Accountability 12.2.2017-25.2.2017

Last night I dreamt that I wrote a children’s book and some woman in Hungary typed it up on the internet and claimed it was hers. I will track that dream bitch down.

So it’s been a productive and very busy couple of weeks, and things have been pretty good overall. The one weird thing I’ve been noticing is that I’ve been really craving a cigarette the last couple of days… not strong cravings and I haven’t been tempted to give in, just random pangs of really missing my old cancer-inducing friends. It’s been almost four months now since I quit and despite slipping up here and there, it hasn’t, overall, been nearly as traumatic as I always feared it would be. From talking to ex-smoking friends and family, the general consensus seems to be that it takes about a year all in all for the cravings to stop completely. I think I can handle that. I just need to not cave – which has happened once or twice after a few drinks… though I never find myself craving or wanting to buy cigs after so hopefully those slip-ups have not done too much damage…

I’m still low to no on the exercise front right now, which is pissing me off to no end. I saw a doctor about my leg/back/hip pain last week and he did some sciatica test on me, which I’ve never actually had done before, I was just told by another doctor that was what it was. This doctor decided that all this time, I’ve not had sciatica at all. It turns out it’s actually a compressed nerve in my hip, an unpronounceable condition (I’m not even going to try and spell it) also known as skinny jeans syndrome. I shit you not… that’s a thing. Apparently you get it from wearing tight clothing, and not even consistently… you only have to wear it once. I bet that shit is widepsread in Shoreditch.

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Source: seinfeldgifs.tumblr.com

So it’s pretty fucking ouchey by all accounts. Who knew.

As such I have been referred for physio (finally) and been told that I can’t do any exercise apart from yoga and swimming… my two least favourite exercises. I can’t faff around getting to a swimming pool at the moment so yoga is having to do for now. I’ve also been put on some strong ass painkillers that my body is not tolerating very well at all… never known drowsiness like this. I came home from uni yesterday, passed out for five hours, got up for a bit then went back to bed for a full night’s sleep. Whilst this amount of sleep is pretty damn orgasmic, I know that my sleep pattern is very sensitive to fuckery, and sleep pattern fuckery gets me depressed and then I’m just no good at all. So I’m doing some stretching here and there to manage the pain instead unless it gets really bad – it’s worse in the morning, standing on the tube in rush hour is a fucking nightmare – but I’m going to wait for the physio before I go crazy with it… I think the stretches I was doing when I thought it was sciatica probably made it worse, so I’m trying not to really go there right now. So for the twice-daily stretching goal I set for myself on my last accountability post… yeah, that’s not really happened.

On the bright side, I’ve not done too bad with the other two goals – namely continuing with healthy eating and directing my sad energy into good things. I have, overall, managed to eat pretty healthy over the last couple of weeks… I’m very happy to have incorporated carbs back into my diet. God, I missed bananas… how does anyone live without those? And brown pasta. Guh. Eating out, however, is still a problem. I’ve talked in previous post about how food and socialising go hand in hand… I still haven’t mastered the art of just ordering a fucking salad when I grab food with friends. I arrive well intentioned, but as soon as the menu arrives and we begin our respective drooling,  I’m either like ‘fuck it, yep, I will have cheese on those fries, please’ and then spend the rest of the day feeling guilty… or I start to panic. What have I already eaten today? Are they lying about the calorie count on their menu? Why is the superfood section so fucking pricey? Do they have nutritional breakdowns on their website? I took half an hour to pick something off a damn Wetherspoons menu the other day because of these thoughts. I did about three calorie calculations on my phone even though I know now that focusing purely on calories is a recipe for disaster. I’m lucky to have such patient friends.

