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.

Spring Goals

I figured, as it’s nearly the end of February and we’re predicted a really warm end of the week, I thought I would look ahead and set myself some goals for the next few months; the period between now and June is busy at work and I need to make sure that I’m not just doing work stuff. So, with that in mind, I’m going to set some goals for the time period until June 1st.

1) Read more fiction- and enjoy it! I’ve written about this and I’m determined to continue with it. I’m slowly getting to grips with the problems I’ve had. Maybe I read a few rum books, but it’s getting better. I am currently loving Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Vile Bodies’, so I will read more of his books in the coming weeks.

2) Be positive- it’s really easy for me to get bogged down in my job, so I’m going to try and take everything as it comes. This target also means I need to not allow stress to envelope me. Which leads me to…

3) Get into exercising- I started both jive and yoga this weekend and I really want them to become things I really, really enjoy, even when the novelty has worn off. I’ve started to read up on the history of both and this is really helping me get my head around what I’m doing.

4) Do more writing- and be brave about it! I need to make sure that I start work on the ‘novel’ and maybe put myself forward for writing competitions, solicit some work (perhaps) and really get going with the work. Writing is the thing I love doing more than anything. I should do more of what I enjoy.

5) Knit some yoga socks!

6) Make something with my sewing machine.

7) Buy some utterly brilliant shoes that I will actually wear.

I think that’s a pretty comprehensive and achievable list… Do you have any goals for spring?

Jiving with a bit of yoga thrown in for good measure

So, I’ve done two new fitness related ‘things’ this weekend. This is remarkable for two reasons:

1) When it comes to any exercise other than walking anywhere, I am essentially lazy.

2) Despite outward appearances, I am generally quite shy and lacking in enough confidence to try new things, especially if they involve sweating in a room full of strangers.

Last night, I had my first jive lesson…

Fortunately, I wasn’t thrown into the air! But I did have a cracking time- so much so that when I woke up this morning, it became apparent that I had strained my vocal chords a bit through laughing so much. This was down to the fact that my friend, Suzi, had also signed up independently of me and needed a partner for the evening. Cue lots of very graceless twirls and me poking my tongue out as I tried to master the (fairly simple) footwork. As Suzi was the lead, she may have been referred to as ‘Dear Leader’ and ‘Kim’ ocassionally…

The weird part was when we had to swap partners and I had to get used to the movements of two strangers- I never realised how different we each are physically when dancing, even when dancing essentially the same moves. Anyway, so next week we’ll be learning a bit of an extra twirl and making the leads do a bit more work for a change! What’s really great is that we’re learning to dance with the ‘proper’ music, which made me just want to don a circle skirt, some cat-eye glasses and some seriously red lippy!

The age range was really quite varied, although there was a major shortage of males in the group, so who knows who my partner will be next week. Hopefully I won’t stick my tongue out so much/trip over my feet. At all. And maybe if I get really good, I could buy some of these beauties:

I’ve been keeping up with my yoga this week, when my cold hasn’t made me feel like doing nothing except eating soup, but I decided that I needed an actual teacher to teach me, instead of a DVD. With this in mind, I took myself off to a beginner’s yoga class, which turned out to be a marvellous idea.

I found the lesson calming and really easy to follow, despite being right at the back of the room. The class numbers were also pretty small, meaning that the teacher could help and advise. I’ve been at yoga classes before where the teacher has basically ignored students or been quite brusque, but this was lovely. The routine was more a series of poses being held, with focus on the breath, rather than trying to do a bunch of moving poses, which was great- and I managed to keep my downward dog in position without mentally effing and blinding, so there are improvements ahoy! (The one weird part was when, during the relaxation down time at the end, we could hear the Hare Krishnas in the street, which was lovely and odd all rolled into one…) I did feel totally chilled out at the end of the lesson, to the point where I got the bus home instead of walking; I didn’t trust myself not to get run over!

All in all, not a bad couple of classes for an exercisephobe. I’m already looking forward to next week.

Insomnia

I am currently suffering a bout of insomnia. It is not fun. I have had a lot of broken sleep since Christmas, but this week it’s been completely off the scale. Unfortunately, it’s not fun.

