Health

Home Comforts.

Although in many ways, transferring to my new uni and living at home again feels a little bit like a step backwards, there are many perks of being back here. For starters, I am fully aware just how lucky I am that a) my parents gave me the option of coming back when I was too ill to continue, and b) that home is somewhere I am happy to return to. I know that not everyone is in my position! Here are just some of nice things about living at home again:

1. One of the most obvious positives about being home is having the company of my family! My sister and I have always been close and in the last few years we have become more like best friends. I know I can tell her everything, we support each other when things are tough and we also have a lot of laughs together :-)

I love this girl!

The support my family gives me is great too, last week I had a couple of evenings when I just felt exhausted and a bit rubbishy, this is when having my parents and sister around me becomes so helpful and comforting. They help me out with daily tasks and they keep my morale up!

2. I’m not going to lie, one of the great things about being home is the food. (It had to be didn’t it!)

Firstly, having dinner cooked for you on most days is lovely when you’re under the weather on a regular basis and it also means you get to eat more varied (and more luxurious) food than when you’re cooking for one on a budget at uni. Dishes like this one:

Chorizo and gnocci isn’t the sort of thing you get to eat much of as a student!

Secondly, I have a fully equipped kitchen at my disposal which means one thing to me: baking :-) I absolutely adore baking, no surprises there, particularly when the autumn months are coming in, it is starting to get a little colder outside and you want a little comfort for chilly afternoons. It’s one of my goals for the autumn is to bake on a weekly basis as much as I can, I want to work my way through some of my bakery cookbooks and I’m so looking forward to it. I’ve started off with this lovely creation:

Although it might not look like much, but this was an absolutely wonderful plum cake from my favourite Primrose Bakery cookbook. The next goods I want to try are white chocolate and granola cookies from the same book, as well as blueberry muffins from a Mary Berry book…

3. Comfort. When I’m in pain, or feeling exhausted, or just wanting to curl up and read or watch TV, being back at home means I can do it complete warmth and comfort. If I’m not tucked up in my lovely, soft double bed, I’m curled up in the little reading spot my mother created in the study.

This is the chair my mother used to sit in with me as a baby :-). It has been covered and is so comfortable to sit in, plus I love being able to watch the world go by out of the window.

4. Opportunities, in many difference senses. There’s the closeness of both town and my new university so I can just cycle in easily enough. There’s the ease of travelling to London by train to go visit Tom which is great. I’m going to visit him this Saturday and I can’t wait to see him again and have a look round his new flat! There is also the fact that I have everything near by, there are shops, cafes, the gym etc all within 20 minutes of me so if I ever want to get out of the house, I can do so without much hassle.

There are many other little perks of living at home again, these are just a few of the main positives. I won’t lie and say that I feel 100% brilliant about moving back, I want to move on in my life, I want to grow and “leave the nest” but whilst I can’t I am determined to make the most of my last year or two at home and take advantage of the pros of living here!

Here’s to a positive attitude :-)

If you’ve graduated, have you ever had to move home? How did you feel about it?
What are the positives of living at home with your family?
If you’ve moved out from your childhood home, what do you miss the most?

Guest Post – John O’Connor

Hey lovely readers!

Today I have something a little different for you. A couple of weeks ago I was emailed by a fellow blogger about raising awareness for hearing loss and the effects that poor health can have on hearing loss. Although this is a slight departure from what I normally blog about, it is a topic close to my heart as both of my grandfathers are very hard of hearing. I hope you get something from reading this informative post, I am sure many of you have someone who suffers from hearing loss in your family.

John writes a blog which highlights issues surrounding hearing, if you’re interested in this topic I recommend a read.

Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Hearing Loss

Many people assume they will one day need help in the hearing department. The reason for this is that many people associate aging with hearing loss. While this is partly true, it is not the only factor that contributes to hearing loss. Many people who experience some type of hearing loss could have prevented it at a younger age, but because so many people do not know they can actually prevent something that they consider a definite. Not everyone can prevent hearing loss that does come with age, but many people can prevent hearing loss that they are inflicting upon themselves by not living a healthy lifestyle.

Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways people can prevent hearing loss. In fact, a healthy lifestyle is such a good way to prevent hearing loss that more people should take note of what small changes they can make in their own lives and implement them immediately. Many people who experience hearing loss experience it due to poor choices they made when they were younger. The things people do and the things they put into their bodies are directly related to their hearing loss. The use of a hearing aid is an option to help people who currently are affected by hearing loss while following the tips below are ways to help prevent and protect yourself from hearing loss.

