Pre-Christmas De-Stress

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I am so. tired. There comes a point in every autumn term when I am completely at the end of my tether and desperately trying not to succumb to whatever germs are doing the rounds at work and-since D started in September-nursery. *Touch wood* I’m doing OK at the minute (having fought off a three week long cough and cold and other signs of being run down), with the exception of losing my voice.

I had a bit of an epiphany the other day. I was running Park Run for the first time in ages and I managed to get 2k done in 14 minutes. But then the route changed and it got to the hilly bit. I’d already felt tired and miserable and then, all of a sudden, I just felt my body and brain go “no.” I realised that, in that moment, I couldn’t do another 3k. And I walked away.

Now, this is generally frowned upon in running circles. Why didn’t I finish? Why am I not going back on Saturday? Am I not disappointed with myself? The answer is- no. Something in my body just realised it was very tired and, had I carried on, I probably wouldn’t have done myself any favours. I’m convinced that sometimes it’s best to listen to those voices.

I made a couple of decisions there and then- 1) I hated Park Run and will go back to my little ambles around where I live a few times a week and 2) I would make sure that, in the run up to Christmas, I would be kind to myself. I’m going to rest, have lots of early nights, get some nice stuff from Lush and read. Once I leave work on Friday, I’m not going to think about doing any work until after the festivities I’m going to have a proper break- or at least, as much as you can do when you have a three year old and it’s Christmas!

My complicated, love/hate relationship with running

Running. I mainly do it because I feel I have to do SOMETHING, even though my natural state would be slobbing out on the sofa, surrounded by crisp packets and Diet Coke cans whilst watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix (and I’m planning a Drag Race post soon. Bet you can’t wait, huh?)

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Anyway, I’m getting better and there are things I like about going for a run (which I never thought I’d say):

  • I definitely like feeling the relief-and occasional smugness- I feel after I’ve done a run. I’m not going to lie.
  • I like my running kit. I have bright pink Brooks trainers, my favourite leggings come from Tesco and I invariably wear a Tee Fury shirt (mostly Powerpuff Girls or Mario vs Sonic, but Doctor Who does make an appearance occasionally.)
  • I like meeting friendly dogs and nodding/smiling at other runners.
  • I’m still massively enamoured with Zombies, Run! I’m now a premium member.
How I feel after a good run.

How I feel after a good run.

I have quite a few things I hate though:

  • I never look good running. I don’t particularly care, but I do cringe when people say to me ‘Oh, I saw you running!’ Ugh.

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  • I hate how expensive decent kit can be- especially sports bras.
  • Why do people- mainly men, but not exclusively- feel like they can make comments about me when I run past? I KNOW I’m not built like that supermodel who was recently pictured pushing her pram. I’ve been told in the past that I’m ‘not built for running.’ I KNOW. And yet, weirdly, I still do it. But thanks for your unsolicited advice. I’ll be sure to look for your fitness DVD, Liam Gallagher Lookalike Monkey Man.
  • I also dislike running when it’s too hot. Or too cold.

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Despite all this, I’ll keep at it. I’m starting to see improvements again after neglecting my running for a couple of weeks.

Gardening is good for you (well, it is for me.)

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I’ve never been what you would consider ‘outdoorsy’. I don’t like horses, or camping, or sunburn. I don’t like sitting in sunshine (sunburn, again.) So why have I embraced spending endless hours outside in the garden?

Simply, it’s good for my mind.

I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, or the extra vitamin D, but I’m finding every opportunity to get out there are get my hands dirty. At the moment, I’m interested in growing vegetables. The picture above is of a pea plant. I’ve always had a soft spot for sweet peas- they were the first thing I ever grew successfully- and so I’m growing actual real peas this year. The variety I chose produces beautiful pink, white and purple flowers and dark purple pea pods- the peas themselves are incredibly sweet and it’s really hard to leave them on the plant:

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The garden has become a hive of activity- D has a sandpit out there and Toby Rabbit is being put to work keeping the small amount of grass down.

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The best bit, though, is eating the stuff I’ve produced (although the birds have got to the strawberries. Next year, I’m doing like Monty Don and getting a teeny polytunnel- if only to stop Bronte sitting on them.) I’ve even started a compost heap, which I’m embarrassingly excited about.

My favourite so far? My potatoes (which have been all over my Instagram like a RASH.) These Cheyenne potatoes were cooked up for a barbecue and tasted delicious.

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I think that’s why I like it so much. I have a reason to enjoy outside and I can have something focus to think about- I’m already planning next year. Also, D is very into the irritating fake northern charms of Mr Bloom, so he’s super eager to help out (which is not actually terribly helpful. I may or may not be directing my son to water a small patch of weeds, rather than proper veggies. Next year I may have to give him his own little growbag.)

I honestly think, with running and gardening, I’ve made a positive change that’s helping me keep my depression under control and making me healthy all round. That’s never a bad thing, is it?

Beating tiredness one step at a time

I’m tired.

Like, really tired. It’s always stressful at work at this time of year, but I’ve never had a toddler in tow. At the moment, I’m counting down the minutes til Easter break. And that when I’m going to make some lifestyle tweaks to try and increase my energy.

