building healthy foundations

It seems that I have to keep re-learning the importance of building healthy foundations for myself! There are a few things which are key to me feeling well, and sometimes I let them slide and then I remember why they matter, so here’s quick run-down so that I can remember quicker next time…and maybe it will help you too?

Feeding myself:

Since October last year I have made huge efforts around feeding myself well and it has made such a difference in how I feel and function on a day-to-day basis. For me ‘feeding myself’ well means:

  • home-cooked meals
  • lots & lots of veggies & legumes (I’m vegetarian)
  • starting the day with a really supportive breakfast (I go for happy tummy loaf with cheese or nut butter)
  • snacks which don’t trigger a change in other kinds of eating (nut butter – I like this one – nuts, brie…)
  • avoiding snacks which become ‘triggers’ for other kinds of eating (I find sweet or salty snacks have me reaching for more of the same, replacing meals with more snacks)

When I get the first four on my list right, the fifth one isn’t even an issue. If I eat well, I feel nourished & I don’t think about snacking. Sometimes though, life has a habit of throwing a curve ball at you, and the foundations start to slip away…

Over Easter, a family issue rocked my headspace A LOT and I didn’t feel like eating. And then when I did eat, I chose ice cream instead of food, and it didn’t take long before I started to feel really caught up in a spiral of poor self-worth, which then made me not want to eat… And then yesterday my head felt more settled, and I cooked all the vegetables in my fridge, and made mushroom burgers , and ate my first real meal for a week, and just like that, I feel ok again!

Putting myself to bed:

This has always been an issue for me! I was the youngest child and remember being sent to bed before my sister, and it always felt like I was missing out on something. And maybe that’s nothing to do with how I behave now (& maybe it does?) but I really struggle to go to bed when I’m tired.

I generally sleep fine once I get there, but the getting there is a hurdle. I like to finish the day sorted, so I tend to empty the dish-washer or hang up laundry on the way to bed, and then when I get there I’m wide awake!!

Yesterday I heard someone talking on the radio about how we would benefit if we treated ourselves like toddlers, and I really connected with that idea. Children tend to have a sleep routine – a bath, quiet time, a book, a cuddle, soft lighting…so why not do the same for ourselves?

I had a small win last night because I was falling asleep on the sofa and instead of staying there, I actually got up and went to bed. Maybe the toddler idea will be a big help going forward…

Movement:

This one is my fairly easy win!

I have a dog so he gets walked every day, no matter what else is going on., but he’s possibly nearing the end of his life so I wonder if I’ll walk every day once he’s gone. I hope I will, but can imagine that there will be days when it doesn’t happen. I love to hike so I am signed up to #walk1000miles and I also try to walk 100 miles and complete a round-Bewl walk every month, so those things are great motivators. I find it’s good to have movement goals, especially if you find yourself struggling to move more.

I’m lucky in that I move for my work so most days incorporate movement of some kind. I also try to include two spin-bike sessions each week but it’s very easy to let them slide when I’m not feeling great. Last week, feeling sad and poorly nourished, I didn’t find the energy to cycle, and I decided to be kind and let myself off, which is totally ok but not a long-term plan. I’ll be back on the back tomorrow for sure!

When we get distracted by life or injured or just don’t feel like it on the day, it is easy to let go of our movement habits, but often we’d feel better if we just did it any way. Sometimes going through the motions is what will get us moving again – we might need to adapt what we’re doing but doing something is always going to be better than doing nothing.

Being creative:

The act of making something – regardless of what it is – is such a good foundation for a healthy life. And it’s not about making something brilliant, it’s just about the doing of the thing and the distraction it provides.

I do a daily photo project on Instagram. It’s often a tiny moment in my day, maybe only using my iPhone (because the best camera is always the one you have with you!) and sometimes the prompts that I follow are really annoying!! But I haven’t missed a day since January 2016! And not having missed a day is what keeps me going because I do not want to break my streak now!

