What I wish my illness could do in my absence

Pushing the Zone

A time warp moment.

Just six weeks ago I could barely contemplate going for a run, and now I’m planning the challenge of my lifetime. How come I’ve gained so much ground in such a relatively short time? Where is the research that can follow this and report back so that it can be handed out to others when they’re also on the brink of collapse? Surely someone should be bottling this up for distribution.

Here’s what happened. I got inspired. Plain and simple! Why couldn’t I have been inspired back in March when I went into freefall? Who knows. Timing is obviously key, but also the right kind of inspiration. You see, I wasn’t inspired by a world champion, a polar explorer or even Bradley Wiggins. I was inspired by my next door neighbour. I was inspired by the fact that she (my neighbour) had finally taken up sport and exercise because she’d realised that she was not getting any younger or fitter, and felt unhealthy, with a busy family, work and social life, and ultimately needed to feel better about herself. And she went and did it! No major races, no crowning glory. Just for self-satisfaction and to feel better, the result being that she looked healthier for it too. That simple recognisance that my neighbour had done something that I’ve been living and preaching for many years had helped to turn the active lights back on inside my head.

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So I started running. But me being me, I needed a goal to aim towards to motivate me. I couldn’t think of one off the top of my head, but the Bipolar UK newsletter came into my inbox just when I needed an aim – to fundraise for them and take on the Cardiff Half Marathon. My previous post When Irony Strikes Hot covers some of this – I decided to take on two events, the Eirias Triathlon (for which my partner and I won the relay prize) and a week later the Cardiff Half on 4th October. Both running parts would be wearing a polar bear outfit and I would be recognised as BiPolarBear. It was a good call, the race was not only fun but I laughed, danced and nearly cried throughout it. Supporters called out my name – be it Polar Bear, Super Bear, Super Teddy, Teddy Bear, or even Bipolar Bear – and I felt like a celebrity, bringing smiles and joy to the crowds. I momentarily considered applying to Disney World for a spot in their park.

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Photo courtesy of Lee Slocombe

Crossing the finish line, I certainly was spent, wearing a full head-to-toe costume on a body that already sweats profusely once the heating goes up was tough. One thing that will stay with me is the support from other runners, giving me water on the route and at the end, congratulating me for my efforts as they overtook me, and generally recognising that I was doing something with an additional challenge.

Getting home, jubilant that the fundraising support had raised over £450, and having done my first 13.1 miles in a year, I noticed that this buzz was still ongoing. I was riding on some emotion that I didn’t want to lose. It was the challenge, the adrenaline, the realisation that I had done something I never thought I would and achieved it, and why couldn’t I do more?

So I am now here, in my studio, preparing a challenge that will take about six weeks to complete, will stretch my body to its ultimate limits, and push me so far out of my physical comfort zone, it’s positively astronomical (for me). The funny thing is, mentally, I’ve already completed it.

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Which possibly speaks volumes: there is no correlation between mental illness and mental weakness.

If you’d like to donate to the Bipolar UK cause you can visit my fundraising page for ongoing efforts here. Thank you!

Dusting off the apparel

You can do this!
I’ve officially only been a runner since the 1st January 2004, before that I hated running, I understood it, but my body was too big. I thought.
That first day, I ran for about ten minutes, my body couldn’t physically do anymore.
But I went back out the next day, and the next, and sure enough after just four months, I was looking like a runner, and feeling like a runner.

In the past eleven years, I’ve trained to cover distances I never believed my body could withstand, and on terrains I’d have happily been carried over at one point in time.

But it hasn’t always been a continuous improvement. It wasn’t until after my third child was born that my triathlon improved…indeed, he was barely two months old when I got back on the racing circuit, breastfeeding before the starter whistle. A race to get back before the next feed.IMG_4706

Eighteen months later and it’s a stomach operation that has put me out for about three months. I came back with PBs in every single event; 5k, 10k, half-marathon and Cyclo-Sportives, half-ironman, and most importantly for me, my first marathon distance – Snowdonia no less.

More recently I was hit with depression, rotator cuff and hockey injuries over the space of fourteen months, and yet I came back to run the Snowdonia Sevens (22 miles seven mountains) with just 4 weeks back running and a handful of training up and down Snowdon.

4 weeks back running after more than six months off with ACL injury? Absolutely.

Once you get to the point where sport becomes a greater struggle than the merits and thrill it produces, it’s time to take some time out. And probably for your benefit.

