Running – My Story, Getting Started & Some Reviews

I have had this post rambling around in my head for a little while, but we were on holiday (I know I still owe you the rest of our holiday post as well) and then I didn’t run for seven weeks and thought I had no place giving advice to anyone, but I have been asked again about running so I thought I would put all my very limited knowledge here for anyone who may be thinking about taking up running…as I am currently in bed with my leg elevated after strained my hip flexor after yesterdays run I have nothing to do except obsess over not being able to exercise for awhile. This is a very long post by the way…so feel free to not read unless you are interested in running. Here we go…..

First of all I want to start by saying that running is not for everyone. I am a big believer in finding movement you love and find enjoyable. I don’t believe in pounding it out at the gym just because you need to exercise…given the sheer amount of options out there for movement I really just don’t see the point. I have tried everything from swimming to ballet, hula hoops to burlesque, soccer to the treadmill. Find something you love and you are more likely to joyfully race off to get your movement in. I never expected to love running, but I do. You should see me fist pumping the air and jumping around like a lunatic when I am done. I come home glowing (well sweating). I smile when I am done.

For those that may not have been reading my blog long I spent almost two years in bed, heavily sedated from being given a medication I never should have had. In two years I left my house less than 20 times…almost all of those were doctors appointments. The weight piled on (the medication was a triple threat – it was a sedative, it slowed my metabolism and it also made me feel like I was constantly starving) as I would just sit in bed and eat and sleep. Thankfully my husband finally made a doctor see reason and my medication was reduced by a third. With that I started moving again…mainly just around the house. In December last it was reduced again and I started to leave the house more. I was slow, I ached just after walking the six houses down to the shop and I got puffed really easily. I started taking burlesque classes with a friend once a week and had so much fun. The first class I was only able to participate in about 20 of the 60 minute class. But I persevered.  In February I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes (a not unsurprising side effect of my medication). It was then I was determined to change my habits for the better.

Along with a change in diet (I avoid processed foods, sugar and processed white carbs for those wondering) I started moving more. The first time I went for a walk for exercise – I had planned a route of about 5km but I barely made it to 3km. At first I was devastated. I was so tired and it seemed like such hard work to have only gotten that far. But I kept at it. After six weeks walking wasn’t enough. I wanted a challenge, but I hated the treadmill and I needed something I could do any time, day or night (I have chronic insomnia) that required no fancy gear and that I could go at my own pace. So I started running.

To get started I used a program called C25k (the couch to 5km running program). It is an interval training program. What that means is you start of with short intervals of running followed by recovery periods of walking. I didn’t just head out the door and run 5kms. I started by running 15 seconds. The program said I was suppose to run for 30 seconds but I couldn’t make it. I am still nowhere near running 5km straight. I still can’t go for longer than a few minutes of running without stopping to walk, but just the other day I ran for a straight eight minutes. I was so excited that once I had recovered I was dancing around the oval and I totally freaked out an old couple walking their dog who quickly turned and walked in the opposite direction. I try to run three times a week. Two of those are my “short” runs. I walk 1km to the local oval as a warm up, do my C25k program, then walk the 1km home as a cool down. Once a week I add a few extra kms on the end of my program. Which means on a week where I manage all three runs I do about 20kms.

To help me keep track of how far I run, my pace and of course my C25k program I use some iphone apps. I am going to link to android apps where possible too and for those without a smart phone I am going to give you some options as well.


I am a bit of a geek and I like to challenge myself, meaning I like to know how long I have run and how far so I can compare it to last time. I have absolutely no interest in beating anyone else…just myself. The app I use to keep track of all those things is my nike+ app. It runs in the background using the GPS on my iphone. I have run all over my suburb and have yet to find a black spot. Even when I had no credit on my phone it still worked (I wasn’t expecting that). You can also log into the nike+ website to go back through your history and work toward goals (running longer, running more often ect). Nike+ is also free…so you can download it and get started straight away. For those that don’ have access to a smart phone you can use a website called Map My Run to enter your route and times afterwards.

Nike+ iPhone app | Nike+ Android app

Ease into 5km

The other “must have” app for me is the Ease into 5km app. It was created using the C25k program…but was forced to change it’s name.There are quite a few variations on this app, so if you don’t fancy this one have a look around to find one you like. Basically it is an interval program. You pop it on week 1, run 1 and go. It gives you a five minute warm up followed by increasingly longer runs and increasingly shorter walks. The Week 1 of my one is three lots of 30s run, 45s walk,  Run 45s, Walk 60s, Run 60s, Walk 90s and builds up until you can run for about 30 minutes without stopping or approximately 5km. If you want to start running but don’t think you are fit enough or need some hand holding get this app. It costs $2.99 in iTunes and $2.91 in the Google Play store. I also upgraded in the app (I think it was another $1.99) for the GPS version. As the GPS is optional on this app it might work on a regular Ipod Touch. If you don’t have a smart phone or iPod touch you can download the podcast mp3s from iTunes HERE or you can use the original C25k running program at the Cool Running website HERE and just use a stop watch. I used the podcast originally years ago (before apps and smart phones) but I definitely prefer the apps so I can use my own music.

