Refocus

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It’s been a good year.  I’ve finally started to achieve a few things that have been missing in my life, or at least things that I’ve always wanted to do but just never done.  Financially I’ve managed to get to a much better place.  I’ve paid off almost £10K in debt in the last year. Since last June I’ve lost 2.5st and finally feel like I’m on the right path in terms of being healthy and looking after myself.  Exercise has been sporadic to say the least, but I’ve managed to get to a point where i’m doing it because I enjoy it, and not as some other means to an end (e.g. to lose weight), which i’ve found doesn’t work for me anyway.

However, it’s easy to lose focus sometimes.  I’ve definitely done that a little over the last couple of months.  I think being so intent on getting rid of debt left me feeling a bit flat because I had to say no to so many things, and I wanted a break from it.  While I’ve not added to my debt, I decided to undertake another course which has now started, so I had to pay for that.  Also, in a totally unplanned and random move, I swapped my car earlier than planned, and upgraded it a year earlier than intended, so I had to pay a deposit for that.  I’ve also paid for a couple of holiday things next year, which isn’t too bad as it’s paying ahead rather than after returning from holiday, but again, this means i’m not paying my existing debt off.  All this means is the total of those costs came to around 3.5 months worth of debt over-payments, hence i’ve only paid the minimums in the last couple of months, and the upshot is i’m effectively going to take a few months longer than planned to get to the point where it’s all paid off.  A few times in the past two months i’ve also spent more than planned, and thus paid less back to debt, adding a few weeks on to the repayment schedule again.

Food wise, I’ve been really busy lately so focusing on nutrition was getting a bit old hat, and I let prep slip so fell off the sugar wagon, as I said in my last post.  Interestingly, for me the whole money thing is also really linked to this…I get lazy and then buy a lunch i should have brought in, or I nip to the shop and buy some unhealthy snack.  I find if I let one thing go, everything starts to slide.  I’m definitely an all-or-nothing kind of person.

So I’m just writing this as a reminder to myself that actually it’s time to refocus again.  I’m never going to let my debt creep up again, but I DO want to get shot of it once and for all, so back to being strict again.  It works, so that’s what I need to do.  Food wise, I can feel old habits and patterns creeping in, and there is no way i’m putting that weight back on again, and I DO want to get shot of the rest of the weight I need to shift, so back to normal low carb life without flour or sugar, and the weight will take care of itself.  I think clearly what I’ve been doing this year works for me, because even though I’ve strayed off the path a little, it doesn’t feel great to do so, and i’m keen to get back on it.

Being a little bit strict and having to cut back and say ‘no’ to too many outings again isn’t great but it WILL be worth it so I can rid of all my excess debt and all my excess weight.  It’ll be great to finally see the back of both! 🙂

 

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Confession time

I screwed up. On July 1st I gave up sugar properly for the second time this year. The first time, starting on 27th January, I made it to 78 days, except actually it wasn’t really that long because I had the odd scone here & there, convincing myself it wasn’t really a sugary thing I was eating. I know, dillusional. This time, in July, I gave up sugar and all flour based stuff too, as I realised I couldn’t do one without the other properly. I made it to 82 days then due to shoddy food prep & a busy week, I grabbed a couple of croissants for dinner from the local shop. The next day I had an almond croissant. Then today I was out this morning and scarfed down lots of mini cake bites that we’re sitting in front of me, begging to be eaten. Or at least that’s how it felt. I’ve not felt that once since July. I’ve had loads of temptation in the way and not had difficulty saying no. 

So it sucks but it’s hardly the end of the world. It’s just reconfirmed that low carb works for me, that I can’t ‘just have a wee bit’, whether sugar or savoury floury things, that I need to just get back to what I was doing and not stray from that. It still feels to me a ridiculous thing that I can have such an addictive response to something as basic as a bloody croissant. But there you go. I’ve luckily not got a problem with drink, drugs or smoking, so it could be worse! 

I was going to pretend it hadn’t happened, but I realised that wouldn’t help me. I’ve also decided to restart my sugar-free quit app. I’m not going to track every day until I die, but I’m determined to make it 100 days before I stop counting, and it’s just something I do, for good. 

