Walking Blogger Mummy

IMG_20170316_173219_233Hi Everyone

A year ago I was a diferent women. In mind and body. As a mum I was really self aware of my body image and my confidence was at rock bottom.

I use to travel everywhere on public transport even on a bus for a few stops.  My walking passion started when a local road closure meant I had to start walking as the bus diversion wasnt going anywhere near to where I wanted it to be so to get anywhere close I had to start to walk everywhere in the village.

Soon I realised hang on a minute just an hour of fresh air and excerise was actually making a difference to my life. I was 2 stone heavier than I wanted to be and carrying my pregnancy weight.

I am a mum to a goregous little girl called Gia.

One of my really close friends was like nat you need to get a pedometer so you can monitor you progress. I bought one of the cheap and nasty ones off the internet and realised it really wasnt for me. So as a christmas present I got a fitbit

What can I say about that product… it is totally amazing. For me it has helped me on the road of turning my life around. But I will go into the world of fitbit and that a later date.

So then. Why did I choose to walk 5000 miles in a year? I saw a post on facebook about walking 1000 in a year and thought that just seems easy why not push the boundaries to another level. Hence the 5000 target.

That is basically walking 13.6 miles for a whole year. Doesnt seem easy does it?

When my dad was alive he was a huge believer in charity work and fundraising and giving things back to people. So this year on his 2nd anniversary of his passing Ive decided to support 2 amazing charities Railway Children and Lions Club.

Overcome Fear

It dawned on me a couple of weeks ago I had to face a challenge head on and overcome the hurdles this challenge created. My daughter is currently into the winter term in reception and she is learning one extremely important and valuable life skill and that is learning how to swim.

We have often spoken about going out swimming together but I would always have to make some sort of excuse so she would forget about it or think about something different. The reason why I had to do this was simply because as an adult I hadn’t mastered this vital life saving skill. I had obviously been taught whilst I was at high school but because of a negative episode where I went under water it meant the goal of swimming had vanished.

Throughout my twenties I didn’t see the need in this skill another factor in the equation was I was living on the mainland so no obvious onset of water danger compared to now living on the Isle of Wight.

So fast forward to Week 5 of this brand new journey and I’ve had to come to realise to succeed and be able to swim the fears I have need to be demolished and sharply. The first week It was very overwhelming at the prospect of having to face fear head on. Suffering with anxiety most definitely makes it a hell of a lot harder because sometimes you could be just about to start doing an activity and there you are overcome with Adrenaline or frozen with fear.

Week 2 only two weeks in there was a different teacher who was not aware of my level of competency and so early on pushed me too far on an activity then I had a full blown panic attack in the middle of the swimming pool. I thought to myself Nat you need to get a grip and pull yourself together but it was practically impossible when that level of fear just was too extreme to overcome. I was doing a supported activity where I was laying on my back learning the movements of how to start the process of learning how to swim on my back however my brains instant reaction was to panic the level of threat and fear my brain felt was something I can’t describe.

Last week I made some significant progress where I started to incorporate my arms whilst using the floats earlier within the lesson again out of no where my overthinking anxious brain just decided to put the wall up and that meant I wasn’t going to be able to move forward until I’d broken that wall down. The only way I can describe this journey is like putting every little bit of self motivation into actual practise. Sometimes my brain likes to run off and over think random crap but then I just have to tell myself stop and focus on the task in hand.

I’ve made a promise today with my daughter that one day we will go swimming together and knowing I’ve made this promise to her is my motivation. I currently can’t float out towards the deep end I haven’t any understanding to the reasons why I can’t yet do this but I’m putting the foundations in place that I can face that fear.

So today I hit two ultimate fears face on head first. The first was to fully put my head under water. Anyone with any understanding of anxiety will understand the ‘ fight, flight and freeze’ aspects what an individual with anxiety will normally feel when they are faced with one of these situations. The first couple of times I stuck my face in the water I felt scared and frightened the ‘ what if questions’ often coming into my head however I just had to tell myself there are plenty of people around to support you just trust your instincts and you will be perfectly fine.