Ease into 5km iPhone | Ease into 5km Android

Next up is gear. For me I just run in stretchy pants and a $4 tank top from big w. If it’s cold when I leave I throw on a cardigan and tie it around my waist when I am sufficiently sweaty. Personally I have no interest in fancy running gear. I don’t care how I look when I run…in fact I am pretty sure I look like Pheobe from friends when she runs so what I wear is the least of my problems!

But with that said…given that I have quite a large bust (I am currently a 12FF) I need a supportive bra. Until recently I had all but written off high impact sports. It was just too painful in the bras I was using. After getting properly fitted a little while back and realising just how wrong my bra size was (I was wearing a 20DD and turned out to be a 16G) I decided to investigate a good quality sports bra in my real size. By the time I got fitted for my Panache Sport I had lost some more weight and had gone down a few sizes again, but with me loosing lots of weight and with the bra being $80 the lovely lady fitted me in a 12FF with a bra extender which came off a few weeks back. This bra is insane. I can’t tell you how much I love it. I get almost no boob movement. From the outside it looks more like a crop top than a sports bra which led to me thinking it wasn’t going to support…but that is just the outside, underneath that is two separated cups with underwire. I have zero pain when I wear this bra doing anything from skipping rope to running. It is well worth the money and I plan on replacing it with the exact same model when it gets too big. If you are a D cup or over go try it on…amazing!

Next up is sneakers. Now when you first start running just grab any old pair and go. If you love it then after a few weeks go get fitted properly. I chose to get fitted at Athletes Foot as in the past I have gotten shin splints from running. I also have weak ankles and weird hips and knees thanks to 3 pregnancies before I was 22 (the last being a pair of giant twins). For me the only way I could run was shelling out $200 on a pair of sneakers. I can’t tell you what they are as I don’t have a clue. I just went and was fitted by the team at athletes foot with their fitprint machine. I also chose to get dedicated runners rather than cross trainers or multi-purpose sneakers as I can wear anything when I am at the gym doing weights or on the bike. I really wouldn’t go out and spend the money though until you have decided running is for you or if you start to have any pains in your shins or ankles while running.

Drink Bottle. I know everyone is really getting into the metal drink bottle thing, but I have a massive aversion to the smell and taste of metal. Sometimes I can’t even manage to use stainless steel cutlery (left over pregnancy aversion). So I had been using and reusing a mount franklin water bottle. My nan (always on my case about my health…she also weigh trains twice a week to prevent osteoporosis and ran in the city to surf every year until she was 70) kept on at me about this and reusing takeaway containers in the microwave as they apparently breakdown and you actually ingest some of the plastic chemicals each time. Thankfully Smiggle came to my rescue with a plastic BPA free water bottle. I have been using it for about four weeks now and while I don’t feel any different, I am at least glad I am reducing landfill.

Sunscreen. I’m pretty darn pale and I prefer to stay that way. I always put on SPF30+ (at least) whenever I leave the house, running is no exception. I us whatever brand we have at home for my body (we are a family who are all super pale and burn easy…we have to buy our sunscreen in bulk pump packs). On my face I am currently using Nivea Sun Light Feel Daily Face Veil 30spf (isn’t that a mouthful).

That’s really all I use. A sports bra, a pair of sneakers, a drink bottle, sunscreen and two iPhone apps. If you are interested in what music I listen to when I run, you can find my running playlist HERE on iTunes.

Optional Extras – Hat & Sunglasses. As it is getting brighter and sunnier in Melbourne I am really thinking of purchasing a cheap baseball cap for running. I have also decided that my next big purchase will be a pair of prescription sunglasses. I am almost blind without my glasses so putting on a pair of non prescription glasses makes it dark & blurry…so it’s not an option, well not if I want to run anyway. As it gets brighter I am literally crying when I run. So if you have sensitive eyes or will be running while it is sunny remember your hat and sunnies.

Heart Rate Monitor. I bought mine when I was doing the 12WBT as it was recommended. As a tech person and someone who geeks out over gadgets I love mine. I have stopped using it to count the calories burnt though as I move from a weight loss focus to a healthy lifestyle focus, but I do love to look down and see if I am training hard enough. It gives me a target heart rate zone based on my age & weight. It also allows me to make sure I am keeping my heart rate up for my target 45 minutes so I can get my flood of endorphins. It’s totally not necessary for running, but I like to see my progress. I can see that when I first started running my maximum heart rate was a lot higher than it is now as I get fitter. I use a polar FT4 and I can even use it in the pool. Mine is a cool girly fuchsia.

