Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Fond Farewell to the Pink, Fluffy, Dressing Gown

Ladies and Gentlemen it is the end of an era. After much thought and a little bit of sadness, I have decided to retire the Pink, Fluffy Dressing Gown.
Drinking Coffee in the Pink, Fluffy Dressing Gown circa 2007

For many years, the Pink, Fluffy Dressing Gown has meant hours spent drinking coffee, indulging myself on social media, post-midday breakfasts, smoking outside in the middle of the night, recovering from the night before. The Pink, Fluffy Dressing Gown has become synonymous with idleness and time wasting. I remember ardently defending my right to be dressed only thus at 2 pm. The PFDG became a phenomena, an institutions. Had I been canny it could have had its own twitter feed and Facebook page. 

As Bob sang, times they are a changin'.

In the PFDG last year

I put the PFDG on a couple of days ago and it felt wrong. I was uncomfortable wearing it. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have outgrown it. I am no longer that lazy, layabout the PFDG used to know and love. I no longer while away my days, planning what to, eventually getting dressed and then perhaps doing something. 

In the PDFG earlier this year

My days now have two 5.45s in them. I actually have an active gym membership. I am working really hard to be strong and fit enough so I can go running and lift weights again. When I glance to my right, I've got a dead cup of green tea hanging out with my partially finished fruit, veg and protein smoothie. 

It's Sunday morning and I've already unpacked the dishwasher, put a load of laundry on, got myself clean, fed and out the house to get some house stuff. I would have left the house before 12 o'clock, but it was absolutely pissing it down outside and I really didn't need my new lampshades that much.

So raise your glasses and join me in wishing the Pink, Fluffy Dressing Gown well. Thanks for the memories. It was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Lookin' at that Hoss from the Ground

Last week, I realised how far I was slipping back into my old, lazy assed self. I was struggling to get things done around the flat. I started looking in the mirror and seriously disliking what I saw. Nothing else had changed apart from the fact that I was laid up with my lower back and my poorly, wrenched wrist. 

Boy and I went away for a few days, the late end of last week. We went to move him from halls of residence to his student house. I like Lincoln as a place to visit. It's got a great vibe. Or at least, it does where Boy lives.

We agreed there would be no stressing and there really wasn't. We took the move slowly, with lots of breaks. Somehow, in the 9 months he was there, he went from 1 car load of stuff to 2.5! Granted, it wasn't packed tightly - the car load going up was a bit like a level on Tetris - but even so. 

After the move, we then went up to Beverly for the wedding of the Viking to his Lovely. It was an absolutely amazing day from start to finish, even with the occasional downpour. Thank goodness for Clinique mascara, that's all I'm saying. I started dabbing my eyes with the first hymn and didn't stop until the Wedding March.

I made the mistake of saying to people "yep, we're going to the wedding of my ex-bf." I learnt too late that I then had to go into the whole "it was a good break-up, we're really good friends, I'm really happy for them. No, I'm REALLY happy for them" routine. The fact of the matter is, the Viking spent the whole day looking at his Lovely like he just opened all of his birthday and Christmas presents at once, while she looked like she'd just won the lottery. Both sets of parents were delighted all round. That people down here couldn't understand, I'm afraid that's their look out. Not mine. What was particularly lovely was the warmth that both Boy and myself were greeted. I've got stern instructions to return sooner, rather than later to have a proper catch up with everyone. Frankly, I'm looking forward to becoming Mad Aunty Roses (no pressure darlings, no pressure). 

While we were away, I had many miles of open road to think. 

My lower back issue means absolutely no running. Running is hard on everything and the impact could potentially make things much worse. My wrenched wrist means no load bearing, or twisting; pretty much rules out lifting, swimming, cycling or push-ups. My dishy osteopath advised waiting until I was pain free for a week before attempting any strengthening exercises. 

My body, mind and energy levels were reverting to how I felt two years ago and it was not good. 

I also had the time to think about my weight. It's a bit of a touchy subject with me. 

The fitness industry for women, tends to focus on weight loss and paints everything pink. Go into the main stream gyms, health food shops, it smacks you straight in the face. Being the rebellious sort, I've resolutely stuck to my numbers. I am not overweight, my BMI* is smack bang within the healthy range. I don't have anything to worry about, health-wise.

