Sunday, 24 July 2016

What I've Learnt From Exercising Regularly

A couple of years ago the thought of exercising would bring me out in a cold sweat. Even though I want nothing more than to get fit and have a healthy body, the thought of exercising regularly would make me feel physically sick. Fast forward to today, and I have been working out multiple times a week for almost 8 months. Eight months! Now if I miss a workout I push myself to work twice as hard next time to make up for it. I want to talk about what I've come to learn since I started working out regularly. Now don't get me wrong, having a routine hasn't solved all problems - I'm far from perfect. But it has given me a sense of confidence that I wouldn't give up for the world. So here are the top lessons my exercise routine has taught me so far: 
So much washing // My routine consists of a variety of different activities. From swimming, to Zumba, I tend to wear a different outfit for each different session. I feel as though my house is becoming a chinese laundry, with the surge of extra washing from all that sweaty gear. And it's not just the gym gear that needs washing. I feel uncomfortable if my hair isn't washed after working out, but it does get annoying having to wash it more frequently. 

Getting fit isn't difficult // Well it is, but you get what I mean. Making changes to your lifestyle (and body) isn't going to come overnight. It takes a lot of time and dedication (and a willpower you will not believe), but it really isn't as difficult as everyone makes out. Even just a little bit here and there will help boost your fitness levels. 

Healthy body, healthy mind // It is fairly common knowledge that regular exercise can aid a multitude of mental health problems. It can work wonders on those with depression and anxiety, and at first I didn't really understand how something could have such an impact. But I've seen vast improvements in my mental health.My anxiety has been at an all time low recently, and I've been a hell of a lot happier. I'm a firm believer in sweating your worries away; nothing beats that amazing feeling when you step out the gym or collapse on your bedroom floor after a hard workout. 

It's ok to take a break // Over the last eight or so months, I've missed a couple of weeks due to illness or injury (and occasionally laziness) and at first I was a little hard on myself. I started off by beating myself up (not physically obvs), but now I know that sometimes it's important to to give your mind and your body a rest when needed. Just as long as your break doesn't turn into a permanent break. 

I have never regretted a workout // Seriously. Even when I've been feeling run down, or a little under the weather I've still attempted to workout. Occasionally I've thought I was going to pass out during a set of burpees and had to give up half way through to collapse on the floor. But the feeling you get when you've finished makes crawling out of bed that little bit easier. 

Have something on hand to eat // Have something ready to eat immediately after your session because you will be starrrrrrving! If not you'll end up stopping off at the neighbouring bakery section of Lidl to buy alllll the pastries and donuts. 



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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Life Lately: July

If you follow me on me on Twitter, you probably know that June and July have been a bit of a whirlwind for me and my health. I've decided to write this post not for the sympathy of my lovely readers, but as more of a diary entry where I can share my current thoughts and feelings, track my progress, and basically set goals for the future. 

I've not really talked about it on my blog (or anywhere for that matter), but I suffer from Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS) and consequently have a lot of issues with my joints. Occasionally I have flare ups, where joints become painful and I have to take a few days off here and there to get back on track. On the day of the UK referendum (I blame you for all of this Brexit), I woke up with a lot of pain in one of my ankles. At first I thought it was one of my flare ups and decided to rest for a few days. Eventually the pain got so bad that I was having panic attacks and crying for ~75% of the day. I just couldn't cope with the pain and I wasn't even able stand up. Just the weight of even a blanket or a sock made me scream out like a banshee. My mum rang the 111 service to see what she could do, and they recommended I go straight to A&E. I was seen almost immediately and given some prescription-strength painkillers to help reduce the pain, and told to come back in a few days if there were no improvement.

I left another week in the hopes that it would all just go away and I'd be back doing burpees and dancing erratically to Taylor Swift before I knew it, but in the end I had to go back as I was still in unbearable pain. I'd been taking a combination of all the painkillers known to man, with doses big enough to knock me out for a few hours but nothing even touched the pain. I had an X-Ray to see if I'd broken something, but the scan came back fine. The doctor (James the bae), said he was stumped and didn't really know what was causing all the swelling and pain in my ankle. He gave me some more painkillers and sent me home to try and walk on it more and more. He said that the Codeine should numb the pain, however in the 2 weeks I had been taking the Codeine, I'd had every other side effect on the information leaflet (including the rare ones) except the desired pain relief. I felt sick ALL THE TIME, I kept fainting, I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating, and I lost over a stone (15lbs/6.8kilos) - ALL IN THE SPACE OF TWO WEEKS. At this point I decided to stop taking the medicine as it was doing way more harm than good. 

The following day I received a letter in the post saying my X-Ray had been reexamined and I needed to go back to the hospital. I got really excited thinking that they'd found a crack or something, and I'd be sent home in a cast and it would heal and all would be fine. But as soon as I saw the doctor I could see it was more serious than I'd thought. After 3 weeks I was given the diagnosis of a Talar Osteochondral Defect. Essentially I had chipped the main bone in my ankle at some point or another and the joint space had been continuously filling with water and God knows what else for quite some time. I had a blood test (complete with the worlds biggest panic attack) and It showed I was perfectly healthy, with zero signs of infection. The doctor decided to refer me to an orthopaedic specialist, gave me some crutches and a walking boot, and sent me home.

