A single 6 months: What I’ve learnt

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”

Back in June, I wrote a very personal post about how I was feeling following the end of a toxic relationship. As June is nearly 6 months ago now (and 8 months after said relationship ended), I’m feeling reflective again (not unusual for me!) So I wanted to write a bit of an update of how I’m feeling now, 6 months on, and also an update of what I’ve achieved and learnt during this time.

The past 8 months have been difficult for me at times, but also a huge period of self development and growth that I think I really needed. You see, before the toxic relationship, I was in a relationship for 13 years, which suddenly ended. I found myself lost and confused following the end of this, and at the time, I felt like a part of me (and my life) had died.

As reaction to the split, I pretty much jumped into another relationship with somebody who just wasn’t right for me. At the time, it was what I thought I needed. It was fun and a welcome distraction from dealing with my pain. In a way, it helped me to get over what I had been through. But in focusing all my energy on this I was neglecting myself and stopping myself from dealing with what I needed to deal with.  Over the coming months, this new relationship quickly turned unhealthy and toxic.

There were many factors involved, but looking back,  I realise that at the time I had no self esteem and  limited personal boundaries, which meant that I lowered my standards and accepted behaviour that I really shouldn’t have accepted. Why? Because I was lonely and wanted to feel wanted.  I thought that a relationship, any relationship, would make me happy. I thought that it would fix me. But in reality, all it did was make me feel worse, much worse than before. I quickly realised that this new relationship couldn’t fix me or make me happy, this had to come from me. I also realised that it was better to be alone, even though this was a scary option, than be in a relationship that was unhealthy and making me ill. 

A part of me also felt like I hadn’t given myself time to get over the sudden end of the previous relationship and I started to feel suffocated and trapped.  After the toxic relationship ended, I struggled for a while. I blamed myself for the failure of yet another relationship. I thought that there must be something wrong with me.

As a result of all this, in June I decided to dedicate the rest of this year to myself. I decided to purposely and intentionally stay away from dating and relationships. Partly because I didn’t want to end up feeling trapped in that horrible scenario again, but also because I felt like I needed time to recover, learn about myself and grow as a person. Deal with feelings and emotions that I had been perhaps avoiding.

I hadn’t been single prior to this since I was 18 and I think as a result, I needed to find out who I was again, without having to worry about someone else.

And, over the last 6 months, this is just what I have done. I’m actually really proud of myself. Because now, rather than feeling lonely and having the urge to fill a void by dating, I actually quite like my own company. I don’t feel sad, or sorry for myself. I feel quite content. I can do what I want, when I want, which is quite liberating. Yes, there are times when it can be hard, like I’ve been quite poorly recently, and being alone during illness and having to do everything yourself is not exactly fun but overall,  this time to myself has made me more independent and stronger as a person.


SELF CARE & GROWTH

Daisy to represent personal growth

I’ve spent the last 6 months working on myself. I have made more time for self care by taking up yoga and meditation, making time for a candle-lit bubble baths and taking up reading again, which I used to love but for some reason stopped after the stress of everything. I have also been having counselling, which in all honestly, I think I’ve needed for a long time. I’ve started to read self help books and listen to inspiring and uplifting podcasts. It’s the little things like this that can make a real difference to your mental health and well-being.

As a result, I can honestly say that I’m a different person than I was a couple of years ago. I’ve had a lot of time to think and I’ve realised that, in a way, the long term relationship held me back. I relied on him for a lot and I think as a result, I lost a part of myself and my independence. Being alone has forced me to do things by myself and I feel quite liberated as a result. I think nothing of doing simple things like the weekly shop, driving myself places or even travelling abroad alone, all things which would have terrified me back then and I just wouldn’t have done. 


RUNNING

Parkrun alphabet challenge Phoenix

In terms of my running, I have recently started the Parkrun alphabet challenge, which I am doing with a fab group of people from my run club. Over the last 6 months, I have thrown myself into running and have taken part in loads of social activities with my run club. As a result, I’ve made a good group of friends, which means I always have someone to run with or go with to races or different Parkruns, so I don’t need to rely on a partner to fill this need. Over the last 6 months, we have been to many different Parkruns, including Northwich, Alderford Lake (Whitchurch), Phoneix (Runcorn), Glossop, The Wammy (Newcastle Under Lyme) and Jersey! In the last 6 months, I also reached the milestone of 50 Parkruns, which was one of my goals for this year. 

I absolutely love running and my run club and it has helped me immensely with my mental health and building up a good network of inspiring and adventurous friends on the same wavelength. 

RUN CLUB group photo

I’ve also managed to do the Three Peak Challenge and 3 half marathons in the last 8 months – Liverpool Rock and Roll, The Great North Run and Manchester Half in October. It would have been 4 but unfortunately I’ve been quite ill since the beginning of October so had to pull out of the Conway Half which I had planned for November.

