Feeling Like Me Again

Over the past six months or so, I’ve been battling with the worst self-image issues I’ve encountered in my life. I’ve felt out of shape, unattractive and just generally really crap about myself.

There was a time when I was one of those really annoying girls who could eat whatever she wanted, do no exercise whatsoever and remain a perfect size 8 (I think the fact that I didn’t really hit puberty until I was 17 may have helped with this somewhat). Well, not any more! I have a shape. A shape that has become increasingly hard to maintain and be happy with.

I’ll be the first to admit that my diet could be better. I’m lactose intolerant but often completely ignore it, and then I’m surprised when I feel bloated and lumpy. I know bread is my nemesis, but sometimes I just cant help eating eleven slices of it as a snack. It got to the point in August when I would look in the mirror and feel disgusted. And I laugh and joke about it, but to look in the mirror and actually feel repulsed by your own body is truly devastating.

Around the same time, something wonderful happened. My sister’s fiancé started a personal training course, and I volunteered to be his guinea pig. So in September 2016, I finally started to take ownership of the state I had let my body get into, and do something about it. I train with him twice a week, and try to fit in an extra cardio session or two on my own. We’ve discovered that I’ll do anything to get out of doing a plank, but that I have freakishly strong hamstrings.

When you start training, you always have a ‘problem area’ or two that you really want to focus on. Mine were my upper arms and the old love handles/back fat. My housemate commented to me a couple of weeks ago that my arms had halved in size, and I genuinely could not stop smiling. I dug out a pair of jeans over Christmas that I haven’t been able to wear in over a year, and found that they actually fit again. Plus, there’s the added bonus of my butt. I have a butt. An actual, nicely-shaped, kind of peachy butt. I never had one before!

Now annoyingly, I didn’t take a photo of myself right at the beginning of the process. But here’s a photo of me taken at the end of October next to one taken three weeks later (and half a stone lighter):

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Seriously. My trainer is an actual magician.

I’m still working at it, but this morning after months of telling my sister that I don’t want to shop for Maid of Honour dresses for her wedding until I’m happy with my body, I told her that I wanted to start looking. It might seem small, but that’s a huge fucking deal for me.

I’ll be taking another progress photo and updating you all in a couple of weeks when my soon-to-be brother-in-law’s exam is, to see exactly how far I’ve come while he’s been training to qualify as a PT. But for now, I’m off to stare at my butt in workout pants.

If any of you are interested in a training plan tailored to your lifestyle, or you’re Devon-based and want some one-on-one training sessions with an incredibly patient man, then you can get in touch with Ben Gilbert on Instagram @realbengilbert If he can train me, he can train anyone.

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New Things Are Happening!

The past couple of weeks have been absolutely crazy, so I apologise for my complete silence on this blog! So many things have been happening, so I thought I’d give you a quick update!

IMG_5453 (2).PNGFirstly, and most excitingly, if you hadn’t already guessed from my Twitter and Instagram (or had me bang on about it to you in person) I have a new job! I’m going to be spending my summer working for the University of Exeter in the accommodation office as an Accommodation Office Administrator. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s basically a Student Advisor specialising in accommodation. I’ll still be working part time in the pub (I’ve grown quite attached to it and the spare cash will be nice), but I’m so excited to have a normal Monday-Friday 9-5 job for the first time in my life! XD The only problem is, my wardrobe consists of jeans, trainers and black work shirts, so I’m going to have to get a some ‘office appropriate’ clothes!
13072880_474319639434427_6832856377466583397_oSecondly, I’m in a play! I’m going to be a busy bee this summer! I’ve been cast in Sun and Moon Theatre’s production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona as Lucetta, so all my spare time is currently being used rehearsing and learning lines (one reason I haven’t blogged in a while!) It’s one of Shakespeare’s first plays, and a lesser known one too, but we’ve given it a bit of a modern(ish) twist by setting it at a university in the late 50s/early 60s. I’m absolutely loving the rehearsal process (it’s been a while since I’ve done some theatre!) and I can’t wait to watch it all come together. If you want to come and show your support, we’re showing on:

  • 11th June at 4pm at the Cygnet Theatre (Exeter)
  • 23rd June at 7.30pm at The Queen’s Theatre (Barnstaple)
  • 26th June at 2.45pm at The Queen’s Theatre (Barnstaple)
  • 6th August at 12pm at The RSC Dell Open Air Theatre (Stratford-Upon Avon)
  • 6th August at 3pm at The RSC Dell Open Air Theatre (Stratford-Upon-Avon)

You can also like Sun and Moon’s facebook page to keep up to date with everything!

