Revamp 2017

It seems like I only ever start writing here when I’m in the need for a refresh, when something sparks the part inside of me that screams “I need to get this off my chest” and wants someone else to hear it. Unfortunately, as with the event that sparked this entire site in the first place, this one apppeared completely out of the blue.

It’s nothing so dire as a death in the family. Instead, my manager told me that he’s resigning.

Let me start from the beginning.

Over the past year or so I have started to actually like my job. For majority of the past four years, with the exception of a few brief periods, I have simply ‘not minded’ my job, content with having a steady income that can support my lifestyle outside of work.

But this year two things have happened. The first is that as I’ve grown to become more knowledgeable in my field I’ve started to feel more secure in my abilities and more interested in developing in my area. I’ve had a manager for the past few months whom I really respect and look up to. I think his abilities are incredible and I found myself thinking that I would like to be just like him in a few years (although preferably a little less busy and stressed). Finally, after 10 different managers in under four years, here’s one that I’d be quite happy following for my next few projects, something I’ve only really felt like I could say about one or two prior line managers.

The second thing that happened is that work has started taking over more and more of my life. Gone are the days of a not-too-busy 9-5. This last week was more akin to 8-8, not including time travelling to and from Birmingham where I work at the moment (I live in London) which added up to a staggering 17 hours over the last week.

But I haven’t really minded any of this. I like the people I work with, I have a good manager who makes me feel like there’s lots I can do to learn and improve but that I’m also doing a good job and can be trusted with responsibility. I’m ok with work being the main part of my life during the week, and I can focus on everything else at the weekend.

And then my manager resigned. And this entire mindset came crashing down.

As I said, a large part of the reason I’ve been so happy at work is that I like my manager and I like our working relationship. Knowing that this will no longer exist in a few weeks and that I’ll have to get used to something new yet again has made me look at my work/life balance in a completely new light. I like the people I work with, I like the other managers on the project. I would still prefer to have my manager above any of the others.

I’ve realised that I’m as satisfied and happy with my life as I thought I was. I had thought I had a good balance between work and non-work and was quite happy to continue as I was. But my balance is off. I’ve been too work-focused, and now that something’s made work a little less enjoyable, I’m able to see the bigger picture again.

One of my friends has just moved to Vancouver. Another is moving to Toronto in two months. Another has moved a bit further out of London and I don’t see them as often. And I’m still here, not doing an awful lot other than working and not-doing-much at the weekends.

This upsetting the balance I’d found between work and non-work made me realise that if something doesn’t change, I could find myself seriously unhappy very quickly. If I stop liking work, how happy am I with what I’m doing outside of it? My friends are moving away, am I doing anything to replenish my social life? Am I satisfied with the things I’m doing and achieving outside of work? Will they make me feel fulfilled when work becomes just about the income again?

I didn’t really like my answers to these questions, so I’m going to do something about it.

….

The Plan

I’ve wanted to get this going again for some time now; I’ve opened and closed the webpage many times. How it’s been a year since I last even tried to start writing on a regular basis again, I just don’t know.

I’ve got a plan for what I want to talk about. I just keep having difficulty getting started.

Not only do I want to improve a number of different areas of my life, but I’d like to get better at expressing myself, at forming my opinions and being able to hold a conversation. So it is my current goal that this blog cover the following:

  • ‘Leveling up life’: Health/fitness updates, skill learning updates – I want to become more consistent in moving towards a healthier lifestyle, and share my journey to encourage others or at least show people a ‘what not to do’!
  • Book/film reviews/commentary – I need to read more and watch more and spend less time browsing social media. I’ve really enjoyed finding my old blogs and re-discovering what past me thought about various things, and I’d like to be able to do the same in the future.
  • Opinion pieces – I’m very bad at owning opinions or sharing them in a constructive way, for reasons I’ll discuss in the future. I’d like to get better at expressing myself and feel this could be a good way to do so.
  • Anything else I can think of – because why not?

I’m hoping that over the coming year I’ll be able to develop, critically and thoughtfully, and create a space for engagement, questioning and growth both for myself and for any readers. It sounds a bit pretentious, but hey, I’m writing a blog post here. I think a little pretension can be forgiven.

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100 Days of Healthy – Introduction

Issa Mee

From today, Tuesday 20th September 2016 (clearly not the date the above photo was taken), there are 103 days until January 1st.

