There’s no doubt better pictures of the blood harvest moon (that occurred around the globe in conjunction with a lunar eclipse) exist, but this is my best one and I still love looking at the details. This was pictured from Atherton, Manchester in the UK where we have a lot of light pollution and generally heavy cloud cover so it was a rarity to see a celestial event this clearly.
After weeks and months of cold, windy, rainy and generally rubbish weather, Glasgow’s first day of Spring was definitely worth the wait!
Stunning blue skies and a warm sun that invites bare arms and legs to join in with some March madness. I love snow, but never feel truly energised and happy until I’m in the sun and feeling some warmth. Plus the British Winter isn’t often snowy where I am, instead it’s weeks of cold, wet and windy weather.
This weekend has been fabulous with all the celestial events that took place (the eclipse, the supermoon etc). And now with this stunning weather we’ve been given, it’s definitely one of the more memorable weekends of the year so far.
It has been 3 weeks since I really made an effort to change my diet and exercise habits for good. The aim has been to generally better my holistic health – yes I want to lose the last bit of baby belly I have, yes I’d like to lose that final half stone I gained during pregnancy and yes I’d love to fit back into some old jeans. But this is more than that, it’s also about feeling better in myself, focusing on the whole of me – a mind, body and soul enterprise. I’ve also been trying to do this in a really cost effective way. The plan has been to build up to doing an hours decent exercise a day, start meditating and to improve my diet.
I’ve started slowly by joining a local and free badminton group on a Tuesday at a community centre and I’ve been doing a target exercise/weights video in the evenings too. I mentioned in my last fitness related post that I already walk for about an hour a day minimum so obviously I’ve been continuing to do this. I’ve slowly built up to doing 2 hours with the badminton group and I’ve joined a boxercise class on a Friday at the same community centre too. I was already a member of the uni gym but I’m not a fan of solo training I eventually lose my motivation and just stop going but I’m investigating more classes there that are included in the price. For now I’m going to start doing an hours swimming on a Thursday. I also emailed a local yoga group who offered a decent student discount for their early morning class – the centre is called ‘Yoga, meditation, healing, Glasgow’ and looks very professional but after a week I’ve heard nothing back and they provide no number to call so I’ve looked elsewhere. Today I found another place which is actually a dance studio closer to my house who do an hours yoga on a Monday and the student price is even cheaper so for £3 I’m off to my 1st ‘yoga flow’ class on Monday.
Today I went to my 1st half hour meditation class at the local Buddhist centre – it’s also £3 and they unfortunately don’t do a concession price but I really found it to be incredibly beneficial. I actually didn’t expect to, I was dubious I’ll admit but even without being able to do it that well on the 1st go (to be expected really); I left the centre feeling incredibly relaxed and positive. It did help that the sun has been shining all week but I’m pretty sure most of that was to do with the meditation so I’ll be going back every Wednesday i think. It worked out quite well, as I have a driving lesson every Wednesday morning and these are so intense in terms of concentration and adrenalin response that when I got home and just left straight away to go the the meditation class it sort of put me back on an even keel but also leaving me refreshed and light.
Now I’ve always been a bit sceptical (and in truth a teeny bit irritated) of people who are super fit and healthy and go on about how good they feel. But I can honestly say that after 3 weeks of putting the effort in I feel like a different person. I’ve not seen any particular change physically and I probably shouldn’t expect to after 3 weeks but I have never felt better. I’m sleeping better, I feel happier, more relaxed and just more energised. So I’m having to swallow my pride and admit that you healthy, smug irritating fitness types were genuinely right all along (I always knew that – I just wanted an excuse for my own laziness I guess)! So I think I’m going to join the smug club and I’m loving it. I should realistically not expect to see any major physical changes for about 6 months but I’m happy with just the change in how I feel. It makes me feel genuinely positive that I will be able to use these methods as a tool for managing stress and anxiety in my final year at uni and that I can start implementing these things as permanent lifestyle changes.