One day last week I cried about my photo because I didn’t have anything I wanted to post, but then I had a word with myself, posted what I had, and moved on. That simple act reminded me that we can always move on, there’s always another day/photo prompt just around the corner and what does it matter if the photo isn’t great anyway??!

Life is hard enough! Make sure you take some time to do something creative, for no purpose, just because you can – paint, draw, write, make pretty patterns with leaves, grow things, sew things, knit things…

Putting it all together:

The goal is never to feel like I HAVE to do everything, simply to recognise that when I do certain things, I feel more ‘me’.

These are my healthy foundations. There are others I didn’t mention – eg. not drinking alcohol, social connections, feeling valued at work – but these are the things that I keep coming back to when I feel off-balance.

Yours may not be the same – although I suspect that food/sleep/move is key for all of us – but I think it is important to find out what your things are, and then do those on a regular basis.

I’d love to know what your healthy foundations are – let me know…

Move with me…

A couple of quick movement ideas to help you feel more comfortable in your body.

Upper & lower back:

A client was feeling very restricted in her upper and lower back movements today so we incorporated a few of these into her session. Happy to report she felt much more comfortable afterwards!

You might not need all of these but hopefully there are a couple of useful moves here that you can add into your day.

Sometimes we might think that we have to do a lot of movement to make a difference, but often the small moves & stretches we do throughout the day make a biggest difference to how we feel.

Child’s pose stretch with side bend:

I love this stretch! It feels SO good to stretch the side of the rib cage, from your armpit to your hip and this is a great way to do that.

Tight/weak hips?

This one is for your hips – moving them and strengthening them. Super-important as we get older…

I hope these short videos give you a few moves to add into your daily routine. Pick the ones that feel useful, ignore the ones that don’t. Adapt anything that feels not quite right for your body. Get help from an appropriate professional if you need specific guidance about moving your body.

exercise motivation

Do you struggle to get started or stay motivated with movement and exercise?

Small black dog sitting next to a pair of dumb-bells, looking over his shoulder

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because for the past month I have actually been using my spin bike twice a week without exception! And it got me thinking about what had changed…

I bought the bike last October, having wanted to own one ever since I gave up teaching spinning classes in 2009. At the time, it seemed like a really useful post-op recovery tool, meaning that I could work on my legs strength and fitness without having to do much with my right arm. I started off using it a few times a month, and then had months where I didn’t get on it at all.

Not using it caused me to feel disappointed in myself. As I reached past it to turn off the lights each night I noticed that I was feeling bad about myself for not having used it, again! And I started to think about how much it had cost me. And the fact that it was taking up space in my lounge.

And then a few weeks ago, all of those thoughts spurred me into action…

I promised myself I would use it twice a week – one mid-week morning when I wasn’t seeing clients, and one weekend morning before I set about my day – and so far I haven’t missed a session yet! There have been a few ‘I don’t feel like it’ days but they are becoming less frequent. And the more I use it, the better it feels so that in itself becomes a motivator #whoknew?

What is my motivation?

I realised that there are a few different kinds of motivation and I’ve come to think of them in time-frames:

Short-term motivation:

  • I don’t like to exercise after I’ve eaten so my primary short-term motivation is to get it done before the need for breakfast over-takes me (this is the one that gets me on the bike on the ‘don’t feel like it’ days)
  • I like how it feels once it’s done
  • I don’t want to break my twice-a-week streak

Medium-term motivation:

  • it’s getting easier now that I’m cycling twice a week & I don’t want to go back to it feeling like a struggle again!
  • I’m going on a 2-week pilgrimage in a few weeks time and I know that the cycling is helping my leg strength and fitness – I am imagining myself walking up mountains, feeling glad that I got on my bike in preparation
  • I like that I’m finally (at 58) learning to look after myself and now I’ve started I don’t want to let myself down again

Long-term motivation:

  • I don’t want breast cancer to come back, and I feel like being strong and fit is a pretty good insurance policy, just in case
  • I don’t want to be an ‘old’ older person – I can’t think of much worse than being unable to do things that you’d like to do, so I’m going to do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen
  • I really want to go back and finish the Pennine Way
  • I’d like to walk LEJOG

Do you struggle with exercise motivation?

