Eating better

I’ve been trying for a while to lose weight. Anyone who takes the dreaded prednisolone will know how hungry you always feel. I tend to eat really healthily 50% of the time then really lapse the other 50%. I’m trying to figure out why this is. I think it’s for these reasons:

  1. Convenience – often get in a state where I’ve run out of food and eat the nearest thing at hand. This is often junk or convenience food that takes zero energy. So I’ll end up eating an entire packet of biscuits in one sitting. I also get too tired to calorie count and give up on diets.
  2. Emotional Eating – if I’ve had a bad day I’ll try to cheer myself up with a take out or some chocolate. My excuse is that it’s just today, then the next day I feel ill and treat myself again.
  3. Late Night Binges – this is the worst part of the day for eating and eating badly. I tell myself I’ve been really good then binge on anything bad I can get my hands on including crisps, chocolate and cheese.
  4. Inactivity – since the beginning of the fatigue and inflammatory problems I have become more and more inactive. This leads to weight gain and it being more difficult to exercise. 
  5. I’ll start tomorrow – this is a double edged sword. Whilst it’s good to carry on with a diet even if you slip up, slipping every day doesn’t help. 

There are ways in which I can challenge these struggles. 

  1. Making meals ahead for the freezer for bad days
  2. Changing the ratio of good to bad eating to 80% good and 20% treat
  3. Using apps such as weight watchers and Treat to plan meals and track my intake. I really like the new smart point system as it not only counts calories but encourages you to eat good calories such as fresh and low sugar and salt. Treat is a personalised app for one to one nutritional coaching. I love the fact you post a picture of your food and get advice from this. It also holds you accountable to someone other than yourself! 
  4. Keep my excitement for cooking. I love it and trying new things. I have a Pinterest board with loads of ideas to try out.
  5. Surrounding myself with better treats and snacks so I don’t break!
  6. Being more active – I really like that Fitbit now encourages you to move around every hour. Little steps!
  7. Oh and I’m starting today…

Do you have any tips you could share for weight loss and healthy eating, I’d love to hear about them in the comments…

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Let’s Pretend…

Do you ever think we are just playing at life? Being different characters in some elaborate story?

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post because it’s mostly rambling thoughts! Maybe it’s being in theatre that I always see people as playing parts in their everyday life. Of course there’s  Shakespeare’s famous passage from As You Like It...

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And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

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It hints that our lives are predestined, and in terms of ageing they are I guess. But when do we become these stereotypes and copies of our own parents? Just now I overheard my sister’s husband asking her ‘did you find the gravy boat?’. It made me smile, I wonder if he rewound ten years to uni he’d imagine ever uttering this phrase? Then I realised I don’t have a gravy boat, does that mean I’m not an adult yet!?

If we are characters can we choose the parts we play or the dialogues we speak, or do we say certain phrases just 4d2eef3c2201ad1d82e0ce3043a006c8to conform? This is partially true with the relationships we have with others. I’m a people watcher and listener and love to eavesdrop. Over the past few weeks I’ve had 3 hospital visits in which there has been an enormous amount of time to observe. It’s interesting watching the dialogue between patients and health professionals. Sometimes it seemed as though they’re having two entirely different conversations. The doctors hone in and focus on individual areas of the body or conditions. They narrow down and diagnose and defend their decisions from the get go. Maybe this is because the NHS has a focus on cuts and blame and its created fear and narrow practice? But what these conversations do are damaging, they create a dialogue in which the patient feels it’s their right to be healed and the doctor is constantly defending the attack. Neither lead to comfort or healing or 4db5a8f3a5b0b85573115a9dc7cfdd59treating someone as a human. Whilst watching I almost wanted to jump in and direct them like actors to resolve the conflict. It’s even more scary when you find yourself in the same conversations despite having seen them happen five minutes before and promising you wouldn’t. The way we are spoken to lures us in without realising and takes real effort to remove ourselves..

If we can change our dialogues can we then we change our relationships and outcomes? I’m a great believer in the fact we cant change others, only ourselves. Sometimes its good to examine how we speak 39a826434d0482e19e4b342e6b265ec9with others and shift our relationships to something that works better.