Loud Noise

One healthy lifestyle change people can make to prevent hearing loss is to wear ear protection when they work with loud noises. People who do not work in factories or with loud equipment might think this bit of information does not apply to them, but it does. Loud equipment that is damaging to the ears is not found only in factories. People who work on farms, on oil rigs, and who simply mow their own lawns need to wear earplugs or earmuffs. Furthermore, people who do simple things at home such as saw wood for the fireplace with a chain saw should wear earplugs. Too much exposure to these types of noises without earplugs could mean hearing problems later in life.

Too Much Music

Many people love to put their earphones in their ears and turn up their iPods to a level that’s so loud they are immediately motivated to get to working out, cleaning up, or doing whatever else. However, these people don’t seem to realize that the level of their music is making their eardrums vibrate uncontrollably, which is damaging to the eardrums. This will cause hearing loss. Turn down the music to save hearing.

A Poor Diet

When people eat food that isn’t good for them, it can affect their hearing negatively. Most people might not understand this because, frankly, what does hearing have to do with dessert? The answer is a simple one: People who eat a poor diet are more likely to suffer from diabetes. People who suffer from diabetes are twice as likely as people who do not suffer from diabetes to experience hearing loss. People who don’t necessarily eat the healthiest foods on the menu should go ahead and make that change now.

Smoking

Making the decision to smoke is a bad one no matter how people look at it. It’s the number one cause of lung cancer, it kills people, it makes them smell bad, it ruins their teeth and skin, and their secondhand smoke is dangerous to everyone around them. Unfortunately, this is not enough to make people quit smoking. Smoking, however, is a cause of hearing loss. Additionally, people who are exposed to secondhand smoke are as much as 70 percent more likely to experience hearing loss later in life than people who are not exposed to secondhand smoke.

Healthy lifestyle changes are easy to make for those who want to save their hearing. While hearing loss cannot be completely prevented, people who do not lose their hearing due to old age can prevent it. There are so many benefits to living a healthy lifestyle that it is simply amazing that more people are not willing to stop making poor lifestyle choices and start making good ones. All it takes is one small change to prevent hearing loss.

Working Life, Reflections.

As I have now completed three full weeks of work and just have one week left to get through I felt like having a look at what working has been like this summer and where my condition is at the moment.

Although I knew it would be hard work, I didn’t really know how working 8 hour days, five days a week for four weeks would actually affect me. It’s been an interesting experience and I’m really pleased that I decided to do the work as now I know what I’m capable of and I have an idea of what would push me too far into exhaustion.

As I said on Wednesday, I really enjoy my job. I’ve always liked working with children; I used to volunteer at my old dance school as a teaching assistant, I did work experience in a nursery and I’ve always done a fair amount of babysitting. I find that helping children to develop their ability and improve their skills just makes me feel so satisfied, it’s a really fulfilling position as you feel as though you’ve made just a little bit of difference in their lives.

In case you’ve missed the posts in which I mentioned it, this holiday scheme is centred around arts and crafts activities. I work with the guy who runs the programme, and then three other girls around my age so it’s nice to have someone with whom you share interests to talk to in between chatting away with the children.

What’s always funny is watching the children interact, last week we had a couple of the most adorable little five-year-old girls you’ve ever seen and as best friends they did everything together. One lunch we asked them what they were playing to which one replied “I’m the mummy and she’s the baby and I’ve got 185 babies. It takes a really really long time to get all of them across the road!” It was all we could do to keep ourselves from falling about laughing. Children are hilarious.

Another of my favourite aspects of my job is when the children make you things as a present. Here are two I was given this week:

On the left: a little handmade envelope with a lovely message inside, on the right: apparently it’s a cross between a visor and a necklace… Either way it’s rather sweet!

On a slightly more serious note, I want to examine the way I feel physically after all of this. I’m not going to lie, I’m absolutely exhausted by about 11am on most days, it takes up a huge proportion of my energy just to act positive, bouncy and smiley for the remainder of the day. As well as walking around helping all the children, I play lots of games with them, we have to set everything up, and there’s a lot of clearing up and washing up to do each day. My hips ache for the first time in a while, whereas it’s usually mostly my back that pains me. My head hurts almost constantly and me knees won’t stop groaning at me.

It’s difficult but I’m so so proud of myself for pushing through it and managing to work just like any other able-bodied students. I’m planning to save as much of my earnings as possible  for the ever-nearing future.

Despite the fact that it’s tough work and I’m feeling a little worse for wear, I’m really glad I decided to work. Plus I get a couple of weeks off after I finish before I start my new term, I cannot wait to have a bit more time to relax and recuperate!

Have you ever worked with children?
What about your work makes you feel fulfilled?

Guess What?

Guess what…

I joined a gym today!!

