Ten things I love about my new, CrossFitting, life

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I don’t really have any pressing things on my mind this week.  There are no big issues that are bothering me, no concerns I want to rant about, so I just thought I’d share some little things I have been noticing more and more lately that mean a lot to me.

  1. I spend most of my time smiling.  Whether I am at work, at the box or anywhere else I spend a lot of my life smiling and laughing.  It feels so much better than crying.
  2. Yesterday I ran, I mean really ran, for the bus.  I caught it and I wanted a chufty badge right there and then.
  3. I am happy to swan about with my thighs out and I could not give a shit who (if anyone) is judging me.
  4. I am 95% pain free in relation to my IBS and that is SUCH a relief.
  5. I get to hang out with really interesting and diverse people from all over the world and extremely varied walks of life.
  6. I am no longer afraid.  I have spent a lot of my life absolutely terrified of everything.  Not anymore.  CrossFit has taught me so much more than just how to move my body.  It has taught me patience, grit, determination, perseverance and the true meaning of strength.
  7. I am no longer angry.  I was doing a WOD today which included hitting a tyre with a hammer and I thought ‘this would be really good to get out anger and frustration,’ but I realised I don’t have any.
  8. I don’t see my body as my enemy any more.  I used to feel like my body hated me.  To be honest it probably did because I abused it.  Now I feel like me and my body are on the same team.
  9. I sleep really well.  And take naps.  Its lovely.
  10. I am absolutely certain that my life is going to just keep getting better and better.

I know I said ten but I have to include this one as an added bonus…

  • I like checking out my guns when I’m wearing short sleeves!

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Easter: a time for new life and transformation

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This has been an egg-stremely busy week for me (sorry).  I was kind of dreading the holidays because with my husband gone it could have been a very sad and lonely time for me but I made sure that I kept myself really busy and it has been loads of fun.  We have been blessed with beautiful weather (until yesterday when all the rain came down in one go.  I got very wet) and I have even got a bit of a tan, which never happens.

A few things have happened over the last week that I want to share.

  • I stopped taking my medication.  For a very large part of my adult life I have been taking medication for depression and anxiety.  I don’t think I should feel ashamed to admit that.  It has helped me enormously to have a life that I can cope with.  It has enabled me to sleep at night, to get up every day and go to work, to function as a ‘normal’ human being.  The reason that I decided to come off of my medication was because when my husband left and went to the other side of the world for over a year, I didn’t feel anything.  I was sad and I missed him but I felt separated from my emotions in a way that I did not appreciate.  When I stopped taking them a few things happened.  First of all I felt really dizzy for a while, which was not entirely pleasant.  Then I started to cry A LOT!  Then I found an enormous pool of energy that had obviously been bottled up inside of me.  With this enormous pool of energy I did a few things.
  •  I got all of my hair chopped off!  I had very, very long curly hair and I just went to the hairdressers and got it all chopped off and it feels great.  I love it and I love being able to wash and dry my hair in about 5 minutes after I have been to the box.
  • I was barely able to sit down.  I have always thought of myself as quite a lazy person.  I know I work out and do CrossFit but apart from that I have never had a great deal of motivation to actually move.  This week I have been unable to sit still for any length of time.  I have been cycling, walking a variety of dogs and WODing and I have loved it.  One of the trainers at the box said I look about ten years younger and although I know he is just being sweet, I feel it.  It feels great.

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  • I have been creating.  A few years ago (the last time I was off my medication) I wrote a book.  After a few half hearted attempts to get it published I hid it away and forgot about it.  This week I have dusted it off and in the moments when I can sit still I have been working on it.  I have also struck a deal with an enormously talented writer who also happens to be a good friend, William Xavier Lavendar (amazing name right?) to design the art for the cover of my book, which I have decided to publish as an e book.  I would be extremely grateful if you would take a few minutes to answer the 10 questions on e books in this survey.
  • My interview with Michaela Breeze MBE was published on boxrox.com.  I did the interview a while ago but I am very excited and pleased to see it on their website.

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  • Finally, and most importantly, I have made a decision that life is too short not to be with the one you love and I have decided that at the end of the academic year I will be leaving Hove and heading off to Ecuador to be with my husband.  This has been a huge decision because I love the life we have made for ourselves here but a few things have happened lately that have really made me realise that this life that we have is precious and beautiful.  Did you see the article that was doing the rounds of social media a few months ago The top 5 regrets of the dying?  What would your biggest regret be if this was the last day of your life?  Mine would be that I was thousands of miles away from the man I love and, when I really stopped to question why, I didn’t have a good enough answer.  The only real answers were ones based in fear.  Fear of the future, of being poor, of losing potential maternity benefits, of not being at the right place in my life in direct correlation to my age.  I am nearly 36 and I don’t have any children, I don’t own a car, I don’t have a mortgage, I don’t have financial security, savings or investments.  All of those things scare me because I feel as though I’m being left behind.  What scares me more is living the rest of my life making sensible decisions that don’t make me happy.  So that is it, I’m off.  I am so nervous and excited and I really hope that one day, if and when we have children, we are able to give them something far more important than money; two parents that love and adore them and each other and who have lived a life of excitement and adventure.

