What I love about Autumn

Although the weather still hasn’t caught up it would appear autumn is upon us, the leaves are changing and the days are getting darker so it’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on a few of my favourite things I associate with this time of year.

Crunchy leaves and woodland walks – Living in the middle of Aberdeen the last part of this one isn’t as easy as it was growing up in Perthshire but there are still crunchy leaves a-plenty. There’s something childlike about how excited I get marching through a big pile of leaves. (Just don’t remind me of all the beasties hiding in there.)

Soup – I know, how boring, but I LOVE soup. Homemade vegetable broth or pea soup both remind me of being a kid and my mum’s home cooking. It’s the best comfort food. I’m looking forward for frosty days so I can fully indulge.

Hot Chocolate with ALL the trimmings – Speaking of indulging, autumn is the season of hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. There’s nothing nicer than curling up with a hot chocolate and listening to/watching horrible stormy weather outside.

Candles – See above, curling up in the house with candles burning and a storm raging outside is bliss.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – I love that as autumn progresses the excitement about the festive season starts to build. I didn’t love this as much when I worked in retail so for the past couple of years I’ve made an extra effort to absorb the atmosphere and get involved.

Fluffy things – Socks, scarves, cosy jumpers, it’s officially the season of soft, fluffy, comfortable clothing. I’m writing this wearing cosy joggers and socks with snowflakes on them. I’m definitely embracing the season today!

What are your favourite things about autumn?

V ❤

My Two Pennies Worth… The Girl On The Train *No Spoilers*

This post is a little different to what you’re used to from me. Despite my passion for all things entertainment I haven’t written anything on this topic as there’s so much good stuff already out there but The Girl On The Train has inspired me. And I have included a little bit of my usual content by calling out Hollywood on their body shaming discriminatory casting choices.

If any of you have spent any time in my company of late this topic is bound to have come up – the film RUINED the book. There, I said it.

I hadn’t finished to book before I saw the film which obviously is my own stupid fault, but from what little I had read of the book, the film was just wrong. Everything about it was wrong. The castings, the setting, the location, the atmosphere. From the very first moment I hated it. Not because it was a bad movie, if you are not a fan of the book it’s an excellent, fast paced film that makes you want to find out what has happened and keep watching, but because it ruined the images in my head of how everything should look.

I understand that we can’t get as lucky with the castings in every movie as we did in Harry Potter but the cast in this film didn’t look anything like the characters described in the book. Emily Blunt is a fantastic actor and this rant is by no means meant to take away from her portrayal of Rachel, she just doesn’t look like Rachel. Rachel is described in the book as “overweight and blotchy” but, of course Hollywood would never cast an actual overweight woman as the lead role in a serious film. That would just be so shocking and terrible and no one would ever go and see the movie, right? *eye roll*. Scott, the man who was apparently so physically intimidating that Rachel thought about him crushing her with his bare hands was played by Luke Evans, who although 6ft tall, doesn’t exactly exude a threatening physical presence. Again, he’s a fantastic actor, he just doesn’t look as one would imagine Scott.

It may have been possible to overlook the casting choices had the location been right… The book is set in the south of England, the basis for the story is a woman commuting to London every day and seeing into the same house every day and feeling like, as a result, she knew it’s inhabitants. Any of us who live in the UK were definitely not picturing the big, American houses used in the movie as we read this book. The whole landscape was all wrong and didn’t do justice to a British book.

The plot and the story was the same as the book. As with all film adaptations a few pieces were missed out, little details about characters etc, but actually in the main the story was told pretty accurately. There was one bit that confused me slightly, the wording was a little wrong and I said to my friend “wait, how could X have only happened a week ago when they are saying….”. The answer of course was “it’s definitely longer in the book.”

It’s an entertaining movie and if you haven’t read and don’t intend to read the book then it’s definitely worth a watch. If you have or intend to, bear in mind that it may ruin the book for you as it has for me. If you have done both already, comment below and let me know what you thought.