GOODGYM

Another thing I started in the last 6 months is GoodGym, which I absolutely love. Basically, you run to a task (usually about a mile), which is something that will help the community and it could range from litter picking, cleaning or sorting food and clothes for the homeless. Then you run back. I love it because it combines my love of running with helping people and the community. Plus, it’s another chance to meet some amazing people and continue to build my friends and support network.


TRAVEL

Parkrun Poland

My goal this year was to travel alone in order to build my confidence and independence. I’m so proud that I managed to achieve this goal this year. In September, I went to Poland, completely alone, for a weekend to do a Parkrun abroad in Gdansk (and also threw in a bit of sight-seeing!).

Not only that, but I forced myself to stay in a hostel and go on tours (including a bar crawl) by myself. This was a MASSIVE challenge for me and looking back sometimes I can’t believe I actually did it.  But they do say, the choices that scare you are the ones that help you to grow and that’s so true.

I won’t lie, this trip was quite difficult for me at times, especially with the language barrier and feeling alone in an unknown city.  You realise how vulnerable you are at certain points (such as eating alone in a restaurant) and being alone did restrict what I did – for example, I didn’t really like walking alone at night and so I would go back to the hostel early. In other respects though, it taught me quite a few things and I met some really nice people at the Parkrun and on the Bar Crawl.    

I’m also proud that I went alone to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (5 hours drive away) to take part in The Great North Run. As this is a huge event, I didn’t want to turn my ballot place down because I had nobody to go with. As it happens, the running community and Instagram is a friendly place, and I managed to meet up with one of my Instagram friends whilst I was there who was also doing the race. I went on a race day package trip and stayed at the Newcastle University with other people doing the race so met some nice people and overall had a good experience. Although I did miss my run club friends and it was a bit lonely at the finish line, I am proud of myself for going on my own, and I smashed it in 2.03! 🙂  

Great North Run


So these are just some of the things I managed to achieve in my 6 months of self focus. I have definitely learnt a lot about myself and actually, I think they have turned into some of the best months of my life.

This year, through my run club, I have met so many different people who are inspiring and fun to be around and who push me to do more. This has had a massive benefit on me and inspires me to keep pushing and trying new things.

I have become stronger, more independent and a long way from the vulnerable, naive girl that I was 2 years ago. It’s true what they say, you really do grow and learn from what you go through and if it wasn’t for all the hard times, I wouldn’t be where I am now. 

I’m now happy on my own, I don’t NEED a relationship and I’m not looking either. I’m self sufficient, I make my own money, have my own flat, have a good social life a network of friends to run with, travel with etc. I think I am now in a much better and healthier place should I WANT a relationship in the future and I’m proud of what it’s taken me to get to this stage.  

If  you enjoyed this post, be sure to Follow me over on Instagram to keep up with my antics. 🙂


Inspirational-Quote

A single 6 months: goal review

In all honestly, the last few months have been pretty rough for me.

I have been struggling quite a lot with anxiety following the end of a toxic relationship and I’ll be honest, I have found myself dangerously close to a bad place. However, I have decided to take control and to use this time alone as a period of reflection, to really focus on myself and my goals and get to know myself and what I want out of life, which I think is what I really need at the moment.

I’ve been focusing a lot over the last 12 months on my running and fitness. If I’m brutally honest, I think this has been a massive distraction to what was going on or has happened in my personal life.

Whilst running certainly helps with my anxiety and well-being, what I’ve come to realise is that by focusing everything on that,  I have been failing to deal with deeper issues that really need to be dealt with before I can move on with my life/even attempt another relationship.

So while I have thrown myself into running and my physical health, I’ve realised that I’ve completely neglected my emotional health. I have been living life on full speed, leaving no time for me or to think/deal with things that I need to. This in all honestly led me to have a bit of a burnout, which resulted in me breaking down at work a few weeks ago.  

I know that I’m a strong person. I have been through a lot in my life and come out the other side, and this is no different. My breakdown was a bit of a turning point for me. I can see what has happened and how and I’m happy to say that I’m now feeling much better and ready to take back control and consciously make some time for self-care, which I’ve come to realise is really important.

I’ve always been very goal orientated, so I have had a look at my 2019 goals and, whilst I still want to continue with my running as it does help me massively, I wanted to also include some self-care and personal improvement goals. I find writing my goals down helps me to focus and I also have them on a whiteboard in my flat, which means I keep looking at them everyday. 

I plan to focus on these goals over the next 6 months or so, which I’m dedicating to MYSELF.

No distractions, no drama (I hope!) I think this is necessary in order to heal and get me into a healthier place where I can move forwards with my life and future relationships.


