Vision Boards

I know I said that my next post would be a review of my recent Grip and Go UK purchases, but I felt compelled to talk about something else instead; vision boards.

Yesterday I spent seven hours planning, designing and making my own vision board – I must admit it wasn’t my own idea, but I am so glad I did it! My vision board allowed me to compile all my life goals and what I need to do in order to achieve them. What I was surprised to find however, was that they all interlinked. My current goals of improving my wellbeing and fitness tie into my long term goals of becoming a midwife and co-owning a natural fertility, pregnancy and wellness retreat. I need to be my best self in order to have the energy and confidence to do the necessary learning, networking and hard work to get there.

It also allowed me to assess which of my goals were short, mid or long term, and similarly to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they are dependent on each other. I realised that I need to reach my short-term goal of earning enough money to pay bills and live comfortably before I could achieve my midterm goal of a gym-membership, a holiday and saving money for my future.

I genuinely believe that cutting out pictures and words which represent my aims in life and then physically arranging and sticking them down has made me more committed to achieving them. Not only that, but my own work holds me accountable, my vision board is above my bed and I will see it everyday, I will be constantly reminded of where I want to go in life and what I want my future to look like.

You don’t need to prepare for a vision board like it’s a military operation – I hunted round my house and used the back of an old poster, old magazines, sharpies  and copious amounts of sellotape.  I made a spur of the moment decision yesterday, and feel 100% more confident in my abilities and my plans.

So here’s a challenge for you, if you have a goal, post it in the comments section, hunt around your house for old magazines and make a vision board for it.

Well that was a hiatus and a half!

I opened wordpress to find that my last post was a whopping 371 days ago… Whoops! It turns out I’m not the most regular blogger, but I’ve decided that working on this blog will be my summer project.

A quick update though, I’m getting along brilliantly with the implant, I know several people that it didn’t agree with, but it works for me and I haven’t had any side effects. My PCOS is pretty much the same, but I must admit I have been slacking in the diet and excercise region for a while. In January this year, I started getting terrible joint pains, they moved around my body and there were some days that I could barely walk. I have a strong family history of rheumatoid arthritis and so I’m currently undergoing tests for the condition, unfortunately this meant that my mobility was extremely limited on some days, and even when I could do exercise there was a mental block in place stopping me from pushing myself, I was terrified that it would cause more flares and consequently more pain.

I’d like to say I dealt with the possibility of having a lifelong and painful disease maturely, but in all honesty I wallowed in self pity. I went out drinking a lot, didn’t watch what I was eating and constantly worried about the consequences of RA on my future career. Luckily, that is no longer the case!

I couldn’t tell, you exactly when the mental switch was flipped, but at some point I decided to accept the possibility of RA and do as much as I could to treat it naturally. Research showed me that diet plays a huge role in the condition, so I cut gluten and dairy out straight away and also reduced my sugar intake. Gluten and Dairy also wreak havoc with your system if you suffer from PCOS as they increase inflammation and insulin resistance, so I’ve seen dramatic results on both fronts with a decrease in the number of flares I have, bloating and spots. I’ve also started taking turmeric powder and green lipped muscle extract every day to reduce inflammation and build up joint strength, and all I can say is that I feel better than I have in a long time.

Now I’m in a much better place both mentally and physically, exercise no longer scares me as much. I haven’t weighed myself recently, but I definitely feel fitter and slimmer. So I’m thinking that I will add in some more gentle things like yoga and beach walks to improve my fitness before building more intense exercise in pro my routine.

I’m also thinking that blog wise this won’t be solely about the effect of PCOS on everyday life, but also about living a healthy lifestyle and wellness. I may also link up with one of my best friends to share tips, recipes, funny anecdotes and reviews.

What do you guys think about this?
Thanks for reading – coming next, my review of the Grip and Go 1l bottle and 300ml double walled thermal travel mug.

Cheers,

Sapphire xx

Contraception woes.

It’s getting to the point in time now where I’ll be heading off to university in a matter of months (provided I get the grades), so I’ve been thinking what the best option will be for me next year. Now I’m no fan of non-bio-identical hormones due to the side effects and the cancer risks associated with them, but when it comes to our sexual/reproductive health, these seem to be the most effective options. Yes condoms are around 97% effective when used correctly, but they often aren’t, and when everything is taken into account, this number drops to around 80%; better than nothing,but nowhere near the level most of us want. Plus, let’s be honest, there’s always the chance of a drunken night out where things do not go to plan (I believe most of you have seen the film “Knocked Up”), and I will be damned if I’m the ironic person who gets pregnant on a midwifery course. At least with some sort of contraception I’ll only be worrying about the possibilities of an STI.

