Tag Archives: Lifestyle

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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Fitness – a journey

I was at the London Marathon last week (cheering not running) and normally this is something I like to enjoy in bed, with a cup of tea and some toast. But, this year I went to cheer on our charity runners and it was a great day. I am always in awe of those people who can run 26 miles, it isn’t just the effort on the day it is the months of dedicated training too.

London Marathon

It got me thinking about my own health and fitness regime and what I do/don’t do. My goals have changed over the years, during illness it was all about just getting out of bed each day, post surgery it was about putting one foot in front of the other and getting a bit further each day. Then it became a matter of enjoying life whilst I was healthy so I didn’t worry too much about exercise or what to eat. Pre-operation number two, it was about preparing myself to be in as good as shape as possible, so a 10 week bootcamp ensued, post-op again, was about recovery and getting the right nutrients to aid healing and not gaining to much weight whilst sitting on my (now sewn up) arse! Roll on to April/May 2013 and the months of being at home/not exercising/eating too many puddings/the beginnings of domestic bliss with Mike took their toll and we had both gained weight. So then began a health and fitness regime of sorts to try and get in shape. I dappled in the gym, back at bootcamp, exercise classes and a bit of running and tried to stay away from puddings. 2014 I ran my first 10k, followed by two more and continued with some additional exercises. The first 10k was about a personal achievement, something I was able to do even  after all the trauma. Then it became about beating my time and getting better (which I did).

Christmas 2014 my sister bought me a personal training session at the gym she goes to, she recommended her trainer and suggested I try it. So in Jan 2015 I started at a new gym and got some coaching. From that moment on my fitness improved beyond doubt and is still improving today. I completed a couple more 10k’s in the summer but I now just concentrate on lifting weights and the odd interval session. I decided I really didn’t like running so why put myself through it. I actually don’t like the gym either but I like the results it brings! Through the training, I dropped some weight and have kept it off and I feel better than ever. Having a stoma can definitely knock your confidence and for me it was about discovering what I was capable of and what my body could be like. It’s hard to understand your natural weight when it has fluctuated for years due to illness/medication/operations. I am now in a place where I am happier with my body and still like to push it. I have never kept up this consistency before and I am really proud of myself.
Post gym
I want to be one of those people who bound out of bed at 6am to go the gym, or who gets excited because I am off to work out. The truth is, most of the time I have to drag myself there, I have to convince myself to go, sometimes I do get up early and go, but many a Saturday I have spent in bed weighing up the pro’s and cons before realizing whilst I was procrastinating I could have been to the gym and back again! But I go, I don’t let the fact I have a stoma stop me from doing so, there are loads of ‘ostomates’ out there who do all sorts, bodybuilding (This girl is amazing) these people compete in triathlons, 100 mile bike rides, marathons, in fact so much so I feel my gym effort is a bit paltry in comparison. But I will keep on doing it, because I love seeing my body get fitter and stronger, I love the satisfaction of lifting a heavier weight today than yesterday and most of all I love the fact that it has given me the ability to walk up hill, whilst wearing heels, to the train station with a heavy suitcase plus walk up and down a set of stairs with said suitcase plus a handbag in one had and a cup of tea in the other (it was too early for wine ;)!), whilst heaving the suitcase of the ground to get up the stairs! A small girl who was with her mum at the time was most in awe of my ability to do this and told me so – how fab is that!

