I Run Because
I run because … I love food. I must be the only person who fantasies about take-away as they are pounding the pavement. I picture Sweet & Sour Chicken with Egg-fried rice. I picture McDonalds Chicken Burger with large chips. I picture prawn cocktails, steaks, lasagne, bun-burgers and cheese fries. I put one foot in front of the other and think of what I am going to eat as soon as I get home.
I run because … I have a very expensive wardrobe I want to get back into. I can’t wear my temporary pennies wardrobe forever.
I run because … I want to get back home. I intentionally run in a circular circuit, at a time when there is nobody else home, with a dog that gets travel sick in cars. There is only one way home and that is to keep going. I can’t call a taxi as the dog will puke and I’ll have to pay for cleaning. I can’t ring home because there is nobody there. There is no point in turning back half way through my work-out as it is the same distance to the end. There is only one way out. If I want to get home I need to keep on going. Or else sit by the roadside for the rest of my life.
I run because … I’m a little vain.
I run because … I need to exercise the dog. I was conned into purchasing a dog bred for farm work, and then I put it in a garden the size of a postage stamp. Poor chap will go barmy if he is not exercised. Or worse bark all night and chew my new couches.
I run because … I don’t want to be the fat one anymore.
I run because … Doctors tell me that a cardio-workout will give me a healthy heart and prolong my life. Although I come from a family with a tradition of long life, so I am not sure how much past 102 I really want to live.
I run because … I like to dance, and I look better when there is less junk in my trunk.
I run because … It gives me head space and time alone to think my thoughts, listen to my music, be my own self for a little bit.
I run at night because … every family has one member people would prefer would exercise under the shroud of darkness. Red faced, sweat pumping, hair askew (and that is just when I am leaving the house), tethered to the worlds most excited dog on the way out, dragging the lazy mutt behind me on the way back. Darkness is my friend here.
I run because … I wasn’t born this way.
World Suicide Prevention Day (10th September, 2014)
Concentric Circles of Family
I have a strong sense of family. People do not need to be related to me genetically to be in my family, I include close friends as much as siblings in that definition. I belong to them and they belong to me. I am not sure if everyone else in my family feels it, and I am not sure if everyone else needs it, but for me that feeling of being surrounded by people and by support is very important.
I like to imagine the entire clan as my concentric circles of support. I rely heavily on the circles closest to me, but as these circles get further away from me they contain more people, each one I rely on a little less than the previous ring.
In the first circle there is me. I look after me. I make sure I am fed, warm, safe and happy. If I am not one of these things I seek to change it.
Surrounding that is my nuclear family; my husband, son and pets. Together we are a tight little unit of support. There is nothing that one of us could do that would ever stop us loving and caring for each other.
Surrounding that is my original family – my parents and siblings. Around that my in-laws: John’s folks and siblings. Surrounding those is my circle of friends. Around those is our extended families: Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents. And encompassing all of those are acquaintances. That is where the limits of the circles become vague, the population massive and my reliance on each individual minor.
This sense of family is not to say that my family is perfect. They most certainly are not. We all have our foibles; our relationships have positive and negative qualities. We have our grumps, nags, moans and crazy folk, just like every other family. We know how to push each other’s buttons and frequently do. Nobody can wind up a person quicker than a close family member. We have bust-ups and blow-outs, but everything eventually blows over, because at the end of the day, we will always be family and there is nothing that can be done to change that. We will always be there, because we always are there.
However that is not to say that families don’t take work. In order for me to stay protected in my little cocoon of family I actively have to maintain the relationships with the people that inhabit each circle. The circles only provide me a buffer if there are people there to prop them up. If I squeeze the people out of those circles and out of my life then my padded concentric circles become just empty walls. Impenetrable. I can’t get out passed them and nobody can get in. So if for some reason I can’t feed me, keep me warm and safe, keep me happy, then nobody else can get in to help me.
So I make an effort. I lift the phone. I drop a mail. I rarely remember birthdays, so I would be lying to say that I send a card, but I go to the parties I am invited to. I get out of the house, I put myself out there, and I make a conscious effort to stay involved and stay connected. Because I know how much I might need my family.
Sometimes a chat about mental health doesn’t have to mention mental health to be about mental health. On the 10th September 2014 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide Or Survive (SOS) is an Irish organisation focused on breaking down the stigma associated with mental health issues and are working to build a society where people embrace their mental health wellness. To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, for the whole month of September, SOS are running a national campaign called “High Tea & Talk” where they encourage everyone to take time to talk, open up and also listen to those who may need to share a few thoughts. Please do your bit to support them where you can.
The Post -Baby Diet
The post-baby diet has begun.
My maternity wardrobe was too big (finally!) and my old wardrobe was too small. All I was left with was underwear even your granny would think was a bit prudish. I was in need of new clothes if I were to break out of this house and re-join civilisation.
I have to admit, post-baby clothes shopping was not the fun trip I was expecting.
Maternity clothes shopping had lulled me into a false sense of security. There is no such thing as fat when you are pregnant. You are supposed to ‘look big in this’, you’re pregnant and it’s a sign that you are growing a great big healthy baby, claps on the back all round. For almost a year it was like shopping for a school uniform again, you wanted to leave plenty of growing room, something that just fit would never do. And trying to squeeze into the smaller size was unheard of.
On the other side of the birth, things were looking a bit different again. I was expecting that once the baby was ejected a lot of the weight would leave with him. I had heard that once you gave birth you should be able to fit into the maternity clothes that you wore at four or five months. I could get these clothes over my mummy tummy, but not over my mummy thighs. Naively I put this down to water retention, so I waited patiently for the fluid to dissipate. And waited. A little did, but even two months later I still could not squeeze into the smaller maternity clothes. I had to face facts. If I wanted to leave the house wearing clothes, I needed to go shopping. I found solace in the fact that I was smaller than I was at nine months pregnant, put on a brave face and hoped for the best.
