Saturday, 21 May 2016

Friday Favourites

Sometimes it's nice to reflect on what's bought you happiness / contentment / joy, especially when times are feeling a bit stressful, and so I bring you a second instalment of Friday favourites!

1.       Amazon Firestick

I actually bought this baby a few weeks ago but I still get excited about spending time at home several weeks later!  I love my Netflix, but I’m not so good with watching regular tv.  Not having a smart tv (I made a good choice when I bought my set about 6 or 7 years ago and it’s still going strong and looking good), I’ve been relegated to watching Netflix on my laptop or iPad up til now, which usually means I end up playing on the internet instead, getting distracted or curled up like a teenager in my bedroom.  Now, however, I can watch in state, installed on the sofa with a blanket, and not having to worry about which device has got some juice in the battery.  It’s safe to say that I’ve been enjoying my Netflix more than ever, and I love being able to pop Spotify up on the tv for music while I’m pottering round on the weekend, plus having E4 and BBC iPlayer at the touch of a button.  Money well invested.

2.       Horse riding

Way back in the mists of time, I used to ride regularly.  Every weekend as a kid you’d find me gleefully hanging out at my local stable all day Saturday or Sunday – the lesson would only last an hour but I’d happily muck out stables, help with feed and generally hang out with friends and ponies for the remaining hours.  I rode with the University’s riding club when I went off down South to do my degree, but I had a pretty painful riding accident during my final year of uni that severely dented my confidence (and my back), and when I moved to London immediately after graduation I gave up .... there’s not too many places that a new graduate can afford to ride in the capitol after all!

Since then (a good 12 years or more) I’ve ridden just a handful of times and I’ve always loved it, but it was never a regular thing.  The time has come.  I spent a bit of time over the last couple of weeks researching local stables and finally had my first lesson 2 weeks ago on a very damp Wednesday evening.  I thought I was just going to be getting back into it gently with some walking and trotting, as I was booked into a novice lesson, but no – the instructor had me cantering and popping over a few little single jumps before the hour was up!  This week she had me on faster horse and we spent most of the lesson tackling runs of (small) jumps and at the end of the lesson she said I can join the advanced class next time if I’d like.  Two weeks ago I was scared I’d have forgotten and make an idiot out of myself, but it’s all still there and I’ve loved being back in the saddle.

 (Riding down in Exmoor a few years ago)

3.        House buying

As mentioned earlier in the week, this distant pipedream has suddenly moved forward to being very much a reality, and I can’t tell you how exciting that is.  Of course, me being me, I’d really like it all to just happen NOW, but it doesn’t work that way and I’ve still got a long, hard road ahead of me, trawling through all the processes and trying to find an actual place that I like, can afford.  There’s a huge problem in Bristol at the moment with houses all going to sealed bids and selling for about 15-20% above the asking price, which is terrifying when you have a strict budget to stick to, but I’m sure if I just persist, I’ll triumph eventually.

Just the thought of having a home, somewhere that is mine to decorate, furnish and improve as I please, that is not dependent on anyone else’s renting whims and is my own little haven at the end of the day makes the whole spectre of the buying struggle worthwhile.  Right now, I’m talking to mortgage brokers to confirm how much I can get and that someone is prepared to lend to me, as well as religiously scanning the listings to see what’s out there right now.  

4.        Bill Bailey    

We went to see this genius of comedy on Tuesday evening, and he was just as funny as ever.  During the second half I was literally doubled over, laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.  Enough said.  I love a bit of live comedy and can’t wait to put some more in my diary.

5.        Bristol 10k Great Run

I did it.  It felt highly satisfying to be able to drag my very under-trained butt around the course on Sunday, and to be able to finish in a surprisingly decent time for me.  1:16 on Sunday, compared to personal best of 1:05 and my first ever time of 1:12.  Both when I had considerably more running fitness than I do now.  I was happy with that.  I still haven’t quite managed to re-find my love of running but it felt like a step forward.

(Liz and I looking relieved to be done last weekend)

6.        Friday nights with friends

There’s something deeply satisfying about finishing the week with a relaxed night with good friends.  Especially when it’s friends that you’ve only recently bought together, but you’ve thought they’d get on well for ages, and you’ve been proved right.  Time with these girls is relaxing, supportive and deeply satisfying.  There will no doubt be wine and chats about things both superficial and meaningful.

