August Goals 2022

2022, fitness, goals

Hello!

Is there anything more satisfying than a new month starting on a Monday?

Almost certainly, but it definitely made me happy, that’s for sure!

Last months goals were a bit hit and miss, but it felt productive so even though I didn’t hit all my goals, I definitely made significant progress and that’s what matters in the long run!

This month is a really busy one, with lots of trips to sort wedding stuff, see family and friends, meals out etc, balanced with my dance classes being off for the summer so I thought now would be a good time to try a few sessions with a personal trainer, work is getting busier, and my mental health isn’t at it’s best at the moment… it’s all a bit manic, but thinking ahead and long term is definitely only making it worse so I’m trying to take each day as it comes and listen to my body more to try and stay in tune with what will serve me best. I’m not very good at it but the only way to get better is to practice.

My goals for this month either completely reflect how busy I’m going to be, or pile on even more with no in between, so let’s just get into it.

Choreograph a dance
I know this sounds totally ridiculous and random, but ever time I listen to the song ‘Fresh’ by Artist Vs Poet I want to dance to it, so I thought it would be fun while I don’t have classes this month to choreograph something to the chorus and put it on somewhere like TikTok. Am I a brilliant dancer? Absolutely not. Am I a brilliant choreographer? No, I find it really difficult. But I love dancing and I love the song so I’m going to spend an afternoon letting the dance I feel every time I listen to the song come out!

Fitness Goals
This one is multifaceted!

  • Have a session with a PT
  • Work on strength for pointe work
  • And stretch to try and get my splits again

Shock horror, two of them are dance related. For someone who was discouraged from applying for dance school when I was a teenager, I bang on about it a lot.

The personal trainer is to kind of compensate for not having dance classes, plus I’ve had my gym membership with work for five months and whilst I’m much more confident about going and have made it part of my routine, I have no idea what I’m doing. I had a consultation with a PT the other day who really reiterated how she likes to teach about what muscles each exercise works and why it’s beneficial and I’m really excited for my first session next week.

The pointe work thing – I’m buying my first pair of pointe shoes in eight years this month and I want to try going on pointe again, but I know I need to work on my balance, my calf strength and my stamina first, so these are some of my gym goals for the month.

And the splits… Now that I’ve been back dancing multiple times a week for a year, I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in my flexibility but I’ve never consistently had my splits, so now’s the time to work on it!

Wedding Goals
Another multifaceted one!

  • Shop for bridal gifts
  • Determine final ceremony and reception plans
  • Buy guest book (or equivalent)

The bridal gifts I have in hand – my bridesmaids are all under 12, so I’ve got them little personalised make up bags, a personalised compact mirror and I want to get them a nice lip gloss (or something make-up-y!) and some jewellery to go with their dresses (which I haven’t got yet because they are small and there’s a risk they might grow!). I’m on track with this so this will be a nice easy one.

Can you tell the other two points have come straight from a ‘step by step guide to plan your wedding’ list?! But both are also in hand!

Also this month I’m hoping my dress will come in (eeeee!), I’ve got a trial for an application tan to make me look ever so slightly less transparent, we’ve got our appointment with the council to ‘give notice’, I need to research the bridesmaids dresses, then next month I have a make-up trial, a flower consultation, a nail trial, a hair consultation and probably a bunch of other stuff to do! It’s busy, but exciting (though I am also looking forward to not having to plan anymore).

40,000 word writing challenge
I meant what I said about making my life difficult for myself.

I’ve mentioned it time and time again (sorry) but I love creative writing, but I’m really bad at making time for it, so doing these challenges gives me the chance to actually do some writing and ensures I make time to do it!

I’ve picked a few word prompts to inspire me for a few short stories and I’ve already written about 3000 words of one that I’m really enjoying so although finding the time to write can be challenging, I am enjoying it.

Every Month Goals

  • Read three books
  • Save money (done on payday, go me!)
  • Date night!
  • Craft project

And that’s it!

‘That’s it’ – like it’s not about 10 goals pretending to be 5.

But time management and lists have always been my thing and the best I can do is try, so here’s to trying!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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actually enjoying exercise

2022, fitness

Hello!

I’ve written many, many blog posts over my eight years with this blog about fitness, weight loss and my perception of my body image and it’s been all over the place – rock bottom, somewhere where I was pleasantly surprised I liked an outfit on myself and basically everywhere in between.

I consciously decided to stop writing these posts a while ago – doing regular updates often meant having to face not seeing the progress I wanted again and again and it was hard. Trying to lose weight, find a balance of being happy in my body as it is now and my mental health being here, there and everywhere is really hard.

