Emma-Jayne Saanen

Category: health

Imbolc, and the life of the Urbanimal

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but Imbolc is the one festival that I do not connect with. I guess it is because here in Scotland, Spring comes later. Heck, we haven’t even had Winter yet! I worry about that. There are early signs, such as budding leaves and crocuses, and I am just waiting for them to be crushed by severe weather. It’s the same every year, but this year the feeling is even more palpable. I hope I am wrong.

Photograph of leaf buds

Spring is making an effort to arrive

I’m not thriving at the moment. Surviving, yes. Thriving, no. While my GP knows that I am still not fit to work, what with my fibromyalgia getting progressively worse and my difficulties in handling my mother’s death, the Department of Work & Pensions has decided that I am, and they know best. *stifles laughter* The immediate issue is that they have taken my benefit from me. Thankfully I am in a place of privilege; I have a loving partner who is willing to support me while I fight this. Not a lot of people have that. It sucks to be in this position, especially because it is due to a government who has waged war on the poor and vulnerable, but I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I’ve just lost some of my independence and autonomy, but I can survive that. Survive, yes. Thrive, no.

Prior to losing my income, I had saved up enough money to do an introduction to crocheting class. I have gotten the hang of scarves, with a single crochet, but I was stumped as to where to go to next! Then my local wool shop announced the class on their Facebook page, and there was much rejoicing. We’re making granny squares! It’s a bit like magic to me. I’ve managed to make one decent looking square, but the rest are misshapen monstrosities.

Photograph of Emma's first two crocheted granny squares.

Granny squares!

I’m not the best person at getting things done. I also love journalling. And so, I have begun experimenting with goal setting, habit tracking and general attempts at being more disciplined. For my goals, I have chosen to work with Leonie Dawson’s My Shining Year workbook. So far I have been inspired by it and its Facebook community, so I have plenty of ideas for what I want to do in 2017. Getting them done is an entirely different beast! I’ve been experimenting with Bullet Journalling to combine my to-do lists, habits, goals, ideas and inspirations. On my good health days it is brilliant, but my good health days are few and far between. Of course I know that a part of me is being lazy too, and using my poor health as an excuse for not doing anything at all. I’m trying to beat that habit.

Photographic portrait of James the cat,

New houseguest

There has been a major upheaval this week; James, my mum’s cat, has moved in with us. Mum passed away in June, but this week my dad decided that he was not able to look after James anymore. It’s not an ideal situation for anyone, but when is life ideal? So on Tuesday James came to our home, much to the confusion and anger of our cat, Lucy. It has been okay so far. Both cats are avoiding each other, and Lucy has the option of going outside if she needs space. When they do come into contact, they have a spat rather than a fight.

I have always wanted to be able to talk with animals, but I have wished so hard for this gift right now just so I can explain to Lucy and James what is going on and why. Childish, right?

Emma doing a burpee

Burpees are fun; look at me smiling!

Finally, it is a week and a half till the Burpeethon. Our third and final event takes place on Saturday, 18th February. We were featured in the Evening Times this week, too, which should give us a boost. You can learn how to support the event by checking out www.burpeethon.co.uk. I have set myself a modest target to 200, which is 50 an hour. That’s 10 every ten minutes with a ten minute break before the next hour. It should be fine, just don’t tell my doctor! Shhh!

Re-shaping up!

Doge as a Twinkie I’ve been unhappy with my body for several years now, but over the past twelve months my health has gotten out of hand. Weight has been piling on around my middle, so much so that I feel like a beanbag being propped up by two chopsticks. The straw that broke the camel’s back was last month, when I took some nude selfies and I was just so unhappy with what I saw.

Of course fat is a feminist issue, which does make me reluctant to talk about this but here I am. I have never been made to feel overweight by anybody else. When I am harassed on the street the insults are about my face, not my body. I feel overweight because my body does not feel like my own; it feels bloated and out of control. Unnatural. Not a part of me.

I am unfit too. I get out of breath when walking up the stairs, and I’m too embarrassed to do any group fitness because I don’t want others to see how bad I am. I’ve been hiding behind my fibromyalgia too; using the pain as an excuse not to try anything at all. It’s ridiculous when I think about it.

My diet went to hell in a handbasket earlier this year. I didn’t have the time or energy to eat properly, so I relied on fizzy juice and chocolate bars to get through and I’m paying for it now.

Less moaning, Em! It’s time to c*nt up!

Inspiration came when a friend recommended the Re-Shape programme run by my local council. It’s eight weeks of access to their gyms, swimming pools, and fitness classes combined with weekly classes discussing diet. The ladies in my group are all pretty cool, and because many of them also have unusual dietary requirements I don’t feel like the odd-one-out for once. I’m back at the gym for the first time in about four years. Still finding my feet, but having fun. I’ve made a start on a C25K programme too. I had tried that earlier in the year, but running on the ground messed up my joints. Starting again on a treadmill feels so much better. I’m still not feeling brave enough to return to my Krav Maga classes, or to try any new fitness classes, but I have faith that it will come in time.

I have noticed that my jeans are a bit more comfortable this week. It’s the little victories that count. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have some more updates for you all. In the meantime, I hope you all feel happy and healthy in your own way!


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