There’s no one way to find what motivates us because it will be different for everyone.

For some people it might be joining a class, for others it will be buying a dog. You might be inspired by an event, a big challenge or taking care of your health. You might be motivated by helping someone else to exercise (maybe your son wants to do a 10k run and asks you to join him or you want to share a love of walking with a family member).

Once you know what motivates you it’s much easier to stick with something.

If you’re struggling with motivation to exercise here are a couple of articles which might help:

Ways to get started:

These are some of my favourite habits to keep me on track:

  • I put my workout clothes on the floor by my bed the night before (the old ideas are sometimes the best!!)
  • I don’t eat before my workout – it makes me feel sick and feeling hungry always gets me on the bike
  • I set a goal of doing it twice per week, which gives me some flexibility about when, but not if
  • it’s kind of in my diary – not actually written in but mentally it’s there
  • I add it to the list when I’m planning for the next day as I go to bed
  • I found a cycle class that I really enjoy (Les Mills The Trip in case you want to take a look)

Your ways to get started might look different, but it’s definitely worth giving them some thought and planning ahead because you’re much more likely to stick with it that way.

Ways that I can help you:

If you really struggle to get started, why not join me for one of my regular online fitness classes? You can pay as you go or sign up to a subscription – sometimes making a financial commitment & getting a good return on your investment really helps!

And if you’re old-school and prefer actual in-person classes, I teach one of those each week too. [Isn’t it weird that pre-Covid no-one ever used the term ‘in-person’??]

One-to-one sessions are another great way to get started and stay motivated. Your session is tailored around your needs and we’ll work together to get you where you want to go on your movement journey. Personal Training sessions can include pilates, fitness and walking, or a combination of all three!

One more thing…

I just remembered one more thing which really helped me with my motivation to look after myself better. I had some post-cancer/pre-surgery psychotherapy late last year and for literally the first time in my life I understood that I mattered. It was truly an enormous shift in my thinking.

When I first started exercising, in my late twenties, it was a mental escape from a life that wasn’t making my soul sing. And then I trained to teach fitness, and mostly it has always been about working with clients since then. I’ve been lucky to stay relatively fit off the back of that, but it’s not the same as working on my own fitness.

But now, for the first time, I’m doing it for me, because I’m worth it!

And so are you.

And when you believe that, I think that the motivation is much easier to find and easier to stick with…

Hello September!

Here’s a few updates and a quick run-down of what lie ahead for September 2023

Female-focused:

My work has been largely female-focused for a while now but I recently decided to make it official!

hands

It doesn’t mean I will never work with men, but my primary goal is to help women move more and feel better, so that is where I will be putting all my attention going forward. From sports & pregnancy massage, to safe & effective online fitness and one-to-one training, everything will be geared towards the specific needs of the female body.

I’m really excited to have this fresh focus as we head into the tail-end of 2023 and beyond…

Professional development:

Recently someone asked me if I like what I do and I have to admit that I gave a pretty non-committal answer because in that moment I was feeling a bit low. But I went away that weekend and kept thinking about the question, and realised that YES I absolutely do like what I do, but I have sometimes felt frustrated by it because I haven’t always structured my work it in a way that allows me time for growth.

And then I had a lightbulb moment!

I realised I needed to get out of my own way…so from now on, Wednesdays* will be my day for professional (and personal) development, where I can study, enjoy my own fitness and create space for my business to evolve.

I have several courses already purchased (some of which I have not even started!) so I am excited to be resuming one of those next week, focusing on fitness for menopausal women.

Watch this space!

(* I’ll still be teaching Pilates on Wednesday evenings at 7pm – it isn’t going anywhere!)