(and I want to say now that I absolutely have not found a perfect balance, I doubt I ever will and there is definitely no quick fix, unfortunately)

Last year I found a dance school close to where we’d just moved to and started three classes a week because I love dancing and I couldn’t pick between ballet, tap and jazz. I’ve been doing these for nearly 11 months now and I still absolutely adore them – they’re proper workouts, I love the structure of having the same class each week and the routine is really good for me.

Although it feels like it’s been a long time coming, I’m really starting to feel like I’m improving now too which is so rewarding! I’m even going to buy some pointe shoes while we’re off for the summer and have a go at pointe class in September (potentially).

But alongside that, I have always really struggled with ‘traditional’ exercise – I was on the Netball and Athletics teams at school, but any kind of running, weight training or going to the gym were totally foreign to me, both because I have the stamina of a 90 year old with asthma and the motivation of… something-with-no-motivation.

I joined a gym at uni, bumbled my way round some cardio for a few weeks before inevitably losing steam and cancelling my gym membership after months of wasting money. Between undergrad and my masters I did one dance class a week and attempted Couch to 5k, which lasted four or five months but fizzled out. Then during lockdown I tried some of Joe Wicks’ live workouts and Attempt 2 of Couch to 5k to much the same result.

Fast forward two years – I’m dancing, I’m in a new job, I’m really struggling with weight loss despite doing three hours of exercise at dance a week and my boss brings in a new work benefit – company gym membership.

This coincided with my third attempt at couch to 5k (which my partner said we would do together and then he flaked on me and I’m still salty about it). Each run I found more and more challenging, so I tried to balance running three times a week with going to the gym and I found what is my current flow.

A bunch of the people I work with are full gym converts – they know what they’re doing (or at least, they give me the impression they do!), they regularly work out and it made me feel more encouraged to go too.

So what started with once a week just doing cardio, has evolved to roughly three times a week working on treadmill running, resistance machines and flexibility stretching. I’m finding that not paying the gym membership myself (which I appreciate sounds totally spoiled of me) makes me feel like I’m not obliged to go to the gym to get my moneys worth – it’s a choice that I get to make that doesn’t have any financial consequences.

So at the moment I’m working on doing 5k on the treadmill – I’ve started tracking my times and it’s not ‘good’ per say, but it’s improving and I’m really enjoying pushing myself, seeing the improvements and the endorphin high post exercise.

But I’ve actually used a few of the resistance machines and I’m not scared of those anymore, I’m working on being more confident working on my flexibility stretching and not worrying about whether people think I’m weird and maybe one day I won’t come out of the gym looking like a sweaty tomato, but at this stage, I’m still very unfit so it’s a work in progress.

Will I keep this up forever? Who knows! But I’ve stuck with dancing for nearly a year and I’ve been slowly getting more confident in the gym for four months. Pairing this with a couple of really good personal trainers on TikTok that have helped me understand more about what it really takes to lose weight, working on my diet and starting to actually see results both in how my clothes fit and the number on the scales, I’m feeling pretty good.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like it’s cured my mental health issues – I got back from the gym this morning after a couple of stressful, anxiety inducing events both before and after and it zapped up the endorphins and I ended up in bed for three hours, too overwhelmed at the thought of having a shower. So as always – there’s ups and downs and I’m riding the wave; I burned about 700 calories on the treadmill this morning and ate them all back with an entire packet of crisps this afternoon, so taking the L on today.

I’ve written posts like this before where I really believed that ‘this time’ would be the one that I stick with – I’ll hit my goal weight, become one of those fit people that runs marathons and enjoy eating healthily without accidentally binging on crappy food. I don’t know if this will stick, but I’m optimistic for the moment and I’m going to take that.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

7 mini blog posts – Fitness, Life, Reading, Wedding and a Film Review!

2022, career, fitness, lifestyle, review

Hello!

I’m feeling a bit in-between with my blog at the moment – I want to write but I’m quite stressed and I don’t have the creative energy to think of original ideas to write about. In the last 24 hours I’ve developed a rather disgusting cold (that thankfully isn’t covid!) and I’m very bunged up and my brain feels like cotton wool, which is absolutely not helping!

So I thought today I’d write a few mini blog posts of ideas I had that aren’t long enough to make a whole post. There’s a mix of mini life updates, random thoughts and even a film review, I hope you enjoy!

One – Making Progress With Exercise

I think if you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you’ll know I’m quite good at getting over excited about something when I start it and then not really following through. And to go with that – I started Couch to 5k this week… for the third time! Have I ever finished the nine-week running program before? No, but will I try again? Absolutely!