early gym

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

An honest account of a woman without children

I decided to write this as my sister tagged me in a great post today about celebrity women who don’t have children and their ‘quotes’ about the situation. (Read it here Here). It got me thinking, I have touched on this before but it is a subject that never really goes away. So I thought I would write about my situation.
I don’t have children, I never wanted them either, I was quite sure about that decision  but I definitely felt a pressure from society to have them. It’s as though my desire to stay child free means I am lacking in someway as a woman. By the time I hit my 30’s I was so god damn Ill with the bloody ulcerative colitis that children were the last thing on my mind. I remember a surgeon worrying about sending me for yet another X-ray as the radiation can affect fertility and I told him not to worry I had been through enough pain I wouldn’t be having a child!!!  
Of course health became more important, better to live a life without children and be healthy than constantly ill (or dead) but with a brood of toddlers. The operations I have had can affect fertility, and in particular the 2nd operation to make my stoma permanent (they remove the rectum completely), they prefer to do after you’ve had your children. But I didn’t have the choice to wait until I had or hadn’t completed my family, I needed the op. My surgeon did say everything looked perfect down there (I’d expect nothing less) but until the point comes of trying for a baby I won’t know if my fertility has been affected or not. 
I am now in a great relationship and who knows whether children will become part of our lives (through choice or not) but I do know the only pressure I feel is that of society. I am 36 so I think that means I only have 3 eggs left, I’ll be an older mum, I don’t want to regret not having them, they give you so much joy and pleasure etc. etc. 
I love that women are becoming more honest about what hard work children are, but of course that’s really scary for us in the undecided camp. Yes everyone says the rewards outweigh the not so good, but do they?? I love sleep, more than anything, I’m not sure I will ever ‘get used’ to 3 hours a night or being jumped in in the morning at 7am, or having to do stuff when I just want to watch tv. 
I like only having to worry about sorting out myself and I won’t apologise for the fact even if it sounds selfish. I like leaving the house when I want, going out for dinner, spending my money on me, having my hair and nails done and taking spa days and holidays. 
Of course there are times when my heart breaks a little at the fact I don’t have children. I see the cute little chubby babies and my heart melts, I see parents talking about the bond, the love they feel & the great times they have with their children. My heart breaks a little when I see the relationship my sister has with her daughter, they are really close and have a kind of secret language & special bond, the sort my sister and I used to have, that’s slowly being taken over by her own daughter. My heart breaks a little when I see all the mums so pleased with their little homemade gifts and cards on Mother’s Day. Yes to be child free has so far been my choice but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt sometimes or tug at my heart strings when I wonder if it’s something I’ll have (or want). Maybe if illness & operations hadn’t got in the way, life would be different, but those things did happen so now I have to deal with it. 
I am also a little obsessed with ‘one more holiday’ before children (apparently you can still go on holiday with children but I’m not sure it’s ok to drink from midday to midnight if you do!). I’m not sure I’ll ever have enough adult holidays!! 
Both my partner and I are very nurturing, we look after each other really well and we have our two little fur babies who we love dearly, but as they are young cats, we can leave them while we go out/go away, I’m not sure that’s acceptable when you have children!
So, my reasons for not having children aren’t cut and dried, just because I haven’t had the longing doesn’t mean I don’t get the heart tug, and just because I love living my life as it is it doesn’t mean I am missing out by not having mini me’s (although how can I deprive this world of another me!!). Some women just don’t have children and that is ok, whatever their reason may be, just please don’t ask every childless woman when she’ll be having babies, it’s not always that simple. 

P.S this kid free bingo made me chuckle, have a glass of champagne for each square, after all you don’t have to get up tomorrow!! 😉 Kid free bingo

I have never been on a diet……

Or at least that is what I have spent years convincing myself of, as it turns out, it seems I am always on one! I have only realised this recently, but because I don’t do juices/pills/shakes/cabbage soup/grapefruit or any other ‘fad’ or ‘quick fix’ I can convince myself I don’t diet. Whether it’s the 5:2 or low carb/high protein or just long term ‘clean eating’ I am always trying something different. I tried to cut out carbs once, I lasted about 4 days but it made me crave donuts and I never crave donuts, so I thought perhaps that wasn’t the plan for me! I did do a two week detox at the start of January, which basically saw me cut out everything except protein and greens, the hardest bit was waving goodbye to my Tetley but I made it through, I’ve never done it again since, I can’t cope with it!
We all know diets aren’t the answer and that a consistent and healthy approach to eating and exercise is the long term solution, but it doesn’t stop us trying out a new regime to get the body of our dreams.
Unfortunately for me, the body of my dreams will not come from a diet of pizza and wine and this is rather disappointing. I go through phases all the time, for a few months I will eat really, really well, be so disciplined and work out regularly, this leaves me in a cloud of smugness as I see the positive effects this has on my body, but it also leaves me a teeny bit miserable as I find this way of life difficult. When I tell Mike that this regime is about to start, he balks a little as he knows what is to come (tantrums, grumpiness and a very difficult Sherrill to live with!). Why does such a healthy lifestyle have this effect on me – aren’t we supposed to feel invigorated, full of energy and extremely happy when following the ‘correct’ lifestyle path? But I am actually at my happiest when I am eating healthily most of the time but allow myself a (god forbid) sandwich now and then – yes a sandwich, not just any sandwich but a forbidden white bread sandwich with butter and mayonnaise – yum!

cupcakes

There seems to be so many food police about, every time you switch on the TV, look at Facebook or read a magazine, the sugar police are telling you to ‘cut out sugar for good’ or the carb police are advising a ‘high protein lifestyle’ and whatever else is in fashion. I do understand the principles of these ways of life but I can’t bring myself to follow them 24/7 even with promises of a body to rival Cheryl Cole. I admire people who do follow that lifestyle, so much willpower is required, but to me only being allowed 1 cheat meal a week (that’s 1 meal not a whole day of cheats) is quite frankly too depressing, a life without Cadbury’s, Prosecco and Pepperoni Pizza is just way too dismal. Having to check everything I eat, watch every mouthful I consume and spend hours in the kitchen preparing, is not the life for me. Life is too damn short not to enjoy the things you love now and then.

