Saturday, 27 October 2012

Handling Stress

I have to admit, that for the last week I've been walking a knife-edge.

Work recently has been stressful (what, really? I didn't mention that? I'm sorry - bare with the whining - it should all be over some time soon. I hope), and it's finally started to bubble over into affecting my eating and sleep. And exercise. Basically everything else in my life.

I'm used to stress at work, we usually have a couple of very high intensity weeks every couple of months, and I'm well versed in hauling myself through it. We prepare and organise first, there's a sustained effort for around 2-3 weeks and we emerge from the other side and take some time off. I'm an accountant by profession, for a large and company, and it comes with the territory.

These days I know my responses to stress and I can usually spot them early on and deal with them, and anyway, like anything that's routine, you know where the end is and you focus on it, and pull through to til you get there. I normally wind my social life down during the busy periods, soak up the weekend working and make sure I get plenty of sleep, and I try and make sure that I still get some exercise even when the shit is hitting the fan all around me.

Usually. However, usually the stress doesn't go on this long. Things are different this session, and we're currently at week 6 of super-high stress, high pressure working and still counting.

And I'm finally starting to crack a bit under the strain.

My eating this week has been a bit off. Not anything you can identify as a single episode of BAD but little bits of silly decisions here and there. The last couple of weeks my gym attendance has slowly slid down too, as I gave up fighting to carve out the time to go .... after all, an hour lost at lunch is an hour I have to work later in the evening. My sleep patterns have been noticeably disrupted this week - I go to bed at normal times, but he tiniest things wake me up and my brain is churning unable to go back to sleep.

The only high spot is that our big boss has now put his foot down on what we're being asked to do, and flat-out said we won't be working weekends for the moment as we're all exhausted. Yay for weekends (even if a tiny part of me is whining that it just means I'll be working longer hours next week to catch up ....).

I've realised that until this is all done, which looks like it could still be another month or so, I'm going to have knock my efforts to look after myself up a notch, otherwise I could crawl out the other side not recognising myself.

Food: my highest temptation when faced with stress and crotchety tiredness is to eat "nice things". By which I mean bad things. I had a dinner out and brunch last weekend that I planned for. Then I had dinner out two more times, which I didn't. And the chocolate drawer keeps calling to me at work. I freely admit I struggled this week, and I need to check that.

Tonight I have another meal out, at a Michelin started restaurant, no less. I didn't know this until 10pm yesterday evening due to not knowing I had this weekend off until yesterday lunchtime. As I didn't know this I had a takeaway last night as my treat for the weekend. I badly need a plan to minimise damage this weekend and I think it goes like this: fruit for breakfast, light lunch (although I'm meeting friends and need to be careful with my choices) and then stay off the booze tonight. I've already made my menu choices and I'm assuming that being a posh restaurant the portions won't be massive but wine at big dinners like this is a killer. And also very expensive. So I'm going to use the fact I "need" to drive home as an excuse to stay clear of the alcohol. I also need to cook up the batch of bolognaise I've got ingredients for so I've got healthy meals to come home to after busy days at work.

Exercise: finding time has been difficult and I've got lazy as I've got more fed up. Last weekend I managed an epic surf though which cheered me up no end. Spectacular conditions, a glorious autumn sunny afternoon and a huge dose of fresh air were exactly what I needed to revitalise myself. As a result I then made it back to Balance on Monday. And then spin on Thursday. And finally circuits yesterday. Much better.

Sleep: the final pillar that keeps me going. The problem with working late is that you get home late and have little time to unwind. TV and Internet time eat into your evening and you end up going to bed wired. Since I mostly gave up caffeine I noticed an improvement, but last week my sleep was pretty awful. That leaves you absolutely hanging during the day and susceptible to the siren calls of chocolate, caffeine, eating out, wine and laziness. Not a good combo. I need to focus more this week on winding down before bedtime and making my bed an inviting place to be. Less tv and Internet, more relax and let it go.

