C25K

As part of my weight loss regime, I’ve decided to act upon my long held secret ambition to become a runner, and I’m doing C25K. I’m doing it at the gym, on a treadmill. What can I say, I’m weird, I like the gym and hate running outdoors. Mainly because I can’t run.

C25K is a structured programme designed to get you from couch potato to running 30 minutes non-stop in 9 weeks. A pattern of walk/run/walk is done for 30 minutes, and each week you run for a bit longer and walk a bit less than you did the previous week until you’re running for half an hour with no walking breaks. Sounds simple, and it is. But it ain’t easy.

I’ve read a lot of stuff about running for beginners, and one overwhelmingly consistent piece of advice is to start off slow, very slow. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to take this advice, because I know from past experience that running any faster than a normal person’s slow jog makes me feel like my chest will explode and death is only seconds away!

My walking pace is quite fast though, so once on the treadmill for week 1, day 1 of the programme, I decided to walk at 5.5kph and run at 7kph.

Day 1 starts with walking for 5 minutes to warm up, then alternating 60 seconds running with 90 seconds walking till you’ve done 8 runs.

I had my headphones on, my water ready, and off I went. I was feeling good. The 5 minute warm up was soon over and I upped the treadmill speed to 7kph. For 10 seconds or so I was fine. Then I looked at the clock, thinking I must be halfway through.

10 SECONDS????? IS THAT ALL??? OMG I’LL NEVER GET THROUGH THIS IT’S TOO BLOODY HARD I’M NOT MEANT TO BE A RUNNER I’LL JUST HAVE TO STAY FAT MY CALVES ARE ACHING I NEED TO STOP WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS I MUST LOOK LIKE A DRUNKEN FAT ELEPHANT RUNNING FOR THE BUS ONLY TO SEE IT PULL AWAY AS I GET TO THE DOOR MY CHEST HURTS I MUST LIE DOWN NOW I’M HAVING A HEART ATTACK WHAT IS THIS PAIN IN MY SIDE IT FEELS LIKE SOMEONE HAS TWISTED MY INTESTINES IS THIS A STITCH DOES ANYONE HERE KNOW FIRST AID

“Now walk for 90 seconds. Your first run is completed”

Somehow I’d made it. I don’t think anyone has ever switched speeds so fast on that treadmill! I decided that for the rest of the runs I’d go even slower, 6.5kph. It was a wise decision. Even though each of the remaining runs were still very hard, I managed to do them all.

Day 2 was the same as day 1, but harder. They say that 80% of the battle is mental, but trust me, this felt physical. My calves ached, my knee hurt, my back was hurting, my boobs were going in directions that were just not natural. I completed it, but I didn’t feel any sense of achievement, just pain and a general sense of uselessness. But it was the weekend, and I had 2 rest days (from exercise, I still had to work) and a night out to look forward to. I decided I would do day 3 on Monday and if I still felt absolutely wretched I would give up on my secret ambition and think of another way to get fit. Not everyone is supposed to be a runer, I figured.

Monday came, I finished work and see of to the gym. My normal shifts at work mean I’m usually at the gym between 1-3 pm, when it’s quiet, but today I’d done 9am-6pm and the gym was packed. Packed with skinny women and muscled blokes. I really wanted to leave. I felt completely out of place with my baggy T-shirt hiding my big belly while all these other people were wearing skin tight tops, lifting weights or running effortlessly. But I had a day off work the next day and I didn’t want to go out so I waited for the treadmill and got on with it. On either side of me were runners. One was doing walk/run like me. I glanced at her speed. Her walking speed was my running speed. I looked at the speed of the fella on my other side. 10.5kph. I felt like a lumbering hippo. Yet there I was shuffling away in a sad imitation of a runner, and I didn’t feel too bad. I didn’t feel good either, but not awful. And then the time was over! Without even realising, I’d done 8 runs, and at the end of the eighth, when I was expecting to have to do two more, I was done!  I’d completed week 1 of C25K, in one week. I felt like a superhero.

I may not be a runner yet, but I will be one day…

Justice – A story

I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a true story. It’s long, sorry.

There was a woman, born in the early 1950s. She had a fairly traumatic childhood, but she survived mostly intact. She left school at 15, in the mid 60s, and got a job straight away in a local new-fangled supermarket.

In the early 70s, still a teenager, she got pregnant. Her fella didn’t stand by her, so she became a single parent. Her mother was ashamed and kicked her out. She also lost her job. But she survived, had a little girl and lived in a mother and baby home. Eventually they were rehoused by the council and her little girl started school. While her daughter was at school, she got a part-time job. It didn’t last long, but she soon found another. Over the years, she worked in various part time roles. None of them were a career, but they paid the bills (or at least some of them).

