I get knocked down but I get up again!

Lots of people have asked me what the turning point was for me and I think I finally have an answer.

As part of my job I organise the collective worship for the school, including taking assemblies. This is one of my favourite parts of the job, and I never quite know what I’m going to do next! I was starting to think about the one I’ve got to do in a couple of weeks, when I suddenly remembered one that I did last year, I can’t remember the theme but I was introduced by the head at which point Tubthumping by Chumbawumba  started playing (this part was planned) what I didn’t realise I was going to do was walk on stage doing the ‘dance’!!!!!!! I then spent the rest of the day having pupils bending down down, waving their arms in my face and singing at me!!!!!!!

I’ve got no idea, yet, what I’m going to do in two weeks time, but I’m sure there will be some madness, but that song has been going round in my head since I started thinking about it! 

“I get knocked down but I get up again you’re never gonna keep me down”

I’ve been knocked down many times in my life, who hasn’t, but I’ve never been one to stay down. However I would say that the ‘recovery rate’ has definitely got quicker!

It was actually a knock that started off this whole process of life changing events, which I’ve only just realised. It was the first day of the Christmas Holidays, and I managed to break my big toe! I won’t go into details, but suffice to say it was the day after the last night of term!

So for the entirety of the Christmas holidays, and the first few weeks of term I was on crutches! As much as I claimed that I loved my husband waiting on me hand and foot, him having to cook the Christmas dinner, getting lifts everywhere, just sitting on the sofa watching the entire box set of Lewis…. I actually hated it, I hated the restriction it had put on my life, the reliance it had caused me to have on others, and not being able to just get up and do what I wanted.

But as I was sitting there one day lying on the sofa with my leg up, after a day at work, I had a bit of a revelation…. This may have been caused by a broken toe, but actually how much different was my life? The answer… Not very different at all! If I didn’t have a broken toe would I have been rushing round tidying, working, meeting up with people, walking – NO!

Revelation – I needed to make sure that once the toe was healed my life changed. So I started with the calorie counting, then once able to I started walking home from work, then the very slow running started, then walking to work and now… I’m over 4 stone lighter, 3 sizes smaller, I’m regularly running, going to the gym, and swimming. 

When I went for the check up on my toe the Dr told me I could put weight on it now but I probably shouldn’t be running for a while – I openly laughed in his face and said I don’t think there’s any worry of that happening! What did I know? Last night I ran 5k for the second time and I loved it!

I might get knocked down but I get back up again, and at the moment there definitely doesn’t seem to be anything that keeps me down – not even a box set!

It’s been a lightbulb moment

Yesterday and today there have been some tears shed, actually today there were a LOT of tears shed, which became highly embarrassing – except for the fact that I escaped before many people noticed! 

Why tears? I hear you ask. I felt EXHAUSTED, by this I mean that I felt drained of any energy AT ALL! Slightly problematic when you are one of the chief minions at a church holiday club! I was exhausted which meant that I wasn’t able to do my best at church, which then led to me feel deflated – one of those joyous vicious circle moments! 

Yesterday I put it down to the fact that I’d barely slept the night before. Today I’d slept better, so felt energised until a couple of people pointed out I looked exhausted – then I was! 

I couldn’t work it out! Maybe it was because I’d not fully rested after my seizure like I normally do, I’d kept going and my body and brain weren’t entirely happy about it? Maybe it was because I’d not had much ‘me’ time as I’d been in Birmingham with family and friends, then come straight back to holiday club madness?

Whatever it was, I didn’t like the way I was feeling. Mainly as it was reminding me of the previous existence of Helen. No! I am not going back there!

I’d been thinking through things, when my thoughts were seconded by my dear friend ‘E’ who had received texts from me and who responded with ‘remember how much this is not you! Keep going but pace yourself – although I wonder bizarrely if your body is missing exercise and the endorphins released by it?’

I decided at that point that I was going to be going for a run. I have since done my first run and my first real exercise since my seizure last Sunday, and I feel so much better already!

All week I have kept going, which I thought was progress, but I was holding back on the exercise, this was partly as I had a swollen ankle at the beginning of the week, and bruising all over my body; partly as I was in Birmingham so was out of my routine; but partly because I felt I needed to take it slow as I’d had a seizure and needed to recover. 

I’m now starting to think maybe I just needed to ‘snap out of it’! From the point where I had decided that I was going for a run, I found it easier to work and I felt happier. During the run I enjoyed the time it gave me to think and reflect over the last week! After the run I have felt happier and more energised than I have all week!

I don’t think it is as easy as just snapping out of it, I’m also hoping I won’t have enough experience of how to respond to seizures to discover what is best! But I think I definitely need to approach the recovery different from now on.

The lightbulb moment really was how much better I have felt since I have been exercising! The endorphins really do make a difference! Just knowing I was going to go for a run made me feel better!

 Today was the first time this week that my Fitbit has vibrated – meaning I met my goal of 10000 steps. Usually I am well over that goal, or I go out of my way to ensure I do. And yet this week has been more active than most of my weeks in my previous life! This is how much I have changed, I’m still in shock that this is me writing it! I enjoy exercise, and exercise helps me enjoy life! Lightbulb moment!

Taking joy in the little things

I am a complex person, I rely on positive feedback from other people, I never trust myself and my instinct, and yet I’m rubbish at taking compliments. This leaves me very perplexed! And over the past couple of months I’ve had to learn to take compliments, I pretty much mastered the awkward dance as people told me how good I was looking, and how well I was doing and I’ve started to just say thank you – with a miniature awkward dance as well!