Naturally I wanted more information, so I turned to one of the many free clinics available to under 25’s in this country and rather luckily for me, the nearest was virtually opposite my road. (If you don’t have a clue where yours is, you can follow this link to find out http://www.nhs.uk/service-search/sexual-health-information-and-support/locationsearch/734) Now I’m quite a confident person, but I was nervous when I walked in. I had all of the “what if they judge me?”, “what if I see someone I know?”, “why am I doing this again?” questions running through my head. Yet the minute I walked in I was put at ease, the staff were friendly and polite, everyone was doing their own thing, be it chatting with their other half, laughing with their parents, or like me, attempting a Unit 4 chemistry past paper.

When it was my turn I followed a lovely nurse into the treatment room, sat down and and began to discuss what I was after as well as a brief medical history- which is where the PCOS comes into play. Oestrogen dominance immediately ruled out the option of the combined pill, contraceptive patch, and the vaginal ring since they all contain high levels of the hormone. These options were also only suitable if you had a BMI under 30 which meant I was doubly ruled out. There are also options like the female condom or the cap/diaphragm, but frankly they’re a bit too fiddly for me.

So it looked like my options were the Progesterone Only Pill (POP)/ Mini-Pill, the Depo-provera injection, Nexplanon implant or a Coil (aka IUD or IUS). After further discussion about my future schedule, the likelihood of night shifts and my general lack of organisation, it was decided that one of the more long-term options would be best, with the POP being used as a last resort. Next we ruled out the contraceptive injection since it takes the longest to regain fertility and can lead to severe weight gain and ovarian cysts, which I think we can all agree is not a great option for a woman with PCOS. We then spoke about the Beta-Thalassaemia trait and how that may affect my options, at the moment it looks like it doesn’t but they’re going to get back to me regarding the implant and the anaemia. If there is a negative interaction between the two I still have the option of the coil (either the progesterone IUS or the copper IUD), although I won’t lie, I have heard some horror stories and it really will be a last resort.

And that is the rather long story (even though it actually took less than an hour) of how I came to be on the POP until my implant date. Now obviously I haven’t had the implant yet, so there may be some hideous side-effects, but one ‘pro’ is that it can be removed immediately if this is the case. It’s also long term and will see me through-out the three year duration of uni.

I think the main thing to take away from this that taking care of your reproductive health is important, and it’s even more vital to get informed and pick the best option for you, regardless of whether the majority of women use it. Don’t be afraid of going to clinics and talking to your doctor, because I think most of us would prefer a few minutes of awkwardness over an accidental pregnancy or a load of horrid side-effects any day.

A bit of a different post today, but I think it’s important none-the-less,

until next time,

Sapphire xx

Easter! 

Just a quick one for now! Hope everyone had a good Easter and enjoyed themselves 🙂 

I think it’s safe to say that this is the first year I didn’t go mental and eat my weight in chocolate! I ate a grand total of 2 Easter eggs and 4 Creme Eggs between the 1st and 8th April. It doesn’t sound like much but for me it’s a big step, since I didn’t get caught up in the mindless eating binge that normally occurs around the holidays with my family down. 

Will update soon,

Sapphire xx

Look who’s running

  

Now this is the face of a very unfit person who has been running (and I use that term very loosely) not once, but TWICE since Wednesday. 

Why? Because I went to see insurgent and I thought to myself “I could do the fighting, I’m not too rusty with the MMA skills, but damn I would die if I had to run away like that!” 

Oh, and I broke my bed… And not the fun way, but by throwing myself on it… (That one wasn’t so great for the ego) 😉

These two seemingly insignificant moments were the catalysts for me to keep going and really get out there and move. And although for any lasting change to happen we need to look for the reasons we want to change inside ourselves, these moments of inspiration help spur us on, which is always a positive.

