Doubling up…music is an important part of this journey

I have my other blog which focuses on music and songs that I love but sometimes I feel the need to double up and share posts from there on here too, especially if they relate to my journey to the new me and refinding myself.

Today’s post there definitely does relate to this journey. Have a read, it’s a short one as most of my music blog posts are Sound Of LIfe Love And Everything Link

Music helps me so much, it’s been a major part of my life and since I’ve been on this path it’s helped me  to relax, to energise myself and keep on going with exercise, it’s helped me to analyse myself, to admit things to myself and to allow myself to let go and release emotions I’ve kept bottled for too long.  It was music that made me make those first steps that were ‘exercise’ for me back last year when I shuffled my morbidly obese self from one foot to another to some of my favourite tunes and music which brings me so much joy when I get to sing and jam with my little family or when we get to take a live concert in together.

I’ve learned that finding out what gives you pleasure besides food and eating is very important to success. For me music is one of those things. If I’m struggling and want to eat crap or have a binge I can stick on some nice music and relax for a few minutes, have a mini-meditation and the urge passes or I can stick on some lively music and dance around for a few minutes and I’m energised and the urge passes or I can put on an emotional song and bawl for the loss of the person or time in my life that it reminds me of.

A lot of how I manage my addiction to food is to divert my attention away from the craving, it is not hunger, I eat enough, often enough and well enough for my body to not need more, the craving is something else, it is my addiction telling me to self destruct and I can’t stop it happening altogether, maybe I’ll never stop it happening but I can  head it off and take my mind off it until it goes away.

Music really helps do that as music can instantly lift us onto another plane, as I say it can drop us down to our knees in grief or gratitude, it can slump us to our backs in relaxation or it can raise us to our feet and make us dance and rejoice. Just that shift in mood, pace, tempo or whatever can distract me away from my craving, it works. If you struggle with cravings try making music your friend and using it to help you. It’s 100% calorie free and we all have some music hanging around. Use it to burn off some energy, confront a sorrow or cheer you up with happy memories or to just take a moment away from the world to relax and think.

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Social Media Family Announcements… a free for all?

I don’t know if I’m over reacting because I am uber sensitive about death right now or what but one thing that really annoys me is when people post statuses on Facebook about someone who has died. You know the type who on their own wall might post a photo of someone and a RIP message. I don’t mean someone close to them but of someone they knew in passing or barely knew or who at the absolute best was a friend or distant relative.

Today I sat and cried for a long time when I saw via such a message that a friend of mine’s son had passed away suddenly in his early twenties. His passing and thinking of the grief his parents must be going through caused me sorrow enough but to see it ‘advertised’ (believe me I’m trying to find a better word) on the Facebook of an acquaintance complete with photograph lifted from one of the boy’s family member’s Facebook page seriously angered, shocked, infuriated, hurt and upset me.

Immediately I saw the status I was in disbelief, I tried to establish just by reading that the person in the photo was who I thought he was and that he had actually died. Then I didn’t know what to do. Should I call my friend, go over, what should I do, I felt helpless. I know I’m much closer to her and the family than the person who posted the status. But now I knew, it didn’t matter how I knew, I felt I had to act. Before I worked out what to do my phone rang and it was one of his siblings calling to tell me at his mother’s request what had happened, I didn’t want to say that I already knew, especially when I was told that he had only passed away a few hours earlier. I was aghast, it was around an hour since I saw the FB post, I checked and the FB post had been made less than an hour after the boy died. A read down the comments showed that the person writing the status had been passing the kid’s house when the body was being removed and had stopped to ask what was happening and a neighbour who had rushed to help had explained who had died and how to her.

This made me more angry, I felt it was terribly insensitive to do that, to make that announcement about someone else’s child, to incite dozens of people to comment asking who he was, what had happened to him, where he lived and such and a list of nothing short of gossip to ensue. I didn’t read it all I skimmed initially to check the facts and I’d never go back and read it all in detail. I even felt guilty for reading it myself, I felt like a vulture even though I had been told by the family. I questioned myself for reading but satisfied myself that I couldn’t avoid it, it was there on my news feed, I was compelled to establish if it was who I thought it was and what had happened even though I hated myself for doing that.

