Tag Archives: Holiday

Bollocks to the salad…

Is what I thought a couple of weeks ago when I decided to try and lose a couple of pounds for my impending holiday.

A bit of background, the last couple of months at work have been hectic to say the least, I have probably been away more than I have been at home and have basically been living out of a hotel (does a Travelodge count as a hotel?!) and a suitcase. It’s really, really hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle  when you are away so much, I really do try but sometimes the urge to give into the wine or the chocolate after a long arsed day is too much.

With only a few weeks until my holiday I decided to take action and up the health and fitness regime to shift those additional pounds that crept on. I was still working away lots and before I knew it I had 17 days to go. I can do this I thought, I will just give up everything that is nice and fun and tasty until I go away, it’s easy, I can eat mainly salad and veg and not drink wine for 17 days. I lasted 5 days, (go me!) until my sister text to say they were having Pimms in the garden and I was invited! And then I just thought, bollocks to the salad, I cannot be arsed to keep depriving myself because I am 2-3 pounds heavier than I want to be.

In the few days before the lure of the Pimms, I was miserable, I was hungry and felt tired and cranky. I just couldn’t do it to myself anymore. I’m bored of feeling bad about myself because I had potatoes for dinner or a sandwich instead of a salad for lunch. I am bored of feeling like a rabbit because all I seem to do is crunch bloody crunch all day long. I am tired of exercising iron clad willpower when it comes to not eating a biscuit or a piece of chocolate (I am still waiting for that will power to come to the surface in the face of wine!). I am fed up of trying to haul myself out of bed every morning to spend an hour in the gym and feeling guilty when I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I live a healthy lifestyle and enjoy doing so, I want to give my body nourishment and strengthen it so it can deal with life’s curve-balls. But I don’t want to live a life of restriction that never includes a chocolate hobnob again.

I do not want to saute my broccoli, I don’t even know what sauteing is – isn’t it just a fancy word for frying?? I don’t want to eat kale and cous cous for lunch or to have to marinade my chicken for 4 hours for it to be tasty. That is why Marks and Spencer exists – so people like me can throw our veg in the microwave. I don’t like avocado and even if I did I wouldn’t want it for breakfast, I don’t want to snack on 5 almonds or take my Tupperware dish everywhere I go. So I said bollocks to it and decided that I would try to feel OK with the little extra padding and be happy instead. And weirdly enough, when  you stop stressing about food and let go a little bit your body rewards you with feeling better. I think my mum describes it perfectly –  I asked her what she had for her dinner one night and she replied with “a shit boring salad, I might just have fish and chips”!! Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to dive head first into a vat of donuts (no matter how much I want to) but I am just going to try and relax a little, maybe try thinking about my body in a positive manner instead of hating it. After all, it kept me alive during the most grueling of times and it now keeps me healthy, so I really ought to be grateful to it.

Tomorrow is the day I go away to sunny Crete and you know what, rather than stressing over my body not being the same as it was when I went away last year, I am going to enjoy the fact that I am able to go on holiday, that I can travel, that I can feel the sun on my face and make more memories with Mike, you know the important stuff. It’s a long process, trying to come to terms with your body, especially when you have an Ostomy, but I am going to really try. I have naturally ordered  champagne for my outward flight tomorrow and I may just raise a glass to my shit boring salad!!

 

Salad 2

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Then and now…..

Today is the 4th anniversary of my stoma and of course it’s a day I will never forget so I think it is appropriate to mark the occasion. It was the day that would change my life for ever

Sometimes, the truth of it is that having a stoma does get me down now and then. It is hard for friends and family to understand (as great and supportive as they are) as they just see me as being healthy now and that is all that matters. But, despite the positives, having a stoma is bound to have an effect on how you feel, your body image and the problems that can come with it. But, rather than talk about being down, I figured why not compare my life to pre-bag and post-bag and see the difference?

Now, I am not saying that some of the things I have now I wouldn’t have had anyway, but a major life change can cause you to reassess your life and for things to change in ways you never though possible! So here goes…..