However, the fact of the matter is that while this is true, my body fat percentage is too high for my liking. When I look in the mirror now, I don't see muscle, I see flab. I see the results of 3 months on my butt. Ladies and gentlemen, trust me when I say this, it isn't pretty. It does not feel good.

One of the things I struggle with is planning. I can create a plan, no problem; implementing said plan, well, that's a different matter altogether. I kind of get there, but not within the timescales I originally set out. For example, I have a running app called Zombies Run! 5k. It's an 8 week programme to take you from couch to running your first 5k. Did I do it in 8 weeks? Hell no. In fact, I'm on week 8, workout 2. I can give you all the reasons why I didn't stick to the plan and mostly, they are good. But the outcome is still the same - I didn't do it.

I'm a woman who likes a challenge. Therefore, I set myself this challenge. I am on the 5:2 diet for the next 7 weeks (or rather 6 as it started on Monday). Don't ask me why I set 7 weeks, it was a completely arbitrary number. For the next 7 weeks I am going to be eating 500 calories for 2 days in the week. 

In this time I am also going to be doing what I call Foundation exercises. I'm doing a basic circuit, cardio and abs routines throughout the weeks ahead. Everything I'm doing is geared to get me to the point where I can pick up my weights and lace up my running shoes again. 

There's a physio dude at my gym who I've been trying to get hold of and this week I managed to snag an appointment with him. We had an hour long consult and next week, there will be another one. He assessed me on everything: body, exercise, diet and mental health. It was very useful indeed. He's already made some adjustments to my current circuit routine to address the issues in my lower body. I lack strength in weird places which is causing the imbalances that has lead to my lower back issues. He's highlighted some dietary issues and made a suggestion about probiotics. I followed that up as soon as I got home yesterday. Some eye-wateringly expense probiotics will be winging their way over to me next week. Unlike the probiotic yoghurts and drinks available in the supermarket, these have been cultivated to colonise the gut. Stuff from the supermarket, usually high in sugar, has been designed to die so when a person stops taking them, they stop feeling the benefit. These probiotics are shipped with cool packs and have to be stored in the fridge. I do not expect miracles, but improvements are more than welcome.

Next Wednesday morning, he's going to put me through my paces. I will come away with a programme that will address these niggly issues and hurtle me towards my Awesome again.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a very tall horse that I will be am climbing back on. This first week has not been shitz and gigglez as the kids say. I feel beset on all sides at the moment. But I am buggered if I'm going to lay here on the floor and take it.

*BMI is not a particularly useful measurement for weight, despite the fact that it's pretty much universally used by health and fitness professionals. Muscle is more dense than fat, if you're athletic and have a low body fat percentage, chances are your BMI will class you as obese. True story.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 2014 - an update

If you've been keeping up with my lack of shenanigans on Facebook, you'll know the last month has been a bit of a trial for me. Got side-swiped by a virus, that behaved like a weird stalker ex-boyfriend by refusing to go away; the lack of movement during this time has buggered both my back and wrist. 

In other words, any blog post I might write starts "whinge, whine, moan..." 

Therefore, I fall back on blogging with bullet points:

  • Dave's coffee business is now up and running
  • It is a lot of fun
  • The equipment is really heavy (coffee machine alone is 65kg)
  • The coffee is really good
  • I'm the cashier/order taker and I wipe up mess every 3 seconds which drives the barista absolutely nuts, but keeps everything clean
  • It's bloody hard work
  • I really hope my gym membership is tax deductible, because if I am to continue working with him in this business, I must become much, much stronger.

  • It is the season of weddings
  • We were doing coffee at a wedding yesterday and it was fab
  • Boy and I will go off in a couple of weeks to celebrate The Viking and his lovely's wedding
  • I am really looking forward to it
  • I know they will continue to be a very happy couple and be very good for each other.

  • Rummy is totally bonkers
  • Boy continues to claim Rummy is a dick
  • He rushes outside to break up the many fights Rummy has with his doppelgänger neighbour, Rocky
  • Boy is still pleased when Rummy comes to sit next to him
  • In the morning, after I given him breakfast and made myself a cup of coffee, Rummy comes to sit on my lap until he gets too hot.