More importantly, I think,  it’s how we speak to ourselves that seems so vital. Our inner dialogue is with us every second of the day so if it’s in conflict or defensive it leads us to dangerous places. CBT has helped me recognise this and although its not an instant cure it makes us aware of catching those thoughts that are damaging. Also being able to see the positive lifts changes our gear and puts us in a better place.

Positive thinking is not an easy task to do, especially when drowning in negative thoughts. But the rule of attraction is strong and we can 0ae880eb77832884e8a19c3e3f357953certainly influence our paths by changing our thinking patterns. I love trying exercises and activities that help with this. I like Tiny Buddha’s 10 Tips to Overcome Negative Thoughts

Then there are the times that everything seems totally out of our control. I often wonder about things being predestined. My life has been a roller
coaster of events and emotions. Without being dramatic I’m sure that I’ve endured more than the average person. Sometimes I find myself wondering if it’s something written out for me or some kind of karma. These thoughts happen 81576b699d8a8a514f8f9c01113dfb10especially when I’m down on myself. I genuinely believed that I had a Christmas curse in the past. Just ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll confirm it.

e5c9e117e8a4050b05a4c1d031710423Since being really young I also used to fantasise about being part of a conspiracy. I used to lie on my back and l9979724392b6d1da5b80638e18b720c4ook into the blue sky. Somehow looking into the brightness meant that I could see these little circles that I assume were the shape
of my pupil and iris. In my head they were eyes of bigger beings watching me, not threateningly but there watching my life go by or having a say. I know this sounds a little odd but I guess it’s part of figuring out the world. When years later I finally saw the Truman Show it played on my mind for years days. Even now I get flashes of thinking I’m being watched or there’s cameras everywhere. I did giggle when I discovered it was an actual condition. Not that I need another diagnosis but I’m sure I’m borderline Truman Syndrome

So in conclusion its seems like some of life we can control and other things happen and we can choose how to react. I’m not sure if any is predestined but I can’t think of a better way to say how to manage it than this:

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Goodbye…

Written by Jacob Ibrag My heart is devouring itself as we speak. Tomorrow is getting harder to picture knowing that her smile will fade from my mind, eventually. Imagination only goes so far, yet not as far away as she will be. Take me to five minutes ago when she looked into my eyes and said she’ll never forget about the times […]

via Goodbye — Eyes + Words

The bitter truth…

Written by Jacob Ibrag Close your eyes, scatter away into your mind. Become your own architect. Brick by brick, don’t build yourself up again. The opposite. Tear down your old foundation. Grab a shard and stare at your fractured reflection. Now look past the person in the mirror. Become the caterpillar that sacrifices its bare back so untried wings can […]

via Sacrifice — Eyes + Words

Colour

I’m at my sister’s in Bristol for a much needed mini break as part of ‘being kind to myself’. I’ve slotted into her family life and am drifting along finding it difficult to switch off. 
On the first evening we went swimming despite my crippling fatigue. I’m glad I did as 20 minutes splashing around in water was a respite from overthinking and I felt like I’d taken a step towards a new start.

On Friday daytime I mostly napped. Absolutely shattered and emotionally drained. I’ve been trying not to do this because of the awful insomnia, but this time I couldn’t stop.

This recharge meant in the afternoon I could go out with the boys and into the centre.

Bristol Biennial Is in full swing so our first stop was Liz West’s exhibition Our Colour at the Pithay.  

As you can see we loved it. It’s basically the 4th floor of a disused office building bathed in coloured lights to make the full rainbow spectrum. There’s nothing more to it which makes it strangely wonderful. We chose to sit in different parts to see how it made us feel. I loved watching people of all ages react to the colour zones.

What was most interesting was seeing where people were drawn. Most people seemed to congregate in the extremes. Calm and laying down in the purple at one end, or bathed in neon pink at the other whilst standing and taking it all in.  

When we left we chatted about how good it is when you can experience installations and art freely. There’s no constraints in these spaces and no rules on how to act like in traditional galleries and arts events. Theo had the freedom to roam and react and we thought nothing of lying flat on the floor to take pictures. 
It was like full on colour therapy for the soul and made me realise one part of myself. I am a huge seeker of beauty in the world and love to experience visual art. It makes me feel curious and excited and feeds me energy. 
To take part in this I needed my spoons. But by taking out the strains of work I was free to enjoy and explore. My goal for this month will be to seek more beauty without the guilt of not working! 