As I have gotten right into running I have started reading and buying books & magazines on running. This has led to some anger and frustration as almost every magazine geared toward females and “health” is primarily about weight loss and trying to look like celebrities. I don’t want to read 21 different squats to make me “booti-ful”. I don’t want to read how someone hated themselves at 90kgs but now at 50kgs they have found love. I want to learn about health, well being and running. So here are my reviews on some books and magazines I have read (and also a DVD).

A quick side note here…as my daughters get older I worry a lot more about body dysmorphia and the ridiculous pressures of society to conform to a very narrow idea of beauty. Even “health” is so often confused with weight. If you have ever been larger yourself you will know that getting evidence based medical care is nearly impossible. I have been prescribed weight loss for everything from infertility to migraines to an infected throat. If you want to read more about these things and get yourself a little bit more educated I highly recommend the “dances with fat” blog and the Health At Every Size website. The more I learn the more committed I have become. As such you will no longer be reading about weight loss on this blog. I will however likely continue to talk about running and I am getting back into weight training which feels AWESOME.

Run Fat Bitch, Run

I bought this book as I thought it was a book about a fat runner. I was about 90kgs when I started running. As a size 16 I still consider myself to be a plus sized runner so I thought this book would be perfect. Oh how wrong I was. I feel sick at having ever given money to this author. The book starts off much like my tips – throw on some sneakers and just start running…but that is where the usefulness ends. I have long struggled with my body image and this book, in my opinion, is dangerous. Advising women to stand in front of the mirror with a photo of some half starved celebrity while telling yourself over and over again that you’re a fat bitch is just so wrong.  I really believe this is a horrible, terrible, very very bad book. If you have any self esteem issues this is not the book for you. It is a book I want my money back for. I normally don’t care if I don’t like a book but this is repulsive and in my opinion dangerous. The author also has never been more than 10lbs “over weight” in her life…so hardly a “fat bitch”. Of course this is just my thoughts on the matter…but I have daughters, one who had the starts of an eating disorder at just nine years old. I believe books like this and magazines telling you how to drastically diet to loose 5kgs in a week are at least partially to blame. I can’t say enough how much I hated this book. I still read it from start to finish in case it got better….it didn’t. I will not link to this book or this author.

Runners World Complete Book of Women’s Running

I saw this in my local library and grabbed it to have a look at. This is a book I can get behind. It has plenty of running training programs – everything from learning to run, to training for a marathon. It also goes into issues women runners need to think about including a whole section on safety and running alone right through to running while pregnant. If you are getting into running I really recommend grabbing this book from your local library. Really great all round running book. I am going to buy this one as I think it covers a lot of ground. You can find it on Amazon HERE.

Womens Running Australia Magazine

To be honest I am not a fan of womens health/fitness magazines. I find most to resemble any other womens magazine, little detail and instead focusing on how you can drop a bunch of weight in a short period of time or trying to get the abs of some celebrity or eat this “super food” all day every day and the weight will just “fall off”  – you know the stuff. Unfortunately I am not their target market. I don’t care about any of that stuff any more – I really just want to increase my health and fitness. I love inspiring stories, but prefer stories where they came back from illness to run a marathon than ones that focus on weight loss…but I digress. Womens Running Australia is the first fitness magazine I plan to buy again. The issue I purchased had some great inspiring stories, a half marathon training plan and a section on running prams. Obviously I am past the pram stage, but I just think these are the things female focused fitness magazines should be doing. It has advice for running in winter, running stretches and my favourite was a section that had about six mini interviews with female runners of all ages/stages talking about their own running. It’s featured exercise plan was a core workout and it has a running event calendar as well as some information about the more popular events. I also really loved its fashion spread, it was short and covered a variety of clothing types including these running shorts with a skirt over the top for those that want to be girly while running. All in all I found it appropriate, full of useful information to female runners and had little of the fluff and I don’t think I saw much if anything about weight loss or looking like the latest celebrity. For $8.50 I will definitely be buying it again. You can find it at your local newsagents or try their website

