Feel the fear

Resuming my personal trainer diploma

feel the fearBack in February I made the decision to put my personal trainer diploma on hold. My health was shocking – I’d been unable to exercise for months because of breathing problems. I was stressed to the teeth, and I just couldn’t see myself being able to complete the course.

If I’m honest, my health is still not great (for different reasons now) and I’m only slightly less stressed at the moment. But the course can only stay on hold for so long, and knowing that it’s hanging there unfinished has been weighing on my mind.

On Tuesday I took the plunge and booked onto my 2-day Exercise for Older Adults course. I’m hoping that it’ll ease me back into the whole thing while I find a solution to my back/pelvic pain and regain some fitness.

There are a couple of options for the 4-day personal training attendance course, so I have either until the end of October or the beginning of December to get myself sorted and feeling able to do that.

In all honesty, I’m very anxious about the attendance courses. Having been unable to maintain the level of fitness I’d like over the past year, I feel as though I’ll be the most unfit person there and not taken seriously. As an introvert, I don’t do well in large groups and really have to psych myself up for that kind of environment. The good news is that I won’t be going alone to the first one – Liz will also be there, as she’s also signed up for the course. We’ll be the naughty kids at the back of the room…

What I need to remember going forward is that I have a sound knowledge of this stuff. I’ve been learning about fitness for years. So many years. I already hold a fitness instructor qualification. It’s confidence that I lack, and the ability to follow the training plans that I put together. That’s really something I need to work on.

For now, I’m taking the exercise easy until my doctors appointment (only 5 days to go!). Yoga is pretty much out of the question with my current pain and niggles, but I can get in a good 25-30 minute session on the exercise bike.

Following our squat challenge, The Hardcore Four are taking on an ab challenge – I’m modifying mine heavily so that it doesn’t aggravate my back. So far, so good.

I’m getting a couple of good walks in every week, and short lunchtime walks are really helping to ease the pain I get from sitting down for too long at work.
I only have half an hour for lunch, but yesterday I found a circular route that takes me from the office, along the canal and back.

The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

Yesterday was very hot and sunny, but the canal bank was beautifully shady. It was lovely to get out in the fresh air, see the ducks and moorhens, and just relax for a while. I’m going to try to make a habit of going out every lunchtime – I think it’s good for my mental wellbeing as well as for my back.

Henrhyd Falls

A walk in the Brecon Beacons

This post was meant to be written early in the week, as a bank holiday weekend recap. I’ve been more disorganised than usual this week, but I really wanted to share this little gem of a walk, so here it finally is.

On Sunday morning, as a break from the housework and wallpaper stripping I’d spent the previous two days doing, Alex and I decided we’d go out for the day. I’m notoriously indecisive and terrible at thinking of places to go, so I was glad that Alex already had a plan. He knows I love waterfalls (I love all types of running water, in fact. I find it so exciting and therapeutic at the same time.) and we’re trying to explore new places, so we set off to Henrhyd Falls in the Brecon Beacons.

Henrhyd Falls (which, as far as my limited Welsh can make out, translates as ‘Old Ford Falls’) are the highest in South Wales, and very easy to get to. There is a National Trust car park at the start of the trail down to the falls, but when we arrived it was jam-packed with cars and picnickers. Not surprising, since it was around midday on the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend. We found somewhere to park in the village of Coelbren nearby, and walked back to the start of the route.

The scenery along the path to the falls

It was a short walk down a steep hill, then across a wooden bridge and up some steps to the waterfall. The woodland surrounding us was green and lush, and our progress was pretty slow because I kept stopping to take photos.

The waterfall was stunning. We stood for a while to watch it and take photos, then decided we would take the path to the side and walk behind it.

Henrhyd Falls

I have a terrible fear of heights and falling, so on the slippery path with a drop to one side, it was slow going. If Alex hadn’t been with me, patiently waiting and helping me across, I never would’ve attempted it. I imagine most people would find it easy enough, though.
Boy, was it worth the effort for me! First time I’ve ever stood behind a waterfall; it was brilliant to see the water crashing down, and feel the spray.

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Behind the waterfall

We made our way back the way we had come, and decided to follow the path along the river, signposted to the village of Abercraf, for a while before turning around and retracing our steps to where we had parked. In all, the walk took us an hour an a half, although we stopped for a while at the waterfall.

Lovely water drips on the rocks, and a red-faced selfie

We didn’t realise at the time that the route we’d taken was almost exactly the National Trust’s ‘Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech’ walk – we didn’t get as far as the landslide or old watermill, but I’d like to go back one weekday and do it when there aren’t as many people around. Henrhyd Falls would be a lovely spot for a picnic after a long walk.

2015

An exciting year – lots of big life decisions. Oh, and asthma.

So much happened last year that it’s difficult to know how to cram it all into a blog post. I’ve tried…

Early in 2015 I picked up my fitness routine again. I did Jillian Michaels workouts in my living room, Pilates sessions on the reformer in the spare bedroom, and then I started running again. I decided to use the C25k app to structure my workouts, and it worked really well for me for a few weeks, but I soon felt I could do more and went rogue for a couple of sessions, then stopped using the app. I’m not great at sticking to plans… I also started going to the free beginners sessions held by my local running club, which helped me to realise that I actually like running with other people. I never would have thought of myself as a social runner!