It too shall pass…

…Is the phrase everyone keeps saying over and over. Most because they’ve been there and know the pain and moved on. 

So this marks day 12 since heartbreak. My problem with it is it’s not linear. It doesn’t ease with the day but bounces around. I’m ok for a couple of hours then the sick pain returns in my chest. If everyday got slightly better I may be able to handle it. There seem to be major stages I return to. I’ll try to describe them. 

Overthinking – I keep catching myself here. My brain gets stuck in moments from the past. Beautiful memories that create pain such as swimming in the sea, throwing pizza off cliffs, birthday cakes and drunken conversations. Moments of absolute trust and intimacy that will never happen again. Then there’s the future that you planned and dreamed of. Yesterday I went to IKEA with my sister and everything seemed like a painful reminder that I don’t have a future. Well I do but not the one I planned and nurtured. My beautiful home that there’s no point in building. All these things to buy but I don’t want. Holidays and memories that won’t happen again. I know I can hear you saying they will but I am mourning the loss of them not being the same. Places in which I was so happy and secure. 

Numbness – so stay in the present is the advice. The present is now and where we live and mostly it’s ok and a distraction. It’s better with others around but it feels like a slog. Partly I feel complete and utter exhaustion. I’m trying to figure out if this is emotional or part of chronic illness as I often feel like this without the huge life changing stresses. It leads to complete apathy and numbness. One of my biggest strengths is my ability to see the beauty in the world and all of a sudden it seems like an ugly place. Even driving into the spectacular Malvern hills I couldn’t muster a wow. Instead they become a wall of darkness, like a prison preventing me seeing the world.

Crisis – Both of the above patterns seem to lead to this. It is the absolute worst state to be in. Utter dispair takes over and your brain is flooded with  dangerous thoughts. Completely emotionally overwhelmed I panic and my brain works at a million miles an hour. The frantic questions pour out and I just want it all to stop. This is the bit that exhausts me, taking everything left. I try to reach out to people but I don’t want to hear their advice. I claw at anything I can to keep me from drowning. I fear this place and it creeps up unexpectedly.

Irritability – or is it plain anger? Anger that I was duped and lied to. Anger that I had this snatched away without a chance. Anger at myself for being fat and ill. Irritable at others for their words of wisdom and saying what’s true but not always comfortable. I found this on the Pacifica app I previously mentioned. I vent in a forum then get a response which is harsh but true.


 I love and hate this advice in equal measure. The truth you don’t want to hear.

So today my plan was to recognise all this and pick myself up to something stronger and with future. To heal and be kind. To build a future even if it doesn’t have shape or form yet…

On the road…

…to I don’t know where. Wandering with out purpose is thrilling, terrifying and alien. I tend to be someone who need goals and aspirations.

So as a friend said today, you’re just at the point of hitting the reset button. It’s time to start again. So I’m ‘getting my ducks in a row’ and beginning a new journey.

I love words and collect them on my Pinterest board. Today I took a little peek back at a few to inspire this little journey of mine:

 

Parenting Yourself

So the last few weeks have been living in crisis. Caused by pain, mental health, relationships, work and income. All at once, in one big lump. Pow, taken out by the world!

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3 emergency hospital trips, 1 breakdown, 1 job lost, 1 relationship ended… It’s so easy to get swallowed into the negative and not see the positive. But the positive moments have been about the friends I have and love dearly.

What it has done is made for a very interesting discussions about life. It’s been useful to surround myself wth my friends and those who have been in the same place.

Today’s post is dedicated to Helen who has been amazing. Having been through the same shit she’s been one of the most resilient people I know. Oh and she’s a reflexologist too. I cannot recommend her enough for any kind of healing!

12068846_939860746086783_403464652320274183_oHer Facebook is here, and website is here

A few of her wise words include:

“So the world currently feels like a very scary, lonely & overwhelming place yeah. It’s all shit, there’s no-one you can rely on and you’ve just not got any more energy to keep fighting it all 😭

I’m not in your head but I can recognise it: I mean, when even your own fucking body seems to hate you what’s the point eh FFS!

