Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 15

Dear Autumn,

It’s Sunday.

I used to be the champion of a super lazy Sunday where you just sort of crawl out of bed at whatever time you want, throw on some different comfy clothes that aren’t pjs and then do very little except eat. I had that shit nailed down. Sundays used to be the day where I would just totally reset in preparation for the week ahead. I would go into work on Monday and the only thing I could ever really say was that I did nothing.

Sundays have changed a little over the past month. In fact my weekends in general have shifted slightly.

As I have mentioned many a time on here, I exercise now. Quite a bit. Actually I say that, it’s in total 4 hours a week. 4×45 minutes sessions and 1×60 minutes. The amount of hours I spend a week exercising hasn’t actually changed, the breakdown of it just has, it used to be 4×60 minutes sessions a week. And those 4 sessions were Monday-Thursday with a long weekend rest period. And it worked fine, but then I got bored of it and decided to shake it up a bit slowly but surely.

So I shifted my rest days around and upped the frequency to 5 on 2 off. I knew the increase in sessions per week was coming. I could feel it in my bones. But I knew when it came around to doing that I would have to just shake everything up. And so I have. And that means that I now get real sweaty on weekends.

On Saturdays more than on Sundays but given that I’ve been away for a week and the most about of cardio I’ve done is climbing an awful lot of stairs today will be the sweatiest that I’ve been since last weekend. It’s not the sweatiest I can get, that tends to happen on Wednesdays and Saturdays which are just pure cardio for the most part (there sometimes some bodyweight strength stuff), but it’s up there.

You don’t think that doing work on gliders will really affect you that much and then all of a sudden everything burns and there is a sheen of moisture covering my entire person and making things sticky. Because Sundays are now cardio barre days. In fact, for some reason this is now the only version of barre that I do because I switched my Thursday workout to lifting instead.

Whereas before I used to love just lazing around and doing nothing all day and getting out of bed post noon, I was doing just that. Nothing. Now my Sundays are actually productive. For starters I get a workout in and all the delightful endorphins that come with it. Secondly, it gets be out of bed and out of the house. It forces me to utilise my time better. If I have a couple of errands to run then I do that beforehand and cross them off the list. I arrive to to the studio about half an hour before the class starts and then I get some writing done in that time. I use my travel time (mostly) to get some things done as well. I get things done and then that seems to trigger something in my brain that then allows me to have a lazy afternoon/evening and do so feeling totally guilt free. I’ve almost earned the rest after being so productive.

Plus it now means I have Fridays and Mondays rest days, which just feels better for some reason. Mondays I was my hair and now on Fridays I shall start to foam roll because with this shake up I decided to drop both Yoga and Pilates which means that I’m not stretching as much as I used to and my body is tight as a result.

So after a week off I shall soon be embarking on my cardio barre class, getting a sweat on and then having a chill afternoon that will include eating and Netflix.

Love,

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Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 9

Dear Autumn,

So I was writing a review for Sweaty Betty the other day (because what I really needed was another pair of leggings and sports bra) and there’s this little ‘about you’ section that you can fill out next to it and it mentions what activity you do and then it levels you in terms of front, middle or back of class.

It was that part that got me.

I’ve never really put that much thought into what part of the room I stand says about me. I kind of didn’t think it really said anything about me. I just always kind of dropped my bags at the back of the room and then turned around and set up shop wherever that was. Which was almost always at the back of the room. I think part of me had convinced myself that it just made the most sense. If there’s a lot of floor work then it makes sense to be at the back of the room because I take up a lot of space and the back of the room makes that easier to accommodate…in my head.

It turns out that it was probably just another level of a confidence thing that I’d never really thought about before. If I’m at the back of the room then it’s harder for me to get called out for stuff or for other people to notice me. Which is both a good and a bad thing I guess. I can’t get called out on my form if they can’t see me properly, or for giving up a little prematurely (which happens less these days, but still happens). However it has also made sure that I work on making sure that my form isn’t shit and really giving up before the set is done is cheating nobody but myself.

But anyway, back to the confidence thing. Turns out it was that. This past week I’ve forced myself to move further forward in the room, and twice now I’ve ended up straight in front of the instructor. Which horrified me in some ways because they were right. there.