V ❤

The Struggle To Find The Right Gym

I’ve considered and reconsidered posting this for a long time. It was written in September and when I wrote it I was still livid. Reading back over it I realise that I still stand by what I said so I want to share it with you. Please do comment honestly with your thoughts. I know that many people disagree with me on some of the issues, but come on now, fat suits at Pride as a marketing tool, surely everyone can see how problematic that is. Anyway enough of the ranty pre-intro, here goes…

Maybe you’ve seen via Twitter that I’ve become very unhappy with a particular gym company. I have been a member of PureGym for a short time, maybe about 6 months, and I’ve never particularly liked it but this weekend took a turn. I was returning to the gym for the first time since I had a very bad fall related to my hypermobility at the start of summer. On arrival to the gym I was bombarded with what can only be described as weight loss propaganda advertising a weight loss class my gym is running. We’re not just talking a poster here or there. This was a poster in every possible place you could put one, including not being able to enter the changing rooms without passing a “before and after” picture with some kind of “inspirational” blurb, or being unable to use the toilet without seeing an advert for the class staring at you. When I finally reached the gym area there were two large whiteboards set up. One advertising the class and the other advertising “National Weight Loss Week” which is apparently a thing. To top it all off the public address system they use, which is always far too loud to listen to your own music over at a sensible volume, was blaring out an advert every few songs with the cracking tag line “why not fast track your fitness and join Pure Loser?” because we all know weight loss and fitness are the same thing right?!

 

After all this I took to Twitter calling PureGym out on this and questioning whether everybody really is welcome like they claim in their marketing. I am yet to receive a response.

 

Through my tweet and others picking it up and sharing it I discovered that PureGym recently used people dressed in fat suits in an attempt to recruit new members at Manchester Pride of all places. As a friend of mine said when we were discussing this, the Pride movement is one of acceptance and love and one of the least appropriate places for body shaming. Not to mention the fact that LGBT* people are often at increased risk of self esteem and body image issues. Yet again, on this occasion, as far as anyone can tell PureGym have not publicly responded to any of these complaints.

 

Clearly this is not a company I want to be giving my money to. The only problem with that is that in Aberdeen City centre it is the only reasonably priced gym. That’s the only reason I joined there. Since I moved to the other side of town, my old gym, which I loved is just too far away. So I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to work on my fitness and work out for enjoyment, stress relief and to get me motivated for the day ahead but is doing so in a toxic environment really worth it?  Due to my joint issues I really need gym equipment to have a proper workout and as you will have seen in an earlier post I’m really keen, now that I’m able to, to work out more.

 

I’ve paid for this month anyway so at the moment I’m making the most of my membership, going regularly, taking luxurious long showers, blow drying my hair etc and making sure that the company doesn’t make a profit off me while I decide what I’m going to do.

 

Have you had any uncomfortable experiences with a gym company like this? I’d like to believe gyms could play a part in recovery, and have had conversations via Twitter with Health At Every Size trainers and those who use them, who see huge psychological and physical benefits to their workouts and training. Unfortunately as far as I can tell from scouring the internet, while these trainers do exist in the UK, they haven’t reached Aberdeen yet. Maybe in the future when I move to a bigger city I will be able to find what I’m looking for. If you have had any experience with the Health At Any Size movement I’d love it if you got in touch.

 

V ❤

What To Expect… Listening Services

When we talk about mental health problems and people being under pressure these kind of services tend to enter into the conversation. I’m sure if more people knew what they were like they might feel more able to utilise them.

Firstly there are many different kinds of listening service. There’s face-to-face listening services such as counselling;  there are helplines like Childline, Samaritans and Breathing Space; and there are online services. The only online service I have experience of is called Seven Cups Of Tea and I’ve linked to that website in previous posts. I will do so again at the end.

This post is going to focus on helplines and their online equivalent and I will do a separate post on counselling.

When you first call a helpline it will depend on how busy they are as to what happens next. The call may be directly answered by the person who is going to help you, you may be put in a queue or the call may be answered by a switchboard operative who will direct your call to the most appropriate person. It is likely that you will be asked what you want to be called and it’s totally ok not to use your real name. All calls are confidential but sometimes people feel more comfortable using an alias.

 

It’s normal to be nervous. The reason for your call may be something that you’ve never spoken to anyone about before, and regardless, making this call and reaching out is a big step. The person on the other end of phone will try to put you at ease. Often they will directly ask what has prompted you to phone them but they may make small talk until you’re ready to talk about the issue.