Hopefully it isn’t just me that feels guilty over the non-healthy food I eat and is secretly happier when eating a sponge pudding, or that has a constant internal battle between eating the ‘right things’ consistently to get a leaner body and not eating them and suffering the wobbly bits. I am sure I need to just accept myself as I am (especially after going through so much trauma) and sometimes I manage it, but for now I am starting a new plan tomorrow that doesn’t involve wine or pizza!

funny-diets

It’s all about the knickers!!

I have said for a couple of weeks now that I would talk about my knickers and I really don’t wish to disappoint anyone as I am sure you are all very excited for this 😉

It’s amazing how much publicity there has been recently around girls and guys wearing Ostomy bags and hi-lighting Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), encouraging people not to be shy and to proudly talk about their bags and/or their IBD. I think this is great and it really is a taboo subject that we should all be more open about. I work for a bowel cancer charity and we are all about raising awareness and encouraging people to talk poo.

But there are times when you might not want to have your bag on show or you may need to cover it up, so what do you do then? Sometimes you just need to keep the bag under control and not have it all wild and free!

Well, like I say it is all about the knickers!! We all wear them (well some may not but that’s up to them!), we all need them, (if nothing else, then just to protect our modesty) and they are an integral part of any outfit. We all know we need the right pair of knickers to make an outfit look good, in this day and age of assorted knicker shapes, vpl’s (visible panty line’s) are inexcusable. How many times have you seen a lovely looking girl with a fab figure wearing a beautiful dress, only to glance at her derriere and realise she has ruined her look with the wrong pair of knickers, the elastic is digging in, she has the dreaded vpl and yet she doesn’t seem to have noticed (good for her, I am not criticizing – well maybe a teeny bit 😉 but if she’s happy then so what?) But the right pair of knickers would just finish off that outfit. This girl obviously wanted to go for sexy thong over Bridget knickers but we all need the Bridget’s at some point!

For general outfits (i.e. no special underwear needed) in my pre-ostomy days I would throw on a lacy thong or some other teeny pair of knickers, without a care in the world, well that was until half way through the day when I wished I hadn’t thrown on the thong with such abandon and had gone for comfort instead. But, knickers weren’t really something I thought about, they were something I would wear (my mum brought me up well) and had to be clean (obviously) but I wouldn’t go and spend copious amounts of money on them. I HATE spending money on underwear, I don’t care how beautiful it is, how wonderfully that bra sits or the matching knickers just look gorgeous, I do not want to spend £50 on them, I would much rather purchase a dress with that money. Let’s face it, yes wearing expensive & matching undies may make us feel wonderful, but only for about 5 minutes before everything starts to dig in and we are yearning to take them off. And if we are wearing the matching set for a nice little boyfriend surprise then again how much value does it bring, where men are concerned, the bra is usually first off before they have even so much glanced at your carefully put together beautiful matching set. Life isn’t like a film, where we find ourselves in several situations which require us to strip down to our underwear, so always sporting sexy co-ordinates isn’t such an issue for everyday life.

Now I know I sound slightly contradictory as I have stated that it is all about the knickers, whilst in the next sentence saying they’re not that high a priority but what I mean is that you need the right knickers for certain outfits but I resent spending lots of money.

However, now I have my Ostomy bag I have become more obsessed with knickers than ever before. I still want to wear tight dresses & tops and other nice clothes and do not wish to be restricted by my bag so the secret is in the knickers. There are a couple of specialist websites for underwear for Ostomy’s here and here which are great but I have also found some fab knickers from Triumph, Littlewoods and Primark. Most days, I can still wear ‘normal’ knickers, having a bag doesn’t stop that but when you want to feel a little more secure and want to flatten the bag and hold it in you need a special knicker! I found some amazing ones in Triumph which were high waisted thongs, so perfect, they even had the matching bra, the discovery of these knickers meant I could wear all my lovely tighter dresses without the vpl safe in the knowledge my bag was secure, even better, they even looked nice, slightly 50’s style, so I didn’t have to feel frumpy either! Unfortunately getting a few pairs has set me back about £150 but I think it is worth it. I cannot believe that I am now willing to spend so much on knickers, but it is important to feel good, and I think whatever your situation, if something makes you feel confident, sexy and happy then it is worth every penny! But if you don’t have a spare £150 hanging around (Mum’s credit card came in handy!) then Primark have fabulous shapewear that is great if you wear a bag and even if you don’t have a bag the knickers are fab anyway, we all need everything to be sucked in sometimes!

