Running, mental health and me

mental health couch to 5k

Throughout 2018, particularly the latter part, we got ourselves into bad habits. I’d have had a bad day with the kids and Matt (my husband) would have worked a 14 hour day and we’d come home crack open the wine and beers, order a takeaway and flop on the sofa. We’d use tiredness and the fact we’d had a difficult day to eat and drink whatever took our fancy. It became a habit. A really unhealthy and expensive habit!

I could feel myself becoming quite insular and not wanting to go out or talk to people. My self-esteem was non-existent and if someone made small talk with me in the playground I’d feel awkward and as though I didn’t really have anything worth saying. My clothes felt tight and I didn’t want to buy any more as I refused to get the next size up. I even gave up posting online. I’d go to post a photo on Instagram or write a blog post and then say to myself ‘ah it’s crap – I won’t bother’. Comparison really is the thief of joy and I’d see the photos people post of their insta-perfect homes or the fact they’ve just been and bought THE must-have outfit and I felt as though I wasn’t good enough.

Matt lost a close friend in September 2018 and in all honesty it was a bit of a wake up call. We needed to sort ourselves out and start looking after ourselves if we wanted to see these kids of ours grow up.

So, in October 2018, we swapped the money we used to spend on alcohol and food for a gym membership and it’s been, without sounding too dramatic, life-changing!

For the first few weeks I just got acquainted with the equipment but then I could feel myself just drifting around the gym not really knowing what to do with myself. So, I started the Couch to 5K programme and, after 7 weeks, I am still going strong. I haven’t missed or failed at any of the runs and I have found something I love doing (although I still get the fear before each run)! ┬áIt’s not been easy but I was determined to keep going and keep pushing myself. I use an App which I’d highly recommend as it does spur you along.

When I worked full-time I’d get a buzz from doing a good job or being promoted but I don’t feel that now I’m a stay at home mum. It’s lovely to see the kids flourish and enjoy things I do with them but it’s just not the same kind of satisfaction as knowing you’ve achieved something through your own hard work.

I still have about 2 weeks of the programme left and I am currently running for 25 minutes, non-stop, three times a week. I reach about 4K in that time and so I need to increase my running time and speed a little to reach 5K in 30 minutes which is what the programme is designed to help you do. Following my runs I usually do a few weights focussing on my upper body as this is where I am weakest and would like to tone up. I post a few bits of what I get up to at the gym on my Instagram if you’re interested.

Our diets have dramatically changed too. Yes, we do still have a drink or a takeaway, but we save it for the weekends or special occasions. We eat simple, non-processed foods during the week and have cut out snacking. When I’m meal planning I try to follow the principles of the Slimming World plan as much as possible or I just make something super simple like chicken tikka kebabs, couscous and veg.

The overall change in my appearance and physical and mental health, in just three months, has been pretty remarkable. I’ve lost about a stone in weight, I’ve dropped a dress size and I feel much more comfortable to talk to people – I even spoke to a complete stranger at playgroup this morning and she didn’t look at me like a freak!

And look – I’ve just written this post and you’ve read it so perhaps I do have something worth saying?!

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