Surprisingly, after all my struggle (and eating out) this week, I actually only put on a 0.25lb - still sitting pretty at 13st 3.25lb. Did I not say that cracking through that 3lv barrier was a bitch?

Ah well - onwards!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, 19 October 2012

Oooh Hello!

Or rather Goodbye!

Yes - I managed to lose another lb this week - back to 13st 3lbs and edging closer to being back in the 12's.

A small part of me was a tiny bit grumpy that it wasn't more. I've been fighting to get under 13st 3lbs for a long time and it's been a bit of a "nemesis" weight for me - much as 12st 3lbs was when I was at my lowest .... what is it with these "3"s???

And I was good this week, so damn good, so yes a tiny part of me was a bit disappointed it wasn't even a quarter of a lb more, but I figured out long ago that weight loss isn't so much a science as a mystical process in which you must just have faith. And consistency.

Talking of which, I've started plotting out the route to this week's consistency and success. I have a birthday night out tomorrow which will involve dinner at a Mexican restaurant, no doubt with cocktails, and then some dancing with more drinks. I know the restaurant well, and the menu is online so I'll cruise on over to their website tonight or tomorrow and peruse for sensible choices. I'm also planning on limiting my usual "Friday relaxation" to a minimum to reserve my flex points for tomorrow.

I'm not sure yet if I'm working this weekend but I'm hoping to at least have Sunday off. Last I looked the surf forecast was fabulous, so I'm treating my poor indoor-weary self to a day out in the fresh air and the waves ... probably the nicest gift I can give myself right now. Apart from maybe a week of sleep!

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Weekend cool with some statement boots

Haha - unfortunately for you guys, I've just figured out how the amazing Polyvore works (and I'm newly addicted to Pinterest as well), which means I can now share some my passion for fashion with you.  Not that I can afford any of this, but I can sure as hell give myself a lot of ideas!!!!  

This is a variant of (or very loosely based around) what I wore out and about on Sunday .... be still my beating heart, how I want these boots!!!!!  My grey boots are lovely, but not nearly as lovely as these!

Weekend cool with some statement boots

It's All Going Wrong

I have had such a bad day (and yes, it's still only 2pm), but despite all things, I feel like I'm holding together admirably.

It started yesterday when work went bonkers and Body Balance didn't happen. Then work was still crazy so (despite getting to work an hour early) after-work Zumba didn't happen either. Drinks with Simon were also a casualty as both of us were so bogged down with work, so I finally left work after 7 with no food in the fridge and no plans.

Surprisingly, despite going to the supermarket hungry, tired and fed-up I came home with stir-fry and no bad stuff. Boo-ya!!!!

Today has been utterly pants - drinks last night got rescheduled to lunch today, and when Simon rang to confirm this morning I was in such a tizz I cancelled in super-stressy fashion. Then the soup I wanted had all run out ... frankly I was about ready to throw all my toys out the pram and give up, but I had planned on having lunch and dinner out today (cinema after work which is also seeming laughable at this moment in time), so I've stuck to my original plan of fruit and yoghurt for breakfast and now soup and a roll for lunch.

I've allowed myself a bar of chocolate (god bless Caramac - lovingly enjoyed) and I'm determined to finish the day on plan.

Everything else might be out of my control but this I can do.

Won't stop me complaining about how shit it all is though.

- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, 14 October 2012

On Track

Why thank you very much ... this weekend, I present to you A Weekend On Track. 

That rarest of all things for me, it was a weekend where I ate sensibly, made a few good choices, and have for once finished with some flex points still to use.

Feels good!

Other than that, it was another 8 hour day in the office yesterday (Saturday).  Hmph.  Today, I managed to limit my office time to just an hour, and then enjoy a bit of downtime doing one of my favourite things: hanging out in my local coffee shop and chilling / reading / people-watching, whilst enjoying one of my favourite treats there which is poached eggs on a bagel with field mushrooms. 