I’ve been thinking recently about  how much I feel I’ve let myself go and got into bad, unhealthy habits. Yes, I’ve been walking more recently, but I don’t really have a good consistent exercise habit, and my food habits have become appalling. I’ve not gained weight noticeably on the scales – except I’m nearly half a stone heavier than I was this time last year and I’ve not lost anything in months at all and actually the scales say my average weight is slowly creeping up – not by much, but it’s moving up – but I’ve noticeably gained some weight on my face and my arms feel softer and bigger etc.

Just as I was thinking about this I saw that John Green is going to start a 100 days thing (https://www.youtube.com/100days) in which he and a friend see what it’s really like to live healthily for 100 days. The longest I’ve ever gone is a month, and I felt pretty good after that – at the moment I can hardly stick to half a day. I keep saying I’ll do this or that and then instantly not doing it.

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A Real Neat Blog (with Real Neat Readers)

real-neat-blog-award

Well this was a lovely surprise to wake up to this morning. Liz from the fantastically interesting blog Scranshums nominated Just Rise Above It for a Real Neat Blog Award.

Neat!

That’s such an underused word nowadays. I didn’t realise I’d missed it.

Thank you so much!

Go visit Scranshums for all of the weird and wonderful witterings of Elizabeth Meg Wilson. There’s a big of everything on there, so you’ll definitely find something you want to read. I particularly enjoyed her posts on colds and on Terry Pratchett.

I think this is a lovely little award to showcase some of the blogs that you might not stumble upon yourself, and I’m honoured to be taking part. Apparently the ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are (and feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My answers are as follows:

1) Where do most visits to your blog come from?

Good question! You just reminded me that I need to fix my analytics set-up. Curse those spam bots, I thought I had those under control.

Most of my actual visits come from the US, followed by the UK.

2) Have you made a New Year’s Resolution, and kept it so far?

I wrote a post about New Year’s Resolutions (which you can read here), where I basically discuss my reasons for not setting New Year’s resolutions as such. I do, however, set goals and resolutions in general and have a list of things I want to do this year, and I’ve definitely been doing better with some of those than with others. Some of my goals pertained to fitness and weight loss, which I focussed on in February. My initial attempts at learning some Italian stumbled to a halt and need to be picked up again soon, but I am was reading more, and I’ve been working on more creative projects this year than I was last year. I’ve done more yoga, but I’ve still yet to begin learning how to skateboard. I’ve not forgotten about it though!

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The Journey So Far

I realised that whilst I’ve done an ‘Introduction to the Blog’ post, I haven’t really given an introduction to me personally other than what’s in ‘About the Author’. So here is a fairly quick overview of who I am and my health and fitness journey so far.

My name is Anna, I’m 22 years old and I live in London, although I currently work in Havant (just outside of Portsmouth) as a Business Analyst – a trainee technology consultant of sorts. In almost exactly one month’s time this information will be out of date, as my birthday falls on December 11th and I finish this project on December 19th (fingers crossed for a London-based role next time!).

Currently, this is me:

(Well, this was me in August. I look pretty much the same except I now have longer hair)

I’m 5’7″ (171cm) and weigh roughly 160 lbs.

I’ve weighed roughly 160 lbs for the last nine months now, and I would like that to change. Whilst I care more about my fitness and strength levels than I do my weight, I’m definitely aware that I inherited my dad’s family’s propensity for weight gain along with my mother’s appetite. If I’m not careful, I gain very quickly.

The difference between how active I was as a child and how active I was as a teenager is quite impressive. Between the ages of 2 and 10/11 I did several forms of dance, floor gymnastics, and swam quite a lot. I also ran around a lot whilst playing as most children do, and was a fairly hyperactive child. Unfortunately, as I started to grow up, I fell into the trap of not wanting to go to dance and gymnastics anymore because I was missing the television that I wanted to watch. Mum tried to keep me there, but ultimately failed, and so I quit my main form of exercise (we didn’t have P.E. lessons in primary school).

Prior to the start of secondary school I’d had a number of problems with ingrown toenails. This was the result of my dad accidentally standing on my foot a few years previously, or, as he likes to tell it, the result of me placing my foot under his. Around the time I started secondary school, aged 11, I had an operation on both feet in order to prevent me from getting an ingrown nail every again. Whilst it worked, I was unable to do P.E. lessons for some time, or any other form of physical activity, and by the point I could start again I was unfit and I hated exercise.