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Source: Tenor.co.uk/FOX

My attitude to food is certainly healthier than it used to be, but sometimes I become really aware that I’m just not there yet. I still hear that little voice telling me that if I eat that dish then I’ll have to not eat tomorrow. I still find myself obsessing over what my next meal will be, I’m still tempted to slip back into unhealthy behaviours because of the temporary feel-good they give me. I still know the calorie content of absolutely everything. I still sometimes feel out of control… and I still fucking love to talk about food, about nutrition, about what this carb does and why this is good and this is bad. I’m good at fighting it, of talking myself down. I just wish I didn’t have to. I used to think that everyone felt like this, but since I really started being open about my attitudes I’ve realised that most people don’t. Like any deep seated thought process I guess it will take a while to reverse. The important thing is I’m aware of it and can tackle it, and I’m able to keep myself focused on what my goal is: eat the most nutritious foods I can most of the time and everything else will take care of itself. Sure, I fuck up sometimes, and I do obsess over it – working on it. But on the whole, I eat well, I stay healthy, I feel good. I try to focus on health rather than weight, an attitude which, although it wavers sometimes, has changed my life. I’m now able to keep well and maintain a healthy weight without going to ridiculous extremes, and I know this makes more sense than absolutely anything else out there. But with these thought patterns still lingering in there, it’s really tough sometimes.

I digress. I was feeling crappy when I made my last accountability post, and I’m definitely doing better as of now. Following the above, my other goal was to direct all my sad energy into positive things, and I think I’ve succeeded pretty well on this front. Uni’s been busy as busy does this past week or so, lots of long, intense classes and I’m finding myself more determined to get as much as I can out of it and more able to focus than I have been for a long time. I feel like I’m finally emerging from the Great Funk of 2016 all shiny and new and ready to enjoy my life again. And I think it’s because I’ve learnt how to channel my bad feelings into positive things. I managed to get myself to an open mic this week and read some of my poems inspired by that period, which was extremely cathartic. It’s weird how borderline yelling some angry verse at complete strangers helps so much.

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Source: Medium.com (original source unknown, please let me know if you recognise this so I don’t get sued thanks)

So I also had a little think about what this blog is actually doing for me, and how it’s helping. It’s a little scary sharing such personal stuff like this, but it really has proved to be cathartic, which is the whole reason I decided to do it. The accountability aspect is really helping me to figure out what’s going well and what’s not in terms of getting and staying healthy; being able to lay it all out rather than trying to pick through a jumble in my head makes it all so much clearer. There’s a lot of crap still festering up there, but there’s a lot of good too, and I can see from laying it out that I’m doing a lot better with everything than I sometimes think I am. It makes identifying the bad stuff easier too. Writing this blog also gives me a nice little project to focus on, another thing to channel bad energy into to create something that’s good for me. Honestly, I wish I’d done it a long time ago.

Finally, I just really want to say thank you to everyone who encouraged me to start this blog, and to everyone who’s been reading and who’s given me feedback. You know who you are – I just want you to know I really appreciate it. xx

Accountability Week 3: January, emotional eating and the kitchen floor reset.

If January was a dessert, it would be the kind no one orders, like a wilted fruit salad with grapefruit in (NIGHTMARE) or a bland sorbet. Go away, January. This is awkward, but nobody actually likes you. We’re skint, we’re cold, it’s ages until summer and even longer until Christmas. And a lot of us are facing you stone cold sober.

January, I loved you in the beginning; on our first meeting on New Year’s day, you made me feel so powerful and special. You and I were full of possibility, and you made me feel all brand new. But as time has worn on, I’ve seen that you are not quite who I thought you were. Things between us are becoming so fraught,  January: youre cold, you continually make demands of me, and you’re downright difficult to live with. This is hard, January, but I’m starting to think we cant continue. Shall you change or shall I? The crazy thing is, you and I were never even about resolutions. You were just a really good month. But you let me down, man. You let me down.

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                                     Source: CollegeTimes.com                                        January, you’ve been manipulating people for years with your fancy ‘look, I’m shiny and new and you can be just like me.’ Piss off.

