Busily Doing Nothing #NewcastleCan

I’ve had a week off work this week, and I had such plans. I was going to take the kids for a day exploring Cragside, I was going to beat my Wednesday Walk record of four times round the stair circuit, I was generally going to move more, walk for miles and take advantage of my time off.

What is it they say about the best laid plans? 

First scupperance was my daughter’s leg injury. She’s recovering from an Achilles’ tendon problem and there was no way she could clamber around Cragside

Second scupperance was my own health. A migraine put paid to my Wednesday Walk, and a three days and counting IBS flare up meant I was happier curled up on the sofa with a hot water bottle than out and about. 

Third scupperance was my inability to get out of bed first thing. I slept in every morning. My alarm went off as usual and I switched it off, rolled over, and slept some more.

I’m trying not to beat myself up about my failure to do what I’d planned. 

It’s not that I’ve done nothing. Me and my son took my dogs to explore Wallington and Plessey Woods, had a dog free Quayside walk and explored Bessie Surtees house

Walking at Wallington

We went to Life Science Centre for the Lego exhibitions. I got my son to his hospital appointment, my daughter for her vaccinations and all of us to have our hair cut. 

Science at Life, in Lego

I cooked from scratch, met my step goal every day, and only went into the red zone in my food journal once. Despite the IBS I lost a pound (I’ve been static or gained weight other weeks of the Newcastle Can challenge when my IBS has flared up.)

So I didn’t do extra. So what? It doesn’t mean I’ve given up or backslid. I’m keeping up with the changes I’ve already made. Sometimes I’ll be able to push myself beyond that, and sometimes I’ll need to rest and recover, to curl up with a hot water bottle or to sleep in. 

It’s about knowing my limits and recognising what my body needs. This is comparatively new to me, until recently I’d had confidently said that what my body needs under any circumstance is chocolate or pizza or possibly cake. Food was my coping mechanism in stressful situations, my shield when things were bad and my first form of celebration when things were good. It’s a hard pattern to break, but I’m making progress.

I’m learning to recognise the difference between stressed and hungry. I’m learning to let my body rest when it’s tired rather than fuelling up on sugar or caffeine and forcing myself on. I’m learning that just because there is cake available does not mean I have to eat it!

I didn’t do the extra I’d planned, but I had a good week with my kids and I feel better for it. And maybe I’ll make up for it tomorrow at the Newcastle Can free activity day, when I hope to try some new organised exercise! 

These boots were made for walking #NewcastleCan

In 2014, hoping to get healthier, my partner and I signed up to September for Scope. This was the first time I’d really heard of the 10,000 steps a day target. It was a massive challenge, my legs ached, I struggled to find the time to fit such a huge number of steps in. 

Stepping out.

I decided to try to keep it going after the month, and have done so fairly consistently right up to now. The physical change in me has been considerable. My walking pace has sped up considerably. I no longer have to pause to catch my breath on hills. I can run up a flight of stairs. My legs no longer ache the day after walking 10,000 steps, in fact I routinely get around 12,000 a day and more on the days I push myself. What used to feel like a long way now feels like an average walk. Where I used to drive everywhere I now think nothing of walking if my destination is a half hour or so away.

There have been other benefits. I’ve explored my community and city and found fascinating places, routes, alleys, patches of nature, public art, staircases and so on that I didn’t know existed. When I can I walk in more rural settings, where I feel even more connected to nature. I’ve never learned to read maps, but am lucky enough that many public footpaths nearby are well signposted. I said in an earlier post that walking hard challenges me physically and soothes me mentally, and this sums up for me why I’ve been able to keep going with this. 

Exploring and making friends.

The times I haven’t kept it up have been when I’ve been unwell, either physically or mentally. And I need to be kind to myself and not beat myself up for missing my step target when I’m unwell. I wouldn’t expect myself to walk 10,000 steps with a migraine or stomach bug, so why do I think I should do it when my depression and anxiety is at its worst? I was pleased to read this article which reflects my feels about this more eloquently than I could.

I saw a physiotherapist recently. She told me increased walking is one of the most sustainable increases in exercise you can do. While people drop out of gym sessions, or can’t always get to the swimming pool etc, people who walk more are likely to keep walking. To anyone struggling to get more active I’d recommend giving it a go. 

A few tips to get started:

  • Many smartphones have built in pedometers which can give you a good idea of how many steps you’re already doing.
  • Start small. If you’re only doing 3,000 steps a day an increase to 5,000 will have significant benefits, you don’t need leap straight to 10,000.
  • Make sure you have supportive comfortable shoes. Definitely don’t try to walk 10,000 steps in brand new Dr Marten’s- I did once, never again!
  • Take the stairs not the lift. When I first started I needed to stop for a breather halfway up the stairs to my son’s youth club. Now I can run up them!
  • Walk short journeys, and build walking time into your planning.
  • If you sit down all day at work go for a walk in your breaks.
  • Walk with other people. Whether for companionship or competitiveness will depend on you, but I find it does make a difference when you’re not doing it alone!

This may all seem obvious, often the hardest thing is getting started. But it does make a difference. Good luck! 

6 weeks in #NewcastleCan

[L]ets come together as a city to change the way we live, work and play, and help make Newcastle the healthiest, happiest city it can be.

https://www.newcastlecan.com

Its six weeks since I joined the Newcastle Can campaign, which seems like a good time to reflect on how its going. So, in no particular order, so far I have:

  • Tried to eat healthily rather than dieting.
  • Upped the vegetables in most of the meals I prepare, increasing the number of portions and reducing the number of calories per portion.
Adding vegetables
Pushing myself

That looks good, it is good, but I want to record the pitfalls as well as the successes. It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve:

  • Binge eaten half a box of fudge because I hadn’t had any sweets for weeks and just couldn’t stop myself.
  • Had several weeks with several portions of cake, and needed to impose stricted limits on myself.
  • Had 2 weeks where I lost just one pound, followed by 2 weeks where my weight stayed the same, before I gave myself a metaphorical kick up the backside and began taking it more seriously.
  • Had several days where a busy life intervened and I didn’t do as much physical activity as I’d wanted.
  • Really struggled with my anxiety, because I’m forcing myself out of my comfort zone.

So, not always easy, but going well. Which makes me wonder why I’m sticking to this better than previous fitness attempts? Six weeks, for me, is a long time! 

Adding hills to my walks.

I think its because its part of an organised campaign. I’ve committed to doing this, I’ve stated so publicly. And that means I’m not alone. The emails and updates from the campaign team motivate me if I’m finding it a struggle. The articles on the website give me ideas of how to make positive changes. People ask me how its going and if they’re taking part too we share what’s worked and what hasn’t.

Physically I feel there hasn’t been a dramatic change yet. But dramatic change isn’t necessarily sustainable, so maybe that’s a good thing. Mentally its been a challenge. I feel less depressed but more anxious. One of my major anxiety triggers is change, and this whole campaign is about making changes. I know I can get through the anxiety, and each time I do the next time becomes a bit easier, but that doesn’t make it any the less unpleasant at the time. 

I’m doing this for me, and it means facing up to my anxiety and getting through it. I can do that. Six weeks is nothing compared to the year I’ve signed up for, but if I break the year into months, the months into weeks, the weeks into day and the days into hours I can do this. One hour at a time.