Easter Digital Detox

As much as we are all probably more connected with each other than ever before somehow sometimes we can feel totally disconnected with ourselves!!

It feels that we are constantly bombarded with information and notifications and yes you have a choice whether to respond and engage with these however at times it can seem too much.As I live on my own and run my own business social media allows me to connect to many different people on many different levels and in a way makes me feel part of something so I don’t feel isolated.

But I have to admit that there are times when I’ll use social media to procrastinate doing things that actually will benefit me in the long term which I avoid doing as they are hard; things like self-reflection, challenging self-limiting beliefs or breaking habits that don’t serve me well.So I decided to take the plunge and unplug, now I know that I’m in a fortunate position to do this, my family live miles from me so don’t have commitments to see them. I don’t have a partner or children at the moment (What I’d give to have these is a whole other blog post!!!) so my time is my own and the long Easter weekend seemed the ideal time to do it.

In all honestly I couldn’t wait for Thurs evening to come so that I could turn off my devises and escape into my own small world for four whole days. In years gone by I used to dread this four day weekend as I wasn’t comfortable in my own company and found it incredibly hard, as I’ve matured being on my own is something I love and yes I do spend hell of a lot of time on my own but I never tire of coming home to an empty house (well apart from Sophiecat) and being able to shut the world out.

I know some people might find this really hard, I remember watching a programme a few months back where individuals were asked to spend a number of days cut off from the world in a furnished shipping container with only themselves for company and out of the 4 or 5 people who started the experiment I think only 1 was able to last the full allotted time, most went a bit stir crazy, one participant didn’t even make it past 12 hours!! It feels that although technology and social media has improved our lives in many ways it has also damaged our lives in some ways. This need to always feel connected, fear of missing out… But is this actually doing us any good? The ability to entertain yourself, the use of imagination to pass the time, boredom and thinking time/space to name a few things we don’t seem to do anymore.

As well as turning off the internet I also decided that I would try to watch less TV, I initially thought I’d turn it off for the 4 days but decided in the volatile world we live in that it might be a good idea just to check in with the news and allow myself a few hours in the evening to watch a film. This was going to be one of the hardest things for me as often I put the TV on just to have noise in the house and then get sucked into watching mindless or mind-numbing programmes!!

I wasn’t totally cut off as I also decided to leave my landline on, the main reason for this is that my dad hasn’t been well recently and so thought it best that if my parents/sisters did need to get hold of me they could ring me. However I asked them not to unless it was an emergency. This might seem odd to some people; in our family we’ve always gone on the principle of no news is good news so not speaking to my family regularly is a normal thing.

When I woke up naturally on Friday morning, well as naturally as you can when you have a cat who likes to be fed at a certain time and bothers you until you give in to their demands!! So I went downstairs to feed her and made myself a coffee, turns out it was 7.30am which is a lie-in for me. I came back to bed and thought what now? Usually at this point I’d grab my phone and tablet and have a nosey at social media and before I know it a couple hours have past. Instead I picked up my journal made a rough plan of how I was going to spend the next four days. There were a few things that I’d like to do and a few things I needed to do and decided that my weekend would look like this:

  • Friday – a bit of work, house chores
  • Saturday – chill day, reading
  • Sunday – writing and reading
  • Monday – more work

Work mainly consisted of:

Writing a presentation for a talk I’m giving later in April, I’d spent a couple of hours on Thurs downloaded research papers on my subject area and so all I needed to do was pull it all together.

I also had some paperwork to complete for a couple of funded projects I work on as an associate, paperwork is not my strong point so put this off all the time!

I wanted to do a business review of the last 12 months (my financial year end) and just reflect on what I’d achieved.

Reading:

I have so many books I start to read and then don’t find, books I’ve bought and not even started and books I’ve read, loved and want to read again!! I love reading despite being dyslexic but I don’t do it very often and find other things to do like social media or watch the Tellybox as they are easier. But once a book has grabbed me I do find it easy to while away the hours reading; most the books I read are personal development focused as I believe we never stop learning and developing as people.

Writing:

When I hit an age milestone last year I decided that I wanted to write some “Thank You” cards to people who have influenced my life journey thus far. I spent most of last year and early part of this year making the cards and so thought Easter Sunday would be a nice day to set about writing the cards.

It’s now Monday lunchtime and how’s it been?