The conversations about the kid between people who didn’t know him really sickened me though. It’s like social media dehumanises people and leaves nothing sacred. It’s abhorent, if that was my child being discussed before he was cold I don’t know how I would handle my emotions.

I resented that I had to lie to his brother and act as if I didn’t know to save them from my telling them that it had already made it to Facebook, I know her she would be devastated to know her family and her child were being discussed as they were.

I just hated the whole thing and got to a point where I wasn’t sure if I was crying for the loss or crying because of the outrage at the FB post.

I don’t know if I’m old fashioned and this is just the future of family announcements now and anyone with the ‘knowledge’ of a family event has a right to make that announcement. I don’t know. All I do know is that I don’t like it.

Cooking Healthy For One and Changing Family Habits

This is something I’m getting more and more used to now. Nick has been getting back late from work (he does work and getting to his office when he has to involves lots of driving, something we’re going to have to look at in the near future) and my son has been so busy with extra curricular things at school and band practice and music lessons and football that he rarely makes it home to eat before 8pm.

I stopped being the only healthy eater in the house a while back. I announced that the days of my healthy meal plus other options for additional diners was no longer going to be a feature of meal times in this house. I figured that what I eat is not calorie controlled or rationed, it is healthy food, low in fat, low in sugar, low in carbs mostly organic, always freshly prepared and a riot of colour including vegetables, fruits, oily fish, lean meat, nuts, pulses, grains, seeds, herbs and spices and a smattering of dairy. So it’s good for everyone and as a mother and homemaker I should be setting the example to everyone to eat healthy and so that’s it, there are no other options for the kid or the man. There is always plenty so they can eat lots if they are hungry but they will be eating lots of good stuff that will do their bodies good and limit harm and correct the effects of pollutants and bad stuff they take in when they are not at home.

Sometimes my son craves a burger or a pizza or fried chicken and he’s a kid, he’s healthy and fit and growing fast so I let him go for it in moderation and I’m pleased that he ups his exercise to compensate and always flushes it all through with lots of water and fruit or raw veg. I don’t want him to be obsessional but then I do want him to think and adjust and make the right choices and compensate for bad stuff. I know my kids have a tendency to gain weight fast like I do and so knowing they are really thinking about their health and fitness and keeping fat at bay as a natural part of their life is really reassuring for me. I don’t want them dieting EVER and I don’t want them getting ridiculously overweight EVER so if some of what I’ve experienced and some of the good lessons I’m teaching them rubs off and eradicates the bad lessons I’ve taught them by example then I am happy for them.

It’s important to consider if you are the only one in the house following a healthy lifestyle if you are in a position to enforce it onto others in your household. I am not for forcing anyone to do anything but when it comes to this stuff, we can’t be sitting with our healthy food and doing our exercise and buying crap for our kids and watching them eat it and letting them be sedentary, we have the power to make them eat healthy (or to at least limit their choices of bad stuff) and to encourage them to move more. Don’t be the parent who in ten, fifteen, twenty years time gets blamed for not instilling healthy eating habits in your kid when it’s a 300lb adult in counselling for obesity related depression. You can make changes and I started subtly at first by telling them I couldn’t bear to have chocolate or biscuits (cookies) in the house, I replaced snacks like potato crisps with healthier options and then stopped buying them altogether. Carbonated drinks are now not the norm but a treat. Ice cream has been replaced with sorbets and frozen yoghurts. They drink more water. My son always has a big bowl of fruit in his den and he chows through it fast but that’s the kind of snacking I don’t mind. He also has a pop corn maker which requires no oil or sugar to be added just the popping corn and he loves to make it and snack on that, much better than crisps.

My son is 15 and when I go for a walk I ask him to accompany me so I have someone to chat with and he invariably gets right up and comes with me. No excuses no embarrassed to be seen with mum. He sees it as doing me a favour and not as him being coerced into exercise. Incidentally we also have some fabulous discussions on our walks when we are away from everything and I know they bring us closer to one another. I ask him to come for a ride with me and he comes along to make sure I don’t fall off and end up in a gutter somewhere. Don’t mention exercise to them, just make them feel like you need them to help you to do what you are going to do and they are more likely to come along. I challenge him to swimming competitions and all kinds of things to keep him moving. He does lots of exercise already but more doesn’t hurt and it’s really working to make him a big strong healthy guy, he’s glowing and his physique is turning the girls’ eyes. He isn’t complaining. Besides he loves that I’m turning into a new person in front of his eyes and he will do anything to keep that going, he remembers old miserable mum and he likes this new one much better. Try it, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to influence them.

