Beware the Underminer

There are many walks of life where you can experience these pesky little beasts… you know them, they’re the ones that knock you down to feel good about themselves, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Fortunately, my underminers (barring one persistent one which I will come to in a moment) have pretty much been work-based.  But that doesn’t mean they can’t have just as much impact on your life and confidence.  When I’m feeling a bit down, the lingering insecurities can often raise their heads and I start to doubt myself… then out comes the “upbeat” playlist and a litany of all the reasons why those underminers are wrong to build myself back up again.

There is one, however, which I just can’t shake.  Myself.

I, together with being rather impatient with myself, am my own worst enemy at times.  Specifically related to my weight, I find myself thinking “I’ve been dieting like mad for [3/5/10]-days and nothing has changed…I must be a failure”.  Yes.  I know.  Unrealistic expectations and all that.

No matter how much I know that I need to be in the long game I can’t seem to get my impatience with myself in control where it comes to my weight.  This leads to self sabotage: the aforementioned unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment and disillusionment and thinking ‘what the heck, what’s another chocolate bar to loose at this point’.  The times where I cave in to that are getting fewer and farther between thanks to the fact that I have made some sustained, and maintained, progress but that doesn’t mean that the times I experience those thoughts get any less frequent.  It is an almost constant struggle.

In some ways it ties in to my self-esteem issues surrounding my luck, or lack thereof, with men.  Not that I need a man to make my life complete: I have a wonderful family, good job, great friends and in fact with some of the guys I have dated I’ve actually dodged a bullet (I sometimes marvel at my ability to find complete weirdos in both guys and -with a few exceptions – housemates…not apparent at first but there all the same).  It’s just that sometimes the constant rejection, or distinct lack of interest if not flat out rejection, can get you to thinking “what is wrong with me?”.  Don’t get me started on online dating, I was foolish enough to be persuaded to go back on a site a while ago and that just brought another long period of being ignored*.  Seriously, if anyone else says to me “Tricia, I don’t understand why you’re still single?” (especially if they are of the male variety)… I’m not sure I can be held accountable for my actions.**

I’ve become a bit rambly there.

Anyway, my point is that quite often, even though your conscious mind knows better, your unconscious mind can be your own “Underminer”, digging under all your positive fortifications until they come crumbling down and you become vulnerable to all the negative external influences that are so prevalent (I stopped reading any of the weekly ‘glossies’ years ago as I realised they were toxic to your psyche and made you very negative about others).

Quite how I can go about quieting my inner underminer for good I’m not sure but I’ll keep building and re-building those defences.

*No, weird pervy interest from the over 50’s or guys who look like they just crawled out of the primordial reject bin doesn’t count.  I’m a bit lonely, not desperate.

** For the record… I don’t know.

Time and Motion

I’m away house/dog sitting again this week and, as happened last time, I realise that I have let my step-count dwindle since I stopped wearing my pedometer every day.  It is difficult when I am working hard to build up my business which is mainly desk-based.

I have always struggled with working hard at work and working to maintain my fitness; getting home (or leaving the home office) after a busy day leaves you reaching for the quick and easy choice for supper, which is not always the healthiest choice.  When dragging your tired body out of bed ready to start another busy day the last thing I want to do is jump on the cross-trainer, even though it is right by the bed (which I try and avoid looking at so as to not feel guilty).  You may have the time, but don’t have the energy or you may have the energy but not the time.

I have been keeping up with the riding, which at times has been the one thing that gets me going through the day: my “raison d’etre” when I wonder what all the hard work is for.  I’m really enjoying the ‘map my run’ app on my phone and using it to track the rides we go out on – especially useful for tracking the fitness of the horses too, giving top and average speeds and an accurate track of our mileage (then you realise that the dog has also been coming with us on our 7-8 mile rides).  Having kept up with the riding, which is good all over exercise, I’m not so unprepared for the dog walking I do when I’m dog-sitting but I do need to make sure that I do 20 minutes on the cross trainer every day.

I haven’t been doing my EAP exercises, although I have been trying to stick to the nutritional plan and last week I had lost another couple of inches although the weight hadn’t changed much.  Not sure what this week’s measurements are going to bring as I fell off the wheat wagon and am struggling to get back on the straight and narrow.  I always find it difficult with the change in the seasons, not that we’ve really had a summer to speak of, when the nights draw in.