The outcome was not pretty. I wandered into changing rooms with clothes in one size, and several minutes of squeezing later, the fitting room’s assistant had to swap them for clothes four sizes up. My confidence was not at an all-time high. I decided to buy a cheap and cheerful temporary wardrobe from Penneys while I got my body back to its normal size.
If I am honest, I may have been unrealistic about my ‘before’ figure. In my mind, before this all began, I was a slender, slim, size 8. In some ways that is true: back when I was 16 before I met my husband and before we even started thinking about babies, I was a size 8. But in more ways, it is a complete lie. As soon as we decided that we were going to try for babies I started eating cake. And bread. And pasta. And just about anything else calorific I could get my grubby little hands on. I figured if I was going to get pregnant I was going to get fat so what was the point of watching what I was eating. I would lose the excess when I was losing the baby weight.
I am now on the other side of that thought process and I now realise that it is going to be no easy feat shifting all this additional weight.
My first step is to admit where I am. If you don’t know where you are, you can’t know how long it will take to get to your destination. I can safely say, I am definitely not a size 8 now. Nor am I a 10. I am much closer to a squeeze-into-it, thank-god-this-is-stretch-material, I-don’t think-all-the-buttons-are-supposed-to-be-able-to-close, is-it-a-Moo-Moo-if-you-buy-it-in-Brown-Thomas, I-have-seen-people-camp-in-tents-smaller-than-this size. Not big in the grand scale of things, but big for me.
My next step is to devise a plan. I’m a sucker for celebrity endorsed fitness products, so I have the Anna Richardson’s Body Blitz Diet and Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I also have some strong advice from Ruth Whelan: don’t wait until Monday, start today. So here we go. Out with the take away in with the nutrients. I’ll keep you posted on how I do.
Pilates for Preggos
I announced to my parents that I was pregnant and after the big hugs and excitement calmed down, my mother turned to me and in a stern voice said “Don’t eat too many sweets and start exercising now or the birth will split you in two”.
I wish I could say that I stuck to the first part, but to be honest I got an inverted version of morning sickness, rather than losing my appetite I had an insatiable hunger, right before the Christmas season, sweeties were inevitable. But I did listen to the second part and began to look around for the possibilities.
Having no affiliation to any sport, and having never exercised regularly, I was warned that now was not the time to discover my inner Katie Taylor. I could walk, swim or do pregnancy yoga pilates (for a long time I did not realise that these were two separate things). I love swimming, but between the driving to a pool, getting undressed before and dressed again afterwards, and sorting out long wet hair in freezing Irish winter, it was really more effort than I was willing to put in. Walking is fine, but I already walk about two hours with the dog every second day, and after a while it just gets boring, I couldn’t do anymore of it. So that left Yoga-lates (again didn’t realise that this was different again than either yoga or pilates).
I signed up for the yoga first, and I have to admit I was very sceptical. I am not one for searching for my inner serenity or spending too long sitting still, so the idea of being trapped in a room smelling vaguely of farts and tofu, listening to an earth mother with a fake American accent waffle on while searching in vain for my inner goddess was not appealing, but I had my Mum’s wise words “split you in two” ringing in my ears, so I borrowed a yoga mat and got down to the class.
Well, I could not have been more wrong. What greeted me was the fragrance of clean clothes from the laundrette downstairs, a class of very normal ladies and an instructor with a broad Dublin accent who was more concerned with breathing through labour than finding inner peace. I was already beginning to relax. I have to admit there was still some nonsense about picturing your child’s love and your love for your child, which at 30+ weeks might be very desirable thing to do when you can feel the baby kick and move, but, at my mere 18 weeks, when I was not really feeling any different to my pre-pregnancy self, it felt very cloud-dancer-ish. Plus while we are never still, always moving from one position to another, I still thought I could do with something a little more energetic. That is when I stumbled onto aqua-pilates.
I have to admit, I did picture snorkels, 80’s music and preggos in spandex, and what greeted me was not much different. There was no music or breathing apparatus, but there were preggos in swimsuits with floats – which were used to give your body the sort of stretch that is only otherwise achieved on a medieval rack. It felt awesome. So much so that I was twitching like a junkie to get back in the pool and do it again. But while various knots and kinks were being worked out of muscles, there was a different sort of talk here, less about birthing and more about the times around that – the before and after; who was going to mind the other kids (or in our case animals) while you were in the hospital? Who was allowed visit in the first weeks? Would your partner get parental leave and if so for how long? I must have looked at the poor instructor like a rabbit caught in the headlights – we hadn’t discussed any of this stuff out loud! I got home and did the infamous “we need to talk” to my husband. As it turns out we didn’t really need to talk, although we had not discussed it out loud, we were both on the same page on all topics.
So Pilates and Yoga, would I recommend them to a pregnant friend? Are they worth the investment at a time when you are trying to save for cribs and prams and bottles and clothes? As a first time mother I am going to say yes. I was expecting to choose one over the other after giving both a try, but actually they do two different, although complimentary, things. I haven’t gotten to the birth part, so I cannot say if they will help the passing any, but in terms of good advice and building up a network of women in a similar situation, I think they are worth the couple of quid a week. Plus as every week goes on and the pregnancy feels more real, I hope I will begin to feel my love for the child and the child’s love for me and my love for the world and the worlds ….
If you are interested you should check out