  • I miss running and I miss the gym
  • I miss that feeling of accomplishment after a workout or a run, even if it wasn't the best
  • I'm going down to the gym this morning to book myself into some yoga sessions to try and free up my back
  • It's nuts how much ground I have lost in such a few weeks
  • My body has made it very clear it needs to move
  • Finding the balance will be the challenge from here on in
  • Finding the balance is always a challenge for a person who naturally enjoys extremes.

  • Summer should be my best time of year, given I love warm weather
  • With my hayfever, sinusitis and increased vulnerability to bugs at this time of year, I now perceive Autumn and Winter completely differently
  • I was much healthier last Winter, despite the cold and the bugs flying around the office
  • I will be doing a lot of research into allergies and sinusitis for next year
  • The Lovely Ursus gave me a light bulb moment when she reminded me this is my tough time.

  • I suspect I have become vain in my old age
  • Urban Decay make up is now my drug of choice
  • I had several oops moments in their counter
  • I have now more eye shadows than Pantone have colours
  • Some are sparkly, some shimmery and some are barely there
  • I haven't decided on a "look" yet, it's all down to mood right now
  • In fact, it's all down to mood. I'm sure there's a deeper meaning to my current obsession, I don't much care to think too deeply about it
  • Eyebrows continue to be the bane of my existence
  • However, I'm beginning to get the hang of them
  • I no longer look continually cross or surprised (unless I'm cross or surprised), which I'm counting as progress.

  • My finances are challenging
  • Thanks to new government regulations, I am unable to consolidate my debt to a cheaper monthly payment
  • I have way too much fun with cash
  • I tell myself, this is a learning experience
  • When I finally clear my debt, I won't be so quick with my credit card
  • That was until Friday when I went to the Urban Decay counter
  • It's time for me to think outside my financial box.

  • I'm in my fourth decade and I haven't begun another degree
  • It worries me
  • I did my BA in Development Studies in my 20s
  • I did my BA in Creative Writing in my 30s
  • My 40s stretch in front of me and I'm not sure what to learn next
  • Not that I can afford another degree
  • But I am beginning to think about it.

Considering I didn't know what to write, I think I've done quite well...

That's all for now folks. Catch you later...

Friday, July 04, 2014

Have you seen June?

The last time I felt properly well was at Zoe's blog party. I know I promised you a post, but it has come and gone and it feels wrong doing a post about it so far afterwards. The last 3 weeks I have been hit by the Virus from Hell. I thought I had shifted it last weekend, I could feel the symptoms abating and hit me again and even harder. 

Today, I woke up feeling like a human being again. I peered at myself in the mirror and ran away screaming. It was not a pretty sight. Have I done the piles of laundry that have multiplied in my period of illness? Hell no. Have I dug out the kitchen and liberated it from the fuzz of unwashed plates. Oh please. Have I watered my plants and loved them after my neglect? Go on, can you guess?

What have you been doing with your new-found energy? I hear you ask. Well, I have been attending to my personal grooming. When I opened my front door today (the first time in 6 days), I realised Summer had arrived in my absence. My legs glowed like a florescent bulb. I  started with a shower and got the lawn mower out on my legs. I'm a hirsute woman. I'm not going to beat around the bush (ha ha ha), I have two fuzzy caterpillars: one above my lip, the other that lays across my eyes and nose without any interruption. Once the legs and caterpillars were dealt with - I was liberal with the application of orange.

I look like this if I'm not careful

For those of you who feel self-tan is difficult, it really isn't. Moisturised the dry bits (knee caps, shins, back of the ankles) first, apply liberally and remember, facial toner is your friend. For the streaks and heavy bits, toner gets rid of those lickidy splick. By the way, I would lie out in the sun and bake myself golden except for one slight skin no longer reacts well to sun. I get very unattractive blotches, which I am told is due to my ethnic mix and age. sigh. I used to go five times a year on a sun bed to dim the whiteness, but that all had to come to an end. If I want to get my legs out, I slap on the orange. 

According to the blurb, this colour is Mahogany Brown. No, not...

I'm really not sure. It's lighter than my natural hair colour and it's got a red tinge to it. To be honest, it's safe hair. Next time, I'm going to lighten it up a bit. Go more golden maybe...I'm not sure. My hair is so dark, I always am concerned about the roots. Next time.

S'alright I s'pose

Yes, with the shaving, the tweezing, the chemistry etc. etc. it's not real. But gorgeous. Deal with it. The fact that I actually give a shit means I'm on the mend. Watch me as I rise...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Run Roses, Run!