MY GOALS

2019 Goals

RUNNING

I would like to continue running as I do find it incredibly therapeutic and it makes me feel good. My run club keeps me going and I find the people there incredibly supportive and inspiring. There are always events being organised and I plan on getting involved in as many things as I can with the run club, such as volunteering to help with races and events, as well as attending the social events when I can.  I’d also like to carry on going and volunteering at Park Run as again this is great for me (I’m almost at 50 Park Runs now!)

I’ve come a really long way with my running and I’d love to see how far I can take it. My main goal is to achieve a sub 2 hour half marathon and I probably need to find a running coach to help me with this, although I was fairly close with the Wrexham half marathon earlier this year (2.02!)


THIS BLOG

I feel like I have neglected my blog a bit recently but I really want to dedicate some serious time to it by using my marketing background to develop a proper strategy. I love helping people and my blog and my Instagram give me so much satisfaction and purpose. 


SELF CARE

Take Care of Yourself Quote

This is the Biggie. I have decided to dedicate the next 6 months or so to self care. This is something I have unknowingly massively neglected over the last 12 months. I have always found it difficult to relax, but the last 12 months have been so hectic and stressful that I was running on full speed without taking the time to just STOP. I think I was afraid what would happen if I did stop and what emotions I would feel. But in the end my emotions caught up with me and as a result, I’ve forced myself to slow down a bit.

I’m starting counselling this week, which I’m nervous about but I think it’s long overdue in all honesty. I’ve also started Yoga and am looking into meditation classes. I’ve also decided that instead of scrolling endlessly on social media, I will use this time more effectively to listen to self improvement podcasts or read a book. I am aiming to read at least one self improvement book a month. Whether that be to help with my anxiety, work or goals. 

I have been spending way too much time on social media recently and it had damaging effects on my previous relationship and also my health.

Therefore I plan to use social media much less and only dedicate a certain amount of time to it in order to promote and grow this blog. 


TRAVEL

Another goal I have is around travel. I’m aiming to organise another charity challenge to raise awareness of scoliosis which I will probably take part in next year. I would also like to travel somewhere alone and take part in a Park Run and/or running event abroad. 


PERSONAL

Personal goals I have are around my mindset and positivity. I read Fearne Cotton’s book (Happy) recently and it’s really helped me. In order to achieve a more positive mindset and life I plan to write down things I’m grateful for/good things that have happened each day.

I realise that I have been negative and down in the past about my life and things that have happened to me but it’s so important that I see the positives and appreciate everything I have in life. 


FITNESS / HEALTH

I really want to try something new to help with my core strength. Ideas I’ve had are PoleFit, Climbing or CrossFit. So watch this space!

 


So, these are some of my new revised goals for this year. I wanted to write them on here so that they are out of my head and are written somewhere!

I only want to focus on the next few months and healing, then, who knows?! I can start planning what I want next out of life. 

Do you have any goals that you are working towards? How have you coped during tough times?

Let me know in the comments below. 

Louise X

 

April Link Up Chronic Voice

April Link Up with A Chronic Voice!

I’m sorry for the lack of posts recently, it’s been a manic year already for me, full of ups and downs. I’ve had a rough couple of months in my personal life, but I have still managed to complete my THIRD half marathon and get a personal best! I have also climbed 2 mountains this year already (Helvellyn in the Lake District and Kinder Scout in the Peaks) and I am now on nearly 50 Park Runs. I have also done two 10K races and got a personal best on Sunday just gone (55.30).

I’m now in half marathon training mode and my FOURTH one (??!) is at the end of May, so watch this space. For now though, I’ve decided to get my current feelings down by taking part in a link up with A Chronic Voice – this is basically a monthly get together for anyone with a chronic illness. So, here it goes…


TIRING

The last 6 months have been tiring for me to be honest and a few weeks ago, it got to the point where if things continued, I swear I would have had a mental breakdown, no exaggeration. I have a crazy busy life, I’m always on the go. Like most people, I work full time in quite a stressful job and then I also fit in my running, gym work, seeing friends/family etc around it and sometimes it can get overwhelming. I’ve also been suffering with nerve issues/numbness in my leg which is being investigated but at the moment the Drs don’t know what is the cause, after countless tests. It could be related to my scoliosis and surgery, but the MRI scans I have had are clear and I feel like nobody is taking it seriously.

It worries me because I am so active, what if it gets worse and I cannot run again? Or even walk? So this has been tiring me out, more the not knowing. In my personal life, I have just got out of an unhealthy relationship which was tiring me out as it was constant fighting, which was quite frankly, exhausting and stressful towards the end. It was also taking up a lot of my time and energy, giving me no time to focus on myself and my own goals (including this blog, which I have neglected recently).