But having said all of that I am missing having company for dinner. It’s the one meal that has always been a sociable meal for me, breakfast has always been a rushed free for all and lunch is something that happened at work. Family breakfasts and lunches are the treasured events of weekends and holidays not the norm. Dinner though was always the one meal we all sat and ate together, prepared together too for a long time, since the kids were big enough to step up and help stir a bowl or chop a mushroom with a blunt knife. Nowadays I find myself preparing and eating it alone most weekdays and I don’t like it. I am loathe to delay my dinner time to past 8pm as that is too late for me, I don’t snack at all these days and so I am hungry by meal times and I like it that way, it makes sure I enjoy my food more and because I’m  hungry I feel full sooner. I’ll explain that phenomenon some time but it’s true for me. I also can’t cook twice, I don’t do two sittings for the simple reason that if I cooked for myself at 6 and then again for the guys at 8 I would eat some more at 8, I just would. I’m a glutton in training remember? This isn’t a won battle, it’s a forever fight.

So anyway here are some ways I combat this:

  • I do a lot of one pot cooking – casseroles, stews, soups even curries and Italian pasta based dishes. That way I can take mine and it’s easy for late comers to warm some up for themselves without my intervention. I also get the feeling that I’ve cooked for more than just myself which satisfies my empty nesting syndrome. Using the slow cooker also helps with this as food can be kept nicely warm on the real low setting long after it’s ‘ready’ without over cooking. I do like my veg crunchy and my meat rare so this suits me to take mine out a couple of hours earlier. This also means that if I’m dining alone for more than one night I can portion up and refrigerate or freeze for another night or I can do the same with left overs.
  • I use the steamer a lot, I’ll fill it with my food, fish, meat or whatever and vegetables and will prepare the same for the others but will only cook my  own and then pop theirs into the compartments so that when they are on the way home I can flick it on or they can do it themselves. Again I get to prepare the food but I don’t have to stand cooking it or supervise its cooking.
  • I let them fend for themselves completely and only cook for myself.
  • I save my dessert and sit and eat that at the table with them while they eat dinner so I get the social element of the dinner without eating twice or eating my main meal too late. If I do this I usually make sure desert is a light sorbet or some fruits and yoghurt.
  • I prepare big mixed salads and dish mine up in the kitchen and eat in the dining room so that I don’t just keep on eating and leave nothing for the guys when they get in.
  • If I’m going to be eating alone for a few nights and know nobody else is coming for dinner (Nick might be staying over in London and my son with a friend nearer school) I’ll make myself real fancy things that I have to faff with and don’t eat routinely. This makes it feel like a real treat, I get the time spent on preparation kick and I get to try out new recipes too which I can then share (or not) with the family at a later date. This also gives me a chance to buy more expensive things and be a bit more extravagant. More expensive fish or meat, rarer fruits and veggies. Having the treat stops me from feeling sad about dining alone.
  • I keep going on about planning but planning your menus a week or two weeks ahead helps keep you on track so you can identify where you will or might be dining alone, for me I identify that as a danger zone, because it is, and I make sure that I always have things in the freezer that are individually portioned so I can thaw one chicken breast or one fish fillet when those days crop up, planned or otherwise.
  • Also if I know I’m going to be dining alone I might invite a friend or two over for dinner. It gives me a good opportunity to have a good chatter with friends and an excuse to indulge in a glass of wine or a cocktail. Make an occasion of it.
  • I never skip dinner in favour of TV snacks, that never ends well for me and I find the discipline of three meals a day really has impacted on my weight loss but also contributed to gains in other areas of my life including my digestion (and expulsion of waste), sleeping and also with gastro-intestinal problems. I always eat at the table and always eat a proper meal. Some things I just have to be disciplined about or else this is never going to work long term and long term is the way it has to work or else I may as well not bother. If I eat in front of the television I don’t even register eating the food and feel hungry afterwards because I’ve not clocked up the ritualistic consumption of the food. Again I’ll blog about this some time, my mind works in strange ways and I’ve learned that identifying how my brain works against my stomach really helps in getting on top of this.

