6 month goal review

6 month goal review

So it’s July already, which means that half the year has gone… nooooo!

It always makes me panic how fast time goes, and the fact that it is now July has got me thinking about my goals I set back in January and where I’m up to with them.

I thought I’d write a quick post to sum up what I’ve achieved in the last 6 months, and what I’d like to achieve in the next 6 months. (It’s more to cheer myself up about what I have achieved and give myself some direction for the next 6 months, rather than to brag about everything I’ve done!) I generally like to have some goals to work towards, I find I work better that way and feel more motivated.


My goals for 2018 were as follows…

RUNNING

Complete a half marathon  – DONE woohooo! I completed the Great Manchester Run Half Marathon in May, in 2hr 8mins and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I have also booked another Half Marathon for October… whoops!

Do at least 10 10K races / running events  – So far this year I have completed…

So I’m over half way with this one, on target! Unfortunately, I have had to pull out of a couple of other 10k races I had planned for June (Colshaw Hall 10K) and July (Tatton Park 10K again) because of a leg injury. This injury is completely unrelated to running but was caused by a freak accident I was in a few weeks ago. It’s annoying because it has set me back but I will not let this stop me believe you me!

Improve my running speed – target 25 mins 5K by end of the year (currently around 28mins)

Hmmm, this one is ongoing! The leg injury mentioned above has set me back which I’m annoyed at, but I plan on following a training plan for my next half marathon and trying to get quicker by mixing in intervals and hill repeats etc.

Join a running club – DONE! I’m so proud of myself for this. I joined a running club in January and it’s one of the best things I’ve done this year. Check out my blog post on Running and Mental Health to find out how much this has really helped me.

Complete  a Tough Mudder – This is booked for September… ha. We will see how I get on with this, but the next few months will see my training switching over to strength so that I have half a chance of completing this!!

Go to as many park runs as I can, including trying some different ones, with the aim of reaching 50 park runs – Well, I started the year of well but recently have been slacking on the Park Run front due to my injury. So far I have been to three different Park Runs (poor show) but I have completed 24 so almost half way to my target..!

Run 1000km in 2018 – Currently on 460km so almost half way, need to step it up in July!


FITNESS / other challenges

Focus on increasing my strength – more body pump / strength work at the gym – In progress, this will become more of a focus now my half marathon has been completed. As I now need to focus on training for Tough Mudder.

Start core classes at the gym – DONE

Start Pilates classes – finally – I have been to a few Pilates and Yoga classes this year so far but haven’t been going as regularly as I’d like.

3 peaks challenge – at least climb a few more mountains as I love Snowdon – 3 peaks challenge is booked for July… eeeek!

I have also climbed several mountains this year so far, including Hellvelyn in the Lake District and Glyder Fach and Tryfan in Wales.

I would love to do another massive personal challenge like Machu Picchu – watch this space!! Still planning something like this, although may be next year due to £££.


TRAVEL

Take at least a month off for travelling – yeah, not quite sure if this will happen yet but if it does it’s likely to be towards the end of the year / early next year.

I have been to Paris and Holland twice so far this year and I am planning a trip to Barcelona later in July.


PERSONAL

Get a tattoo – something related to scoliosis and my China Challenge would be good as a reminder of what I achieved.  Still needs to be done 🙂 But I have not forgotten…

I’d like to add another personal goal relating to growing and developing this blog further. I have lots of plans and ideas but it’s time to put these into action.

I’d like to add here that I feel like I personally have grown and changed a lot over the last 6 months. I had a tough time at the end of last year, as my long term relationship of 13 years ended.

In the past 6 months, I have moved forward physically and emotionally. I have now got my own place and am doing more fun things with my friends than I used to. I’m also now more comfortable doing things on my own, for example cooking a meal for myself, shopping for food, sorting out my car MOT or just being on my own in my flat. These things may not sound like much but for me, they are huge steps forward and I feel like I am now more comfortable with myself and more confident than I have ever been before.


So there we have it, half way through 2018. I am proud of what I have achieved so far this year and I’m excited for what’s to come in the next 6 months.

BRING IT ON! 😀

Things you CAN do with a fused spine

Things you CAN do with a fused spine!

Since my scoliosis surgery almost 7 years ago, I have achieved SO many things that I never thought would be possible post surgery.  As scoliosis is in the news right now (as a result of Britain’s Got Talent) and in some cases being portrayed rather negatively, I thought I would try and put a positive spin on things.

I wanted to share my achievements post scoliosis surgery to prove that there IS life after scoliosis surgery! Once recovered, your scoliosis shouldn’t stop you from living a normal life.

