Category: Off-Topic

Freedom from Dieting 

I want to take a minute to talk not just about this picture, but what it represents. 

Depending on how long you’ve known me, or followed me on various social media sites, you know I’ve been a serial dieter. Slimming World, Joe Wicks, Calorie Counting, Macro Tracking. You name it, I’ve probably tried it (never did 5.2 though….more like 7.0 😂). I work hard in the gym (although that’s on the back burner at the mo) so by rights, surely I should be a lot slimmer than I am. Trouble is, after years of jumping from one diet to another and binging because I’ve deprived myself, my body doesn’t know if it’s Arthur or Martha anymore. It doesn’t know if I’m going to over feed it or starve it. 

Over the last year, I’ve ditched the diet. And it’s very freeing. I haven’t really respected my body though. I’ve just enjoyed eating guilt free! There’s been a shift in recent weeks though. Linked to Reiki perhaps? According to my Master, Nicola, it’s natural for people to become a bit more conscious and mindful after they’ve been attuned.

So basically, I’ve thrown away my diet rule book which has been scary at times. Especially when I’m well aware that I have put on weight. I was kind of alright with that for a while. I’m trying to switch to a meat free diet, which I’m succeeding in. However, due to a lack of imagination, I’m just replacing meat with more carbs. So I’m succeeding, but not in a healthy way. 

I do believe however, that I have finally reached the point of wanting to become more in control again. But I’m ready to approach it in a caring way. I have no desire to deprive myself, or trick myself into thinking what I’m eating is dead yummy and despite a lack of calories, an adequate replacement for the real craving. 

And we’re back at the peanut butter hot chocolate, pictured. I think I bought this during the Joe Wicks phase. The instructions say to mix with hot water. And it’s only 83 calories!!! Well that obviously means I should consume it with a big smile on my face exclaiming how I can’t believe how something so low calorie can taste so amazing. This though. This is shit. Even me, a seasoned faker, couldn’t do it with this.

So for the past three years it’s been condemned to the back of the cupboard. Today, I had a bit of a clear out of that “back of cupboard”. It was full of almost empty seed packets (chia and flax – also courtesy of the curly haired fitness freak), forgotten tins of tomatoes and those odd bits of pasta that aren’t enough for a full meal. I’m proud to admit however, there wasn’t a mugshot in sight (if you know, you know!)

Of course, the point of this story, the hot chocolate, was also found, lurking. The thing about it though, is it smells incredible, and I really struggled to fathom how it could taste so dire. Before I resorted to chucking it in the bin, which really should have happened ages ago, I was curious to try it again. But this time I did it with hot milk. Yep. You heard. I broke all the rules and made it with a WHOLE MUG of semi-skimmed milk. I see your 83 calories and raise you 200!

You can shove low calorie up your arse. This hot chocolate is a thing of beauty with hot milk. It totally transformed it 😍

What I’m trying to tell you here, is that I totally lost my way with food. I was programmed to forever find fat free, lower calorie or syn free option. I lost all enjoyment with food. It became something to reward me or punish me. I stopped experimenting in the kitchen and making fun creations – which I had previously loved. I followed rule books, and without a shadow of a doubt, the wrong one. I wasn’t unhappy, but I was obsessed. Now I’m starting to enjoy it again, and I’ve lost that guilty feeling. I’m naturally starting to just make better choices

Finding Reiki

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The title of this blog is slightly misleading. Because I didn’t find Reiki. It found me, as is the case for most people. See, you feel called, or drawn to Reiki.

Reiki means ‘Universal Life Energy.’ It’s a gentle, non-invasive holistic therapy which can be used to heal both physically and emotionally. If you are attuned to give Reiki, much as I joke about having ‘healing hands’ that’s not strictly true. You are simply able to act as a channel for this spiritual, universal energy to reach the recipient. Reiki is an intelligent energy, so whilst intentions can be set for how it works, it will always work for the highest good. In other words, it will help you in whatever way you need. I find it really tough to explain actually, and if you feel open to it, the only way to “get it” is to experience it.

My journey with Reiki started in July last year when I saw an event on Facebook for a First Degree Reiki attunement at the MS Therapy Centre. For unknown reasons, I felt that I just had to go on this course. I’d never even had a Reiki therapy at that point.

The course was booked in for the 15th September and before then I did finally experience Reiki and I just knew I was on the right path. My first therapy was about a week before I was due to go back into work after I’d been on long term sick after Lemtrada. Anxious is not a word I would use to describe myself. I’m pretty chilled out. But I’d started to get really worked up about going back to work. I had the most horrendous knot in my stomach. Reiki definitely helped me to relieve that. I had a “healing crisis” after my first session. This is normal in lots of people as “bad energy” gets unblocked from your system and can present itself in lots of different ways. For me it was uncontrollable sobbing and a splitting headache the day after! It didn’t put me off though and I had a further treatment before attending the course.

