Couch to 5K: Losing My Momentum

OK.

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

So I gave up on Couch To 5K. Only a little bit, mind, not completely.

But I’ve not been running for a few weeks because…life got in the way, basically.

That’s a terrible excuse, I know.

Actually. I take that back. I don’t need to excuse myself. I don’t give a monkeys if you care that I haven’t been for a run in a fortnight. I doubt you even care, so I’m doubly not going to apologise for that.

You might remember my last Couch to 5K post was a while ago, and I detailed how hard I was finding the jogs, and that I’d hit my own personal wall with regards to the entire running lark.

Life then got in the way, I got a weird cold, my period slapped me in the face and I never want to run when I’m cramping no matter how many articles will repeatedly tell me exercise is a healer. Reece went on holiday so I wasn’t able to keep my routine up, Elliot got chicken pox and turned into a velcro child so I couldn’t walk to the toilet on my own let alone go for a half hour run, I also got a stinking chest infection which just threw me back a thousand steps as well.

Overall, everything just went out the window and got blown away in Storm Gareth and I decided to just give up and let myself just be taken away by the wind. Imagine my will to live being Jack floating down under the water at the end of Titanic.

Unfortunately, I have realised that I felt better when I was running regularly. I was feeling more, that’s for sure.

Not like Beyonce style feeling myself but I would come home and feel proud of myself, which is a lovely emotion that doesn’t come out often. I would sometimes come home and cry because half an hour of running around with my own thoughts was like therapy (with me coaching myself through my own thoughts so probably not the best kind of therapy) and I felt stronger, both mentally and physically.

Anyway. Back to the actual point, this is me telling you. And myself, mainly because we already know you don’t really care. I’m telling the void that I’m going to start moving again.

It might not be Couch to 5K, okay! I don’t want to pressure myself into the timings of the runs, as I find myself counting down the seconds and the minutes instead of actually thinking about  and enjoying the physical act of running, which I think is the actual point.

I’ve been contemplating dragging the yoga mat out again. A few years ago I really enjoyed Yoga With Adriene and got really into it, I even managed crow pose one and was touching my toes on the regular. But then, as per usual, life got in the way and I ended up letting the yoga mat gather dust behind the sofa.

I even found myself staring at my swimming costume the other day, daring myself to pop down to the pool for a few lengths. Bear in mind, I haven’t done any proper swimming since I was about 12, so this would be a real jump into the unknown. My main reservation with this idea is that they haven’t sorted out a way that I can listen to music whilst swimming. I’m not here to listen to Barry in the slow lane huffing and puffing.

I’m going to tentatively dip my metaphorical toe into the metaphorical pool and see what works and what happens and, as always, will keep you updated when I inevitably give up on this new venture in three months time.

See you then!

 

A Little Bit Of OCD

I have OCD.

For those who somehow don’t know what that means, it’s obsessive compulsive disorder. 

What it is is intrusive thoughts that almost take over your mind and you feel like you have to compulsively complete actions to make sure the intrusive thoughts don’t become reality.

What it isn’t is organising your clothes pegs into colour order because you think it looks nicer than if they were all a-muddle. 

It’s checking your child’s nappy every three minutes because if he’s done a poo or a wee and you haven’t noticed then that makes you a terrible mother and your child will hate you and everyone else around you will know you’re absolutely disastrous.

It’s being convinced your boobs are leaking milk and constantly having to check to see if your t-shirt is damp even though you haven’t breast fed for nearly half a decade.

Bear in mind these are only my experiences and it could be different for anyone else. But I think I can speak for everyone when I say OCD takes over your mind, and sometimes even your entire life. The compulsive actions can become so time-consuming that you don’t get to do anything other than manage your thoughts.

And now we come on to what has inspired this post. I’ve seen this picture shared countless times over the past few days over a variety of social media platforms:

Chloe's tweet about shop sizes

And the POINT of that tweet is completely valid and something I’ll inevitably write about at another time.

But that’s not what I’m talking about today. Today I’m here to have a good old rant about people who, when they see this picture, ignore the glaring problem of clothes sizing in high-street stores and the effect it’s having on women around the world BUT to comment

“lol, I’m a little bit OCD about these things, I just want to put them in size order haha x”

NO, LINDA.

You’re not a little bit OCD about this, you’re just being picky because you like things neat and tidy.

I’ve had it happen everywhere I go.

People don’t think before they speak so flippantly about mental illness, because their idea of OCD is someone washing their hands 15 times an hour and organising the fridge magnets because they like everything to be clean and tidy.

And yes, someone could be washing their hands 15 times an hour but not because they really love their Love Hearts smelling hand-wash. It’s because they’re worried they could have a deadly contagious disease and need to wash and wash and wash to make sure no-one else gets it as then the world would end and it’s all your fault.

