All posts filed under: Emotional

Beach shots after a long hike

Believe. Belong. Become.

Over the last few years, as I’ve been recovering, my thinking has really shifted in terms of how I viewed my illness and my recovery.  At first I focused a lot on the physical side.  Being a trainer and general movement outdoor freak, this clearly was the answer. I was fortunate enough to have some incredible people come along side me at certain times of my recovery, who would just listen and gently suggest things, but I know overall were simply praying and waiting to see me come through it all.  Part of this, “coming through it” was to change the way I saw myself and treated myself – after all you don’t just get CFS/AF, it happens due to stress, life circumstances and more importantly the way you handle them and yourself.  I came to realise that my choices and actions had great consequences and it wasn’t that God wasn’t there with me in them, as actually he meets us where we are at and takes us to where we should be.  He wanted …

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You can never take my…

.. so I’ve never seen ‘Braveheart’ (yep, I know, sorry!) but I hear there’s a quote about freedom in it. Over 18 months ago, during an early evening doze these words came to me; “Freedom is larger than anything you could ever imagine, yet more fragile than anything you’ve ever known” “Great”, I thought, “now that explains freedom to me”. So I pondered about freedom for a while. Freedom is something we all long for and desire deep down. Freedom from, well quite frankly everything. We want to feel like we can live in a way that we want to, to be able to choose what we want when we want, to be able to go anywhere at anytime, say what we want when we want and do what we want to… “if I want to hit that snooze button all day, then sit in bed and eat chocolate spread on toast I should flipping well be able to. Freedom!!! Yes!! Finally!” Is that freedom though? Would that really make me feel free? And actually …

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We are our Choices

Jean-Paul Sartre had it it right when he said “We are our choices”. One of the greatest problems I come across in my job is people choosing to exercise and eat well.  It just doesnt come naturally to some people and a lot of us want all of the benefit but with no effort.  We are either a slave or a master to our choices.  You either have them under control or you don’t.  For the past 5-6 years I have not always had my choices under control and that’s no ones fault but mine.  I felt pushed and pulled to make decisions which ultimately were not healthy for me, I lived out of a place where choices had the potential to cripple me and really I was the only one stopping my choices from being healthy.  The thing with choices is that whatever we decide, we need to live with that and realise that our choices create actions which create consequences.  Sure, sometimes the consequences really can’t be seen but on the whole the …

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How’s your love muscle?

Phew! I just got done an interval and weights training session which I haven’t done in a very, very long time. It felt so good to get the old love muscle working, to get that blood pumping through my veins.  It also happened to be the start of Lent last week.  You know, that time of year when it seems that everyone gives up chocolate or cake, or chocolate cake, or alcohol – depending on how dry January went – for 40 days but no one knows why.  It also happened to be Valentines Day on Sunday.  It seems to me that last week was love muscle week.  That’s right, your old ticker, the old ‘strawberry’, the old “your heart is the size of a fist so fight with it”. Our hearts are muscles which need to be tested in many different ways to grow.  Just like any other muscle your heart needs working, perhaps even more so than others. Hearts are synonymous with love but how many of us actually look after and take note …

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I’ve got my Tight Pants on

In my room I’ve got my favourite pair of jeans hanging up, nope not in the cupboard, but hanging from a shelf. They don’t fit me anymore. Sure I haven’t tried them on in a while but the last I did I couldn’t pull them over my legs. I distinctly remember when I thought the washing machine was shrinking them, turns out it was just my legs growing, in the wrong direction. I’ve kept them as a reminder, and goal, of where I used to be and where I’d like to get back to. One fitness tip which people always suggest for weight loss is keeping old clothes. If you get rid of all your old clothes you won’t remember, or realise, how much weight you have put on. Makes sense right?! In a way it’s like a frog in boiling water, if a frog is placed in boiling water it jumps out. If I try and put these old jeans on I just won’t fit. If a frog is placed in cold water which …

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Today I punched my health choices in the face