The second fear was the harder one of the two because only a few weeks prior that activity lead me to have a panic attack. So this time I said look… just do it. You know you can do it and you will be perfectly fine but in the back of my mind my head is telling me otherwise. So I just focused, closed my eyes temporarily and just let the water so what it should do and support me. The teacher was behind me and I was so focused on making sure I was actually breathing that before I knew it we were a fair distance down the pool when I opened my eyes I froze and I was like hell I’m going to sink, I’m going to go under the water. I just told myself Nat come on get your legs moving you are fine and safe.

I have no idea how long this goal will take the dream of being able to swim with my daughter will one day become reality because I’m not letting anxiety stop me, I’m not letting it take over. I’m the boss not it!

Unstoppable ❤️

The story of the same person three years apart.

Today is World Mental Health day it was up until a few years ago a day I never really paid much attention too. I knew my own mental health wasn’t great but I didn’t choose to give it the time of day it actually deserved.

I’ll never forget late 2016 when I realised I couldn’t live the way I was living anymore. I stood in the mirror and knew I had to change I was travelling by bus just 3 or 4 stops up the road and this was the norm. I didn’t have any ambitions in my life or goals for my future. I would never of put education or gaining qualifications into my thought process. My mental health was defining me and formed a lot of the image back then.

Back in 2016 my mindset was programmed to automatically always think negatively at a situation. No matter what the situation my brain would always go into instant catastrophe mode. I was happy being the way I was living in clothes what would simply just do me ok. I was happy to be in my shell and just plod along with day to day life.

That day in November 2016 enough was enough I had to change, no one told me to change I just realised if I wanted to survive on earth then that was the optimum time to do something about it.

I’ll always remember the first few weeks when I became more active just the general uplifted feeling of having more energy made me feel mentally more stronger. I never had any real physical goals when my journey began I just wanted to feel healthier and happier within myself. A month or so later I came across the #Walk1000 post on Facebook and then a few days later the concept of my 2017 5000 mile walking challenge was born. I had no actual understanding or real idea what I was mentally let alone physically letting myself in for but in simple fashion I gave it all I had.

A few months down the line the miles were accumulating and the weight was falling off and I could already see the positive impact just changing a few things in my life was doing for my overall mental wellbeing. As my body became stronger the buzz of walking longer distances increased. I’ll never forget when someone told me about walking around the Isle of Wight within 24 hours I thought they were simply crackers how on earth would anyone be physically be able to walk 70+ miles within a day. I’ll let you into a secret well it’s not a proper secret sheer willpower, determination, guts and courage got me all the way round.

Over the last few years I’ve learned the impact of self reflection and how important it is on ensuring your own mental wellbeing stays intact. Sometimes when we feel like getting the daggers out and mentally destroying ourselves always focus and remember the positives and things which have been achieved.

Three years later I would never of ever imagined I’d be in the position I am today. We all have our good and bad days but now my more deep dark are few and far between but I’m able to now identify my triggers for my mental wobbles. I always know if I’m feeling a bit gloomy a beautiful walk in the fresh air will make it all right again.

People ask me about the diet that I used to loose the three stone to be honest I didn’t follow a set diet half of the time they are simple fads retailers put out in the media for you just to go and spend money on their useless products! Simply watching what I ate and cutting down my portions was the answer, the funny thing is when I was walking the high mileage in 2018 I was eating most possibly the most calories I’d ever contemplate eating in a day but my calorie burn was simply off the charts I just needed to maintain the fuel inside to keep walking the miles.

❤️ World Mental Health Day 2019 ❤️

Change

This week for me as been a rollercoaster where I’ve simply had to think ahead of multiple things all in the space of a few hours. Before my eyes a few nights ago I was faced with a situation where the person I care about was at rock bottom the demons had overcome and taken over. Negativity utterly poisoning their thoughts process. It was painful to watch someone want to throw life away when I for one know the importance of embracing life for all that it is actually worth.

Seeing them frightened and scared, worried and anxious about making the first steps was quite an overwhelming thing to witness because your in the position your just trying to stay logical for them.

I think the last few days have made me realise actually how far I have come in my own recovery and the lengths I have taken to change my life. Breaking a cycle of negativity, abuse, trauma is easier said then done because take me for example I was always thinking about what other people would be thinking rather than my own feelings and emotions. I was thinking about the consequences my actions would have on other people rather than my own happiness.

I broke that cycle 18 months ago, it got to a point I woke up and I told myself I can’t live the way I’m living anymore. Sometimes it takes time to be able to get to that point where you want to change, and deep down your head has to take into account all the other factors which are taking place at that time. I remember a few days after I had broken that cycle and I just felt naked, I felt alone, overwhelmed and scared but equally I knew this was the time I would be truly able to change my life.