Pre_bag (during my Ulcerative Colitis days and before 2011)

  • I had an incredibly stressful job that took up a lot of my time, didn’t allow for me to look after myself physically or mentally and I worked a lot of hours.
  • I was unfit, exercising was off the table when one wrong move could cause me to poo myself, plus the general exhaustion from being unwell made it difficult.
  • I ate what I was able to not what was necessarily healthy.
  • I was on a concoction of strong medication, painkillers and was self-administering twice daily enemas (how glamorous!).
  • Relationships were tricky and let’s just say I didn’t always make the best choice, so I was either single or in a not so great romantic liaison.
  • Travelling/going to social occasions (e.g. concerts) was a minefield and far too stressful due to the constant worry of an accessible toilet.
  • I lived in a rented flat
  • I drove an old car
  • I didn’t have pets
  • I hadn’t been on a holiday since 2009 and didn’t have many weekends/days away

Fast forward to post-bag (and after 2011) and this is what I have

(A few pics of me now)

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  • A job that I love, where I work from home and travel around the South East, I get the best of both worlds, there is a good work/life balance and because it’s a bowel cancer charity I can offer my experiences as well as fight for a very worthy cause.
  • I am so much fitter than I have ever been. This year I have managed to run a sub 60 minute 10k and a sub 30 minute 5k, plus I have been lifting weights since January and the amount I can lift has increased. Working out has become a part of my daily life and I feel so much better for it (my body has had some nice changes too – bonus!).
  • I eat whatever I want to, but am choosing to eat healthily and I have never felt so good, with so much energy. In fact, I never thought I would see the day, but I have almost gone off pizza, unfortunately the same can’t be said for my wine habit 😉
  • I don’t take any medication at all, apart from the odd Alka Seltzer after a night out ;). Or the occasional ibuprofen for normal niggles.
  • I have an amazing boyfriend, we had only been on a handful dates when I was taken into hospital, but he stuck around and 4 years later we are still together. We have a lot of fun, respect each other, make time for each other, he looks after me and I look after him and it is a GREAT relationship.
  • I have had holidays (yay) and weekends away, spa days/weekends, concerts, theatres, parties, girlie holidays, day trips and so on and I couldn’t be more appreciative. In fact I am off on holiday next week and I can’t wait.
  • I now live in a house with my boyfriend Mike and we have another property we rent out.
  • I have a nice new car.
  • I have two very cute and very mischievous kitties.

Of course my wonderful friends and family haven’t changed and have been there through it all which I am most grateful for.

So, it really helps to look at all the good stuff and what I have been able to achieve, things that once were so difficult or seemed impossible are now just part of my life. If you are going through a hard time or having to face something difficult, just remember, as much as life can change for the worse in a blink of an eye it can always change for the better just as quickly.

So, happy anniversary to me and the stoma that not only gave my life back but improved it too.

 

Cheers!

Life change

Spread a little Christmas love………

These past few days of Christmas have got me thinking. These modern days are unfortunately, so full of consumerism and greed, people are queuing for the sales at 5am on Boxing Day and poor retail staff are barely getting a day off to enjoy Christmas. At what point did the material things in life outweigh spending time with loved ones? For those who have lost loved ones, I am sure they would trade all the presents in the world if it meant one more Christmas day with them, so why are we still so fixated on ‘getting a bargain’ rather than personal time? Would we rather spend Christmas day glued to our phones waiting for the next sale item to pop up, before going to bed at 10pm ready to get up at 5am to hit the sales than spend it ‘in the moment’? I know I would rather turn my phone off for the day and enjoy the time with my loved ones, playing silly board games, laughing, having to dive through 3 black sacks of wrapping paper because someone thinks they threw away a gift voucher, not arguing over the best chocolates in the Roses tin (as I am the only one who likes the creams, yay for me!) and deciding who’s turn it is to make the 10th cup of tea of the day. I am not going to deny my love of shopping but I know when to draw the line and when family time is priority. I could harp on for hours on this subject as it makes me so cross that everywhere is consumed with greed, shouldn’t we just incorporate some simple measures back into our lives? Far better to have a lived a life full of love and friendship than be surrounded by gadgets, clothes and a cold heart.