This hatred of exercise lasted throughout the remainder of my teenage years, except for a short period of three or so months aged 16 when I joined a dance class again. Whilst I really enjoyed the class, I had a lack of self-confidence and a shyness throughout. This meant that when the class re-started after Christmas break, I couldn’t bring myself to phone and find out the right day/time, and so never went back. I had also long since discovered the internet and computer games by this point, and basically spent my non-school waking hours sat in front of a screen.

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Introductions and Intentions

Hello!

Recently I found myself doing something that I figuratively hate more than anything: boredom eating. I was stuck at the office for the entire day without a single thing to do, and so ended up snacking mid-afternoon and polishing off a whole bag of chocolate-coated brazil nuts. I wasn’t even hungry! I realised that I needed something to kick me back into gear and keep me accountable, so lo and behold, a blog appears!

To be fair, that isn’t the only reason I decided to start this blog. I’ve tried numerous times before to keep one active, and failed, in part due to laziness and in part due to casting my net too widely for topics. If you can write about anything at all, I actually find it a lot harder to decide what to write. My dad had been talking to me recently about starting up a recipe/food blog since my family are getting a little sick of me talking about food so much, and I decided that it would be a great idea to combine the two – a food/recipe blog with a health/fitness blog. After all, they go so well together! Everyone knows that the most important part of fitness is what’s done in the kitchen.

To return to my recent boredom eating, I recognise that polishing off one single bag of chocolate brazil nuts isn’t really cause for concern. Yes, they’re high in calories and fat, but nuts are very good for you and the vast quantity as a one-off is fine. The problem I have is that it wasn’t a one-off. Lately I’ve been bad snacking all of the time – made worse, in part, by the fact that the main location to get drinks/snacks at work is a Starbucks. I’ve been consuming more than my fair share of sugary lattes and caramel waffles etc. recently, and giving into the temptation – I mean, if everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t I?

But the food problems don’t stop there. The increase in eating sugar and fat during the day has seeped into what I’m craving of an evening. I’ve started wanting to eat more comfort-food dinners, such as pies with mashed potato (which were delicious, but I can’t have all the time), or having poptarts, peanut butter cups, apple pie etc. after dinner where previously I would forgo dessert. Breakfast this morning was selections from the hotel full English, which worked out at around 880 calories. I can’t keep eating like this.

Luckily, in a very weird way, this last week was spent eating terribly at my parents’ house. I was visiting for several days for my great aunt’s funeral, and consumed excessive amounts of cake, pizza, chocolates, biscuits and pasta. By the end of the week, whilst I enjoyed my ‘holiday’ from healthy eating (although as I’ve already stated – what healthy eating?) I was desperate to eat a meal made entirely of vegetables.

Now this is not my parents’ fault. I am perfectly aware that when I visit them I snack too much on unhealthy foods, and I usually see it as fine because I eat well the rest of the time. But I was there last Tuesday evening – Saturday evening rather than just the weekend, and my diet the rest of the time leaves something to be desired.

Clearly I’ve managed to get myself back into a sugar addiction, hence the cravings. I’ve broken this addiction before, so I know I can break it again. I remember how happy I felt once I realised a few months ago that takeaway didn’t appeal to me in the slightest, and I need to get back to that state. I’m not saying that I need to be 100% strict and never have nice things, but I need to rework my definition of ‘nice things’, and make sure that 95% of the time I am on track so that I can enjoy the other 5% to the fullest.

Which I fully intend to do at brunch this Saturday.

So how am I going to do this? At the moment, I’m not entirely sure. Stop drinking lattes maybe, go back on the tea. Bring in my own healthy snacks so I’m not tempted by caramel waffles. I should probably get back on the calorie counting bandwagon to keep an eye on what I’m eating (such as realising my breakfast was 880 calories). It’s been a while since I did it religiously so I imagine my estimating has got worse in recent months. I need to re-evaluate what a portion size is, and what keeps me fuller for longer.

But like I said, I’m not entirely sure what the best way to go about changing things is. There might not be a right way. There might just be lots of little things I can do that will add up to greatness, and I intend to keep track of that here. And who knows, maybe something I find will help you too!

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