(Prosecco Friday from a few weeks ago)

7.       Somerset by Alice Temperley

I went shopping last weekend (whoops – I really didn’t have the money for that!) and was wandering round John Lewis and my eye was caught by the clothes in this section.  Sooooooo pretty!  There was about 10 things I would happily have taken home, but being restrained, I just tried on a top and trousers.  Well.  They were both gorgeous – so beautifully cut and perfectly sized and I soooo wanted to take them both home, but reluctantly put the top back for next month’s shopping basket.  But I am totally getting it then and I'm totally fan-girling over the amazing black lace skirt as well!  The trousers already got me about 6 compliments, so I’m guessing they’re good!

So that’s what’s been floating my boat this week!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Stressing Out

It's most vexing really - I wrote a Friday favourites post ... and seem to have lost it.  Hmph.  And it's now Sunday and too late to do another Friday favourites and well, grumpy, just grumpy.

Much has been going on in my world.  Lots.  And with it there are lots of feelings which, for someone working on fixing her emotional eating instead of just eating all the feels, is a trial.  But I'm still here and I don't think I ate all of them, so that's probably progress of some sort.

My life feels like it's rather full of anxiety at the moment, to the point where I constantly feel like I have a knotted ball of it in my stomach - not an overly pleasant sensation, I think we can all agree!  This is due to a whole list of things which I'm just going to have to work my way through one at a time, but basically fall into two camps.  Firstly: ridiculous events for which I optimistically signed myself up.  Secondly: housing.

At some point at the beginning of the year (and just after several boozy Christmas dinners with various friends) I was obviously feeling very optimistic about how fit I'd be at this point in the year and signed myself up for a 10k, a triathlon and a 5k obstacle race on consecutive weeks.  Genius!  Since then my motivation to run (or really do much other than walking) has sulked off into hiding and so training has been ... sporadic, shall we say.  Today I was able to tick the first event off the list, and whilst it was hard, it wasn't as bad as I'd feared it could be.  I ran the Bristol 10k this morning - the furthest I've run since 2012 - and we made it round in 1:16.  My first ever 10k was 1:12, and my very best time is 1:05, but I was about a stone and a half lighter for both of those, so I'm pretty proud of today's time.  Plus I hadn't run further than 5.5km in training this time, so the second half was pretty much uncharted territory.

Next week is meant to be an off-road triathlon and .... I'm sacking it off.  At least until later in the year.  I was meant to be doing it with a friend, but she is currently injured and I'm even more hopelessly unprepared for this one than the 10k.  I would rather potentially lose the entry fee than try something on my own that makes me feel absolutely miserable and is a horrible experience.  The obstacle run however will go ahead - I'm sure I can survive that one and it's only for fun.

So on to the second set of stresses in my life at the moment - the gnarly mess that has appeared in front of me regarding my housing situation.  This has all come up in the last week and I'm trying to make sense of it at the moment and figure out the best way forwards.

Last week I asked my flatmate outright what she was thinking of doing when our lease is up for renewal in August - I've long had my suspicions she was thinking of moving in with her new boyfriend but, as nothing had been mentioned specifically, wasn't sure.  However she is planning on it, so whatever happens next it will mean change for me.  I'm also away on holiday for the first part of August so the renewal date falls whilst I've been out of the country for the 2 and a half weeks for added complication.

Earlier this week I also found out something quite momentous.  Where I thought I didn't have a hope of buying a house yet because of getting a mortgage,  it turns out it's actually quite possible.  Long story short - I've been dreaming about buying a house for years, but after dealing with the debt from my 20's and then going self-employed I thought I was still years off this possibility and I was wrong about that.

However, the area I live in (and would like to remain in) is pretty hideously expensive, so whilst it's now viable for me to buy, it's going to be tricky finding something decent whilst sticking to my budget.  And as at the moment, I have a 3 month deadline hanging over my head to either find somewhere (or at least have it imminently lined up) or I've pretty much got to commit to another 6 month lease on a flat, unless I can possibly persuade my landlady to let me roll the lease on our flat on monthly on my own.

As you can see, there are a horrible number of variables in play, and it's giving me a headache trying to think it all through and figure out the best plan of action, or even where to start.  As I hadn't expected to be in a position to even think about buying there's a lot of research and ground work I need to do first to figure out where I stand.

In the spirit of trying to cope with my emotions rather than eat them, I am trying to sit with the anxiety when it's nearly overwhelming and use it to propel me into doing something productive like thinking the problem through, doing research and weighing up my options.  It's not always easy though.

In the meantime, I've run the 10k and ticked that off the list, and I have to admit I feel stronger for it.

What is it they say?  What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger?

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Knowing When You Need Help

At some point over the last 48 hours, I decided that I needed a bit more help with what I’m attempting to do.  I started this process alone – googling emotional eating, and then following that trail of breadcrumbs to websites and books that could help.  And they have helped, immensely, as I’m far better educated now on what I’m doing.