Christmas love

A lot of my Christmases’ were marred by my Ulcerative Colitis, rushing to the toilet in between trying to eat a bit of turkey all whilst plastering a smile on my face for the sake of my family. When you have a debilitating illness, part of it is putting on a front as you don’t want others to know how unwell you really are, partly because you don’t want to worry them or spoil their day but partly because you don’t actually want to believe it yourself.  In 2010 I spent Christmas eve in hospital but luckily wasn’t admitted, in 2011 I was really excited for Christmas as it was 4 months post-op and I knew I would be able to enjoy it. Unfortunately, a hazard of having no large bowel is the risk of blockages, (comes with the territory, especially in the early days, you learn to manage it). A bit of steak on Christmas eve resulted in immense pain and a blockage on Christmas day (my sister had even removed the fibrous parts from the parsnips so I could enjoy them and I never got to eat them!) so off mum and I went to A&E, but I only walked around the car park for a bit as I really didn’t want to go in! Eventually I decided I was well enough but had to spend most of the rest of day sleeping. Christmas 2012 was ok but my 2nd op in early January was looming upon me so played on my mind a bit. Then in 2013 I came down with a dreaded virus, I knew I wasn’t right when a bottle of champagne I opened on Christmas Eve lasted me for hours! I luckily got through Christmas day and just about managed Boxing Day before succumbing and spending 4 days in bed.

Despite all that, I still consider myself incredibly lucky as having no bowel and an ostomy bag has meant I am here to enjoy the time with my family and friends and there are so many people out there who don’t get that opportunity. I am also determined that this Christmas there will be no A&E, no steak, no virus and the champagne will slide down a bit quicker!!

If you are having a hard time this Christmas, for whatever reason, try and take what good you can from it and have faith that things can get better.  And for all of us, put down the phone, spend a bit longer with loved ones, go back to basics, argue over monopoly and the purple sweets and how about giving the sales a miss on boxing day and snuggling up with hot chocolates and silly films instead?

And on that note, all that leaves me to say is, whatever you are doing and wherever you are,  make it a good one and have a very merry Christmas and New Year! x

Snowmen

The running bug hasn’t quite caught me yet..

I am participating in my second 10k event this Sunday, which isn’t bad for someone, who until this year, had barely taken a brisk walk, let alone a run. However, I did it (just check out my previous blogs) and I have decided to do another one. This time it is Run to the Beat in Wembley, apparently there is a hill in the route, I was rather banking on a flat course as, let’s face it, it is much less traumatic to have a continuous flat path.

I am in nowhere near as good shape as I was back in May and have let the running slide somewhat. After getting back from holiday in June, I spent weeks thinking about getting back to it but decided a cold glass of bubbly in the garden was a much more inviting idea. So I signed up for another 10k to get me motivated again. Everyone says that you get the running bug, especially after your first event, so why I am still waiting to catch it? So, I have also signed up to a local 10K at the start of November, I figure having another one to do will keep me out running and prevent me from lazing on the sofa. It will be 3 in total this year which is a great achievement for me. Mike is also running both of these too but he is much more motivated and sporty than me.

You may think that I must have caught the running bug to have signed up to a further two 10K’s but I really haven’t. I don’t particularly enjoy running and I am not really that good at it, so why am I doing it? I think I am still hoping I may catch that elusive bug, but it also goes hand in hand with my continuous diet and desire to lose weight. Even though I dislike it and I pant and puff my way around and want to stop at every moment, I do feel good when I’ve done it, I like the achievement of having improved my time or had a run that didn’t feel like I was going to die at every moment. Sometimes, it’s just enough to know I have overtaken the walking people.

For now, I will aim to my complete my next 10k as fast as I can (hills pending) and will let you know how I get on and if the running bug manages to catch me.

Running

 

Hooray, hooray it’s a happy holiday……

So I am off on holiday, I am very excited as hopefully you will remember from my previous posts how much I love holidays!

But before I talk about this I must first celebrate my success! Yes, I did it, I completed the Bupa 10K run in London on Sunday! I was so chuffed, I got round in 1 hour 8 minutes which was ok for my first one, I also managed to run the whole thing (no walking!) although I did have to stop 500 metres from the finish line to throw up a little bit – but I carried on and made it through! I also cried when I got to the Marquee where all the others were, I could feel myself welling up as I crossed the finish line but I held it back until I saw Mike and the Beating Bowel Cancer team! It doesn’t take much for me to cry at the best of times but I think this was just such a huge mental achievement after the last few years that all the emotion came out! In April last year I was sat in the Surgeons office and I was given the all clear, but I was also feeling fat and unfit and never dreamed I could run 1km let alone 10km – so I am really proud and showing everyone who is facing something similar that you can overcome your obstacles! Everyone was so generous and supportive, we managed to raise £1010 in sponsorship money for Beating Bowel Cancer which is amazing and will really help to raise awareness and save lives. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored or supported us.