I’ve been eating healthily too – I’ve been taking proper vitamins to try and address a mouth ulcer problem. I’ve started cleansing each morning with water and aloe vera concentrated liquid and I’m going to introduce coconut water into my diet too (thanks to the following post for nudging me to do it – I’ve always known the benefits but I feel motivated to really make the change after reading this and also after seeing the positive change the last 3 weeks has had on me http://belikewaterproduction.com/2014/06/18/the-many-benefits-of-drinking-coconut-water/ )
So from now on my weeks should look like this I hope:
Monday: Yoga Flow and evening weight training DVD
Tuesday: 2hrs badminton
Wednesday: Meditation and evening cardio and weights DVD
Thursday: 1 hr swimming
Friday: 45 mins Boxercise
Saturday: day off
Sunday: Cardio and weights DVD
Add to this that I do at least an hours walking Monday – Friday too. Next week will be my 1st full week of this regime so I’ll let you know how I get on – I think part of my success is I’ve built up to this slowly for the best part of a month so I can see a progression. I think if you try and do too much it feels like an impossible task so you get demotivated and give up so I’ve started slow.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed with this is that I’m now just enjoying it, I’m watching less TV (between the blog, and the TEFL course and fitness stuff and bringing up my little monkey time is pretty tight) – don’t get me wrong I will always make time for Game Of Thrones but I’m watching less crap that’s for sure. Because I’m tired I’m sleeping much better and naturally waking up earlier whilst feeling refreshed which is a novelty in itself. I’m now waking up an hour before my daughter so I get a chance to chill out and have a coffee and get her food ready for nursery before she’s even awake which means my mornings feel so much more relaxed and this also makes a huge difference. I think all these little things have just created a domino effect which is what has made this massive overall holistic change to my life – so I can safely say it works. It’s an effort, nothing comes easy but really worth the hard work!!
I wanted to add to my slightly bonkers previous post and say why I’m trying to transform myself into a carefree ‘hippie’; over the last couple of years since having a baby I’ve really had the chance to assess my life from every angle. I’ve always known the conclusions that I’ve come to; it’s just not an easy thing to implement necessarily (for anyone!).
Nearly every news site or ‘health and diet’ site on the internet will always have these so called ’10 easy steps to a happier healthier you’ – but the crucial thing is, is it’s never actually that easy. As an anxious type of person I’ve always known doing things like yoga and meditation would help me significantly to get a handle on this, but I’ve never quite had the motivation to do it. Or I’ve had the motivation but after 1 or 2 classes I’ve felt so self-conscious I’ve not gone back. I’ve never really been a gym bunny, but I did play a huge amount of sports in primary and high school. The problem when you leave school is that you really have to go and search out these clubs and sports as an adult. I think if I’d gone to university straight after school I probably would have joined the university teams in the same sports I did at school. However, this wasn’t the case so it all just fell to the wayside.
Before I knew it, my 20s had gone by and I was suddenly a ‘proper’ adult who used to be fit and healthy who was getting used to the idea that I no longer was. Having a baby really changed things – I had a home birth booked so I suddenly had an added incentive to really get into all the mindfulness and meditation and relaxation stuff. Even though the home birth never happened all that practice did stick with me. And now of course I have another incentive to be fit and healthy and have a good decent diet. Longevity suddenly becomes of the upmost importance; I mean it always was important – don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying without a child people don’t care how long they live. It just really rams it home in an indescribable way, that you want to be there for as much of their lives as possible. I gave up smoking as soon as I found out I was pregnant and I’m lucky enough that I’ve just never had the urge to start again …
So this brings me to now – I think deciding to travel and really assess what I want out of my life has made me decide that this dream and my path to achieving it should really be a holistic approach I take. I should take this opportunity to really take stock of my life and change it in the ways I want to – if I’m fit and healthy and fuelling myself with good decent food, I’m more likely to be happy a and healthy and therefore positive. I think the yoga and meditation speaks for itself in terms of the benefits. I really want the little monkey to be able to just follow by example – I don’t want to be that annoying parent who constantly says ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Had two of those and it’s supremely irritating! I want her right from the start to just be naturally living a healthy and active life – without it being a big ‘thing’ – it’s just how we live.