IMG_5430I spent my weekend in Birmingham with my family. Not only was I celebrating my new job and Ben’s (my sister’s boyfriend) birthday, but most importantly we all went to the opening night of Made Up, the two woman show that my sister is starring in. It’s on at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre until Saturday, and then it’s going on tour until June 11th. I might be biased, but it’s fantastic, and I’m extremely proud. If you fancy seeing my sister looking like an alien, an old woman and many more in the space of 70 minutes, here’s a link where you can find all the dates 🙂

IMG_5302Next I thought I should touch on my Vegan Challenge. A lot of you have been liking my Instagram posts about it, and asking me how it’s going, so I thought I’d answer everyone on here. It’s going amazingly well. It’s been so much easier than I thought it would be! I’m absolutely loving trying out new recipes (I’ve discovered quinoa and it’s changed my life) and I’ve taken much more of an interest in food now that I have to actually think a bit more about what I’m eating. It’s also really helped my lactose intolerance. Before I would often ignore it and eat that bar of chocolate or have that slice of cake even though I knew it wouldn’t be good for me. Now I’m being forced to find alternatives, and it’s really opened my eyes to the dairy-free alternatives out there. As for whether it’s going to be a permanent change? I’m not sure yet. I’m just over halfway through my challenge and I’m yet to make up my mind, but needless to say I’m loving being vegan for now! Alongside being vegan, I’ve also been really getting into the gym. I joined my local Anytime Fitness and I’m (slowly) starting to enjoy exercise again. It’s a good job, since I’ve got my Race for Life 10km in two months!

Phew, that’s all for now! I promise to be better at blogging from now on, and  I’ll have a new beauty-related post up soon!

Jessica xXx

A Day To Unite

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Today is World Cancer Day.

For those of you who know me, you’ll know that Cancer has had quite a grip on my family. My late Nanna and Great Uncle Alan suffered from Cancer, my Granny has had and beaten it, and my Dad was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma (a type of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) in August 2014.

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It’s safe to say that my entire adult life has been affected by Cancer in one way or another. And it really, really sucks. It’s baffling to think that in 2016, with all our technological and medical advances, we still don’t have a definitive cure for Cancer. The only way that’s going to happen, is if we all unite.

Last year, I ran the 10km Race For Life, and I was so overwhelmed by everyone’s support, and having my Dad there to cheer me on was the most incredible and humbling experience. I’m doing it again this year with my sister, so if you do want to show us a little bit of support, and help us in the war against Cancer, please feel free to check out my Just Giving page and donate whatever you can. Or you could even sign up for a Race For Life event yourself! If I can run 10km, then anyone can. Seriously, I’m incredibly unfit.

If we all unite and support each other, we can give Cancer the kick up the arse it needs.

You can find a list of shops near you selling Unity Bands here.

This blog, and my Race For Life, is dedicated to my wonderful, inspirational and always hilariously grumpy Dad. You can follow his Lymphoma Diaries on his blog here.

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Jessica xXx

 

Swim For Life


It rained. And I’m not talking about normal rain. I’m talking about RAIN rain. Biblical rain. Torrential rain. WET RAIN. Before I even started, I was feeling rubbish, standing waiting in the rain, wind and cold with a couple hundred other bedraggled runners. My tiny cold face was poking out of the hood of my cagoule in a hilariously unattractive way, and my running leggings were getting more and more see-through the wetter they got.

Photo by Tim Holyoake

When the time came for the big group warm-up, I joined the group of shivering runners edging their way reluctantly towards the stage. The presenters from Heart radio made us feel energised, the minute’s silence reminded us all why we were standing in the rain, and the dance to Uptown Funk injected a much-needed lift.