Funnily enough though it turned out fine. My body is waaayyyy ahead of my mind in terms of knowing what it is capable of and actually getting it done. I spent most of Thursday super non-excited for my Lift class that night because Aunt Flow decided she was going to be early and it was too late to cancel so I had to do when all I really wanted to do was go home and be a sloth, but come that evening while I was loading up the barbell I felt the endorphins do their thing and the 45 minutes flew by. Plus on some level it was kind of nice to know that if there was something dodgy with my form (which is definitely a possibility as I am still getting used to lifting) that the instructor was right there to correct me if necessary (it was also good to know that even she was a little shaky when it came to some balance stuff).

There was still that part of me however that felt like I was being watched and judged by the people behind me, which I guess is why I always exist in the back somewhere. I hate that feeling. That people are watching me. That I’m somehow the centre of attention even though I know I’m not. There’s a part of me that always wants to make myself as small and as invisible as possible and I can’t do that if I’m standing in front of people. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re up front. That’s a residual problem from childhood. One that I thought I had gotten over, but apparently hadn’t. So that’s my new challenge to myself.

Because I know from experience that no one is really paying to attention to what anyone else is doing unless they are glancing over to try and figure out what the fuck they’re supposed to be doing next and then they are gonna carry on with their lives and pay you no mind. And I got over myself being my own worse enemy enough to put myself in that environment, so I’m gonna get over this thing that I didn’t even really know was a thing until I indirectly got called out about it.

Love,

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My Life

Strength Training and Me

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In my new minor obsession with working out, because hello an outlet to direct my anxiety, I have slowly introduced a lot of new things to my routine slowly but surely. Some have worked and I stick to them on a mostly weekly basis, some I rotate in for a few weeks and then I switch them out. Sometimes I just have to listen to my body needs and wants during any given week and work accordingly.

The one thing that I have never done is anything that involves weights. And it’s not because I was worried about getting bulky or anything, I was just sort of scared of them.

They intimidated me in a way that I try to not let things do anymore.

I would just have these visions of me not being able to lift that much because my upper body strength is effectively non-existent and then eventually somehow getting that small weight above my head only to then promptly fall on the floor because the weight is too much and I can’t take it. Or getting crushed by a barbell or something. I would go full Final Destination with my thought process for no reason whatsoever.

And then at some point last week I was like ‘fuck it’, I’m a lot stronger in my body than I was when I first started this ‘journey’ (I am reluctant to call it that but I don’t have a better word so I have to go with it) and can almost do something that could almost be called a push up without being on my knees now. So my upper body strength is doing something that should probably be considered progress in some way. And also my lower body strength is pretty damn strong.

And so I signed up for a class that is literally called ‘Lift’.

It was hard.

Not in a bad way, just in a way that my body isn’t used to. I mean it squats a lot (I have to squat into my jeans to get them to sit right on me, long story, but yeah…I have to do that) and it does a fair amount of arm work. But never with weight involved. Funnily enough it gets harder with weights involved.

It also highlighted new areas of tightness to me. For example, I knew I had tights hips, but they are definitely not as bad as they used to be so I’ve sort of stopped noticing tightness there. There are things that have gotten a lot easier as they have ceased to be so damn problematic. This 45 minute class taught me that I also have tight shoulders. Like really tight shoulders. I mean they loosened up a little, but for the most part they’re tight. I did not know that before.

Another thing I learned is that I’m not actually as weak as I believe I am. I mean I’m a light lifter but I didn’t go into this thinking that I would be super good and strong because that’s absurd. But I wasn’t as weak as I expected. I managed to do a whole round with 10kg on a barbell which the thought of doing sparked those images of being crushed by a barbell. It was hard, and I didn’t think I could do it but it was definitely a case of my body being way further ahead of mind, which happens to me a lot these days.

It burned and it hurt (not in a bad way or anything) and I felt like quitting a couple of times, but when it came to the final track and I actually managed to (mostly) get through it with 8kg on my bar and not cry. I kind of felt fucking amazing.

So much so that I did it again last night. It was a little bit easier and then also somehow harder. I mean I knew what to expect from it this time which also helped so that fear was gone. But also I just felt more confident in it. At the end of the day I can only do what my body is going to allow me to do in terms of weights. And that’s not going to change if I lift light or super heavy.  It’s going to very much be an of the day thing.

It’s a full body work out and it makes me really focus in on the way my muscles are moving and supporting each other. It’s another great way for me to just disconnect from the world and let the stress of the day melt away as I get into a rhythm with it all. It releases all those fun endorphins and it’s a proved to be a great way to close out my work out week.