What’s on in August:

You can find all the class descriptions and booking details here

Find details about how Pilates is the perfect class to complement your other activities, and see booking information here

The new term of in-person Pilates classes starts on Friday 8th September, bookable as a block (up to 8th September) or on a week-by-week basis.

Further details about how massage can help to support your body, can be found here

Personal training:

To round off the updates for September, a reminder that I also work with women on a one-to-one basis, offering bespoke fitness programs to help you achieve a specific goal or focus on your individual needs. You can find out more here

Here’s to a brand new month, and a smooth transition into autumn!

August 2023

Current mood – where did the UK summer go?! & is it really true that people are leaving the excessive heat in Europe to come and holiday in the rain here?? #weirdweather

I’m just back from a two week break – one week in a rainy Peak District and one week working in my garden – and I’m looking forward to easing gently through the rest of the summer. I love August because even though I no longer have school-age children, I still love all the ‘schools-out’ vibes – I can usually squeeze in some long weekends for a bit of impromptu camping & walking; and everyone generally seems a bit more relaxed, less pressured & more carefree (possibly not those of you with small people at home 24/7).

Outside of work, my plans for August mostly involve sitting outside by my fire-pit, finding a bit more stillness in my life. I’m very good at being busy with a garden project, but now it’s done I realise that I need to make time to enjoy the space I have created. As soon as the rain has passed, I’ll be there!

I hope that you also find time for some slow-living this summer. Even if (or especially if) you are busy with family or travel or work, it is so important to gift yourself some time to be, to relish the moment and enjoy the pause.

What might that look like for you? How can you plan in advance to set aside that time?

Here’s what’s on for August, if you’re looking for ways to keep moving

Online fitness for women

We start with ‘week one’ classes on Monday 7th August, running all the way through to ‘week four’ which finishes on 31st August.

Things don’t necessarily feel easier or harder on any particular week (because it really depends on how your body responds to different stimuli) but in general terms week one classes are ‘back to basics’; week two classes tend to involve different timings or a specific body area; week three classes tend to be a bit more dynamic; and week four classes might include more balance work or more intense moves.

Having said all of that, ALL classes are self-paced – meaning that you can push yourself as hard or as little as you like – and I always offer variations so that you can get the best workout for your body. And all classes are low impact – kind to your joints and pelvic floor – because we need workouts that work for us!

  • 40-fit Mondays @ 7pm – it’s always good to get a Monday workout in your week
  • metabolic fitness Tuesdays @ 7am – a really good start to your day!
  • functional fitness Fridays @ 7am – a perfect way to start the weekend…

All sessions via zoom – live and recorded so you can fit your fitness into your summer schedule. Find further details here

Please note:

  • Monday 28th August is a bank holiday but the 40-fit class will run as usual at 7pm
  • Functional Fitness on Friday 1st September will move to Thursday 31st August – still at 7am

Pilates

Online class Wednesdays @ 7pm – sessions continue throughout August, delivered via zoom so you can join from the comfort of your own home or from your holiday location?! Sessions typically include a mixture of core & back strengthening exercises, movements for mobility and flexibility, and some great glutes strengthening moves. But maybe more important, each class will give you an hour for yourself…

Sessions run as live classes on zoom, but are recorded so you can do it later if you prefer. Details here

In-person Pilates classes are back on Friday 8th September! Fridays @ 9.30am in Kilndown village hall 8th September – 21st October (inc). Booking is now open – details can be found here.

Classes are kept small to give you the best experience whether you are new to Pilates or have practiced before. The venue is beautiful, and easily accessed from neighbouring villages and the A21.

Please let me know if you have any questions at all or would like to buy a trial session to see how you like the class.

Sports & clinical massage for women

I recently had a ‘massage’ from my 5 year-old grand-daughter! She had lined up some soft toys on the shelf on the face cradle which was cute. As she walked around the table she got down on the floor to smile up at me through the hole! She asked me if I ever did that for my clients…you can rest assured that there will be no such surprises during your treatment!!

