Make a decision your future self will thank you for…

We live in a society that floods the media with ideals of the perfect body, the perfect face, the perfect hair. Just one glance at magazines and you are met with ‘lose 8lbs in 8 days’, ‘on trend looks for spring’ and ‘how she got her body back post-baby’. It’s exhausting!

But yet, ignoring those societal expectations, the truth remains that we only have one shot at life, and one body with which to live it.

I’ve been on a journey over the past couple of years. After seeing a few photographs of myself where I looked less than healthy, I resolved to start making some changes. I wanted to feel healthier and I wanted to look healthier.

Filling my body with good things
I remember when I was younger I was known as Lynsey ‘two-plates’ as I always had seconds at dinner time. My mum used to say I had hollow legs as I filled up another massive plate of food. I was never a ‘fat-kid’….I was lanky and all arms and legs, and must have had a very high metabolism as all the food never really showed! Until puberty came and the weight slowly but surely crept on. Due to being very tall, it was not noticeable at first….but it was there.

When I moved away to work overseas at the age of 23, I found myself in the beer and goulash capital of Europe. Living in Prague was an amazing 4 years for me, but it was also a very unhealthy time as well! And yes, before long, the weight was creeping on again. I was low on energy and getting sick a lot. None of this did I connect with what I was consuming though!

It wasn’t an overnight change, but slowly and surely, I started to take real notice of what was going into my body. I switched from white carbs to wholemeal. I upped the amount of vegetables and fruit in my diet. And most importantly, I invested time in learning how to cook. I educated myself on nutrition and became more aware of what to load up on (veg, fruit, grains and protein) and what to avoid (artificial ingredients and sugars, and processed foods).

Discovering Exercise

In school I shied away from PE. As a very academic teenager, PE was the only subject where I received negative results from my teachers: ‘must try harder’, ‘does not display a natural aptitude for PE’, and ‘unsatisfactory’. My high school PE teachers would be amazed to discover that I now go to the gym a few times a week, I am training to play roller derby and I take part in 5k and 10k running events.

The discovery of exercise was definitely the hardest part and it demanded a lot of willpower at the start in order for me to even lace up my trainers! I invested in a good pair of running shoes, safe in the knowledge that if I had spent money on something, I would certainly not let it go to waste. I joined a friendly, accessible and affordable gym – again knowing that if I was spending money I it, I would use it. It took a while but I soon started to enjoy the endorphin rush that came with exercise, find routines that worked for me, went along to classes provided by the gym….and started to see the results not only when I looked in the mirror, but in my energy levels and general health. My body was happier!!

Keeping the Balance

It’s hard to continuously be a food and exercise angel, and we all need treats! I used to be so disappointed in myself if I’d been super healthy for a long time and then fell off the ‘healthy wagon’ and had a binge night involving Kettle Chips and dip,  maltesers, jelly babies, and wine. I’d wake up in the morning, feel awful but then give up on my ‘healthy living’. I soon came to realise that the occasional treat or binge is going to happen. And that was okay. As long as I picked myself up the next day and stepped back to the healthy option again. I realised that it was all about balance. I wasn’t going to be health-obsessed and forget to live my life and have fun. But I didn’t have to forget about my health because I was having too much fun either!

Seeing The Results
As I have said, this has certainly not been an overnight change. But when I look at photos of myself from 3 years ago, I can compare and see how much healthier I am now.

Me circa 2011

Me circa 2011

I’m now fitter, healthier and happier. And I think my future self will thank me for it!

Me circa 2014

Me circa 2014

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‘The Yes Girl’ – Adventures in Positivity

Have you ever seen the film ‘Yes Man’? It is based on a book by Danny Wallace, and after watching the movie I immediately scooted online to buy the book!

“Yes Man” is the story of what happened when Danny, after a chance encounter with a mystery man on a late-night bus, decided to say YES to everything, in order to make his life more interesting. And life definitely got more interesting!

I went through a time in my life where saying yes wasn’t really an option. Being in a long-distance relationship, large portions of my life was spent travelling to see my partner or with him visiting me. We would try to fit in weeks and weeks of a relationship in just a couple of days, and lived only half a life in our own cities in order to try to maintain a relationship over the distance, scared of building up too much of a life where we were out of guilt or fear of it pushing even more distance between us. When we broke up (amicably, I must say!) in the latter part of 2013, I suddenly found myself in a strange place. All the time of my week that used to be taken up with visits, phone calls, and long Skype chats, was all of a sudden being spent quietly sitting in front of the television. Having not built up much of a life in my city, I had a choice. I could either stay at home and continue to live the ‘half life’ that I was living. Or, I could make the effort to go out and do things. I chose the latter.