Of course building my fitness and stamina will help no end in achieving all the things I want to achieve over the next couple of years; the final year of my degree will be one of the most highly pressured things I’ve done so far for starters. And travelling and trying to work abroad too, being fit and healthy will hopefully keep any medical care we need to a minimum – always a bonus when abroad.
So – there’s some slightly more rational reasons for my ‘dress like a hippie, become a hippie’ plan of action!
Just as an afterthought to – I’ve been really looking into nice and cheap or even free ways to do all this, so I thought I’d share what I’ve managed to do and for how much money. One of the things I’ve discovered that I didn’t really know is that local community centres actually have a lot of stuff on for people within the community (obviously) for little or no cost. So it’s my local centre that has got funding to buy the badminton equipment and pay for someone to come in and teach once a week for 12 weeks. Anyone can go along for free, but because it’s a morning class it’s pretty quiet so I’m getting lots of one on one training which is great. Once the course is over I think the centre is hoping people will just keep going in and using the equipment and space for free. The same centre has a boxercise class on a Friday for £3 – I’m there anyway on a Friday doing voluntary work and the class starts when I finish so it seems a poor effort if I can’t stay and do that – it’s pretty intensive though so will see how I get on. I’m going to the 1st one next week.
I’ve always had a gym membership through uni – when you’re a student I can’t recommend it enough as it’s a fraction of the cost. Now I said earlier I’m really not a fan of the solo workout stuff; but my gym has a pool so I’m going to try and go swimming once or twice a week. They also do drop in classes – a lot are off in June due to renovation work taking place but they start up again in July so I will look at what I can go to there. My aim is to do 1 class a day Monday – Friday and then I’ve been doing 15 minute weights workouts to a DVD at home in the evening just to target certain muscle groups. My choice has been Davina McCalls 15 minute workout DVD – I love the little bitesize target workouts, as my attention span isn’t great for that stuff. But this way I can shove the DVD in and it’s done before I realise.
I’ve also managed to find a cheap yoga class I can do – all the ones at the gym are on in the evening but as a single parent I can never get the regular weekly babysitting needed to keep up constant attendance so I end up getting demotivated as I tend to only make 50% of the classes. I’ve found a local one that gives a discount to students but if you go to the early morning class at 8.30am it’s even bigger and the class only costs £4 so I’m thinking of trying that out next week.
I walk around a lot as a non driver (for now) so whenever I walk I make sure I’m doing it at a good speed. Monkey’s nursery is a 15 minute walk away so when she goes I do an hours total walking (30 minute round trip to take her and again to pick her up). This never seems like much but it does count – and all free!
These are just the things I’ve found since I started looking – there’s a drop in meditation class on at the Buddhist centre too (I think it’s just a small donation to attend (£1.50 or similar) so I may go along and see if I can join them. So that adds up to £8.50 a week for a really good range of exercise – If I compare it to things I used to buy, that’s only just over the cost of one pack of cigarettes or a coffee each day in the university canteen Monday – Friday. So I feel like this is an OK cost as long as I try and keep other costs down (so I don’t buy coffee when I’m out ever for example) – also it probably has immeasurable value in terms of what I’m getting out of it!
I realised I’ve had such a busy week I’ve not had much chance to post for a few days; so I wanted to say a wee hello!
I feel like I’ve had an incredibly productive week. I’ve had another driving lesson (everyone is alive and well), Ive written my dissertation proposal and handed it in (I now have an enormous self-inflicted reading list to get through this summer), I’ve joined a badminton class and a boxercise class (get rid of baby belly and get fitter and healthier, phase 1), I’ve done an enormous amount of housework (not in the name of procrastination, just for its own sake), I’ve joined various new social media platforms including google+ and Facebook (check out my new pages if you have a chance although they are both huge works in progress so please cast a forgiving eye!).