But what I wanted to say is that pairing running with having been doing three dance classes a week for nearly eight months now, I’m finally starting to see an improvement in my fitness. I’m very particular about monitoring my statistics on my FitBit and the section for ‘Cardio Fitness’ has always been rated as ‘Poor’ for me, but in the last few days I’ve actually got into the ‘Fair’ category and although I’m not losing a ton of weight and both my dance classes and runs absolutely exhaust me, I can feel a difference! And that progress is more motivating than anything else.

Two – Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

My partner and I booked a random week off a couple of months ago, just to be able to spend some time together and actually take a break from work, because we were both exhausted. When we realised it tied in with the release of the new Fantastic Beasts film, we decided to treat ourselves and drive up to the Showcase Cinema near my mum’s house because they have the fancy pants comfy recliner seats and now I’m a cinema snob.

The film itself at surface level was fun – the music was incredible, there were some really funny moments and the magic will always be a place of home for me, despite all the controversy around the Wizarding World, I can’t help but feel comforted by it.

As proper nerds, there were a lot of points we made as we came out of the film that made it no more than a 6/10 (for me at least). Personally, I feel like the whole trilogy wasn’t really thought through and the intention of the plot got lost along the way, but I want to keep this a spoiler free review so I won’t go into it too much.

The one non-spoiler thing that really stood out to me is that a couple of the accents were really patchy? Jude Law, as an English actor, sounded both American and Irish in parts and appeared to struggle to maintain his English accent and the charms professor, we had no idea whether she was a Hogwarts teacher or an Ilvermorny teacher because her accent consistently switched. A little distracting. But still a 6 out of 10 film.

Three – The wedding is coming together!

Part of the reason we came up to the Showcase near my mum’s is that it’s also near our wedding venue and we had an appointment with the woman who’s helping us organise the day and I had a consultation with a hair stylist.

I had been using our week off to spend some time on some of the more tedious admin tasks around the wedding and I was just getting to the point where it was feeling a bit stressful and overwhelming, but our meeting went really well and we got a little tour of the part of the venue that’s being renovated so I feel much more calm about it all now!

It’s all coming together and is slowly starting to feel much more real.

Four – I did a dance show

I spent my entire childhood going to more and more dance classes – starting with ballet, then trying acro, starting tap and modern, adding hip hop – basically going to as many classes as I could and doing a big show at the local theatre every two years.

Never did I think at 25 I’d be doing it again but I donned my sparkly waistcoat for a tap duet and a jingly jangly ballet costume and performed for the first time since dancing at a cheerleading competition at uni.

It’s a funny one, because I don’t feel like it’s me in those photos – it’s not new information that I’m very insecure about my weight and I don’t feel like I look like me, but outside of seeing the photos and videos, I loved being back on stage and I feel very lucky to have found such a wonderful dance company to do it with.

Five – Work feels stressful in a good way

Despite having this week off (having desperately needed it!), work actually feels stressfully rewarding at the moment.

The department I work in has grown and changed exponentially in the six months I’ve been with the company and just a couple of weeks ago we did a massive content overhaul and started working to a new content plan and don’t get me wrong, it’s been incredibly busy, but it’s given us more structure to work with and I’ve somewhat been given the responsibility of making it sustainable and it’s getting there!

I’m learning a lot of organisational and management skills, which is nothing like the marketing job I thought I’d signed up for but I think I like the more ‘producer’ side of my role. I never thought I was the right person to work in media, but it turns out I’m actually not too bad at it!

What makes a huge impact is that I have the most amazing colleagues – I adore the people I work with and I feel like we work so well together as a team, the media production team are going to do big things this year and at surface level I will appear to be very stressed about it, but having had a week off to reflect I’m so proud of what our little media team has achieved.

Six – I’ve hit my reading peak already this year

I mentioned it briefly in my April Goals, but I’m basically not reading at the moment – I managed to listen to one audiobook in March (it was a bloody good one though) and in April so far I’ve not listened to or read a single word.

With my audiobooks, I feel like I’ve not got the brain space to listen to a story when I’m driving and to read a physical book before I go to sleep? Not a chance – I get into bed and I’m asleep within about 10 minutes!

I’m not sure what the solution is, I imagine I just have to ride the wave and get back to it when I feel ready, but I do miss it! When the weather gets better I can’t wait to get the sun loungers out and sit in the garden with a book.

Seven Why is it so hard to find plus sized active wear

This has always bothered me, but particularly recently – my ballet friend and I decided we want to go back to wearing tights and leotards to class (because why not?) and although I still have a bunch of leotards from when I was a teenager at dance (because I’m sentimental af), I’m not quite the same size I was then!

But finding leotards that go to bigger sizes are ridiculous! I’m lucky if the Large is bigger than a 14 and there’s no such thing as a plus sized leotard that’s not lycra and shiny – I want the pretty leotards too!