The first word that comes to mind is quiet, I’ve not put the radio on (I usually put it on as soon as I get up and it stays on for most of the day, just in the background) and the TV has stayed off for most of the time. I did put it on more on Sat and Sun but was quite disciplined to turn it off after watching a certain programme or film.

Things I noticed:

Not having my phone on meant that any pictures I wanted to take I had to use my actual camera, which 1st needed charging and turns out I’ve not used it for nearly three and half years!! And it felt all a bit alien to use it and at time of writing this, I’m not sure how I’ll get them off the camera onto the PC to put in this blog post!

Not having the internet on meant any word I couldn’t read or know its definition I had to look it up in my dictionary. Being dyslexic I often use the internet to look up words, if I can’t read them I can at least know that they mean so I still can understand what the writer is trying to say.

My dictionary is a pocket one with a combined thesaurus which was bought for me by my sister when I found out about my dyslexia and has a limited number of words. So a couple of words I couldn’t find and have noted down to look up when the internet is back on. But I did enjoy looking up words and finding other words I’d forgotten!!

Time became less important, I use my phone as my watch and alarm clock and not having it on meant I listened to my body more and did things as and when I felt the need to rather than being driven by time. We all live to routines, some of these are artificial the routines we create ourselves to get stuff done and some are our natural inbuilt routines or rhythm (circadian rhythm) like whether you are an early bird or night owl. I found that on all four days I woke up around the same time between 6.30-7.30am and yes this might have something to do with Sophiecat but I think it’s also my natural waking time too!! Time seemed to slow down and I felt really calm.

I managed to get most of what I wanted done, all the things that were deadline driven (for someone else) got done; the other things (activity/goals generated by me) got started but will be continued over the coming days and weeks.

I have to say that I did miss talking to people and can’t wait to catch up with friends but overall I’ve found these 4 days to be quite restorative and have enjoyed the quiet contemplation of being with just my thoughts. No massive breakthroughs just a reassurance that I’m doing ok (there were less tears than I thought there would be, in fact I only cried during one of the films I watched, in recent years I’ve felt quite emotional/teary about things in my life) and that life on the whole is great and that I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

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All about balance

In these modern times it feels like we are all juggling lots of different thing to maintain a balance in our lives and sometimes things become unbalance.

Following on from my last post about the last 18 or so month, an area which has been out of balance is my fitness time.

We all have the same hours in the day and how we spend these hours is our choice, I remember someone saying to me that you can’t make time for activities (That’s physically impossible to make time) however you can find time if we look hard enough.

For the last 18 months my fitness routine/time has taken a back seat, I haven’t done this on purpose really it’s just I’ve allowed other things to fill my time and I guess this is a reason why some people find it so hard to exercise.

The main thing that has taken up my time more is my business, which in some ways is fab as it feels like I’m slowly but surely making headway towards what I want my business to be and I know that sometimes things have to be sacrificed to achieve other things. However I also know that doing fitness for me this is Crossfit and running that these actually help me to perform better in business.

The world of Health and Fitness has gone bonkers in recent years, I qualified as a Personal Trainer in 2002!! Wow I didn’t realise it was THAT long ago, that does make me feel old!! Fitness was still quite a new things in terms of gyms/health clubs that appealed the mass market and were open to everyone. The benefits of doing fitness to improve health have long been recognised!!

Then social media happened and somehow health and fitness turned into posing on Instagram (using filter & photography tricks to look better than you are), body image & body shaming, restricted diet (chicken, broccoli & sweet potato) and very little about health!!

My belief is that we should find an activity/exercise that we can do that helps us to live our lives better and improve our health rather than just to get a six pack or guns (biceps).

My chosen exercise is Crossfit (What is Crossfit?) which I absolutely love most of the time, it can frustrate the hell out of me at times but ultimately I go back for more every time.

One reason I love it so much is as soon as I walk into the box (what we call the gym) I forget about all my challenges and focus on what I need to do to get me through the workout, therefore improving my mental health, it’s my escapism/release!!

Another reason I do it is that it improves my physical health!! I do it as I like to feel fit, I like to know that if I needed to run for the bus I could, or if I needed to do some DIY or move furniture around my house I could.