So basically I fell off the wagon big time last week with this low carb business. The monster of emotional eating has crept up on me big time and I haven’t wanted to fight it. It’s been a rough few days. I broke up with my boyfriend the week before last, and at first I felt great. I was angry, but it was a productive kind of anger, that spurred me on to get a lot of shit done. I suddenly had this incredible confidence. I was in Beyonce mode, spending time with my friends, doing stuff I liked, dyeing my hair really pink because I no longer had to worry about his conservative ass not liking it. I worked out hard, ate well, meditated and felt great.

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                                                  Source: Giphy.com                                                  I’m actually very very uncool but on the internet I can pretend.

But then, perhaps inevitably, the crash came. I’m definitely on the other side now but it was rough. I came home to my mum’s place for a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday night and I didnt actually leave until Friday afternoon. My friend calls this behaviour the ‘kitchen floor reset’ – you go home to mum’s, have an emotional meltdown, get it out of your system then go home all shiny and new. My place was on the sofa under a blanket rather than the kitchen floor and my family quietly allowed my miserable ass to stay there – they’re awesome –  but I’m back at my flat now, sitting in front of daytime TV like a true student, and feeling calm and energised again. Beyonce is still in there somewhere.

I digress. Emotional eating is my arch nemesis when it comes to staying healthy. I think it has an even bigger hold on me than smoking did.

I think there are a bunch of reasons why it grips me and many others. For a start, food is widely available. Nobody will bat an eyelid if you buy a whole madeira cake at 10 o’clock in the morning like they would if you were getting a bottle of wine to drown your sorrows. You don’t buy Oreos off some sketchy guy on a street corner in Hackney. You also can’t simply abstain from food like you can with any other form of abuse/addiction because you’ll like, die… so whilst you can change your habits, know all there is to know about healthy eating and implement it daily until you’re blue in the face, when sadness creeps up on you… hi, my old friend pizza.

There’s also the social aspect of eating. Alcoholics and drug users manage abstinence by breaking the connections they have with the people they used to drink/use with, but imagine saying ‘yeah, I can’t be friends with Bob anymore, he eats too much pasta.’

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                               Source: The Methods Man                               Bob, your addiction is negatively affecting our lives. So we made you an appointment and we want you to keep it.

Beyond the social aspect, you have the social acceptability. Especially after a break-up, and perhaps even more especially for women,  perhaps the main factor is the pure social acceptability of it. People are generally unnerved by the idea of themselves or others reaching for a bottle of vodka to deal with heartbreak, believing this to be akin to alcoholism and the very accurate belief that this will simply make things worse. But a tub of ice cream, or a whole pack of oreos, devoured with a side of tears and snot in front of a Jennifer Aniston romcom isn’t only considered okay, for women, it’s kind of what you’re supposed to do when a relationship ends.

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Source: CBS

Its no problem if it occurs just the once. Its expected. For example, here is the sitcom version:

  1. Tearful woman squirts a whole cannister of whipped cream into her mouth, or devours a tub of Ben and Jerry’s with a wistful, trance like look on her face.
  2. Woman is later comforted by a usually platonic male friend who utters a few clichés, woman tearfully smiles, there is a hug, the studio audience ‘awws’ and everything is okay.

I’m sure this is not too far from real life for many (apart from the studio audience,  unless you have your own personal one following you around everywhere). But for emotional eaters, there is more ice cream and whipped cream beyond the reassurance from kind friends that your sexy ass deserves better. There is chocolate and pizza and secrecy and shame. (Shame is particularly yummy BTW.)

So ranting aside, my accountability for last week: low carb happened here and there but mostly I ate shit. I kind of went into this with a hopeful heart that due to the lack of restriction on calories, the naturally curbed appetite and the fact that with a little creativity, it’s easy to substitute high-carb food with more fat and protein loaded options, this would kind of be the solution to temptation. Of course it’s not. It has helped the boredom eating; being so full all the time means that my mind genuinely doesn’t wander to ordering a takeaway or watching a film with chocolate on a slow Sunday afternoon. But when I’m sad – nah.