Prior to this, I was in a relationship for 13 years and I feel like as a result, I haven’t really had time to myself before, or really know who I am or what I want. So, now I am on my own again (sigh) but I feel like I can breathe and finally focus on myself and what I want. This may be selfish but so be it. I have spent my entire life thinking of others and sometimes you have to do what is best for yourself and your own emotional well being. Hopefully soon, I will start to feel less tired and maybe even find myself again.


EDUCATING

I try whenever I can to educate people about my condition – scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Most people have either never heard of it, or they think it’s ‘just’ a back condition. The reality is that scoliosis affects the whole body as it throws your body out of alignment. This can cause all sorts of issues – breathing problems as the rib cage is often twisted (in severe cases like mine), numbness, headaches, issues with walking and leg length in some cases, pain, discomfort, muscle spasms – the list goes on. I always love it when people message me saying that I inspire them or that they too know someone with scoliosis. I’m a member of a run club and I was surprised to discover at least 3 people with the condition who are also in the run club AND good runners no doubt!

I try to raise awareness through my blog and social media and this year I hope to continue to do so, I would also love to take part in another large fundraising event for scoliosis (I did a trek on the Great Wall of China in 2017), so watch this space!


RECEIVING

Linked to the above, I love receiving positive emails and messages from people on my Instagram and blog. It spurs me on to keep going when I am having low days with my back pain, leg issues or just feeling low in general. If I can inspire just one person, then it’s all worth it. 🙂


GIVING

Related to the tiring section, I feel like I have been giving myself to others all my life, and now it’s time for me to give some time to myself. I feel like I don’t even know myself and what I want, so how can I even be with anyone else? For the past few weeks I have been giving myself some time to heal, by making time to relax more (self care Sunday’s are my new thing). I have bought myself new bedding, a relaxing diffuser with some lavender oil, some nice candles and have also started taking more baths and doing yoga. I never usually make time for myself as I’m usually busy running round or pleasing others so it’s been quite nice to do this, and is very much needed at the moment.


QUIETING

Related to the above, with everything going on I’ve found it so hard to quieten my mind recently. I’m a massive over thinker anyway and I have struggled really badly over the last few weeks, overthinking everything that went wrong in my last relationship, was it me? Could it have been different? Is it all my fault? Have I made a mistake? I miss him, should I contact him? It’s strange because I know the relationship wasn’t healthy towards the end, and yet I still miss him and the good times we had, as we did have good times and a lot in common. 

I have also been overthinking about my leg and whether it is something bad. My head is all over the place at the moment and to be honest, it’s not in a good place. To try and quieten my thoughts I have bought an audio book on Mindfulness and I am going to try reading more, as I used to read a lot but it’s something that has fallen by the wayside a bit recently. I’m also considering counselling but I’d be worried about wasting someones time. 

Having some time to myself recently to think has been useful but sometimes thoughts and too much time alone can drive you insane 🙁


So anyway, that’s my life at the moment, how’s yours? 

Thank you for reading my ramblings – if you would like to submit your own entry – click here.

Louise X

 

 

South West Coast Path

Walking the South West Coast Path

Walking the South West Coast Path: My experiences

Ever since my experience of trekking the Great Wall of China last year, I have wanted to go on another trekking holiday. Not only do I love walking and hiking, I also find it helps my back whilst keeping me fit. Plus it’s a great way to relax and reflect. So this year, I decided to push myself (again!) and my friend and I took on the South West Coast path in Cornwall. Now, we didn’t walk the whole of this path, as it is 630 miles, which would take a month or two to complete.

As we only had a week, we decided to walk a section of the path (69 miles), but due to VERY bad and dangerous stormy weather (unfortunate) we had to cut some of the walks short (more on this later). Despite this, we still managed to walk around 34 miles in 4 days. And with some very challenging terrain and bad weather, I think this was pretty good going 🙂

We based ourselves in Penzance and got an apartment via Cornish Escapes (Air B n B are also very good for apartments etc). The reason we chose Penzance was because the bus links are very good from there, and this enabled us to catch a bus each morning to where we would start our walk and then catch a bus back to Penzance in the evening.

You could of course choose to stay in a different place each night, but with my back I wanted to avoid  carrying all my stuff on the walks, so this option suited us better. We loosely followed the St Ives to The Lizard route, detailed on the South West Coast Path website, but some of the walks were cut short or adapted due to the storms we had.


Day 1: Mousehole to Marazion (7.5 miles)

South West Coast Path - Day to Marazion
South West Coast Path – Mousehole to Marazion

We started with a fairly easy walk on day 1. Easy in the sense that it was mostly on the flat, walking on tarmac along the seafront. This walk was supposed to start at Lamorna and be 9.2 miles, but instead we got the bus to a place called Mousehole and started there which made it about 7.5 miles. This is because the weather was bad, with strong winds and the walk from Lamorna was across rugged cliffs, which we thought might have been a wee bit dodgy. So instead we missed this bit out and got the bus from Penzance to Mousehole (after I spent 5 minutes laughing at the name!) and started the walk from there.