Food

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I’m using birthday money to buy a food processor (how exciting! How GLAMOROUS!) and I’ve been religiously reading cookbooks, looking for interesting and healthy recipes, with an aim of increasing my veggie intake- and boosting my energy levels.

I bought the Wahaca cookbook recently and I’m looking forward to trying to cook some spicy, summery Mexican food. I already I have my eye on healthy hot chocolate and breakfast smoothies.

I borrowed Jack Monroe’s new book on a whim from the library and I love it- her style isn’t pretentious, the ingredients are sensible and the instructions are straightforward. I already made the spring veg risotto and it went down brilliantly with D especially (Benn would have liked meat, but that can be added another time.)

My friend Jeni bought me the Deliciously Ella cookbook and now all I want is the food processor, a spiraliser and my courgette seeds to grow so I can make courgetti with pesto! It’s not normally the sort of cookbook I’d think I’d like, but there are some really good ideas in here.

Running

1607067_10152692223017267_7743578639046493132_nLook at my new running shoes! Aren’t they pretty? But also: STURDY. And you can see them from space, which is super important. I’ve been neglecting my running so I’m taking it pretty slowly at the moment, mainly because I can’t go much faster (despite the woman laughing and pointing at me yesterday. Which was classy of her.) However, physical activity is going to help me sleep better and, ergo, be less tired.

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In theory, anyway.

This Girl Can- and so can you.

I am rubbish at sport. I hated it in school, but now I’m older I try, I’m keen- at the moment I manage to get out for a run once a week and I do yoga 3-4 times a week (still plodding with that), but I’m not ‘sporty’. I’ve been told before that I’m ‘not built for running’. I’ve had catcalls and insults thrown at me while I run. In short, it’s easy to lose hope and confidence in my ability to exercise.

That’s where This Girl Can comes in.

The campaign came about after a study by Sport England found that women were more likely to be inactive than men, but that most would like be more active. One of the main things holding them back was self-consciousness about being judged.

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To anyone thinking about starting running or another form of exercise, let me encourage you. I’m a size 16, I’m a slow runner and a hopeless yogi, but I like how I feel once I’ve done something. Once the weather gets better, I’ll do more, even if it does mean I’ll get sweaty and go the colour of a strawberry/tomato hybrid.

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It’s better that I do something- I feel better mentally as well as physically after a run, even if I spend a lot of the run feeling like I’d quite like to die (this happens quite a lot. I’m not Paula Radcliffe.) There’s a sense of achievement. I’ll keep going. I’m even looking into getting new trainers.

Also, I’d like to highlight a list on BuzzFeed- proof that yogis come in all shapes and sizes. I found it really inspiring.

What I want to say is- if I can do it, anyone can.

So you want to help fight Ebola, but don’t want to buy the Band Aid single?

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that I’m not terribly impressed with the Band Aid single (also, I feel old watching it. I’m 30. THIRTY IS TOO YOUNG TO FEEL OLD.) I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it bothered me so much, apart from the fact that Bono is talking about touching people. Hint: if you find Bono ambling towards you, threatening to touch you, I think a tap on the nose with a rolled up newspaper would do the trick of stopping him. You’re welcome.

It also doesn’t bother me that Youtubers are involved- which of us would not milk our fifteen minutes of fame in any way we could? It does remind me of that episode of The Apprentice a couple of weeks ago, though.

Anyway, once I read this article from The Telegraph, I knew that Bryony Gordon had hit the nail on the head for me.

Watching the news (especially Channel 4’s excellent coverage), I wish I could do SOMETHING. Rather than just whinging on social media and joking about Bono, I decided to donate directly to one of the charities involved with the care of Ebola patients: Medecins sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders.

Image: Agus Morales/MSF

Image: Agus Morales/MSF

The thing is, MSF have been working with Ebola patients since March- before it registered on a lot of Western radars. The charity is independent and offers medical care wherever it is needed. MSF runs projects for cholera sufferers, women in labour and other projects, alongside their Ebola project. They need money. You can read about one of the projects aiming to raise Ebola awareness here.

I have only a small portion of the internet that’s mine and a few readers (I’m certainly no Zoella!) But if I can encourage someone to maybe donate a fiver they would have spent on a drink at the work’s Christmas do, or a couple of quid saved from an offer when out shopping, I’d be eternally grateful. And maybe we’d prevent Bono from singing The Line again in a few years.

Zombies, Run! 5K: Week 5

Image: New Scientist

Image: New Scientist

Week 5 has been BRUTAL. More running, obviously, but I’m finding the intensity has increased too. (Yesterday, I started Week 6 and had to stop halfway through). However, I am seeing the effects in everyday life, so it’s worth it.

I’ve been on the hunt for a sports bra and my mind has been boggled by so called ‘sexy’ sports bras. WHY would someone need a padded sports bra? WHO would buy it? If you want to recreate that Eric Prydz video (or Nicki Minaj’s latest), you’re kind of doing exercise wrong….

My running song this week has been Black Widow by Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora. The angry lyrics and menacing beat make me want to just pound the pavement with my feet. But not so hard that I do myself damage.

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