Since receiving my diagnosis of CFS and getting set on the road to recovery, I have always known that I need to prioritise my fitness as equally important as my work because without maintaining my fitness, I will not have the stamina and energy to do my work.  I have always hoped to be able to work not-quite full time in order to devote some of the time that would normally be spent working to building and maintaining my fitness.  However, to get to that point working for yourself means that you have to work more than full time to initially build up your client base which adds an extra challenge.

I’m now 3-years on from my diagnosis of Hypothyroidism and CFS and sometimes can’t believe how far I’ve come: from someone who was not far off being bed-ridden to someone who would be considered ‘moderately active’ (or ‘Active’ when I keep up with my step-count).  I still have a way to go to get to the level of fitness I want but when I worry that I won’t be able to get there, I just have to look at what I have already achieved – and also at the determination that kept me going before my diagnosis – and I know I can do it.   I hope it doesn’t take me another three years to get there but if it does then it does and it’s still a great achievement.

Could do better

As the title of this post implies, I have not been on top of things, diet wise, this week.  However, overall I’m not disappointed, I’ve lost 3 3/4 inches and 1lb and it has been a rather busy week with work which has used up a lot of my resources making it harder to get the exercises done.

Calculating my inch loss is much easier this time round thanks to the wonders of excel spreadsheets!  Much easier on the brain after the initial setup of the formulae.

In other news: we got Archie put-to on Sunday!  First time we’ve had him in the carriage since September 2010.  It was a bit ‘high-octane’ at first with the dear boy being wound like a spring and not able to relax (or concentrate/listen) at first.  At times like that it is difficult to keep the ‘calm assertive pack leader’ attitude in place when your brain is thinking of contingency plans if he im/explodes.  After a good talking to, and lots of singing of “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” (a good walking speed song – you also can’t hold tension in your voice or body if you sing, good way to trick the brain/body into relaxing) he had chilled out enough to take him out on the road.

What a different horse; relaxed, striding out and [reasonably] calm and easy going.  There were a couple of moments where he wasn’t sure of things, but a quick revision of the “do not deviate, do not hesitate, etc” speech and he settled down nicely.  Now need to just get a few more trips like that under our belts (without the initial hiccups preferably) and we’ll be out and about in no time.

Off now to make some healthy lunch, bake some spelt bread and then back to work to earn some pennies.

Gone but not forgotten

I have been rather absent from here of late.  That is party because I had to take a halt in my pursuit of my healthy body circa 1996/1997 due to the decrepit nature of my hip (since identified as muscles of my right hip being chronically in spasm, severely limiting my movement and being a RIGHT pain in the arse – pun intended) and not wanting to advertise it to the world*.  Since then I have had the madness of pre-holiday, holiday and post-holiday to contend with as well as work and other ‘stuff’ that has got in the way.

Incidentally, it has actually been nice to have a break from doing the EAP as I have been able to appreciate the weight that I have lost and being able to re-claim a good portion of my wardrobe from storage in the “I’ll slim back into that one” section of the attic.

I’m going to be starting again on Monday, back at the start of week 1 having been working on my hip to try and avoid hitting the same wall after week 4.

In other news, Archy has been away to ‘boarding-school’ up in Swansea for three weeks to get him back in the shafts… sent up to a lovely chap, very kind and gentle.  However, we think the Welsh accent, and being away from home, rather stressed Archy out as he was wound tight as a drum when we went to pick him up.  The first time we sent him away to get him broken to drive (the time where he came back actually broken in body and mind) was to a Welshman – who was NOT kind and gentle – which is why we think the Welsh accent may have been a tipping point.  Anyway, he managed to progress in his training somewhat, in spite of being stressed out, and he has relaxed a huge amount since he has been back so all is not lost.  He has become more resilient.  Either that or he is just so relieved to be back here that he is on his best behaviour so he doesn’t get sent away again!!

* – no, I don’t think the world does read my blog, just that the the option is there 😉

Know your limits

If there is one thing I have learnt over the last two and a half years since my diagnosis with CFS and Hypothyroidism, it is to listen to my body and know when I can push myself and when I need to step back from the ‘edge’ of my physical limits.

This week has been a case-in-point: Wednesday I had I quite an intense day, busy and finished off with 2-hours of networking with the Southern Entrepreneurs group. I have always found the mental effects of the CFS and hypothyroidism the hardest to deal with and there was a long time when I couldn’t cope with socialising with more than one person at a time. Being in a room with lots of people talking at the same time was a real challenge. Having said that, I am now much improved and can cope with loud parties, chatting to many people at once and “all that jazz”.

However, Wednesday evening I had reached my physical and mental limit and my EAP exercises were the thing that had to give to avoid a major set-back.

