Well being

Autumnal cosiness

We are just into October, the sun is still shining and I am waiting for that one morning that marks the beginning of Autumn for me. The morning when there is that chill in the air as I leave home, the one that takes the breath away just a little, the one that requires a coat rather than a jacket. In a way it’s wonderful to be still waiting but at the same time there is anticipation, it could be any day now.

The move into Autumn and then Winter is all about cosiness for me; taking down the summer bunting and replacing it with sparkling fairy lights; lighting more candles; drinking hot chocolate with melting marshmallows. In my eagerness for cosy I have already washed all my scarves, throws, wraps in fact anything that will keep me warm and toastie; whether it be whilst going outside for a walk or when snuggling up on the sofa in front of the fire – for which hubby has already chopped the wood and ordered the coal.

Even the TV seems cosy with The Great British Bake Off, inspiring me to bake, with its biscuits, cakes, pastries and loaf or two. But then I will be needing the warming soups, slow cooked stews, deep filled bowls of porridge topped with stewed fruit and dry roasted seeds– all that is hearty and wholesome.

It’s one of the greatest joys of the coming seasons, that with the weather getting colder, duller, wetter it’s an opportunity to make everything warm, intimate and cosy. All I have to do now is find where I put the hot water bottle!

What will you be doing to keep yourself cosy this winter?

Credits: photo my Maria at unsplash.com

Weight loss and self identity

When our body changes through illness, accident or injury we have to develop a new relationship with ourselves, with our new physical identity.

For me it was weight loss through illness. For most of my adult life I had been around 140lbs, but when I went into my 40’s this gradually increased to 148lb, and it was a continuous battle to remain at that weight. There were a few exceptions, for example prior to getting married I was eating 1300 calories a day and it still took 4 months for me to loose 8lbs prior to our wedding in 2013, needless to say it soon went back on. Then in the late Summer of 2014 I naturally began to lose weight which I put down to a change of diet; drinking smoothies and eating lots of salads, but the weight continued to fall through the autumn.

After an episode of acute pancreatitis – where the pancreas becomes inflamed and the digestive enzymes it produces begin to digest the pancreas itself – my diet became more restrictive. I was eating less generally, as well as having a low fat diet (less that 35g of fat a day bearing in mind an Avocado pear is around 20g!).

However, due to the pain I was in, eating wasn’t enjoyable, it became a chore rather than a delight. Anything containing too much fat caused me discomfort as my pancreas wasn’t able to digest it properly.

I struggled to get used to my lighter weight and what I called my scrawny shape. Why? Because it wasn’t my choice. The interesting thing about losing weight when it’s not planned is that there is a sense of confusion about why it was happening and also a concern as to when it would stop.

How low could my weight go for me still to have enough energy to get through daily life?

Then when I was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumour (IPMN) in January 2015 the weight loss made sense, at least I knew why, which was a relief. Also, the tumour could be removed, an even greater relief.

By the time I had surgery to remove my tumour I was down to 120lbs, the last time I was this weight I was a teenager! Having lost 2 stone none of my clothes fitted, everything was baggy, making my weight loss more obvious. I became gaunt as my face became thinner.

My sense of identity had never been challenged before, and I didn’t know how to adjust to the change. It was like I had been given a new body to live in, a very disconcerting feeling. My view of myself changed. I may have looked a thinner version of my usual self to everyone else. But I felt small, not just physically but psychologically too, it felt like everything about me was diminishing, fading.

Fortunately as with most things, it was time that allowed me to accept my new shape and identity. I literally had to shrink into my own skin and then as I got used to it, I became stronger and more confident in myself and my new body.

When we chose to change our body shape, it’s because that is what we want to do, and therefore we are delighted when we achieve it whether that is due to diet, exercise or surgery.

Having lost 28lb in the 12 months prior to my operation, it has taken 9 months to put on 8lbs due to a low fat diet. But I now finally feel comfortable and well in my own skin, and I am enjoying having a new body, a new shape, a new identity.

It takes time to adapt and accept physical changes. I am fortunate, I haven’t lost a limb or one of my senses, I just have an abdominal scar that fades with each passing day. I also have age on my side, at 50, I no longer want or have any expectations of a ‘perfect’ body, what ever that may mean. I am just happy that I have a body that is still functioning and enables me to live fully.

Determination

Having a training plan in place to help get me cycling  from 0 to 54 miles in 16 weeks, has been amazing. Firstly, I don’t have to think or worry about trying to create a plan myself, it’s there done, printed out in black and white and stuck on the wall.

