It’s good to be awake! 

 
Yesterday was a fantastic day! I did my first 30 minute run; I reached the 4 stone mark; I had an epilepsy sister appointment which was so short, and highly encouraging (I’m now on phone contact only for the next year); I walked along the sea front from Tankerton to Herne Bay; had a lovely chat with my mother in law who then took me and the husband out for a LOVELY Turkish meal as an early anniversary present.

On our way home the husband said ‘it’s great having the new you at home’! Considering he hasn’t said a huge amount about everything other than ‘what do you mean we’ve got to go for a walk’ and ‘you’re going for another run?’ Or ‘what are you going to make me do now?’ So I was rather shocked when he said, I asked what he meant, but he wouldn’t explain and I decided not to probe – that doesn’t normally work, believe me I’ve tried!

So later on, I just quietly asked ‘what did you mean earlier?’ To which he replied ‘it’s just so nice that you’re awake, and not out of it all the time,’

If I’m honest, I was firstly overwhelmed by the sweetness of the comment, but then a bit horrified that that’s what he used to think of me.

My husband would never ever have said anything to me, he doesn’t complain about anything, he just gets on with it all.  This was my first thought, he didn’t tell me to change! Although I know he wouldn’t have anyway.

But as I’ve been mulling over the statement in my head, he possibly didn’t even realise that I wasn’t awake, or that there was a problem, until he’s seen me since.

It really is fantastic to be awake! I feel like I’ve experienced more since January than I have done for ages! It’s not that I’ve done more, but what I’ve done I’ve appreciated a lot more and I’ve enjoyed a lot more. The afternoon naps are a thing of the past, and I’m going to bed later.

I had a conversation with a colleague the other day which went something like this

‘Helen you look fantastic’

‘Thanks, well I’ve lost nearly 4 stone now’ (whilst doing the awkward dance’

‘No, it’s not the weight, you are just glowing and look like you’re having a great time – what’s your secret?’

I’ve got my own ideas of what I used to be like, but I don’t think I really knew that that was what others thought as well. What I do know is that I have absolutely no intention of going back to the Helen I used to be! Life is great, and I have every intention of enjoying it’ll the full. 

Saying that I’m off to the gym, then for a swim, then do some school work, then head to a fancy dress party for the afternoon/evening/night!

It’s not about me!

  

 

 One of my first blog posts was that I was doing this for me, I wasn’t doing it for anyone else. That is still the case, but what I’m (very) slowly starting to realise is that the effect is having me, is having a ripple effect to others as well!

For those who don’t know, I am teacher. I teach religious studies to 11-18 year olds. I have been told by many that I am crazy, but I absolutely LOVE it! Today was GCSE results day, and as usual I went in to give out results, to celebrate and commiserate. Whilst I was at school I realised how much more I have been enjoying teaching this year. I have had a lot more energy, in order to teach better. Today I was able to actually jump around with pupils in celebration – actually physically jumping! 

A number of colleagues, pupils, and even parents, commented on how well/fantastic I was looking, but also how the pupils have enjoyed their lessons with me this year. I hadn’t realised how tired I was, and how that came across in the classroom, especially as I get stroppy when I get tired.

The choices I have made for me, are having a ripple effect, on friends, on family, but also in my job – without me even trying!

Over the last few years I’ve been exploring vocation, things are rather on hold at the moment, but what I’ve come to realise is that my job is a vocation – I know that because not many people would willingly choose to spend their days with teenagers. 

I know that God has a plan for me, I have no idea what that is, but I know that I have been placed at my school, and have been blessed by the staff, pupils and parents of that school. Now I just have to try to do my best, to encourage the delightful pupils and staff to be able to enjoy the daily manicness that is school life, and to then encourage others to do the same.

We may not feel we are making a difference, but we all are! So many of you who have been reading this have inspired me. Let’s see how far the ripples can travel!

Fun… Friendship… Fellowship

 

This time last year the word ‘hermit’ could have easily been used to describe me, and yet the last week I’ve  had friends over for dinner, been to friends for dinner (whilst drinking my friends very tasty home brew), been shopping, and ended the week leading a service at church and then going to a friends and spending about an hour on a bouncy castle!!!!!
Is hermit too strong a word? The more I think about it, I really don’t think so. As I was walking to the gym today I saw a teenage boy wearing a t.shirt which would have been perfect for me last year… Achievement unlocked 100% got out of bed.