It is completely inhibiting my ability to do much at the moment. I am not one of those people who work brilliantly when they don’t sleep. I’m not going to write a novel in a week, through lack of sleep. I can’t even focus on a book for very long when it’s bad. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been struggling with a rubbish immune system this week too. I make a bloodhound look perky and awake; the bags under my eyes are a wonder to behold (you know the heaviest shopping bag you’ve ever carried? I look like I have that under my eyes- eighteen cans of catfood and a four pinter of milk all stored in my tear ducts. Nice.)

I’ve tried most things for the sleeplessness. Having a routine (or not) does not seem to help much, although I suppose that affects whether I get up in the night or not. A 6am start does tend to discourage me from getting up for a couple of hours at 1am. Baths, lavender oil, hot milk (with added whiskey!), staying away from the TV/internet before bed- all of them have a negligible affect. Maybe I shouldn’t be on Twitter for hours, but I’m not sure it plays a massive part in my lack of sleep. I need about seven hours to be firing on most cylinders. At the moment, it’s working out about three and half to four hours of broken sleep. If I’m lucky.

About six years ago, a doctor gave me sleeping tablets (the pharmacist told me she’d written double the dose I needed on the prescription, which could have ended really well.) I took one once. I felt a weird sensation- the pill worked really quickly, scarily so. I rang my now-husband and slurred over the phone to him. I needed someone to talk to me while I fell asleep, I was so freaked out. I slept a dead, foggy sleep and woke up the next morning groggy and sort of hungover. The next day I took the rest of the packet to the chemists’ to be destroyed. I vowed never to take sleeping tablets that were that strong ever again. My husband jokingly asked whether I’d called in case I didn’t wake up and, rather drama queenily, I think I did. I was young and stupid, but I was also genuinely scared.

So what am I doing to help myself now? Well, tonight is my first jive class, which hopefully will utterly tire me out. I’m also planning to take a beginner’s yoga class tomorrow if my cold doesn’t explode overnight- it’s kind of one of those annoying colds that sort of drags on with no major symptoms. It’s not annoying enough to take medicine but not benign enough to not be irritating. I’ve been trying to do a bit of yoga every day, in a bid to chill out enough to finally get some sleep.

I wonder if insomnia is genetic. My mother has suffered with it for years. I just need to try and find a solution and any suggestions would be gratefully received!

 

Hmm, yoga.

Today, I did some yoga. It’s not the first time I’ve done yoga; when I first moved to Brighton I did a bit of yoga at the Buddhist Centre, but I was a bit intimidated by some of the women there who seemed to see it as a competition. I was stiff and very unfit, the last thing I needed was some woman throwing me filthy looks when I was struggling. There was also the time I tried very hard not to giggle after said woman accidentally ‘let herself go’. It’s not good for karma or meditation.  I’m just not very good at exercising in classes- I prefer to work at home, with a DVD in front of me. That way, if I mess up, I’m the only person who’s seen me fall over.

I am struggling hard at the moment with winter blues (as much as I love winter, I find it often leads to me becoming depressed, something which needs to be dealt with, if I’m able to) and I am trying hard to look after myself through physical and mental means. I’m often less successful than I would like to be, but I’m doing my best to counteract this. One way is through the jive lessons I mentioned a few weeks ago, which start next week- hooray! The other is that I’m having a go at the aforementioned yoga.

I’m literally starting from the beginning with ‘Basic Yoga For Dummies’, which is a bit annoying as a DVD, but shows the basic positions so that even someone like me can get them quite easily. I’ve already set myself a goal of improving my Downward Dog. I did, however, find it was pretty difficult to be centred on my Tree position when a small black and white cat is demanding food and nudging me…

The after effects, if achy, are actually quite remarkable. I feel relaxed and chilled out. I have no doubt that I will actually sleep well tonight for the first time in ages. I’m hoping that I can keep up with this, but I have no idea whether I will ever bolster the courage to go to a class! I’m now probably going to obsessively search the internet for reviews of other yoga dvds to add to the one I have.

Unless I get bored pretty quickly. Which could happen.