Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Exercise ..... how I do it

I have just got home from a fantastic night ride (mountain bike, big fuck off lights) up Makara Peak, which is a mountain bike park in Wellington.  While I was up there  I was thinking about how thankful I am that I love mountain biking so much - that it brings me such joy and peace.  I also love to run (on a good day), and like riding it stills my mind.  Exercise has done wonders for my mental and physical health.

Then I got to thinking about so many of you who I have come to know through sober blogging who want to exercise, wish they could exercise, or simply know they ought to exercise ... but just find it too hard.  I was thinking about what makes it hard, and what advice or hints I might have that might help in some way.

An important thing to know about me first, is that I was not the fit or sporty type.  I was the kid that got picked last for all the school sports teams, and I was very overweight from my mid teens through to my mid twenties.  Yes,  I can show you some real fat photos!  I only got skinny when I travelled through the Middle East, India and Nepal on a diet of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.  Hardly the picture of health!  I returned to New Zealand skinny and sick looking, a heavy drinker and smoker.  And it wasn't until a year or so after that, that I quit smoking, and started getting fit.

What happened next is another story, which involves a few years of competitive running, an affair with my coach and a beautiful baby .. but I will leave that story for another day.  But what is important is the things I learned about getting exercise into my life, and keeping it there.  I'll tell you about them, and maybe someone will find something helpful.

  1. Try and find an exercise you enjoy.  This is hard at the beginning because if you are unfit, you wont really enjoy anything.  If that's the case, then try and find an exercise you THINK you will enjoy.  Outdoorsy? Maybe run.  Like music? Maybe dance.  You get the drift.
  2. Understand that the first 3 months might be shitty.  If you are really unfit, whatever you are going to do is not going to feel great at first.  You have to break through the unfitness to start enjoying, and that can take a while.  So set yourself mini goals and mini rewards, and then one day you will  suddenly find yourself enjoying it.
  3. Find a goal.   A big friendly running event, a tramp with a friend, a local milonga you want to tango at.  Just try and find something that you can put out there to try and work toward.
  4. Get a coach.  It doesn't have to be a paid coach.  It can be a friend like me who helps you set a bit of a programme, then checks in on you once a week.  If they are nice and friendly, they will go along with you from time to time!
  5. Join a group if you like that sort of thing. In Wellington for instance there are all sorts of "meet up" groups you can get involved with.  There is a Tuesday night "get off your bum and run" event for beginners which sounds fun.  You can just post in the meet up groups too and say "does anyone want to run with me?".  There's tons of other meet up groups, it doesn't have to be about running.
  6. The old running adage goes: "The hardest part is putting your shoes on".  This is entirely true and has been the total key for me.  Sometimes when things were at their worst for me and I did not even want to move let alone run, I would put on Sinead O'Connors "Troy" really loud and really angry.  I would sing and yell and cry to it, but at the same time promise myself that by the end of the song my running shoes would be on - and they always were.  Then I would run out that door and usually the anger and sadness would melt away.
So, I don't know if any of these suggestions will help any of you guys, but I just wanted to share from my experience.  Exercise has changed my life for the better, and if there is anything I can do to help any of my friends along, I will.  

P.S. here's  "Troy".  You might get a sense of some of my pain and anger in my youth when you listen to it.  I tell you what though, play it real loud, scream and yell and put your running shoes on, it works ...... xx

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Shit days are best left behind

I'm away for work again, and to be frank I'm really over it today.  I love my job, and I work fucking hard at it.  But today's trip felt like a bit of a tipping point.  I had a particularly tough meeting that made my nerves pop a bit, and right now everywhere I turn workwise I feel like I'm on the edge of something not very good.  I came home to my cheap but clean motel (we are a charity, we don't do flash) and ordered fish n chips to be delivered to my room.  I am sure most people would be pleased, but when my salmon and steamed veges turned up I was more than disappointed.  I wanted comfort food dammit!

So I made myself a cup of tea, ran a bath and had a soak.  I'm now in bed about to watch a favourite TV show I missed via DEMAND.

So what is the point of this post?  Nothing I expect, apart from the fact that there just are shitty days, and that's OK.  Nothing really bad happened, booze wont make it better, and it will probably make it worse.  It's time now to do some simple  "looking after me."

Good night my friends, and good night Sober Me.  You keep on looking after you. xx

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Day 60 - a quiet milestone

Day 60.  Wow.  I am quietly contemplative about it.  You see, I have done two day 60's before, both of them part of controlled breaks where I took some time off drinking to prove I didn't have a problem.  Never once in those times did I think of this as a forever thing.  So now I sit here, another day 60, and because it IS a forever thing my life is changing.

