Will run for chocolate…

It’s been one of those weeks of extremes. Racing between appointments and commitments, eating too much to deal with the stress, bad running, checking myself every time I notice my thinking is verging on the over-anxious… But also good news, eating too much to celebrate, good running, congratulating myself when I stop myself over-thinking…

Tuesday saw a long meeting to review my sons EHCP, the document that gets him the additional support he needs. It was a positive meeting, the college he hopes to go seem able to provide what he needs to succeed, but emotionally exhausting. In early years he struggled as myself and his primary school fought to get him help, hearing school praise this confident young man who leads class discussions made me incredibly proud and shows that the right support makes a massive difference to kids with significant additional needs.

That evening I went for a short run, using this weeks Scream if you want to go faster techniques. I enjoyed it but recognised the need to pace myself better.

Wednesday was hectic, but most of note was my daughter getting an offer for her preferred university. Another moment of incredible pride. I decided to celebrate with her instead of going to the gym.

Thursday was supposed to be my long run, a stretched run commute, but I ended up limping to the bus stop with bad pain in my shin. Due to the stress I’m under at the moment my mood plummeted, but I noticed I was catastrophising and was able to turn it around.

I’d planned to run 7-8 miles 😦

Saturday was the Prudhoe Easter Egg 5k, with my partner and son. This is the race my son agreed to take part in when he heard there was chocolate!

It was a lovely sunny morning, fantastic to catch up with friends in a beautiful setting. We got there earlier than planned and were able to see the Junior Run start and finish. Those kids are amazing!

For the race itself I initially tried to stay with my son, who was run walking. As well as his learning disability he has severe dyspraxia, which makes a run of any length really difficult for him. He wanted to walk far more than I did, and shortly before the half way point we’d lost patience with each other and he sent me on ahead.

This is where my anxiety kicks in. I know 999 times out of 1000 he will be OK on his own, but the worry of that other time can paralyse me. Not just what might happen to him, but what will people say about the mother who left a disabled child alone? He wants to be more independent, he’s capable of more independence, but I’m terrified of what could go wrong.

So I’m constantly risk assessing, determining if it’s safe to let him do this himself. This time, I thought, he’s on a marked course with a lot of other people, there are friendly marshals, even the Easter Bunny who he can ask for help if he needs it. Although he forgot his phone the organisers have my mobile as his emergency contact. He’s safe.

We liked that the Easter Bunny was slightly more Monty Python and the Holy Grail than twee commercialism, and his chocolate treats were very welcome after those stairs! 😀

So I ran, and I deliberately pushed myself to try and make up time lost walking. Not a twinge from my leg, although I took it easier up the stairs and the uphill section just in case. When I was flagging I kept remembering this article I’d read on The Run Experience and concentrated on keeping my legs moving rhythmically with longer strides. It worked.

Not a bad pace considering…

It was a beautiful course, even the unpleasantly steep stairs were in a gorgeous setting, and a great mix of abilities joining in. The sun shone, marshals and spectators cheered, and even passing dog walkers and cyclists wished us well. I finished in a reasonable time considering the walking at the start, eight minutes ahead of my son, who’d done absolutely fine on his own – although those eight minutes felt very long to me. It was definitely a race I’d do again – and not just for the chocolate!

Photo by Janine Calkin for Prudhoe Easter Egg Run.

It was also my first outing for my deliberately not black or grey leggings, a sale bargain from Sturdy by Design. I’ve written recently about how I wanted to be invisible when I started running. As my health and strength increases so does my confidence, these days I’m happy to be seen.

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I’m fundraising this year for SWAN UK which supports families with children like my son who have undiagnosed genetic conditions, and for Newcastle Carers which helps me cope. To donate click here.

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Disclaimer – this is a personal blog, I make no money from it, and any brands I mention are purely because of my experience of them.


Comfort eating and working out.

Mental ill health is unpredictable. I can be tootling along feeling OK when suddenly BOOM I’m unbearably low, unable to cope, hopeless. There seems no reason for it, no trigger I could avoid, nothing I could have done differently. It’s as if a switch has been flicked and my thinking changes. Every positive becomes a negative, every solution unthinkable. This happened yesterday.

What I can do is notice it. Name it. Keep telling myself that it’s screwed up thinking, not reality. Find ways to get through it. Make it shorter.

Even after a year of healthy eating my first call when feeling bad is still food. Yesterday I ate too much chocolate. It helps. I guess it’s an improvement that yesterday I only ate six chocolates, a year ago I would have eaten six bars of chocolate, a packet of biscuits and some cake! I’m improving, but the link between food and comfort is too hard to break.

Image from Pinterest (as is chocolate image above)

I also went for two walks with the dogs and got an early night, which is a healthier way to deal with it. I woke today feeling more positive, and hope I’ve avoided a downward spiral.