It’s not just the lack of availability that bothers me, it’s the teenage girls who did as many dance classes as I did being told that they’re ‘Large’ because they’re bigger than a 10. God forbid being tall! Or having broad shoulders! Let’s not even talk about boobs. The industry is so discriminative and sure, they want professional dancers to be a certain size, whatever – no random girl on the internet is going to change that – but there’s so much more to dance than being a professional ballerina.

But it’s not just dance wear – even just fitness clothes are difficult to find if you’re plus sized! It baffles me that we have to have different sections for ‘plus sized’ and ‘petite’ and ‘tall’ when surely it would be better if everyone had access to exactly the same options but available in all sizes, with a petite, regular and tall option.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks it but it is just another way to make people feel bad about themselves, isn’t it? Because there’s no way that anyone who shops in the ‘plus sized’ section should be allowed to feel happy with how they look?

Why are we gatekeeping exercise? I go to three dance classes a week and getting clothes to exercise in has been a nightmare, and I’m lucky enough to be a size that is sometimes catered for in the main range.

Maybe I’ve just not found the right places to shop, but the whole thing is incredibly frustrating!


Not quite the note I wanted to end on, but there’s a few thoughts I’ve had recently!

Of course, in the process of not being able to think of one complete blog post, I’ve written one three times the length I normally would! But like I said at the beginning, I love writing and I very much enjoy writing on my little blog!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

February Goals

2021, goals

Hello!

I’m really excited for my monthly goals this year – when I made my yearly goals I accidentally planned out which goals I wanted to achieve each month so that I had a plan for consistent progress (which sounds much more organised than I feel).  So I don’t get the same sense of a ‘fresh slate’ each month, but I love anything where I don’t have to make decisions so knowing that most of my goals are planned for the year is exciting!

The way I’m planning my monthly goals is in alignment with my yearly goals – I’ve picked one from my professional goals, one from my personal goals, one from my home goals and one from my ‘bucket list’ goals – so I’m making progress in each category of my goals (if I want to) and I’ve got one monthly goal left (because 5 is a nice round number) for if there’s something more relevant I want to include. I don’t know if mentioning all my categories is more confusing (it’s very personal), but that’s how I do it!

Here are my February Goals!

  • Develop my online portfolio – I just got a job, so having a super duper up to date portfolio isn’t hugely important right now, but I figure if I do the hard work in revamping it now then maintaining it will be easier and when it comes to looking for work again I’ll have it ready to go. The three avenues I want to work on over 2021 are my blog portfolio, my Instagram portfolio and a proper showreel, as most of my showreel is footage from 2017 which was three years ago. This month I want to make a plan to make more specific achievable milestones throughout the year, update my Instagram page because that’s the easiest place to start and start researching free website builders to potentially take my portfolio off my existing website.
  • Find a therapist – perhaps a bit personal, but I think we definitely need to normalise going to therapy. I have a mental health condition! I need help to feel like I can get back to my ‘normal’ and I’m in a position where I feel like I can be in a position to be vulnerable with a stranger and go through the process of finding someone who I think can really help me. It’s going to be a lot of sending emails, booking introductory calls and being brave and vulnerable. I probably won’t share how it goes but definitely going to try and help normalise therapy a bit more!
  • Wedding planning – as I mentioned in my ‘how I planned my wedding planning‘ post, I have a 2021 list of steps I want to take to make solid progress on planning our wedding (which is next year! How mad is that?). This month it’s booking the registrar/celebrant (the person who actually does the marrying in a non-religious service) and finding a photographer and videographer for the day, as they get booked up very quickly. It’s not much but little steps every month will all add up!
  • Start sewing my clothes – I don’t mean making my own clothes! I have a few bits and bobs that I’d like to adapt – a scratchy sweater that I want to put a piece of material on the inside, a t-shirt I want to try embroidery on, a shirt I want to try and take the sleeves up on – little things that I think would help me learn about sewing and give a second life to clothes I otherwise avoid wearing!
  • Use Ring Fit Adventure at least once a week – my boyfriend treated me to the Nintendo Switch game ‘Ring Fit Adventure’ when I started my new job and I used it once and decided I needed a sports bra to commit to it… and I’ve not made time for it since. I need to make more time for exercise and going for walks and I think when it’s a video game that is also exercise it’s definitely a reasonable once a week goal! If I can schedule it for straight after work one evening I can definitely do it.

Then my repeated monthly goals are a date night with my fiancé, read 2 books towards my annual reading goal (I’m on my 5th book in January!) and save my goal amount of money.

I’m feeling really good about these goals – my January goals have gone surprisingly well despite starting a full time job and having significantly less time for personal tasks than before.