The by product of the above is weight loss!! From when I started my Crossfit journey in July 2014 to about about Jan 2017 I’d lost a total of 25kg (3.9 stone) however, in the last 18 or so months I’ve put on 13kg!! Now I don’t really care about the weight as it really DOES NOT MATTER in the scheme of things but it kinda does as being a “healthy weight” is good for long term health.

Last July I hit an age milestone and went for a Well Women check up at my local doctors surgery with the practice nurse, after all the test were done I was told my risk of getting any of the big killers (serious disease) was put at 0.45% this was the lowest score the nurse had ever seen, however the one section of the check where I didn’t get a green was my weight. And yes I know they use the BMI chart to track this and we all know the flaws of using this as a stand alone measure but ultimately I know in myself that I need to lose the weight that I’ve gained over the year as it will help me to achieve long term health. But the truth is that I actually need to lose fat and this will take time and discipline to do.

My focus is always on my health and if I ever do get a six pack to be proud of I will know that I’m in a place where my health/weight will be best it can be!!

So like before when I did my crossfit diaries I’m going to be sharing my FAT LOSS journey with you not only to keep me accountable but also to hopefully inspire you to think about what you can do to improve your health!!

I won’t be living off chicken, broccoli and sweet potato but I will have to look closely at my food habits and see where I can make improvements. Food and eating is part of what I do as a business and I want to prove that you don’t have to restrict your diet to achieve health related goals!! Will I be calorie counting and balancing my macros? Hell No, life is too short for this, however I will be making sure that the majority of the food I eat is nutrient dense rather than calorie dense!

My diet will consist mainly of fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, beans and pulses and nuts & seeds, as well as the odd piece of cake (it’s good for the soul).

The main thing that I know I may struggle with is maintaining my energy due to poor sleep. This is mainly caused by stress, anxiety and mild depression as well as being overweight!! So exercising more will hopefully help with the sleep issues too!!

I know there will be days that I won’t feel like doing anything, my body will ache from the last workout I’ve done and work is calling, so the manta below is going to put at my desk to remind me to keep going!! This is a life long journey but getting started is the 1st small step along the very long road!!

 BRING IT ON!!

End of the tunnel?!?

Over the last few days/weeks things for me have shifted, don’t know when or how but they have, well in my mind they have anyway!!

For probably the past 18 months I’ve kind of got sucked into focusing on my challenges and the lack in my life rather than focus on the positives and abundance. From the outside it might not have been noticeable as I’m good at putting up a mask but many people close to me had noticed!!

I’ve not been conscious of doing it until it’s been pointed out to me or I have re-read something I’ve written or heard myself say something that is quite negative. I’ve let negative thoughts dominate every part of my life!! This is very unlike me and I notice this a few months ago but couldn’t find a way to shake these feelings or thoughts.

However recently, maybe it’s got something to do with coming into spring, just the passing of time or the work I’ve been doing with a therapist or a combination of all three but I have to say that I’m feeling a whole lot more positive about my future.

While going through this negative time I have felt that it would pass eventually and these challenges are there to teach me things about myself that I need to learn and just “be” with the feelings!! This is quite hard to do sometimes as we are often taught that we should be “happy” all the time!!

As time went on I found myself feeling like things were never going to change and the more I felt like this the more it became reality or not really I just stopped noticing the good and focused on the bad!!

I’m a believer in universe and laws of attraction, without going into too much detail about this as there are plenty of books you can read about it (The Secret by Rhonda Byrne is a good one to start with). The premise of the theory is that “Thoughts become things!” So what you focus on become reality and even though I know this I was still unable to change my mindset.

We all have challenges in life, and to be honest without them life would be pretty dull!! However then these challenges as they had with me become all encompassing then it’s time to seek out help and support; as well as being very conscious of your behaviours and language you use with yourself!!

Over the years I’ve trained and become qualified in many disciplines (fitness, nutrition, business) and when I’m supporting others in helping them achieve their goals I’m able to give them the best advice possible and it works, I regularly see clients achieving goals yet.. I’ve stopped listening to my own advice…

I’ve stopped practising what I preach to a certain degree, and I know this is quite hard to do sometimes but if I did listen to the advice I give others how my world would change!?!?

Now I’ve realised this, I’m working hard at noticing the habits and behaviours that aren’t serving me well so that I can start to change them.

Also focusing on the things that I can do to impact my future rather than focus on all the things I can’t control. As well as being realistic and taking small steps to change.