The First Degree attunement was easily the most spiritual experiences of my life. First degree has a heavy focus on self-healing, but also enables you to heal friends and family, pets and objects. So basically anything! Even food. You’re not going to make it organic or anything, but you can dissipate any negative energy that might be in it. Following on from the day long course, I had to practice Reiki everyday for 21 days and keep a journal of my experiences. This was the point at which I became a Reiki cynic. How on earth was I able to do this undefinable, sacred, pretty much magic, healing thing? I was totally open to receiving it from Nicola (my Reiki master), but I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that I was able to do this “thing” that I was in awe of. Receiving it is the most incredible gift and I really struggled to believe that I could give it.

In spite of my doubts, I persisted because they say that the more you use Reiki, the stronger your ability to attune to the energy becomes  And your confidence grows too. The first “a-ha” moment came for me six days after my attunement when I gave Poppy her first Reiki therapy. I had read a lot about Reiki for dogs and how you can give it to them. And she was exactly as they described. She remained so calm, and occasionally moved to direct me where she wanted my hands to go. Dogs are far more intuitive than us and just “know”. When she had had enough Reiki, which was about 40 minutes worth, she got up, licked me on the nose and walked off. Just like they described in what I had read. I couldn’t believe it! Maybe, just maybe…

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By Day 16, when “switching on” Reiki, I had started to feel a shift of energy in my hands. I was starting to observe some really positive changes in my life. I was losing some obsessive habits that aren’t good for me. At the end of the 21 days, I received my certificate and continued to practice Reiki on myself whenever I felt called to do so. I purchased a massage table so that I could be comfortable whilst giving it to friends and family.

I eventually plucked up the courage to give the girls a therapy and I was met with an overwhelmingly positive response, and for the first time, I gave in to intuition whilst giving Reiki. It was a real confidence boost! After that, I continued to give the occasional therapy to people who wanted one but gave it mostly to myself and Poppy (when she let me!)

On Saturday, I had my second degree attunement. This is so exciting, because it means that I can call myself a Reiki Practitioner should I choose to. That means, I can have a business, although this isn’t something that I feel called to do right now. In addition, I can send Reiki over distance and to the past and future. In order to get my certificate, I need to do 30 of these types of therapies. At least 15 of these should be over distance. In addition I need to do four hands on therapies and receive four.

I am loving this journey so so much and I would say without a shadow of a doubt, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever discovered. Even better than sliced bread!

 

 

 

 

Hey there, it’s Yogi (Bear)

Happy New Year! Hope you’re feeling good. Promise me you didn’t say “new year, new me” and said “new year, same old awesome me!”

Anyway, as luck would have it, my endless weeks of fatigue which have seen me not step in the gym for roughly two months has come to an end. So obviously, just as all the usual January hordes are turning up, I get my mojo back. Bloody marvellous. It’s ok though. I have a cunning plan for the next 30 days. THEN I’ll go back to the gym!

Last January, I signed up to Adriene Mishler’s 30 day Yoga journey. Because I never see ANYTHING through, obviously I didn’t complete it. I think I did about three days, decided it hurt too much and I couldn’t make time for it, and gave up. This year however will be different. This year I want to continue to just work on my spiritual, mind and body connection and I feel like Yoga is just another step in that journey. And this year, if I miss a day, that’s ok. I’ll just pick it back up again the next day. No-one, anywhere specified that it had to be completed in 30 consecutive days so I literally have no idea why I put that level of pressure on myself!

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This years journey is called “Dedicate.” Which I fully intend to “dedicate” myself too (I’m here all week!) Today was Day 2 and just like yesterday (and last year) it was really bloody hard. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I loved Yoga and was also a huge fan of Les Mills’ Body Balance. I was also about five stone lighter and three dress sizes smaller. And a lot more flexible. And MS hadn’t broken half of my nerves that help with balance!

It’s really bloody hard when you know how easy you have found it historically. It’s really frustrating. Something that I have previously found peaceful and calming is (did I mention) REALLY BLOODY HARD!!!!! Trying to find peace in all that huffing, puffing and complete lack of grace feels pretty impossible.

BUT!

This is a marathon. Not a sprint. Today was easier than yesterday. And my next session will be easier again. I’m on Day 2 of 30. Day 3 of 365. So what if I’m feeling more “Yogi Bear” than Yogi. We go on.