We were then divided into runners (50 minutes or less), joggers (50 minutes to 1 hour 30) and walkers (1 hour 30+). I joined the majority down the middle and opted to jog, aiming to finish in 1 hour 30.

Photo by Tim Holyoake

Miraculously, and going against the 100% chance of rain all morning, as soon as I crossed the start line, there was a break in the clouds and the rain eased, creating a buzz.

The route was hard. Really hard. It took us through Devonshire’s famous country lanes, which all seemed to be uphill. Although it had stopped raining, a lot of the route was a bit flooded, making the rocky paths into slippery streams and the grassy fields into muddy river beds. For the weeks leading up to the race, I had been hoping for cooler weather than the recent heatwaves, but being able to see my breath for the first 2k wasn’t exactly what I had in mind!

The first 5k seemed to go on forever, and I thought I would never be warm and dry again. After the halfway mark though, I seemed to start enjoying it more, even though I was tired, wet, hungry and desperate for a wee. The volunteers along the route were fantastic, clapping and cheering on every individual that passed them, handing out water and moral support.

At about 6.5k, I passed my dad with his camera, which made me smile and dig a little deeper to carry on lolloping around like a soggy bambi.

The last 2k, my heart was pounding with excitement to cross the finish line. I was nearly done and I couldn’t wait to stuff my face with junk food for the rest of the day without feeling bad. When I got to the 9k marker, I convinced myself that it had already been an hour and a half, and that I had failed in meeting my personal target. I won’t lie, I felt a bit shit at that point. I wanted to prove to myself that I could actually achieve something sport-related. I carried on, feeling slightly deflated, but still determined.

Eventually, I could see my dad, the finish line, and the timer. I was stunned that it read 1:19:30. So I sprinted. I summoned the year 8 in me who actually enjoyed the 100m, and I ran what felt like the fastest I’ve ever run, but was probably actually a bit like a baby giraffe walking for the first time. 

I did it. 1:19:45!

Photo by Tim Holyoake

 

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated, showed support and reminded me of the importance of these kind of events. There is still time to donate if you fancy it.

I’m sure I’ll be taking part in another fundraising event soon, but for now, I’m going to devour this entire pizza and not care about the lactose-related consequences.

 Check out my dad’s blog for his take on the day. 🙂 http://www.tenpencepiece.net/blog/

My Own Marathon

In 7 weeks time, I’m taking part in the 10km Race for Life with my sister. We’re doing it for everyone whose lives have been affected by cancer, but especially in honour of our dad, who has Non-Hogkins Lymphoma. I honestly don’t really know a lot about it, because I try and avoid researching it for fear of upsetting myself, but I know it’s not great, and it’s kind of rare. So instead of sitting around wallowing in self-pity, we’re going to attempt to join thousands of women in running to raise money so that other people don’t have to go through what we’re going through.

10km is roughly 6.2 miles, which might not seem very much, but for me it’s a marathon. I cannot think of many things I dislike more than running. I’m starting to get a bit better at it, but unfortunately I’m still not the girl who can list running as one of her hobbies. More a necessity so that I don’t look like a complete novice when race day comes around, and so that I don’t let down all of you wonderful people who have sponsored us.

So far, we have raised £430 (our original target was £200). A lot of these donations have been from people who read our dad’s blog http://www.tenpencepiece.net/blog/ – we had no idea he was so popular! For those of you who have contributed, thank you. 

The training is going well (finally) after weeks of procrastinating on my part (my sister Emily has been doing a lot better than me- although I think the element of competition is a great motivator for someone like me). I think I’ve finally found my rhythm and the workout system that works best for me. For those interested, I’m going running on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and most Sundays, and doing Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred on the inbetween days to maintain my strength. 

I’ll end the blog by saying if you haven’t donated, and would like to show your support, please do. Our new target is £500, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re going to smash that.

Here’s the link to my fundraising page. Thank you! 🙂

https://www.justgiving.com/jessicaholyoake/