Another month closer to 50! Two more months to go.
At the beginning of March I set myself three goals:
- Not drink alcohol
- Cut out sweet treats
- Try to increase activity levels
It would be fair to say that I achieved mixed results!
With regards to the alcohol, I did manage to cut down the amount of wine that I was drinking. As I’ve mentioned before I’m not a great wine guzzler, but I don’t handle it particularly well. I wanted to see if it did have that much of a difference on my general health and pain levels. It does definitely have an impact. Does it cause my pain? I don’t think so. But if I am in pain, it really doesn’t make things better – it makes painful days more painful but it’s not the sole cause of the pain. It also makes hot flushes hotter! During the two weeks that I had no wine at all the hot flushes didn’t stop – but they were noticeably less intense. We are also heading into summer here in Albufeira and I do know that I don’t manage wine with the heat, I get very dehydrated very quickly and so would say that from here on in, I am unlikely to drink much by way of wine. Equally, if I am going out for an evening for a meal with friends, I won’t totally avoid wine, but drinking wine for drinking’s sake is at an end. One thing that I have realise is how much sitting still causes pain, particularly through the night. I suspect in the past I have blamed the wine – but in actual fact it is sitting still for prolonged periods that is the main culprit.
Cutting out sweet treats was an epic fail. There is no other way to describe it! On top of the odd twix here and there, I also did some baking during March. I do love baking but find eating it all a bit overwhelming. This month, however, I had the opportunity to bake and share my offerings which made it all a bit more manageable. As we leave lockdown, I expect the opportunities to bake will stop – but having said that, the fabulous cake shop in Albufeira may well re-open and it would be a shame not to partake! So, I am going to try a bit harder this month to cut down on the number of sweet treats I eat. Obviously, it is Easter this weekend and so I will have a chocolate egg to savour, but once that has gone, I will try really hard not to snack on chocolate so much and save it for special occasions.
Increasing exercise was a bit of a mixed bag. I did complete the 500 sun salutation challenge, which was a real plus considering I only managed 10 last year. I’d like to say I enjoyed it, but that would be a lie! I’m not even that sure I learned all that much about myself either. By the end of the month, I was finding breathing with the moves easier and I am definitely a bit more flexible, but that’s pretty much where the benefits have ended. Having said that, I may well carry on doing 10 a day for the next while just to see if there is a difference over time. I did find that doing 10 sun salutations in the afternoon is a great energy boost and lifts you out of the post lunch slump really effectively.
I’ve also maintained 15 to 30 minutes a day of yoga and started doing the Lift Program for prolapse with Fem Fusion Fitness. I have had a prolapse for about 3 years or so and am in a bit of a cycle. I do the exercises and get to the point where I feel really well, then don’t bother with the exercises, the prolapse gets worse again and so I return to the exercises! I should just learn to carry on doing the exercises! It does also really help my back as it also strengthens my core. Not in the six-pack version of core exercises, but the deep core muscles that help to keep the pelvis stable. I’ve reached the point where I am doing 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day, including the yoga.
Earlier in the month, I did have a bit of a set-back. A week where I just wasn’t really able to motivate myself, much beyond the sun salutations and the 15 minutes of yoga in the morning. It wasn’t until I started to come out of the slump that I realised quite how bad it had been. But I did keep on going with the sun salutations, which I am quite proud of and I didn’t totally give up. However, my daily walks did go out of the window and I haven’t started them back up as yet. Hopefully, during April I will be able to reintroduce those and get back to achieving 11,000 steps per day on top of my other exercise. It’s taken me a long time to reach the point that I am able to accept set-backs and to listen to my body rather than force it to complete things that it just isn’t well enough to do. I suspect many of the problems I have with my back are exacerbated by running in the past, as I forced my body to compete in a sport it wasn’t really capable of!
Besides that, I have made progress in other areas and as I leave lockdown, I am very excited about what lies ahead of me. In the past I often said I would just like the world to stop so that I could get off and rest for a while. Covid has allowed that to happen and I feel in a much stronger place mentally as the world opens up again and I have a better understanding of what matters to me.
I have started another degree with the Open University. I’m currently doing an introductory module with a view to studying Classical Studies, however, I might change that to English Literature as I am enjoying that aspect of the course far more than I anticipated
I have also just started Portuguese lessons. My language skills are fairly ropey, but I am quite determined to learn and hope that hearing the language on a daily basis will help me to pick it up sooner rather than later.
Finally, I am hoping to start doing some voluntary work at a local charity shop. It’s taken quite a while for me to reach this point but finally I am starting to regain the zest for life that has been missing. There is so much I want to try and get involved with and slowly I am making steps in the right direction.
I am very excited to see where I am by the end of April!