I’m probably going to phase more of it in because I actually almost enjoy it, even though it burns so much. It feels the same that barre did when I first did it and I do that shit on the weekly now, it’s one of my staples.

And you know what, I didn’t fall to the floor under the weight of it all and I can do something called a skull crusher and not worry that my arms might actually give out and crush my skull…

Parentheses count: 4. See you tomorrow!

 

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My Life

8 Month Point

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I spent an awful long time trying to figure out when the hell the next one of these was due. I think in total there should be 6 in the year if I do one every 2 months, so I think I have worked it out that one is due now, one in late October/early November and then one at the end of the year. I think. Honestly I cannot figure it out, but I’m gonna roll with that and pretend that I’m not truly atrocious at maths. So, here’s another check in.

1) Take Better Care of My Hair – I got a trim at the end of July just to keep it fresh (and also to encourage it to grow a bit, the fact that my hair seems to just hover at shoulder length when dry while it is boob length wet is a tad annoying to me right now, but I’m embracing the curls and all that jazz) and that is obviously to keep it as healthy as possible. I also deep condition it once a week and make sure that it is slathered in conditioner at all points to keep it hydrated and bouncy and in good nick. This one has basically just become part of my day to day life with great ease and it’s in the best condition it’s been in in years.

2) Take Better Care of My Skin – I fear that I am going to have to change my skin care routine up a bit shortly because I keep having break outs and I do not know why. Sometimes it’s hormonal and that’s fine, but it’s when it’s not that it’s annoying. And also the hyperpigmentation on my face has just become even more obvious recently, which I think is just because I’ve got a tan over the past couple of months and so the dark marks look darker. I’ve recently added Vitamin E oil to my night time routine as well as tea tree oil to deal with the breakouts overnight and I think there has been a small change in the state of my skin, but they are small. So I’m in two minds about what to do with it. But while I still um and ah about it I am keeping up with my existing routine to try and keep the issues under control.

3) Tone The Hell Up – I took a whole week off and did whatever the hell I wanted while I was in Greece because I was on holiday and who the fuck cares. I then came back and jumped straight back into doing a lot of cardio, which is a big deal for me because I cut the hell back from cardio for a good 2/3 months and just did low impact work outs (that focused on stretching as well). I then got my diet back on track for the most part and am still making small changes to it to try and make it better because all the exercise that I am doing don’t mean shit if my diet is whack. I’m also going to try and get back into exercises that focus more on stretching (like yoga and pilates which I haven’t done in over a month now). Look, I like the way my body looks. I like that it’s a lot stronger than it used to be. I like that I don’t need to fake being confident in wearing certain things that I own and actually am now. I will walk around in a crop top/bralette and shorts and not feel super self conscious. I have some personal goals that I am working towards for the end of the year and I feel confident that I am going to achieve them. I feel good about myself and that’s what this goal for the year was all about. I hated myself for too long and had far too many bad habits and behaviours that were doing me damage in so many ways and I’ve changed a lot of them and actually feel good now. Plus exercise is doing wonders for my mental health and that can never be a bad thing.

4) Start Saving Properly – Listen, I spent so much money in August cos holiday and I went a bit into denial about how much money I actually spent. So to counteract that I am basically not spending money on anything except for a need to basis for the next couple of months. So things like food, toiletries, my gym membership and my monthly train ticket are still on the list and I’m not going to deprive myself of going out if the opportunity arises, but for the most part I’m cutting back on my spending. That’s not going to contribute to the saving thing, but it is going to put me back in a position where I can start saving properly. This whole goal has been a total clusterfuck, which to be honest is what I expected.

5) Get Better Organised – I mean I don’t even know what is happening here. For the most part, I am not better organised but then also I somehow am as well…there has honestly been no change. But there probably needs to be because as it stands I am due to get more creative projects in my life that I need to dedicate time to and keep on top of them all, so some change is going to have to happen. But then again, knowing me I also don’t think it will.

6) Try And Be More Creative/Just Write More – This is happening. I have 14,000 words of a novel written that came fully into existence throughout August. Plus I have some other projects that require my creativity over the next few months so this one is actually all coming together. Which I am really happy about because my creativity abandoned me in a big way recently and so having it back is just really great.

And that brings me to the end of this little 2017 intentions update. Another one of these will be coming at some point…I think it’s November…we’ll see. There are 2 more left that much I know.