I offer treatment for:

  • soft tissue injury or overuse issues
  • general niggles & chronic conditions such as low back pain, neck & shoulder tension, knee & hip pain
  • pain conditions in pregnancy (hip/low back pain, shoulder & neck tension can all be relieved safely with pregnancy massage; you will be propped and comfortably supported by as many pillows as you need; this is most definitely the time to look after your changing body!)
  • post-operative scar tissue
  • oncology patients (at any stage of your treatment, in consultation with your medical team)

I have a massage treatment room at my home in Cranbrook and offer massage appointments at the following times:

  • Tuesdays 3pm-9.30pm
  • Wednesdays 12.30pm-6.30pm
  • Thursdays 2pm-8.30pm

Appointments can be booked here but please email me to discuss your treatment before booking if you have any questions about how I may be able to support you.

July 2023

(what’s on ?)

I’m finally set to take a break from work from the middle of the month! In spite of the unexpectedly fast delivery of my passport I am not heading anywhere too far away, but I’m looking forward to a week of walking in the Peak District followed by a week of something else (to be decided!)

However, it’s not holiday-time yet so here’s what is going on with tmf this month.

Online fitness for women

All classes are running as usual up to and including Friday 14th July:

ALL the online fitness classes are self-paced – meaning that you can push yourself as hard or as little as you like – and I always offer variations so that you can get the best workout for your body.

  • 40-fit Mondays @ 7pm – it’s always good to get a Monday workout in your week
  • metabolic fitness Tuesdays @ 7am – a really good start to your day!
  • functional fitness Wednesdays @ 7am – a perfect way to start the weekend…

All sessions via zoom. Find further details here

While I’m away, subscription members will have access to three new pre-recorded classes in the membership area. I will vary the formats a bit so you have something new to enjoy while I’m away. These pre-recorded classes will take the place of your week 3 sessions and week 4 will happen at the start of August once I get back from my break…

Pilates

  • Online class Wednesdays @ 7pm – this session will run on 5th & 12th July and then have a two week break, resuming Wednesday 2nd August. Details here

    Subscription members will be able to access previous recordings in the membership area as usual while I’m away, and will also have access to the three pre-recorded fitness classes too.

In-person classes will be back on Friday 4th September. We meet in the very beautiful Kilndown village hall at 9.30am (term-times only). Booking is now open – details here. If you usually attend these sessions and find yourself missing them over the summer, why not join us on Wednesday evening on zoom instead?

Sports & clinical massage

I offer treatment for soft tissue injury or overuse issues, general niggles & chronic conditions such as low back pain, neck & shoulder tension, knee & hip pain.

I am also certified to offer pregnancy and post-natal massage, work with post-operative scar tissue and provide oncology massage.

I have a massage treatment room at my home in Cranbrook. Massage appointments in July are available on the following dates & times:

  • Tuesdays 4th & 11th July 3pm-9.30pm
  • Wednesdays 5th & 12th July 12.30pm-4pm
  • Thursdays 6th-13th July 1.15pm-8pm

Appointments can be booked here but please email me to discuss your treatment before booking if you have any questions about how I may be able to support you.

Why do we ‘push & rest’ in class?

( just in case you thought I was being mean by making you work hard)

In pretty much every fitness session I offer, I use an approach of encouraging clients to push and rest. It works equally well in my online fitness for women classes and in my 1:1 personal training sessions because it gives a really effective, time-efficient workout and helps you to build lean muscle and burn fat.

Sometimes I will put together moves which are deliberately challenging, not because I’m nasty, but because I want you to reach the point of needing to rest!

So what does ‘push & rest’ mean?

The idea is to use a weight which is moderately challenging for your body, but still manageable enough so that you can do the work.

In other words, you can perform the movement pattern well, with good technique, but as you keep going you will reach a point where you will need to have a quick rest, before you can continue again with good form.