I have everything in I need, my knowledge and more importantly the belief in myself that I can make sustained positive change in my life to make the future bright than the past 18 months have been!!

Watch out world, I’m coming for you…

It’s not always what it seems

As this is mental health awareness week #MHAW17 I thought I would share a story with you.

Last July I had a small mental health crisis – a kind of a breakdown. I now see it as the breakthrough I needed to move forward but at the time it was scary and I wasn’t sure how my future looked.

To the outside world everything looked normal; I was functioning as a member of society, still attending meetings and going to the gym, but inside I was in turmoil. One of the biggest challenges of suffering from poor mental health is that you look perfectly normal.

Over the previous few months before this episode, I had felt like I was ready to break; having run my own business for five or so years the pressure and stress of it all was starting to get to me. This is mainly the pressure I put on myself rather than other people’s influence, but pressure nonetheless.

One of the main things was that I felt I was being dishonest and anyone who knows me knows I’m a very honest person. This basically boils down to the assumptions other people were making about me – these were all good things such as running a successful business, exuding self-confidence and belief and so on. However, I didn’t feel any of these things were true!

Ever since I can remember I’ve been very good at putting on my ‘mask’ or ‘game-face’ and portray a very positive and together image of myself and my business even when I haven’t been feeling it. What I do as a business means that it is expected for me to be positive – my strapline for my business is sparking business energy and you can’t do that if you glum!

This lead to be having some very dark thoughts, which is something I’ve never experienced before. Yes, there were times when I felt down but this was magnified by thousands; basically I didn’t want to be here anymore and I thought the world would be better without me.

Having never felt like this before I wasn’t sure what to do but I was brave enough to reach out a few people (who I will forever be indebted to) to help me get through this crisis before I did something stupid. Over the week it happened, I spent a lot of time at home in bed; it was the only place I felt safe and knew I couldn’t do myself any harm. During one of the chats I had it was suggested that I read the book The Dip by Seth Godin which is all about quitting. It’s a small, easy to read book even for someone with dyslexia like myself. By the time I finished it I knew I had to quit thinking the way I was thinking about my life and the business.

I am a very driven person – once I set my sights on something I go all out to get it, but this had lead me to become very blinkered to the world around me.

The business sector I work in is Workplace Health & Wellbeing; this is a real passion project for me as it fulfils all the things I like to do and fits very nicely with the skills I’ve amassed since leaving school. However, it’s an area of my business that had yet to deliver any kind of business return and this was getting to me.

I’d spent a lot of time presenting and educating people about what I do and when I’m in the room I’d get a very positive response from my audience. I’d follow up as best I could (something I know I’m not great at) and I’d get tumbleweed/deadly silence in return. People would say I was great at what I do yet I still couldn’t seem to make it work; I really was at my wits end. I kept asking myself “What am I doing so wrong!!”
Well the answer was nothing.

I’d just become so fixated on something that I was blind to all the other opportunities that were being thrown my way and because they didn’t fit into my narrow tunnel vision, I simply didn’t see them.

Once I realised this with a bit of outside help, the black cloud lifted enough to see that life is worth living, well not just living but celebrating.

Since my breakthrough as I like to call it (which happened to be my word for 2016), things have changed; mainly the thoughts in my head but this shift has lead me to several new business opportunities, meeting new people and a renewed zest for life.

No one knows what the futures holds; all I know is that when life challenges us it because we need to learn something and without challenge you don’t get change.

None of us know when we might suffer from a mental health issue so let’s keep talking about it. And to anyone who is going through a tough time right now, my door is always open for you to talk to me; I might not be able to fix your issues but I can certainly lend you my ear and time.

Much Love, Rachel xx

Healthy Pack-ups

Having to make your child’s lunch in advance five days a week can be a challenge sometimes especially if you want to make it healthy as it’s easy to send them to school with a sandwich, crisps & a chocolate bar or piece of fruit!! And when you get the lunch box back at the end of the day to find the fruit is still in there, a bit more bruised but still un-eaten.

adult-lunch-ideas-with-family-fresh-meals

The key to coming up with healthy pack lunches is variety, so the child doesn’t get bored but also helps them to try new foods. Also theme lunches are a great way to get your child interested in food so it could be themed around countries of the world, calendar events, colours; the only limitation is imagination.