Of course there are times when I miss my days of carefree knicker wearing moments, it would be nice not to have to worry about which pair suits which outfit, if today’s dress needs a special pair or if I can wear a pair of jeans and vest without having to wear the more unattractive bigger variety just to have smoother line over the torso, but it is still a small price to pay for being healthy. But, when you wake up tomorrow, still slightly sleepy and just grabbing a pair of knickers from your underwear drawer, spare a moment to feel grateful that you can pick your knickers with such wild abandonment!

And one last thing, is it just me or does anyone else ever pack waaaay to many knickers when going away? I always like a few spares (of course from a practical perspective, I need a spare in case of leaks) but I am definitely OTT with the amount I take, I always have been, I am not sure what I am expecting to happen or why I should need so many spare pairs but I just cannot bring myself to pack ‘just enough’. Men do, if they are away for two nights then they will pack two pairs, exactly what they need, they don’t feel the need for a spare pair, clearly they shouldn’t need them, they are old enough not to have accidents but why do they not feel the need for a ‘just in case’ pair? How can they be so confident and carefree?

So, for now I shall continue to over pack my knickers, run around buying every high waisted thong I see and hope that if you are walking behind me then you are not checking out my derriere to see what knickers I might be wearing!!

Knickers

Running, tantrums and bumbags….

So, it is now less than 4 weeks until my Bupa 10k – eeek, how did that come round so quickly? I am very nearly at 10K, my last ‘long’ run was 8.87km so I am getting there. I have upped the training, courtesy of a company called Fitness Fondue, they gave me a great training plan and it has really helped so I am feeling positive. The last time I ran was 6 years ago when I took part in a Race for Life 5K, I completed the course and promptly threw up at the finish line! My goal with the 10k is, NOT to be sick! As I have mentioned, Mike is also doing the run, however, he wants to achieve his own time goal so won’t be running be with me on the day. He has been out on two long runs with me recently, which has helped massively, it has definitely increased my speed and distance, but what is a hard run for me is an easy one for him! I have said I don’t like running with him but I discovered it was actually ok, until Sunday when we went running and ended up having a little argument as we neared our finish line….First of all he clapped me!!!! Why is this so bad?? I don’t want to be clapped at mid run!! Then he told me not to get out my phone, I shouted at him, dropped my phone and then swore at him! Poor Mike, only trying to be supportive and I have a little tantrum at the end! So it is probably a good job we are not running together on the day – it probably wouldn’t look too good if I stamped my feet mid-way! I have also come up with a practical solution to store items when I run, obviously the weather is getting hotter & my clothing doesn’t have pockets. I like to take my phone for music, a tissue (just in case), my lip gloss (not for vanity, I don’t like dry lips & well, I love lip gloss), £2 (for emergencies) and my key. This amazing, lightweight, practical item is a bum bag!! Yes, a bum bag, all the way from the 80’s. It’s from B&M Bargains and was only £1 – assorted colours too. I have one in pink and one in red. I am seriously rocking this bum bag and have even started wearing it to the gym – I am not even ashamed. In fact, my friends are all asking me to get them one – it may be tricky, those babies are flying off the shelves! It did make me wonder though, at what point in life do we stop caring what people think and do what pleases us, it’s a much happier way to be, or have I just got to the point when practical is overriding glamour??? (This cannot be happening, I will always prioritise high heels). It’s all a bit of a turn around as roughly this time least year, I was sat in my surgeons office and getting the sign off (yay) but crying because I disliked my body (operations do that to you, funnily, the stoma bag was never an issue) thinking I would never get fit or lose the bit of weight I had gained whilst at home recovering. Now 1 year on I am running a 10K and almost enjoying it. You really never know what is round the corner and when life feels hard or you are despairing, just remember, a year can change everything. And for those who may be facing a similar journey, it turns out you really can run, hop, skip and jump with an Ostomy (if the desire takes you)! If you do fancy sponsoring Mike and I and helping a great cause in the meantime then you can do so here  http://www.justgiving.com/Sherrill-Hawker 🙂 bumbag