I’d never been to Mousehole before – it was a cute little  place. A tiny fishing village full of charm with a pretty harbour and a few shops, pubs and restaurants.

South West Coast Path - Mousehole
South West Coast Path – Mousehole

We had a quick look around (there wasn’t much there) and then began our walk on the South West Coast Path, following the signs to Newlyn. Apparently, Newlyn is the third largest fishing harbour in Britain and was also very pretty. What I loved about walking the South West Coast path is that you come across some charming little places that you might not have seen otherwise. We carried on through Penzance and along the seafront to Marazion, passing the famous St Michael’s Mount along the way.

South West Coast Path - St Michaels Mount
South West Coast Path – St Michaels Mount

The views were amazing and we finished our walk with a well deserved cider in a local pub, before getting the bus back to Penzance and planning our day 2!


Day 2: Pendeen to Lands End (11.5 miles)

South West Coast Path Day 2
South West Coast Path Day 2

Well, this one was more challenging and the views – WOW. We got the bus to Pendeen and started there. It was definitely more remote here and it was mostly walking across the clifftops with a few rough ascents and descents.

South West Coast Path Day 2
South West Coast Path Day 2

It started with walking through an old mining district before leading around Cape Cornwall and finished at Sennen Cove, which was a lovely beach.

South West Coast Path Day 2
South West Coast Path Day 2 – Old Mining District

However, from here we walked another couple of miles to Land’s End to catch the bus, as we’d missed the last bus from Sennen Cove.


Day 3: Gurnards Head to St Ives (abandoned due to very bad weather!)

So today we started our walk in the middle of nowhere (literally!) at a famous pub called the Gurnards Head. Which I will forever remember as the pub where I dropped my phone on the concrete floor and smashed the screen (hooray!) There is literally nothing else around here, apart from the pub, which is bright yellow so you can’t miss it. Anyway, after a swift half of Cornish cider, we decided to brave the elements and begin our walk.

South West Coast Path - Gurnards Head
South West Coast Path – Gurnards Head

Even before we started, the wind was pretty strong. This section of the South West Coast path is rated as “Severe” in the Challenging stakes as it is one of the toughest sections of the entire path, due to rocky and boggy ground. It is also very remote and the path can be narrow and rough, plunging up and down the cliffs on the sea edge.

South West Coast Path - Gurnards Head
South West Coast Path – Gurnards Head

We managed to do almost 3 miles of our planned walk before the weather took a turn for the worse. The fog dropped, the wind picked up and it started raining really heavily. The winds were so strong it felt too dangerous to continue, with us climbing up and down slippy rocks right next to the rough sea. So we made the decision to turn back and head up to the nearest village which was called Zennor.

South West Coast Path - Gurnards Head
South West Coast Path – Gurnards Head before the weather turned…

There wasn’t much there apart from a church and a cafe but we took shelter in the cafe and had some lunch before deciding to get the bus to St Ives. Which would have all been fabulous if there were buses running from Zennor to St Ives. As we were now out of season, we soon realised that there were no buses. And we had no service on our phones as we were in such a remote location.

We weren’t sure what else we could apart from start walking towards St Ives, along the road. It wasn’t ideal as cars came pretty fast down this road and it was twisty and turny so potentially dangerous for us, but it was that or braving the coast path again which wasn’t really an option in the weather. Luckily as we walked along the road in heavy rain towards St Ives, a nice man stopped and gave us a lift to St Ives. He literally saved our lives that day!

Safe to say, once in St Ives we enjoyed a large, stiff drink 🙂


Day 5: Marazion to Porthleven (11.5 miles)

We had a day off from walking on day 4 – mainly as the weather was so bad! We did manage to see a couple of nice places on our day off from walking though, including Porthcurno where there is the famous outdoor theatre on the cliff. We saw a pretty beach here and spotted some dolphins which was cool, before getting drunk in a pub in Penzance. 😀

So anyway, back to day 5.. I was a tad hungover for this walk, which was not ideal as it was pretty long and challenging! This section of the South West Coast Path is actually graded as Moderate to Strenuous so yeah, it wasn’t easy.

That being said, I think it was my favourite section that we walked simply because of the stunning views. Much of this walk is through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there is a mix of terrain, including level walking, narrow paths up and down cliffs, rocky sections and sandy beaches.

We came across an amazing beach on this walk – it was our favourite one that we came across during our trip (Praa Sands). It was so chilled and hidden away from the tourists, it reminded me of some of the beaches in Sydney, Australia.

