My journey from 59 to ………

Archive for the tag “search dogs”

This girl can …… And does!!!

I’ve just changed my profile picture on Facebook to this: 
I made this up a little while ago and it was used by This Girl Can, build displayed in shopping centres!
Now, though, it’s been more relevant to me as I’ve bent, I’ve certainly bent, but I have NOT broken!
It’s been a strange couple of months. I think the kidney stone episode affected me more than I realised.
My way of being positive is to drive forward through all obstacles blasting them out of the way to create a path.
Unfortunately when the path of any vehicle is muddy, with water filled pits and mounds of loose debris the strain put on the engine can cause it to start to struggle. If it is not given the right treatment it can overheat, burn out and stop working.
This happened to me at the end of 1992 or early 1993, I don’t know the exact date.
Ray had his stroke on 30/11/88, my mum died in August 1992, I kept pushing forward until one day I pulled the quilt over my head and didn’t want to come out.
So I know what depression is! I was diagnosed with ‘reactive’ depression, took some wonderful tablets that anaesthetised me until I worked out the problem (I’d lost ‘me’) and the remedy (find somewhere I could go on my own and not have any demands made on me, for me this was going back to doing my family tree).
Why am I talking about this? Because I was driving along recently, found my eyes had started to leak (crying is active, this was passive) and realised that I was on the verge of slipping into depression again.
People say that you cannot cure depression by telling somebody to pull themselves together.
BUT ……. you can tell yourself that! And, for me that is the only thing that works!
I had lost my way. It’s been a long haul with problems with my knee followed by the kidney stone to say nothing about the issues surrounding being a carer!
Ray had been hiding all the medical appointments from me. Once I found out we ended up with loads of appointments that I had to take him to and support him through. He hates things like that so it was not easy! It also meant I had to spend a lot more time at home :-/
My nutrition’s been rubbish, I’ve hardly trained, my emotions have been all over the place and I’ve been kidding myself about all sorts of things.
BUT …….. that doesn’t mean I have to stay there!
Reaching that moment was good for me! Time to tackle everything, I’m not good at doing a bit at a time!
Because I feel sorry for Ray, and for some totally ridiculous, inexplicable reason I feel guilty about his stroke (!?!) I tend to let him get away with stuff. There is a feeling (that I’m sure we both have) that we are stuck in this situation. Well we are if we want to keep living here but we do not have to and there could be alternatives! After I spelled that out very clearly there has been some improvement. Ray has even made me a few cups of coffee! Things are far from perfect but I gave toughened up and I’m not being quite such a doormat!
I talked the issues through with Darryl, personal trainers really go through it!, and we came up with a plan. He decided to give me a new program (if I’d tried to continue with my last one I’d have been fed up because I wouldn’t have been as good) but that it would only contain things that I liked!!!
This has really worked!
I never write my program in the blog but I’m going to just this once!
Dynamic warm up

4×8 bench press

4 mins rowing, 10 fast then 10 recovery strokes

4×12 walking lunges holding a ViPR overhead

3×20 kettlebell snatches

4×8 seated cable row

4 mins boxing ‘beat up the bag’

4×8 leg press

3×20 rope slams
I love it! Most are now being done with heavier weights / more reps or sets. Only shall problem has been the lunges, my knees are not very keen and I need them for my walking so we will be talking about this!
I’m alternating the program with walking. I used to walk a lot, but that stopped when the knee was bad. I’m now getting back into it though, but not in trainers, in substantial walking boots!
Well, as you know I’ve been acting as a ‘misper’ for the search dogs for about a year but I now want to take that a stage further and I’ve joined Essex Search and Rescue. Look them up on Facebook!

Everybody’s heard of Mountain Rescue, but people aren’t so aware of Lowland Rescue who operate over much of the country. Everybody is a volunteer but they undergo thorough training and have to pass an annual fitness test …… now do the boots make sense?

Don’t tell them but the fitness won’t be a problem, the first aid should be fine, but the navigation may be a bit of a challenge! Although I’ve always managed to achieve anything I’ve really wanted to do so it should be fine!

So, I’m tackling the issues, regaining control, the engine us purring nicely and I’m moving forward nicely 🙂


Oh. The nutrition. Hmm.

Well, it’s improving ….. maybe I can do things a bit at a time after all 😃


What does a 62 year old do?

Two weeks since my last post, and in that time I’ve aged another year. I am now 62!

I remember that, throughout my life, I’ve heard people who are older than me saying how they don’t know how they got that old, that they don’t feel any different etc. etc. Very amusing thinking back to a friend’s 30th birthday when I bought him a walking stick and a bottle of Grecian 2000. Well, at that point he seemed old to me!

So, 62!

I’m fairly confident that most of the readers of my blog are younger than me and may wonder how one spends one’s time when one gets to that age.