The Runner’s Guide to Yoga

I have only just picked up this book at the library but already I am excited. I have been wanting to add in some yoga to my routine but seeing as how I am kind of running obsessed at the moment it didn’t seem too interesting…of course now I am injured with something that could have been prevented by more hip flexor exercises this book is looking like a keeper. The book starts off by explaining how yoga can help runners with strength and flexibility, balance and focus. It then moves on to cover various yoga moves/poses for strength and flexibility in sections (hips & thighs, core, lower legs and upper body). Part three moves into preventing & correcting overuse injuries, preventing acute injuries as well as balancing work and rest and studio yoga with at home yoga. In the preventing and correcting overuse section they have “self tests” which is you taking a specific yoga pose and then diagnosing yourself based on what feels strong or if you wobble. Then it has specific poses used to correct these issues. The next section really encourages you to remember to rest. As you will see in my tips/hints I never run on two consecutive day…some people who love running so much find this tricky (I know I do so this section tries to explain it better as well as giving you options for other movement that will support your running rather than doing “nothing”. Following on it explains why athletes (and runners) have different yoga needs. It then helps you to choose a class based on your needs and explains the different types of yoga classes and what they can help you with. Then follows up with how to set up a space at home to practice yoga. Part four moves into exercises for “focus” or the more meditative side of yoga. It covers a lot of race issues which is currently not of interest to me as I am still learning to run. But I am interested in reading the chapter about breathing again. I really struggle toward the end of a run with breathing. Part five is about pulling it all together and has routines for before a run, during a run (no, not yoga poses during a run – more breathing exercises and mantras and all that jazz), a post run routine and finally a post race routine. My only problem with the book is that I personally really, really struggle to figure out poses and movements from still images/instructions. Thankfully Sage Rountree (not her yoga/hippie name…but her actual name as she explains in her classes) has a DVD out called “Yoga for Athletes” both the book Yoga for Runners and the DVD Yoga for Athletes are available at amazon. But if you are impatient like me you can also view Sage taking her Yoga for Runners class at the Yoga Vibes website and the class preview can be seen HERE. I signed up for the free trial and have been able to view all their yoga classes online including some great ones for children that I plan on using with the girls.

My Personal Running Tips

If you want to start running, but don’t think you are fit enough to just hit the pavement and run I really recommend a learn to run program like the C25K. It gives you a place to start and that place is relatively easy.

If you find yourself in a position like I first was…where you are really only just getting back into exercise after illness or bed rest start with walking. Put on your shoes and leave the house. Walk as far as you can and come home. Keep doing that at least three times a week until you can easily walk for at least thirty minutes or about 4km. If you want to push yourself walk faster. Speed up until you couldn’t hold a conversation if you wanted to. If you get tired slow down and then start again when you can. If I can go from lying in bed for two years to regularly managing 20km in a week anyone can. But start where you are. Don’t think you can’t do it because you couldn’t make the whole 30 minutes. Start with five. I used to have to take a break when walking the six houses down to the shops. You are where you are, don’t get hung up on what others can do.

BUT please go to your doctor first and get cleared for exercise. Especially if you are unfit or haven’t exercised in a while. I discovered along with type II diabetes I also had high cholesterol. In my case cardio was advised so I got the all clear, but I am glad I got the check.

If you are large breasted go and be fitted for a good quality sports bra. You may cringe and the cost like I did, but once you run (or do any high impact sports) in a good quality bra you will wonder how you ever managed before. If you haven’t been fitted for a bra in more than a few years, if you have lost or gained weight since your last fitting, have gone through menopause, have had a baby or been breastfeeding since your last fitting – run, don’t walk to a PROPER lingerie store to get fitted. Skip the department stores and bras & things (which seem to be staffed by girls who have yet to get breasts). I highly recommend Brava in Melbourne CBD and the lovely lady who runs Your Size Lingerie at Werribee Plaza.

Avoid the treadmill when you are just starting. Why? You won’t be able to run where your body is happiest, instead you will be either trying to go to fast or too slow according to what you think you should be running. Not only that the fresh air will do you wonders.

If you think you are going to have to stop and walk before your allotted running time is up slow down, but keep jogging. Sometimes I am sure I have slowed down so much that I am going slower than if I was walking but I keep on going. If I am feeling great I run harder. By running outside at my own pace I know I can’t do much damage to myself by running faster. My body will stop running long before I die (though it may not always feel that way).

If you get to the end of the week of your running program and are really struggling with the runs just do the week again. There is no deadline. Just keep plodding along at your own pace, but at the same time if you are finding your going further and faster (my C25K has gps as well and tells me at the end how far I went just with the program and what my pace was) but still haven’t moved on for fear next week will be too hard…it’s time to move on. Remember you can always run slower again during your longer runs if you have to.