For now I’ve only signed up for a month’s membership as I don’t know what the gym at my new uni will be like but this gym is just lovely. I’m not a fan of huge, industrial-like gyms as I find them a little intimidating but this one is pretty small so suits me well. It has massive windows along one wall which overlooks the river so whilst you’re sweating away inside you can enjoy a beautiful and relaxing view. Bliss.

Another positive is that it has really nice changing rooms – good facilities, spotlessly clean, and sleek-looking. Plus they give you fluffy white towels to use.

The pool looks really inviting too so I will have to try that out sometime. There is also a jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room which I reckon would be a lovely way to unwind after a hard workout.

Anyway as you might be able to tell, I’m pretty excited to be able to use a gym again! I’m planning to try to get there 4-5 times a week, barring any particularly difficult weeks energy wise. I’m going to take it easy to start, gradually building it back up to a level which actually feels like it does something to my fitness level (and even waist line!).

Today I took it fairly easy with 10 minutes on the elliptical, followed by 15 minutes on the stationary bike, and then a 10 minute stretch and weights session. 35 minutes in total and I have to say it felt pretty good. I might try to go back tomorrow!

 

Today’s lunch: bulgur wheat, rocket, cherry tomatoes, radish, cucumber and sun-dried tomato chicken pieces. Pretty tasty and so easy to prep each evening before bed.

Right, so here’s my little update for you today, I’m sorry my posting and commenting has been so sporadic lately – I’m constantly exhausted from work and when I get home in the evening all I want to do is read, watch cooking shows and sleep! I’ll try to be a little more present for the rest of the week.

What’s your exercise routine like at the moment?
Do you go to a gym or workout at home?
How many times a week do you workout? 

Food Lately.

Hey everyone, sorry for yet another disappearance! I’ve not been very well for the past couple of days so haven’t had the energy to sit down and write a post. I’m working Monday – Friday this week with just under eight-hour days so it’s going to be a tiring week. I’m working the two following weeks too so it’s a busy month for me!

I’m feeling a little stressed at the moment because I’ve got lots to do and I’m nervous about starting at a new uni at the end of September. Plus I miss Tom a lot… Still, new and exciting prospects, plus I’ll have a little cash available!

Today’s post is going to be really brief as a) I’m absolutely exhausted and b) I’d like to watch a bit of the Olympic closing ceremony before I fall asleep. I thought I’d share some of the delicious food I’ve eaten recently with you:

 

On Friday my mother, sister and I went into town for lunch and decided to eat at Pret a Manger. For some reason I haven’t eaten there in years, it’s actually a brilliant place to grab something to eat, there are so many delicious and healthy options to choose from. I went for a crayfish and avocado salad and it was fantastic!

 

As we’ve been enjoying so much lovely weather we thought Friday evening would be the perfect time for a picnic. Our spread included a chorizo and red pepper tortilla, salamis, mini sausages and sausage rolls, falafel, veg with hummus, homemade bread and kettle chips. Delicious!

After having baked bread I felt the urge to do a bit more baking, I whipped up a chocolate banana loaf and it was so tasty. I love banana in baked goods and adding chocolate just makes the cake amazing :-P

 

 

Then yesterday I met the lovely Baiba in town for lunch and I ate some more delicious food – a caramel latte, roasted aubergines and then an apple and coconut bircher muesli which was so so good!

All in all lots of brilliant food which mostly makes up for feeling so under the weather!

Have you eaten anything really delicious lately?
Do you enjoy picnics? What is your ideal picnic food?

On another note, have you enjoyed the Olympics?

What I Ate Wednesday No.40

First off I think I owe you all a bit of an explanation. I promised that during my holidays, when I was no longer abroad, I would be posting more and would be more present in the blogworld, commenting on all of your posts and replying to everything.

I don’t really have any proper reason for my disappearance. For the last couple of days I haven’t been feeling that well and today after waking up more exhausted than when I went to bed I decided to cocoon myself in my room. I have been reading, watching Location Location Location and Gok Cooks Chinese, knitting my scarf (now finished!), decorating the front of my scrapbook and eating toast. I feel mostly better now and I can already tell the end of the week will be more positive.

My mood has also been affected by the fact that Tom left on holiday with his family for two weeks with the last time I saw him being Sunday. When he gets back I’ll be working and he’ll be house hunting in London so it’s going to be a difficult time for us. Both of us are moving forward in our lives and whilst it’s a little nerve-wracking it’s also an exciting time for us…

Anyway, enough of my rambling!

It’s time for a bit of food nosiness with WIAW.

 

Thank you to Jenn from Peas and Crayons for hosting this weekly blog link-up which allows those of us who love food just a little too much to stare at other people’s…!