Getting the saw and making the dent into the cycle was difficult because I knew for the first time in my life I would have to face my demons literally having to get up close and personal with things that caused you hurt and heartbreak but knowing once it was dealt with and explored in the correct controlled manner I would be able to be more productive in my head at being able to draw a line and move on properly.

I remember for years thinking I was someone who was damaged and broken. I literally thought I could never be rebuilt into a different model but I have been able to, I know because of the hours of self love I have given myself in the process of my recovery that I was never truly broken because if I was fully broken I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now.

Two of the most important elements and factors in aiding my recovery as been accessing courses and support from the local women’s centre. The Freedom course was in away chapter 1 of the rebirth of me the knowledge I had gained over a 12 week power has in away become the power I have needed to support someone else. The tools I gained I’ve been able to share with someone close.

The second course I did was Adverse Childhood Experiences until doing this course I had so many unanswered questions about myself. I would look at some of my behaviours and wonder where did this originate from. Aces was probably the most important thing I’ve done this year because I was able to explore the importance of a positive mindset and automatic negative thinking. I had to tell someone at work today to stop, they were becoming worried and anxious because the shift was short, they were like it’s going to be bad, it’s going to be crap but as I told them if you think automatically that it’s going to become negative it will be negative.

It’s hard for me to sit and tell people in times of crisis to change because I kid you not the beginning of a change is the hardest thing you will ever do, your mental fuel tank will be running on empty and will stay empty for a while but you have to imagine ‘ hope’ as a golden ticket. Think about the scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where the boy finally found the golden ticket and he was overjoyed and ecstatic that he had won this ticket. Imagine hope to be like that sometimes holding on to hope is all you have. The self inner belief to know one day life will get better. The demons of the past are the past. I always tell people if there’s been a negative experience which as created a negative image go and create the new image sooner or later the positives will out way the negatives.

Body Image ♥️

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the United Kingdom, and the area of focus this year is ‘ Body Image’

As I have written throughout my blogs previously is the positive impact that walking has had on my own mental health. There is nothing better than spending 10 minutes outside in the sunshine, looking up at the beautiful blue sky hearing the birds sing.

I am a Mum of two Children, I had my first child 13 years ago this year and for years I would always beat myself up and the fact I had stretch marks, I hated the fact my tummy was no where perfect. All this negativity meant all I was doing was attacking my own skin, beating myself up for no actual logical reason. I had become a parent this should of been seen as a positive.

In 2014 I fell pregnant with my Daughter Gia, and by 2015 I had gained a lot of extra weight, some of it was the natural pregnancy gain but some of it was comfort eating because I wasn’t happy again with what I saw in the mirror .

For a few years my mental health suffered, I felt low, anxious, my confidence and ablity to love myself for the women I am, truly went out the window. I remember that random day in November when I saw the post on Facebook, ‘ Walk 1000 miles in a year’

Then out of no where I thought to myself, ‘1000 miles won’t challenge you, 5000 miles will push you mentally and physically to the limit why don’t you just give it your all and see what happens’, around the same time, one of the roads in Freshwater was closed for a few weeks, so it meant that buses would not be going that way and if I wanted to get to where I needed, I had to walk!

Hello to the start of the rest of my life. It dawned on me when I was doing the maths for my 2017 challenge that I would have to walk a half marathon a day to stay on track. I just thought this is impossible, but we all know that my sheer determination and willpower meant I hit my 2017 target 6 weeks early.

When I began my 2017 challenge I had no understanding on nutrition and what it takes to the body to sustain marathon distances on a daily basis, It was a matter of trial and error. I felt so happy when I lost my first stone in weight. By the summer of 2017 I was now around a size 8. I was loving the compliments and feedback I was getting from people.

In 2018 I continued with some serious long distance walking which also meant that my body image would continue to change further, a year later I became a size 6. I was looking in the mirror and I could see the changes all the walking had done. I felt able to stand in front of my mirror and be proud of what I saw.