Running surface…this is a big one. Most “experts” seem to recommend soft ground (grass for example) to help ease the impact on your joints. For me this wasn’t something I started until recently because I have really, really bad depth perception. I fall over a lot on grass as I can’t see holes and dips. I also have weak ankles and almost always I find a hole in the grass and roll my ankle. I decided it would be safer to run on a footpath. That was purely for my bizarre eyes. I recently moved from running around the local park on the footpath to running around the local soccer oval which is all grass and well lit. It has made a massive difference for my knees. I walked around it a number of times and it is really, really level so I gave it a go. If you are like me and need the safety aspect of concrete go for it. If things start aching then look to change.

When to run. Whenever you damn well like. I started off in the afternoons and evenings, but have switched to mornings just because life gets in my way otherwise. I also find I am totally high off my endorphins for at least a few hours. If I run late I can’t sleep for hours afterwards…but that is just me.

Endorphins. Now I really was starting to believe these were a myth. The first few runs left me so tired I was almost in tears at the end and just wanted to fall down. By about the two week mark things changed. I was no longer so tired after running and I was smiling and happy. For me running has now become my sex replacement. I feel the same after a good run as I used to after amazing sex. Except I am always like that after a run, the sex thing was kind of hit and miss. I get seriously pissy if I can’t get my running in. Another thing to keep in mind with endorphins is apparently you need to keep you my heart rate up for around 30-45 minutes (for me its 45 minutes) in order for them to kick in which is why I power walk before and after my runs if they aren’t long enough.

If you are thinking about how bad you look running, what you sound like or anything else…you aren’t running fast enough. Push yourself harder and all you will be able to think about is making it to the end of your run.

Stretching is important! If you have just 45 minutes to exercise don’t run for 45 minutes and then say you have no time to stretch, you will hurt yourself. I use these stretches from the cool running website after every run. Though after my injury I am also going to start doing some hip flexor stretches as well.

Don’t run everyday. Your body needs time to heal. I love running and sometimes I just want to run every single day of the week. I don’t because I don’t want to end up with an injury that will see me not running for months. Which is why, although I am terribly cranky as I was to exercise and get my endorphins, I currently have my feet up in bed and am resting. Which follows on to my next point.

If you hurt yourself STOP. I have been told no exercise for a few days, then I can start stretching again. It could be weeks before I am able to run again. But that’s better than me trying anyway, getting even more injured (like moving from a pull/strain to a tear) and not being able to run for months. The advice in all the books, magazines and websites seems to be R.I.C.E.D – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation & Diagnosis. The first four are obvious…but the last one means if you don’t feel better after a day or two of those things (or if you are in chronic pain) to see a doctor or a phsyio.

Make sure you are sufficiently hydrated before you run. I never use sports drinks and from what I have read unless you are doing mega training you are unlikely to need them either. I try to drink at least two glasses of water before I run and another full drink bottle is generally finished by the time I get home from my run (my drink bottle holds two glasses). I only drink water, plain sparkling mineral water and tea. I drink at least 8-10 glasses of water every single day as otherwise I feel like crap. If you aren’t a big water drinker I really urge you to try it and see the difference….but remember you will need to use the loo a fair bit so remember to go before your run and if you think you might need the loo again plan your route accordingly.

Enjoy yourself. I have four kids who are homeschooled. My husband works from home. I have a house full of people 24/7. Running is my escape. For 45 minutes I can listen to whatever music I like (including songs that are filled with swear words and child inappropriate lyrics), I can go wherever I want and go as fast or as slow as I want. I run on my own because I need that time alone. It is my meditation. Running is keeping me saner than any mental health drug I have ever taken. If you need company find a running buddy. If you are like me and desperate for selfish time, run alone. Run in places you like whether that be somewhere picturesque or a track where you can see the finish line. Run only if you love it, not because you think it’s a quick way to lose weight or because someone tells you it’s awesome or you can fit it in to your day…run because it gives you something.



This is not the post I intended to make tonight…

(10 points if you know which show the subject of the blog comes from)

Today I finally saw my doctor for the first time since I disengaged with the CAT team. I left shocked, angry & in tears. After a lecture she then proceeded to ignore me and talk to my husband like I wasn’t in the room. It seems my mental illness has gotten to the point where I am no longer deemed able to make a rational decision about my treatment.

I better back peddle a bit and tell you what has been going on.

Firstly sleep is amazing! I went almost three full weeks where I slept every night and was not only awake through the day…but able to function like other adults seem to. I would get up before 11 (the first week, then before 10 the second week and now before 9am). I would shower, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, get dressed, put make up on. All the things I always wondered how people managed it all. Then I would spend all day with my kids. Or reading. Or researching treating bipolar naturally. It seems when I sleep my brain actually works. I can understand medical articles and research papers. It seems when I sleep I am a happy person. A friend came to visit and she seriously said “Oh my god….you just smiled”. Yes folks she has known me two years and that was the first time she saw me smile. If nothing else the CAT team introduced me to an impressive sleeping medication that does nothing more than put me to sleep… I wake up refreshed, rather than groggy or stoned (like I have when trying other sleeping meds) and 3 weeks on they are still working (others have stopped working after 2-3 days).