Disclaimer: Please note, these are all things I have achieved once fully recovered (e.g after at least 1 year post op). Every case of scoliosis is different. I’m aware that not everyone is as lucky to be able to do all these things post surgery. If you have recently had spinal fusion, please do NOT try any of the below until you have had the all-clear from your Dr/surgeon. 


Things you CAN do with a fused spine…

Yes, living with scoliosis and a fused spine can be difficult at times. There are things you probably shouldn’t do or activities that need to be adapted post surgery. Sometimes though, it’s easy to ignore all the amazing things you CAN do after such a major life changing surgery.

I have blogged about most of these things already, but thought I’d list them all in one post and keep adding to it as I achieve more things!

  1. Climb a mountain
  2. Run 5K, 10K races
  3. Complete a muddy obstacle course
  4. Walk 26.2 miles overnight for charity
  5. Complete a MSc Degree with distinction (while working full time)
  6. Go to the gym 4/5 times a week
  7. Body Pump and light weight lifting
  8. Zumba/Aerobics
  9. Dance
  10. HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes such as Metafit
  11. Boxercise
  12. Body Combat classes
  13. Cycling / Spin classes
  14. Swimming
  15. Hike up hills
  16. Ride a Zip wire
  17. Travel all over the world
  18. Snorkel

What else?

ANYTHING you put your mind to!

Scoliosis Quote - Broken Crayons still Colour

My surgeon honestly told me there was nothing I couldn’t do after I had all restrictions lifted. (This was after about a year post op.) He even told me I could ride roller coasters and go bungee jumping (I’ll add it to my list…).

I know every case is different and I’m not saying you SHOULD do any of the above things if you have had spinal fusion. Lower impact exercise is much better for the spine than say running.

However, these are just some of the things I have achieved since surgery that I’m proud of.

I never thought I’d EVER be able to do any of the above things when I was in the early stages of recovery. But our bodies are amazing things and I believe we can do anything we put our minds to. 


What’s next?

My ultimate goal is to run the London Marathon for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund because, wow, what an achievement that would be!

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund had a team running the London Marathon this year and several team members had had scoliosis surgery. I just found that so inspiring and would love to do the same in the future.

I think surviving this surgery has really made me determined to keep pushing myself to try and achieve more things. I just want to squeeze as much out of life as possible and do as much as I can/try new things. When I first had the surgery, I was scared of causing damage to the fusion but now I am more daring.

There are so many more things I want to do, so hopefully I can keep growing this list over time 🙂


Have you had scoliosis surgery? What have you accomplished that you thought would never be possible post surgery?

Please share your stories below in the comments, I would love to hear from you!

Louise X

One step forwards, two steps back…

In the main, I really try to be positive on this blog and inspire others. I also want to be honest and reflect what it’s really like living with scoliosis.

There are good days and bad days and well, tonight if I’m being honest, I’m feeling really fed up.

Leg Numbness

For the past 6 months or so I’ve been getting numbness down my right leg and into my foot. It’s not painful, it’s just numb and my right leg feels odd, almost like a heavy feeling. I went to the Drs about 6 months ago about it and the Dr I saw wasn’t too concerned. He said it was probably a result of my scoliosis surgery and I should come back if it gets worse. Well, it kind of has got worse so I went back to the Drs this week. The Dr I saw this week said as it’s lasted for this long it needs further investigation. It’s likely there’s an irritated nerve in my lower back which is causing my symptoms.

They can’t do an MRI because the metalwork will distort the image and so it’s back to physio for yet the hundredth time.

The Dr has also referred me back to my scoliosis surgeon so they can investigate the cause.

It could be caused by anything but I’m really worried that I have done this to myself through all the stuff I do at the gym (Body Pump, spin classes, running etc)..

Frustrations…

I feel really frustrated because whenever I start to feel happy or proud that I’m actually getting somewhere, my back tries to stop me or slow me down. Whether it’s back pain, a strained shoulder muscle or now leg numbness.

I recovered from my shoulder injury from two years ago (caused by my scoliosis..) and I was really pleased that as a result I could start exercising again. I’ve really been doing well recently with my running for example and have been really happy trying lots of new classes at the gym. I’ve finally started to feel like myself again after my surgery.

Now, it feels like I’m being punished for trying to be normal and lead an active life.

I feel like I’m going to be back and forward to physio and suffering with pain and numbness for the rest of my life, which really gets me down.

It’s like a constant reminder that I maybe can’t push myself as much as other people, and maybe I shouldn’t be doing high impact exercise. But on the other hand, I really enjoy it and I don’t want to be ruled by my back.

Now what?