So the plan now is just to refocus and get on with it. 

🙂

Time for a challenge – results!

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So about a month ago I thought I’d challenge myself to see how little I could spend in a month, only allowing myself to buy food to cook with, essential toilettries and anything I needed for the allotment (knowing that wouldn’t be a huge spend). So now that it’s nearly the end of the month, how did I do? Erm…..

Essentially my mark is “could have done better.”  On reflection knowing what was happening in April, I possibly didn’t pick the best month to try this. I’ve been studying via distance learning part-time over the last 24 months, with the course ending mid-April this year. It culminated in a short assignment due in the first week of April and a long essay due on the 13th, as well as finishing off the week-to-week work. As a result, the first two weeks of the month meant sitting all day at work, coming home and sitting in front of the computer all evening. Cooking kind of went out the window, or at least planning food did. I’d make something quick for dinner, without thinking about making enough for lunch then next day and then had nothing to take to work so I bought a few lunches that were not part of the plan! Also I ended up unintentionally ramping the carbs ups, such that cravings went through the roof and I broke my sugar fast 😫.  This coincided with PMT, which definitely didn’t help. It made me realise that while I wasn’t craving sugar in and of itself for a whole 78 days, when I started eating more carbs, that made me want some so I had some Maltesers to ‘get it out my system’. Then I had some more sugar. Needless to say I have more proof (if ever I needed it) that I don’t want sugar in my life as I have zero control. Interestingly though it also made me see the influence an excess of carbs has, and why personally I do better overall on lower carbs. So lesson learned. I’ve reset my Quit app again, and back to low carb higher fat (LCHF) proper.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the money. This month also started off really well when I received a £426 refund for my course, as I was entitled to a discount as a result of being a past student at the University, but I only recently just found this out. Initially I stuck it in my savings account with the thought it could go towards another course in September. But having finished this course, and rejoicing in the new found sense of feeedom (i.e. no more studying in the evenings/at the weekend!) I made the decision that I won’t do another course this year, and promptly put the whole refund to my credit card to pay off some debt. So this meant I had no spare cash this month.  Not a problem I thought…..and then a bill I’d forgotten about came in and bollocks my no spend (or minimal spend) month was kiboshed good and proper. Bugger.  I also forgot that I’ve yet to pay for airport parking for a trip next month, so the upshot is the spare cash I had for next month will now go on parking, and this means I’ve had to cancel a trip to see friends next weekend. It sucks balls.

So what have I learned?

1. This year I’ve cut my spending drastically, and actually leaving at that reduced level is sensible and manageable – I don’t need to aim for less, as I’m still way over paying debt each month. Yes I want to clear debt, but I also don’t want to be scraping about for pennies when there’s no need.

2. Don’t put ALL spare cash to debt, at least not until the end of the month. I’ve written a pretty accurate  12 month budget and accounted for maybe 90% of my expenses but it doesn’t leave much room for the unexpected. I have some money in a savings account but at the moment it’s earmarked for my holiday next month, so technically I have no reserve until I build it back up post holiday.

3. Buying the odd lunch/coffee out is okay, so long as it’s the exception and not the norm.

4. Sugar is still a bastard and no, I cannot moderate it. My cravings cannot tolerate high carb in general, so back to clambering on the LCHF wagon.

I should say that I didn’t overspend this month – I’ve still not used my credit card and I’m not in overdraft – but at the start of the challenge I expected I’d spend about £100 – £150 less than usual (‘usual’ these days is £300), but that’s not happened. Needless to say I’m happy it’s pay day on Wednesday as my bank balance is in single figures.