I did have a few setbacks with sleep. The first one was after I did my nightrime routine (I know sleeping meds are only temporary so I am using the fact that I know I will sleep to my advantage. If I can build a routine in the lead up to my sleep then hopefully when I go off the meds I will be able to continue my routine and my body will just recognise its bedtime…at least thats the theory) about half way into my meditation/sleep app my brother called. I had forgotten to put my phone on airplane mode so it rang. It was 10pm and he never calls my mobile so worried, I answered. I ended up talking him through a horrible day (apparently his girlfriend – who also has a mental illness – had cheated on him while he was away working and he was 100km away and couldn’t get home and was a mess). But by then it seems I had missed my “window” of when the meds work and I barely slept all night…leaving me totally grumpy the next day. Then the very next night (I also should add that these three days in a row I was out of the house all day every day) a certain someone who I happen to be married too decided just after I got to sleep was the time to attempt to rebuild our, *ahem*, martial relations….I don;t think he expected to end up sleeping on the couch after that one. So of course I didn’t sleep well after that.

Then two days ago I ran out of sleepers and couldn’t get to the doctor to refill them til yesterday (I had to see a different dr as my GP wasn’t in) and I didn’t sleep at all for 36 hours. I was not only miserable but I seriously felt the whole day feeling like everyone would be better off it I moved out. It was this day that made me realise that maybe, just maybe, my bipolar is actually better treated with sleep than anything else.

For those that are wondering…I was diagnoses with chronic insomnia at nine years old. Not surprisingly it followed my dad moving out and me having a bipolar mother who’s world had just collapsed. It got even worse at 12 when my mums new boyfriend decided he was more attracted to me than my mother and visited my room nightly. I was 13 when my dad finally had a doctor do something about my sleeping and I went on sleepers for the first time. Of course no doctor that I have ever met thinks sleeping pills are a long term answer…they do however think antidepressants and mood stabilisers are.

I haven’t felt this good in years. At first I was worried I was starting to get manic as I was accomplishing more and more each day. I was tackling things I previously would have thought were impossible (like the sewing a skirt in one day) or batch cooking 4 different soups in one afternoon even though we only have one suitably sized pots. But then I thought again. My thoughts weren’t racing. I was able to concentrate on each thing I was doing. I wasn’t talking a million miles and hour and the real kicker…I was sleeping (my record for not sleeping around 11 days straight when I was manic). I was happy. I was smiling. I was socialising. I was still exercising, though not as much as I was busy seeing people and going places. I started to get a taste of how much life I had been missing out on. This was the reason I wanted to get off all the medications I was on last year … all it took was sleep.

Which brings me to my doctors appointment today. It started with a lecture on the fact that I haven’t seen her recently (my last three appointment were cancelled by the surgery as she wasn’t coming in that day). Then she wanted to know why I went to hospital. I barely got two words out when she started telling me I was now what was considered an “uncooperative patient” who clearly had no interest in actually getting better. (can I take a moment to mention here she didn’t ask me how I was going…otherwise she would know I have been doing amazing). Then she told me that my claim for disability payment would be denied unless I agreed to the “treatment plan” recommended by the CAT team and seconded by her. She then told me if I went on the medications recommended and then stopped (as I have done before) she would call centrelink personally to have my payment discontinued. So now not only was I being told I HAD to go back on medication (even though I am doing better) but she said she wanted to stop my sleeping meds. I wasn’t allowed to say anything in my defence. I was just told over and over again medication is the only answer and that if I wanted to get better it was the only thing I should be doing. Then when she was done she turned to my husband and ignored me completely stressing to him how important it was to do this…basically whether I liked it or not. She then bought up the fact that I hadn’t seen a psychiatrist. Even though she gave us two numbers…one ended up being a mechanic and the other was disconnected. We let her know about a month ago…she told us she was wrong and called the numbers in front of us (which of course went to a mechanic and the disconnected number). Then she said she would give us a call with numbers for others and then never did. As I wasn’t terribly keen on seeing a psychiatrist anyway (as his only job seems to be putting you on medication) I forgot pretty quickly. I have however become diligent about my vitamins, diligent about my sleep routine (which includes turning my computer off at around 8:30), become even more strict with my eating (I used to grab a lot of canned soups ect. now I make all my own to make sure there is no added sugars), I am exercising, I have booked in with a new psych who also allows me to talk to her via email until I can get in to see her (I was booked in for tomorrow but hubby made the appointment…and totally forgot I have tickets to see Annie with Miss 12 tomorrow…booked and paid for 3 months ago and in the calendar). I have done everything I can for my mental and pysical health EXCEPT go back on medications that I have tried in the past (and I have tried them for months – years at a time…not a week and then given up).