But there is a point. It’s horrific right now & you prob can’t see any light.  Let me reassure you, there is a light. It’s called resilience, a strength you didn’t know you had, friends & vague contacts that will step up & help you find a path where you didn’t know there was one. It’s chaos, but out of the storm there’s new horizons, ones you’d never dreamt of before.

I’m not saying it’s easy, that’d be a lie. Trust me Vicki, it’s an ending but also a new beginning. It hurts like fuck. That hurt eventually turns into the determination your new self will rely on. Among my closest friends we no longer call it a ‘breakdown’ but a ‘breakthrough’ because in order to be true to ourselves the pain has to be faced & the old patterns need to be broken.

People don’t understand what it’s like living in pain every damn day. For doing that in itself , AND continuing to work as long as you have, you have a strength that most do not. Be proud you’ve made it this far. And with or without a bloke, your journey is only just beginning.”

These words were my solace in my darkest moment. They became a mantra to cling to. I love the idea that when in crisis experiencing a breakthrough rather than a breakdown. Maybe my list should look like this:

3 emergency hospital trips signs that I need to ask for help with my conditions, 1 breakdown breakthrough, 1 job lost assessment of my career, 1 relationship ended  6 close friendships formed and countless true friendships beginning … It’s so easy to get swallowed into the negative and not see the positive. But the positive moments have been about the friends I have and love dearly.

Today in our feet pampering session we discussed parenting. She suggested writing down all the things we want from our parents (theoretical ones if you are reading this mum and dad). Then you cross out parents and make it a list for how you want to treat your self. So here is goes…

I want my parents to be I want myself to be:

  • Supportive
  • Non judgemental
  • Not to know best for me but accept I know this
  • Kind
  • To listen without an answer
  • At the end of the phone
  • Strong
  • Not pull me into their dramas!
  • Not to take on my illness as something they’ve done or passed on
  • Trust me

Well that was a lot of writing and self led therapy for one day, I’m off to bake a cake!

Limbo | Some words about this adventurer

There’s a creeping sickness inside my chest.

There’s a living ball of weeds that have a grip,

slowly they snake their way through my ribs,

worming their way into my fractured heart.

It’s in my head but it’s real nauseating pain

that races down my arms till they’ve been hijacked.

Slowly they consume me before spitting the remains out

like the fragments of vomit after being sick for hours.

My heart thuds a sickening acid beat,

conjuring a heat that rises and I give in.

 

Then I forget for a moment and live,

but living becomes a limbo, a holding place.

I’m split in two, too scared to be alone,

too overwhelmed to sit with you and open my mouth.

A warrior and a victim, resilient and weak,

I’m frightened beyond belief.

I’m ‘all about me’ it seems, and irritated by the world.

Everything feels like walking through an endless desert at night,

I can’t see beyond my hands which are so cold and alone

I’m thirsty and need shelter but cannot find the right place.

Your company is welcome but never the one.

No one is the one thing I want.

 

I want to close my eyes to the night’s sky

I want to join the stars and become part of the nothing

I want to stop fighting and trying

I just want rest.

It’s there within reach, within a plastic packet,

It’s just a swallow away from peace.

It’s a wild and dangerous place

full of beasts that make me alive.

 

It’s like a thief came and took my OK, my safety, and my future.

I feel numb and uninteresting to the people around me,

kind people I don’t have the words for.

I feel like I lack a purpose,

I’ve been cut adrift from everything I thought I was,

I’m a tiny, leaky row boat on an inky ocean.

People believed this vessel was a ship,

It never was, it was just a leaky tub that was clinging on.

 

There is a beauty out there in the endless starry sky,

but at the moment it’s just out of reach.

I’ll find my map and telescope soon but please hold in there with me,

I’m just on a break from the adventure.

I’m doing all the emotions at groundbreaking speed,

and someone forgot to install the emergency stop.

I won’t make you promises as I have none to give

but I may surprise you all.