I had spent the year of 2013 taking up my own ’30 before 30′ challenge, which had already put me in a ‘go do it’ kind of mood! I chose to continue this by taking up the ‘YES’ approach to life. Whether it’s helping someone to paint their living room, to ceilidh dancing on a Friday night, to taking up roller derby training, if I am able to do something, I will say yes.

The results of this ‘yes’ approach to life are already evident.

I’m busier. But my social circle has extended significantly. New friends and an extended social circle make for fun and interesting new stories and adventures. I’ve also made efforts to reconnect with old friends both near and far and hope to do so more in the future. In reconnecting, I’m reclaiming parts of my past in which each of them play an important role.

I’m learning new things. I’ve sewn a skirt and a bag (neither of which were hugely successful but each an achievement in itself just by completing it!). I’ve learned to cook new dishes and new types of food. I’ve learned how to skate again and by some miracle can stay upright on 8 wheels while learning roller derby techniques.

I’m taking adventures and challenging myself. I always loved an adventure and I am definitely no stranger to the spontaneous. Yet, somehow over the past few years I seemed to be having less and less adventures and getting more and more stuck in the day-to-day. A few ‘yes’ moments later and I’ve got the next bunch of adventures lined up – three weeks in Ecuador this summer including sleeping in the Amazon jungle for two nights, a mini-adventure for a shark dive later in the year, a trio of running challenges over the next few months in the shape of The Colour Run, Race for Life and the Great Scottish Run.

Who knows where the next ‘yes’ may take me?!

And so, I would like to take on the manifesto that Danny wrote in his book.

‘I, being of sound mind and body, do hereby write this manifesto for my life. I swear I will be more open to opportunity. I swear I will live my life taking every available chance. I will say Yes to every favour, request, suggestion and invitation. I WILL SWEAR TO SAY YES WHERE ONCE I WOULD SAY NO.’

‘It’s not what they take away from you that counts – it’s what you do with what you have left.’ ~ Hubert Humphrey

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

– Theodore Roosevelt –

In the summer of 2010, my family were dealt a cruel blow with the news that my 34 year old cousin, John, was ill. John’s health hadn’t been the best for a while but it took a long time for the doctors to finally figure out what was wrong with him. I remember vividly my mum calling me to let me know they finally had a diagnosis. It was cancer. A rare form of leukaemia.

The type of blood cancer that John had was rare, so rare in fact that they did not have a huge amount of research evidence linked to it, making the battle ahead appear greater and more challenging. He fought with bravery and determination with the help of his doctors and the support of his family against this evil disease whose hold was all too strong. On the morning of 25th October 2010, John died in hospital with his wife, Amanda, at his side. My family’s heart collectively broke and we felt the balance of our world shift noticeably and irreversibly as we tried to come to terms with this loss.

This cruel disease does not discriminate. Every 15 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer. There are over 100 different types of blood cancer, and anyone of any age, from a new-born baby to a grandparent, can be diagnosed. John was at the beginning of his adventure with his wife of just two years when he was diagnosed. A life together cut short. Days that should have been and never were.

John

John

John has inspired me. That same quiet determination with which he faced everything in life, and the way he found joy in the beautiful, simple moments, the dignity with which he faced the challenges that life threw at him, and his infectious laugh and wicked sense of humour – I want to honour his memory.

On October 6th 2013, three years to the month that we lost John, I will be running the Great Scottish Run 10k in memory of John and to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

It is my hope that, through fundraising for this incredible charity, it can go further in finding causes, improving early and accurate diagnosis, and developing safer and more effective treatments for blood cancer patients. Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research is the only UK charity dedicated to finding better treatments and cures for all blood cancers.Funds raised for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research are helping make real progress in research to save more lives, and reach a place where every blood cancer patient can go on to live a full life, without fear of relapse.

As I train for this challenge, I’ll be sure to update here. Please share if you can, and if you would like to support this challenge, please click on the Just Giving link on the right of this page, or click right here!