Before we were even out the door I was in tears. I was angry and terribly upset. This is usually where I would spiral down. Especially as it was pay day and we were at the shops. I am a compulsive shopper….especially when I am upset (which in the past has led to some dire consequences including us loosing a rental property). I bought myself a magazine….that was it. We got groceries for dinner. We got Miss 12 her first slip (she has a few new dresses that would IMO be immodest to wear without one. The only unplanned purchase of the day was drinking glasses. It’s hubbies birthday party on Saturday and we are down to 3 after one smashed yesterday. Target had packs of six for only $5 so we got some. Watch out big spender.

I ranted on twitter while I was out. I ranted to hubby while we were out. Then I got home. I remembered how great things were going. I decided right then and there this wasn’t going to suck me back in. I wasn’t going to let it. Then I reapplied my lipstick, fixed my hair and went for a run. Yup I had pretty vintage hair & red lipstick while I went for a run. For the first time in, well possibly a lifetime, I am happy. I am content with my life and not desperately wanting to feel better and thinking food/shopping/a new hair cut will fix it this time. I am just so lucky that last night I slept. I hate to think how today would have turned out otherwise.

So todays post was *suppose* to be about how great life is, how much I love baths and jazz music, how tomorrow I am taking Miss 12 to see her first “proper” musical at a “real” theatre, about how we have started to make the switch to local organic produce, how running is still amazing, how in 4 weeks my fitness has improved so I knocked a full 1min 43s off my 1km time trial…and have gone from not being able to do any pushups to managing a whole 7! How sewing is awesome, the things I want to knit using the vintage knitting pattern book I bought last year, how Miss 12 & I are planning to embark on making a quilt for her, some recipes…instead it turned into a doctors suck post.

So the hunt for a doctor continues. This one clearly didn’t work out (not sure if I mentioned it but she cornered hubby in one of his appointments to try to convince him homeschooling was a terrible idea and clearly I had come up with the idea because I was mentally ill). But I will not let this stop my progress forward. Life has been so amazing to live for the first time in forever…I am not giving it up without a fight.



For the second week in a row I haven’t lost any weight. I knew it would come eventually – which is why I signed up for the 12WBT but I hoped that with my exercising a bit more it wouldn’t happen so soon.

I have stopped loosing weight at just under 88kgs. Before I I allow myself to be too upset that is a loss of just over 16kgs since November. Slow and steady.

My weight loss was first thanks to lowering my medication significantly. As it started to taper off I lowered the dosage again. I didn’t lower the dose too lose weight, but (if you have read the blog) because I didn’t like what medication had done to me. I was then also diagnosed with diabetes and discovered I couldn’t keep my sugars down while eating carbs. So I cut out almost all carbs and sugars from my diet and tried to stick to around 1400 calories a day and the weight continued to fall off while I sat in bed watching Spencer Tracey/Katharine Hepburn movies.Then It started to taper off again, then I lost almost 2 kgs, then back to nothing. I added in exercise, but at the same time I started adding back in carbs (much to my own detriment).

After attempting to add back in carbs with no effect on my blood sugar levels I have decided to, at least until I can see a diabetes educator, stay carb free. The carbs have left me feeling lethargic, extremely volatile in regards to mood swings, bloated and just awful. But I want to start cleaning up that diet. Initially it was filled with lean protein, salads and some yoghurt & nuts snacking on tins of tuna in spring water when I was really hungry. Now I admit I sometimes eat a big plate of bacon and eggs twice a day and find myself reaching more and more for the protein bars. The amount of fat in my diet has totally sky rocketed.

I also am going to slowly try to get closer to 1200 calories a day, without counting my salmon oil capsules (I take 10 a day which works out to be almost 100 calories on their own…but that is for my mental health, so not negotiable). This week I am going to try to stick to 1350 or less, the following week 1300 or less – and so on.

Exercise. I don’t like it. I also didn’t like pushing myself to exhaustion as it ended up leaving me unable to exercise for awhile. My gym trial is up tomorrow and I won’t be renewing it. The main reason behind it is the hours. I am currently sleeping about 5am-5pm. By the time I am concious enough to do anything they are closed, or I have missed the last bus. But I have enjoyed going and am going to look into the basic no frills gym literally 100m from my house that is open 24 hours a day. I am also going to try to commit to just 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week (with a rest day in between). While I am so proud of what I achieved with my 30km in a week challenge….I am currently in a fragile state of mind. I need to focus on my mental health more than anything at the moment.But I do love my swimming. The gym across the road doesn’t have a pool…but it looks like we are going swimming as a family once a week now (with the girls best homeschool friends) so I can swim then.