Sticking with the traditional sandwich well sort of try experimenting with:

Different types of bread – Sundried tomato, herb & garlic, olive, wholegrain, multigrain, seeded, rye, sour dough, ciabatta, pitta

Wraps/tortillas – You can easily make these yourself but if time is short, there are many varieties available at all the major supermarkets

Scone based sandwich – I remember mum sending me to school with a three cheese scone & some cherry tomatoes & it was delicious

English muffin type bread – any these can be homemade or bought, the cheese ones are especially lovely

Savoury muffins – cheese & bacon, sundried tomato

So that’s the bread sorted what about fillings:

It doesn’t matter what you fill the sandwich with but the one principle I’d stick to is to ensure there is some protein within the filling – protein helps you stay fuller for longer & and releases energy slower (so you’re less likely to get a sugar high).

Pulled meats are easy as can be made in advance or are leftovers from a meal

Homous or other bean based dips make a great alternative to butter or spread, if you’re child isn’t keen on them, try adding red pesto to it to make it slightly sweeter.

Cheese – a good protein source but high in saturated fat, so try grating it up and mixing with grated vegetables such as carrot.

Mini meatballs with a tomato sauce – you could get your children to help you make these, cook the night before & then slice in half, add to sandwich with a little sauce for flavour. These work really well as a pasta salad too.

Use lamb mince to make mini kofta balls and make a minted yogurt dip to go with it.

Marinate chopped chicken in a barbeque sauce, cook as you would for a barbeque and then serve with a yogurt and tomato dip and salad.

pack-up

Animal source – Meat, fish, poultry, diary, egg

Vegetable source – Beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, tofu, quorn

Alternatives to sandwiches:

Rice/pasta/couscous/bulgar wheat salad: A handy tip to add more flavour to these without the need to add mayo or other sauces is to cook in a light stock (Chicken or vegetable).

Anything goes here really with flavours, chopped up or grated vegetables and of course some protein!!

Greek – feta, olives, cucumber & minted yogurt

Rainbow – Red, yellow, orange & green pepper, grated cheese

Italian – Tomato, basil & mozzarella (use pesto to flavour it)

Vegetable sticks & dip or pate is another idea to add variety:

Vegetables that can be eaten raw:

  • Peppers
  • Carrot
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Mange Tout
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Peas

Roasting vegetables can be used to add interest to sandwiches or salads:

Onions, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, aubergines

Root vegetables are also lovely roasted & can be used in a salad:

Carrot, butternut squash, sweet potato, mini potatoes.

Sweet stuff

Most children like yogurts especially fruit ones but most shop bought fruit yogurts are quite high in sugar, I would personally recommend that you buy natural yogurt and then add your own flavours to it, this will be cheaper too and more adaptable!!

Here are some ideas for fruit compotes which can be used in a variety of ways but make a great homemade fruit yogurt:

Mixed berry – mixed frozen berries, stewed in a little water and something to sweeten it, I use agave nectar but honey or sugar is fine, just don’t make it too sweet or you could use apple juice to do the job of the water & sugar.

Rhubarb on its own or with a little ginger if you’re children like it – same as above but using fresh rhubarb when in season

Apple & berry – use the mixed frozen berries with some chopped apple and again the same method is used as above

Apple & raisin

Pear & dried friut

Spiced apple – chopped apple, mixed spice and then use the same method as before

Peach & apricot

Tropical – Use the tropical fruit mix and stew gentle like above, you probably don’t need to add any sugar to this one though

Either mix them before you put in the lunch box or let your child make their own (A bit like a branded two part corner yogurt)

Homemade flapjacks or granola can be used to add texture to yogurt and another snack for children to munch on.

My food and nutrition philosophy

Food and nutrition are my life, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t read an article about the latest nutrition research or about a new ingredient/restaurant or food trend!! It what makes me tick (literally!!).

Over the years it’s been interesting to observe the way that food and nutrition has become such a massive talking point in the media, it probably always has been but recent it feels that we are now bombarded by it, cookery and food tv programmes pull in huge audiences week in, week out and nutrition & health stories fill our social media feeds too.

I’ve been a qualified nutritional therapist for over 9 years now and had the honour of studying at the world renowned Institute of Optimum Nutrition founded by Patrick Holford. (www.ion.ac.uk)

Our health is priceless and something most people take for granted until they lose it, we have one body which we need to see us through from birth to death but yet we abuse it until breakdown, get frustrated when it doesn’t work how we want it to or stops us from living the life we want.