On Saturday, I ran with Norwich parkrun. For those not in the know, parkrun is an international movement to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run 5k against the clock. It's held in parks all around the world, is free to runners and supported by volunteers. All a runner needs to do is to register, print off their barcode and show up Saturday morning.

I was nervous. I felt underprepared and unfit and really was not up for it. The week's running had been hard going. The temperatures were in high 20s when I made it out the door and the pollen count...the least said about that the better. My definition of hell is running without a tissue, a streaming nose and proper running gear. My heart rate monitor warned me that I was about 30 bpm faster than normal, which could have been down to the heat and the fact I taking hardcore decongestants at the moment. But it did mean I had to be careful. In my training sessions I walked far more than I would have liked. 

Saturday dawned cool and gloomy. It's probably the first time I've ever gone out my door and said with genuine enthusiasm "it's drizzling!"

There were 402 runners gathered for the run. And they really were all shapes, sizes and ages, squeezed into lycra. There were mums and dads running with buggies, parents running with small children, people running with dogs. Because this is Norwich, I recognised quite a few faces. I was greeted by a good friend of Dave's who took up running a year ago. She's been so encouraging and so sweet. She said I looked petrified. Yes. That's because I really was. 

The 5k has been carefully measured out in the park. I figured I'd be following everyone, so I wouldn't get lost. The newbies and I had our instructions and then we went down to the starting point. I made sure I started at the back, I didn't want to be in anyone's way. I had a great view of everyone's backside as they disappeared from my view. 

I focused on 3 people who seemed to be of a similar ability to me and I paced myself with them. Occasionally, I'd pass them, occasionally they'd pass me. I reckon I ran about 75% of it. I did my best not to get in anyone's way. It was hard. It was really hard. I got passed by everyone. I saw a lot of peoples' butts. Doing the run in laps was quite good because it broke the field up into portions that I could count my way through. Once I had done the 2nd lap, I knew I was half way done. I knew I had another 20 minutes to go and that I was on the count-down to the end. I found myself counting in 8s in my head. I have no idea why. I just kept counting up to 8 and starting over again. 

When I was on the home straight, there was me and an older guy who I'd been pacing to and we encouraged each other over the park bridge and then he sprinted off down to finish. I honestly don't know where he got it from, I was done. That was it. There was no more.

According to my heart rate monitor, I had done it in 39:06, but I had been slow switching it on. My final result was: 39:20! In a field of 402, I was runner 400! I am so pleased. It's my first ever 5k run. This run sets the marker. 

A year ago, if you'd have said I would be running regularly and would run 5k, I would have laughed at you. But I did it! Tomorrow morning I've got my recovery run all planned and as long as it isn't chucking it down, I will be out there.

The best bit of Saturday was yet to come: Zoe's BLOG PARTY! (but that's another blog post)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dusting Myself Off

Hi! Remember me? I used to blog here regularly. Well, I think I've fallen off so many horses recently it's got beyond a joke. Last week, I had to take some time out and have a proper think about things. Not small things like laundry or shoes or eyeliner. But big things - what do I want to do when I grow up?

That was not the first time I have asked myself that particular question. I suspect I will ask it again many times before I leave this earth. Again, I found myself coming back to my place of creativity, of writing. I haven't written anything since last summer that hasn't been work related; and my intermittent blogging...well, it became more and more intermittent.

I had put my head down, put all thoughts of writing to one side and went to work. The problem is simply, it's not who I am. I can do it in short bursts. Certainly, I am so blessed that the people I work with are actually prepared to put up with me. I must be the world's biggest pain in the arse for them - wafting in and around. But the fact of the matter is, I am never going to manage being a full time anything. I require flexibility and creativity.

I have come to terms with the fact I am going to die a very poor woman. I console myself with the fact that I will have a lot of fun along the way.

Getting back on the Exercise Horse, has not been so painless (if you can call the process of giving up 2 days work to write, painless). My physical activities in May petered out to the point of disappearing. All of my previous physical niggles started to creep in again. My back, my knee, my shoulders. I got myself moving again.

Let me tell you, the biggest lesson I've learnt in the last 6 weeks is: it is much harder to start up again, than to notch the intensity down.