So there we have it a few tips for healthy eating for one so that it doesn’t become an excuse. We obese folk are great at making excuses for why we can’t eat healthy or why we can’t exercise and one I’ve heard a lot is this problem of doing it on our own. At the end of the day we are doing this for ourselves and we are on our own in that sense and we have to take responsibility for ourselves and stop making excuses. There are ways to get around the solitude of dining alone without falling into unhealthy habits, it just takes some discipline and a little effort.

Also we really do need to take the upper hand and set the pace for others in our household and that’s why eating healthy and moving more is really far better than dieting because we should want to promote that to our families and they should want to embrace it. It takes a while to break some of their bad habits and they may resist at first but I remember my son looking at a plate of vegetables last year and turning up his nose at them, tonight he sat and munched through an allotment’s worth and at the end said “That cabbage was delicious mum, was it organic? Did you grow it? Can we have more of that tomorrow?” Come on, what mother doesn’t love that smug smile of knowing that they’ve made a change for the better in their kids? Even if it is just getting them to become a connoisseur of fine cabbage?

If your family are not supporting you make them understand the enormity and severity of the problem, sit them down and tell them to listen, tell them how being fat and out of shape makes you feel, lay it on the line, tell them if you worry you will die younger, tell them you don’t want to leave them too soon, tell them you are not enjoying your life, tell them the truth warts and all and tell them how much you need to do this for yourself.  Let them know it’s not about looks, they will say they love you as you are but tell them you don’t love you as you are and that it’s not about how you look it’s about how you feel. Don’t hold back tears if they want to come, let them see how unhappy you are and let them know how worried you are and let them know that you need their support. Tell them you won’t deny them anything but there will be changes and you don’t need them to kick up a fuss about them, they need to go along with things and try things. Tell them how you worry about them and their health not just now but in the future and how you feel you’ve let them down by not being the example you should have been and how you want to make a difference for you all. Tell them that loving you as you are is great but you can promise them they’ll love you even more and for longer if they help you with this. I know families can be the worst when it comes to supporting or understanding an addiction but if you don’t try to explain honestly they can’t begin to help you.

Updates by the score… remember “mum you’re the only person who tells me I’m beautiful”?

Remember how sad I was when my beautiful daughter told me that I’m the only person who ever tells her she’s beautiful and how it broke my heart and I felt I’d failed because she didn’t feel or see herself as beautiful? Well there has been a development, or a few in the four months since I blogged about that…

Somehow my daughter has blossomed, not in that she’s changed physically but an internal light has switched on at last and she has become aware of her beauty and feminism. The way she dresses her whole approach to life, she is still climbing mountains and trees and capsizing herself in kayaks in freezing cold rivers and biking through mountain ranges in thick fog but she has developed a real sophistication in her approach to her femininity. She doesn’t need a reminder from me to visit the hair dresser or go for a manicure or facial anymore, she does these things and she has a bright, cheeky, flirtatiousness about her that wasn’t there before.

I think she has just come to see herself as others see her and is aware of her womanhood, maybe she was just in need of more time than most to fully embrace the transition from girl to woman. She does love being a girl. Even her eating habits have changed and she’s more into fine dining than KFC and I just love the confidence which she oozes now.

And… people other than myself frequently tell her she is beautiful and I do think (and she agrees) it’s because she’s become much softer and more approachable. Phew! Another worry to strike off the list of parental stresses.

Sciatica Licked!

Just an update on the sciatica… it’s gone! Totally back to normal and must say that my natural (more or less) approach to combating it worked. Although I am aware that I’m fortunate in that I could get into comfy positions and stay there for a while without having to do stuff which would have reapplied pressure so I was lucky to be able to be a near lady of leisure while I allowed my inflamed bits to settle down.

I celebrated with a lovely  new hair cut and colour and was delighted when I picked my son up from school as a surprise to take him out for dinner when he told me that I look beautiful and like I’m getting younger every day.  What better words can a near 50 year old lady wish to hear from a young gentleman?

I think losing weight can sometimes be ageing in that the plumpness of the skin can be lost but I just think the healthy glow has compensated for that and also I do lots to ensure that my skin doesn’t dry or sag with me being aware of the huge amount of weight I have to lose I try  not to end up a saggy bag of skin, surgery is something I would love to avoid if possible, I did blog my research findings into fending off loose skin once upon a time if anyone is interested in reading it here it is. Water is definitely a must to keep the skin hydrated and supple and I do still follow my own advice. Some of this has to become habit and ritualistic if you want results.