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I didn’t just leave sport behind though. Whenever I’ve taken time out, I’ve looked long and hard at my nutrition. Exercise is only 20% of what we look like. The rest of it is in what we absorb through what we eat and what we put on our bodies, how we treat ourselves in our mind, and how well we sleep and repair. So it’s no wonder I can get back out there fast. I look after the other 80% of me with a 100% attitude.

Arbonne Essentials Greens Balance – 37 Vegetables & Fruits
Arbonne Essentials Greens Balance – Full colour spectrum support

2015, I’ve got this. I’m quite happy to indulge in my family’s baking today (you would too, believe me), and even for the rest of this week.
But come Monday 5th Jan 2015, I’m back in the game.

Training, detoxing, refuelling, focusing, planning, actually going for it.

Yvie getting ready to train again

My first 30 days will be with the help of the only sports nutrition range I can now fully support, Arbonne’s “30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond”. Not just a sports range, it’s also a huge part of my daily diet, so no fad, no gimmick, no waste products thank you.

Daily healthy living, that’s how good habits are created. I’m giving that 80% of me more of that 100% attitude.

Raw, Inspiration

I woke up today wondering how I could restore some of the belief that I once held in my own dreams.
You see, lately, they’ve become wishy-washy, a hope rather than a goal, dimly lit and hazy. I’m not sure when that happened. It certainly wasn’t overnight, but instead a gradual erosion of self-confidence and belief in changes that could be made. I began to realise that there were few around me who believed in me, and few who I could believe in.

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I found the answer, a glimmer of hope, in the unfortunate to some, or perhaps the fortuitous to others, personal post on my company’s FaceBook forum. It’s rawness blew me away.
This is a real friend, going through real turmoil, making a decision based on a real dream of a future to be different than the one that she is currently travelling on.
In the end, isn’t that what we all strive for when we find ourselves at an impasse? That courage to have the conviction in ourselves to make a decision based on life’s true fortunes, and not on fiscal matters alone.
In the face of polarisation, would we all act true to what we say we will do?

Here is her post, with her permission, but with names removed for discretion.

I trust you will read it with an open heart and mind, and not pass judgements.

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“So today I have officially ‘retired’ from corporate world. In reality I was asked to choose by my ‘boss’ between my corporate career and Arbonne. It was unquestionable, Arbonne all the way.
The British seem to have a stiff upper lip when talking about finances but I wanted to let you know what position I was in so it gives everyone out there, past, present, and future, belief in this incredible industry.
I had a £70k salary and the main income earner in our beautiful home. My biggest cheque ever in Arbonne had been £486! I didn’t have any savings when I made the decision to leave and knew that when I finally handed my notice in we would be about £800-a-month short just on the mortgage and bills, and that’s without a lifestyle.
When I handed my notice in, I was ‘banned’ by work from doing any Arbonne activity otherwise they wouldn’t pay me my notice. I left without a leaving card, present or do, after 14 years.
My family think I am crazy and it doesn’t help that none of them believe in Arbonne.
My ‘boss’ was spreading the word the I belong to a ‘pyramid scheme’ and that’s why ‘they had to get rid of me’. Incredible isn’t it.

So why am I telling you all this?
1) When you truly believe in something from your absolute core you do it.
2) 1000s of people need educating about the power of network marketing, it is not my boss’ fault he thinks it is a pyramid, he just doesn’t know and never gave me the opportunity to explain.
3) If anybody needs to tell a story to a corporate prospect about belief, please use me!
4) Feel the fear and do it anyway.
5) Be kind to people, build relationships and always remember that people never ever forget how you make them feel.

If I hadn’t spent 14 years being kind to my ‘boss’, doing a great job, and holding the department together (my boss’ words not mine) I can guarantee it would have ended so very, very differently.
So please go out there and tell everybody there is a better way. Our National Vice President said at the car presentation yesterday, “if you are in a job, and they want to get rid of you, they will”.

People out there don’t have Plan Bs, I did! I may not have put it into practice before now, but I have it and so very, very grateful I now have this to share. So very grateful to my whole upline for saying yes and, of course, never, ever forgetting my gorgeous bestie for introducing me to Arbonne who clearly knew I was going to need it one day.

So get those goals set so you know where you’re going, I’m finishing mine off today and they will be up on my wall clear as day.
When your back’s up against the wall you will do anything. Hope you have all had a great Christmas and a very, very happy and prosperous new year to you.
May all your dreams come true xx.”
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