Falling in love with running – again

I love running, but being ill on the run up to the Great Cumbria Run, then the run itself, made me fall out of love with it a little. How sluggish I felt after being ill made my runs feel, in want of a better word, shit.

The GCR didn’t help: I went over my ankle at mile 3 and had to run on that for the remaining 10 miles. I needed a wee for the last 9 1/2 miles and had to run a mile up hill (after previously running seven) along side the smell of a giant hit-and-run victim badger – not my favourite experience. All in all the run was awful, badly organised (in my opinion) and I won’t be signing up for it again – though, I’m glad to have completed it at least once in my life and it’s another medal in the case.

It became a little disheartening; something I’d loved so greatly and now I had no motivation to go out the door – until today.

I did go for a few runs last week, and one on Monday this week, but my heart really wasn’t in it – I was doing it more because it felt like I had to, rather than I wanted to.

After missing a run I genuinely fancied, yesterday, due to rain and flooding I thought I was back in some vicious circle and I wouldn’t be able to get myself out the house for a run.

Then, today, I got my running gear on, stepped out the house and absolutely blasted through a 5k! It felt amazing. I’d got that taste for it again, I’d found my love for it – that or the endorphin’s really bloody kicked in.

It may be a stretch, but the rekindling of my momentary lost-love of running, I think, came from starting to write my PhD thesis.

Bear with me here: I used to love writing essays (saddo I know) I just got this thrill from researching and debating a questions – possibly why I love journalism so much too – but after my MA and NCTJ its been work, work, work, work, work and run.

So when I lost this desire to run and I had some time to start researching my thesis, I got excited and had this epiphany, if you will, that made me think: I can do this.

I got through cancer, I’ve run two half marathons, and my work is clearly good enough as I’m the editor of the paper and on my way to doing a PhD – I can go for a run, I can fight any sluggish feeling and I can get my life back on track.

I’m now on Strava – previously having used Nike+ Run Club (though, I will be using the latter until I hit my marathon goal.) – I intend to get myself to the local parkrun and be a social runner, for once, and I endeavour not to be too hard on myself.

I can do this and I think I’ve learnt; we can regain the things we loved doing, that we thought were lost – plus I got to fall in love with the wonderful sport that is running, all over again!

Hey ho, looking forward-ish to training for the London Marathon!

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Run, run, run, run, run

If you follow me on any form of social media you might have got the inclination that I love running.

I didn’t love it a year ago – in fact it felt like a chore – but, after I finished the GNR I didn’t stop, I’ve really grown to love it.

Running has become my me-time, my time to think, explore and, as a girl who was rubbish at nearly every sport at school, it’s something  I’m good at.

I mean, I’m no Jessica Ennis-Hill, but from a chubby girl who couldn’t run a mile in under 15 minutes to a physically fitter woman who’s best mile is 7:37 – I’m pretty damn proud.

After, nearly, every run or work out I post a selfie on social media – this started as a way to document my training for the GNR, but it’s become a habit. It’s something I do because I’m proud just to have stepped out the house and completed that run and now I document my pride.

If you’d told me two years ago this is what I’d be doing I’d have laughed so bloody hard.

 

Now I’ve become one of those kind of runners – the ones who buy running magazine, the ones who talk about their PBs and get excited sports bras and running trainers go on sale.

I’ve even gone and entered the blooming London Marathon!

(The frightening thought is: if I get picked I’m going to have to bloody do it.)

This may not be major to some people, but two years ago I got out of breath walking too fast so to me it is major.

My preferred time of day is getting up early and running before work -it really sets me up for the day. One day someone commented on my early morning run photos: I wish I had the motivation to do that.

I didn’t really have an answer for her – I just did it. I mean, I didn’t start by running 5k’s everyday, just a run around the block and so on.

I suppose my motivation was my own inner voice. I was so sick of myself whinging about my weight that I thought ‘do something then’ and I did.

I can see why people lose motivation too – because they focus on their weight. Mine dwindled at times because I maybe hadn’t lost any weight from running that week. But I then started to focus on my distance and time. I noticed myself getting quicker, stopping less, running for longer – running then became my motivation and my weight dropped with my time.

I look back at my fitness journey and thank myself that I decided to stop whinging and get off my arse and do something.