My son by the way had a big juicy Aberdeen Angus burger with all of the trimmings including huge steak cut fries. I had a chicken salad but did allow myself two of his chips which I ate so slowly and savored so well that it felt like I’d had a whole portion. We had a lovely chat about school and work and the future and I just savour those moments with him so much, I’m aware that he is fast growing into a man and we are experiencing some of our last times as he transitions. I never miss a chance to ruffle that gorgeous hair of his while I can still reach it.

We both had a lemon sorbet for dessert which was yummy and hugely refreshing. After that we went to see Night at the Museum 3 and snuggled together, him sipping on his giant diet coke and me on my Earl Grey milkless tea.

When we got home he did his homework and then ran for an hour on the treadmill and drank about a litre of water so he could use up some of those burger calories and wash some toxins away. Fitness and a healthy approach to food and exercise rubs off on the kids so easily and I love that he makes such decisions for himself. I’m not going to stop him having a burger and fries now and then as a treat or having a coke at the cinema especially not when he makes an immediate choice to get the balance right again.

These are the knock on effects, the added value to living a healthy lifestyle, the way it sets a much better example to our kids, I’d hate my kids to ever struggle with obesity the way I have/am/always will. These good lessons are hopefully going to be part of their life and that helps me to carry on and not give up when I get to a sticky patch because I want to be a good example to them, they deserve it and they are so proud of me and what I have achieved, I really couldn’t let them down or more importantly myself down now.

Marriage Second Time Around Part Two

I like to use my blog to get my thoughts out of my head, it’s like a talking therapy for me without opening my mouth. I do see a counselor but we have specific objectives and topics which meet those objectives and so my general thoughts find their way out through my blog.

Sometimes I write and never post, just getting something off my chest and reading it back helps. Sometimes I talk to my loved ones about things and don’t need to write them and sometimes I talk to my loved ones and feel even more compelled to write them and sometimes I can only talk to loved ones after writing my thoughts. Whichever way I do it, it helps me to make sense of me.

I’ve had some radical changes of heart following pouring it all out onto a virtual document. Sometimes that change of heart comes instantly that I read it back and realise how ridiculous I am or sometimes it comes a little later after I’ve read a few comments and digested things a little more. Whatever, it helps me and works for me and I don’t know how I managed without it.

A few nights ago I blogged about marriage, a kind of potted history of 40 odd years of thoughts and experience on marriage and I concluded that I couldn’t get married again ever. Within minutes of reading my thoughts back I received a comment which was very poignant and which began to fan a little spark of something I’d felt after I’d read back my own thoughts. I’d begun to think, “Why not?”. Marriage is something I always wanted, that seemed right to me, as a kid, in spite of my parents’ protracted unhappiness, in spite of my experiences with psychopath, in spite of my views on other people’s approaches to marriage, one thing had held fast, I wanted the fairy tale but somewhere more recently the fairy tale fell flat. Today I’m back to thinking I don’t want to ever marry again but I thought I need to understand where the fairy tale fell flat and find out why I’ve let that destroy what I always held as a view of long term fulfillment and happiness.

Of course my own marriage is perhaps the key. I realised it was a mistake but I really did want to make it work. I admit I went through a phase where I felt I’d just repeated what my parents had done and consigned myself to a life of not quite being happy and fulfilled with a man who was perfectly decent just not the soul mate I’d hoped to marry. I didn’t really dwell on that for long, I sucked it up as they say and got on with it and determined that my marriage would last, I would make that happen.

Unfortunately for us all involved, that wasn’t all it would take to make it endure. My husband and I had very different views on what marriage was, what roles everyone should take and communication was a real issue. We were both new to it, we’d not experienced marriage, we were very young, we were learning and if I’m honest we didn’t really get past the elementary stage. We didn’t know what to expect and we hadn’t known what to look for in each other, those essentials which would make this work and we had a whopping great cultural difference to cope with.

