Sunsets

Half term in Britain starting on a Bank Holiday weekend meant it had to start off with rain! Not just any old rain in this part of the country though – a full on thunder and lightening storm with torrential rain. After spending the previous afternoon sunning it up, giving us hope for an unusually sunny and hot bank holiday, we were then plummeted back into the depths of winter by the time school finished. Dramatic much??

Anyhow, after I was pretty sure a surge of lightening hit the house and in doing so knocked off the downstairs electricity, it appeared my argument for lighting the log burner was flawed as there was no way on God’s earth that anyone would be venturing to the shed for logs. That being so, I settled for the option of PJs and bed.

By Sunday the weather was much better thank goodness and we had an early start heading down to Lydden Hill in Kent for the World Rally Cross Championships. After a great day of racing we were all tired and less than enthusiastic about the traffic home. After being stuck on the motorway for hours and a little closer to home, we were treated to the most beautiful sunset while stuck in traffic once more, right next to Stonehenge.

I’ll probably be greeted by gasps at this statement – but I’m usually underwhelmed by Stonehenge! It’s so much smaller than I always expected, although no mean feat if the stones were in fact moved there by hand! This however, was just a WOW moment and my Iphone photo just doesn’t do it justice. Although completely exhausted it was the perfect end to a 16+ hour day.

Amy xx

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With Thanks

thankful

When I posted last it was not intended to be my exit for almost five months. I have thought about posting many times over the last few months, but aspects of my life have changed drastically, words have failed me and in turn I’ve had little inclination to even open this page.

It means so much however, that during my absence I have received countless messages over social media and email asking me if I am ok.

I am thankful (and also surprised) that brands are still contacting me and wanting to work with me.

It is very much appreciated and between you all have given me the confidence to return.

Lastly, a huge thank you to my family and friends, both new and old, who have unconditionally given me their love, support and help moving.

I have had a massive wake up call, realising that I am truly blessed to be surrounded  by some wonderful people.

From today normal service resumes and I have some great collaborations in the pipeline along with my usual musings and fitness posts, which really means that I should put the mini eggs down and get my lazy ass out of bed!

It’s good to be back and thanks again for sticking around.

Amy xxx

How to implement the mindset of a world champion (even with a chronic illness).

In the last 16 days sporting heroes have arisen and we’ve witnessed some incredible achievements. I love the Olympics, the aura is somehow different to any other sporting event, whether basking in triumph or the heartbreak of ill timed injury and defeat, everything seems more intense and encapsulating.

MY DREAM

I still vividly remember getting swept away with the Barcelona Olympics as an 11 year old in 1992.

Linford Christie’s Gold in the 100m. Staying in the car outside my aunts house so that we could listen to Sally Gunnells 400m hurdle race and erupting when she took Gold.  Kris Akabusi’s Bronze in the 400m Hurdles, Steve Backley’s Bronze medal in the Javelin and Bronze for both the men & women’s 400m relays.  That is all from memory but I’m pretty sure it’s correct!

Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé belting out ‘Barcelona’ was spine tingling and it was listening and watching the athletics montage at the closing ceremony I decided this was for me; I wanted to be there competing someday.

My dream was not to be due to illness and circumstance, but I am now lucky enough to be working in top class facilities, with national and world class coaches enabling our most promising young athletes to pursue their Olympic and World Championship dreams.

I still want to be the best athlete / version of myself that I can be however. Exercise has not only been about achievement for me, but it clears my head and makes me more confident and happier in myself.

I’ve been asked a number of times how I manage fibromyalgia enough to be able to train, whether that be running or working out at the gym.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that it includes a lot of what I have considered to be failure. What you see on my Instagram / Twitter / Facebook feed doesn’t usually include the darkest of days. The days when the pain is crippling, my negativity and self doubt is all encompassing and I cry myself to sleep. It really isn’t pretty.

CASE STUDY // JESSICA ENNIS-HILL

Jessica Ennis Training with a chronic illness

What I’ve learnt from working amongst this calibre of athletes however is that without doubt they have exceptional talent, but as ordinary human beings they come with their own battles and difficulties to overcome.

The other week I sat down on Sunday afternoon to watch Jessica Ennis-Hill: A Coach’s Story on BBC Iplayer (definitely worth half hour of your time, click here to view ). I’ve always admired Jess’ coach, Toni Minichiello and the relationship they have (he’s coached her since the age of 13 and taken her to Heptathlon Olympic and World Champion), but I took much more from the documentary for myself than I thought I would.

Returning to training after the birth of her son Reggie, Jess admitted that she underestimated how hard it would be coming back after having a baby, doubted herself and found it difficult to come to terms with her post pregnancy body.