So here’s my philosophy you about health, nutrition and food!!

ALL food can be GOOD for you and ALL food can be BAD for you!! Even the healthiest of foods can be bad for you if you eat them in excess!! So I aim to eat as many different foods as possible which means that I physically can’t eat too much of anything.

The old sayings “A little of what you fancy does you no harm” and “everything in moderation” are really true here.

I’m a realist when it comes to food and nutrition and there are times when I eat cake, chocolate and other foods which aren’t the best for you and guess what I NEVER feel guilty about this either, eliminating or restricting certain from your diet will only make you want them more!!

Food guilty quote

I believe food should be seen as the wonderful positive life giver that it is and enjoyed for that reason!! Food gives the energy we need to live our lives; certain foods will make you feel different so it’s about learning to listen to your body and recognise the foods that might not suit you.

On a physiological level we are all the same, the same organs and the way we process food but we are also unique in the way that the body responds to the food we eat. For example, I know that I’m quite sensitive to certain stimulants such as coffee and liquorice, I don’t avoid them completely as I like both of them but I do make sure that I don’t eat/drink either after a certain time of the day so that it doesn’t impact on my sleep patterns.

We are very lucky in this country (UK) to have such a vast selection to choose from and should use this choice to eat a variety of foods; this also helps to stop the boredom of eating the same foods all the time.

Nourish quote

I just try to eat food as close to nature as nature intended (Some call it eating clean) and to eat in season so that I can support local producers!!

Life is for living, food is for eating!! ENJOY

Why oh why?

Why

I’m no stranger to being asked a question that starts with why as I’ve been asked why this and why that many times in my lifetime, this range from why are you training to be a personal trainer when you’ve got a good career in the food industry? Why are you moving to Lincolnshire? Why have you got tattoos? And the list goes on!! Most of the time I tend to answer with WHY NOT?? And the most recent question is why are you running a marathon and yes the answer I gave was why not!! (Keep a look out for a post later this year which ponders the why questions some more!!)

But there is more to it than that, every since my early adulthood I’ve struggle with low self-belief, this might be surprising to some as I know I probably come across as being quite confident (I’m very good at putting on my “game face”) but i’m not!! Outwardly I might seem confident but inside I’m riddled with self doubt and question whether I’m capable of doing what I set out to do and constantly telling myself that I’m failing, I never feel like I reach that bar I’ve set for myself!!

I’m constantly setting myself challenges to try to prove to myself that I am capable of achieving things and probably many people will think that I’ve already achieved some amazing things in life but to me I’m still don’t have that inner belief that I can achieve success!!

I’m closer to this point than I’ve ever been as over the last six months I’ve been working with a couple of people to help me understand why I think and behave the way I do and how I can change/adapt my thoughts and behaviors to allow myself to believe and achieve the successes that I want to.

One of these is running a marathon, it’s something that has always been in the back of my mind ever since I worked for Unilever who at the time sponsored the London Marathon with Flora but never had the courage to apply!! So when I saw a twitter post saying they were entering the ballot for the London Marathon this year, I thought well I could do that too!!

Unfortunately I didn’t get a place at London but was offered a place at Edinburgh instead and it only took a nanosecond for me to decide to take up this place. Edinburgh is my favourite city in the UK and I loved walking around it when I did the Moonwalk there 5 years ago so it was time I returned and this time run around it.

EMF

I was lucky in some respects as I wasn’t starting from scratch with my training as since spring 2014 I’ve been running regularly around my estate (not long distances, an hour at most) and also doing short sprint runs as part of CrossFit and interval training. I am the fittest/healthiest I’ve ever been in my life so it’s now or never and as my 40th year approaches it’s a good thing to tick the bucket list.