The first month of this year has flown by and it’s been weird – it very much feels like ‘2020 Continued’, so I hope you as you’re reading this you’re feeling okay mentally despite the circumstances and you and the ones you love are healthy and staying safe!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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October Goals

2020, goals

Hello!

Another month, another fresh start, another new set of goals!

September was potentially the least productive month I’ve ever had in terms of my goals – I achieved maybe 1 of 5 and even then that was half of one and half of another but I’m not going to dwell on it; I’m going to use what went wrong to learn how to be better this month and adjust my goals accordingly!

Last month was incredibly busy and this month I actually have nothing planned, which is probably for the best because my dissertation is due in less than four weeks now (eek!) so I need to figure myself out and finally finish this masters (though I’m reluctant to call it that because I’ve definitely not learnt anything to a masters level).

So this is what I’m going to focus on this month:

  • hand in my dissertation project – the deadline is October 29th and I’m not taking any more extensions, I’m 100% so done with this course and I just need it to be over. Next month I finally won’t be a student any more!
  • exercise twice a week – with the state of my mental health, exercising has been really hard to motivate myself to do so I’m hoping if I can just manage twice a week whether it’s running, doing a home workout on one of the many apps I have, a yoga video or even a dance video on YouTube, just twice a week feels achievable (I hope?).
  • practice self care and get back to a routine – I really haven’t been very good at looking after myself recently; my sleep schedule has gone out the window, my skin is a mess, I haven’t read a book in a month, my motivation is low and my productivity is gone. For the sake of my mental wellness and actually getting my dissertation done, I need to make the time to look after myself and get things done. I’m making more of an effort with skincare and my routines as well as taking more notice of how I make my to do lists and scheduling my time to tackle the feelings of being overwhelmed that I’m struggling with! I think that’s a pretty good place to start.
  • start and finish my new cross stitch project – as well as all kinds of routine, I’ve not made much time for crafting recently which is so sad because it has such a positive impact on my mental health. I have a specific project in mind that I want to do this month so setting that specific goal might help me actually achieve it!
  • finish planning the redraft of my book – November’s NaNoWriMo is going to roll around faster than I expect I’m sure! I’ve got about 11 chapters left to plan so I’m feeling pretty good about having my plan ready to finish the draft of this book by the end of the year!

And my additional monthly goals for the year of date night and read a book are still standing! September was so bad that I didn’t even manage to finish reading one book so I’m hoping to finish what I’m reading and find something I’m really excited about to kick start the habit again!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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my new heaviest | unfitness update

2020, fitness, mental health

Hello!

I’ve written more about my experiences with weight loss and fitness in the last couple of months than in the last year or so and I’m trying to find the right balance, but this one is more about body positivity and body image if that floats your boat more than rambling about running!

I weigh myself once a week – with past issues with eating and body dysmorphia at school, I often have to stop myself from wanting to weigh myself every morning. But I feel like if I don’t weigh myself regularly then I lose a sense of control and knowing whether what I’m doing for the sake of my body is working or not.

But recently I’ve been watching the number on the scales go up every single week – I don’t want to talk about specific numbers because numbers are so personal to the individual and there are so many other factors that my ‘heaviest’ weight might be a healthy weight for someone else and someone else’s heaviest weight might be my weight goal so mentioning numbers doesn’t help anyone.

So at the beginning of the year, let’s call my weight X – my goal was to lose a stone to be at Y weight and for the first couple of months it went quite well, I nearly hit a big goal I’d been aiming for, I was making good progress and I felt okay. Then lockdown happened and the numbers started going the other way – I got back up to the weight I was at the beginning of the year, then it kept going, and I hit the next ‘stone’ marker and it just kept going. Then all of a sudden I was back at my heaviest weight that I was at in the beginning of 2018 when I was finishing my undergraduate degree.

Hitting that specific weight – let’s call it Z – didn’t make my feel as bad as I thought I would because I’d already been going in the wrong direction and been through disappointment, frustration, comfort eating, rationalising that I’m just trying to survive a pandemic, trying to figure out if lockdown should have been my opportunity to really focus on healthier life choices rather than go the other way. By the time I reached Z I had already been through all of these emotions and I had been mentally preparing for it.

In the month I started couch to 5k, I gained more weight than over the other six months of the year combined. But I know I didn’t eat well and there’s no amount of exercise that can compensate for that.

What I always used to say when I was in the height of my weight loss in 2019 was ‘everything in moderation’ – I’m such a fussy eater that eating healthily is really difficult, but smaller portions, eating food you like even if it’s bad but in controlled portions, making an effort to eat more fruits and vegetables and stop snacking on sweet treats in the afternoon (thought a 4pm ice cream in a heat wave is compulsory!). Moderation is key – doing a moderate amount of exercise and not becoming obsessive, making sure to have sensible portion sizes and not feeling like you can never have chocolate again.