I'll no doubt pay for my day off when next week kicks off, as we're now right in the thick of the grot, and I'm not really enjoying it.  Indeed, I may have been a little over-optimistic in agreeing to go to Zumba with my flatmate after work tomorrow at 5.30, and then arranging to meet Simon for drinks later.  Over-optimistic on two counts in fact - 1) thinking I'll have time to hit the gym twice tomorrow, since it's my day for Body Balance at lunch, and 2) thinking I'm ready to see Simon again so soon in a non-dating capacity.

Ah well - car crash telly at it's best - that's what I bring you guys!

Happy start-of-the-week, and this is what I'll be repeating to myself over and over tomorrow night:

Friday, 12 October 2012


Squeeeeeeee! 1.25lbs lost this week!!

I might not have been perfect, but a little moderation seems to go some way towards a loss.

Must. Not. Screw. Up. This. Week.

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 11 October 2012


Stress, stress, stress seems to be all life is made up of right now. I'm working non-stop and just clocked another 8pm finish today - in fact I've only had one day off in the last very-nearly-3 weeks.

I'm tired and cranky and, as you can imagine, that's not the best frame of mind to try and do healthy living in. Surprisingly though, while I'm nowhere close to perfect, I'm not all doom and gloom. Sure, my eating's not quite as restrained as I'd like, and I'm not making it to all my usual gym sessions, but there are some bright spots: I'm still pretty much entirely diet coke and caffeine free (I had one can yesterday, my first in a week and a half and honestly, it tasted weird), and I'm fitting in exercise where I can - a run on Sat, Body Balance on Mon and my daily walks to work.

I would absolutely love a small loss tomorrow, but that might fall under the category of "you'll be lucky" so I won't hold my breath. I managed to cool a big batch of beef stew last night which is a life-saver as I now have portions stashed in the fridge and freezer, just waiting for a quick blast in the microwave.

This weekend is a another double-work one so nothing much on the cards to contend with in terms of eating. We've got our new flatmate coming over for dinner tomorrow night (she moves in in December) but I'm cooking risotto so that's not too terrible .... and that's all my plans this weekend. Apart from watching Strictly Come Dancing obviously because it's the only weekend telly worth watching!!

I'm sure I'll have something more interesting to report soon. Xx

- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Life List

Sometimes I start a post and for some reason I don't finish it.  Often, I look back later and the post is no longer relevant so either it's deleted or just left in my drafts ... a snapshot of what I was thinking at that point in time which I've now moved on from.  Occasionally, I look back and find a post and wonder why the hell I never posted it though.

This is one of those posts.  My Life List.  Something that is driving a lot of my adventures at the moment.  I started this last year sometime, and I'm proud to say I've already crossed a few of my goals off the list, with others due to be achieved next year.  How awesome is that?  And so, I present to you, fresh from 2011 but updated along the way, my Life List:

I think so much about the future, and 9 times out of 10, I worry.  I think about worse case scenarios and the fear of possibly being alone.  But what if .... instead of stressing about everything that could go wrong or disappoint, well, what if I thought about the best possible outcomes, and the things that could be?  Things I want and can aim for.  What about all the things I want to do or achieve?

I've had the wrong priorities for so long.  I've been reading a lot recently on positivity, and I stumbled on the utterly fantastic Mighty Girl, and one look at this site had me grinning.  Her view of life is inspirational.  The Mighty Life List is a work of art.  And what if I were to finally figure out what I want for me?

I've spoken of this before; it was one of the reasons I uprooted my life and moved to Bristol.  I thought that I needed to work out what I wanted - me - not my friends, not my family, not social expectations, but little ol' me.

So what the hell do I want?

I have in my bedroom a goals board that's about 2 years old now.  It's the product of my first stumbling into life-planning.  On it are my 5 main areas of focus in my life, and a few specific goals with each one.  Work, family, travel, money and my health (remind me by the way .... I seriously need to update that!).  The over-riding things I want to aim for in life.  Practical goals.

