Life on top of the Snowball

Stepping into the lives of just one member of the Brown family and you’ll soon realise that everything is done at close to 100 mph. 105 mph if you’re my Dad because still being as competitive as ever, he will always ensure he has the edge over each and every one of us. Perhaps more like 85 mph now for my Mum (no offence), though she’d definitely still attempt just as quick given that her hips allowed it. 160 km/h if you’re my sister living half way across the world and then me, probably there struggling to reach 130 mph because I’d most likely just be thinking about the bloody extra calories I could be burning going that little bit faster. So generally speaking you get the picture that the four Brown’s in my immediate family, live life fast, or not at all.

There are heaps of advantages to living life in the fast lane: such being actually getting shit done on or ahead of time, being more or less on a permanent adrenaline rush that makes for a great calorie burner or the more unfortunate facade of looking like you’ve just dabbed the last of the white stuff, and another advantage being that days off or time spent on holiday doing absolutely sod all are actually appreciated and well worth waiting for.

On the other, more negative hand, though we may be living our own lives at such a speed, you forget that everything else is happening at a lot less slower, more humanly average speed. As a result, there is the ever impatience of why things can’t happen any faster and at the speed we want them to happen. Almost similar to that feeling of driving in a rush and the roads only seem to bear the old, stubborn hoarders of their ancient paper license who drive close enough to the screen to be able to have their face cleaned by the window wipers, or driving through the postal code that is due for their dustbin collection that day. You’re only ever slowed down when you’re in a rush!

For the past year I wanted to get better. More specifically speaking: completely flip my mental attitude, feel comfortable about eating again, be able to exercise less and not feel guilty about it, leave university with the least upheaval and disruption possible, reduce my anxiety, be sociable again, feel happier and not dependent on ‘happy pills’, have a career prospect, actually have a career, feel confident enough to date, be discharged from hospital, gain weight and the list goes on. So when this extensive list wasn’t materialising to be promptly successful in the first few weeks and months of trying, I’d just flump back into a negative sense of failure and resume life in the comfort zone of things remaining the exact same.

Realistically, this wasn’t going to happen at the 100 mph speed I would’ve wanted and expected because looking at the grand scheme of things, that was some mountaneous list of goals that gear 5 wasn’t going to get me up and over. I just probably should have realised that sooner. So instead I decided to take my foot off the pedal and approach each goal individually and at the same speed at which it takes a sloth to realise the hilarious punchline of a joke – you need only watch Zootropolis and you’ll understand.

Focusing on just one goal with patience and time, lead to the success of another, then another and another until I’ve now been left smugly perched on top of the rolling snowball, thoroughly enjoying the rate at which things are now starting to take off.

Facing a yogurt, lead to facing eggs which lead to pancakes which lead to omelettes, which lead to cheese (in very small doses) which lead to sourdough bread. Before I knew it, I’d reached the ends of 2016 and the beginnings of 2017 following step-by-step guides from Clean Eating Alice’s cookbook, trying and testing new recipes and ingredients that would have been completely overlooked by me and my shopping trolley only a few months ago.

It has been so exhilarating and so exciting to see my goals achieved, metaphorically become a huge snowball and I can’t wait to start living the original life I know with the other Brown’s in the fast lane now that I’ve accomplished almost all of these original goals.

Especially now with the dawning of 2017 and the resolutions kicking in and no doubt failing already (we’re only human here), just remember certain goals will require a lot more time and patience and won’t always be accomplished on 2nd January!

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Feet over wheels

“If I could have an apple for every one of the new things I’d accomplished and the steps I’d overcome on holiday last week, I’d be 4 short of a bushel” – Katie/Ross Gellar – Friends

No sooner had I said that “I never ever want to ride a bike again”, did I find myself merrily cycling off to work only two days following the above statement. What’s worse, is I have a fully functioning car that was left itching for a ride after having remained dormant during that holiday week. But when you consider my cycle to ride to work is roughly 390km less than the almighty cycle we embarked upon for that holiday, it didn’t exactly require such an almighty effort (and at least burnt some more calories).

Yes, I did just say 390km of cycling. Yet I still haven’t decided what was harder. That: or the almighty struggle of dealing with a mum that gets overtaken by a toddler on stabilizers, or an older sister that has a meltdown in the centre of Amsterdam’s train station.

Though I’ve always questioned my own sanity, at least I feel comforted in knowing, it could well be just a Brown trait, as it was decided by my sister, my mum and me that we would spend our week’s holiday, cycling from Brussels to Amsterdam. It’s true that we imagined it would only be the 340km that the route said it would be, over the 5 days we were there; but adding together the detours, the wrong turns, and the extra journeys made backtracking the route to ensure my mum was still in a close enough proximity to us and still alive, meant our total mileage must have certainly gone above and beyond the specified distance. It can’t have been far short of 400km, I know that much.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say, that my main agreement for embarking on this holiday, was that fortunately I would still be in a position where I could maintain a relative amount of exercise and calorie expenditure. Making me feel a lot more at ease about being away from the comfort of my local London streets and my tri-weekly attendance at the Orange Theory studio. So at least if my eating habits were to be in disarray, I could at least settle the anxiety knowing I’d have burnt a good few calories, cycling for what felt like an eternity, each day.

There may have been some minor cheats along the way, where I’d simply not be able to handle the anxiety of being out of my comfort zone and felt like my eating disorder was getting the better of me. This being, having internal breakdowns when there weren’t enough apples to get me through the day (so I’d have to settle for a nectarine instead), bringing a tupperware lunch from home for the first day (to ease me in to it), and sneaking out for an early morning run on our 4th day (because let’s face it, I’ve not had more than one consecutive day of no running in the last 18 months).

  • I relinquished the control of preparing my own meals
  • I settled for what the supermarket provided and found alternatives, when there was not my usual choice of Alpro soya almond yoghurt.
  • I shared a sandwich with my mum
  • I ate soup in a restaurant, unknown to exactly what went in it, with actual white bread rolls on the side
  • I accepted that although I didn’t feel like I deserved the fuel, I knew I needed it in order to make the cycle mileage each day
  • I was completely out of routine and couldn’t retreat back to my own home comforts
  • There were 3, followed by 4, consecutive days that I didn’t go for a run
  • I snacked at times of the day I wouldn’t normally snack
  • I had a fizzy drink – I never tend to veer away from sparkling water or soda
  • I went to a sweet shop and LOVED it

What’s more than these achievements, though seemingly small to some people, is that I was actually able to spend a holiday with my mum and sister and feel comfortable enough about it. It was hard, and it was a huge step, but it was SO worth the effort – I just don’t think I’ll embark on another cycling holiday again any time soon! So I won’t be swapping the feet for wheels any time soon, I’ll stick to running for now.