 

 

 

Digital Life | A Guide to Healthy Apps

I spend A LOT of time connected to devices. In fact I’m rarely disconnected and even find it hard to sleep at night without a film or podcast on. I always want to do a bit of a digital detox but fail miserably. Looking at it in a different way though there are lots of apps, and games out there that are amazing. I thought I’d share my faves:

Pacifica | A CBT app for catching those thoughts

slides-moodWhat They Say:

MANAGE STRESS. LIVE HAPPIER. Daily tools for stress and anxiety alongside a supportive community. Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Meditation.Learn to identify and correct distorted thinking patterns.

What I think:

Pros: This is the most user-friendly and easy to use CBT app I have come across. Having explored CBT in ‘real life’ I have found it easy to continue to use these techniques within this app. My favourite bit is the Thought Tracker which enables you to capture your thoughts, then explore behaviours such as ‘fortune telling’ or ‘mind-reading’ (two of my habits). It then gives you the chance to turn these thoughts around to balance them. It also has a voice recording capability which I haven’t yet tried out.

Cons: I’m not sure how this would be for someone who was completely new to CBT. I love it because I understand all the terms. I also feel the loss of someone human or a trained professional to guide you. They often will pick up on issues within your responses to thoughts and catch those places where you are still being negative. It’s a useful tool but not a replacement for real therapy.

Breathe | Mindfulness with achievement badges

What they say:

GET MEDITATING IN 5 MINUTES. EASY.With this app, you can develop and apply kindness and compassion in your daily life through a process called STOP, BREATHE & THINK.

STOP | Stop what you are doing. Check in with what you are thinking, and how you are feeling.

BREATHE | Practice mindful breathing to create space between your thoughts, emotions and reactions.

THINK | Learn to broaden your perspective and strengthen your force field of peace and calm by practicing one of the meditations.top-slide-1536.png

What I think:

Pros: I loved this app instantly on appearance and for the ease of use. The best thing is closing your eyes for ten seconds and scanning your body and mind. It then recommends you different meditations depending on your current metal and physical state. I also love the badges as rewards and have even woken up early to get the early bird one.

Cons: My only issue is that I seem to get the same meditations all the time which gets repetitive and puts me off.

Never Alone | Truly demonstrating the potential of games to create learning 

Nuna

What they say:

Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people. Nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of the game. Play as a young Iñupiat girl and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard which threatens the survival of everything they have ever known.

What I think:

This game is utterly beautiful. It demonstrates the power and potential that video games have as an interactive learning tool. The storytelling is powerful, the game is absorbing and there’s a documentary thrown in there too. So far I haven’t found a con!

I’m also glad that the world is waking up to the potential of video games. They are not all unsociable and violent, but provide a creative and interactive platform for learning. TED talks have plenty of debate on this here.

My Pain Diary| a comprehensive diary to keep track of chronic illness

mpdiconWhat they say: CHRONIC PAIN & SYMPTOM TRACKER. Track one or more chronic pain conditions and keep your entries organized with Color Flags.

What I think:

Pros: This is a nice app with lots of detail. You first of all identify the type of pain or condition you have then add details. This includes adding photos, triggers, symptoms and even the weather. It’s helpful for me because you can download a report to take to the doctors or rheumatologist.

Cons: It takes quite a while to set up all the tabs for different conditions and options.

Daily Yoga | Easy to follow, high quality yoga routines

part2-bg.pngWhat they say:

The world’s most dedicated yoga app – fitness on the go!

What I think:

Pros: The routines are easy to follow with both written, spoken and image based instructions. Theres a wide variety of routines even on the free app.

Cons: If your workout gets interrupted mid session, for example a low battery, I cannot see a way to restart where you left off.

 

Headspace | Techniques and meditations to heal the soul 

What they say:

GET SOME HEADSPACE | Headspace is meditation made simple. Learn online, when you want, wherever you are, in just 10 minutes a day.

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What I think:

Pros: Like Breathe this is another great looking app with lovely design. The 10 day plan is easy to follow and a good starting point. Theres lots on the app in the free version to keep you going for a while. I like the fact you can link up with friends as this motivates me.

dfulnessCons: I got a bit bored after a while and felt reluctant to pay for it when there other free trials around. As a general point I love practicing mindfulness but find it difficult to concentrate when very anxious.

So these are my 5 apps or games. Please comment below with ones you love…