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                                              Source: Channel 4                                                   Mmm potatoes…

I can say with certainty that it’s nowhere near as bad as it was, probably down to awareness. I’ll do a little advice post on this at some point. But the last week or so has shown me that I’m definitely not there yet and changing the way I eat is probably not going to solve the problem. I am going to stick with the low carb for a while longer as it has helped with the appetite control, weight loss and I’m definitely feeling the benefit of eating more veggies. But it’s certainly not the solution to emotional eating, kids. Though you probably didn’t need me to tell you that.

January, maybe it is me. You still suck though.

8 Amazing Free Workouts for Beginners

If you’ve not exercised since high school and want to get fit, it’s difficult to know where to start. Gyms can be pricey and feel intimidating as a beginner, and who wants to go running at this time of year?

That’s why at home workouts are a great (and warm) alternative. And now in the age of YouTube, you don’t even have to fork out for a fitness DVD brought to you by the latest Celebrity Love Island runner up. Huzzah. What a great time to be alive.

I believe there’s no reason why you can’t get fit in the comfort of your own home. I personally find it’s a lot easier to motivate myself to stick on YouTube in my bedroom than it is to get myself out running after a long day. For this post I’ve chosen workouts that I have personally tried and found useful that also require minimal or zero equipment. Even with the ones that do, you can improvise with everyday household items, like cans of soup or bottles of water. Hell, I even used my boombox as a kettlebell once (that was unsuccessful, I do not recommend it).

The following workouts can be done at any fitness level, but they’re especially beginner friendly. It’s also okay to swear at your trainer because they can’t hear you 😉 The majority of the ones I’ve selected are led by women, but there’s absolutely no reason why men can’t do them too. The links to the videos are on the titles because I’m a WordPress Pleb and the site won’t let me put the actual videos in here. Never mind.

1.Fitness Blender: Calorie Burning Low Impact Cardio Workout for Beginners

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Source: Youtube/FitnessBlender

Anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes with me will know that I worship Fitness Blender. They are health-focused, body positive and just so damn LIKEABLE. And rather than baring their teeth and yelling ‘COME ON LAZY ASS YOU CAN DO IT’ until you collapse in front of your laptop in a pool of tears and vomit, they huff and puff and suffer with you through the hard parts and encourage you to take breaks if you need them. It’s actually very motivating.

This particular routine is very low-impact and has no jumping, so it’s especially good if you have knee problems. This is also makes for a nice recovery workout if you’ve been working out hard and you’re too sore to go full throttle.

2. Denise Austin – Burn Fat Fast: Cardio Workout

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Source: Befit/Youtube

Denise is much more famous stateside than she is here in Britain, but she’s one of the longest running TV fitness trainers and one of the best. Her workouts are the holy grail for beginners, and this dancey one is absolutely perfect for those starting out. I did this almost daily when I first started exercising and found that my fitness levels, which were shocking at that point, improved very quickly. This one is good if you’re pressed for time because it’s fairly short. And the background people are unintentionally hilarious.

3. XHIT – Total Arms Workout

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Source: Xhit/Youtube

XHIT are a chipper bunch with a range of excellent workouts. This arms workout, led by peppy Brit Rebecca Louise, is nice and short so again a good one to fit into a busy schedule. Ideally this should be done with a light pair of dumbbells, but cans of food or bottles of water work fine – or bodyweight only probably won’t do any harm. Adjust how much weight you use to what you can handle.

XHIT’s channel sadly doesn’t seem to be updated anymore, but Rebecca is very encouraging and flies solo these days. She does a bunch of other good toning/strength videos – I particularly recommend her abs workouts, many of which feature her dog Alfie ‘helping Mummy out’. It’s all a little bit weird but certainly a unique selling point.

4. Boho Beautiful – Easy Yoga for Beginners

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Source: Youtube/Boho Beautiful

This is a gorgeous workout brought to you by self proclaimed ‘digital hippies’ Boho Beautiful. Filmed in the beautiful surroundings of Thailand, this is a gorgeous workout, great for both gentle exercise and a little relaxation. Yoga is great for enhancing your flexibility and the evidence for its health benefits are well documented. Get your zen on, bitches.