When you’re sat at work, hiding in the toilets nearly in tears because you’re absolutely convinced you’ve left all the windows of your house open and that someone’s going to just climb in and steal your entire life, even though it’s -4 degrees outside and you haven’t opened the windows since summer. And you come out, wiping your eyes on a bit of tissue, ready with an excuse of hormones, and you hear someone laughing about the new guy in the office lining his pens up in colour order and how “he’s so weird, Mr OCD! Hahaha” and you shrink back into the cubicle for the next twenty minutes.

Basically, the moral of the story is: just be mindful of others, guys.

The same can be said of most mental illnesses, really.

You’re not bipolar, you’re just having mood swings. It’s probably Mercury being in retrograde again for God’s sake.

You’re not schizophrenic, chances are you just watched too much Scrubs whilst revising for your GCSE’s, so you have Zach Braff in the back of your head constantly reciting facts about the Weimar Republic.

I don’t want to sound all righteous, and I’m not telling you off. This is not being said with my Mum Voice, don’t worry. But I can’t stress to you enough how much it stings when you make a point of telling people how you’re struggling and then you see them sharing memes on Facebook twenty minutes later with cry-laughing faces plastered all over their feed.

I don’t really have a sign off for this post.

Just be nice, I guess.

(And if anything I’ve written regarding OCD hits a nerve with you or sounds familiar, talk to your GP or contact your local Mind charity because they were so, so helpful with getting me out of a deep, dark hole.)

Couch To 5k Diary: Week 2 & 3

Hi and welcome back to Hayley Becomes Slightly Less Lazy.

Week 2 of my ~running journey started with the same excitement from Week 1, as I felt so positive that I could do this.

I’m a runner now, baby.

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Photo by Ev on Unsplash

I was wandering around between runs imagining how I could do a half marathon one day. Dreaming about waking up on a Saturday morning and doing a quick 10K before popping into town for a matcha tea with Reece and Elliot.

The initial embarassment of running around the block had begun to slip away and I became more confident in what I was doing. Going out at 8:30am on a Sunday morning helped, when you’re running and the only other people you see are also huffing and puffing it feels so much better.

It helps you to realise that no-one really sees you when you’re jogging along the street, even though you might be worrying that everyone is laughing at your wobbly bits.

Everyone has their own shit going on, whether they’re off on a jog at 8:30am themselves, off to church or off home after spending the night at some guy from the club’s house. No-one is going to give a monkeys about me jogging around the estate unless I a) run into them or b) accidentally sing Childish Gambino lyrics out loud.

Because yes, it’s also the perfect time to remember that you still know all the words to Freaks and Geeks.

ANYWAY. That was Week 2.

This marks the point where I gave up last time. I just couldn’t bear running for 90 seconds, and I started to worry that Ted Bundy was around every other corner so retreated inside the house for 12 months.

I was so worried about Week 3, especially as I’d made the mistake of looking ahead and realising I had to run for three whole minutes during that session.

But, I’m a runner! I grabbed my trainers and ran out excitedly into the street.

And. It was really fucking hard.

My legs ached, I couldn’t breathe properly and I felt defeated after cruising through the first two weeks.

It was also REALLY cold which might have had something to do with it.

After putting a plea out over Instagram stories asking why am I feeling so rough this week after being so good so far, I found a few tips.

Next week will be Week 3.2 and I’ll be making sure to drink more water (who knew coffee and cake wasn’t a sustainable diet?!), eat a snack before I go out and go back to listening to the back catalogue of Fall Out Boy as my trusty soundtrack.

Wish me luck!

Smear With A Little Bit Of Fear

The Internet has been awash recently with Fanny Chat. From that man who decided to mansplain what a vulva is to that Boohoo swimsuit that doesn’t seem to have a visible gusset, there’s been a bit of a hooha recent regarding …hoohas.

champ-neon-pink-boxing-uterus-sculpturepicture is from Zoe Buckman’s Mostly It’s Just Uncomfortable

Obviously I’m a bit late to the party talking about this but a few weeks ago, it was Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and my Instagram was full of people talking about their smear test, Instagram story-ing their trip to the GP, complete with an interview with the nurse whilst she’s quickly swiping your innards.

It felt a bit like that scene in Mean Girls with the Sex Ed teacher. Every five seconds I was being told “Book your smear test now or you WILL get CANCER and you WILL DIE. NOW. BOOK IT NOW. It’s not scary, DON’T WAIT, BOOK IT RIGHT NOW!!!”

Which is fucking terrifying.

Now there’s nothing wrong with encouraging people with a cervix to go and get checked. It’s a necessary evil.

However the emphasis on cancer and what could go wrong and DEATH if you delayed your appointment at all is just too much pressure.

As someone who had booked appointment after appointment since November, when I turned 25, but had to cancel them due to my implant-affected cycle, the guilt and anxiety I felt all the time was overwhelming.