Putting on weight isn’t a failure – your body changes all the time, no one ‘diet’ or regime is going to work for your entire life. Things change, tastes change, fitness changes.

If I want to hit my goal of ‘Y’ weight by the end of the year then I now have to lose much more weight than when I was at my starting weight of ‘X’, but I’m not bothered either way. I’m still running three times a week, I’ve been working on my home workout once a week, now that my boyfriend is back at work I have a bit more control over how frequently we eat vegetables, I’m working on my sleep schedule and looking after my mental health as much as my physical health.

Hitting a new highest weight could have been a new low, but I know why it happened. I know I went on holiday and didn’t eat healthily and lockdown with my boyfriend being home meant compromising on healthy foods. It’ll probably take time before the numbers on the scales start going the other way, but results are not linear – my progress in consistently exercising and looking after myself is more valuable than the number on the scales.

Remembering that is the tough bit though.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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just 10 seconds at a time

2020, fitness, mental health

Hello!

A lot of what’s taking up my brain space at the moment is actually fitness (I never thought I’d be saying that!) – with starting the Couch to 5k running program in July and aiming for one at home workout a week alongside running in August, I spend more time psyching myself up to do exercise, planning when I’m going to fit it in and mentally preparing myself for the physical challenge than I really need to, in all honesty.

I’m finding Couch to 5k really hard – it took me two weeks to make it through week 1 and I’m now finishing my fourth week of week 2 and I really don’t know if I’m ready for week 3, but with both running and my at home workouts I’ve got two phrases that are really helping me through.

The first time I managed the full week 2 run, I thought it was a fluke – somehow I’d made it through 6 repetitions of 90 seconds running and 2 minutes walking and it almost didn’t feel real. But next time I went for a run, I pushed through each run because I knew I could do it because I’d done it before. Even when I ended up falling through each step more than running it, I didn’t start walking until the lovely Sarah Millican’s voice told me I could (though, sorry Sarah, there’s no such thing as a ‘brisk pace’ when I’m wondering if my shins are going to snap!).

Simply knowing that I’d done it once before was enough to motivate me to do it again.

And the other thing that helps when I’m specifically doing a plank in my home workout, is just 10 seconds. Just 10 more seconds then I can stop. But when I’ve done that 10 seconds I have the option to stop or just do another 10 seconds. At this point I’m only aiming for 30 seconds at a time, but breaking it down into 10 second chunks is surprisingly helpful.

Also doing maths is a helpful way to distract my brain from the throbbing pain in my shoulders, lower back, ankles and abs – 10 seconds, just the same thing twice more, 15 seconds half way through, 20 seconds just need to do 50% of what I’ve already done again, 25 seconds means 5 seconds to go and by that point it’s done.

How often does it actually work? This morning I managed one 30s plank and then two 20s ones so all round, not bad for my second week of ‘at home’ workouts!

But it doesn’t just apply to fitness – we’re living through something completely unprecedented and there was never going to be a way to mentally prepare for a pandemic that no one was ready for. Maybe in ‘real life’ 10 seconds isn’t a huge amount of time, but if you’re in a moment of crisis, just making it through the next 10 seconds can be enough of a reminder that you can do this, you’re in control and you can take things at your own pace.

Whether it’s one day at a time, one hour at a time or a minute at a time, focusing on the here and now can make all the difference when the future feels so scary and uncertain. There’s so many things we can’t be sure of right now from when the heck the graduate job market will recover to when we can have a BBQ with our friends again, let alone the economy or housing market or other things that feel too grown up to me.

Things are weird – when lockdown started all those months ago, everyone said four weeks was such a long time and now it’s been five months. No one knows what ‘putting the world back together again’ will look like but worrying about how the future will look when there is no answer is just going to make handling the present more difficult – one day, one moment, one step.

We can do this.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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August Goals!

2020, goals

Hello!

July has been absolutely mad – every week I thought there’d be a ‘quiet week’ where I could catch up on some sleep and chill, I’ve been here there and everywhere! With my fiancé (I have to force myself to call him that because it still feels weird) going back to work and having the house to myself I’m having to get used to a whole new normal all over again (and it’s still not helping me make any progress with my masters dissertation project).

But a new month brings a new chance to achieve new goals! Do I need the start of a month to decide I want to try and achieve something new? Absolutely not, but it’s what works for me so I suppose what I’m saying is you do you fam.