South West Coast Path Day 5 beach
South West Coast Path Day – Praa Sands

After a brief rest on this beach watching the surfers, we continued on towards Porthleven. This was quite a challenging section of the path with some tiring climbs for our now aching legs – we were so glad to see Porthleven come into view I can tell you!

South West Coast Path Day 5 porthleven
South West Coast Path Day 5… Porthleven

Porthleven is a pretty fishing village and we had a well deserved drink here followed by a beautiful seafood meal for dinner. 🙂 Perfect day!


My tips for walking the South West Coast Path

South West Coast Path - Weather
South West Coast Path – Weather

  • Take layers – if you are walking the path in the Autumn like we were, you need layers. We experienced all seasons in one walk, every day! One minute it was sunny and warm, the next it was freezing, then it was raining heavily! As a result you need to prepare for all seasons and eventualities. I took waterproofs, thin fleeces, neck warmer, a headband which covered my ears (needed due to the wind), my running t-shirts (wicking material), walking trousers (full length, waterproof and shorter ones), walking boots, walking socks, sunglasses, suncream. Yes, you need it all!
  • Don’t be afraid to turn back – if the weather is bad, it can be dangerous on some of the routes.
  • Plan your routes before you set out – make sure you can get a bus back to where you need to be. the buses run less frequently out of season.
  • Buy a weekly bus pass – if you are using the buses. You will save loads this way and you download the pass to your phone, nice and easy and allows you unlimited travel on the Kernow buses.
  • Take a map if you have one – the South West coast path is well sign posted for the most part, however there were some bits where we weren’t sure which way to go on some of the routes.

So there you have it, this was my adventure in Cornwall last week! I would love to go back when the weather is better and attempt more of this beautiful path. If you are in Cornwall/Devon I would thoroughly recommend walking parts of this path as the views are simply amazing 🙂

Louise X

September Link up with A Chronic Voice

September Link Up with A Chronic Voice

Well I cannot believe it is mid September already! I really do not know where this year is going, I wish it would slow down!

So this month I have decided to participate in a link up with A Chronic Voice – a monthly get together for anyone with a chronic condition. This involves writing around 5 topics, designed to get the creative juices flowing! This month’s prompts are below, so let’s give this a go! I’ll try and link my thoughts around these words to my year so far and my scoliosis.

  1. Reconnecting
  2. Confessing
  3. Relaxing
  4. Romanticising
  5. Sharing

Reconnecting

At the back end of last year, my relationship of 13 years suddenly ended. As a result, this year has been a huge year for me, of change and personal transformation. I used the first part of this year to reconnect with my friends, but also to reconnect with myself. I think sometimes if you are in the wrong or an unhappy relationship for some time, you risk losing yourself and I think this is what happened to me over recent years.

As I relied on my ex partner a lot, I lost my independence and confidence when I was suddenly left on my own.

Fast forward to now and I’m in a really good place. I have my own flat, I have done some amazing things so far this year, both on my own and with friends and I have met lots of new friends through doing what I love – running.  In fact, I think I have met and connected with more new people in the last year than I did in the previous 13 years of my relationship, which says a lot really!

As a result, the year of re-connecting with myself and connecting with new, like minded people has made me more confident, happier and also more comfortable doing things on my own again. I am now happy to cook a meal for myself, for example, go places on my own or drive on my own to new places. These things may not sound like big things but for me, they are huge steps forward and things I really did struggle with at the start of the year.


Confessing

My confession is that I’m often too hard on myself, in life and with my running/fitness. I compare myself to others a lot – with running it’s my race and Park Run times – and sometimes it makes me feel bad. For example, there are some really fast runners in my run club and I know some incredibly fit people and it’s sometimes easy to feel like what you are doing is not good enough, or you are unfit. But what I’ve realised recently is, it’s all relative. There are people I know who don’t do any running/exercise and tell me I’m the fittest person they know, and yet I feel really unfit compared to the fast runners at my run club. These fast runners probably also feel like they are not good enough and probably compare themselves against even quicker runners or elite athletes.

What I have been trying to do is to compare myself to MYSELF and against where I used to be, as I really have improved so much. For example I now run a 5K over 10 minutes quicker than I used to and have shaved a good minute off my 5K time this year alone. It’s so easy to forget that sometimes and be too hard on yourself.

The added factor for me, is that I do have a chronic back condition and while I don’t let it stop me, it does give me certain limitations and means, although I don’t like to admit it, I do find it difficult sometimes to keep up with and train as hard as others.


Relaxing

Running is a great stress relief for me, as when I’m doing it I don’t think about much else. It sounds crazy but I find taking part in running events such as Park Run and running with my run club incredibly therapeutic and it helps me to relax and manage my anxiety. Running is known for helping with mental health and it’s certainly helped me to get through a very difficult year.