I think now, I just feel a bit lost. I don’t know what I should be doing exercise wise anymore. Should I carry on with what I’ve been doing and stay active? Will this make my leg numbness worse? It seems like the Dr’s don’t know and I get varying opinions which just adds to my frustration. Some Dr’s and physios have told me I can do anything and some have said just stick to Pilates. Nobody seems to know what is best for those of us with scoliosis.

Even though my back feels old, I’m not and I don’t want it to stop me from living or doing the things I want to do. I’m not ready to give in just yet.

Veganuary - why I went Vegan for a month

Veganuary: why I went vegan for a month

This January, as part of my New Years Resolution, I took part in Veganuary.

For those of you who have not heard of Veganuary, it’s basically going vegan for the month of January.

So this may seem slightly unrelated to scoliosis but I feel like for me, healthy eating and looking after myself goes hand in hand with scoliosis. I feel like I try and eat healthily and work out BECAUSE I have scoliosis. It’s kind of my way of taking control I think. Plus, for those of us with scoliosis it’s important to stay trim to relieve the pressure on our spines 🙂

Now that we’ve reached the end of January, I wanted to give a quick update about how I got on!


First of all, how DO you go Vegan for a month?

Veganuary Smoothies

Going Vegan means giving up all foods that contain animal products including meat, fish and dairy. To start with, it’s quite difficult. There are loads of foods that I didn’t realise contained milk for example (it seems to be in EVERYTHING!!) It means most processed foods are out and you have to cook from scratch quite a bit (which is healthier anyway but means planning ahead). You tend to eat much more fruit, veg, plant based milk/margarine, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.

I have a few vegan cookbooks now and actually find vegan cooking really easy. Most vegan recipes have only a few, healthy ingredients and are quick to do but packed with flavour (full of herbs and spices). There are vegan alternatives to most foods (e.g. milk, yoghurt, margarine, cheese etc) and you can make a YUMMY “cheese” sauce from coconut milk and butternut squash!


Why did I go Vegan for a month?

Veganuary - Avocado on Toast

I decided to try it mainly for health reasons and a “detox” after over indulging at Christmas! I basically wanted to eat healthily for the new year, especially as I’ve signed up to a few 10K races. Plus I find that dairy doesn’t really agree with me and makes me bloated and I don’t usually eat meat normally (only fish). So it seemed like a good choice for me. Finally, I like a good challenge and wanted to see if I could do it for a full month. Plus, a plant based diet can cut out cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.


What are the benefits?

Veganuary Curry

Aside from the above, I feel like my skin is clearer and I lost a bit of weight. I also feel less bloated and am sleeping better. In general, I just feel healthier. I have a slight confession to make in that I didn’t eat 100% healthily for the whole month. There are some junk foods that are vegan (some flavours of Pringles for example..) but generally I ate well by cooking from scratch most days.


What were the hardest parts?

I found being Vegan fairly easy at home when I could prepare my meals and I knew what I was putting in them. The hardest part for me was lunchtime at work. The local Co-op by my work has hardly any Vegan options in their lunchtime meal deals and so I had to make sure I made my own lunch each day. It was also difficult eating at friend’s houses or eating out as most restaurants have a couple of vegetarian options but usually no (or limited) Vegan options. Food packaging could also be confusing too, as most foods will say “Vegetarian” but not “Vegan” even if it is vegan.

I also found I felt quite hungry in the evenings and sometimes had limited things I could snack on as many of my usual snacks had milk in them (e.g things like certain crisps, snack a jacks or crackers). The main thing is to be prepared. I stocked up on Vegan snacks such as nak’d bars, Trek bars and popcorn. 🙂 It would probably be harder for those who eat meat but it wasn’t too much of a transition for me, it was more a case of making sure I had Vegan snacks in the flat!

Veganuary - Vegan Snacks
Veganuary – Vegan Snacks

It was a challenge cooking from scratch in the weekday evenings, especially when getting back late after the gym. I got around this by batch cooking and freezing meals in advance or making enough to last a few days. I also bought a soup maker which was an absolute lifesaver! It meant I could just chuck loads of veg and (vegan) stock together and it would be ready and (hot and blended) in 20 minutes!

Veganuary - Vegan Soup
Veganuary – Vegan Soup

Veganuary Veg

Overall, I have really enjoyed taking part in Veganuary and I think now January is over, I’m going to carry on with the Vegan diet (mostly!) I’ve found that I’ve really got into and enjoy Vegan cooking, plus I feel better too!

I think going forwards, I’ll definitely follow a mostly Vegan diet when I’m at home. However, I will probably relax it a bit when I go out for meals as I’ve found it quite difficult this month when eating out.