The people who work/volunteer for these services have heard it all before. You’re not going to shock them and they’re not going to judge you. Don’t expect them to solve all your problems in one phone call. They will do their best to help you work through and unpack what’s going on and why you’re feeling the way you are. Sometimes they may even signpost you to other organisations that can help more long term, but they can’t tell you what to do or wave a magic wand and fix everything.

Don’t worry about ending the call. If for any reason you want to stop talking to the person you don’t have to give a reason or explain yourself. For the call handlers, if they’ve helped you and you feel able, a thank you is always nice, but certainly not obligatory and they understand that for a lot of people the phone call itself may be quite traumatic.

For that very reason some people prefer to use an online service. The only one I have any experience with is 7 Cups of Tea. I was going through a terrible time and a friend recommended it to me. Especially for those times, late at night, when you feel like no one else in the world is awake but you want to talk to someone. You simply select the option to “connect to a listener” and a list of options will appear and if you wish you can select the broad topic that you want to talk about. Don’t worry if you want to talk about multiple topics, this list is only to direct you to a listener who has a specialty in a certain area. That’s not to say that you cannot talk to the same listener about a different issue. All the listeners on this website are ordinary people like you or I but the website does require you to complete some training modules. Anyone can sign up to do it so if you would like to make a difference this could be a very easy way to do it.

I hope this post has given an insight into what to expect from these services and relieved some of the anxiety you may had have about utilising them. If you have any experiences of these services that you’d like to share or anything you’d like to add leave a comment below.

 

V ❤

Physio, Mental Health & Life Update

You will have probably noticed I’ve not been around as much lately and my blog posts have been a little bit sporadic/non existent. Needless to say I was having a bit of a rough time with my mental health. I don’t really know what was going on, I just didn’t have any energy or motivation to do anything. And then latterly I was having issues with body image, food and self esteem and I felt like such a fraud, harping on about body positivity and then having all these doubts myself. I’ve since realised that having the thoughts isn’t a problem as long as you deal with it in the right way. Rather than rushing off to punish myself with a diet and crippling exercise regime I’ve acknowledged these intrusive thoughts for what they are and reminded myself that it’s my brain that’s the issue, not my body. Thankfully I’m feeling much better now and I’m definitely trying to get back on track with the blog.

 

I ran a poll on Twitter a few weeks back asking whether or not you wanted to see a physio update and the results were pretty much 50/50. If you’re not interested skip the next 2 paragraphs.

 

At the time when I ran the poll I was a bit of a Negative Nancy when it came to my physio. I felt like my joints were worse than ever, I was in pain and my mood was low. I went into the appointment with this mindset, armed with a list of all the issues. I think I’ve mentioned this before but my physiotherapist is very understanding and we talked through all the issues and we tried a few different things. Coming away from the appointment, while still in pain, I felt much more positive and ready to make some changes. Between that appointment and the one I had this week I’ve done very little in terms of my “physio exercises” but my lower joints feel so much better (waiting until my period is over before I start them up again to test if hormones or my physio was causing the problem before) and my shoulder is noticeably better through consciously making an effort with my posture and sleeping positive. My physio said she could even see a difference in the way I was holding myself so I must be doing something right. Going forward I’m going to be working on some balance and confidence exercises with my physio in the gym area within the health centre I go to. When I first started going a few months ago I couldn’t have imagined being comfortable doing that but the fact that I feel completely at ease with it is a testament to how brilliant my physiotherapist is at actually listening, understanding and working with me and my existing issues rather than forcing something on me that will overwhelm and alienate.

 

My physio programme has since moved on to going into the medical practise to do some activities while working on some of the ongoing exercises at my leisure. My physiotherapist, who I’ve raved about from day 1 is unfortunately leaving as she is on a rotation but the person I will be going to instead comes highly recommended. I will most likely post an update on how that goes.

 

Going forward I’m trying to get everything back to normal including the blog, work and also trying to get my fitness back after not being able to/not wanting to do anything for so long. Also, big news, I’ve started dating again. I think it’s time… I may well write about it but I’m no Vix Meldrew.  Feel free to drop me a message if I’m slacking and not updating the blog. I need a kick up the butt sometimes.

 

V ❤