Alongside my ongoing monthly goals of having a date night with my fiancé (though it’s mostly been ordering food and watching trash TV recently!) and reading at least one book, these are the five things I’m going to focus on this month.

  • plan 5 chapters of my novel

I’ve been worked on this book on and off since I finished the first draft eight years ago, but I’m planning for this next draft to be my last so I want to plan five more chapters ahead of the 50,000 word writing challenge that is NaNoWriMo in November.

  • make a new, more gentle dissertation project plan and make some progress

With everything that’s going on in the world and the complete disruption of the end of my masters, my diss project (the media bit, not the essay!) has been something that I’ve kept putting off and now it feels like this massive physical barrier that makes me want to cry every time I think about it. I’ve considered asking my course leader if I can defer and start the module again in September to finish next May, but this whole course has been an emotional and financial mess and I just want to get it done and over with. So I need to balance my anxious feelings about it with my Organisation Queen side that can get shit done and find a happy medium of ‘little and often’ (and not be scared of opening software).

  • exercise – three runs and one home workout a week

In July, I wanted to do the Couch to 5k program and I’ve managed three runs a week every week. Although I’m on my 5th week of running and I’m still on week 2 of the program, the fact I’m going out and trying and doing some exercise for half an hour three times a week is a big achievement. So I want to gently build on that – I designed a little home workout routine a couple of months ago and I want to use it. It’s a two sets of seven exercises focusing on different goals (full bodyweight and flexibility) and I tested it this morning and it went well – I set a timer for half an hour and just made my way through the number of reps in each exercise and both sets until the timer went off and it went well. I think having a set time to exercise for meant I knew that there was a definitive end point so I’m going to try and maintain this in August – we’ll see how it goes!

  • meditate every morning

Whenever I’ve set myself a task to do every day it doesn’t usually go very well, but there was a point where I was meditating every morning and I felt so much better for it so I want to try and do that again! I think it’ll help my anxiety levels, particularly in regard to my dissertation project, so hopefully I can start to see some benefits by the end of the month.

  • t-shirt sewing project

I’ve been banging on about my t-shirt blanket for absolutely ages but whilst I filled up one side of the blanket I do have more t-shirts left so I want to take a different approach this time and sew them together before I attach them to the blanket so I want to make a start on that this month. I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it because there’s 10-15 shirts and after the first few it might get a bit more difficult to sit and sew it by hand as it gets bulkier but we’ll see how it goes!

I’ve been feeling really low and demotivated recently but having written out all my goals for the month I think they’re achievable if I put my mind to it, but remembering to be gentle with myself is important too, so will be interesting to see if I can strike that balance!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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backwards progress | unfitness update

2020, fitness, mental health

Hello!

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these ‘unfitness’ posts – I wrote a couple at the beginning of quarantine and I’ve talked about why fitness hasn’t been a priority in the last year or so, but I thought now would be a good time to do a little update, as well as looking back on the progress I’ve made.

I have a highlight on my instagram (also called ‘unfitness’) where I’ve been documenting my ‘journey’ with exercise (though I don’t think it really deserves to be called that). It started with lots of boomerangs of my trainers on the treadmill and screenshots from my FitBit app with long rambles about how my mental health is all over the place and it’s hard to find examples of fitness that work for someone of my size and fitness level (which is a solid zero).

Then I started Couch to 5k – I ran consistently three times a week for maybe three months and I was so proud of the progress I made and my commitment to doing something for me. I saw results, I lost weight, I felt better about myself… but then the weather got really hot and I couldn’t cope. Then life stuff happened and I didn’t have access to a treadmill anymore and I was gaining weight and I was disappointed in myself and I kept putting it off.

Now 17 weeks into lockdown (not that I’m counting…) and I’ve put on enough weight that I’m nearly back at my heaviest weight from two years ago and I’m trying really hard not to beat myself up about it but it’s really disappointing.

There are so many external factors – a literal pandemic, living in a small one bedroom house where even pottering all day every day doesn’t get that many steps in (I wanted to hit my step goal once and did maybe 200 laps of the living room… about 15 steps a lap!), feeling sad and comfort eating then feeling worse about comfort eating and feeling like I deserve a treat… And then the toll that takes on my mental health.

So I wanted to start reintroducing exercise in a way that didn’t feel forced or high pressure – the pandemic lockdown is taking a harder toll on my mental health the longer it goes on for so I need to gently find long term sustainable things that can help. In June, I set myself the goal of doing 5000 steps per day – I only managed this for about half the days of the month, but it made me more aware of what 5000 steps looked like and the efforts I had to make to achieve it.