I've had a lovely day.  I got up early and worked from home which I find a real treat when I have lots on.  It means I can start early, stay in my jammies, drink coffee and get copious amounts done without interruption.  I love it.  By midday I had got through tons, so went out the door and met a friend for a run in the sun.  What a joy. On our run we bumped into another mutual friend and we all got chatting about the things we are going to do next.  Funny, I met them quite separately, and there we were on the sidewalk, all talking about things we can do together: this is being part of a community.

So that is where my contemplation took me, "community." A lot of my work is about connecting people who have been disenfranchised back up to their communities, and I know that I am privileged to have love and support from a large and diverse group of people. Not everyone does.

I sit here on day 60 sober because I am loved.  I have a partner that has been by me every step of the way, and friends who have not for one moment made it hard.  I have met some wonderful people through a the mere 60 days I have been blogging (has it really only been that long girls?) and now more through Living Sober.  Right now I am just so happy and grateful.  Thank you everyone. xx


Sunday, 7 September 2014

I don't need it

I have had the most brilliant weekend, and I think it is finally beginning to click: I really don't need this drug, it does nothing for me.

I landed on Friday night (I'd been away for the week) to my beautiful girlfriend waiting for me with poppies in her hand.  She too had been away, and had taken the flowers from her hotel room for me - carted them the whole way back without crushing them - and there she was, beautiful and waiting.  We went and picked up our little girl, and our whole family collapsed into a lovely warm evening and weekend.

I made a self preserving decision to not do any work on Saturday, and it was lovely.  We simply hung out as a family.  I swear I was still in my jammies by 1pm!  We finally emerged from the house at 3pm to do a little shopping, and by 7.30pm we were totally glammed up, the little one dropped off at a friend's, and at a friend's party.

So this is where the rubber should have hit the road huh?  A party full of drinkers and I wasn't drinking?  Well guess what -   I was relaxed and happy, looking and feeling great, and surrounded by people I love.  Many of our friends are entertainers (lucky us) so the night was full of performance.  We were laughing and clapping and dancing.  My god, how can you NOT have fun when a very talented ukelele player / singer is performing a song about the Peach Teats sign on State Highway One?

The brilliant night ended with me driving home, happy and full of friendship.  A nice deep sleep only to be followed by a Sunday brunch for another friend's birthday (it seems to be the weekend for it).   More mingling and laughter, more hugs and wonderful long talks.  Our life is rich and full of diverse people.

I finished my day by heading to the hills, my favourite place to be.  And I really do not even need to ask the question "what would alcohol have added to my weekend?" because I know the answer.  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  I don't need it.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A new sober identity

For the last few days I have been immersed in some very special training focussed around social inclusion and community building.  Today we talked in-depth about social roles and the sense of identity they bring with them; how important it is to us all to feel valued in some way: "I am a mother", "I am an athlete", "I am an artist."

It suddenly struck me that I can continue to dislike the fact that "I cannot drink" and somehow feel apologetic about it, or I can embrace it and celebrate it.  I can make it part of who I am and stand proud.  "I am a non drinker".  Hear that?  Proud.

So yes, that is the decision I have made today.  That I am a non drinker, it is who I am, and it is something I embrace and celebrate.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

I think I have been lying to myself

I really really need to write this, because I need to tell myself the truth about my drinking - then come here and read that truth whenever I start lying to myself again.

I have been telling myself over the last few weeks that my drinking wasn't that bad.  I have been comparing the amount I drank to Mrs D's drinking days ( I am sure I didn't drink as much as her) and others on Living Sober.  I have been wondering if I ever really had a problem, and telling myself that maybe I could and should drink in moderation.

I don't want to delve in the far past where I can dig out dirty stories on myself and convince anyone listening that I should never drink a drop again - as I could easily put that down to the silliness of youth. Instead I want to look at the very recent past, tell the truth to myself so I can visit that truth when I need to.

Truth #1
A counsellor helped me admit three years ago that I was drinking too much. The cold hard fact is that I had become very thin from it (unhealthy thin).  She said she had seen it before, women drinking and not eating, and when they were eating, not absorbing nutrients well.  I was drinking enough for it to impact my physical health visibly.

Truth #2
When I gave up drinking that time (I took a "break" to prove I could) -  I itched all over for about three days.  I had been drinking enough to suffer a physical withdrawal.

Truth #3
After going back to drinking, then subsequently moving in with my partner, my drinking was more controlled than it had been before.  These are the even more recent days, when I can probably say my drinking wasn't THAT bad.  But here's the biggest clincher of them all - one night when I was opening a second beer I saw fear in my partners eyes.  It was just a flicker, but it was there.  My drinking was causing my family fear.

There are many other truths, many other moments, but for me these are the three I need to remember.  My health was impacted, I had physical withdrawals when I wasn't drinking, and I was causing fear in those I love.

That's enough to keep me sober forever.

Lots of love to you all.