And this was the pattern of her life. She had another child, but was still single. She never had much luck with men. But still she kept working. Eventually her daughter moved out.

One day she met someone. They fell in love and got married. He stuck by her when she got cancer early in their relationship, and she survived. With her daughter married, and her son doing well in school, she went to work full time. She rose to assistant manager and was doing well for herself.

Unfortunately, her health deteriorated, but she wanted to keep working, so took a job at a lower position. She worked there for years. By this time both her children were adults, and she had many grandchildren.

She switched to part time hours when her health problems started to get more severe. A lifelong smoker, she had COPD, asthma, osteo-arthritis and anxiety and depression. But she still worked. One day she went to her doctor as her nipple was hurting. Within a month she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was January 2010, she was in her late 50s.

In February she had a mastectomy, and also had her lymph nodes removed. She was of course, signed off sick from work. In April, she started chemotherapy. This had a devastating effect on her.

One night in June she collapsed. She was taken into intensive care and nearly died. But she didn’t, and a while later came home.

While she was ill, her sick pay had run out, so a couple of weeks after her release from hospital, she made a claim for ESA. It was rejected. In August, they sent another form, telling her to submit it if she wanted to be reassessed. So, still very ill, she completed the (over 50 pages) form and sent it off. This time her claim was accepted, and she was granted ESA.

Only, she had made a mistake on the second claim. She didn’t know this at the time. The question she answered wrong said “Have you worked since you made the claim?” She ticked the box for no. She also ticked the box for no in the second column, for her husband.

She had told the DWP the details of her husband’s job on the first claim form, and provided his details such as his national insurance number on the second form. But she answered no in his column.

Fast forward 2.5 years. In December 2012, she was invited for an interview at the DWP offices to investigate an overpayment of ESA.

Her health at this point was very poor. She couldn’t walk more than 20 yards or so without having to rest, but she still attended. She was cautioned, and questioned very aggressively. She didn’t really understand what was going on, and couldn’t remember much about filling out the forms, but admitted when pointed out to her that she had made a mistake and agreed that she should have ticked the box for yes, when answering the work question for her husband. She explained that she thought the question was about her, as she was only claiming for herself as her husband wasn’t sick. She added that she thought they already had her husband’s work details as she’d put them on the first form.

The DWP was continuing to pay her ESA. She agreed that she had been overpaid, and came to an arrangement to pay it back, in installments, by way of deductions from her payments.

But that wasn’t the end. The DWP, in their wisdom, decided to prosecute. She was charged with dishonesty, in that she had deliberately chosen to withhold details of her husband’s work when filling out the form.

She sought legal advice. She was advised to fight it all the way. And though this took a toll on health even more, she did. Today, at crown court, a jury of 12 men and women confirmed what any sane person already knew, that she was not guilty.

I am so bloody angry at the DWP. Firstly, that they turned down her claim for ESA (contribution based) even though she’s worked in one form or another most of her life. That they send out forms of ridiculous complexity to people who are at their most vulnerable. That they made a proud and modest woman, a pensioner of 62, feel ashamed, like a common criminal, forced to justify why she needed support from the state she had supported all her life when she was most desperate.

But today she stands, an innocent woman. A survivor. Reputation intact. I love you mum.

Where I express an opinion that will mostly be unheard.

So there’s been a fair bit on the news lately about trolls and rape threats sent to women on twitter. In my opinion, it is not up to twitter, or Facebook, or any other social media provider to police what we write. It is up to us. If someone posts something that is so clearly offensive or abusive, the systems that are already in place should be used to deal with it. A ‘report abuse’ button will turn into a ‘this person disagrees with me, call the waaaahmbulance’ button. Already one twitter user, slightly pissed off that some people aren’t of the same faith as him, has tried to equate Richard Dawkins with the trolls and rape threat abusers. Now, RD can sometimes come across as a boorish dick. And sure, some people will find his views offensive. But that doesn’t make him a troll, and it certainly doesn’t make him abusive. But a button to report abuse will affect him, and pretty much anyone with an opinion. Can you imagine the wrath of the Beliebers when someone expresses a negative opinion of their beloved Justin? The abuse button would be pushed into infinity! What a waste of time and resources. In any case, why are so many people convinced it is their right to go through life without being offended? That they must never be disagreed with? Some people need to toughen up and realise they are not being abused when someone disagrees with them, or expresses an offensive opinion. What constitutes offensive changes over time…

But threats to rape are different. Of course, it’s illegal, and abusive. But they’re also at the extreme end of what women have to face every single day. And the more women speak up, speak out, the worse it gets. Women who have an opinion are dismissed, belittled, threatened, attacked and ignored. They are judged on what they look like rather than what they say. The pressure to conform to a certain ideal of femininity is enormous; woe betide a woman who is not conventionally attractive should be able to express her views in public. The fact that we still need feminists in the 21st century is outrageous!

