and behaviours that will hopefully stick with me for good. That doesn’t mean it will come easily, I’ve been so haphazard with my attitude towards nutrition and activity over the last year, but I know that it will be worth it. So today’s post is about how I’m organising myself. Tomorrow will look at how I’m going to make the things I’m organising happen and how I’m going to keep them happening. And then, well, I just have to get on with it!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, New Year!