Well, I don’t know how ‘one’ would, although I do see groups shopping and lunching together, but I do know what I’ve been doing.

So, in that last two weeks I have:

  • read an inspirational book called Unbroken. The true story of Louis Zamperini, an athlete who was on track to run a sub 4 minute mile when he was caught up in World War II, shot down and drifted for weeks in a life raft with no provisions, survived being captured and being placed in Japanese slave camps, got over his experiences,  forgave his captors and continued to be inspirational right up to his death. His experiences have been made into a film but I would really recommend the book, I learned so much about the war that I did not know. I love the photo of him skateboarding at 81!
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  • I’ve spent time in a men’s prison. As I’ve said before I’m on the Independent Monitoring Board of a Cat B men’s prison. It’s voluntary work (my medical problems and early retirement mean I’m not allowed to work) and it’s fascinating. There are masses of voluntary opportunities out there. You could help in a charity shop, do meals on wheels, help with youth organisations, visit housebound or elderly people or find ‘different’ things like I have!
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  • Talking of voluntary work, I’ve been out acting as a missing person (misper) for the search dogs both day and night time exercises. Now this is something anybody could do, you only have to stay put until the dog and it’s handler find you! Google search dogs and your county / area. They need new smells to look for so I’m sure you’d be welcome!
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  • This one is not something I do but only because I’m no longer allowed to and I want to make a plea for all of you to do it. DONATE BLOOD! Or better still donate platelets. A friend of mine’s two year old daughter has leukemia. She’s undergoing treatment which involves her needing a lot of platelets. Raising money is great (https://www.justgiving.com/hattieshaka) but giving blood / platelets doesn’t cost you anything but can make a huge difference to others.
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  • woken up at 4am to hear Ray grunting and shrieking. He’d fallen out of bed and was having a massive hypoglycemic attack. I tried to get glucose syrup into him but failed so it was 999 time. I love our emergency services! The operator took the details and immediately dispatched a paramedic but she insisted on staying on the line until they arrived in case of any changes. Chris, the paramedic, arrived very quickly, blue lights flashing, and established that, even after the bit of glucose I’d got into him, his blood sugar was only 2.3! The choices were: glucose gel (already tried and failed), injection in the bum or an intravenous drip (no chance of that!). Somehow we were able to get hold of him between us and hold him still for long enough for Chris to do the injection …… then we had to wait about 15 minutes for it to work! As Ray was very agitated we managed to get him sitting upright on the floor and I stood, knees bent, behind him so he could lean on me. The noises that were coming form my bad knee were unbelievable, well they kept Chris and I entertained for a while! Eventually Chris and I were able to get him back on the bed, remember Ray’s right arm is paralysed and his leg isn’t much use, it is so much easier when there are two of you! After persuading him to eat his blood sugar eventually rose to 5.7 when Chris felt he could leave him in my capable hands 🙂
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  • There was a four part series on television recently that I was completely hooked by, Walking the Nile. Explorer Levison Wood walked the length of the Nile (apart from a couple of hundred miles of active war zone that it was impossible to enter) from it’s source to the sea. The places he saw, the people he met and the experiences he had were amazing. The journey took him nine months and during that time I travelled through lush, green areas, areas that were almost impenetrable, deserts, war zones, you name it it was there! One of his companions died from the heat. They narrowly escaped in a gun battle. But the thing that stayed with me was the beauty of the country and the people. When I heard that he was doing a lecture on his experiences in London I had to go. My friends either could not come or didn’t want to so I went on my own! I’ve always been prepared to do stuff on my own, if I want to do something I’m not going to not do it just because nobody else wants to!!!!! It was fascinating to see ‘the man’ and to listen to what he had to say. You may remember in my last post I talked about JP Cole, Sierra Leone and how inspiring I found him. Both of these guys talk about the things they have done, seen and experienced in a matter of fact way and see the humour and humanity in situations. Neither of them over dramatise or sensationalise situations which makes their messages even more powerful. I’ve said before that if I didn’t have Ray I’d get a dog. Now I wonder if I would go to Africa???????
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  • There was another TV series I was hooked by, Lost Worlds with Monty Halls and Leo Houlding. I seem to be spotting a bit of a theme here! Whilst I have the commitment and sheer bloody mindedness to go on challenges involving walking and people I don’t think I’d have the skills and therefore the courage to do the stuff they were. If you get the chance watch both of these series!
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  • Last, but by no means least, my training! I love my training! Darryl’s just changed my programs again and I’ve got three new ones to do on my own at the gym. Getting new programs is always exciting because they push me out of my comfort zone and challenge me again! I can’t tell you what they are or I’d have to kill you (ha, ha, ha) but I can say they include kettlebells, dumbells, barbells, boxing, ViPR and TRX! One of the programs is intervals. Now I hate cardio …… unless it’s the right sort of cardio! This is the right sort for me! You may have heard of a formula to calculate your maximum heart rate 220 – your age. What a load of tosh! In that case I’m 40 years old!!!
  • I trained with Darryl today and we were doing cleaning …….. Which is sort of like this but with a lighter bar!
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  • Last week was our first session on this and I was learning the technique. At the end of the session I tried the last rep with 20kg and failed. By the end of today’s session I was doing sets of 5 with 25kg. Nothing when you compare it to my hero Zoe Smith but I was thrilled for me and it can only get better!
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  • I feel the need to say that Darryl lent me the book Unbreakable and told me about Walking the Nile (I told him about Lost Worlds!) Personal training is so much more than beating somebody up! Time to plug Club One Hundred again!!!
  • So, what can a 62 year old do?
  • Anything she wants!!!!!!!