Really don’t worry if you find some of the poses hard; this lady is a former professional gymnast who has been doing yoga for years. Just do the best you can and if your body tells you it can’t do something, it’s important not to force it. Work with what your body can do and take it slow – otherwise you run the risk of hurting yourself and not being able to exercise at all.

5. Cassey Ho – Fabulous Flat Abs for Beginners

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Source: Youtube/Livestrong Women

Fitness instructor Cassey Ho needs no introduction. Her channel Blogilates has made her an internet celebrity, and rightly so; she knows her shit. She’s also an advocate of body positivity – watch her moving ‘The Perfect Body’ video here, a response to criticism she received on her own body – and blogs and vlogs about clean eating too.

Cassey has hundreds of workout videos on her YouTube channel and elsewhere all completely free. Whilst some will literally shred you to bits and make you cry (I am never doing that inner thigh video again), this beginners abs workouts is gentle but still a bit of a challenge – stick with it for quick results. I also find her cheery personality to be a good motivator, which is perfect if you also hate abs workouts!

6. Lumowell – 10 Minute Slim Sexy Arm Workout Without Weights

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Source: Youtube/Lumowell

No equipment. Low impact modifications. Ten minutes long?! DO IT NOW.

Lumowell’s workout videos are a little, err, quirky – follow the computerised figure for results! – but this video contains tips on good form to avoid injury and maximise effectiveness along with rolling motivational quotes. They also offer a range of FREE apps for Android and iPhone, including workouts and fitness plans. No excuses with these guys!

7.Denise Austin – Ultimate Fat Burn Workout

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Source: Youtube/BeFit

Yup, more Denise Austin. I guess her infernal cheeriness gets addictive.

Ultimate Fat Burn is perhaps the most challenging on the list, but a good one when you’ve been working out for a couple weeks or so and want to pick up the pace a little. It’s also really fun, but the cues are a little off here and there, so watch closely; you might need to do this once or twice before you pick it up. Follow the lady in the light yellow top on the far left for low impact modifications of some of the slightly more challenging moves. The interval ladder style of this one makes for a good metabolism booster too.

8. Fitness Blender: Low Impact Lower Body and Core Tabata Workout

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Source: Youtube/Fitness Blender

Had to sneak another Fitness Blender one in here too. This is a very low impact but still effective workout for your lower body and core – it’s oddly relaxing and again the lack of jumping makes it gentle on your knees. Don’t worry about the low calorie burn on this one. You will definitely feel the burn to the point of being sore afterwards and hey, it’s exercise – your body will be thanking you! Whilst exercise is great for weight loss, it’s only about 20% of the full picture. The other 80% is about eating the right foods. You don’t always have to work out with the aim of burning as many calories as possible – remember, exercise also improves your strength and endurance, is great for your mood and sleep and benefits your health overall!

You should always talk to your doctor before starting to exercise, especially if you have health problems or are on any medication that may affect your ability to carry out certain routines. I reiterate again that I am very far from a professional on these matters and you should take everything I say on this blog as friendly advice based on my own experience and research. Your mileage may vary – experiment, read and learn to figure out what works best for you.

“I’m sorry you feel that way”: How not to apologise

The apology is something that seems to baffle us as human beings. Some of us do it too much, for example, the classic ‘I-said-sorry-when-she-stepped-on-my-foot.’ Some of us avoid it because it forces us to admit we did something wrong and we find that very uncomfortable. Some of us do it out of the corner of our mouths while looking at our shoes. Apologies are difficult to get right, and they take practice. However, there is one way definitely NOT to do it – EVER. By saying one of the most condescending, invalidating, borderline gaslighting phrases in the English language:

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

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Source: BBC/giphy.com

Ladies, gentleman and all in between: this is not a fucking apology.

“I’m sorry you feel that way” translates, loosely, to “I don’t think you have a reason to be upset but here is a half assed attempt to like acknowledge your feelings or some shit. I don’t think what you feel is relevant to what I supposedly did and I don’t have time to sit down and talk through this with you so that I might empathise with your viewpoint.”