Parentheses count: 3. See you tomorrow!

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My Life

I’m a Convert

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Here’s a sentence me of the beginning of last year never thought I would write.

I get the hype around exercise.

At the beginning of every year since I was about 18/19 I always make this vague as hell resolution to start getting a bit more in shape. I never followed through with them, In fact I think that following year I started treating myself the worse I ever have. But then I started noticing that my insomnia was coming back in a massive way half way through last year and my anxiety was the worse it had ever been and I was having far to many breakdowns in office toilets and I needed to do something about it.

And so I did. And here I am aching like it’s nobody’s business and feeling fucking great for it all this time later. I started to take exercise and fitness more seriously around October last year and noticed small benefits. Enough to tide me over at least. And then this year, when I made that vague promise to myself yet again, I upped the ante and did even more with it. I upped my workouts to be more than just 2/3 times a weeks for the most part and it helped. I felt strong and I left a workout feeling accomplished and good and all that other jazz that people bang on about when they make the strong suggestion that you should give exercise a chance to help deal with the other issues.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not a cure all and I had another flare up of my anxiety and insomnia in a big way and I kind of let the forms of exercise that made feel the best fall to the wayside because old habits die hard and it’s not that I slipped completely and felt worse or anything because I did keep up low intensity work outs and they did help with my not feeling like I was totally failing at it and that made things easier.

Like when I finally returned to doing the workouts that made me feel the strongest. Which was this week. And when I say I returned to it, I literally mean that I have 3 relatively high intensity cardio workouts since Saturday. I even found myself impulsively signing up to do a class an hour before it started last night and then borderline crying my way through it (it burned so much, my glutes were on fire, they still are). But I got back to feeling that good vibes feeling afterwards.

There is something incredibly satisfying about it. Feeling myself sweat it all out is actually cathartic as hell. Having to focus solely on what I am doing and trying to push myself further to get past burn and complete all the reps means that I am not focused on whatever else I have been focusing on all day. There’s even something a little bit satisfying when my muscles ache the day after (that doesn’t last long, it’s annoying for it to hurt whenever you sit down).

I do find myself feeling a bit more together and less in my own head and on most occasions it helps me sleep better. I find myself actually sleeping to my alarm and getting pissed off when it wakes me up, because it is actually the thing that wakes me up.  I find that it has actually helped me manage everything a little better and I don’t really know why I just sort of rubbished it for so long as being a thing that would help.

Or rather I do know, but that’s for another day.

For now though I can say that I am a convert to using exercise as a way to keep myself sane.

Who would’ve thunk it?

Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!

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My Life

The Hot Yoga Experience

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So I ran out of ideas this week because for some reason I only foresighted two weeks post Letters to Spring. Thankfully The SITs Girls are always on hand for me to provide some inspiration when I’m truly stuck.

Now, the title is probably an indicator of what the subject matter will be today.

Hot yoga.

I’ve mentioned it a few times on here but exercise recently has become more than an abstract concept that I would watch other people do but largely ignored for myself. And with that new found acquaintance I’ve also found that I’m always looking for new classes to try. Some don’t stick, like I truly detest running and so anything that includes a treadmill can do one (she says when a part of her also wants to try at least one Barry’s Bootcamp class which includes, you guessed it, a whole treadmill based section…). And some do, in fact my now weekly boxing based class has become cathartic as hell for me and something that I almost crave each week (although I didn’t do it last week, am not doing it this week and have made no decisions on next week yet…). Another thing that stuck was yoga.

Now there are many types of yoga and I haven’t tried them all by any means but Vinyasa yoga is where it is at for me, it’s the right combination of movement and static. I also try to do them weekly and I can always tell when my body craves for the stillness that comes with a yoga class. And the stretching. I did one tonight and for the past 24 hours my body was quietly humming with joy at the prospect of it after I had to cancel last week’s.

And because I’ve this new huge appreciation for yoga I am always open to trying new versions of it. Which led me to Ethos near Liverpool Street one autumn night (it was a Be:Fit London event and the other two options sounded like cardio hell). I was a little bit nervous at the prospect of actively moving in a very heated room because my reaction to heat can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes I’m fine, sometimes I feel dizzy and lightheaded. It didn’t help that I had convinced myself for most of the day that I was going to be that person who couldn’t take the heat and had to leave.

