It’s been a while, huh?
I’d like to say I’ve been away because I’ve been on a rollercoaster of endless fun stuff, but if I’m totally honest, it’s been a weird few months. A weird year, in fact.
Y’all might remember last year, when I ran the Bupa 10k in May – resulting in a stress fracture in my foot. And then, in August, I ended up in the hospital after a weird heart thing that meant I had to take a break from exercise for a couple o’months.
What you won’t remember (’cause I didn’t write about it) was that, over Christmas, I got a bit blue – through a combination of burning the candle at both ends on a few projects both at and outside of work, the absence of regular exercise in my life, repeated bouts of ill health, and the general negative feeling that can only follow a year that was mediocre at best.
So, I booked a holiday. A solo holiday, to a spa in Marrakech. It might’ve eaten up all my hard-earned bonus for the year, but hell, it was my first holiday since 2010 – and the only thing I could imagine helping me out was getting as far away from my regular life as possible for a lil’ bit.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – I have incredible friends and family, I love my job, and objectively, I have nothing to complain about. But when you’re depressed – and I’d say, lookin’ back, that was probably the appropriate word for where I found myself for a pretty substantial part of 2014 – none of that really makes a difference.
You get through, or you do your best to; and that’s why I wound down pretty much everything outside of work. I stopped writing – I pretty much stopped tweeting, even. I did the bare minimum – I’d get up, drag my butt to work, and then go home and go straight to bed. At weekends, I’d do all of nothing – just eat, sleep, and repeat.
February rolled around, and come the 20th, I was on a plane to Marrakech, to literally get away from it all. I had a half-bottle of champagne on the flight at 6:30am, because I was on holiday, and I’d be damned if I didn’t make the very most of it.
And trust me – it was heaven. Marrakech, the hotel, hell, the waiters – all gorgeous. Exactly what I needed. For about five days.
After that time, though, I found myself starting to realise that the whole “grass is greener” schtick?
Turns out it’s true.
A world of glorious sunshine, all-you-can-eat (and drink), regular massages, no schedule, and no demands on my time was exactly what I thought I’d want on a permanent basis – and yet, after five days… I missed my life. My crazy-busy, often stressful, regularly tiring life that I was 99.9% certain I was fed up of… Was exactly where I wanted to be.
Now, I’m not suggesting y’all take a solo holiday – because I know I’m really, ridiculously lucky to finally be in a position where I can afford one (and trust me, it wasn’t without significant “should I actually spend this money?” deliberation… A girl’s still gotta hustle, if you know what I mean).
You don’t need to do that to think about all the things you love about your life, because let me tell you: I got on a plane and went all the way to another continent, only to realise that all the stuff I really wanted was right here at home. When it comes down to it, I’d wager that there’s a strong possibility you’d find the same.
So that’s revelation no. 1.
For no. 2, I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I spent quite a lot of last year unwell – and, for various reasons, not able or allowed to exercise. Y’all know exercise for me is a form of therapy – so it doesn’t take a genius to see how physical and emotional well-being for me are totally linked.
Even for a badass fitness blogger like m’self, it’s ridiculously easy to fall out of good habits. The treadmill, for me, is the absolute cornerstone of my healthy lifestyle. Without exercise, I struggle to motivate myself to eat well; without eating well, I struggle to motivate myself to prevent one glass of wine from turning into a weekend-long party; and with a hangover, I struggle to motivate myself to do… Well, anything.
So being banned from exercise for a big part of last year threw everything else outta the window.
This, from a woman who oughta know better: you never, ever, really know better. And even when you do, it’s hella easy not to listen to your own good advice.
Now, I’m still having to be careful about a dodgy knee, and I know I’m not going to be running a marathon any time soon – but I can get back on that treadmill and carefully put one foot in front of the other. I may not be takin’ on any Olympic weight lifters, but I can take some lil’ dumbbells and start working those muscles again. I might not be as fit or good as I was a year ago, but I’m still me – and I can go out and kick butt if I decide that’s what I want to do.
(Clue: it is.)
Having good health out of my life for a while has really brought home the fact that being able to exercise, and having the tools at your disposal to be a moderately well person, whether that’s just access to a gym, a yoga mat, or a decent food shop – that’s a privilege. It’s one of life’s great joys (even if it doesn’t feel that way when you’re dragging your tired ass there after a long day at work) – and the decision to make the most of that is one of the best, and sometimes hardest, things you can do.
What I’m getting at, I guess, is that life sometimes falls apart a bit, and it can seem near enough impossible to put it back together. Be kind to yourself when this happens, and do exactly what you need to do to get through it. I’m very lucky to have excellent friends and family that gave me that advice, even when I couldn’t imagine it being true.
Because even if there are days, weeks, even months where you don’t feel up to it, and where the world doesn’t seem to be working in your favour, eventually there will come a time where the sky’s a lil’ brighter, and the path to your own version of good stuff suddenly seems possible again.
At that point, you’ll suddenly find the things you love in life – for me, that’s having a job that’s as heart-glowingly rewarding as it is demanding, and friends and family that I love in the smooshy, come-‘ere-you-big-lug kinda way – and be mindful of them. You’ll remember that your life choices got you where you are, and you’ll be aware of the reasons you made those choices in the first place – and you’ll have clarity on the things you can change, and the steps you can take to move on.
Trust a girl who knows: it’s not always easy, and life does get in the way.
But the upside of darkness is that it makes light magical – and when that light comes, hell… It’s a beautiful thing.