Running didn’t just make me fitter, but it made me a better professional person. Because I’m happier in my own skin I’m more confident, in all aspects of my life – including work and journalism.

Progress looks

There’s no tricks, no quick fix, but there is a better outcome – I didn’t just lose weight, I found something I love doing.

Now I’m training for another half-marathon, the Great Cumbria Run, (and maybe even the London marathon – fingers crossed), but, unlike other sponsored runs, I’m doing this for me, to celebrate me and everything I have been through and everything I’ve carried on running past.

So put on your trainers and lets run, run, run, run, run!

#ThisGirlCanRun!

10 things not to say to a coeliac

Recently I’ve loved BBC Three’s ‘things not to say’ series on Facebook – a series of videos where they come up with things not to say to a group of people i.e cancer patients, tall people, vegans, gay people etc. So I thought I would do my own for the one in one hundred of us that have to politely decline your offer of a biscuit.Hold-the-Gluten1

  1. “Are you just gluten free because it’s a trendy diet?” 
    – Oh yeah, I spend £4 on a packet of hobnobs just for the crack. I love thinking ‘can I actually afford to eat decent-ish food?’
  2. “But bread is so good!”
    – Yeah mate, I know. I friggen love bread, but I actually could die.
  3. “Oh my God, that is so awful, I could NEVER live with that, if I had that I would seriously kill myself.”
    – Go on then, wow thanks for the support there.
  4. “I’m sure you can eat just a little bit. One little bite can’t hurt you. I cheat on my diet all the time.”
    – No, I’d rather not live in my bathroom for the next few days, in agonising pain – I don’t think people realise any amount of gluten intake can make us ill. You wouldn’t ask someone with a peanut allergy to just ‘go on’ and try the new Snickers bar, would you?
  5. “But gluten free bread doesn’t taste very nice.”
    – Oh, I know. But I am willing to spend £3 on tiny loaf of bread for a sense of normality in my eating.
  6. “I’ve heard gluten free diets are good for you.”
    – They are for me and other coeliacs and people with some bowl conditions – but people generally just mistake a gluten free diet for a carb free diet, which can be good for you.
  7. “Oh I have that, I can only eat bread and pizza sometimes. Like I’m mostly gluten free.”
    – Sorry, but you’re not coeliac then, you likely just want attention. Like what does ‘mostly’ gluten free mean?
  8. “Oh I know how hard that is – I’m vegetarian/vegan.”
    – Stop right there – being veggie is a choice I didn’t wake up one day and go: ‘oh I don’t want cut down and kill those poor wheat stalks’ – if you eat meat you won’t die. If I eat wheat I perhaps could.
  9. In a restaurant “Do you have to be so fussy?”
    – Oh, I’m sorry my food problem is being such an inconvenience on your life. Trying to find food that’s safe and making sure it isn’t picky, it’s human nature to not want to die.
  10. “What happens if you actually eat gluten?”
    – I don’t mind answering this one sometimes, but I won’t sugar coat it. I’ll say: ‘what happens when you don’t make it to the toilet in time?’ basically because  you are asking someone to describe something really personal and potentially TMI. If you find yourself tempted to ask this question, first decide whether you actually need to know.

BONUS QUESTION: When does it go away?
– It doesn’t, this is my life now – however long or short it has to be gluten free…

Do you have any questions or phrases you’d add to this list?

Ciao for now,
Rachael
xxx

Times it’s OK in your 20s

YOU got me, I have already posted this, but I felt like its time to rehash my list of ’10 times it’s just OK in your 20s’ – except this time I’ve added to it.

A lot has happened since I first wrote this list: I finished my MA, ran the GNR, lost weight, got cancer – you know all the normal stuff we get up to – and though many of them are triumphs I can’t help but feeling a little lost lately.

But, I decided that feeling lost was OK, feeling too old or too young was OK, that detesting being called a millennial, but being glued to modern technology is OK.