However, I do  need to learn to relax more and be proud of and happy with everything I have achieved – in life and with my running. They say the grass is always greener and I’m always stressing about everything in life, worrying about my decisions and if I’ve done/am doing the right thing. I also tend to constantly stress about the things I haven’t done, instead of all the amazing things I HAVE done.


Romanticising

I’m not sure if it’s my personality type but I am constantly romanticising about the future. I think because of my change of circumstance last year, I’m wondering what is next? I’m not tied down at the moment and there are so many options and directions I could go in. It can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. I romanticise a lot about travel and possibly moving away somewhere abroad in the future to escape the “rat race.”


Sharing

I love sharing my journey with scoliosis online via my Instagram and of course, my blog. I think it is very important for others with scoliosis to be able to connect with others with the condition, as it can feel quite isolating. I know I felt isolated and alone when I was diagnosed as a teenager and as I didn’t know what the future held for me, it was quite a scary time. I now make it my mission to share my story and hopefully everything I have achieved post surgery will inspire those who have had or may be facing scoliosis surgery.


If you’re a blogger, why not join in on this link party? Alternatively, let me know your thoughts in the comments. How would you answer these word prompts?

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! 😀

Goals 2018

January Round-Up: Goals and achievements

Well I can’t believe that January is over, in some ways, it’s felt like the longest month ever… in other ways, it’s gone super fast. I thought I’d do a quick post to round up January and summarise what I have achieved this month, as part of my overall goals for 2018.


January Round-Up: Goals and achievements

In some ways, January has been a difficult month for me. At the back end of last year, my long term relationship of 13 years ended rather suddenly and I’ve been finding it all really difficult to deal with. January was therefore somewhat of a fresh start for me. I’ve moved into my own flat and I’m now living by myself for the first time ever which was kind of scary at first, but also kind of liberating.

I’m now getting used to living alone, looking after myself and focusing on what I want to achieve. I’ve always given myself multiple goals to achieve throughout the year. I find that this helps to keeps me motivated and keeps me going, which at the moment, is more important than ever.

Anywho, I wanted to list what I have achieved in January, partly to make myself feel better that I haven’t completely wasted the month moping around…!


So what goals did I achieve in January?

I have basically thrown myself into running and achieved the following…

  • Ran a 10K race (in under an hour) – Tatton Park 10k
  • Ran a 4 mile night trail run (which was VERY challenging!)
  • Joined a running club and I’ve been 3 times so far
  • Signed up to a half marathon in May
  • Signed up to loads of 10k races and running events throughout the year
  • Ran a “virtual” 10k and got a medal for that

What’s next for February?

Well, I really need to get my ass in gear and start training properly for the half marathon, as it will likely come around fast. I also need to make sure I do more strengthening exercises at the gym, such as core classes, body pump etc to support my running. I also need to start looking after myself more, eating better to support my training and cutting down on wine… boo!

What goals did you achieve in January? Let me know in the comments below!

Louise X

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2018 goals

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Firstly, I would like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year 🙂

I cannot believe that it is 2018, seriously where is the time going? I always use this time of year to set myself some goals for the year ahead as I find it really helps to motivate me.

I also look back at the previous year and reflect on what I’ve achieved. If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that 2017 was a huge year for me. In terms of my back, it’s the year I pushed myself the most by setting myself a massive personal challenge – to raise money and awareness of scoliosis by trekking the Great Wall of China. This was without a doubt the highlight of 2017 for me and it’s made me want to keep pushing. If I can do that, what else can I achieve? I believe I (and you!) can achieve anything I set my mind to.


So what else did I achieve in 2017?

I had a quick look at the goals I set myself in 2017 to see if I achieved them, they were as follows..

    • Focus on getting STRONG – I will be doing the 30 day plank challenge throughout January. I will also continue to go to Body Pump twice a week and gradually increase the amount of weights I can lift. I am determined to be strong enough to do a push up!! (Still can’t do those!)
    • Related to the above, I’m determined to get into Pilates too.
    • I really want to do a massive personal challenge of some kind and raise some money for Scoliosis Association while I’m at it (any ideas people? Let me know in the comments!)
    • I’m thinking of signing up to a 10K race or half marathon. A half marathon might be a bit much but I like to push myself 😉

So how did I do? Well, I completed the 30 day plank challenge. I continue to go to Body Pump classes and have noticed a dramatic increase in my strength. I still haven’t taken up Pilates though, this is something I intend to do this year for sure. I completed a massive personal challenge by trekking the Great Wall of China, and I managed to raise over £1,400. I completed not one 10K race, but I managed to do 4 10k races, a 5k mud run and a 5k colour run. I also completed 17 park runs.

My other goal was to focus on and grow this blog, and I’ve managed to increase my blog visits to over 5,000 a month (from pretty much zero!) in the space of a year by writing and following my blog strategy.