Once the run was over it was time to get into holiday mode, starting with a celebratory bottle (or 2!) of champagne that afternoon/evening and then on the Monday, Mike and I had a lovely two hour spa experience booked complete with full body massage, it was bliss and well needed. I nearly didn’t make it due to the champagne hangover but I soldiered on. A lot of people with Stoma’s worry about things like swimming and spas but really it is ok and no-one needs to know you have it.  Massages are fine and just the same as before and as for swimming and the spa – well those gorgeous high waisted bikinis come in handy again (I still can’t stop buying them).  I have to say, that I think my sister may have needed the spa more having just completed a 100km walk (yes you read that right, 100km!) with her boyfriend that weekend. They did theirs for National Rheumatoid Arthritis Association as Leanne has Rheumatoid Arthritis unfortunately, so hats off to both them but especially my fabulous sis who also has her own battles to overcome. So we have both done our bit for charity, and if you notice a gorgeous blonde walking wonky alongside a limping man then you know it is only Leanne & her boyfriend still recovering from their walk!

I really should have blogged twice these past couple of weeks as so much has been going on but it’s also been difficult trying to fit it all in (I am BZ remember?!) so I will try not to talk for pages and pages but I have a glass of bubbly in hand as I type (I am officially on holiday) so I may chat lots.

So, back to the holiday – woo hoo, I am off to Turkey tomorrow for two whole weeks with Mike, I cannot wait, it has come at exactly the right time too, after the run and with lots of great stuff happening at work, it is really time to chill and recharge. We are going all inclusive and to a hotel with lots of entertainment. We both love it, you’ve got to have a bit of the ‘Benidorm’ on holiday and evening bingo and stage shows are where it’s at 😉 We also love the daytime activities, well Mike does, the activity I like is choosing which cocktail to have and turning over on my sun lounger. Mike joins in everything, so we don’t see much of each other during the day, we reconvene at lunch and when I am demanding a drink from the bar but we both have fun! We are both very similar on holiday and like pretty much the same stuff which is great, makes it much easier. I have had a boyfriend before who liked to do ‘trips’, I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck on a coach for the best part of a sunny day trying to find culture in Mallorca, so when forced to compromise (it’s good for relationships apparently) I am not the happiest – cue arguments and tantrums. So to have a relationship where we both enjoy the same is great.

A quick bit on holidays with a stoma – you can still go on holiday and enjoy it the same and do all the same activities you would as before, I find my stoma behaves on holiday (i.e. not too active, knows when to be quiet), I don’t know if this is because of the heat, being relaxed or a combination, but because of this I feel it is my destiny to holiday as a full time job! The only difference with holidaying with a stoma is the amount of supplies you have to take. You must make sure you have absolutely enough of everything and extras ‘just in case’ and take it all in hand luggage in case your suitcase goes missing. The advantage to this however, is being able to have extra hand luggage allowance due to a medical condition so I am able to use my carry on to stash a few extra clothes too! Of course I am also being cautious, making sure I have something to change into in case of a leak but it is also handy to stash a few bits to get me through a couple of days, so in the terrifying event my case goes missing I don’t have to parade around in an ‘I love Turkey’ T-shirt and a Speedo swimsuit!

What I would like to know is if there is anyone out there who has actually mastered the art of packing light? We all read about it in magazines and how one sarong can magically be dressed three ways (although why would I wear my sarong round the pool then drape it artfully around my neck come the evening, I would be so paranoid a boob would pop out) and how you only need a white shirt and a pair of shorts and you have a weeks worth of outfits, but has anyone actually done this? Isn’t part of the ritual of going on holiday to take too many clothes and shoes in the event we may just want to wear it and to come home having worn barely half, saying ‘I took too much, I can definitely pack light next year’……

So I am signing off, ready for the stress of the outward journey, only to relax once through customs with a Duty Free carrier bag full of purchases I don’t need and a glass of bubbly in hand as I am ‘officially on holiday, again’ (besides there are no time zones at airports or on planes so bottoms up!).