“We had a lot of times where I said: ‘I’m rubbish, I can’t do it – I can’t run like I used to, I can’t hurdle like I used to,'” she said. “And he’d just say to me: ‘You know it’s going to take time. It’s not going to happen straight away. Just stop comparing yourself to who you were in 2012.”– (Jessica Ennis-Hill)

It could take twelve months for her body to get over pregnancy and birth and they both had to learn how her new body worked, performed and the approach needed for her to be able to return to competition.

There was the “frustration and the anxiety – she would always measure herself against the athlete she was, but physically she wasn’t the same person. It was really tough mentally.”– (Toni Minichiello)

So her coach introduced “Post Pregnancy Personal Bests, or PPPBs, as he refers to them.” The only way for her to mentally overcome the frustration and negativity of comparison to her pre-pregnancy body performance was to wipe the slate clean and start once again from zero. “It helped her redefine her view of herself as an athlete.”

If Jess had continued to try to train the way she had before having her baby she would have crashed and burnt, most likely hindering any chance that she had of competing in the future. After most people had written her off, she came back within 14 months to win World Championship Gold.

And that’s when it hit. Now I’m in no way comparing myself to an Olympic and World Champion, but bare with me, the principle is the same.

MY STORY

After my diagnosis of fibromyalgia I was still in the frame of mind that I could achieve what I had pre-diagnosis. I took part in an intensive eight week programme where frustratingly my body was still capable of doing what it was before, but the crippling pain and fatigue that followed prohibited me from doing so again.

It was a gruelling eight weeks, mainly because physically I was far too able to be in the physiotherapy group I was in. The aim of the rehabilitation was to keep my body mobile and to increase my pain threshold so that I could cope with the pain of every day activities. I could have easily been in the group of athletes above me though and still had the competitive mindset – I had to win every activity set, no matter the cost to my body afterwards.

Despite my physiotherapists advice I believed that I could beat the pain, mentally I still couldn’t accept that my body was no longer the same as it was.

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I had been told time and time again that I would not race again but I still believed that I could. In my head I was still the same. I started training at the track with a group of high achieving young athletes and it was clear straight away that I was misleading myself.

Some  these athletes are half my age and that alone should have been enough to stand back and say “hey, don’t expect too much of yourself here“. I’m 34 years old with fibromyalgia and training with an endurance squad that competes week in week out. I was setting myself up for failure. My body was so fatigued that I had nothing to give and felt like a complete fraud.

A DIFFERENT CHALLENGE

Admitting that my body was no longer the same was extremely difficult – it felt like failure and I quickly needed a new challenge.

I found it in Kayla Itsines BBG. I signed up and downloaded the app and was immediately hooked on the workouts.

28 minutes of high intensity exercise split up into 7 minute sections, sounded much more manageable. It was until the workouts got more difficult and my body was in so much pain and fatigued by the sessions. Once again I became frustrated and negative because I was still comparing my performance to what it would have been before the fibromyalgia raised its ugly head.

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ACCEPTANCE & STARTING AGAIN

I’ve watched the documentary with Jess and Toni a further three times! I’m determined that fibromyalgia won’t take over my life. I’m someone who needs to have a goal to work towards, but in order to be able to train and achieve any set goals I need to change my mindset and training methods.

Whether we have just had a baby or have a chronic illness we need to accept that our body is now different and will work in a different way, therefore we need to adapt accordingly.

MOVING FORWARD


From today I am a new athlete…

My running PBs have been wiped out.

The number of reps I could lift / circuits I could complete have been forgotten about (the fibro fog helps with that!).

The one plus with wiping the slate clean is that from today onward, every session will be a new PFBB (Post Fibromyalgia Personal Best!).

When I return to the track in a few weeks, I’ll be purely coaching. If I run, it will be by myself with no expectations and I will be starting Sweat with Kayla again from week 1, adapting it to how my body feels.

I’ll be taking Toni Minichiello’s advise to  “always write your plans in pencil and have an eraser ready” , as those of you with chronic illness know, it is unpredictable and is always throwing up new challanges.  I’ll be documenting my progress here once a week and also on my social media (follow me on Instagram here).

I may not be bringing home an Olympic Silver Medal as we have seen Jess accomplish in the last week, but with a more relaxed attitude and no expectations who knows where we can go!

If anyone wants to join up on this journey please contact me – the more company the better!

Amy xx

NB: Quotes taken from Giles Mountford’s article for the BBC click here to read in full.

Linking up with IBOT, Hello Monday Linkup

Cornish Escape

Newquay pan

If you’ve been following here for a little while then you’ll know that I’ve been desperate for a little get away (sorry about that whinging!). A full scale get away wasn’t on the cards but a mini break in this country definitely was and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Cornwall was always going to be on my radar.