My goals for 2018

RUNNING

Complete a half marathon (huge challenge for me!)

Do at least 10 10K races / running events

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

Join a running club

Complete  a Tough Mudder

Go to as many park runs as I can, including trying some different ones, with the aim of reaching 50 park runs

Run 1000km in 2018


FITNESS / other challenges

Focus on increasing my strength – more body pump / strength work at the gym

Start core classes at the gym

Start Pilates classes – finally

3 peaks challenge – at least climb a few more mountains as I love Snowdon

I would love to do another massive personal challenge like Machu Picchu – watch this space!!


TRAVEL

Take at least a month off for travelling – I love travelling. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and I feel like I’m finally at a place in my life now where I can do it and achieve my dream.


PERSONAL

Get a tattoo – something related to scoliosis and my China Challenge would be good as a reminder of what I achieved.

I’m really proud of what I have achieved with my blog in 2017 and I intend on continuing to grow it further in 2018.  I have lots of ideas and will be working on a 2018 strategy over the coming weeks but if there is any content you’d like me to include, please let me know!

Just comment below or send me a quick email. I love to hear from my readers as it really does mean a lot that people actually read it! You can also complete my quick blog survey.

Also, if you or someone you know has scoliosis and you would like to share your story or write a guest post I would love to feature it on my blog, so please get in touch 🙂 I would also love to collaborate with other bloggers in 2018 too and attend some blogger networking events.

helpformyscoliosis@hotmail.co.uk

That’s all for now,

Happy New Year!

Louise X

 

Personal Update

Personal Update: Today’s hospital appointment

Hello 🙂

I thought I’d write a quick post to update how things are with my back at the moment. Those of you who follow my blog may know that I’ve been suffering with leg numbess for a while now. I worked it out and it’s been almost a year now that I’ve had numbness down my right leg. I’m not getting any pain, it’s just numb which is weird.

I have been waiting for MONTHS now for an appointment at the hospital where I had my original scoliosis surgery (in Oswestry, Shropshire). Whilst waiting, I have had physio which to be honest was a waste of time. The physio was lovely but she didn’t really know what to do with me (a common problem). She thought it was probably a problem below my fusion (L3/L4) but without a scan of some kind, she didn’t know how to treat it.

In the meantime, I’ve been carrying on like normal doing my running, gym etc as I’m not sure what else I can do. It’s not causing any pain or stopping me from doing anything. It’s just a bit irritating really.

Anyway, today my eagerly awaited appointment arrived and I headed to Oswestry. To be honest, I was really nervous going back there. I thought it might bring back all those memories of my surgery 7 years ago. But they’ve done it all up and it looks completely different, which probably helped.

My appointment was at 2pm and, as with past appointments, I expected to be waiting hours and for it to take all afternoon. In the end, it was possibly the quickest appointment I have ever had. And after months of waiting, it was a bit of an anti-climax. The Dr I saw was nice enough (he was in my surgeon’s team – it’s rare to see the main man himself!) He asked me a few questions, asked me to do a few movements and then said I’ll need an MRI scan to find out what’s causing the issue. The whole appointment took less than 5 minutes!

He said it could be wear and tear below my fusion which can happen years after scoliosis surgery, but he said it’s odd that I have no pain. To be honest, I really think it’s wear and tear because of all the stuff I do. The problem with spinal fusion is the lower spine gets more pressure put onto it and the discs wear out quicker.  I’m really worried that this is what is causing the issue and that I’ll be told I can’t do all the exercise that I love so much. If they tell me this I’ll be really upset. I did ask him about running and he said that if it’s not causing pain then it shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m just feeling a little fed up, as at the moment I’m in limbo. I’m worrying that I have caused the issue by doing too much at the gym. I suppose it’s good that they are looking into it though and all I can do is wait for the MRI scan and I’ll know more. It’s just a shame I had to wait almost a year to be told I need an MRI scan.. the damage is probably already done by now and my other fear is that the numbness will be permanent.

To be honest I didn’t think I’d be back at Oswestry again so soon after my surgery, but I guess the thing with scoliosis is that it is a chronic condition. It’s a condition that you can never really escape from, you just have to learn to live with it and even after surgery it’s not over.

I’m determined to stay positive though. If I can get through the scoliosis surgery, I can get through anything!

Louise X

Blog Survey

Help me to help you: Blog Survey

Hello everyone 🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the direction of this blog and I really want to make sure that the content I post on my blog is relevant, interesting and useful for those who read it.  As, at the end of the day, for me my readers are the most important part of this blog.

So, I have created a really short survey (it takes less than 2 minutes to complete!)

The results will help me to make sure the content I post is what you want to read 🙂

Thank you soooo much in advance,  I really appreciate your help!

Louise X

Click here to take my survey