Exercise and I have had a tumultuous relationship, one which started young and continues to this day. It’s like a bad relationship or phone contract you just can’t let go off. You know what I mean, we’ve all been there. This, for me, is exercise. “Exercise if you kick my butt one more time I’m out, it’s over. No more jumping HIIT sessions, or weights which I can’t even hold, no more moves which should only be done on a twister mat and if I hear one more thing about crossfit and its acronyms I’ll take its AMRAP and show it what I really think” Why is it that something which is so good for us causes us to go through pain? It’s so much effort and quite frankly I’d rather have Netflix judge me again for how I spend my time than have exercise make me throw up again, physically or metaphorically. Why is it then that exercise can create so many benefits and happiness for us, in the long run (no pun intended), …

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Opening your heart…. with a crowbar

Sometimes opening your heart looks like a flower blossoming in the golden sunlight of a crisp spring day.  Sometimes opening your heart looks like acknowledging that person who smiles at you, even if there is an awkward tension between you and their situation.  Sometimes it looks like a hug from a friend, a cup of tea or dancing round the kitchen. Sometimes it means keeping  your gaze on that person who is speaking into your life, or letting the pain of losing a loved one flood in. Sometimes it’s continuing to love even when you have different connection goals within a relationship. Sometimes it looks like forcibly, and consciously keeping your heart open with a crowbar and letting the love and pain pour in even if all you want to do is drop the curtain. This has been my experience the past few months.  I’ve generally worn my heart on my sleeve, but I’ve also known how to keep my heart closed, at a distance and protected.  However, over this past year I’ve made a …

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Way Back When…

If you have read the my story page then you will know where I am currently at in life, and if you’ve read the  about page then you know what this site is about. How, though, did I get to this point in life at wanting to help people be healthy in every area of their life and not just be physically fit. I grew up enjoying being outside, I broke my arm at the age of 5 falling out of a tree and hitting it on a brick, I came off my bike at 6 as apparently the brakes didn’t work (I’ve hence learned a little bit of bike maintenance, common sense.. Oh and forgiven my parents) and I fell down a huge gravel hill at about 7 as the fence and ‘Do Not Enter’ sign intrigued me.  I loved cycling and grew up playing football. I dabbled at athletics but stopped after pretty much always coming last and never being able to clear the hurdles. I tried my hand at judo, as a kid, until …

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CFS…. So what is it?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome noun – a medical condition of unknown cause, with fever, aching, and prolonged tiredness and depression, typically occurring after a viral infection -a viral disease of the immune system, usually characterised by debilitating fatigue and flu-like symptoms Hopefully you will have read my previous post on CFS and are now asking yourself ‘So what is CFS?’.  Well, after much controversy and research,  what CFS is can’t fully be known.  How you get it and how it is cured is also not fully known.  There has however been significant progress recently and CFS is now recognised as a disease (read about that in this NPR article).  Some people have argued that it stems from physical conditions, others physiological and still others psychological.  However,current opinion is now moving towards the likelihood of CFS resulting from an interplay of all of these and is very likely a made up of many of symptoms and conditions. It is estimated that around 25,000 people in the UK suffer with CFS and not all cases are the same …

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12 Character Muscles // Social Awareness May

This month called on my social awareness muscle to get strengthened.  I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been on top of the news – watching it daily or reading the papers.  I haven’t been completely lost in my own world and unaware of events around me but I could definitely look outside of myself and my life a bit more.  I have, obviously, been aware of some things going on around me in my community, my country and the world but I’ve never particularly followed through on certain issues and I guess never really thought that I could make much of a difference.  That, I think is what Social Awareness May has taught me. It got me thinking again about a friend of mine who, with his wife and a team of people, runs a charity that tackles anti-trafficking and modern slavery.  I had the opportunity to visit them last year and was in absolute shock at some of the statistics and stories I heard.  This was all before actually meeting some of the girls …

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12 Character Muscles // Self – Control April