I’ve always been an early riser, and have never really had the capacity to sleep in. But I’m not sure why I bothered, as I never did anything. I would sit on the sofa and I would watch TV and that really was about it, a walk into town would constitute a busy day and would be one episode of a box set missed!!!!!

Now, by 10 on a Saturday I’ve normally been for a run, had breakfast, made soup for the week ahead, put a load of washing on and out,  and tidied up. This means I can then get on with ‘social saturdays’. Since making the decision to not work on Saturdays, but to do all my school work on Sunday’s, I have made a point of meeting up with people on Saturdays. I regularly head over to see different friends, spend time with them and their kids, have lunch or breakfast in town. Just having fun and friendship.

I’ve noticed that a lot of my relationships have developed over the last year, and that is mainly because I haven’t been leaving it months between visits. This means my friends children see me regularly, and also half the visit isn’t spent talking about everything that has happened in our lives, but just what has happened in the last couple of weeks. If I’m completely honest, as well as being slightly hermit like, I think I also didn’t feel that I belonged, as much as I made out that I was ok, I was very aware that I was in my 30s had been married for a long time, and yet didn’t have children. I know none of my friends judged me, but that didn’t stop me judging myself, and I think that did affect me meeting up with people.

Last summer me and my husband decided to move church, this wasn’t an easy decision but it was something we both felt God was calling us to do. We were part of a large church, with a lot of our friends. This was a very easy way to meet up with people. We would see our friends every Sunday, we would chat, say Hi, ask how the week was etc… We are now in a much smaller church, but many of our friends go to the previous one. This again has meant that we have to meet up outside of church, and when we do the time is much better spent and  the friendships develop.

I know that I would not have got this far without the support and love of my friends. They have done nothing but encourage me, which was evident at my birthday this year when I was given, graze box vouchers, hair mousse for curls, new clothes, and vouchers for new clothes. 

The other thing that moving church has done is to help me realise who I am, and what my identity is. I am finally happy with who I am, and I know that that will continue. Rather than worrying about the fact that I don’t have children, I’m making the most of being fun Helen who is chosen to be on a 6 year olds football team because I’m better than his mum, or Helen who buys toys for the kids, Helen who bounces on a castle for an hour with a two year old because I have the energy to do so! My identity before was Helen, the epileptic, who didn’t do anything. Now I’m Helen who has epilepsy, but does not let it rule her life because she is a child of God! I’m also involved in so much more than just Sunday church, which is helping me to realise what is really meant by the fellowship of Christ. 

My friend who has been my main encourager and confident from the off, and will from now on be referred to as ‘E’ was telling me at the weekend that she had been talking about me. She too has lost a lot of weight over the last couple of years and would be first to say that she has done this purely by changing eating habits as opposed to exercise! She told me something which has stuck with me since Saturday. Whilst talking about me she told her friend that she has seen a COMPLETE change in me, with the hair, the weight, the exercise (possibly the most shocking for her) and also the church things, and the quote that has stuck with me is ‘God clearly had a plan for Helen and she is where and how God wants her to be’

Today I was up early, I read my book, ate my breakfast, got dressed, washed up, did school work, ate lunch, did school work, went to the gym, had a swim, did school work, chatted to a friend, had dinner, wrote a blog! It really is a holistic thing, knowing that I’ve probably done the same amount of work today that would have normally taken a week, which gives me hope for heading back after the summer holidays.

Life is great – the core being fun, friendship and fellowship.

A brand new experience – enjoying shopping!

