Going Backwards

I can’t even seem to get off the ground any more with healthy changes. There was a time when I could stick to something for weeks or even months. Now I fail after less than a day or two.

Maybe I have tried and failed so many times that I have used up all my staying power and I am destined to eat crap and feel awful for the rest of my days.

I have consumed a ton of sugary stuff today and feel not only yukky for doing so, but I have all the guilt and self-judgement for not being able to control myself. Again.

It really is ridiculous, how I can want to do one thing, but then do the complete opposite just for a few moments of pleasure. I’ve said it before but I do wonder if my sweet addicion is so desperate and dire because there is so little sweetness in my life. This, of course, is a conditioned, subjective view that I am ashamed of. I have plenty of wonderful things in my life and I know I am very lucky. I feel horribly guilty about feeling that life isn’t full of sweetness.

But daily life IS tough. We have no family or close friends nearby, and I have been parenting 24/7 for seven years with barely a break and only one night off (during which I was celebrating my 40th birthday, but simultaneously miscarrying, so not quite as carefree as we would have liked. Not to mention the anxiety I carried of leaving the children alone when it is something we had never done – and haven’t since). On top of being on call to three small people round the clock, every day of the year, I have had to pull myself though a birth that almost killed me (I lost 2.8 litres of blood with my first), a miscarriage that almost killed me (I haemorrhaged for hours after the sac got lodged in the neck of my womb, and I ended up with a three day hospital stay and blood transfusion), the death of two grandparents, and several long-term psychotic episodes from an immediate family member.

Through all of this I have had to manage on broken sleep, whilst dealing with tantrums, fights, bickering, illness, and what the fuck to cook everybody every single day NO MATTER WHAT. It’s no surprise I am a shell of my former self – and I wasn’t exactly a sturdy specimen to start.

People must notice how haggard and worn down I am. The greying hair that I rarely bother to brush (or even wash). The creases on my face from falling asleep crushed into the pillow that take hours to fade. The sagging jawline, the growing pot belly, the limp from my arthritis, the frightening rate of wrinkles, the tired, dull, emptiness in my eyes.

But no one ever says anything. Maybe they are too polite? My parents must be able to see me aging so rapidly, they must notice I always wear the same sloppy grey and blue outfits, they must notice the tired, grey pallor. They have never said anything. Neither have my friends. But then, would I say something if it was me?

Hey friend, I’ve noticed how tired you are. How you drag your body around as if it’s a burden. You’re looking older these days and your personal hygeine has gotten quite slack. Is everything okay?

Nope. I definitley wouldn’t say anything.

My son said to me today,

Mummy, do you go out and have lots of fun when baby F is at nursery and we are at school?

I laughed so much.

No, sweetie, I don’t. Do you know what I do? I sit at my desk and I work very, very hard until I pick you all up. Sometimes I even forget to have lunch! But I like the sound of your suggestion. Do you think I should just go and have lots of fun instead? 

And I thought about how much less tired and stressed and miserable I might be if I could steal the time to do that and remember any of the things that I did for fun.

You should text Mrs X (current client), and tell her you’re closed. You should do that on Monday.

Maybe no one else has noticed my decline, but my children have. And they want me to fix it.


When Did I Get So Old?

This is the back of my hand. So dry, and crepey. Eugh! When did this happen? My hands didn’t look like this a couple of years ago. The ageing process really seems to have accelerated recently.

I find it so upsetting. I think it’s because I’m starting to get old, which in itself is okay, but the thing is I never really looked the way I wanted to look when I was younger. So now I feel like I’ve missed the only opportunity I had to be “radiantly healthy” (as they’re always saying in magazines). I don’t have a time of real health and youthful beauty to look back on and think Well, I was beautiful once. I’ve never really felt as if I was. Sob.

And now I’m getting wrinklier, greyer and older.

I suppose a part of this getting healthy quest is in the secret hope that I’ll look a lot better than I do. That somehow it will stop the clock from turning and I’ll look less desiccated.

But that’s the wrong place to put my motivation, I think, because the body changes so bloody slowly.

For example, I could eat completely perfectly tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. I could consume the right amount of nutrients, hydrating drinks fruits and vegetables, lean protein and superfoods. But at the end of the third day, you would not be able to see any difference, visually, in how I looked. In fact, not only that, but physically I would probably be feeling awful because of sugar and junk food withdrawal.

The difference would be inside me, and if I continued then eventually you might see the difference outside. But it takes ages. Cell turnover and hair and nail growth means that the only way you get to see outside changes is if you stick to an amazingly healthy diet most of the time, for months and months on end.

And that’s really hard – because there is nothing like a bit of visual motivation to keep you going, and nothing that makes you want to give up like eating wonderfully for three weeks only to look in the mirror and discover you still look just as old and tired.

Day 1

It’s kind of funny that my first post should be on April Fool’s Day, but hopefully this is no joke.

I’ve decided to get secretly fit and healthy, and to secretly blog about it. And not just a bit fit, I mean super-powered fit and healthy. Strong enough to do an endurance or obstacle event. Olympian fit.

I’m a 42 year old, arthritic, frail, aching, fever-prone, insomniac with three children aged 7, 5 and 1.

Today I stood in the queue at Sainsbury’s, waiting for the woman in front of me to pay (she was a slow mover, we were there a while), idly mulling over the headlines on the front of a magazine displayed at the end of the checkout.

“Beat Bloating”

I’d read that.

“Fight Arthritis”

Crikey, an article about my worst health problem. Magazine content is definitely getting more relevant these days.

“Cheat the Signs of Ageing”

Hmm. I might have to buy it.

“Getting Forgetful?”

Wait. What? What kind of magazine is this anyway?

I scan the top and see that it’s “Healthy Living from Women’s Weekly”. Wasn’t Women’s Weekly a publication for older ladies?

There’s a flash of colour in the top corner containing text that proclaims:

“The health magazine for 40+ women.”


I actually thought I was looking at a copy of Cosmo, or Elle or some other fashionable magazine for young women. But how could it have been? I mean, would Cosmo EVER carry an article on arthritis?

And that’s when it hit me.

The reason that magazine looked so interesting was because I fell perfectly into the demographic. I was 40+, suffering from bloating, arthritis and wondering how I could cheat the signs of ageing.

But mental decline??

It was a shock, really, to suddenly find myself in this domain. Like I’d been moved to a new department at work without anyone telling me it had happened. A department for people who are declining. For people whose bodies are breaking down. For people who are getting ready to die.

I looked at my perky, feisty, rosy-cheeked 1 year old daughter. The checkout man probably thought I was her granny.

I grabbed a copy of the magazine and shoved it next to my shopping.

This is the beginning.