2015 has started well.

Well here’s my first post of 2015, halfway through January.

Christmas and New Year are over, thank goodness. They are never a good time for us and this year was no exception. Once they are out of the way things can settle down (until Ray’s next major stress point, my birthday in March!).

So what about my new targets? I was struggling to come up with some for this year. Well, let’s face it, the last couple of years were pretty spectacular 😀 and how do you follow those?

But, after a lot of thought I came up with these:

1) To be leaner on 01/01/16 than I am on 01/03/15
2) To improve my PBs at upper body strength exercises
3) To do whatever the physios say is necessary to sort my knee out!

The first one may sound a bit odd, but let me explain.
I am NEVER going to be a naturally slim person. Yes, for the first time in my life, I have control of my weight, I still go up and down, albeit over a much smaller range.
Like most people, I start the year full of good intentions and with strong will but, over the course of the year it sneaks back up so I thought the best thing was to do was use that pattern to try and break it.
As you may have noticed, I do not like not meeting my targets so, hopefully, this will work!
I’ve just finished my two week detox and begun the year with a 7lb loss so that’s a good start.

Because of my knee (boo) I have been concentrating on upper body exercise, latterly strength work, for about the last 3-4 months so it makes sense to have a target in this area.

Again the knee …. I’ve now started the arthritis physio classes and, after one session, been promoted (or got rid of) to the functional exercise class!
Giving been given the ok to start doing some leg work I’ve been doing some gentle squats and lunges and I can’t believe how tight my quads are. At the moment it’s like I’ve never done legs before. I’ve been using the foam roller and tiger tail on my quads and IT band – it really hurts, but I know it has to be done! I can’t tell you how nice it us to have these feelings again though!

I am so busy at the moment. As well as training with Darryl, doing the program’s he’s given me at least three times a week, I’ve also signed up for two months of bootcamp at Club One Hundred! This means going out in Tuesday and Thursday evenings, breaking a pattern of sitting at home and eating! I have to say that I am loving it! The sessions are great fun and get me doing cardio!!!!

Today I was out fundraising with Search Dogs Essex. They are a great group of people, and dogs, who are all volunteers and give up their time to assist the police in searching for missing people. Not only do they give up their time to search, they have to do a massive amount of training. I have an easy role, I get left hidden in the woods as a ‘misper’ (missing person) and wait for the dogs to find me!

While we were there today I met Davina McCall! I gave always liked her on the TV and I was completely hooked by her Comic Relief Challenge. One amazing lady!
Well, we got talking (me? I know that’ll surprise you!) and she was interested in what I’d been up to!!!

Well, that got me thinking on the way home.

Darryl has got me listening to an audiobook called The Secret. It’s had a big impact on me. It stresses the importance of being thankful for the things that we have and, in trying to practice this, it has made me think far more openly and honestly about all aspects of my life and, today, I finally began to see why it may be that so many people have told me that I am inspirational!

– I taught, for ever, in a secondary school in one of the toughest areas of London (& loved it!)
– I survived a couple of pretty disastrous relationships!
– I’ve been the sole carer for Ray for the last 26 years!
– I lost masses of weight and have succeeded in keeping most of it off. I’m still more than 6 stone lighter than I was!
– I have been a non smoker, after being on 40+ a day, for over 4 years.
– My Multiple Sclerosis has gone from relapse & remitting to secondary progressive to benign (hooray, hooray!!!) I no longer need walking sticks or a Blue Badge!
– at the age off 55 I took up exercise for the first time and I am now completely addicted.
– Whilst I can no longer work I do interesting voluntary work including in a prison and with the search dogs!
– I’ve amassed a large collection of medals from different races including the London Marathon!
– I’ve built up a wide range of friends all of whom are positive (younger!) people!
– I am definitely the fittest and healthiest I have ever been and I think I am also the most positive and content as well.

For all of the above I give thanks.

Life is good! And there us no reason why it should not continue to improve.

Better stop now, I need to get to bed, I’m off to hide in the forest for the dogs tomorrow. 😃

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