But it’s not just men vs women, or even women vs women. It’s also rich vs poor, adult vs child, black vs white, muslim vs christian. The trick of the establishment has always been to divide and conquer, and with thousands of years of practice, they do it well. The job of the establishment is to protect itself and its future. The establishment knows that all it has to do is throw the masses a few scraps, and with the politics of distraction, it can then continue to enjoy a life totally alien and forbidden to everyone else. So we have a minimum wage, working time directives and other workers rights, anti-harrassment laws and equal marriage, but corporations can pay little tax, banks get billions in bail outs, poor tenants are financially penalised for having an extra room, and Bradley Manning will spend the rest of his life in jail because he rocked the boat.

There have always been dissenting voices, revolutionary movements and even actual change. But the more things change, the more they stay the same, and the establishment reasserts itself. A male, white, rich, heterosexual, Christian establishment. We are fooled into thinking it doesn’t exist, but the presence of a woman, or ethnic minority, or gay person in the establishment ranks is just one of the scraps I mentioned earlier, exceptions designed to keeps us compliant, thinking anyone could ‘make it’.

Far more intelligent and articulate people than me have realised this, and failed to come up with a solution. But one thing is for sure. The internet is helping to spread the word. And people are scared. So they’re trying to silence us, through abuse and censorship. The porn search block and report buttons will be the start. So keep speaking out, while you still have the chance.

Are you still here?

Oh blimey, it’s been a while, has it not? I really should get back into blogging, but for now, here’s a little update on things.

I’m 12st 9 (177lbs, 80.5kg). Total weight loss since I started is 3st 1lb (43lbs, 19.5kg). This hides a fair amount of yo yo up down though. Current progress is slow but steady.

New teeth still look good, I can talk,
and eat most things. Should be getting a new set soon that are more comfortable and fit better.

I’ve rejoined the gym, to give the weight loss a bit of a kick but mainly because I need to be fit and strong. I’ve suffered terribly with sciatica for a few months and I need to prevent it getting worse.

I have a job! I started at the end of March, it’s full time and full on. I veer wildly between thinking it’s great to thinking I’m the worst employee ever.

Kianna has an unconditional offer to start college in September, so her home ed journey is almost over. The other 3 go from strength to strength though, with Kennie doing the bulk of the work now I’m a slave to taxes.

I’m no longer depressed. I have wobbles, but I’m 95% sure I’m out of the woods and free.

It’s been a hell of a journey in the last 18 months. Here’s to keeping on track for the next 18. Who knows where I’ll be then?

P.S. The UK government are still cunts.

2013

So, my first post this year. And no doubt you’ll all want to vomit after you’ve read it, because lately I’ve been feeling sickeningly positive about stuff.

I’m back on the diet wagon. I put on 2 stone (28lbs, 13kg) since October, taking my total weight loss down to 36lbs. Going to keep going now till I’m at goal, hopefully by summer time! Giving up smoking is proving much, much harder to crack, but I’ll keep trying.

Still home educating those pesky kids, who seem to be coming on in leaps and bounds. Not that we’ve managed to stick to any sort of timetable or formality, yet they just keep on learning stuff! How annoying…

I’m off the anti-depressants now. Things were a bit dicey for a few weeks, and I thought I’d need to go back on them, but I’ve stabilised now. Lots of vitamins and minerals seems to have helped with that. I’m still not fully recovered, but will get there, I’m sure.

The new teeth are amazing. They don’t fit properly, and my speech is completely fucked, but I can eat without pain and they don’t ruin my smile. Plus I’ll be getting new ones this year, that will fit better. Hopefully then I won’t sound like a 2 year old when I say sit down (shit down, shit down).

Knitting every day. I have severe startitis at the moment and 1×1 rib is a festering pile of faeces to work on. That is all.

The government of the UK are a bunch of cunts. I could rant for years on this, but it all boils down to that.