So out of this big list of things I’ve managed to do there’s one glaring black hole (oxymoron? Can a black hole glare? I digress sorry…) I’ve not managed any TEFL since my last post. I’m learning another lesson; I keep thinking that if I don’t have 2 hours to sit and do a full section of the course then I can’t do it. Whereas a much better plan of action would be to just grab bite size half hour sessions whenever I can but just make sure I’ve got a block of time available when I need to actually sit down and do the tests. A handy little tip I have discovered though is that if you’re like me and a bit of a proud pedantic type of personality; the minute I blogged about not doing any TEFL the last time, I was immediately galvanised into action and spent an hour reading up on verbs. Almost as soon as I’d hit the ‘publish post’ button. So I may just try that in future if I’m not getting much done, I’ll just publicly blog about my uselessness.
I have also started what will sound like a very strange social experiment – just for my own personal gain. I’ve always wondered whether the fact that hippies (by hippies I mean floaty, smily types who seem endlessly calm, wear floaty clothes, practice meditation and yoga, eat hippie food, and carry their babies in great swathes of material until there about 3 – I know I’m generalising here but we all know one or a few; in the west end of Glasgow they’re practically an institution!). Anyway I’ve always wondered whether they are very relaxed, chilled out positive people who therefore become hippies who are identifiable by sight, or if when they’re young they kind of get into the fashion and the rest just sort of follows like a self fulfilling prophecy. As someone who is a bit uptight and pedantic and often suffers with anxiety but prescribes to a lot of the hippy ideals without ever jumping in 100% (probably because I met a bunch of heavy metallers at a key impressionable age and went a completely different route), I’ve often pondered over this chicken and the egg question. Do calm, anxiety free floaty people become hippies or do hippies evolve into calm floaty people?
This all no doubt sounds like a bit of an odd generalistic line of thought and reasoning; sorry if I offend any hippies with my shamelessly narrow description – it’s truly in jest and admiration, I really do just want to be in the club! So I’ve decided to give myself a complete hippie makeover. Whenever I feel stressed or anxious I’m forcing myself to smile and think happy thoughts. I’m off to find a meditation and yoga class next week and I’ve hunted out all my floaty comfy clothes and shoes and vacuum packed everything else. I did actually already own an awful lot of floaty, brightly patterned comfy stuff so it’s just been a wardrobe exchange if I’m honest. The bonkers plan is to see if I can make myself into one of those carefree non-pedantic types who irritates the life out of anyone even remotely uptight. I have a feeling that if I’d met different people and been influenced by those more inclined towards Buddhism (or something similar) from an early age then I would be a different person today and would have taken the paths I’m taking now at an earlier point. This is not about regret, please don’t think that – but it is about trying to take control over my life and my thoughts and my anxieties – albeit in a slightly mad way. I guess the idea is ‘dress like hippie, become a hippie’ and float around the world on a sea of positivity, taking each day one step at a time. But most importantly I want to pass some of that philosophy to my daughter. I was raised by highly anxious people and I inherited those idiosyncrasies, so more than anything I want my little monkey to inherit slightly more positive ones. I’d also like her to truly master and gain a love for yoga and meditation as the benefits of these two things are now firmly set in the social stone that is ‘science’. Brain scans of monks who regularly practice transcendental mediation have been publicised a lot recently; they’ve known this stuff for thousands of years of course but now we have brain scans as proof it’s become ‘common knowledge’. I’d really love monkey to be a calm, happy, positive floaty hippy to start with, rather than have to struggle and claw her way to the same place as I have over the course of 20 odd years.
So I’ll keep you all updated – can I reinvent myself as an anxiety free, carefree, happy, positive hippie? I really hope so although I suspect it’ll take a bit more than that such as a true commitment to serious ideals of buddhism and some serious practice of mediation and yoga. Which will serve me right for such blatant and insulting stereotyping won’t it?