Today was my first day back at the gym, and I was slightly dreading it after such a long gap. But I did well.

Now I feel tired, slightly achey, but content. Which feels so good after yesterday.

Too much chocolate.

I’ve had a bad day. One where everything went wrong and I just felt I shouldn’t exist at all. 

I managed no unhealthy snacks at work, but once I got in I ate chocolate. And more chocolate. 

I put the chocolate away, then got it out again and ate more chocolate. 

I went to make tea, and before I started I ate more chocolate. 

There’s something to be said for not keeping anything that will tempt you in the house when you’re trying to be healthy. But if there hadn’t been chocolate I don’t know what I’d have done. 

I don’t even know why I was eating the chocolate. I wasn’t hungry. Was it a distraction? A craving? Self harm? 

I’ve been trying to break the link between stress and food, but it’s strong. It keeps snapping back into place. 

I’d like to stay I took hold of myself and stopped myself eating the chocolate. But in reality I ate it until I felt sick, until I couldn’t eat any more. 

And then I cooked tea. I made fried rice. I concentrated on finely chopping the vegetables. I tried to forget everything.

The bad day continued. I forgot the garlic and only remembered the prawns at the very last moment. It didn’t matter though, it still tasted good. 

It showed me I can turn a bad day around. I can find a little victory. I stopped eating the chocolate, I didn’t order a takeaway, I made a healthy meal for my family.  

I still feel sad, hopeless, overwhelmed. But it’s when I feel like this that I most need to cling to the little victories. 

Have a banana. #NewcastleCAN

I’ve signed up to NewcastleCan and am counting myself lucky that the city I live in is the one that’s been chosen for this project. Its a city wide campaign to get healthier and lose weight, supporting each other to do all the things I for one have been intending to do for years. Finding sustainable small changes that will make a positive difference and building on them. I know what it will take to get healthier, but I get frustrated and backslide. I hope this campaign will make it easier to keep on track, or to get back on track when I wobble. 

One of my main problems is my relationship with food. When I’m stressed, depressed or anxious – I eat. When I’m happy or celebrating – I eat. That covers most occasions. I’m the member of staff with the multipack of Crunchies in my desk drawer, who knows the two for offers on all the biscuit brands and calls the pizza delivery guy more often than family. 

Stress eating is an easy habit to get into, but really hard to break. I’ve made various attempts over the years, but its never really lasted. Having to give up alcohol a few years ago due to medication just made it worse – the level of unwinding that used to be achieved with one glass of wine began to take a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s. And while I’ve managed to keep 10,000 steps a day or thereabouts going for over two years now my eating was getting worse and worse. 

My latest attempt to deal with it started last November. An over 40s health check at work showed up much that was troubling, and the nurse called me in to my local GPs to give me a warning. I have til March to show improvement, or there’ll be a whole new lot of medicines I have to add to my daily routine.

I realised most of my failed attempts had failed because I tried to change too much at a time. So I thought this time I’d start small. First change – No unhealthy snacks at work.

The first day was agony. My workplace always has several packets of biscuits on the go, chocolates too in the run up to Christmas, and cake at least once a week. My first healthy snack only day there was an open packet of After Eights on the desk next to mine that I was acutley aware of all day. It sounds daft, but it was hard to concentrate on my work knowing they were there.

But I made it through the first day, and the first week. By the second week I was less painfully councious of the sweets around the office. It helps that my workplace also has a healthy eating scheme, so there is usually fruit around. An apple just isn’t the same as a chocolate bar when you’re having a bad day, but it stops me using being hungry as the excuse for indulging.

I made it three weeks without unhealthy snacks at work before I broke up for Christmas. And I’m keeping it up so far this year too, despite a lot of stressful situations that would usually have me reaching for the Dairy Milk. I’m not perfect. I allowed myself a special dispensation for cake on a colleagues birthday, although I did have a smaller piece than I would have last year. I sometimes allow myself something sweet with my lunch, because that’s a meal not a snack. Or so I tell myself! But its not everyday like before. 

Today I felt grotty, with early migraine symptoms, and needed to eat something to take my tablets with. The staffroom had four different sorts of biscuits, no fruit. Did I have a biscuit? No. I went out to the greengrocer and bought some bananas. That sounds matter of fact, an everyday occurance, but it would have been unheard of for me to refuse a biscuit a few months ago. But its now a fixed habit that I don’t snack unhealthily at work. 

The next step of course will be to stop having unhealthy snacks at home too. I’m aware of the hypocrisy of no healthy snacks at work, then coming home and eating half a pack of chocolate hobnobs because I’ve had a bad day. And ringing for another pizza! 

But I think I’m heading in the right direction!