We were from walks of life at each end of a huge spectrum. We were from different countries, different continents, he was brought up with religion very strongly a part of his life, I wasn’t, I was working class, he was from a very privileged uber wealthy family of land and business owners, he’d had the private education in the best schools money could buy and I just hadn’t but it didn’t make me any less intelligent than he was. He’d been brought up by a team of nannies, cooks, cleaners, maids, drivers and I’d been brought up by my mum and dad, attending the estate school. Yet we found common ground, that common ground was in a number of things; music, in our zest for living, our relaxed approach to life and the way we were neither of us judgemental of anyone, we both take people as they are, for what they are and appreciate that everyone has a back story. I think I represented normality to him, I kind of grounded him in reality and gave him a sense of belonging. To me he represented sophistication, I could learn from him, I could grow from knowing him and he could learn intimacy from me, what being close to one person meant. He had never had that, never felt love for his parents just a sense of gratitude.

Even if we remove that deep stuff, we loved to dance and we just loved being together, it was so easy and relaxed and happy. Then we got married.

With marriage came certain obligations for him, pressures from his family which he didn’t want to take on and a whole set of expectations which he wasn’t ready to meet. He did want what I wanted, he wanted to just be happy and married and have a life together but very very soon after our marriage he found that the pressures of the expectations took over and now he admits that they forced him to behave towards me not as he wanted but as he was expected to. There were certain things that as a woman, wife, mother I was not expected to do, such as work. It was a sign of disrespect to my husband to work when he had wealth enough for that to not be necessary. I was expected to have staff and I refused. I didn’t want to move an army of help into the house I was sharing with my new husband, I wanted us to be alone, that was the way it was in my world. We hadn’t lived together prior to our marriage and so, given that I realised I’d made a mistake anyway I wanted us to be alone to enjoy being married and so I could get my teeth into my commitment. I wanted it to work even though I realised he was my best friend not the man who set my soul alight. I know for some people that is one and the same (for me now with Nick he is one and the same) but those roles are not inextricably bound to one person always.

A few years down the line if someone had offered me even a cleaner I would have snapped their hand off but you know, when we’re young we know it all and we want it our way and we know what we’re doing. I had a working class pride in providing for my own and I thought he knew that. I know now that he did know that but he also knew from his experience how useful it was to have staff, to take away the mundane so that we could enjoy the good things in life. But was I a woman who could lunch and shop and spend days beautifying myself? Not at all, that was alien to me. He wasn’t able to articulate to me that he knew I would come to enjoy these things and to see them as a way of life and to show me that this was a good way to live and there was no shame in it, there was no need to work, my life was to be a pampered princess and that was that. To me that was the most abhorrent concept in the world. I was feisty, I was hard working, intelligent, a socialist, proud of my back ground and I just didn’t get it. I felt it was insulting to me, he didn’t get it. He thought I must be insane, controlling, power mad. Looking back I think I was insane too. I guess although I wasn’t conscious of it as I hadn’t known the extent of his family’s wealth when I got to know him and agreed to marry him (another thing I liked about him, his modesty) but once I was aware I guess I worried that people would judge me as some kind of gold digger and so I determined to prove to my people and his that it was not the case. I had no idea that my people would think I had lost my mind and his family would be deeply offended by my rebuttal of the things they offered to make my life happier and easier.

It wasn’t a good time. I often think about our time together and I can actually visualise a giant rope with us tugging on either end and never managing to draw one another closer just working our way further and further apart. Stretching it like an elastic band.

Ultimately this stress took its toll and it snapped. We realised we had to do something about it and so we did. It ended temporarily at first but for good later on. He did try to keep me but it didn’t work, my mind was set I wanted relief from the pressure and I wanted to breathe and feel happy again.

OK so this all led to me not wanting to ever get married again but I’m not so sure now that it’s fair of me to have let this marriage do that to me. It wasn’t bad enough to rob me of my dream. It wasn’t the most typical of marriages, we had odds stacked against us and when I think about it I wouldn’t relent and he couldn’t relent and so it wasn’t so much another person who let me down as I’ve always viewed it, it was another person who couldn’t let me down. There is a difference there, a very important difference. My resolve to make it work at any cost was not strong enough, I didn’t appreciate what any cost was. Any cost was totally turning my back on who I was, where I had come from and what I was comfortable with and that is a huge ask. For someone who was trying to escape a working class background, for someone ashamed of it or hungry for wealth and an easy life perhaps they could have met that cost but not me, I couldn’t do it. Sometimes the costs are just too high.