However in the world we live in, there tends to be a lot of negativity still flying around. I was getting a lot of harsh comments from people. ‘ You look thin’ ‘ Your too skinny now’ ‘ Don’t loose anymore weight’

The first few times it made me feel deflated, but now I just think I’ll take on board what you think, but it is my body after all and I am happy in my own skin, I am happy with the image of my body. In 2019 I finally after 3 long years of hard work hit a 3 stone weight loss, I have to remind a lot of people when doing a lot of long distance walking it takes inches of your waistline, and that has happened to me. I also explain to people that I actually weigh what I should do for my height.

The Positives of a healthy lifestyle, long distance walking have made me love what I see in the mirror, who cares if I’ve stretch marks, who cares if I’ve a few lumps and bumps here and there, in such a short space of time I have done the impossible, and I am glad I did it. I feel confident when I look at my body image, I am always working on staying healthy and physically strong. I no longer feel depressed and deflated, the world is my oyster.

Back on track ❤️

When your a Single Parent and you work full time, it can be quite a challenge to be able to manage all the things we have to do as a parents. My 2019 walking challenge hasn’t been about how many miles I can do in one day, or how many steps I can do in 24 hours, it’s been about the rediscovery of the women that I am.

My life has been a rollercoaster of high’s and low’s, several little dramas that have knocked me off track but I’ve managed to dust myself off and get back on track. It’s funny when I look back to how I was a year ago, I was full on Adeline hungry, I was setting constant goals and I was constantly smashing them up to pieces, it got to a point last Autumn I became unhappy with how my life was going so I decided I needed to make the radical changes there and then, this meant getting a different job and approaching people for help with issues I was facing.

I had to a few months put the passion of high miles aside and focus on my life and the way it was going, my anxiety was starting to take over and I was having so many panic attacks, it was difficult to actually try and find a way forward. One of the downsides of changing my job was I lost my walk to work commute but I gained valuable time at home to do other things. I always think it’s important to always look for the positives in things even though the negatives are staring at you in the face.

A year ago, I was on my way to 2000 miles, popping 20 mile days out left right and centre, I just look back and think how on earth did I sustain it. This year I haven’t yet reached 1000 miles but I should reach it within the next week or so.

Just looking back at my journey, It has most definitely fuelled my love for physical health and the positive effects of mental well-being, this week I’ve still had meetings with the professionals who are supporting me and my daughter currently but I’ve been smart in the management of my time and how to get my marathon training in.

I’m currently doing distance learning education at college and On Tuesday I needed to hand my assignment in, I could like all normal people have taken the bus to Newport but no, not me, I opted for the 11 mile walk into Newport.

I kid you not walking and physical exercise are the best anti depressants on the market, they are free, and it’s unlimited. Just walking to Newport over the downs I could just switch off from the hustle and bustle of my busy lifestyle and just be myself out in the countryside, the one thing I really didn’t miss was mottistone down, that was tough, luckily I can get some incline training in at home but the terrain will always be something you need to be there to train on.

So Walk the Wight is coming up in a few weeks time, this will be my 3rd year of doing the walk, and I thought with any natural progression it’s time I involve a bit of running. I can dream about running the whole thing one day and we all know that I am a women that makes dreams reality but this year I will happily settle with walking and running some of it.

Now that I have started the training again, it’s meant the changes in my diet, I have a high metabolism and ensuring I have sufficient calories is vital. It is also important that I have enough protein in my diet to aid my recovery, I have found that Quorn is a good source of protein as well as the standard likes of egg and chicken.

It’s been great I must admit to walk 50+ miles In a few days, this usually takes me 7 days to do now.

♥️♥️♥️♥️

#its ok to not be ok

So it’s finally dawned on me that I really need to get into the mindset of actually getting some serious marathon training in. The one thing in life you can’t control is when you get multiple challenges hit you all at once. This will usually mean priorities change, and more pressing things take the centre stage of your thoughts process.

I think it’s been important these last few months to identify the areas of my life which I need to work on. This will mean I will be able to maintain the journey I am on at the moment. Over the last few weeks we have been really fortunate to have some rather beautiful spring like weather but it has just come a few months early, this has meant I have actually been able to get a couple of beautiful walks in. I managed to actually walk the most I’d walked in a long time a couple of weeks ago. It was a challenge I must admit because when you drop off from high intense miles, your body becomes accustomed to that new distance, so for me at the moment to be able to walk around the Isle of Wight in the Summer, I need to set the goals and targets and ultimately work extremely hard to be able pull it off again, I know what I have to do, it all depends if my life allows it, I know this year I will have to work even harder to be able to complete the challenge.