What this list here does though is pick up on all those wonderful life experiences that make our lives richer.  Driven from the emotions I want to feel in my life.  Individual items that I want to be able to say I've done when I'm old.  I want to be able to look back on a life that was full and rich and satisfying.

Excitement, wonder, awe, peace, serenity, accomplishment and pride.  Satisfaction at a job well done.  Beauty, joy, happiness long lasting.  Understanding and enlightenment. So, so much to fit in my life.  Order, balance and harmony. Peace again. 

Those are what I want my life to be full of.

With today's massive blanket of social media, there's a new phenomenon of what some call "FOMO" ... aka Feelings Of Missing Out.  I am / was very familiar with these.  I used to be far too externally focused for my happiness - my closest friends told me so, my councellor confirmed it (and thus confirmed the undoubted wisdom of my friends too!).  I would see what other people are up to and feel I should have it too.  I would forget, or choose to ignore, that what we see on Facebook, Twitter, or anything else, are the highlights of their life - the bits they want us to see.  It doesn't matter - I would immediately feel inadequate.

So ignoring that - here's what I want to achieve.  Some easy, some not so much.

100 things to shoot for (list not quite finished, as I always think of more to do!):

1) Clear the debts.  All of them. 2) Own a house by the sea.  3) Stand on top of Sydney Harbour Bridge. 4) Ski a black run competently.  5) Learn to jump my bike.  6) Make a piece of furniture for my house from scratch.  7) Swim in the Indian Ocean. 8) Learn another language - properly this time.  9) Visit the V & A.  10) Visit the Natural History Museum.  11) Get my picture taken in Times Square.  12)  Surf at least once standing up properly.  13)  Paint with my Dad.  14)  Be a mother.  15) Sew some cushions for my house.  16) Live in a penthouse with a proper roof terrace.  17)  Cook something on a camp-fire.  18)  Climb the Three Peaks.  19)  Have a picnic in an orchard.  20)  Windsurf / surf in Haiwaii.  21)  Horseride with my relatives in Canada.  22)  Bike in Whistler, Canada.  23) Camp on an uninhabited island.  24) Go on safari and see the Big Five.  25)  Walk on a beach at sunset, holding hands with someone I care about.  26)  Declare my love for someone.  27)  Receive flowers by delivery.  28)  Do yoga on the beach.  29)  Go off-roading in the desert.  30)  See the pyramids.  31)  See the Northern Lights.  32)  Get to my goal weight.  33)  Start my own company.  34)  Buy and sell some stocks / shares.  35)  Go on a retreat.  36)  Learn to make a souffle. 37)  Dance at carnival in Rio.  38)  Climb Macchu Piccu.  39)  Run a half-marathon.   40)  Live abroad for at least 3 months.  41)  Jump out a plane (with parachute attached of course).  42)  Scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef.  43)  Read the top 100 books of all time.  44)  Take a cake-decorating course.  45)  Stay in a 5 star hotel.  Or better.  46)  Go on a sailing holiday.  47)  Own a diamond or two.  48)  Take a gondola ride in Venice.    49)  Dog sled in the Arctic Circle.  50)  Ride a camel.  51)  Drive across the States.  52)  See the fall in New England / Vermont.  53)  Learn to make my own bread.  54)  Pick my own fruit!  55)  Get dressed up and drink champagne at a polo match.  56)  Volunteer my time to charity.  57)  Own a proper SLR and learn to take beautiful pictures.  58)  Have afternoon tea at The Ritz.  59)  Try kitesurfing. 60) Fly a plane or helicopter.  61) Walk on the Great Wall of China.  62) Go to Glastonbury.  63) Fly first class.

I Can't Quite Believe It!

I can't quite believe it but somehow, in the year I'm planning so many adventures, I've managed to add another great one to the list.  In the luckiest of manouvres, I've managed to get Glastonbury tickets for next year ... and about 2 mins before they all sold out!!