So, back to normal. I’m still on track to clear my debt if not by 31st December, then by the end of January next year.  I can live with that 🙂

The waiting begins…

After a fairly changeable, wet and blustery week, I was happy to wake up to a still blustery yet considerably brighter Saturday. I was especially excited upon waking up because it meant only one thing: allotment day!! After the clocks go forward this weekend I’ll have time to nip down after work before it gets dark, but I was really looking forward to going there today because – wait for it – today was the day to START ACTUALLY PLANTING STUFF!! 😀

A few weeks ago I bought two types of salad potatoes from the allotment trading  hut: Charlottes and International Kidneys. The latter are like Jersey Royals but can’t be named that, as they’re not from Jersey. Kind of like sparking wine & Champagne (which isn’t from Jersey either).  The tatties have been sunning themselves on my windowsill, happily chitting away (i.e. sprouting. This, like all things allotment was new to me).  So after a good while chitting (I like my new word) it was time for them to up sticks (and chits) to their new home in the allotment. After a quick dig over of the bed, I created two 6″ trenches and planted the spuds. 


I hope I’ve planted them correctly, but who knows. I’ll soon find out!

Next up: onions! When I bought the potatoes I also bought a mix of red &  brown onions. After consulting my allotment expert (Nicky) on whether I should have been sunning them in seed trays before planting, happily I was advised I could just stick them straight in the ground. Hurrah!


I planted about 5 rows in all, and lovingly covered them with soil along with some good wishes and hopes that I’d planted them the right way up. 

Next up was garlic. I stuck a good number in a freshly dug raised bed and then sat back on my bench in the sun to admire my handiwork. It was such a glorious morning that I sat for a good while soaking up the sun and being glad to have the allotment to spend time in. I’ve already decided that even if nothing grows, I absolutely love pottering about, digging up weeds, endless bramble roots and just being outside in the fresh air 😊. That said, if all else fails I’ll still get some rhubarb and by the looks of things, raspberries, neither of which I actually planted. 


All I need to do now is stop myself from a) staring at the soil willing things to grow, or b) slightly digging everything up to check it’s okay.  Mind you, if the rate at which the weeds grow is any indication, I should manage to grow something, hopefully not just more weeds. With 2.5 beds left to plant, there’s still plenty to do, not least clear the old tomato bed, and the surrounding makeshift fence. 


At least recent winds knocked a quarter of it down, so that helps. 

Anyway, another happy stint at the allotment done, it must be time for tea. 😊

One down eleven to go

I know it technically isn’t the end of the month, but I’m taking a wee break from studying so thought I’d look back at the month.

I set some goals at the start of the year, but already I’ve had to rethink one of them.  While my hamstring is much better, i’ve been having a fair bit of trouble with my back, well my hip.  It seems to be down to an impinged sciatic nerve which is a pain in the ass (literally).  As a result i’ve not been running since early December.  I’ll be honest and say I’m slightly scared to try again, especially since my back is not amazing.  However, I’ll get there eventually and will soon be running again (thinking positively).  The upshot of it is that I’ve had to be realistic and admit that Brighton Marathon just isn’t going to happen.  So I’ve deferred my place until next year.  It’s disappointing, but the crux of the goal was to run a marathon this year in a time I’m happy with, so there’s still an opportunity to do that.  Outlaw marathon is still on the agenda.  Despite the hesitancy I will give running a go this week and fingers crossed it’ll be fine then I can start to rebuild.

I’ve definitely had a few positive achievements this month though.  For one, the allotment is going well and I’m making progress in tidying up what I started with.  Even better though I love being there and pottering about and doing something productive.  It feels amazing.  The other thing I’m really happy with is that I created a strict budget and I’ve completely stuck to it.  I’ve got £1.41 left in my spending account to last the week, but that’s fine because I’ve got food planned for the week and don’t have a need to buy anything before payday at the end of the week.  It’s been a long month pay-wise (5.5 weeks), and it’s January – I think normally at this point i’m a couple of hundred quid overdrawn and i’ve added to the credit card, post-Christmas.  Not this year 🙂  It feels great to be properly in control of my money.  As much as I’ve been managing my debt for the past 12 months by paying it down, I was always spending too much on life in general and just building it back up.  No more!  February is going to be as tight as a gnat’s chuff money wise, as I’ve a holiday to pay for, but I can manage it within the budget I’ve planned, so it’s all good.  As I said before, I’m going to have to say no to a lot of other fun stuff that costs money this year, and it might sound boring but it needs to happen.  Anyway, having a holiday in February with my fabulous pals makes me a very lucky girl, so it’s going to be a great month 😀

Finally I’ve started my the last course of three that will lead me towards my PgCert in Global Development Challenges.  I’ve passed the first two courses with a B in each so I’m happy with that.  My aim with this course is to keep on top of it and not get behind as I have in the past as it just makes life harder and when it’s more stressful it takes the enjoyment out of it.  So i’m on track nicely and really enjoying the studying.  Honestly if I could be an eternal student I think I would be.  So i’m looking forward to the next couple of months of that.  On that note, I need to get back to it.