I wanted to write in this blog about something I am really passionate about at the moment and that is the stereotyping in society regarding Mental Health. So many people are so quick to judge the book by its cover and sometimes I wonder how can you get a true understanding of the book in that snapshot moment you’ve been given it? You can’t can you.

This is why talking about my journey is really important because I don’t want other people to suffer with respect to how they present when asking for mental health support. To hold your hands up and acknowledge you have a problem and you are asking for someone to listen to takes guts, it takes courage and it takes balls to realise that it’s time to actually lift the carpet up and see what’s being hiding under there.

Sometimes I get a lot of people say to me, ‘but you look ok’ ‘you seem fine’, or ‘your looking well’ . With the amount of cuts there is currently within the mental health service unless your at breaking point, and are literally on the verge of giving up. You’ve got to be able to physically stick your self back together to make yourself better and mentally get yourself out the black hole yourself, I am talking from experience where I am currently on another emotional rollercoaster created because of a situation which begun back in September last year.

I recently saw my friend who Is a photographer and we created a 1950s style photo shoot, you could say why is the 1950s as an era important to you when you were born in the 1980s. To me as a 30 year old women, the 50’s portray individualism, feminism, strength, and ultimately power behind the female.

This is one thing which is important in my own mental health recovery is being comfortable in my own skin, having my own individual identity and to not have any outside factors or people controlling my thoughts, or actions I might want to make.

There sadly isn’t enough resources available to support everyone out there with the vast amount of mental health illnesses and needs people have out there, and I have been one of those women who has gone through my life having to learn to self manage and take the self care of my mental well-being. I have learned sometimes to get your point across you need to shout a bit louder then you usually would, you sometimes need to strip things back to basics and say it as it is. We are all so busy with hectic lifestyles, I am one of those women who has the challenges of juggling multiple hats all at once, but you could say thrive from it.

It doesn’t matter who you are, male or female, young, middle aged or old, of a different religion or culture you should be allowed in society to still be well dressed, wear the makeup and the lipstick and still be allowed to say your struggling. I know makeup especially in my life creates the argument and debate on the ‘ mask’ however I believe sometimes you just want to make yourself feel better, I know two positive coping strategies people use when they have a bad day is chocolate and some women prefer the odd glass of wine here and there. Yet I think sometimes if you add that bit of lipstick on, it just promotes positivity. For me when I wear makeup it makes me feel functional I know you probably think how, but if you take my current situation of working with multiple professionals, it kind of adds an extra layer of skin on, which for me creates that extra layer of strength to be able to sometimes dig deep in an empty mental tank and ultimately get the positive results I want to be able to successfully keep moving forward.

Mental Challenges ♥️

I’m actually glad this week is over to be honest, challenging and mentally draining went to a whole new level this week.

I am under a lot of pressure right now with several factors and aspects in my life which actually need some work on, but I will get there.

I looked at my miles for this week and I just need to remind myself, these have been very difficult miles.

In the world we live in, Social Media has a big part to play in everyones beliefs and values.

So now I want to briefly talk about Life as Single Parent.

I believe in the value of work hard to achieve the positive lifestyle. The last 7 days have literally tore me apart, but somehow I’ve managed to find the energy and mental strength to be able to work this week. When your a Single mum you always have at the back of your mind, ‘ I don’t want my daughter to see me struggle’

You end up wearing the ‘ Positive Face’ yet inside can feel broken, exhausted, drained and well and truely warn out. Sometimes you just wish for a fairy godmother to appear out of no where and be like ‘ Here.. go make yourself a cup of tea and take 5’

You have to battle on eventhough your batteries are running on empty, you end up finding the mental fuel to continue even when the tank is empty.

Social Media has to many Negatives, and sometimes Positives should be embraced more!. I live by a couple of phrases. #thisgirlcan and ‘ I refuse to sink’

There are always positives everywhere in life, some are sat looking at you but some are a lot harder to find but with strength and willpower you end up finding them.

So back to walking, this week has been a bog standard basement week in the respect of miles walked, but I don’t care. The 39 miles I have walked this week have been all about determination, and the refusal of letting life and its struggles take away my passion of Walking.

I know… one day.. #Superwomen will make her entrance again ♥️