So I quickly got up to double figures and this is when it started to really get hard for me, having only ever done short runs I wasn’t really sure how to fuel myself for these longer runs and also finding places to run!! Running around my estate was fine but eventually I knew I had to take the plunge and run down the A15; a major trunk road into Lincoln city with lorries barreling past you at 50mph!! Not a pleasant experience especially knowing that to get home I’d have to run back up it!! But the reward for doing so was to be able to run around the bail area of Lincoln, which is undeniably a beautiful place to run around (I know I’m biased), I’ve seen a different side to Lincoln in doing these training runs and found pretty little streets that I didn’t know existed before now. I also got to experience beautiful views like the one below on one very unexpectedly snowy April morning!!Snowy run

After a few disastrous runs between 14-18 mile mark I really didn’t believe I could actually do a marathon, by the end of these runs I could barely walk, in tears and not really knowing what I was doing so wrong…

So I decided like I do with most things in life to do it my own way, many people had told me carb load before my long training runs to build up my glycogen stores in my muscles to stop me hitting the wall but that was exactly what was happening, for the last 18 months I’ve exercised on an empty stomach and had easily been doing 2 hour runs on little more than some pre-workout and then fuelling when I finished so I guessed my body was used to using my fat stores as fuel rather than glycogen stores from carb loading so I stopped doing this straight away, I also decided to run to the gym as my finishing point too which meant that I didn’t have the dreaded 3 mile A15 to run at the end of a long run, it also meant I had some friendly faces to look forward to seeing when I got there.

Brain in cogs

But marathon training is not just about the physical stuff, it’s more about what’s going on in your head!! I know from doing CrossFit for a couple of years now that if your head said you can do it then you’re body will deliver, but if you have any doubt about a lift for example you’re about to do that it’s likely you will fail that lift, I also learnt from attending “Unleash the power within” Anthony Robin’s amazing weekend event in March 2015 that you can change your physiology just with your thoughts so some how I needed to get my head in a different place and tell myself a different story, the way I did this was just to focus on finishing the marathon rather than racing it, telling myself it was ok to walk a few steps every so often (mainly because I can’t run and drink at the same time!!) and that the training is the hardest part of the experience and if I could get the training done then I could do the real thing.

I’m doing this marathon for purely selfish reason, to prove to myself that I AM capable of achieving anything I put my mind too!! I’ve paid for my place outright so I don’t have any pressure to raise a certain amount of money but I’ve decided to raise some money for three very deserving organisations:

BHF Mind T2S

The British Heart Foundation (https://www.bhf.org.uk): This is for Kendo Hau, who left this world too soon on 19th Nov 2013, one of the most genuine kind hearted person I’ve ever met and is missed everyday (think he’s even been with me on my training runs as titanium has played every time I’ve trained)!! The BHF’s vision is a world in which people do not die prematurely or suffer from heart disease.

Mind – The mental health charity (http://www.mind.org.uk): There are many people I know who have suffered, are suffering or lost their battle with mental health illnesses so a cause close to my heart. We live in a wired stressful world and any one of us could suffer from mental ill health at sometime in our lives so this is a cause that needs support. My thoughts will be with Matt B who lost the battle just a few months ago.

Think2Speak (http://www.think2speak.com/): A community interest company set up by two friends Lizzie and Naomi to help young people deal with challenging issues they might face as they grow up, their vision is to enable education settings, and organisations working with young people, to feel fully equipped to handle a range of issues young people may have, Think2Speak will enable young people to feel empowered to make life decisions confidently, We will also help parents to feel confident in supporting their young people.

So it’s time for a few thank you to friends who have offered advice and support!!

Helen W and Nicky B for helping me understand how to do my training, fueling and tapering and for the supportive words too xxx

Nicola C who ran with me on an awful 16 miler where I’d gone out to fast and was unable to do much more than shuffle for the last few miles, she kindly gave me a lift home after I recovered movement in my legs, you’re a star xxx

Lana C for standing on a towpath in cold wet weather waiting for me to appear along it to do the last few miles with me so I wasn’t running on my own, for making my porridge at the gym when I was completely spent and dropping me at home too!! You’ve been an angel xx

And all the friends on Instagram and Facebook who have send me supportive words of encouragement when I’ve posted my training runs and pictures.

I’m going to Edinburgh on my own so my plan is to print all your words of support on my t-shirt so I know you will be with me in spirit, if you are a business you can sponsor a space on my leggings!!

So get donating here: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/rachel-linstead-1

If not, then just give me a thought and send some positive energy on Sun 29th May when I’ll be lining up with thousands of other runners hoping to complete the 26.2 mile course so that I can get to the finish line and have a well deserved pint!!

And even though I’m writing this before I’ve run the marathon, I will state now that I will never run a marathon again!! But next year I’m planning on doing the Moonwalk’s Three Land Challenge so watch this space…