One of my main summer staples is definitely fresh berries. Now I eat weetabix all year round but when most fruit is out of season I tend to have it with frozen raspberries but in the summer I love being able to eat delicious fruit with my absolute favourites being raspberries and blueberries.

This morning was mostly spent in bed reading the end of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and starting a new book on my kindle, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. I didn’t read much whilst I was away which is unusual for me, mostly because we did so much and I wanted to spend the time with Tom. However since being back and having the week off I’ve been diving into several books, next on my list are The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

As today was quite pleasant outside (not that I left the house) I went for another summer staple for lunch:

 

A lovely summery salad of rocket, cucumber, radishes, cherry tomatoes and chick breast with a lemon dressing. Delish!

This afternoon I finished off a scarf that I started knitting about two years ago and hadn’t picked up in almost as long, oops. I have to say I find knitting really therapeutic and restful. I’m really pleased with myself for finishing it and I have to say the scarf doesn’t look too bad!

I love wearing scarfs in the winter when it gets really cold and this one is so snuggly. Plus I’m not going to lie, the fact that I made it myself will make wearing it feel even better.

This evening’s dinner was actually pretty summery too, right down to the title – Summer Vegetable Stir-Fry.

This beautiful dish is a creation from my favourite cookbook, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every! It’s made up of egg-fried rice and a melange of green summer vegetables along with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and it’s wonderful.

All in all despite the day being a slight write-off in terms of energy levels but I’ve eaten some lovely food and still managed to do some nice things. Tomorrow I have exciting baking plans and I am determined to get in a bit of a workout to re-energise myself so fingers crossed I feel much better!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten today? And the best thing you’ve eaten this week?
Any exciting creative plans? 
I’ve been feeling quite inspired lately!

 

 

Practice Makes Perfect.

The phrase “practice makes perfect” is usually applied to scenarios where someone is learning something or training in some way but here I mean it in a slightly different sense.

As those of you who read my blog know, I have been battling chronic pain and chronic fatigue for several years now and it is an ongoing fight. (If you are new to my blog and want to know about this then I suggest you read this post to learn a little more!)

At the moment I’ve been seeing the Pain Clinic and the physio and we have had many discussions about where my future lies, what I can do to keep fighting and making progress, and how I can work on making myself better and living as normally as possible. I am not going to lie, I feel that my chronic condition has really held me back over the past year, with my health deteriorating so much in the first term of my first year at uni the year did not go how I expected or planned.

Being on holiday and back at home has made me all the more determined to get better. In September Tom is starting his first full-time job and will be moving to London and I want to be able to visit him easily and do lots of fun things. In October I start classes at my new university and I want to be able to throw myself into my course and into extra-curricular activities. I have plans to volunteer at a primary school and maybe with a charity, I want to have the energy for that. I am going to join the local gym and I want to be able to go regularly for proper workouts.

I know, that’s a lot of ‘I wants’. But the thing is for the past year, longer really, I’ve just been settling. Settling for things which aren’t as I planned, settling for something less than I hoped for, settling for a life I wasn’t 100% happy and fulfilled by.

Whilst I know that I will probably have to live with chronic pain and fatigue for the rest of my life, that doesn’t mean they have to completely dictate my life and it’s within my power to live life to the full as much as possible. I don’t want to spend my life regularly relying on people to help me with things, having to constantly make compromises and not being able to do the things I love.

I am not in denial. I know how difficult this is going to be and I know that there will be days and even sometimes weeks when I struggle and feel awful but I don’t have to constantly live as though I am an invalid.

With chronic conditions there are always periods of remission followed by periods of relapse, it’s just the way things are. I just want the remission to be the more significant part of my life. I want to feel healthy and able-bodied, I want to be happy with myself.

This is where the practice comes in.

Recovery and remission is not instant. It doesn’t just suddenly all clear up. Although some of it is just down to your body working better, a lot of it is down to the individual. Healthy living is so important for combating chronic fatigue and exercise really helps with the pain too. Equally your mental attitude can make an enormous difference to how you feel physically.

If I were to give into the pain and exhaustion, to just let my family, friends and Tom do everything for me, if I didn’t push myself to work, to study and to pursue my hobbies, I have absolutely no doubt that I would be worse and this is something my pain consultant wholeheartedly agrees with. It isn’t easy, you have to work past the lower levels of tiredness and aching. But it’s so worth it to be able to live the life you enjoy.

So I will practice pushing myself in a healthy way; not going to extreme to the point that my energy levels drop below around 20% or my pain levels rise above 8/10, but merely gradually doing more.

I will have goals to work towards, building up my physical ability and my day-to-day energy levels. I will make life worth living. I will live the way I love to be, I will make the most of all of the wonderful positive things I have and I will be healthy and happy.

will beat this.