Hey, it’s OK…

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Let’s lift a glass to our twenties (and being a little lost!) x
  1. to be a millennial:
    You were born in the late 80s/early 90s, no outing is complete without a selfie and everything feels like you’re being treat a little unfairly? You likely fit into the infamous ‘millennial’ bracket. It’s OK, my dad was a baby boomer and I have friends who are Gen X – but just because you were born into this time doesn’t mean you fit into the stereotypical attitudes of millennial. Older people may not get how you live and act, but remember, people likely didn’t understand them in their time. Just enjoy your life your way.
  2. to have two jobs:
    Mortgages are expensive, life, is expensive. In fact so many things in life are expensive after getting used to the days where you’d get money every few months at uni. So don’t be embarrassed, just think of the ultimate goal.
  3. to not have a job:
    My god, it is not easy to get a job in this economy – it’s even harder to get one you really want. Don’t be embarrassed, just give everything you do 100% and no one can ask for anymore.
  4. to have moments when you feel old:
    I don’t only work with people younger than me, but I volunteer for a charity that works with teens age 16-18. Even though they’re not terribly younger than me, the moments they have no idea what pop idol or Spice Girls are truly daunts on me, when TFI Fridays came back they had no idea and the fact they do not understand the Abfab memes you post is, at times, horrific, but remember you are not old and you may have friends in their 30s+ now who will not find it acceptable to call yourself such!
  5. to be confused about people’s expectations of you:
    I’m in my twenties and engaged, but sometimes when I tell people they’re like ‘oh you shouldn’t be settling down at your age’ then sometimes when I’m ridiculously hungover after a mega night out can get ‘you’re not a uni anymore, maybe you shouldn’t be doing that anymore’ (in my defence it is rare I go out!) but I’m left with a feeling of sheer confusion at what society thinks I should be like in my 20’s – see complete no man’s land! There’s no right or wrong answer here, I’ve decided that I’m not old and if I want to go out I can, but I’m also not a child so if I want to settle down I can – best of both worlds please!
  6. to not be where you’d thought you’d be by now:
    Ask me where I’d be at my age, when I was 14, I would have said living in LA, money in abundance, married to Orlando Bloom (but I was nice enough to let Miranda Kerr have him), an Oscar (or two) under my belt and have a best selling book and album – all completely realistic if you ask me. But, as we grow what and where we want to be does. I don’t want this life anymore, but I’m not unhappy with where I am, but if you are, don’t fret, you’re still young – keep focus and go for it.
  7. to not be able to handle your drink anymore:
    Whether you went to uni or not, you like spent from the age of 16/17 + drinking at 6th form parties, freshers, work-do’s, your 18th,themed nights out at uni for three+ years – it’s a lot of intense drinking in short. So if your hangovers don’t fade by Sunday afternoon, fear not, you are not alone!
  8. to not be at your ‘goal weight’:
    We all have insecurities about our bodies, but stop setting yourself weight goals! Set maybe a pair of trousers you had at 19, or a dress for a wedding and work at it until it fits- I’m so sick of things like slimming world giving women (and men) weight targets and them people feeling like a failure because they haven’t reached it.
  9. to not have a steady boyfriend:
    Carrie Bradshaw didn’t get married until her forties! OK, she’s no role model, but if you want to settle down, go for it, if you want to have a string of boyfriends, go for it, you want a ton of one night stands go for it, you want to be a single free person, go for it. You’re in your twenties, the world of sex and love is your oyster.
  10. to still be a little resentful of those school bullies:
    I know, I know; forgive, forget and move on and all that. But, be honest, you see someone on a night out that used to bully you for your hair or weight and you know you look cracking now, you can’t help but feel a little smug and hope they see you? That’s OK, we’re only human! As long as you’re not a twat about it, it’s fine!
  11. to still live with your parents:
    This could come down to expenses, being ready, or any other reason really. Sometimes it’s a pain, but contrary to some books we read not all 20-something-year-olds are living it up in owned city flats. Fear not you are not alone.
  12. you’re not doing what your degree was in:
    Let’s be honest chances are the moment your graduate you won’t automatically get a job in your chosen degree. It may have been that your degree was just a first step in your career or you may do a complete u-turn. It’s OK, because you’ve got plenty of time to work it out.
  13. to be where you want to be:
    Some people know where they want to be and some, are exactly where they want to be – and just because there’s a confused bunch out there, it’s OK to be happy!
  14. to feel a little lost:
    Being in your twenties is not a crystal clear time, whatever point you are in your life you may just feel a little lost in general. When I got cancer I felt lost – my health became my priority, but all these plans I made and wanted had to take a back seat. Meaning when times came up where I’d had something planned I felt lost. I would sit and think: why am I doing this? But, whatever positive reason I came up with, I felt lost. But it’s OK to be lost at times, it means you have a purpose to find a direction to go in and that’s a new adventure.