Fair enough, sometimes we might think people’s anger or hurt is irrational. We might not think what we did was that bad, especially if it was an accident, or that we had no way of knowing that our behaviour might hurt someone. And we are, of course, entitled to think that. But if we have behaved in a way that HAS hurt someone close to us – which sometimes we ALL do – we need to acknowledge that fact, listen and try to work something out so that the hurt doesn’t happen again. Of course, this takes two willing people who can discuss something rationally to work out – and it isn’t always possible – but even if you think the person you have upset or offended must be smoking crack to feel that way, never, ever tell them that you’re simply sorry they feel that way. It is invalidating and will cause more hurt.

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Source: Paramount Pictures/giphy.com

(As an aside, if you really do suspect someone you know is on crack, you might also want to deal with that).

Here’s an example of why “I’m sorry you feel that way” is so shitty when you have, unintentionally or otherwise, caused somebody harm:

Bill and Ben were once good friends. One day Bill, feeling that he wasn’t progressing in his office job, fancied a career change. So he decided to become an axe murderer. So he bought an axe and decided Ben should be his first victim. After all, Ben’s a pretty understanding guy and tends to support everything he does.

So, Bill shows up at Ben’s place with crazed axe murderer eyes. Ben feels a bit hurt when Bill charges at him all ‘RARGH I’MMA AXE YOU’ and the following conversation ensues:

Ben: Dude why are you murdering me I had so much to live fooor

Bill: I’m just trying something new why can’t you just be happy for me

Ben: I am but I am also feeling hurt by your behaviour I feel like you didn’t consider how I might feel about you murdering me and that hurts and I wish you would have talked to me first

Bill: I’m sorry you feel that way!

Okay. So here we can see that Ben is laying dying and is quite pissed off that Bill went ahead and acted without thinking about the impact his actions might have on Ben. Instead of exploring Ben’s feelings about how his thoughtless behaviour (which harmed him whilst he benefited himself, whether or not this was Bill’s intention) has affected Ben, Bill shrugs it off with ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ to smooth over the situation without taking any responsibility for Ben’s feelings. Therefore, the implication is that Ben is feeling bad of his own accord, ignoring two golden rules: every action has a reaction and everything you do affects other people.

But, I mean, Bill apologised, right? Ben will probably be cool. Except, he’s kind of dead…

So, whilst Ben was still alive, Bill’s behaviour made Ben feel as though Bill cares more about what Bill himself wants than how the way he’s gone out to get it has hurt him. Bill may not have intended this, and sometimes we all hurt people without meaning to – Bill is only human. It’s what he does next that matters.

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Source: Paramount Pictures/eonline.com

Picture the situation differently. Bill is laying into Ben with his newly purchased axe:

Ben: I had so much to live for I feel sad that you didn’t consider how you killing me might affect me

Bill: Oah, shit man I had no idea. I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings with my thoughtless behaviour. Let me help you up and lets go talk.

So. The outcome here is that Bill and Ben talked and they were able to communicate openly, make amends and move pat it. And Ben didn’t die. Huzzah.

Bill wasn’t considering how Ben might feel  if he murdered him. He wasn’t considering that he was so excited about his new axe murdering career that Ben’s needs (i.e. safety) fell by the wayside. Bill is not merely sorry Ben feels that way: he’s sorry his behaviour hurt his friend and he takes responsibility for this.

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Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men: Creepyass British puppets. Source: BBC

So… when is it okay to say “I’m sorry you feel that way?”

It’s not.

“But what if I am genuinely not the cause of the feeling?”

Well, you don’t need to be sorry, do you?

Here’s a slightly different situation involving Bill and Ben:

Bill: Dude I think I’m in love with you
Ben: Don’t feel the same way soz
Bill: K I hate you now bye

Should Ben be sorry Bill feels that way? No! He doesn’t need to be sorry because in this situation, Ben has not done anything to cause Bill’s feelings. He is not responsible for how Bill feels. You can’t make someone fall in love with you. People just do because people are odd and we are complicated and we don’t always feel the same way about each other, and that’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the way things are.