When I was about two years old, my mum thought she’d lost me.  She ran all around the house, up and down the stairs before finally coming outside.  There at the end of the garden she spotted the top of my head poking out above a bush.  She walked to the end of the garden and as she rounded the corner, there I was standing by the raspberry cane stuffing as many into my mouth as possible.  She looked at me and asked, “Hannah, are you eating the raspberries?”.  I responded with a shake of the head and a murmured “no”.  Not only did this response illustrate my courage at a young age, it also showed nerve and stupidity and some of these qualities may have persisted.  At this point I was covered in raspberry juice and looked like I was playing a much safer (and healthier) version of chubby bunnies, all by myself.  Yes, just keep shaking your head, she’ll never know. Self-control hasn’t always been a strong point for me.  It has definitely …

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12 Character Muscles // Self – Awareness March

March I’ve always been fairly self-aware.  At 16 I took myself along to counselling because, well, isn’t that what any 16 year old does?! I’ve always been a thinker, I’ve pondered and reflected, sometimes to my own detriment.   But what this month has made me question is what I am doing with all this self-awareness?  Having found flaws, characteristics and deep rooted issues, what am I doing about them?  I have a tendency to self-obsess over my faults and issues and to remain stuck there.  What March has taught me is how to start moving forward out of these and actually make progress with my self-discovery.  Unsurprisingly a lot of these character muscles work together and so forgiveness and gratitude have helped climb out of my self-made mires.  Forgiveness towards myself and past situations and thankfulness for what I’ve come through, what I’ve learned and where I’m going. Joy, hobbies and friends have also a key factor in growing in this area.  These traits work together to build health and all can be cultivated.  …

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome… it’s a real thing people.

“I think a lot about chronic fatigue syndrome.  It’s symptoms sound awful, like a flu that will never ever end, that drains you and makes you an exhausting burden on your family and friends until you finally are just an idea of a person” Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham Out of all the definitions of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) that I’ve read this has to be the most accurate, and humourous.   It beautifully explains how you physically feel in relation to yourself mentally and emotionally. You do get physical symptoms of flu, colds, feeling run down and drained.  No amount of sleep helps, or food.  You’re consistently tired and always want to sleep but I, personally, could not always sleep due to my hormones being flat out.  This is what’s known as “tired and wired”.   It’s not a tired that most people know, it’s a dull mind, bleary eyed, achy bones and joints, sore muscles, restless mind, feeling jittery, deadened emotions, confusion driven, always buzzing tired. It’s these physical symptoms which lead to …

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12 Character Muscles // Gratitude February

February “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;  an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill I’ve always thought that I was a pretty grateful person, especially towards others.  However, it’s safe to say that from these first three weeks of gratitude I’ve come to realise how negative I can be and also how forgetful I am.  My default is not to wake up and be thankful for life and breath, but instead be annoyed that yet again (like clockwork) my alarm has gone off.  Although I (usually) feel grateful towards others I’ve seen that towards myself I’m pretty unforgiving and so not grateful at all.  One thing I’ve learned from my healing process is that giving yourself self-love, appreciation and worth is so important.   As gratitude and optimism have both been shown to improve not only physical health, but mental and emotional, giving gratitude a go sounded like a good idea. Like most characteristics gratitude is to be practiced and learned, it needs to be cultivated.  Sure, we all have …

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12 character muscles // Forgiveness January

As a Personal Trainer, and general fitness freak I’ve focused a lot on my physical health and bodily muscles.  But long before this I was interested in my character, in fact at 22 I proudly declared to my 38 year old coworker that I was more interested in my character than my career.  I’m pretty certain she thought I was the strangest 22 year old she’d ever met and proceeded to call me “Young Jedi”.  Anyway.  A friend of mine leads a fitness and leadership program called PayanX.  In his leadership program he talks about 12 character muscles: Forgiveness; Gratitude; Self-awareness; Self-control; Social-awareness; Passion; Curiosity; Ingenuity; Love; Resilience; Optimism and Heroism. So this year I’m joining him, and many others, to focus on one muscle a month.  Unfortunately I only just started so I missed forgiveness January, but thankfully I’m about to start gratitude February so I am grateful that there will be another January (or sooner) to work on forgiveness.  However, what I have learned about forgiveness, from either ignoring it or swallowing my …