I’ll be posting again later this week with my first weigh in of the year. Then normal service will probably resume, so I’ll see you at the end of February, probably.

It’s been a while!

I’ve been working on getting organised and planning the curriculum for 2013. The diet slipped (read: fell completely off the cliff and completely disappeared) too. So did blogging. Obviously. I’m going to be sharing some files that I’ve made, that you can download. If this has worked, you should be able to click the link below to download a pdf for making a letter matching game. Cut out the coloured boards and laminate them. Cut out the black letters individually and laminate them. Your child can then match them up! Great for letter recognition and for something to do if you’re busy with an older child, or housework, or something else 🙂 Please let me know if the download works and if you could make use of more files.

Letter tile matching

Reasons to be cheerful: 1, 2, 3.

When I look back over the last 7 months, I realise that I have been giving myself a complete make-over. Losing weight, treating depression, new teeth, better personal hygiene, nice clothes. I’ve lost 61lbs (nearly 4.5 stone or just over 27.5 kilos). I’m a size 12 trousers, 14 top. When I look in the mirror, I can actually see how slim I’ve become, even though I’m not slim enough yet, and there’s some nasty excess skin too. I had to move my ring from my ring finger to my middle finger yesterday!

I haven’t spoken about this much, but I’ve also been tackling my dental phobia. My adult front teeth grew through crooked, so my smile has never been attractive. Add in years of neglect and they looked awful. Still, rather bad teeth than visit the dentist. I’m British, my teeth should be bad! But then the pain started. And the looseness. Eating became nearly impossible, and I was knocking back way more painkillers than recommended. Over the course of a year, I visited 3 or 4 dentists, having panic attacks in all of them, and being treated unsympathetically. Finally I found a nice one, who referred me to a specialist. So over the course of this year I have been visiting her, getting treatment for both my teeth and my anxiety. And last week I had my first denture fitted. It has completely transformed me. I am struggling a fair bit with how it’s changed my appearance, I don’t look like me! I’m also very self conscious about it, but I know that will fade in time. Talking is strange, and eating hurts. But to smile a nice straight smile! Amazing!

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So what next? Well tomorrow is Monday. It’s also the first day of the month. Seems like the ideal time to tackle phase 3. Tomorrow I give up smoking. And for the first time I’m actually quite confident that I will succeed. Previously I have wondered what on earth I will do without my smokes. Now I’m thinking of what I will do instead of smoking. My weight loss and dental treatment have taught me a quality I was always lacking: patience. Success isn’t overnight. Ups and downs happen. With patience and determination I will get what I work for. And in the meantime my house will get organised and a lot of knitting will get done!

Phase 4 is in the pipeline, better life organisation and routines. I imagine I will start working on that once the immediacy of quitting smoking has eased. One thing is for sure. By new years day I will have succeeding in creating a new me. Life begins at 40? It did for me!

Normal?

A 2lb loss this week, that puts me in the healthy BMI range for the first time since I can remember!

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At the beginning of this year, I was 15st 10lbs (220lbs, 100kg). I took a size 20-22 (US 16-18) top, and was edging out of size 18 (US 14)bottoms. My bra size was 44E.

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Today I am 11st 6lbs (160lbs, 72.5kg). I take a size 14 (US 10) top, 12 (US 8) bottoms, and I’m not filling my 38C bra!

I still have 2st (28lbs, 12.5kg) to go till I’m at my goal weight, but today I am celebrating not being overweight!

An update

So, blogs are merged, I’d better give a quick update on things!

Weight loss:

At my last weigh in I was 11 stone 10lbs (164lbs/74.5kg). This means I have lost 4 stone, 25% of my starting body weight! Just 4lbs more and I’ll be in the healthy range BMI. WOOO!!!

Me:
I’m still on Prozac but I’ve been struggling lately. I’m finding all the change quite overwhelming. It doesn’t help that I’m without front teeth at the moment, so looking in the mirror and liking what I see is very challenging. I haven’t had any anxiety attacks, but I’m not going out again and some catastrophic thoughts are creeping back in. I’m hoping that once my dentures are fitted at the end of this month that things will pick up again.

Other stuff.
Home ed is going well. We seem to have settled into a pattern of slightly structured in the mornings, with free learning in the afternoon, evening and bed times! We’ve almost got the house completely organised. Another couple of weeks and it’ll be completely tidy!
I’ve rediscovered my knitting mojo. I want to knit ALL the things. Especially garter stitch short row shawls. I think my neck will be quite warm this winter!

I leave with a pic that just about sums up my days 🙂

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What today looked like

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