I’d love to know what you’d add to this list?

Rachael
xx

My unpopular opinion: tipping

N.B: I have worked in service/as a waitress – so I have a valid opinion on this.

Also, I respect so many other people’s opinion’s, so please do not aggressively disrespect mine because you don’t agree with it.

tippingI have an issue with tipping – this may be a controversial or an unpopular opinion, but I just don’t like the practice of it.

I’m not stingy, cheap or even a bitch (most of the time). I just have issues with tipping people.

I’ll explain:

Tipping seems to have become the norm and even expected today. When you go for a meal you can be expected to give a 20% tip or ‘service charge’ just because someone took your order and brought you your meal – i.e they did their job.

Why should I tip someone just for doing their job?

Don’t get me wrong I have tipped in the past – when the server has gone above and beyond their job to make my experience better – and I will tip in the future. But why should I tip someone for just doing what they already get paid to do?

Some people will say that you should tip because the server relies on these tips as their wages are low. That the tips supplement what they don’t earn. That without tips the servers might not be able to pay their rent or shop that week.

(Can I just note, employers aren’t legally allowed to top up wages to the legal minimum with tips – so don’t be fooled.)

But, I don’t like the idea I should feel responsible for paying for that server’s rent, food shop or even just their job, beyond what I’m already paying for.

Why should I have to go home feeling awful because I didn’t pay enough in tips – this shouldn’t be how a customer should be left feeling.

This should be the responsibility of the owners – they shouldn’t make people feel like they have to supplement their staff’s wages because they won’t pay them enough and, as consumers, we shouldn’t have to feel like we have  to tip.

What really irks me about tipping is this: you go to a restaurant and your server is expected to give you good service, as this is in their job description. If they do, you tip them the full ‘service charge’ 20% and if they don’t you don’t give them a good tip – 10% let’s say – but either way they get that tip – what kind of half-arsed lesson is that? No one’s really learning anything or to be a better server, they’re simply learning they get a reward either way and they expect a tip no matter what.

Now, I won’t fall for it.

Let me tell you a story: my fiance and I went for afternoon tea at Harrods. We got their and the restaurant was rather empty, so I asked if we could change tables – out of the sun – and the waiter was really rude about it. He then was really rude throughout our entire afternoon tea – when we asked about the cakes and sandwiches – he was just down right rude. At the end of the tea he brought our bill- including a 30%(!!!) service charge on the bottom, for his tip. What exactly did he do to deserve this? Nothing, he just expected a tip for doing a half-arsed and rude version of his job!

So, I got a pen, I crossed out the service charge and asked him to recalculate the total (he was also rude about this) I then told him, that I would  tip if I thought he’d done a good job.

It’s like ‘thanks for giving me shit service but I’m still going to tip you any way because your wages depend on it’.

No! I just won’t do it. I was taught to treat people as you’ve been treated – if someone goes above and beyond, I will tip, if not, I won’t!

Plus, I see tipping as so backwards. We tip because it’s expected, not because it’s earned. Also, it only seems to be ‘ok’ in hospitality – hotels and restaurants etc – because, let’s be honest, if I got tipped in my line of work (as a journo) it would be seen as a bribe and against the ISPO code, but in a restaurant it’s fine; what a double standard!

Why can’t server’s do their job without expecting a tip? I don’t ask for a blooming gold star after every good article I write.

Why not just get rid of tipping altogether? Raise the price of the meal and save me some time – I’d end up being expected to pay that anyway with the tip on top – and pay the staff equally. You do your job to get your wage – why should you get extra off people who aren’t your employers for just doing your job? Surely if you want more money you should ask for a wage increase, or seek employment elsewhere?

There’s something wrong in that industry that people should be left to get tips to supplement their wages, but there’s something wrong with us consumers who think we have  to give people money for a job they’re already paid to do.

This is my unpopular opinion – unpopular because, I imagine, it may anger people. But, just because an opinion is unpopular does not mean it’s not valid or should not be respected.

 

Body shaming bother

IF you guessed from the title this post is going to be about body shaming, and you’d be right to guess that – because it is going to be about body shaming, the body shaming I was the victim of.