Happy January folks 🙂

 

One step forward, 20 back??

All seemed to be going fairly well with the hamstring.  Granted I tried a gentle walk/run at the physio on Dec. 21st and it didn’t go too well, and running was out of the question, but at least it was feeling better again.  I went for a long walk in Greenwich with my pals on Boxing Day and hamstring felt okay, the only issue was my calf really tightened up.  Anyway, leg was improving.  Until I stepped into the car today after work, and something went ‘ping’.  As a result it is now bloody sore.  BUGGERY BOLLOCKS!!!!!  I’m soooooooo pissed off.  In fact it feels worse than it did when I first injured it after Parkrun.  So okay I know it’s hardly the end of the world, and yes I’m otherwise healthy, blah blah blah, but I’ve already lost about a month of training for Brighton and this isn’t going to help.  I’m waiting to hear from the physio tomorrow to see if they can slot me in next week, but regardless I feel like it is back to square one.

Clearly I’ll just need to wait and see, but having had such a good year of running with NO injuries, this is just so frustrating.  I feel totally gutted.  The reason I signed up for Brighton was because I wanted to be able to run a marathon I could be proud of.  I’ve completed two, and while yes, I’m happy to have done so, i’m not proud of my times for either.  This isn’t a reflection on anyone else who has run in similar times, and i’m not fishing for compliments either, but I want to be happy with my performance.  So if this hamstring injury takes out too much training time for Brighton, i’m not going to run it.  I’m not having another race to feel disappointed with.  If this happens then I’ll focus on the Outlaw as my A race.

I also have to admit that I think part of my frustration is that despite the fact running has gone well this year, which I’m proud of, and that I’ve lost a bit of weight, I could have made far greater in roads into the weight loss this year than I have.  I could come up with a million excuse, probably none of them valid.  I set myself goals, and if i’m honest I rarely achieve what I want.  I may set targets that are too high, but when you can’t achieve something that millions of others can (i.e. not being massively overweight), it makes me feel like a failure.  Again, i’m not fishing for compliments, I just need to be honest.  I’m a good starter, I’m a shit finisher.  Would I be injured if I’d reached my goal weight this year?  Maybe, maybe not, but regardless I’d be healthier overall which is more important than anything.  So while i’m frustrated at the injury, I’m really fucking annoyed with myself.  I’ve not asked the best of myself on a few fronts this year, yet no-one else is going to do it for me.

I realise I may be getting ahead of myself at the moment, and it might all work out such that I can get back running fairly soon and make up the missed time, but I can’t afford to miss too much.  What really hacks me off with this hamstring is that I can’t do lower body gym work at the moment either, gah! RANT RANT RANT.  So, I’ll just need to see what happens over the next few weeks and will decide from there.  I’ve got other build-up races in Jan., Feb., and March next year too, so I don’t want to miss those.

Anyway, c’est la vie.  I shall report back and make decisions once I know more about what’s going on with this hamstring.  If anyone knows a quick and easy way of grafting a new one on, please do let me know.  Thank-you kindly.

 

A year in review

I know, I know… the year isn’t exactly over, but there’s not long to go, and seriously who isn’t ready to kick 2016 in the arse and tell it to do one?  I mean WT actual F was going on with this year??  Celebs dying left, right and centre, Syria going from hellish to significantly more hellish, random terrorists killing people in Europe, not to mention the total and utter bollock-fest that is Brexit.  Ah but don’t worry, at least we ended the year with a Trump card! Shoot me now.