Now let’s consider that phrase again: ‘I am not responsible for how you feel.’

Sigh. That is a phrase that gets misused far, far too much in the wrong context. It does NOT apply when it’s related to you evading responsibility for your shitty behaviour.

Let us consider Bill killing Ben with an axe again:

Ben: Bill you are such a dick for killing me with this axe I am so annoyed with you right now
Bill: Nvm I’m not responsible for how you feel.

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Source: HBO/gifsoup.com

Um, Bill? You’re killing the guy with an axe. That’s all on you, man. So you’re not responsible for how he’s going to feel in his dying moments? You’re not responsible for how his family and friends are going to feel that Ben has died in an axe murder perpetrated by his bestie? You’re not responsible for the fear that will create in your local community if there’s an axe murder on the loose?

The point is, everything we do has an effect on other people. Sometimes we act like douchebags – I do, you do, your grandma does. We’re all human, and it’s often understandable. But repair it by learning to give a genuine, sincere, heartfelt apology. Most of us never mean to hurt people, but we do, even if at the time we are totally oblivious to it. Even if it was never our intention. Don’t brush off someone you care about. Talk to them and work it out.

Don’t be sorry someone feels that way. They are already taking care of feeling sorry that they feel that way. If the person is of sound mind and is feeling hurt by your behaviour, acknowledge what they are feeling and apologise for being the cause of the feeling – even if you think it wouldn’t upset you personally or you think they’re making a fuss over nothing. It’s the classic ‘you’re too sensitive.’ ‘You’re overreacting.’

None of us are perfect. We all have thoughtless, mean and downright stupid sides. Respect for people’s feelings and open, honest communication will keep your relationships strong.

Treats.

I have a sore throat and am munching blueberries like there’s no tomorrow. I forgot how yummy they were. Fried chicken and Sainsburys muffins literally wreck your tastebuds. And your waistline. And your body. And your LIFE. But damn they sure are good. Why can’t they also be nutritious?!

So as the sore throat part might imply, for the past couple of days I have been a big old sack of lurgy. Literally a sack until early this afternoon, all sacked out on the sofa like a big old saggy sack watching David Bowie concerts on YouTube (God rest his soul). I don’t like taking time off work, it makes me feel bad. And what with being a student in one of the world’s most expensive cities, I don’t particularly like missing out on dem coins either (yes I did just say dem coins and I won’t apologise). The latter is a pain in the arse but not the end of the world; the former is also a pain in the arse but something I am working on changing. I’ll do a post about guilt at some point.

But today’s post is more about how when I’m sick, I tend to think I can do whatever the fuck I want. And by do, I mean eat. Starve a fever, feed a cold, has always been my mum’s motto, and it’s one I’ve taken to heart big time. That’s where one of my biggest problems with sticking to a healthy lifestyle long-term comes in: the excuses. I am a master of making excuses for myself. “Well, I’ve quit smoking, I’m not drinking for at least the next 24 days… guess another square of chocolate is okay… when I’m well enough I can HIIT it off… and besides, gotta have some kind of a treat!”

I used food to death when I first quit smoking. I know that’s quite common, largely because your sense of taste starts coming back and food just feels so good that you can’t stop putting it in your mouth. I was probably quite capable of eating a whole cow those first few weeks. I took the attitude that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for eating a huge portion of spaghetti for dinner and then two cupcakes for pudding; I didn’t really seem to be gaining weight. Plus, my lung capacity was increasing, meaning I could exercise for longer (as an aside – quitting smoking makes exercise so much more tolerable, please do it for that reason alone!) and again… can’t smoke, so gotta have a treat!

There it is again: a treat. Sure, a cupcake is a treat. One cupcake, maybe once a week. Two nightly – that is not a treat. Quitting smoking or not.That is not good. I know that when I eat bad, I get depressed. I know that I feel worse physically.