Relatively last minute we booked onto a holiday park  and headed down to Newquay for a long weekend. Amazingly I only forgot to pack one thing. Disappointingly it happened to be my camera left on the chest of drawers after being charged, leaving only my iPhone to snap away on with varying results!

Newquay boat

newquay bay

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I’ve made numerous trips to Cornwall but I’d never been to Newquay. Although the High Street was a little too touristy for my liking (I think I’ll always love St Ives), we found some lovely little coffee shops which had an abundance of gluten free offerings, and the beaches were as beautiful as other parts I’d visited.

We steered clear of Fistral Beach as it was completely rammed with the Boardmasters Festival on over the weekend, but when we made it down to the beautiful and smaller bay I really started to relax.

After a dreary and drizzly morning the cloud broke and the weather was hot and sunny, perfect for sunbathing and lounging around for a few hours. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the UK when the weather is so lovely and the crystal clear water is lapping up on the sand. I think that it’s the most relaxing sound and always brings a sense of calm over me and leaving the beach on the last evening with the thought of having to return to normality the next day, left me feeling quite sad.

It was lovely to get away for a few days and it is safe to say that we won’t be leaving it so long to return to the haven that is the Cornish coast, most definitely with a good book in hand.

Amy xx

Summer Changes

So August is here and we’re smack bang into the school summer holidays (ahem, weather take note!). As the lack of posts around here will no doubt show I’ve been struggling to juggle everything since the kids broke up and as previous summers will also show, I was a bit crazy to think that this year I could manage it all.

It’s kinda stressed me out a bit to be honest and made writing all the more difficult, so in order to relieve some of the stress and improve the quality of my posts I’m going to change things up here a bit for the summer.

Until September, I’ll be posting three times a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m not too sure of the format yet, however one will definitely be fitness related as I need to be accountable through the summer months and have a reminder to actually work out.

From September however I’ll be ramping things up here and this blog will be turning a corner with new, regular features which reflect my life as it stands now. I’m looking forward do documenting my new found inspiration and building this space into something bigger.

In the meantime I’ll be hoping for lots of sun, fun family days out and enjoying the time developing my content for the coming months.

See you back here Wednesday

Amy xx

Friday Favourites

Kurt Geiger Woven Annie Tote

The weather has been so good to us this week (minus the interruption of rain yesterday. I love this mini heatwave and being able to work outside in a bikini while topping up my tan, I’d call that the best example of multi tasking.

As I wrote on Wednesday by night the fibro pain has been almost unbearable so I’ve not been able to do much, but laying in the sun during the day has helped alot.

Here are some of my favourite things from this week…..

  • It was my daughters 14th birthday this week which coincided with the hottest day of the year so far. While she shopped with her sister and friend at The Mall at Vribbs Causeway, we made the most of a quiet hour and to cool down a bit with an ice cold Savage Ice Prosecco and slice of gluten free cake at Scavi & Ray.
  • Working in the sun. Enough said. Although convinced that I’m definitely suited to a warmer climate I’ve scoured Pinterest to look for my perfect sun terrace to work every day.

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  • It may be too hot to even consider wearing trainers or boots but there’s nothing wrong with some advanced planning and window shopping. The new Gina AW collection is to die for! I’m loving these Sita Silk Pannelled trainers and the Boheme Black Suede and Diamante boots, which will be available soon. Plus if you can’t contemplate winter yet there’s always a selection of beautiful sandals to swoon over!

I hope you’ve been enjoying the sun and have a great weekend 🙂

Amy xx

 

With Some Grace

Fashion // Oasis Midi Skirts

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I used to regularly shop at Oasis, especially their accessory section and I’m not sure why I stopped, maybe being out of Cardiff now made it less convenient.

Being a museum fanatic and the V & A probably being my most favourite, I obviously love the collection at Oasis which is a collaboration of the two.

I visited their website last night as I heard that some of the dresses in the collection were on sale but alas, they are all out of stock. I hear however that the new V&A collection will be in store at the end of July though, so I hope this is true!

I’ve also been looking for the perfect midi skirt – a black staple piece and maybe a patterned one aswell. Being 5’3″ I’m a bit of an awkward height and even the petite skirts I have tried on have left me feeling a bit frumpy.

Here are a selection of my favourite skirts on the Oasis website that are available now.

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Rose Midi – Now £40 / Digital Organza Midi (also available in petite) – £60 / Tropical Jacquard Midi – £25

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Petite Botanical Midi – Now £28 / Pleated Midi (also available in Black) – £45 / Chelsea Print Midi – £60

I had completely forgotten how lovely Oasis clothes are; the prints are beautiful, ladylike and I left me wishing that I had a wedding or garden party to attend! I’ve now bookmarked the site on to my favourites bar and will be making a few purchases soon!

Amy xx

Linking up with #WIWT

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