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In other news, I mentioned a few blogs back that I was exploring options to help manage my work-life balance better. Now that it’s agreed, I can say that I’ve compressed my hours. So I will be working four long days with a Wednesday off which will give me a little relief mid week. I start on Monday, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it might help me. Some people have asked me why I haven’t just dropped a day, but that would result in losing 20% of what I earn. Which is a lot! I don’t feel as though I want to do anything quite as dramatic as that just yet. Not until I’ve tried other options. And I really feel like this one will work for me. So I’m feeling quite positive.

I’m due to see Danny (my MS Nurse) in a couple of weeks for my three monthly appointment, and I have my blood test at the same time. I’ve resisted getting obsessed over my lymphocytes up until this point, but I’m going  to ask him where I’m at when I see him. I’m also planning to get back in touch with the counsellor as I want to get started on sessions. Although I feel in such a better place and feel as though I have turned a corner, I feel like I need to tackle any demons that are lurking. I might just be suppressing them.

Finally, I’m so excited to say that I’m going on the next part of my Reiki journey on 19th January. This will enable me to call myself a “Reiki Practitioner” and send it over distance. I’m so excited about this as I’d love to be able to send it to my parents who live a good 250 miles away from me.

All in all, I’m going into 2019 feeling really positive, and I hope you are too!

Project You.

The self-love movement saved me in a year that I felt completely let down by my body. It gave me a distraction, but also helped me to identify what I’m grateful for and appreciate the little things in life. In spite of my body not quite doing what I wanted it to, I could forgive it and fall in love with it.

Personal growth and development has become a huge part of my life, but what I seem to find is that to do this socially (i.e. with other people) it can be really costly. I don’t think it should be a luxury that only some can afford. So it inspired me to set-up my own Facebook group. Because it should be accessible to all.

It’s an idea I have had cooking for a while, but following a conversation with some friends I have made through the self-love movement, now seems like as good a time as any.

So, “Project You. A year to mindfulness, self-love and fulfilment” launches on 2nd January but is already open for members. If you fancy joining, or just want some more info just click here.

The plan is to add new content weekly. It won’t be a massive amount of work – I want it to fit into people’s everyday lives.

But for now, watch this space!

Autumn is coming.

Reading back my last couple of posts have made me feel really sad. I’ve obviously not been in the greatest place in recent weeks. In spite of the amazing self love summit that I attended which really did leave me buzzing for at least a week after, things just haven’t felt right for me.

Tuesday was a bit of a turning point for me though. I had my second blood test done and it presented me with a bit of an opportunity to just “offload” a little. And I am so glad that I did. Firstly, being asked to list all of your current symptoms was quite humbling. A list of five, which aren’t really that big a deal certainly put some perspective on things. The nurse that I saw told me that there was a tablet she could ask my GP to prescribe for me that would tackle the pain in my ankle (which hasn’t let up), the itchy scalp, my up and down temperature and the thigh pain. Possibly even help to lift my mood a little.

It feels weird to accept medication. I rarely even reach for the pain killers when I have a headache, but if it can help all of those things, I’m game. Although I’m still awaiting confirmation that my GP knows to prescribe it to me, it feels like a weight off my shoulders just to know that there’s something that can give me a little relief.

Honestly though, my mind has been heading into dark places over the last week or two. It’s not being back at work. I’m happy to be back actually. No, it’s about the pain in my ankle. I recall, somewhere some years ago a similar pain. Back then, of course I didn’t know it was MS and even now I’m only just making the connection. I probably put it down to dancing the night away in cheap high heels. You know it’s no good for you. I don’t remember it ever being this painful and unrelenting though. Certainly not enough to give me an occasional limp.

I was warned that post Lemtrada, because my body has had a bit of a battering and it will take quite some time to recover, some of my old symptoms would resurface. What nobody warned me of, was that there was a chance they would come back worse than when I first had them. But that seems to be a common occurrence. I didn’t know that. Lemtrada has also made me all kinds of irrational, so obviously I started to fear all sorts. As it’s taken so long to diagnose my MS I wondered, is there a chance it’s been misdiagnosed as relapsing, and is actually secondary progressive? I feel more or less comforted that this is highly unlikely, having spoken to others that have experienced worse symptoms than the original relapse.

On top of all of that, the irrational mood? The spontaneous crying? Generally feeling pretty miserable? All comes with the territory but I’m assured, it does eventually lift.

And I’ll tell you what’s helping my mood lift. Autumn is definitely on its way! I could practically smell it yesterday morning. The slight chill in the air, dew on the cars and the sun a lot lower. All that’s missing is a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks!