Body shaming really bugs me, yes because it happens all the time, but also because the some people who openly cry out against it, I can pretty much guarantee, have looked at another woman and, in her head, slagged her off.

This is because we’re all insecure. We are, it’s true, whether you’re a size 8 or size 18, we’re all insecure, to some extent. And to some extent, we all act like a bitch at points.

Now, I’ve lost two and a half stone since November 2015, I’m 8st 1lb, and I imagine a lot of you may be thinking: why the bloody hell is she going on about body shaming?

To answer you, because, I was body shamed.

fitness-timeline

Recently, I went to visit a friend in Birmingham, and, since losing weight I’ve chucked a few of clothes – or rather donated them to charity- as most of my clothes over size 8 are too big for me and I really wanted a nice knit cardigan.

I saw one in a shop, in size 8, it was exactly what I wanted, expect, when I tried it on, it was huge. It would’ve looked ridiculous, even as oversized. I thought: they’re probably just big sizes.

So I went up to the shop assistant and asked if they had it in a six.

Her answer made me livid.

She said: “No, we only do clothes in real women’s sizes.”

When the f*cking hell did she mean by that, I thought. And honestly, I pretty much told her, in a very Cumbrian manner, that I was a real woman – at least I’ve been pretty sure for well over 20 years and my straight fiancé is sure too. I told her I was going to report her attitude and terrible customers service and she could shove her ‘real women’s sizes’ up her arse.

It reminded me of a post that said: men prefer curves, not skin and bones. They maybe do, but any man who wants me will have to prefer naturally sticky out ribs, that do my head in, and hips that are curvy and bony because they protrude forward – I’m all a bit awkward really.

I think it’s awful when bigger women get shamed for being bigger – it proper annoys me. But, there seems to be a double standard that people think it’s ok to shame smaller or thinner women.

If a bigger woman was told what I was, it would’ve made Cosmo’s and Glamour’s headlines. But it seems ok to say to women who are small, that they shouldn’t be.

But, it wasn’t the only time this has happened to me, it was was only  the other week, on Facebook someone put a post about having rolls when they sit down – to which I replied: I do, everyone does-just about. The response I got was this: this person had more rolls than me and I could do with some more rolls. What? I work really hard to minimise mine, thank you – and, to be perfectly honest, I actually have loose skin on my tummy from losing weight I could live without, that, I’m sure, make some rolls when I sit.

When one person noticed I’d lost weight they said: you need to eat more, you.

I’m no stick, nor do I want to be, I’m pretty healthy and an ideal weight for a women who’s scraping 5 foot 1, but I work really hard, running 4 or 5 days a week to stay healthy, even when I got cancer, and to stay body confident(ish).

I also eat alright too. I have coeliac disease, so it can be difficult- so to that man who said, have a Big Mac, I’d love to, but I’d, quite possibly, die. But, If people saw some of the rubbish I eat they’d understand why I need to run.

It didn’t really occur to me, I had been body-shamed that is, until I told my fiancé about my experiences.

When I experienced these things it really hit me: I’m not even that skinny, I would say I’m just one of the many healthy sizes for women of my height (that could probably do with eating less chocolate) and I wonder how women who are like naturally very skinny feel about being told these things?

There are women who are naturally bigger and women who couldn’t gain an ounce if they tried – both are genuinely beautiful!

I think it would be so disgusting to tell a bigger woman that she needs to ‘hit the gym’ and ‘put that burger down’ – it’s her prerogative how she leads her life, so why is it ok to tell me or a really fit and skinny woman ‘you could probably do well missing a run or a gym session’ or ‘eat a bloody cheese burger’.

I understand there are women with eating disorders of all kind – but would we be really helping them by telling them they’re not a ‘real woman’ because they’re skinny?

I’m sorry this has been a rant, but women of all shapes and sizes don’t deserve to be body shamed. Just because someone is skinnier this does not entitle someone to say she is too skinny  or ‘not a real woman’ – as, let’s be honest, would you tell a woman who’s size 18 shes ‘too fat’?

You wouldn’t dare, because: 1, she’s not and 2, you know it’s wrong!

I wanted to share this because it upset me that body shaming of any kind appals me – I’m not going  mega feminist with ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ but, I am a real woman and so is every other woman out there and that’s the bottom line!