There’s a lot of little things which I’ve been noticing over the past few months which have given me encouragement as I’ve gone on. So here’s my top 10:

10. Realising my bag which I wear over my shoulder was significantly further down my leg than it used to be

9. Having to tighten my flip flops therefore realising I may be able to wear normal flip flops in the future and not have to wear Birkenstocks

8. Noticing the shape of my shadow change as I’ve been running

7. Being told that I need to buy new clothes

6. Hearing my 6 year old nephew say “crikey Aunty Helen can run”

5. Wrapping my dressing gown all the way round me so the pockets are both on the same side!!!!

4. Being able to share a two seat sofa at the cinema comfortably with my 6ft7 husband

3. Fitting into theatre seats

2. Being able to wrap a ‘normal’ hotel towel all the way round me without gappage!!!!!

1. A sixth form student asking on behalf of another sixth form student how I’ve managed to lose weight!

The small things have kept me going, and I’ve started to accept the nice comments that people give me. Rejoice in the small things, and greater things will follow!!!!!! 


4. I’m enjoying not enduring it

As you may have guessed, this was the reasoning behind my blog title! I really don’t feel that it has been hard work to get healthy and to lose weight. I’ve loved trying new foods, I’ve loved spending my Saturday mornings making soup, I’ve loved learning about my body, more than anything I’ve loved walking! I love the time it gives me… to think, to contemplate, to prepare myself for the day ahead, or to wind down from the madness of the day! I’ve almost got to the point where I can’t sit still for too long, as I want to get out and walk.

I think this is the reason behind the success for me this time, previously I’ve really felt that it’s been such an effort to do exercise, to work out what to eat, to NOT eat a chocolate bar, or a large bag of crisps, or a bottle (or 2) of cherry coke! I guess this links in with previous posts, this time it has been my choice, and it has been a learning journey.

I was at the gym this week, having one of my personal trainer sessions developing a programme for the gym. I’d already had my induction where I’d used all the machines, and at my session this week my personal trainer was asking which machines I wanted to use, and what I wanted to get out of the sessions. Once I’d chosen the machines, he showed me what I needed to do to push myself, we tried some machines which I didn’t get on with – so they are not on my programme. This is the perfect metaphor for what has become my lifestyle…

There are so many ways of losing weight/getting healthy. Some people prefer a programme, group meetings, exercise classes, meals prepared, team games… I’m just sharing what has worked for me this time. If you spoke to me a year ago and told me that I would be refusing lifts, going out running, going to the gym, and choosing to go for a walk for no other purpose than to walk, I would not have believed you… and yet now I cannot imagine any other way.

2. Walking (and running and swimming and going to the gym)

I think the biggest change in my life recently has to have been exercise. My evenings/weekends/holidays used to consist of sitting on the sofa, watching TV. The only real difference from when I was asleep was that my eyes were open. In February I started walking home from work – just under 2 miles. It started off taking me about an hour, within the week I got that down to about 45 minutes. I started to feel better straight away, mainly because of the exercise, but also because of the fact that I wasn’t reliant on anyone else giving me a lift, and didn’t have to wait for buses, I found I was staying at work later, but then not taking much work home with me.

I then started to think that I might start running – I honestly have no idea where this came from!!!! So I chatted to a friend at work who told me about the couch to 5k app. Sooooooooo made for me! There are lots of versions of this app but the general premise is the same. You run 3 times a week for about 30 minutes. Each week is a stage, and you start off running for 1 minute and walking for 2 minutes, this gradually increases as the weeks go on. So… I started! My friend at work has been a saint, I text her everything I run and she has really encouraged me. I’m up to about 25 minutes continuously running now. My main piece of advice here would be months rush it. I made sure that i didn’t move on to the next stage until I had completed 3 continuous sessions of a stage. There seemed to be no point in rushing it. That is why it has taken me so long to get to the stage I’m at, and I’m still not running 5k yet! I know other people have progressed a lot quicker, but I really was going from literally no exercise at all! The other key was routine, making sure I did the three days, even if sometimes I didn’t complete it properly and walked more, at least I was getting the exercise and was doing the time, and my body gradually got used to it! 

So I was walking from work, and running three times a week. Already I was feeling better. I was also sleeping better because my body was worn out. I then got a Fitbit – this is basically a wristband which measures steps, and exercise and as I said previously it shows how many calories you burn off and links in with myfitnesspal. You can set your own goals, but the set goal is 10000 steps a day. This was when I started walking to work as well. So, on a normal weekday I am doing 90 minutes walking and that is just to get to and from work. Just this walk allows to meet my step goal, and I understand how difficult it must be if you don’t walk, as I often struggle at the weekends. But the difference it makes to me, it gives me a chance to prepare for the day, or to wind down from the day. I listen to music, I think!

My concerns started to raise when I got to the summer holiday, I wasn’t going to be walking everyday, what was I going to do? This was when I joined a local gym, this was mainly to have somewhere to walk to and for the swimming pool, but I have had an induction for the gym and have a programme I follow. I’ve really enjoyed it, and am enjoying swimming as well. I’m not sure how it will work once term starts again but we can see how that goes!

These things won’t be the same for everyone, I have found exercise that works for me, and most importantly exercise that I enjoy. Try out different things, I have also discovered I’m actually quite a solitary person and peer to do these things in my own, but some people prefer and need to do things with other people. Find what fits in with your lifestyle, and what you enjoy.

Sorry, this one does seem like a bit of a rant but the difference the exercise has made is immense, and has possibly made the weight loss a lot easier. You may have to drive to work, that’s fine, but could you park further away, take the stairs rather than the lift etc… Find what works for you and what you enjoy.