Photo Credit: Starbucks UK

Thinking about how much I love Autumn, made me start reflecting on what else I love. What else fills me up? What makes my soul happy? What is it that I need from a self-care point of view? I’ve accepted that for the next couple of years things are going to be up and down. That sounds defeatist, but I see it as a pragmatic approach. I’m going to do everything in my power to keep a smile on my face and make myself feel good.

I love writing, so starting this blog has been a huge thing to keep me happy and I have some great ideas of how I can branch out with it. I’m really keen to share the stories of other MSers. I tell you time and time again that it affects us all differently, so coming soon, I plan on sharing interviews with others affected by MS.

Through this digital age we find ourselves in, I have realised that I no longer read anymore. When I was a kid, in the school holidays I’d be at the library every other day getting a new haul. I’d complete the summer reading challenge several times over. But now there’s always a Netflix series to watch, a social media notification to respond to or my lives have refilled on whatever mindless game I’m playing. So less screen time for me, in order to give me more time to get lost in a book, which is all I ever did before those distractions existed.

I’m contemplating participating in “Scroll free September”, but depriving myself seems like an extreme thing to do. I’ve realised that I’m so all or nothing about everything and because of that, it always ends up being unsustainable. I end up trying to do something positive in my life and it actually ends up making me unhappy, stressed or left feeling like a failure. What I’d rather do is set some principles around how I use my phone. I’m thinking along the lines of “no phones after 9pm”. That kind of thing. Restricting Netflix binges to a couple of episodes a night. Nobody likes to admit it, but it’s only when you really take a critical eye to yourself that you see how addicted you are to your smartphone. I want my smart phone to add to my life and be useful. Not something that takes over my life.

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One of the most beautiful pieces of music you could ever listen to

I LOVE music. Any music. But I’ve realised how much calmer and in tune with myself I am when I listen to classical piano. More of that please.

I love being crafty, and I love being warm. So I’m going to finish my patchwork blanket. I’m so close to it being completed so that has got to be an absolute priority.

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My blanket! Each patch is representative of one week in 2017, and each stripe is a day. I picked the colour based on my mood.

And finally, I love learning. I’ve had a couple of Udemy courses sat on the back burner for a while, so I’m going to pick those up once I’ve finished my blanket. I need to get better at doing one thing at a time and following through.

But most of all, I need to get better at doing more of the things that make me happy.

 We all should.

Reading in Heels – June Review

Sleep has been evading me a little of late. It could be the heat. It could be after effects of treatment. It could even just be the after effects of being off work and not having as much of a routine as I’d like. Whatever the answer, this box was on paper, everything I needed it to be.

Opening the box, it SMELT like sleep and recovery. Inside, there was two bags of Sleep Tight Tea from T2 Tea. I’m into herbal and fruit tea in a big way at the moment, so this little offering was gratefully received. The flavour is really delicate, so quite possibly not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

There was a balm, from Made By Coopers, which is multi functional, helping with both beauty and sleep. The pure oil relaxing candle from Hopping Hair Candles  smells beautiful as well and really helped in chilling me out and getting me to unwind.

The sweet treat this month were the yummiest little biscuits from Chins Kitchen. These little Rose and Cardamom biscuits were everything I would never choose but they were so so good!

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This month’s read was “Bad Romance” by Emily Hill. I’m afraid this one only earned itself about 1.5 stars from me. Here’s my GoodReads review:

“My attention span is struggling as of late, so although I don’t consider myself a reader of short stories, this seemed like a brilliant pick for me.

I really really wanted to like it. But I just didn’t get it. Had this been a full length book I definitely would have given up before I’d even made it halfway. The saving grace of this book was that despite the constant lack of engagement with each story, I still desperately thought that “maybe this next one will be the one.”

I guess the genre could be described as black comedy. And in fairness, I did occasionally respond to said comedy and I really found myself laughing. But not that often.

I also couldn’t connect on any level with the characters. I felt that I should have. I got the feeling I was similar in age to them. But I just didn’t like them. And that could have been because we had such few pages to get to know them.

The stories finished abruptly and I found myself having to re-read parts as I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d just read.

Overall, I kind of found this one a confusing read that I really struggled to enjoy. Having said that, I still insisted on following through to the end and finishing it so it can’t have been THAT bad.”

This is absolutely what I love about the concept of Reading in Heels though. In spite of that, I’m still glad that I got that book. I wouldn’t pick it in a month of Sunday’s so it was still so refreshing to read something that wasn’t my typical choice, even if it wasn’t for me.