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When I started my life change I didn’t really have a goal in mind. I originally thought that maybe I should try to get to a healthy BMI – I rapidly realised this was crazy, as I’ve already lost nearly 4 stone and need to lose another 5 to get to a healthy BMI. So now, I’m aiming to be overweight (as opposed to obese). When I started I figured it was silly to buy new clothes because I would keep losing weight (hopefully anyway), I’ve also always rather disliked shopping – especially for clothes. BUT THEN…

I met a friend for lunch (the friend who knew that I was trying to lose weight), she hadn’t seen me for a while as she’d been away. In the time I hadn’t seen her, my hair had suddenly gone curly naturally, I had new glasses, and I had lost quite a bit of weight. One of the first things she told me was “Helen you have GOT to go shopping – those clothes look awful” (this was meant completely out of love). So the next day I went shopping – I got trousers and tops which were two sizes smaller than what I was wearing. suddenly my husband noticed that I had lost weight, people at work started to comment, even my head teacher passed comment!!! I couldn’t quite believe the impact that clothes would have, and I felt so much better.

I have spent years covering up, wearing baggy trousers, long tops, cardigans, anything that didn’t show the lumps and bumps. Suddenly, I had a figure. I needed to reward myself with clothes that fitted me, there was no point waiting until all the weight had gone, I need to reward myself throughout the journey.

This was when I decided what my goal would be. I want to be able to run 5k (nearly there) and I want to get to a size 14.

I am currently smaller than my husband has EVER known me. I think the last time I was a 14 was for a short time at university, but this was when I was ill and wasn’t eating (not the best way to lose weight). My clothes sizes have begun with a number 2 since before I went to uni which was in the year 2000 – SCARY!

Today I went to Bluewater Retail Centre with my friend. As I said I’ve always hated shopping – today – I LOVED it! First stop, Café Rouge for brekkie, next stop Bra measurement (WHAT A DIFFERENCE), then a variety of “Normal” clothes shops! Plenty brought – 3 sizes smaller than in January, including a few surprises, I CHOSE to buy a dress which I love, and then I needed a plain black cardigan and the MEDIUM fitted me easily!

The reason I’ve always hated shopping is because I’ve been limited on the shops, and even then not all the styles went to my size. Today I had freedom, I tried things I wouldn’t have done before, and they looked great, I tried things I would normally have bought and they didn’t look right anymore! I’m now set for work, for casual, for autumn/winter and then we are planning the next Bluewater trip for Spring, when hopefully it will be smaller again.

Part of the reason it was so fun, was because it was such a new experience, but also because me and my friend were laughing so much because we couldn’t quite believe what was happening!

Helen Netherton, enjoying shopping, buying a dress, buying a medium… what next??????

Today has really encouraged me to keep going, to not go back to looking at the back of clothes rails, or only looking in certain shops or shopping online.

Healthy Holidays: With Blackforest and Beer

  
On Saturday we went to Cambridge on holiday for 3 nights. This time of year we would normally have spent a week camping in Kent County Showground at Detling Celebration, that was cancelled this year, the husband had annual leave already booked so we decided to go to a hotel for a few nights!!! This was a very different holiday to any that I have had before.

Firstly you probably need some idea of what usually happens on our holidays, at least 2 or 3 times I get stroppy and sulky, we normally end up having an afternoon nap most days, and I’m normally ready to go home. 

But this time… No afternoon naps, only one very short stroppy moment, and I didn’t want to go home!!!!! 

If I’m completely honest I was slightly worried about the holiday… Especially with the healthier lifestyle thing going on. But I decided I was going to make sensible choices, most important decision being that I was going to have a good time.

When we ate out I tried to make sensible choices, which worked on the whole, but there were two pitfalls, my love of ale, and the great British bake off!!! Ale… Ah ale… The first evening we’d had a lovely meal, I had sea bream, then a lovely dessert of strawberries with lemon sherbet. But then… We went for a walk and ended up at a pub. There was a beer called ale-Oha and the pump had a Hawaiian skirt on – how could I resist. On the last day The husband took me to Cambridge brew house – it would be wrong to go to a brew house and not drink a pint (or 2). So that explains the ale, but the Great British Bake Off?????? On the Sunday we’d gone to church with a friend and then went for lunch, I ordered a chicken and chorizo salad, and then she asked if we wanted dessert. I had a look at the menu… And they had Blackforest gateau, the show stopper of the first week of GBBO!!!!!!! So I thought, OK, I’ll try it. OH MY GOODNESS I’ve never seen a slice like it, it was HUMONGOUS! I had to stop part way through… Although I did finish it!