Of course on a personal level it’s not all doom and gloom, far from it.  The first half of the year was pretty great, and a fabulous holiday in Lanza with my Pirate pals was a real highlight.  June totally sucked balls as a close relationship with a friend came to an end, just as the Brexit vote came through, so that definitely wasn’t a good month.  But, c’est la vie, and life does indeed go on.  I think I went into a kind of post-Brexit haze, I completely buried my head in the sand about it all and did the whole “if I don’t think about it, it can’t affect me”.  However, since I’m no longer 2 years old, I discovered that I can’t close my eyes and pretend it’s not there, so I pulled my head out the sand a couple of months ago.  Then around the corner was another fabulous Pirate holiday, and some really good running events that left me feeling pretty good about my marathon next year.  Then Trump won, and I injured my hamstring.  Fucking hell (okay so the Trump thing is worse).  In a way though, I was so shell-shocked that the UK could vote to leave the EU that it was like nothing else could actually shock me anymore.  So I hate to say it but there are scary times ahead with him in charge, and possibly Brexit is the least of our worries.  As I said though, life goes on and you just need to get through and make the most of it.

So where are we now?  Well good old hammy seemed to be on the mend, so the physio tried to get me doing a walk/slow run on the treadmill today, but it didn’t go too well.  It’s more sore now than it has been for a while.  Bugger.  I’m hoping it’s just scar tissue etc. that’s making it feel bad, but for the next 10 days I’ve got more exercises to do in order to test it a little under load, and then I can try 60s walk/60s run again.  Fingers crossed.  Unfortunately it means another DNS as I’ll not be able to do the Gut Buster 10 miler on New Year’s Eve (I also missed the Christmas Pudding 10k  because of this, gah!) but very happily the organiser has said he’ll defer my place to 2017 which is fabulous 🙂  In terms of the April marathon, it’s not over yet.  I’m hopeful that I will be back to running by the start of the new year, and I think I’ve still got time to get back to a good place.  Brighton was going to be my A race, with Outlaw marathon my B race.  I want to do a 5:30 marathon (well quicker would be FABULOUS but I’ll settle for that), and maybe if that isn’t at Brighton then it will be at Outlaw, so all is not lost.  Shit happens, but it’s fine and i’ll do my best to do well in both races.

So despite 2016 throwing a vast amount of shite at everyone, I can honestly say there is still a lot to be happy about.  I remain ever grateful that I live the life I do, that I have the freedoms I have and most importantly the most amazing bunch of friends and family in my life.  That’s what makes it good 🙂

2017 for me isn’t about new resolutions but more about carrying on those I’ve started this year.  I started writing some appointments in my 2017 diary today, and noticed the goals I’d written in the front when I bought the diary a couple of months ago:

  • Get to goal weight
  • Run a 5:30 marathon
  • Run a 1hr 10k
  • Run a 30 min 5k
  • Pay off all my debt

I’ve already started down all of these paths.  I’ve lost some weight this year and will re-focus on that from Boxing Day.  The running is slightly hampered at the moment, but this year was about regaining a love of running which I’ve done, and I know I’ll get back to it before long.  The debt is the biggest focus for me in a way, and i’ve been paying it off this year, but also adding to it by paying for the course I’m studying etc.  However, next year I’m determined to get rid of it once and for all.  I’ve got a budget planned out for the next 12 months, and by April will also have a little bit of emergency money saved to cover anything I didn’t anticipate, to prevent the need to add to the debt.  I’ve had to say no to one holiday that I’d planned, but it will be worth it in the long run (to be fair i’ve already got 2 cheap Lanza trips planned & partially paid for, so I’m doing very well).  There will be a lot of sacrifices in terms of social life etc. though, in order to reach that target, so apologies if I say no to a lot more next year.  If I don’t make sacrifices I’ll never get it paid off once and for all.  I’m looking forward to the challenge though, and I’ve got LOTS of things to look forward to in 2017, so i’m excited about that.  Not least my fabulous new allotment!

So all that remains is to wish everyone reading this a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year, and to say thanks so much to all my friends who have supported me and made me laugh this year.  I couldn’t have done it without you.  Love you all xx