Doctors & Psychologists. I have had an appointment to see my new GP almost every day for the last 2 weeks and haven’t once gone. I am up long after she leaves the office and sleeping, any time, is so important for my sanity that I have decided to stop fighting it and just sleep when I can for the time being. I really need to see her to try to get some help in managing my sleep cycles better. I also am in desperate need of psych help to move forward. I am keeping myself just barely sane at the moment. The slightest thing could tip and I would be back to where I was a week ago (investigating the possibility of going back into hospital).

Medication. I have decided, at 150mg, to hold off on reducing any more. I still don’t have the clarity I want, or have many of the side effects lifted. I can read again though which is absolutely divine. I have read about 4 books in the last 2 weeks. At the moment I am too unstable to push myself by lowering the medication. Again, if I lower it and crumble and end up back in hospital I will loose the ability to make that decision for myself and will no doubt end up back on everything that has taken me forever to get off.

Stagnant. It really is how I feel at the moment. There is so much I want to do and try, so many plans I keep making and breaking….but if I push and fall apart….well I just don’t want to. Focus needs to be on my mental health first, physical health second and everything else after.

wish me luck and momentum


Health & Beauty

One of the slowest parts of my recovery process, since my diagnosis and then being medicated, seems to be physically looking after myself. I was so heavily sedated that it was too much effort to do anything. That is (very slowly) changing. I also got a kick up the butt when I got my diabetes diagnosis. So how are things going 7 weeks post diagnosis?

Well for a start I am under 90kgs! The last time I was under 90kgs was just before I went into hospital. I have managed to eliminate 90% of carbs from my diet as no matter how low gi the packet said it was, my blood sugars skyrocketed if I even looked at bread/pasta/rice. I was doing so incredibly well until I got really upset and binged on bread and 3 cupcakes. I hadn’t had any carb cravings in weeks and now, even 10 days on, I am still massively craving them again. I learnt a very valuable lesson there – the hardest part is withdrawal. After that it’s easy – so don’t fall off the wagon again!

As I am loosing the weight I am finding I have more energy. Being on half my original seroquel dose has also given me back some energy. Compared to last year I am busy, busy….but compared to life before bipolar I still feel like a turtle.

While I have energy, I am seriously lacking in motivation. Especially as it becomes colder. I spent 18 months curled up in bed in my jammies and outside just seems freezing. I also don’t take much joy in “typical” exercises. As I loved my burlesque dance classes so much I purchased a few DVD’s so I can do them at home…but I don’t like an audience (and am exhausted by the time the girls are in bed) so they aren’t getting as much use as I would like. So I think I need to bite the bullet and start attempting to get up earlier. The kids don’t tend to emerge from their bedrooms til around 8 (and if they do they eat breakfast and then head back to bed to read) so I could do it before they get up.It may even be the (painful) solution to me not sleeping well. If I get up early I am bound to be tired enough to sleep at night….?

After being inspired by Miss Directions I have signed up for Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. I have already assumed I probably won’t be able to use most of the food plans (with the diabetes) but I want to be told what to do and when to do it…I think it could be the motivation I need to start moving again. It’s about the same cost as joining a gym and I don’t have to actually be at a gym to do the exercises. Wish me luck!

I am still loving the cold cream. I can’t believe how amazingly soft and clean my face feels using it. My massive pores around my nose are almost non existent now. The only change to this routine is at night I am no longer using witch hazel afterwards. I found that I like a bit more moisture on my face over night. I have also started using my rosehip oil again – this time mainly as an eye cream. My skin seems to be loving this less is more approach and knowing I can just duck in to the chemist across the road when I run out of something (as opposed to trekking to myer or david jones) is great.

After some more advice from a lady who is addicted to cold cream I invested in a japanese nylon polishing cloth. She uses it once a week when she slathers her whole body in cold cream and scrubs herself with the cloth. I am now totally addicted to this process and my skin is so silky smooth afterwards. But the main reason I love it is that it is long enough that you can hold either end and scrub your own back. There is a small square of my back that I just couldn’t reach before. I use it on my back everyday with some goats milk soap and am just madly in love with this product.

I have been staying strong with my no clothing purchases with the exception of a bra (target now has a – tiny – range of bras that go up to an F cup for $25 a piece…but they are pretty hideous, but functional) and a pair of size 18 jeans. I was pushing a size 24, so that was pretty awesome. It has been easy not to shop as I am slowly fitting back into some of my favourite pieces of clothing – yay!