So there were moments of indulgence, but we were on holiday, the intention was to relax, to enjoy myself, and that goal was most definitely met. It’s difficult when you are not preparing your own food to be in control, or to stick to a healthy regime. But as I’ve said from the beginning, I don’t feel like I’m dieting, therefore there are no hard and fast rules. We were walking a lot, but we also had a gym and pool at the hotel, which we used all but one day. And actually most days I was still under the calories/or on track.

This was definitely one of the best holidays I’ve had, I enjoyed the indulgences, I enjoyed the exercise, and I enjoyed having more energy that I didn’t get tired, or stroppy which meant the husband enjoyed it a lot more as well!!!!! 

So…. Advice for holidays, make sensible choices, but don’t feel you can’t indulge every now and again, ENJOY yourself!!!! 

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!!!!!! 

 

5. It’s a holistic lifestyle

There’s not a huge amount to add here really, as this is the basis for pretty much everything I’ve written so far. This year my life has changed beyond recognition, I’m much happier, and much healthier. I think because everything else seems to be in a good place I found it much easier to stick to change in diet and exercise.

 I’ve now been doing this for about 7 months, and therefore I think I have developed good habits which I hope will make it easier to stick to when things get busy and stressy. Also because I’m not following any rules as such, I allow myself to have treats if I want them.

The food and exercise has also meant I’ve got into routines. I’m sleeping better because I’m using more energy.I’m making sure I see more of my friends. One of the biggest changes I made is having Saturday’s off! I kept bringing work home to complete over the weekend, but then kept putting it off – so now I just do the work on a Sunday. I keep Saturday’s to catch up with friends and family.

My life has become structured which means I know where I am and what I’m doing! 

This hasn’t been about dieting or about exercising, this has been about creating a whole new attitude to life, and a whole new a approach 

So there we go… My 5 main points. I’m now going on holiday and will try to work out what to write for my next blog!!! See you when I get back!,,,, 

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.

3. I’m not doing it for anyone else

i thought this was going to be an easy one to write, but then I started to the about it! I was going to say ‘I’m lucky that no one has ever pressured me about my weight/size’ however, I’m not sure that it is a good thing?

Maybe, if comments had been passed, I would have done something sooner, or maybe I would have felt too much pressure and it would have been a vicious cycle – as I see elsewhere.

Any who, there is no point wondering what would have happened, so I’m going to do what I said I was going to do, and I’m going to focus on what has happened!!!

 I was incredibly blessed with my patents who never pressured me or my brother to do anything, we were encouraged to follow our passions, and we were loved for doing whatever we did, and being exactly who we were. I’ve never been particularly worried about what others thought of me. So much so that when I was at school virtually all of my group of fiends were vegetarians, my thinking was I liked meat – therefore I was going to eat it!!!

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that, there have been times when I have been encouraged to lose weight, but never did I feel any pressure. As I have mentioned in previous posts I have tried to lose weight before but I don’t think I ever really wanted to, therefore it was never going to work.

I’m not entirely sure what happened at the beginning of this year, but something mad me think, YUP I want to lose weight! Actually, it may have had something to do with coming off one of my medications which I had been on since I was 11, I was under the impression it was a medication that caused you to put on weight, although I have since found out that it affects the metabolism! Whatever the cause, I think I always had an excuse to be crazily obese – which is ridiculous – but was still a sub conscious belief.

So… I made the decision, started to count my calories, and the rest is history. 

One key thing was that I barely told anyone that I was doing this at all. I told a very close friend, and my husband and THAT WAS IT! I figured if I told more people I would feel the pressure and with some people it may turn into competition. This really helped me, as I really was just doing it for myself. I wasn’t making a point of eating different things, or not eating things, I was just getting on with it! Obviously… Once the weight started to come off people noticed and quite often asked if I had lost weight (you know how people do in that kind of embarrassed way as they weren’t sure if they should notice or comment). But by that point I had got into my routine, and the hard stuff had been done without pressure.

The two people I told were so supportive, they too didn’t pressure but just congratulated me and encouraged me.

What I’ve found is that losing weight/getting healthy is never going to happen unless you are doing it for you, not to impress, not to fit in, not to be accepted, not because you have been told to, but because it is your own decision and choice.

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.