So you push yourself as hard as you can, with good technique, for as long as you can, and then you rest until you feel ready to go again.

Typically, at the start of an exercise/workout you will be able to keep going for longer, and then as you begin to tire you will maybe have shorter gaps between rests. So if we’re doing four rounds of a circuit, on the first round you might not need to rest very much; on the second round the rests might be more frequent, but quite short; on the third round the rests might be frequent and slightly longer; and by round four they might be a bit more frequent still.

If your dumbbells (DB) are not heavy enough you will be more likely to ‘coast’ through the workout, never really feeling your muscles burn, not feeling that your heart rate is elevated and not actually needing to take a rest. Whilst this might sound (& maybe feel) like a nicer option, it will not deliver such good results for your body. Sometimes we all need an easy workout session, and there’s nothing wrong with taking one, but it’s not the best long-term strategy if you want to build/maintain lean muscle mass, which becomes more important as we get older.

Find out more about this approach to training here

For some exercises, your ideal weight will be heavier than it is for others – eg. you’ll always be able to use heavier DB for a deadlift than you will for a side raise – so you might need a couple of weight options for your workout OR we can use some different training techniques to even things out…

Different ways to train to keep the intensity high:

Hybrid moves –

As well as encouraging you to push and rest, I will usually have you doing ‘complex’ or ‘hybrid’ moves, which involve using several muscle groups or two areas of the body at once – eg. squat & biceps curl or lunge and shoulder press. This helps to make your session very time-efficient and higher intensity because you’ll be packing in more moves in a given time than you would if each move was separate.

Performing hybrid exercises also helps to give you a cardio element to your workout without needing you to add impact to your moves.

Continuous format –

The exercises are also done one after the other, without any defined rest breaks, so that you can keep going at an intensity that suits you, rather than working with the clock. If you feel ok to move on to the next move right away, you do that; if you need a quick breather, you take one. It puts you in control of your workout and makes sure that it is truly self-paced as well as rest-based.

Pace –

We can also vary the speed that you move to vary the intensity of your workout. Generally speaking, if you have lighter DB, you will be more comfortable moving faster, so what you miss in load you gain in repetitions – although heavier would still be more effective overall! On the flip-side, slowing your movements down keeps your muscles under load for longer so sometimes that will give you a better training effect.

Range of movement –

We can also play with the size of our movements for each exercise that we do. Sitting deeper into a squat will obviously give you more work than staying higher up, and so long as it doesn’t cause any joint pain, it might be the most effective option. Sometimes we might change the range of movement by using bottom-half or top-half variations, or mixing up these two options!

What’s the best way to exercise?

With exercise there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ but it is probably good to vary your workouts as much as possible, to cover all bases and keep on giving your body new challenges.

  • vary everything – pace, ROM, weight, choice of equipment, length of workout, exercise selection – often
  • push yourself, but also tune-in to your body so that you can rest when you need to (& know that if you never need to rest, you’re not working hard enough!!)
  • aim to feel all of these things while you’re working out – feel hot; get out of breath & feel your muscles burning
  • don’t be afraid to pick up heavier DB – you can always put them down again but you might not need to!!

And if you’re still unclear about what is the best way for you to move your body, always find a suitably qualified trainer and let them help you. This is Archie. He is not a qualified trainer, but he’s happy to help also!

Click on the links for information about my online fitness classes for women and 1:1 PT sessions.

& let me know if I (or Archie?) can help you

Wonky boobs…

(some thoughts about my breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy)

I have probably always had wonky boobs – I guess we all do – but they have been more obviously wonky since my breast cancer surgeries in June and July 2020.

May 2020:

When I was diagnosed, during the first lockdown, I went into ‘doing’ mode, doing everything and learning everything to get me out the other side of this cancer experience as fast as possible. I didn’t (allow myself to) feel any emotions about it at the time, because I didn’t want the emotions to get in the way of my recovery.