At the end of all of that, my health challenge statistics are not keeping pace I’m afraid!

Weight: 65.7 kilograms/ 10 stone 3 and a half pounds

Body fat percentage: 34.2%

BMI: 27.2

Dress size: 12/14

Bust Size: 34 DD

Waist measurement: 82.55 centimeters/ 32.5 inches

Height: 154.94 centimeters/ 5 foot 1 inch

The results are less than spectacular but I’m not worrying about it for a few reasons:

1.  I know that I have exercised my little butt off this week.  My body has ached so much that at times I have barely been able to move and I know that I am making healthy choices.

2.  I have managed to get through one of the most tricky holidays and have not deviated from the paleo plan.  I may have over indulged in a few dates and prunes but I know that I have kept my eye on the prize and I am proud of myself.

3.  I feel really good.  I am less bloated, I have more energy and I don’t need the number on a scale to tell me how to feel about myself.

4.  Anyone who has ever watched (been addicted to) The Biggest Loser knows that week 2 is tough!

So there it is, what is Easter if not a time for new life and transformation!  Happy Easter to everyone.

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First World Pains

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Does anyone else crave total independence whilst at the same time longing to be looked after?  Do you too want a highly successful, well paid career but also want to be a mum (or dad) and stay at home all day every day just staring at the tiny little creation you made out of love with another human being?  Do you want to feel the sun on your back and be warm, but not too warm and to live in the countryside but also by the sea?  Do you want a dog and a cat?  Do you want to be surrounded by friends and yet also to be alone to think, and create?  Do you want a tiny house but also loads of space and a big garden?  Do you want a car but not want the hassle and expense of owning one?

Do you want to have fun but also want to be healthy?   Do you want to do a WOD but also an oly lifting programme and gymnastics and Barbell Club?  To eat paleo but also have cups of tea with milk in and eat chocolate because it is frickin’ awesome?    Do you want to share your thoughts and feelings with everyone whilst at the same time being petrified of judgment and cruelty?  Do you want to care less about everything, but also care more?  Do you hope and dream and wish for more whilst at the same time feeling so totally lucky and blessed that these are the things that you have to worry about and not where the next meal is coming from or whether there is clean water to give your children?

Do you want it all, or is it just me?

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Day 1

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Here are my stats on Day 1 (yesterday) of my 365 Day Health Challenge:

Weight: 67.5 kilograms/ 10 stone 9 pounds

Body fat percentage: 34.4%

BMI: 28.1

Dress size: 12/14

Bust Size: 34 DD

Waist measurement: 83.9 centimeters/ 33 inches

Height: 154.94 centimeters/ 5 foot 1 inch

I know that as I will be doing a fair amount of exercise (particularly weight training) my weight and BMI are not totally reliable indicators but it will be interesting to see what changes occur.  I am also not predicting that my height is going to change dramatically but you never know!

I successfully completed day 1 of the challenge by managing to eat paleo despite going out for a meal (when you go out with three personal trainers it kind of helps with the motivation!) and I also did an awesome WOD at the box.   So far so good.

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Pickles the Spaniel puppy is a very welcome distraction from sugar.

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365 day health challenge

I had a dream last night that I was supposed to be running as part of a WOD and whilst everyone else got on with it, I put on roller skates (brightly coloured Rio Rollers that I love), skated in the wrong direction and started talking to a really cute little girl.  I’m not saying that this has any profound meaning but anyone that has ever met me will not be at all surprised at this.  Anything brightly coloured, cute or sweet has always been a welcome distraction for me.

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The last couple of weeks have been incredibly tough.  My husband has moved to South America and I found out that someone I love very much has the other c word and is soon to begin chemotherapy.   What’s interesting is that however far you think you’ve come, it is so easy to fall back into old patterns of behaviour when life kicks you in the coochy.  The lure of sugar laden cakes and chocolate has proved too much.  There was a time when I would have self medicated with more dangerous substances and, though it may seem as though eating cake is a fairly innocuous vice; for me this is a problem and I’m not interested in problems, I’m interested in solutions.  I know that I enjoy challenges and work well when I have strict guidelines to live by, so I have been considering what I can do to curb my emotional eating and get back on track to where I want to be:  the fittest, happiest, healthiest version of myself.  So this is the challenge I am publicly setting myself:

365 days of paleo eating and CrossFit.  That is a whole year of consistently making the right choices.  Can I do it?  I’m going to give it a bloody good go!  Watch this space!

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Real life is not a showreel

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about social media and the effect that it has on all of us.  It seems that nowadays we feel the need to compare our lives and experiences with others and to always present ourselves as being perfect.  We delete photos until we get to the one that we like the most, we post on Facebook or Twitter when we are looking good, having fun, achieving things.  We present our showreel and edit out the bloopers.   I’m as guilty as anyone.  I have gone for long periods of time not even speaking to my friends and family when I have felt really bad but then when that passed, as it inevitably does, when I had a smile back on my face and a twinkle in my eye, I couldn’t wait to see people.   The spread of social media in recent years has made us all unwitting publicists and marketers of our own lives and when we do express more honest, real feelings and experiences, we are opening ourselves to harsh, often anonymous, criticism.   This is something that my husband warned me about when I started this blog.  I wanted to be honest and open about myself and my life but I have been known to be a sensitive little sausage at times.  I have been extremely fortunate so far in the responses I have received but I am realistic about the fact that not everyone will agree with what I have to say, or think that I say it well.