Anyway, for the first time I understand what went wrong in my marriage and I see that it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s not even fair of me to blame myself for not thinking it through or him for not thinking it through, we were kids, we were happy living our lives in London, being young and in love and in the city is such fun, it really is (You Tube Erik Conover to witness that). Even the hard times are fun, it’s an adventure. We were living that life, we were happy, marriage seemed like a good idea, a proposal was timely, its acceptance was timely we were naive it was only when the deed was done that the enormity of what we had done sank in … for both of us.

I realised this wasn’t my soul mate and he realised that his family were going to hit him with a list of demands and expectations as a married man, his carefree years were done. He had his masters degree, he had his wife, he was ready to be a man and take his place but only he wasn’t ready at all and I don’t think it dawned on him how fast his life was going to change. I know because he told me that he felt I was a chameleon, I could fit effortlessly into any situation and he knew his family loved me, even though I wasn’t what would have been their first choice they felt drawn to me in the same way he did and my joi de vivre was contagious. He didn’t worry that I’d not blend in with his life and because he didn’t worry he didn’t really explain what blending into his life was going to entail. We never talked about that and I didn’t check what was going to happen we were just being young and in love and in a bubble really. It was when our backgrounds came back to bite us after our marriage which destroyed it. It wasn’t our fault at all. He didn’t destroy my dream, I didn’t destroy my dream, our marriage didn’t destroy my dream. My dream just got buried under some circumstantial stuff and I became so feisty and determined and self sufficient that it stayed there.

Anyone following this blog from the beginning might remember a photo I had on the home page of a caterpillar going through it’s stages from caterpillar to butterfly and how one of my goals and one of my methods to judge my progress was going to be to assess where I felt I was on the journey to the new me by identifying with those phases of creating something free, colourful, untethered and beautiful which could spread its wings and fly, leaving the cumbersome, heavy, shackle of previous existence and transformation behind. I longed to be the butterfly one day.

In the beginning I saw my weight loss as being the ‘thing’ that would ultimately lead me to spread my wings but I think I’m there already. I think my emotional emergence from caterpillar through chrysalis to butterfly is a much more poignant and meaningful transition and I think I’m there. Thinking about this whole concept of marriage and why I feel so desperate to cling on to me, my independence my old caterpillar self makes me realise that it is that which prevented me from making my marriage work and I’m not going to let it ruin the chance of finally having my dream come true.

I know Nick is my everything and I know I’m his and this is a different time, we are evenly matched, we know what happens next and we know we have everything needed to make it because we have love and there are no surprises waiting other than those which await us both together as a couple. Sometimes our completion comes early in life, sometimes we have to wait a little longer for it. I think my waiting is over.

I still want to complete my post on blended families and mid life dating but that can wait, I’m enjoying this moment right now.

Good News… you don’t have to run a marathon to get fit

downloadI read this article the other day and thought I’d share it. It interested me because it talks about short intensity exercise perhaps being better for health in the long run than endurance type exercise, think marathon running.  This is good news for people like me who near burst into tears at the thought of pounding away at a pavement in running shoes for hours on end.

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I have found that once I began working with a personal trainer (Darren one of my journey to a new me guardian angels) and  I switched to more focused short intensity exercise my overall fitness level increased quite noticeably. My energy levels went through the roof, my body strength certainly increased. I’ve always had very strong legs but a weak upper body and that is not the case any more. I found also that my endurance improved even though I do mainly short intensity exercise. As I’m not a real runner and probably never will be in the ‘go for a run every day’ sense of the discipline, I noticed that I did, and do, feel like bursting into a run more and more often, either outside when I’m having a brisk walk or indoors on the treadmill and at Christmas I did my first planned run, it was only a mile or so but as much as I enjoyed it I knew I couldn’t do more than that, it was mind numbing.

Where I have really noticed the increase in my endurance was in the swimming pool, I just found that I felt stronger and more in control of my muscles and more aware of how they made my body move, which ones were working and how they were working as I drove download (1)myself through the water. My breathing had improved and I just felt more efficient as a swimmer. I’ve never been a good swimmer, I’m a leisure swimmer but not long after starting to work with Darren I began to feel more serious in the pool, for want of a better word. It was there that all of the gym and outdoor work felt like it came together to make me a stronger healthier person and a more skillful swimmer.