In hindsight, I realise that it is obviously an extremely emotional thing to go through, possibly even worse to go through alone (& in isolation for 20 weeks), and of course I eventually reached a point where trying to hold all the emotions in check was causing me pain and harm.

November 2022

After having a meltdown when I went for my second follow-up mammogram last year, one of the nurses asked me what was happening for me, and out it all poured, along with all the snot and tears! As a result of that conversation, she referred me to an oncology counsellor and also referred me back to my surgeon to review my reconstruction surgery, and so began the first stage of allowing myself to heal.

I’m not all the way there yet, and I still don’t know why I’m finding it so hard to get through this, but I’m gradually starting to feel like I’m making progress.

The emotional stuff:

The counselling has helped me to feel less traumatised and to process my feelings around my breast cancer diagnosis. The thing that keeps cropping up is a feeling that it was my fault – that I should have done things differently so that I didn’t develop cancer. No matter how much I know on an intellectual level that I didn’t cause my cancer, or let it in, I have struggled with changing the story in my head.

My expectation for myself has always been that I should be invincible and it’s a tough narrative to change! A few weeks ago week my counsellor suggested that I could try using ‘I wish…’ in place of ‘I should…’ so I’m giving that a try and it really helps. As an indication of how far I have progressed, I have ‘written’ versions of this post in my head many times, but it has taken until today to be able to formulate my thoughts and actually write them down. I still don’t know if I’m saying what I meant to say, but it feels like a positive step to be writing anything down so I’ll run with it…

The physical stuff:

The other part of dealing with what’s left after mastectomy, the physical stuff, will take longer but I have started that process this week too.

I had an immediate implant reconstruction after my mastectomy (the only option at the time due to the lockdown), but it is deemed to have failed. They consider two criteria – comfort and symmetry in clothing & sadly mine fails on both! If it was comfortable, I don’t think I would care so much about how it looks, but it is so uncomfortable and that makes me feel really sad about my body. I feel damaged, and I don’t want to feel that way.

The surgery-revision process is a bit convoluted because my surgeon referred me to a different hospital, who are now referring me back to him, and even then I might get referred back! I just want to sit in a room with someone who can give me all my options so that I can make an informed decision, but different people do different things and can only speak about what they can offer.

I truly think it is amazing that there is a choice of surgical options to recreate a missing breast, but none of them feel right for me, and none of us know how any of these things will feel until we’ve taken a huge leap of faith and picked one and had changes made to our body. I don’t want to be flat on one side of my chest but I don’t want to have my tummy cut open either. I think I want to have my other breast removed and be flat on both sides, because it will at least leave me symmetrical, but obviously it’s a huge decision. And I’m exhausted from thinking about it and worrying that I might make the wrong choice. Perhaps it sounds like I’m whinging too much – maybe I am – but I feel how I feel. I know I am lucky to only be worrying about a surgical revision, and not be facing further cancer treatment. But I also know that I can feel lucky and sad both at the same time.

It honestly doesn’t help when a male surgeon repeatedly tells me that lots of women pay to have tummy tuck (which is one of the reconstruction options) as if I should be grateful to be having it for free! He also said that as a woman who has had three children, I probably need one anyway! I don’t, as it happens, and he hadn’t even examined me at this point in the consultation.

And of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone having a tummy tuck, if they want/choose/need one, but I don’t want (or need) one and it feels like such a massive surgery to go through just to pretend that I still have two boobs. And maybe it is still the right thing to do, in spite of how I feel, because it will give me a shape that feels better…

It feels like such a male-dominated conversation, which is weird given that men don’t even have boobs to start with?! I’m definitely going to seek out a female surgeon for my next conversation, because however technically brilliant a male surgeon might be, he can never know what it feels like to have or lose a breast. And the losing part is brutal & and carving up another part of my body doesn’t change that.