So I ran, or rather I jogged along to an NHS Couch to 5K podcast, I kept moving at all times, and boy do I feel good about it! PCOS will often come along with the joy of insulin resistance, which is where your cells can’t absorb it efficiently, the pancreas will often over-produce the hormone to compensate, and the excess gets stored as fat. It’s essentially pre-diabetes, but luckily for us women folk with the condition, exercise combats this naturally! 🙂 

If we exercise, we can reduce insulin resistance but we can also reduce the other symptoms of PCOS like fatigue, irregular ovulation (for me at least it seems to do the trick), increase fertility and curb appetite and sweet cravings too! All of this means we can stay away from the artificial hormones, the metformin and the other pills; instead treating the cause of our problems, not the symptoms! 

Furthermore, exercise releases endorphins, helping to reduce stress (less cortisol = lower chance of fat storage around the belly area), and even better, it helps me sleep well and focus more! Also, did I mention it’s free? 

I’m in a really positive place at the moment and plan to continue, stress levels are at a low and life is looking great! So here’s to healthy futures and keeping moving! 

Prejudice or ignorance?

Like many teenagers in today’s society, I am no stranger to the odd Facebook debate. Normally I won’t get involved unless they’re about me, someone I care about or just showing a level of ignorance that is beyond words. 

The latest ‘argument’ I was involved in regarded feminism in today’s  society (according to the guy, a patriarchy doesn’t exist, I was arguing against that point). At some point during the conversation, Josh joined the debate; his posts showed his ignorance, and it got very personal very quickly. According to him a friend’s ‘ugliness’ made him a ‘woman sympathiser’ whilst my weight problem made my argument irrelevant. Now I don’t get offended by weight comments, they’re some of the most unimaginative ‘insults’ you can come across, and when you get them as a child, you become fairly resistant to their effects. What I did get offended by, was the later comment 



“You’re fat because you are mentally weak”. Just going to let that sit there for a moment.

I have issues which I try and deal with, I do my best to maintain and lose weight, my fitness pal is a good friend and so is my Fitbit. There is one truth in the above statement, part of the fight is mental, but no one is fat because they’re mentally weak. People tend to be fat because it affords them something, and losing that is scarier than the risks/problems associated with the extra weight. For me, being fat means that there’s no chance of being vulnerable and getting abandoned or hurt again (daddy issues). It also means that on some level I may not have to face the prospect of infertility, after all who wants to date a fat person and have kids with them when there are gorgeous girls out there? Saying them out loud seems stupid, but internally that’s what I wrestle with, and I’m not weak, it’s incredibly hard to find the emotional link to a weight problem. It’s painful and frankly it took a lot of searching and crying with a counsellor to reach this point.  

So I ask the question: why do people assume that they know your story? Is it blind ignorance? That they know when to stop eating or what to eat and think it’s the same for you. Is it a prejudice? You’re fat, so you must be lazy and stupid. Or is it something else? 

I’m the first person to tell you that being overweight is not a good thing, you should love yourself no matter what, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to celebrate fatness. I’ve been known to judge others and make snide comments, but I can safely say I’ve never been so ignorant to assume I know their story, and hopefully I never will.

When life gives you lemons…

So over the next two weeks I have two Chemistry Controlled Assessments, one Biology, one Italian, two driving lessons, an applicant day hundreds of miles away and absolutely no money. Needless to say I’m stressed. 

On the one hand, having so many important things in such a short time span is one of the most daunting challenges I’ve faced in a long time, but on the other, I can say I’m learning to cope.  

I’m learning to prioritise properly, to work efficiently, and to gain control when I’m feeling out of my depth. If you’d asked me this question a year ago, I’d have told you that I was coping, everything was fine and I was managing perfectly well, basically I’d have lied. Behind closed doors I’d engage in self-destructive behaviours, procrastinate and hope I’d pull it off in the end. Now I can safely say: ”it’s hard, I’m struggling, but I’m working my way through it and I’m moving forward.”

So what’s changed? Is it me simply getting older and wiser? Is it a result of becoming more self aware and learning about myself? Or is it because these challenges are bumps on a road that I chose to follow? My Controlled Assessments are vital to my A level grades, my A levels will get me to university where I can study midwifery, and it will be incredibly useful if I can drive. I guess I feel that although I’m not controlling every aspect of my life right now, these are challenges that I need to overcome in order to get where I want, so I’ll be damned if I let them get the best of me! Hopefully it will all calm down soon, but until then, here’s to doing my best! 🙂