A couple glasses of wine on Friday? Nice, that’s a treat. A couple of glasses on Tuesday, a bottle on Friday and then a night out involving spirits on a Saturday… each fun on occasion, in isolation. But in 2016, most of my weeks looked like this. “I’m a student!” I would say. “Only young once… can’t do this shit when I’m a real adult with a job. Besides, I work hard… gotta have a treat!”

One of my many unhealthy talents is excuses. I’m a student. I work hard. I’ve had a bad day. I did a Fitness Blender 1,000 calorie workout on Tuesday. So abusing my body and mind is totally fine. Gotta have a treat…

My dictionary defines a treat as “An event or item out of the ordinary that gives great pleasure.” Yes, drinking booze and eating crap does give me great pleasure. But it’s increasingly not out of the ordinary. There was a time in my life when these things really were treats. And my life was better. I was healthier, mentally and physically.

A little while ago, I started referring to myself as a hedonist. I think this was my pretentious way of applying the principle of ‘YOLO’. And also excusing the fact that I was indulging in stuff that felt good because I didn’t feel good a lot of the time and I wasn’t ready to start working for healthy, lasting happiness, rather than spending time looking forward to doing things that created short sharp bursts of pleasure… short lived rather than constant. I came across this great quote the other day – I can’t remember where but please leave a comment if you know who I can credit this to – “bad habits are easy to develop but hard to live with; good habits are hard to develop but easy to live with.” That rang so true.

Do I want to stop treating myself? Absolutely not; I’m determined to enjoy my life. But you really can have too much of a good thing. That’s when it gets bad. So, it is my goal to work at keeping unhealthy treats few and far between; to be enjoyed IN MODERATION and in a way that has no adverse effects on my life.

But healthy treats? Why not every day?

I’m trying to change my mindset as to what a treat that can be enjoyed regularly is. So, here is a list of five healthy treats. Feel free to nab them:

  1. Grooming. Putting on a facepack, a hair treatment and doing a good old DIY mani-pedi of an evening is a treat I’ve been indulging in often lately. It’s relaxing and makes me feel better, no matter what mood I’m in. I’ve decided to set aside an evening for this at least once a week this year – regardless of how busy I am. In fact, especially if I’m busy.
  2. An overpriced smoothie. Sadly not a frequent one if you’re a poor student like me, but sometimes swinging by itsu or equivalent and spending five quid on a healthy smoothie I’ll devour in as many minutes is a nice little feel-good boost. They’re yummy, make me feel all bright eyed and bushy tailed and happy that I’ve done something good for my body. One little thing at a time. And if I can spend five quid on a glass of wine, I can spend the same on this.
  3. BAKING! As long as you don’t munch down all of your creations after the fact (note to self after all discussed above), baking is one of life’s simple pleasures. I keep meaning to take a batch of my M&M cupcakes to the ill-tempered neighbours downstairs. Might get on this one soon.
  4. A YouTube session. This one is particularly good when feeling really bored or a bit low. Sit down for an hour or two and just binge on YouTube vids – I recommend Animal Planet’s Too Cute! selection after a particularly rough day. This is also a good distraction if you’re trying to quit a bad habit like smoking or frequent drinking – how can you still want that vodka and coke when you’re distracted by videos of tiny mewing kittens befriending a big snuggly dog?! Oah teh cutez.
  5. Create something for the pure fucking fun of it. Writing is often such a chore for me, because I have things I am seriously working on for serious and if I don’t treat it like work and take it seriously for serious then how do I expect to seriously get anywhere? But sometimes, it’s nice to just write something that I want to… a silly little yarn or a poem or something purely for myself. And when I do, it’s a real treat. Or I do something I don’t take seriously, like one of my video collages or some doodling. It’s a nice distraction… and stops you resenting the serious stuff.

So much better than cupcakes.

Also, I’ve raised £55.00 for Cancer Research so far for the Dryathlon. Not bad! Love to everyone who’s sponsored me.

I’m going to have a Strepsil now and think about a healthy dinner. Eating crap is not going to make my cold go away any quicker. I’ve typed it, now I have to stick to it. Which is what this blog is all about.