On a positive note, the surgeon I saw this week has referred me to a more specialised psychotherapist and maybe that will help me to get my head in a better place so that I am better able to make a decision about further surgery. I hope so!

Moving forwards:

So this week everything has felt really stirred up, like I’m almost back to the beginning (minus the cancer of course, for which I’m incredibly grateful, always). I want to have never been in this place and I want it to be behind me, over and done with, sorted, and not affecting my life in any way…but it doesn’t work that way, and I’m finding it tough.

But also this week, lots of people have listened to me, hugged me, let me cry, and given me space to work through some really big feels and I am so grateful to all of them. I strive to be better at holding it in when I’m working, but for all the times that it has spilled over in the past, and for all the times it spills over in the future, I’m sorry and thank you so much for being there.

As for the wonky boobs, I don’t know yet what the answer is, or when anything will happen, so until anything changes, I’m just going to try not to hate them too much and keep working on the stories in my head.

A final thought:

And one final thought, which is not about me or even specifically about breast cancer.

If you know someone who is going through anything which is big and scary and life-changing, please be open to asking/talking to them about how they feel. Sometimes the hardest thing is trying to hold all the feelings inside because you think everyone expects you to have moved on, or needing to talk about it but feeling bad that you might make them feel uncomfortable.

If you ask and they don’t want to talk, they’ll let you know, but maybe they really need to have you listen.

John Roedel says it better than me:

& last but not least:

Have a look here if you want to know more about breast cancer, including causes, symptoms, screening & treatment.

And please don’t forget to check your boobs!

June 2023 – what’s on when?

After a few weeks doing WAY TOO MUCH in the garden every weekend, I’m determined to let things slow down a little bit in June. I had a fabulously ‘slow’ weekend away, staying off-grid in a shepherd’s hut for two nights, and it was just what I needed.

But back to the work stuff, here’s the class timetable and everything you need to know about clinical massage availability for the coming month:

Online fitness for women

The classes gently progress as the month continues. Things don’t necessarily feel easier or harder on any particular week (because it really depends on how your body responds to different stimuli) but in general terms week one classes are ‘back to basics’; week two classes tend to involve different timings or a specific body area; week three classes tend to be a bit more dynamic; and week four classes might include more balance work or more intense moves.

Having said all of that, ALL classes are self-paced – meaning that you can push yourself as hard or as little as you like – and I always offer variations so that you can get the best workout for your body.

  • 40-fit Mondays @ 7pm – it’s always good to get a Monday workout in your week
  • metabolic fitness Tuesdays @ 7am – a really good start to your day!
  • functional fitness Wednesdays @ 7am – a perfect way to start the weekend…

All sessions via zoom. Find further details here

Pilates

  • Online class Wednesdays @ 7pm – join from the comfort of your own home for core & back strengthening exercises, combined with movements for mobility and flexibility, and some time for yourself

This session runs as a live class on zoom, but it is recorded so you can do it later if you prefer. Details here

In-person classes are back! Fridays @ 9.30am in Kilndown village hall up to (& including 14th July). Booking is now open on a week-by-week basis – details here. This term we are going to focus on core stability and some great trigger point release work.

Sports & clinical massage

Treatment for soft tissue injury or overuse issues, general niggles & chronic conditions such as low back pain, neck & shoulder tension, knee & hip pain. I am also certified to offer pregnancy and post-natal massage, work with post-operative scar tissue and provide oncology massage.

I have a massage treatment room at my home in Cranbrook (see below) and currently offer massage appointments at the following times:

  • Tuesdays 3pm-9.30pm
  • Wednesdays 12.30pm-4pm
  • Thursdays 1.15pm-8pm

I had a bit of a massage room swap this week! We’re now back in my original massage room, where there is more space and beautiful light levels. I can’t wait to welcome you to the new space.

Appointments can be booked here but please email me to discuss your treatment before booking if you have any questions about how I may be able to support you.

Please get in touch if you would like to know more about my classes, one-to-one fitness sessions or clinical massage.