Four weeks to the day since the pain started and my orthopaedics appointment rolled around. The doctor (who was an actual psycho btw) started the appointment by shouting at me for being referred to the wrong clinic. He then proceeded to tell me that this was a life-long condition that would never go away. At this point I burst out into tears because I took that he meant I would never be able to walk again, but my mum  later reassured me he simply meant the damage to the bone was permanent (#phew). He told me I would need weekly physiotherapy appointments for the rest of my life and referred me to Radiology to have an MRI scan. On the day I'm writing this (the date of publishing), I have just received my appointment for my MRI scan, and the amount of information that came in the envelope was daunting. I'm not bothered about having the actual scan as I've learnt about them at uni and I know that they are completely painless. I'm more worried about the actual results, because if the scan shows that the bone fragments have collapsed into the joint space, I will need surgery to clean it out otherwise I would go on to develop arthritis in my ankle. My anxiety has been through the roof, and the thought of needing surgery makes me physically sick. I don't cope very well with even dentist checkups, so the idea of being admitted into a hospital makes me want to curl up into a ball and go to sleep forever.

Despite everything that's going on I've remained quite positive with only the occasional emotional breakdown. The pain has reduced dramatically, and I've started my physiotherapy which is making me feel a lot better in myself. I've been given lots of exercises to improve the mobility of my ankle, and the physiotherapist showed me how to walk up and down stairs safely with my crutches so I don't need to crawl as much anymore. Since my first appointment, I've been able to bend my ankle into more of a standing position, bear some weight on it, and even take a few steps. I'm really hoping that I will continue to progress at the same rate as these last couple of days. Before my orthopaedics appointment I was worried that I wouldn't be able to return to university in September, and was thinking through all the worst possible scenarios in my head. At this point I would like to set myself a few goals for the month ahead; by the start of August I plan to be the same as I am now whilst relying on one crutch as opposed to two. By September I hope to be off crutches for the majority of my day, and by the time I go back to university I hope to be able to drive and walk as normal. I'm not expecting to be able to walk long distances, or do all the things that I would usually do - but I am hoping I will be able to at least commute to and from university every day. 

I remain optimistic, although I do realise that my goals may be completely unachievable. My friends and family have been incredibly supportive over the last few weeks, and one of my friends has even offered to let me live-in at her house on the days that I have lectures, so she can help me travel in and it not be as far to get there. It's times like these when you really do realise how much people care for you, and my friends and family would well and truly do anything to make my life even the slightest bit easier. I will probably continue to share little updates of my progress over the coming months, so apologies if you really didn't like this post, but I'd rather it wasn't happening for me to write about too. I promise I won't go into overkill, but the progress I'm starting to make is more exciting than anything else in my life to date. After not being able to stand up for 4 weeks, I see it as being reborn and being able to watch myself grow up and take my first steps in the world.  

Thank you for reading and for your continuous support during this moment in my life. 


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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

My Go-To Shower Products

(I secretly think this is one of the best photos I've ever taken)
If it were socially acceptable I would shower twenty times a day, and if there were a job involving sitting in a shower all day long, I would be certain to hand my CV in as soon as possible. There's nothing like the refreshing cleanliness that comes with a shower, and I've realised I've been reaching for the same products recently. So I thought I would share the things that I use on a regular basis! I always start my shower by rinsing with the Dove Beauty Cream Bar. This is my favourite soap because it doesn't feel like a soap. I've used various soaps in the past, but this is the only one that doesn't dry my skin out. It has a quarter moisturising cream in it and leaves your skin silky smooth and smelling lovely!

I have this little deal with myself that if I workout in the morning, I can use one of my Lush shower gels instead of my usual cheap ones. Recently I've been working out most mornings, so I've been reaching for my Lush goodies on a regular basis. I currently own 8 different Lush shower gels (#obsessed), but my recent go-tos have been the It's Raining Men Shower Gel and The Comforter Shower Cream. They both leave you smelling wonderful! Once I've finished with shower gel, I use the Ro's Argan Body Conditioner. It's rather pricey for a full size tub, but I usually receive them in a gift set over Christmas/birthdays/Easter etc., so I haven't had to splurge just yet. 

I always finish by washing my hair as I enjoy doing things backwards. I'm pretty fickle when it comes to shampoo, I tend to switch it up but at the moment I've been using the Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends Shampoo, which can I just say - smells incredible. It protects my hair and leaves it wonderfully conditioned. During the winter months I use it alongside the conditioner, but I don't bother usually as my hair is more on the oily side. Once a week I do like to treat my hair with the John Frieda Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery Intensive Masque, to make sure it stays in the best possible condition. It's not the cheapest hair mask out there, but it leaves your hair so soft, and you get a fair few uses out of it. 

What is your go-to shower staple?




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