I’m not sure if it was all just due to the intensity training or if it was a combination of factors, the breathing techniques and muscle awareness that comes from Tai Chi and now the yoga that I do may have helped too. Darren does explain to me though how my muscles actually work to move me and how they process the food I take in and how they expel the waste and how they strengthen and weaken and can become damaged and I think all of this has combined to make me a more physically aware person who is using that awareness as well as the increased strength and stamina to push myself beyond anything I’ve achieved physically before.

As I said I don’t think I’ll ever be a runner or a long distance serious cyclist I get far too bored but swimming is where I’ve found that I become aware of my body as a machine, a really clever machine and I love the feeling of all of those muscles working together to propel me through water. I find a real serenity and deep sense of relaxation when swimming which kind of consumes me and I find that before I realise it I’m exhausted and it’s the exhaustion which makes me stop swimming and I often find that I’ve swam far more lengths than I ever did before, always outdoing my personal best and always feeling amazed at the way my body loves to perform.

I know that is arguably endurance training itself but it was and I believe is, definitely the short interval training which has boosted my stamina and over all sense of well being in so many ways which has led me to be able to let my body do its thing in the pool.

Besides swimming, thinking back to interval training, I kind of like the instant call on everything you have to give and then some, I like instant gratification, perhaps why I’ve turned to food to make me feel happy over the years. The minute that chocolate is in my mouth I feel my anxiety, fear, sadness whatever begin to fall away. Short interval training gives me that instant gratification, I feel download (2)what I’ve done right there in the moment, I don’t need to wait for measurements and weigh ins I know I’ve pushed myself and  I know I’ve done good because I feel better instantly, I get an almost immediate high that I don’t get from a drawn out session or repetitive exercise over a long period of time. I get a feeling of accomplishment from that kind of training but not an instant rush of feel good that I believe I need to combat my food addiction.

I guess sharing my experience here has the dual message that it’s important for us to find what is right for us as we are all individuals and we all respond to exercise in different ways and without turning into a total fitness nut, it does pay to find out how your body works, it makes you more aware and when you are tempted to put rubbish into it you do think twice on autopilot eventually.

I think a journey from a morbidly obese sedentary person to one in a normal weight who is active has to include many steps. Don’t try to rush through them. We can’t go from 350lb languishing hulk to 349lb marathon runner, that isn’t how it works. It’s a gradual process and so you have lots of time to learn new things along the way that will help you to lose weight, get fit and stay that way once you reach your goal.

Take opportunities to learn and find what suits you by trying out different exercises, different imagesapproaches and seeing how they might impact on things you didn’t think you could do or would enjoy.  I’ve never enjoyed open water swimming, I’ve always been very cautious, but then I know now that my weight and my emotional hang ups made me feel cautious about most things, but now I’m really looking forward to my next beach holiday so that I can swim more in open water, I’m craving what I see as my next big challenge. I never would have imagined a year ago that I’d actually be getting excited about my 2015 summer holiday and checking out safe sea swimming as one of the most important factors in making my decision about where to go and actually planning a daily open water swim as part of my holiday routine.

You might have an idea in your mind of what you’d like to be able to do physically, maybe you want to be able to go for a run, maybe you want to be able to cycle for miles, maybe  you want to swim miles in open water, maybe you want to learn to ice skate or to do a particular dance, like a sexy samba, maybe you have a vision of an exercise that you think you would enjoy and can picture yourself doing when you’re in your slimmer form. You may not be able to do it right away but other exercise, any other exercise you can do along the way will help build you up so that one day you are flying and that sense of accomplishment will uphold you to keep on striving to maintain and surpass your own personal bests time and again. For me it started by stepping from one foot to another with some music on for twenty minutes and flailing my arms about for some of those minutes and I was shocked when I was worn out, heart pumping fast, sweating, breathing heavy from just doing that and if I’d not carried on and found that it soon became easier and moved on to the next thing and the next I wouldn’t be here now doing what I do and knowing what I know.

Take being healthy seriously. We are not here for long and being seriously overweight can impact on our enjoyment of life and it can shorten our life and I bet none of us, me included, want a shorter less fulfilling life when there is another option just a few steps will lead us to.