Life has been kind to me of late but nothing is perfect, there are  days when you feel like singing and days when you feel like screaming.  This week I have not been my best self.  I have struggled to deal with everyday life and have let my health slide a little.  The fact is that none of us are free of the stresses and strains of work, relationships, money, family, life.   At the start of the week I booked in to three WOD classes and every night I cancelled them because I was at work, travelling back from work or just too shattered after work to face it.  Even though I know that I will feel better if I go, even though I know that I will have more energy, that life will be simply better if I just go, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Something I’ve noticed a lot with the kids I work with is they are afraid of making mistakes, and if they do they want all evidence of it to be taken away.  If they mess up a word on a page they want a new sheet, they want to be able to start again.  I used to be like that too, for a long time I would only write in pencil so that I could erase my mistakes without anyone knowing they had happened.   Something that I have learned more recently in my life is that rather than judging you and criticising you for mistakes you make, people actually feel relieved that they are not alone.  They read that you have made a complete twat of yourself and they think ‘thank god for that!  I thought I was the only one!’  We are all just humans doing the best we can and making mistakes as we go.  The only thing that you can do is think of the big picture and remind yourself of where you have come from, where you are going and where you are right now.  This week I only made it to the box twice and that is less than ideal, but I am still on the path I want to be on, heading to the place I want to be, just taking slightly slower steps.

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In the spirit of honesty here is a picture of me looking extremely hot and sweaty mid WOD compared to a professional photograph with full makeup, hair and photoshop!

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One of my CrossFit heroes is Chris Spealler and I love him all the more for posting his missed lift attempts to Instagram.

The world is a playground, are you coming out to play?

I’m not afraid of dying, no more than anyone else anyway, but I am afraid of getting old.  Not grey hair, crow’s feet old but the kind of old where you can no longer care for yourself.  When you are forced to be dependent on someone else, be they a devoted family member or someone earning minimum wage in an unflattering uniform.  When I was in my early twenties I worked as a Health Care Support Worker for a nursing agency.  Many of the shifts I got were in the elderly unit of the local hospital where, in the naivety of my youth, I was confronted with the cruel indignities of ageing.  For those poor, lonely souls, personal care was no longer personal but, regardless of how sweet and well meaning the carer, painfully public.  Incontinence pads, commodes, hoists; a deadly arsenal in the assault on independence, dignity and youth.

I have talked before about the way that Crossfit has challenged my own perceptions of gender both in myself and others.  It has also been a powerful tool in shaping my goals and aspirations and how I view my future.   I am 35 years old and I feel stronger and more physically confident than I ever have.  In the community that I train in age is irrelevant.  All around me I see strong, powerful women and men and many of my real life heroes are my age or older.  In the Crossfit Games there are several categories for masters (over 40) including 60+ and much has been written about starting Crossfit over 40 (check out this excellent blog post for example).   One of the owners of Reebok Crossfit Connect, Holly Gehlcken, won World, British and Southern Masters Olympic Weight Lifting titles in 2010.  She is not just the owner but one of the head coaches, mum of two and a bloody lovely lady to boot.

Holly 2All my life I have seen sport as something for young, fit people with natural talent and ability but why should they have all the fun?  Why do only young people get to skip and jump and run and swing?  Why do only young people get to play?  The answer, of course, is that they don’t.  Anyone can, you just have to make the choice to get off the sofa and do it.  You have to come to the realisation that moving is more fun than eating.  I don’t really drink anymore and I don’t remember the last time I went to a pub in the evening but I’m okay with it.  If other people think thats boring I don’t mind.  I spent many, many years feeling lost and sad and hating my life.  Now I love my life and I don’t want it to change (there is an enormous change coming up but more about that later, and no, I’m not pregnant).

Since I started Crossfit, I don’t worry about my age so much.  I spend less time looking in the mirror and fretting over my grey hair (which, by the way, I have had since I was in my mid twenties).  I no longer analyse my reflection in the mirror for new wrinkles, I don’t have time!  If I am looking in the mirror I’m checking out my guns for progress or laughing at how funny I look in my crazy new leggings.  One of the great things about Crossfit boxes is that they don’t have mirrors so you spend less time worrying about what you look like and more time thinking about how you feel (at times, like in the middle of a WOD, that is a mixed blessing).  As for my long term goals and aspirations, I hope that one day I can spend my retirement playing and instead of visiting me in the old people’s home or hospital ward, my grandchildren are working out with me at the box.

kay and tonyReebok Crossfit Connect members Kay and Tony after the Colour Run in September.

Photograph of Holly Gehlcken by RX’d Photography