So on top of Africa, and hopefully a winter of mountains, I can now add my inaugural trip to the infamous Glasto to next year's itinerary.  Wooohooooo!!!!!

That has muchly cheered me up .... as 6 and a half hours in the office yesterday definitely didn't.  Work is still grinding forward at full pelt with epic volumes of work, and glitchy systems just adding to the fun and games. 

On the weight front, I had a lb and a bit off this week, which isn't too shabby in view of work and stress taking over normal life.  That leaves me still floating around the lower half of the 13st bracket - I'm still a lb or 2 higher than my recent low I fought back to, but I'm feeling really focused to keep going and make some headway. 

In recent weeks, I've found myself asking "what would Perfect Sue do?" when I'm trying to make a decision about something.  I think it came from article I read about improving your eating behaviours and your relationship with food, and it asked "would you still eat that chocolate bar if you had your perfect body?".  An interesting concept.  I've extended it - when I'm not sure whether to do something or not, I ponder "what would Perfect Sue do?" - Perfect Sue being the "me" I'd like to be.  More than just the body / weight I'd like, Perfect Sue has all the LIFE I want.  She has adventures, manages her money, is fit and healthy, and happy.

Perfect Sue would probably explain why I got up and went for a 4 mile run yesterday morning before breakfast.  I missed circuits on Friday due to an unusually early start (and a slightly fuzzy head from the night before) making me too disorganised / late to be able to sort my gym kit in the morning and book my class.  So, when I woke up early yesterday, feeling quite bouncy, it occurred to me I could just make it up by going for a run on a lovely Autumn morning.  Not having run much recently, I only intended to go for a short run / jog round the block for 20 - 30 mins, but got a bit carried away and went off round the Downs instead, for 4 miles in 48 mins.  Not terribly quick, but fairly satisfying.  Although my feet have blisters to prove how little I've been running recently.

Maybe if I emulate Perfect Sue enough, one day I'll BE her? Or at least closer to her and happier for it! :-)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Caffeine Free!

This post is bought to you courtesy of NO Diet Coke what-so-ever.  Which is a bit of surprise for someone like me who has a solid 2 x 500ml bottles a day habit. 

As of Monday, I have had absolutely none of it at all.  This was courtesy of a realisation on Saturday, as I sat in the office and sulked all on my own, that I had nothing but Diet Coke all day.  And that recently, I could think of very little else that I'd drunk, apart from alcohol or the odd glass of squash.  I've never been someone who's particularly against Diet Coke, or other fizzy drinks, but even I was a little disgusted to realise how much I'd been drinking. 

Once I started thinking about it, I started to worry if I was actually addicted to the stuff ... you always here addicts say "well, I could give up if I wanted to, but I don't want to", and I wondered if that was me.  Suddenly, it was a very easy decision to make to break my habit. 

An even more persuasive argument reared it's head, when I realised that my 2-a-day habit sets me back about £10 a week, just for while I'm at work.  That's over £500 a year!  That's the same as my 6 DAY BREAK TO MAJORCA IN JUNE.  ALL INCLUSIVE!!!!  Ummm - that's a little ridiculous.

So, on Monday, I cut myself off.  I'm back to drinking squash or water at my desk and at home, and so far, I haven't actually missed it at all.  Which just goes to prove how you can do anything when you're in the right frame of mind, because the last time I tried, I missed it hideously and didn't last 2 days!

Other than that, work (and life) are a war-torn work-zone.  I worked 8 hours on Sat, and this week has been pretty chaotic, pointing to me spending a vast chunk of my weekend in the office too.  Still - I've made it to the gym, and my eating's pretty sound, so I'm hoping for a small loss tomorrow to get me back on track.  Although I might need to be careful how many cocktails I have tonight in order for that to happen!

And in the background, planning and dreaming of exciting life-changing adventures continues.