See you in a couple of weeks all! J

Image

Holiday Blues

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since my last blog, where does the time go? But I have been a little busy, mainly with running in prep for my Bupa 10K next weekend but also with a girl’s weekend away.

I love holidays, they are my favourite thing in the world, even a little one night break counts as a holiday in my book, in fact I might not bother working if it wasn’t for the fact I need to pay for holidays! 😉 When I was ill I didn’t get a holiday for a couple of years, not even a mini-break, well that’s a lie – I did get two summer breaks courtesy of the NHS, even food was included! My sister and I also had a ‘staycation’ too which was amazing and sort of counts as a holiday, despite being on home turf. Holidays with a Stoma can be a cause of concern for some people, but I can tell you that it is absolutely no problem, in fact everything happens the same, you just have to remember to pack enough supplies and then spares and then spares for the spares…..but it’s all good. I will talk more about holidays and the Stoma but that is for another day.

So, back to the holidays, yes I love them but I also get horrific, indescribable, miserable post-holiday blues. I always have done, right from my first holiday abroad with my best friend Lisa, we went to Corfu, I fell in ‘love’ with a Greek barman (has to be done) and decided that I would go back out there to work the following season, I didn’t, we went on holiday to Turkey instead and I fell in ‘love’ with the Turkish entertainer! Upon arriving home, our mum’s were eagerly (that’s mine and Lisa’s, not the Turkish entertainer’s) waiting our arrival and I burst into tears stating I didn’t want to come home. Eventually I decided I couldn’t keep getting the blues like this so did a season abroad for Thomson as an entertainer, my summer of 1999 was spent in Cyprus – where you guessed it, I fell in love with the Cypriot porter!! Coming home this time was even worse, Lisa and her mum picked me up from the airport at the end of season and all I did was cry all the way home, mind you it didn’t help that Lisa had picked up a CD for the Journey called ‘Best Movie Power Ballads’ (or something like that). You get the picture, I go on holiday, fall in ‘love’ with a local and then get the blues. Fortunately, my last few holidays have been with Mike, so there has been no falling in love (much to his relief), except for maybe with my own reflection in the shiny cocktail glass!

I mentioned a girls weekend, well the weekend just gone, myself, my sister Leanne and 3 of our friends (Vicky, Lisa, Jo and Kelly, they all deserve a mention) all went to Butlins. And I don’t mean Butlins of the ‘take your kids for a family holiday’ variety, I am talking the adults weekender. This one was an 80’s themed affair, we went in September for a 90’s style one (S Club Party anyone?) and it was so good we had to instantly book for our next one. The weekend is just so much fun, responsibilities are left on your doorstep and all that ensues is 3 days of fun, alcohol, dancing and dressing up. We dressed up every night in something different, the Sunday we did pyjamas, all I can say is it is very liberating & very comfortable to go out in pyjamas and your feet appreciate the slippers! So it’s a great weekend, with a pool party, a fun fair and lots of great girlie times. My sister is amazing at organising girls nights and weekends and she had got us personalised totes made with lots of goodies and t-shirts inside plus loads of games to play before our nights out, so there wasn’t an unfilled moment in the whole weekend!

summer-holidays

Weekends like this would have been a worry for me with my illness, but now with a Stoma it is easy. Everyone knows I have one (and probably a few people at Butlins now know!) so I don’t have to worry about sharing rooms or anything, and I can wear anything I like and go swimming and enjoy myself and generally have a good time. So a Stoma isn’t so bad.

You can probably guess that I am now suffering with the post-holiday blues or post-Butlins blues, we all are, we’ve had so much fun and then it’s back to reality. We all want to go again, we keep saying this time last week…..we all want to go to the pool party, we don’t want to be at home and working when we could be having so much fun! Still, it is not so bad for me as I go on holiday again in two weeks, I can’t wait. I won’t be falling in love with any locals but I can guarantee I will have a severe case of the blues upon return and may be a nightmare to live with.

Still I guess I will just have to book the next Butlins weekend to give me (and the girls) something to look forward to!

By the way, if you fancy sponsoring my 10K you can do so here! 🙂 http://www.justgiving.com/Sherrill-Hawker

Sad cat