Similarly, yesterday (Thursday, I’m writing this on a train with minimal interwebs connection so not sure when this will upload) when I had intended to do two lots of EAP exercises, one morning, one evening, to make up for missing Wednesday, I knew I couldn’t push my body that extra bit. Today (Friday) was a different story, I did my “Riders in Balance” and “Weighed in, weighed in, horses away” workouts together. I did find it a challenge going into the second lot of excises but as much as a struggle as it was, the feedback I was getting from my body meant I knew I could safely push myself bit by bit to get through it all without setting myself up for a fall.

If you are looking to get into exercising, already starting but finding it hard to sustain the exercise; take the time to get to know your body. Find out its limits. Learn to read the signs of fatigue so you know when you can keep going and push through the block, and when you are pushing too hard and need to stop.

Your body is pretty clever, it knows it’s limits. You just need to learn to listen to them and not ignore the signs.

Mixing it up

Yesterday was an enforced rest day due to my mystery toe…. 75% sure it’s broken but it’s not nearly as painful as I think it should be for a broken toe, however it does ouch something horrid if I use my foot correctly when walking (i.e. rolling from my heel to my little toe then across the ball of my foot to my big toe.  Consequently, am suffering an achy foot and a cramping calf because I am either limping or trying not to limp by rolling my foot directly from heel to big toe.

I also had some emergency dog-sitting so clients could go to Wimbledon so decided that I would take the day off and let my toe settle down.  Just some gentle walking with the pooch.

As a result, I have decided to shift my Friday exercises to Saturday, Saturday exercises to Sunday and use yesterday as Sunday’s rest day.  This is because I was feeling really disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to do my exercises yesterday, I was feeling like a bit of a failure until I told myself to buck up and that resting with a broken bone is not ‘wimping out’ but a sensible move.  Evidence of my guilt/disappointment/wimpish feelings about taking yesterday was the dream I had where I was scoffing down bread and pasta and all sorts of other Trot-list foods, EAP be damned!  It was horrid.

This is more like the me of 17-years ago before everything went a-over-t health-wise.  At last!!

In other news, last night I registered for a local K9-9K sponsored walk, with dog, for our local veterinary charity, the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) on the 21st July.  This is a Big Thing for me, being able to contemplate walking 9k (or 18k steps in pedometer terms) in one go.  This time 12-months ago, and even 6-months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to even think of doing this without coming over all fatigued.

On that positive note I will leave you to go and try my foot out in a Jodhpur boot

Conducting the music of movement

Sometimes when I’m riding I feel like my brain is a conductor putting on a command performance; with my body as the orchestra and the horse as the soloist. Especially when you are trying to correct your position! Keeping the pelvic floor and abs engaged to reduce the anterior tilt of my pelvis, making sure my toes and knees don’t stray out (although they are a lot less likely to do so since I started the EAP), not rounding my shoulders, but not tensing up either. Then you have the horse/soloist to think of, speeding up the orchestra or slowing down the soloist depending on what you’re trying to achieve!

Fortunately I have my physio sitting on one shoulder with her hints and tips, and Matt from the EAP on the other with more (whether I’m mounted or not) to keep my position in check! Fortunately this does not leave any shoulder space for that pesky demon whispering things like “chocolate, sweets, etc” in the style of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I’ve not had too many cravings for stuff on the “Trot” list (other than milk, I miss milk) over and above a brief ‘mmmmm’ when walking past the bakery with the kitchen extractor fan pumping out the smells of a fresh bake! With this crummy weather I have missed “stodge” for it’s warm and comforting properties. I did relent and get a gluten free ciabatta roll to have with my soup but next I think I’m going to try making some cornbread.

Speaking of the EAP, I’m now at the end of week 2, day 4 and it is still going well, had a sneaky measure and it looks like week 2 will continue the trend of a not insignificant inches loss! Scales won’t arrive until early next week so weight is still an unknown but that can vary so much due to factors other than how much you weigh that I’m more inclined to concentrate on measurements.

Quick tip for “spiderman’s hold” (or 4-point kneeling with opposite arm/leg lift) if you have trouble with an anterior tilt to your pelvis like I do, is to place a ball in the small of your back to ensure that you don’t either rotate your body when lifting legs or tilt your pelvis and go into extension when lifting the legs. Basically, if the ball rolls off you’ve got movement you don’t want: sideways exit = lateral rotation, concentrate on your core & pelvic floor to stabilise; backwards exit = pelvic tilt, don’t lift your legs so high and concentrate on the quality of the move in totality rather than the range of movement in the leg lift alone. I use a prickle ball because they are a little bit more stable and give you a chance to correct before you loose it.