There was a lot of water involved, for which I am grateful. I had brought my own with me and there was a delightfully cool bottle of the stuff waiting for me when I got to my mat.

The heat of the room was obvious the moment I had settled properly on my mat, it felt like the moment when you step off a plane in a hot country. It was mildly uncomfortable, but to the side of me was a waterfall-esque display and so initially I focused on that and it did help calm me down.

Once the practice started I felt more relaxed. I know how to do most of the poses to suit the way my body is built, I felt comfortable with that knowledge. What was obvious from the moment I moved a single muscle was that it was going to be a very sweaty mess.

Within 10 minutes I got over my self-consciousness and shed my vest top just so that I didn’t overheat and I started to regret the full length leggings and was just thankful that they involved mesh so I could breathe.

Now I am not the most flexible person, but after practicing yoga for about a year now I have noticed areas of improvement and I can get deeper into stretched these days. But that’s now, in October this was not the case and I did find that being in a heated room did help me get deeper into poses, especially twists. It felt like the stretches were really getting into my muscles and even though it burned (probably because it was early days in me upping my workouts in a week, and also I’d just come back from Filey where I had done a lot of eating. A lot.) it burned in kind of a good way.

Due to the fact that very quickly i was slick with sweat it did get kind of hard to ground myself on the mat in the poses, especially downward dog, so there was a lot of wiping down with a towel (which on this instance was provided, but I believe you have to pay for them usually).

The heat was actually something that I slowly acclimatised to and it was easy to just sort of forget about the sweat because it you do cardio (which I do) then sweat everywhere is just something you get used to. I will also say that that savasana at the end was one of the most satisfying savasanas that I have had. Also we got given cool towels during that time which was such a relief and helped to cool down slowly.

I finished the class feeling incredibly satisfied and equipped with all these endorphins associated with exercise. It was a good experience. I loved it and enjoyed it immensely. I mean I also haven’t been back but that’s for no other reason but money. And also as we creep closer to supposedly warmer weather just being in a room with 20 other people all exercising in a non air-conditioned room almost mimics the experience.

Or at least it did tonight.

What about your experiences, if you have any? How did you find it? Are you a regular or a one and never again? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Parentheses count: 5. See you tomorrow!

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letters to spring

Letters to Spring 29

Dear Spring,

Fuck I ache right now. It’s a good kind of ache. It’s an ache that follows the burn of knowing that you are hitting the right muscles while you exercise. It’s an ache that you know come tomorrow is probably going to be much worse and is going to make sitting down and laughing very difficult and slightly painful. It’s an ache that I’ve recently kind of become very used to and on some level might even…like? (I spent a whole day at Be:Fit London today, which even a year ago when I started this thing I never would have even considered doing.)

I mean it’s something that I keep doing and I also work through the ache when come Thursday my glutes feel like dead weight but they still manage to surprise even me. I even so far as to do two 40 minute cardio workouts (the second one I did, Girl Gains, had a banging playlist which when you’re dipping into yet another squat or side plank is really what you need to be honest, give me all the Destiny’s Child songs to work out to please) within the space of an hour that worked pretty much all the same muscle groups and a part of my brain was like ‘you’re being fucking mental’ but then the rest of me was like ‘no this is fine you can do this, your body is stronger than your mind, it will burn but it will be fine’.

And it did burn and it was borderline awful (not in a legit way, just in a this has got to have been longer than 40 seconds why are you still counting down from 20 kind of way)  but it was also kind of invigorating and made me feel powerful and strong. In fact the last couple of workouts that I’ve done this week I’ve noticed that I’m stronger. I can hold a plank better and achieve variations of it with greater ease, there’s way less hip movement involved. I can get into stretches a bit deeper and can touch the floor with straight legs!

I’ve also got a taste for Barry’s Bootcamp today and it was hell (seriously it burned my core in a serious kind of way) but it was also only a condensed version of a class and now I wanna know what the whole thing would feel like…I used to work near one and would see people at lunchtime leaving covered in sweat and clutching protein shakes and I’ve heard things about them and I can understand them, but I also wanna know…this is the kind of person that I am right now.

I’m also slowly making changes to my diet still so it’s not a total shock to the system (not that I’m ever going to do something totally drastic with it or anything), but for now I’m eating pizza and salted caramel ice cream and I’m not going to move from my sofa tomorrow and then I’m gonna feel the burn all over again on (bank holiday) Monday with barre…

Love,

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