I am not beating myself up about it; there would be no benefit in doing so. I know why I paused and I've learnt my lesson. I am going to take every step I can, not make that mistake again.

Part of the mistake I made was to 'exercise'. I bailed out of doing the City of Norwich Half Marathon in November because I wasn't at all confident I would be fit or strong enough to run it, without serious risk of injury. It seems I am more motivated to 'train'. I need a reason to exercise beyond the 'it's good for me'. Over the weekend, I signed up to run the Wroxham 5k in the middle of July. This Saturday, I will take part in the Norwich parkrun to set my first bench mark. I know my time will be rubbish. I know it'll be a miracle if I don't kill myself. I will be walking bits of it. It doesn't matter.

If I am to eat regularly, I have to rethink my writing activities. That's what today is all about. I'm getting back on this horse and I'm going to ride this sucker until we both drop dead from exhaustion. 

The difference now is the exercise has taught me self-discipline and to put my motivation in action. Perhaps I am still unable to set clear goals as per NLP structures, but I'm all about the moving in the general direction. 

I really do hope I'm moving in the general direction of Financial Sustainability...

Monday, May 05, 2014

Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

 It's now 4 months, more or less since Rummy came to live with me. It's not been an easy transition for either of us. I wanted a different natured cat than my beloved Cat and yes, I certainly got one. It's true, you should be careful for what you wish for. 

He has big brass ones. I think the vet might have neutered him, but they left the cohones. He picked an Alpha fight with Dave and then one with Boy. And that's just the start...

Gin Rummy was supposed to be a house cat. By the end of our first 6 weeks together he and I were about to kill each other. He meowed constantly. And I do mean constantly. Like a fractious baby, throughout the night. 

I got him a nice shiny disc, engraved with his name, my mobile number and a bell. I attached it to a bright red cat collar and I then put it around his neck. Off he went into the big, wide world. Not a moment too soon. 

My unhappy, vocal cat, restless, grumpy and demanding, chilled right out. Nowadays, he comes running when I shout "bedtime Rummy", curls up on my chest for love, then moves off to sleep at my feet. There he stays until I have to get up the next morning. He goes out for a pee and then demands breakfast. After that, he goes out again and I won't see him again until I come back from work. He's happy and contented and so am I. 

He's a very solid, physical cat. He actually likes being hauled about. Firm petting is definitely preferred. He will push his way onto my lap and demand attention. He's not shy about coming forward. He might have a very kittenish meow but he's all male.

When I say the following, please understand that I am not sure whether I am deeply appalled or deeply impressed about the following. 

There are quite a few cats that live around here. In fact, there's one across the road that looks pretty much identical to my Rummy, apart from the fact that he's heavier and has a very grating voice. These are cats with a well-established territory. Here comes this upstart in their know how it works, right?

Well, think again. Rummy might have a couple of battle scars, but he is the big dawg round here. The other cats yowl and puff themselves up when he's around and they very carefully back away from him to run under parked cars, to hiss at him from a distance. As far as I can tell, he's quite pleased with his new territory.

And then there's the small matter of his kill.

Remember I said I bought him a collar with a disc? Two days after he started going out, he came home without it. We looked everywhere and couldn't find it. I got a phone call from a neighbour to say she found it in the nearby car park. I went picked it up, put it back around his neck. The next day, he demanded to come in, sauntered in and shook the collar off on the carpet.

I got him another collar with the disc and a bell. It never came home when he did. 

The thing is, I wanted him especially to have a bell.

I went running one Tuesday morning, he came out when I did. I did my run, limped up the steps to my front door and the sight that greeted me still haunts me.

Other cats bring home rodents and song birds, my cat brought me home a sparrowhawk. Yes, a sparrowhawk. A mother-lovin' bird of prey. Not only that, a female of the species - the species which is notorious for its grumpiness, feistiness and general stroppy behaviour not especially favoured by any but the most experienced falconers.

Big, brass ones.

The thing that surprises me about him the most, my big, bruiser, hunting cat is really lovely with kids. Small kids. My neighbour has a two year old girl, who was very curious about this big black and white cat. He was affectionate and patient as she fussed and petted him. I swear he looked sad when they went inside.

I can't say I absolutely love him to bits, but I am very fond of him. Boy said he's a dick and that's not far from the truth. But he's my dick and I'm very glad he hangs out with me.