Disclaimer: I’m not a trained fitness instructor, this is just advice gained from my personal experience.

Upcoming challenges: I think I have broken my little toe so that may prove somewhat of a difficulty. Hopefully I have only bruised the bone but it is still rather ouchy. With all the riding and exercise today, I only went and whacked it on my “mobile office” wheelie bag whilst doing my day job. How boring!

Weighed in, weighed in, Horses away!

Week 1, day 5

So far I’m surviving doing the EAP and following the “Hot to Trot” nutritional plan. I might even go so far as to say that I’m thriving. Had a sneaky measure the other evening (needed to move the tape measure and couldn’t resist) and I’ve already lost a little on my hips! Haven’t managed to get a note of my start weight; had some new scales delivered and got very excited that I had lost 2 stone since I had last weighed….. Thought it was a bit wonky so looked in to it and they are weighing 10kg lighter (a new 20kg bag of chicken feed only weighed as 10kg). Replacements are on their way.

The exercise sessions are intense but as they are 30 mins from warm-up through to cool-down they aren’t over taxing although I’m now finding out just how cheap the Pilates/yoga mat I have is as I don’t think it likes sweat too much!

The diet element is not too hard to follow, I tried to have fresh foods as much as possible anyway so it is mainly wheat, dairy, sugar, chocolate, tea and coffee that I’m not having, I avoided artificial sweeteners (esp. Aspartame) like the plague anyway.

As I guessed at the beginning, cutting out dairy has been my biggest challenge, a hang up from 34 years a dairy farmers daughter. I don’t miss coffee, except for the milk that came in my latte. I dream of cheese; a nice bit of Brie or a chunk of tangy Tickler (and not just because it is “dad’s cheese”).

Have had the usual nasty calf cramps I get when I don’t drink enough milk so have invested in some calcium supplements (as a bonus found some that have magnesium as well as vit D added). My plan was always to, when I win the lottery, have a couple of cows and go back to fresh, un-pasteurised milk, so much nicer.

Overall, glad I took up the challenge and looking forward to seeing how much I can achieve at the end if the 8-weeks

New Beginnings

Today I started on an exercise and nutritional plan called “The Equestrian Athlete Plan” ( which was recommended to me by the lovely Lucy.  It is specifically targeted exercises for riders to develop their bodies in a way to enhance their riding performance – which puts significantly different demands on the body than any other form of exercise.  As I am doing a fair bit of riding, and plan to do more, it seems like the sensible way to go.

Having been doing some schooling with Archie (now that his more chilled out) I’ve been noticing that my left leg is weak and I have trouble getting Archie to work evenly as I can’t support/direct him as well with my left leg as with my right – leg yielding to the left is fantastic, to the right not so good because I just don’t have the control/strength in my left leg (sorry, not that interesting for you non-horsey readers).

The nutritional plan that goes with it is rather extreme but makes a whole lot of sense.  The exercises form a 30-minute workout every working day and the whole thing is designed to fit around a busy life with horses.  The plan is 8-weeks long so, having started today, I will have completed it by 26th August.

My declaration: I’m not going to set goals for dress sizes dropped, weight or inches lost, however my SMART goal will be:

  • Specific: to stick to the Equestrian Athlete Plan 100% – no self-sabotage, no “just this one Fredo bar won’t hurt, NO EXCUSES – to achieve the best results I can
  • Measurable: I will have lost weight, lost inches and my clothes will fit better
  • Achievable: 30minutes of exercise a day, 5-days a week + following a detailed nutritional plan
  • Realistic: this has been done and is being done by many people who are achieving results.  There is also ample support available through the Plan.
  • Time restricted: The plan is 8-weeks long.

I’ve taken the before measurements and photos (photos will not be shared with anyone but me!!).

Having recently totted up my step-counts since January and realising that my average step count of 10k+ is actually above average, I’m feeling ready to take this on, no holds barred and take the next steps to reclaiming my once fit and lovely body, which I didn’t appreciate half as much as I should have (cue strains of Baz Lhurman’s ‘Wear Sunscreen’ swelling in the background).

Having struggled for so long (14 years and change) to shed the weight I gained when I had Glandular Fever there is a certain element of Fear that I won’t succeed but I’m not going to let that stop me from sticking to the plan 100%.

Cutting out dairy will be my biggest challenge I think.