Springtime always makes my boyfriend and me want to get out and about even more than usual, and living near the canal meant we could walk straight from our house most evenings. One particular Sunday in June we did a lovely 15-mile walk along the canal from Blaenavon to Pontypool. We also walked up several of the mountains in our local area, and took my parents’ dog along for most of those trips.

Things took a bit of a turn for the worst when I found out that I was going to lose my job. The funding for my workplace had been cut, and everyone was in danger of being made redundant. Everyone but me, because I was on a fixed term contract. No redundancy benefits for me, just a ‘thank you and goodbye’. Cue much panic, and many hours spent looking for a new job.

It’s difficult to think of anything more soul crushing than the process of desperately looking for a job, especially when you know most of the jobs you apply for will just be something to pay the bills.

In the midst of it all were the Easter holidays. I had two weeks off, and I spent them not searching for or applying for jobs. I spent them walking and running and reading. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do with my life, and I decided that sod it, I wanted to work in fitness. I wasn’t going to let other people put me off this time. I didn’t want to wake up every morning and go to an admin job, sitting on my bum, shuffling paper, not enjoying what I was doing with my life. So I did it. I applied for a 24+ loan, was accepted, signed up to do a course that would incorporate fitness instructor, personal trainer, and exercise referral qualifications.

Part of the reason I decided to take that plunge was because 2015 was the year I turned 30. I already felt I’d missed out on a lot when I’d been ill, and I hadn’t had a chance to really do some of the things that I wanted to. It wasn’t exactly an ‘ermagherd, I’m 30 and I’ve done nothing with my life!’ panic, but there was a definite feeling that I needed to start doing things that would make me feel more fulfilled.

My 30th birthday was great. They made a fuss of me in work, bought me plants for the garden and balloons. Ever tried to drive home in a 2-seater convertible with helium balloons on the passenger seat? I nearly didn’t make it to 31! My parents took me for a surprise Thai meal in the evening, and Alex had a cake made especially for me. He had also surprised me with a weekend away in North Wales, so that we could walk up Snowdon, which we’d been talking about doing for some time.

That was a bloody brilliant weekend. We stayed in a gorgeous B&B called Felindre Farm. If ever you’re looking to visit that area of the world, I highly recommend it. Gorgeous accommodation in a beautiful area, and the owners are lovely.
The Sunday morning we were supposed to walk up Snowdon it was rainy and gloomy. We ate breakfast, crossing our fingers that the weather would improve, and it did.

This is probably one of the best photos from the climb. I was still pretty cheery at this point.

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About halfway up Snowdon. Still smiling…

For the most part, I can’t say I was the greatest company to walk with that day. I found it a struggle, even though the Llanberis path is supposed to be the easiest route, and by the time we reached the summit I was very grouchy. The mountain was wreathed in mist, and there was no view from the top, so I don’t really have any photos of us when we got up there. By the time we walked back down, I felt like my knees were filled with broken glass, but after a lie down in the B&B and a shower I felt much better, and pleased with the achievement of making it to the top.
I had just finished getting ready to go into Bala, the nearest town, for a meal, when Alex got down on one knee and proposed.
He had wanted to do it at the top of Snowdon, but my face of thunder, combined with the mist and cold, had persuaded him that wasn’t the right time.

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The rest of the holiday was filled with congratulations from the owners of the B&B, as well as their other guests. We spent the day after Snowdon at the Lake Vyrnwy Spa, resting our tired legs. We visited the Red Kite centre near Rhayader, and meandered home on our last day via Barmouth, to be met with more congratulations from our families when we arrived.

In July I started a new job, working for an organisation I’d been trying to get a job with for several years. I instantly loved the job and the people there, and it was a job that really made me feel as though I was making a difference and doing something good with my life. It was only a temporary position, which fitted in well with my fitness qualification. By the time my contract ended, I would have all my qualifications and could move into the fitness industry.

I qualified as a fitness instructor a week after starting my new job. I was suffering from a cold, thanks to ‘new job germs’, but I made it through the assessments and passed.

Then I hit another big fitness-related problem. The cold became a chest infection. The chest infection didn’t clear up. After a month or so, the doctor gave me a Ventolin inhaler. It wasn’t until October/November that they diagnosed me with asthma and gave me a steroid inhaler. By that time I’d lost a lot of my fitness and hadn’t been able to keep up with my course. It felt like a bit of a disaster, but with some help from my tutor I plodded on to get my paperwork and assignments finished, then put the attendance part of my course on hold and tried to get my brand new asthma under control whilst building my fitness back up.

By the autumn we were in a position, with a lot of help from our generous families, to think about buying a house. We weren’t really looking, we just thought we’d go for a drive to see what was about. We found a lovely house for sale, and within a few weeks we’d viewed it three times and were in the process of buying it.

So many big life decisions in such a short time! 2015 was, despite some sticky moments and the inevitable stresses that go along with these types of changes, one of the most positive I can remember.

And now here I sit, a qualified fitness instructor and a (still very slow) runner. I’m engaged to the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, typing this post in the dining room of the house that we own. Funny how much can change in a year!