Being told in one second that a smear test was nothing, it was two minutes of your time and then in the next breath that it was really painful and you might bleed for the rest of the day is really confusing. If you’re already anxious about the appointment, that’s not what you need.

ANYWAY. The point of this blog post is that yesterday I was actually able to make it to an appointment. And…without sounding patronising, it was okay. Not the best way to spend a Tuesday morning but needs must, I suppose.

And here are my tips, as someone who has been sitting and worrying about having this done for the past five months, on how to get through your smear test with only a little bit of fear. Because #SmearWithoutFear is a bit out of my reach.

  • Don’t wear jeans. Because getting changed in the Doctor’s is embarassing enough, you don’t need to add squeezing in and out of your skinny jeans to your to-do list. I wore a midi skirt so I didn’t have to worry about taking anything off and faffing around putting it back on.
  • Just put your pants on the floor. This was the worst moment of the entire thing, let’s be real. I took my pants off and just stood there. The nurse was on the other side of the curtain saying “just let me know when you’re ready!” and I was stood there with my pants in a ball in my hand looking around panicking. In the end, I just put them on the floor near the bed.
  • Breathe through it. It’s a little bit awkward, but you’re best to just breathe through the actual act and then it’s over before you know it. It is a bit cold, even though the nurse ran the speculum under the hot tap for me. (Can we just have a moment to let that sink in. Fully ran it under the hot tap.)
  • If you’re really worried, take two paracetamol before you go. I was panicking about the horror stories I’d hear of period-style cramps afterwards and bleeding and how sore it was for the nurse to swipe your cervix. I popped two tablets before dropping Elliot to school and even if it was just a bit of a placebo effect, it made me feel better. About four hours after the appointment, I started to get a bit crampy so had some Nurofen after my lunch and went on with my day.
  • If you’re nervous, tell them. The first thing the nurse asked me was if I was okay? She explained everything to me and was talking to me throughout the whole appointment. I’ve heard some nurses can get a bit cringey and talk to your cervix like it’s a cat they’re trying to chivvy into the carrier ready to go to the vets. Luckily, my nurse just spoke to me like a human being. ..however she did tell me I have a lovely cervix which made me walk around like Tobey Maguire when he goes evil in Spiderman 3.

I know you’re going to have been inundated with blog posts, Instagram posts, stories (I can’t get over the interview with the nurse, speculum in hand!) and YouTube videos taking you along for the ride, but I thought I’d throw in my two pence and tell you my experience.

Have you booked your smear test? Are you due one? Did you feel pressured because of the recent influx in fanny chat or did you find it comforting?

Introduction to my Anxiety and OCD

A post about anxiety wasn’t on my to-do list, as I really don’t want it to rule my life, and for this to become a whole blog about anxiety. However, it is a part of my day-to-day life and I might as well talk about it on here because I think it might help to a) get my feelings out on ..paper? screen? and b) be honest with everyone about how I am.

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Anxiety has been a black cloud hanging over my head for as long as I can remember. Some days it’s equivalent to when the sky starts off cloudy and you think it’s going to be really grim but it ends up being quite sunny, and some days are proper storm Doris. Most recently, I’ve been in a proper Day After Tomorrow-style storm.

Something that walks hand in hand with my anxiety is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and when one flares up, the other is never too far behind. And before anyone scoffs, it’s not all about cleaning. A big part of OCD, for me anyway, is intrusive thoughts. I don’t really want to go into what my intrusive thoughts are about, but a general example of one is: you’re driving along in a car and you have the sudden thought of “I could crash the car right now.” Whereas someone without OCD would think “well, that was a weird thought. Hey ho, off we go.” I would think “oh my god why would I think that? What would I do that for? Am I safe to be on the road? Am I a murderer? Oh my god.” PS. I don’t drive. Not surprising really.

I’ve suffered with these two lovely ailments for, basically, my whole life. It was only after Elliot was born and I had CBT sessions for my post-natal depression, that I realised that not everyone feels this way. To stay up until 2am worrying that the fridge is open, or the gas is on even though you’ve been to check them fifteen times isn’t really on average Joe’s to-do list. To be frozen on your bed, crying for three hours because you think you’ve upset someone may not be a realistic reaction to a confrontation.

I was honestly sat there staring at my counsellor with an open mouth because I was so shocked that how I feel isn’t normal. I was so certain I worried a regular amount, I just couldn’t handle normal worrying and that the problem was that I was weak and couldn’t handle regular life. CBT was a complete life-saver with regards to changing  the way I address my thoughts but some things are going to be a constant fight, I think. But I can do it, I’m doing it now!

This is only a bit of a rambly introduction into anxiety rather than a deep dive into the inner workings in my brain because I am not a psychology genius and I’m just telling you how I feel, really. In the future, when I’m not down the anxiety hole I will talk more about tips to deal with anxiety and obsessive thoughts (although remember I am not a professional and all I’m chatting is what works for myself) and more about mental health if that’s what the world wants.