The problem remains though, that education alone is not enough.  I know logically what I’m doing wrong and what I need to change, but putting into practice the process of divorcing myself from those habits is far harder, because I have to catch myself in the moment and then have the clarity to see what I’m doing each time and find a better way to deal with it, and that is a far cry from sitting down and doing journaling exercises when you’re calm and relaxed and sitting on your bed after dinner.

So I’ve decided that it’s time to bring in the big guns.  The extra resource I’ve decided on is the website linked to the first book I read, Shrink Yourself.  I hadn’t used it up until now, as it’s a subscription based service, not dissimilar to Weightwatchers, Slimming World or any other.  But also light years different, as instead of tracking food and giving rules on what you can and can’t eat, the website has a series of interactive tools that you can use whenever you’re feeling a bit out of control and like it’s about to go wrong.  They’re designed to be used in the heat of the moment, to help slow you down and review what you’re feeling and understand it.  There’s an app, so you can carry it with you wherever you are, and the different tools range from short ones used to deal with a craving right there when it arises, to more complex ones allowing you to explore your stress and feelings, journal your progress and do reading around chapters of the book that might be helpful for less urgent but deeper times.  The fact I’ve already read the book a couple of times is probably helpful because the concepts are already familiar to me.

Of course, in typical fashion, having paid my subscription last night, today has turned out to be a pretty easy day and I haven’t really had cause to use it yet, but I couldn’t honestly tell you whether today’s ease is a result of knowing I have a better net to fall back on or just a good day anyway.

I’m interested to see how it goes, as part of me remains eternally optimistic that this will be the key to unlocking the next bit of my progress, and the other half resignedly believes that it can’t possibly be that easy.  I guess the first week will give me a good idea of whether it’s going to help make a difference as usually my streaks of good days last 4 or 5 in a row at best.

The subscription I’ve paid for lasts 3 months, which co-incidentally is also the length of time they suggest that you give yourself to complete all the exercises and allow your old habits to fade and better behaviours to take their place.  It also happens to pretty much take me up to the date I head off to Borneo, which is neither here nor there I guess, but pleases my inherent sense of neatness and karmic “it’s meant to be”.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


Over the weekend I felt particularly glum about the progress, or lack of, that I’ve been making with this ‘ere old emotional eating malarkey.  Which in a lot of ways, feels much like ... none whatsoever.

So there I was, feeling all down about it, and woe-is-me-this-is-not-working-and-will-never-work-and-I’ll-be-stuck-like-this-forever.

Which when I think about it, and even at the time I knew it, was largely down to the fact that I was super tired after two late nights and not a lot of sleep whilst I was camping.  I was basically being like an over-tired toddler that DOESN’T WANT TO GO TO BED!  I knew I was tired, I knew I was eating rubbish because I was tired, and why the hell I didn’t just lie down and have a nap on Sunday afternoon before I hit the kitchen I do not know.  But I didn’t and there we go.  I ate cookies in the car on the way home in a desperate attempt not to fall asleep on the motorway (in retrospect, I could totally have just stopped at the services and got a tea or coffee to keep me going – caffeine being far more effective than sugar and all that), and then feeling sick from the sugar, I ate crisps when I got home because I was craving salt to counteract it.  Yuh huh.  Clever.

Monday was better as I’d had a good 10 hour sleep and could focus on things much more logically again, but it wasn’t until I was walking to work this morning that I had a bit of a revelation.  Trying to change eating behaviours, is a bit like having physio on a particularly annoying injury.  You have to do the exercises, diligently, every day, and some days you’ll forget or just get so annoyed with it because nothing is happening quickly and you still feel rubbish and wonky and whatever.  But if you stick in there, eventually, progress starts to happen.  Frustratingly slowly often (I should know, I’m currently physio-ing my shoulder and that too is driving me nuts) but if you don’t do anything at all, nothing gets better.

And the fact is that my progress is there – my progress is that I haven’t put weight on despite not being on a specific diet programme anymore, and I’m not yoyo-ing around wildly all over the place.  It doesn’t take much more of a change from there, just one more habit gently nudged out before my weight will drop a bit.  And then another.

And ok – it’s not quite as easy as I thought it would be, but it’s worth fighting for.  I think that I expected that once I understood all my triggers, then they’d just melt away – but maybe it doesn’t work like that.  Maybe I have to sit there and resist the call to eat, and acknowledge the discomfort of whatever I’m feeling for me to break the habit of turning to food.  And so even though, I’m not on a diet there is still some will power involved – the difference is that this time I know why I’m craving food and I’m making a conscious change to my response rather than just trying to resist with blunt force until I cave under the weight of the craving.

Giving up gets me nowhere – there is no option to not try.