All I have to do now is to follow it, which has been much easier than I thought. That being said, I am not over keen on the stretching exercises. Resting I can do, cycling I can do, but stretching well it all seems a bit half hearted really. So I have had to find ways to inspire myself by reading blogs and articles on the benefits of stretching for cyclists in order to motivate  myself. I found an article on yoga for cyclist which was great, I can relate to yoga but not stretching – it’s different words for basically the same thing. However, my favourite article was:

10 Stretches for Cyclists You Can Do Without Leaving Your Bed

Surprising things have happened too – not knowing what the weather will be like for my London to Brighton cycle, has meant that I have been out in every weather no matter what and that has including torrential rain with streams of water running down the roads and cycling through floods. Not something I would have normally persuaded myself to do, but knowing that I have done it, that I can do it, makes all the difference!

Determination has appeared in another guise too, part of which is competitiveness. I have downloaded an app, MapMyRide, so I can record my routes and times. But, I also get points and times for doing certain local courses, which has motivated me and made me more determined to get out and cycle.

Finally, I am determined because there are those who say I can’t do it – there is nothing like being told you can’t to ensure that you do!!

What makes you determined?

 

 

Juicing – highs and lows

One of those little things in life that I have discovered is the joy of having a glass of fresh orange juice after I have been out cycling. Standing still in the kitchen, looking out into the garden gulping back sweet pure orange juice, is a moment of heaven. In an attempt to be even more virtuous or rather more healthy I decided that carrot juice would be a good idea!!

So I juiced a whole kilo of carrots creating a half a litre of juice, when I tasted it, well I was so disappointed, it didn’t even taste very carroty just watery. So I thought why not add some orange juice, 8 oranges later I had a litre of carrot and orange juice, once again I realised my expectations were far too high and half a litre of orange doesn’t balance out half a litre of carrots.

By now I was running out of things to juice to try to create something palatable, however I found a couple of limes in the bottom of the fruit bowl which I added in, and finally I had a drinkable juice!

I have learnt my lesson, start with oranges then add in just one carrot!

As for using the left over carrot pulp to make soup – well that’s a whole other story!

A new love in my life – cycling

It’s only been a few weeks, 4 actually, but I think I have found a new love in my life – cycling. Having spent a few trips riding hubby’s old Trek racing bike, as opposed to his new beloved Madison Genesis, I realised that I needed my own bike. Unfortunately pain from residual scar tissue means that a road bike is quite literally a stretch too far, so after much research I have invested in a Giant Liv Thrive carbon fibre hybrid bike, which gives me a more upright cycling position. Despite a tiny, but female specific saddle, it’s actually more comfortable than my old “sit up and beg” bike – amazing.

London to Brighton Cycle Ride

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Goethe

Or in my case madness…… I have signed up to do the London to Brighton Cycle Ride on the 11 September 2016 to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action and Rigpa UK, and I could do with some help so if you are able to do any of the following, that would be wonderful.

a) Join me cycling London to Brighton – it would be great to have some companions along the way http://doitforcharity.com/do-it-for-charity-london-to-brighton-2016.aspx

b) Sponsor me – every donation – every £ helps.

http://www.doitforcharity.com/lovingmypancreas
for Pancreatic Cancer Action.

http://www.doitforcharity.com/SuzanneRoe for Rigpa UK

c) Support me – help me tell other people what I am doing, by liking and sharing this page, following me on Twitter @suzanneroe and retweeting some of my posts.

d) Do all of the above – I may be pushing my luck with this option!! 😀

Many thanks in advance for all your help 🚴🏼

 

Enthusiasm

Finally its back, its only taken 14 months since my operation, but I feel enthusiastic and energetic again, yippee.

However, it could just be because it’s Summer, so whilst I am not counting my chickens I am certainly making the most of it, by deciding to go cycling again.

I went out on my trusted and faithful ‘sit up and beg bike’, which is lovely but oh so slow, and means that whilst I am frantically pedalling – hubby is cruising along next to me on his road bike not even having to pedal!!

So I threw caution to the wind and borrowed hubby’s old road bike, which was a total blast, and decidedly nerve wracking going downhill.  After a just a few trips out I was totally hooked, so having purchased some super comfy cycling shorts and downloaded the MapmyRide App I am already for a  Summer of cycling.

The most I have ever been able to cycle in one go before was 7 miles to the local farm shop for breakfast and then an hour later cycling home, delightfully leisurely. But now, no sooner than I arrive home from work I am off out again on hubbys bike cycling along the lanes in rural north Warwickshire – such joy.