In 2015 I made a big decision to leave the life I had behind and move to a different city. I had started to feel an overwhelming sense of not feeling “quite right”. Life felt a little like putting on a t-shirt the wrong way; it was still my t-shirt but it wasn’t working for me the way I was doing it, so it was time to make some changes.
In all honesty, I cheated a little when it came to it. I already had a group of wonderful friends waiting for me in my new home and their support was relentless and unwavering while I went through this transition. They helped me find work, cooked me dinner and listened to my fears and excitement while I bumbled around trying to find my way. Before long I had a routine, a developing sense of direction for my local community and a sense of belonging.
With the foundations in place, and the t-shirt feeling like it was on the right way (ish) I decided to take on my next challenge – one that I am very much still pursuing! I decided I wanted to “get healthy” and be better at taking care of myself. But where should I start with the self-care?
First came food. I love cooking and having people to cook for, so that part of a healthy lifestyle was already in full swing. A few ‘healthy’ changes to the light version of ingredients and a mostly vegetarian diet meant that I was eating more healthily than I have for a while and I was beginning to understand what worked for me and what didn’t. I planned ahead, made nice lunches and no longer tried to convince myself that a sausage roll was a well-balanced meal. Don’t get me wrong, I still have too much chocolate sometimes and chips more than I should but I’m also exploring new recipes, eating vegetables and trying to find healthier ways of doing things. With cooking underway, I looked to the next challenge. Exercise.
Exercise was always going to be a harder because in all honestly I’m a bit lazy and often tired (which makes it easy to find excuses not to work out!) Despite that, I got off to a fairly good start all things considered. I love the countryside and fresh air and have always enjoyed walking (once I’ve got out there and started it) so when a new relationship helped me rediscover my love of hiking and got me spending lots of my weekends exploring the peak district, I realised that my lazy mind-set was starting to change. I enjoyed the feeling afterwards and I was proud of myself. Proud and sweaty and tired and super hungry.
As the months passed, I walked further and higher each time. Fancy new boots meant my feet ached less and, despite my moaning, I was loving every walk I did. Recently though, I started to feel like I wasn’t finding it any easier and I was getting frustrated that it seemed to be exhausting me more and more. I just wasn’t able to do enough walks to improve and feel the benefit. A few friends (who are quite sporty already) told me that running would help me improve my fitness and therefore my hiking so after some resistance, this has led me to my most recently challenge of running 5k!
So far, I’ve done 4 of the 9 weeks of the ‘couch to 5k’ programme and it’s not been easy but it’s manageable and I’m trying to stick to it. Sometimes I find it boring in all honesty, and It makes my legs ache and I’m tired after but I feel kind of proud after each run and I’m finding that I sleep a little better and my mind feels clearer. The programme is great too as you can see the improvements you make and it helps stay motivated! I’m not at 5K yet, but I’m trying and that in itself is making me feel better and healthier. I’m going on a walk later in the week so it’ll be interesting to see if I can see an improvement yet!
So what’s the point to my blog? Well, I’m not trying to convince people to start running, don’t panic! I think what I would like people to take away from this is that being “healthy” involves lots of different aspects. From eating well, to exercising, to having great social support to doing what you need to feel happy. Aside from my initial move, I haven’t made huge changes to my life and I haven’t set unrealistic goals for myself – it doesn’t have to be about that. Sometimes just making small changes and being honest with yourself when things aren’t working for you is all it takes to find the stuff that does work for you and helps you get to where you want to be.
If this sounds like something you’ve been doing, or would like to do, why not get in touch and share your story on here too!