Although it wasn’t particularly successful, I decided that I wanted to start Couch to 5k again in July – my boyfriend was interested in starting it too and together we would brave running in the outside world (something I’d never done before). We’re now two weeks in – I’ve successfully committed to six runs in that time, although I’ve repeated Week 1 of the program twice (I meant it when I said my fitness level was zero) I’m doing it and I’m feeling it get easier and I’m making it part of my routine.

Do I have high hopes that this will become a regular habit and I’ll get to a point where I actually enjoy running? No – I know that in the past any exercise venture I’ve been on has ended after a few weeks of seeing no weight loss and feeling too mentally drained to put the effort in. But I can honestly say at this point, I’m kind of enjoying it – getting outside and getting my steps in and feeling my heart rate go up that high and then getting home and lying on my bed for twenty minutes before I can feel my toes enough to get in the shower. Doing something that pushes me and hurts my body a little bit but I know is going to be good in the long run feels good.

Mentally feels good I should say, physically it feels awful.

So the next step is working on my diet to go with the exercise – I’m never going to be someone who eats a salad because they like it or swaps to whole wheat pasta and brown rice (carbs are important to me). But I can cut down on snacks, eat more vegetables (I do love vegetables), portion my evening desserts so I don’t eat an entire pack of Haribo.

Even changes like going back to wearing make-up every day and having an evening skincare routine and maybe meditating again aren’t necessarily directly related to fitness, but they’re all parts of mental wellness that give me structure and routine and might give me more of a chance of 1) actually losing weight and 2) maintaining an exercise regime.

In the two years I’ve been documenting my ‘unfitness’, I found a pretty good routine where I lost over a stone in a couple of months and then lost nearly another stone over the next six months or so. I gained a little bit back but maintained up until the beginning of lockdown and then it all went downhill again. Although I’m not far off being back where I began two years ago, I’m hoping that knowing what I’ve learnt over those two years will make moving forward and seeing progress easier.

Fitness, weight and body image are such difficult topics to write about as they’re so personal to every individual – no one experiences anything in the same way, there are so many factors that make things different for everyone. But the important thing to remember is whatever your goals are, whatever you want to achieve whether it’s losing weight, getting stronger or just having some time in the day to do something for you – it’s all okay.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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July Goals

2020, fitness, goals, writing

Hello!

Another month, another set of mini goals to work towards! Having reviewed my goals for the year and looked back on my June goals, in July I’m really working towards stripping things back, focusing on what’s important to me right now and setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound… I think).

Hopefully with the weather being a bit brighter and restrictions easing things might feel like they’re a bit closer to getting back to ‘normal’, but I’d rather be safe than shopping so taking things day by day!

Hopefully my July goals are SMART enough to make some progress! These are my goals for the month:

  • Start Couch to 5k again – it’s been over a year since I stopped the Couch to 5k program and I think I’m ready to start again. I’m going to aim for the three runs a week that the program suggests and even if I just start by doing laps around the park just to stay flat (there’s a lot of hills where I live) trying is the important bit. I’m nervous but determined!
  • Weigh less at the end of the month than at the beginning – hand in hand with the running, I’m going to try and do some at home workouts, be more mindful about what I eat, stop snacking and generally train my body into healthier habits. Lockdown has set me back almost to my heaviest weight in 2018 (which I’m trying not to beat myself up for) so I want to make some positive change.
  • Declutter my desk work space – our little house isn’t really designed for at home working but things have gotten so cluttered that I feel more stressed about it than it helps me get work done. I want to try and do a little bit every week to make the space less intimidating and more productive, even if it just means tidying it up a little bit.
  • Writing challenge – 36,000 words – every other month this year I’ve been setting myself writing challenges working towards NaNoWriMo in November (an online challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days!). Each month I do a writing challenge the goal is a little bit higher to get myself into the habit of writing a certain number of words per day. May’s challenge went really well so I’m hoping for the same kind of success in July, but simultaneously not putting too much pressure on myself. I have a Camp NaNoWriMo profile if anyone else is participating!
  • Craft goals – sew four face masks, finish knitting project, start new cross stitch project – I’ve written before about how handmade sewing related crafts, particularly cross stitch, have brought me such joy in lockdown so I thought setting myself some little goals would help keep me focused. Taking the decision element out of anything means I’m more likely to do it so rather than being faced with a box of embroidery thread and no direction, having something to work towards will definitely help me relax. At least, I hope it does…

And then my ongoing monthly tasks of have a date night and read at least one book still stand but I’ve managed six months with date nights and I’ve read 26 books so far this year so I think these two will be okay.

My motivation has been pretty bare minimum last month so I’m hoping to try and work to more of a routine in July. But with the world being so uncertain and changing so much, being adaptable and not putting too much pressure on myself is the main focus.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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