Another trip to Mumbles – Juneathon 2018, Day 3

I’m now 38, the same age my mother was when my dad died.
In some ways we’re extremely similar. I was reminded of this today whilst I was waiting to catch the bus.
We had to move away from our home after dad died. It was a farm in the middle of nowhere and mum couldn’t afford the upkeep. We moved to Tenby: an idyllic seaside town in South Wales where the sandy beaches stretch for miles, and the streets pop with colour and life. This was when the claudication in her legs became severe and she’d spend hours walking to try to improve her circulation.

I remember her worrying that she looked weird walking around. That she was too fat to be seen in public. That she was strange to be sitting on the beach alone, without a dog. That people would judge her for sitting on one of the hundreds of public benches, seemingly doing nothing, in all weathers.

And we’re similar in that I too have to sit because my legs are in pain. I too go for a walk without any form of companion. I’m not just fat, I’m morbidly obese.

But the difference between us is that my mum’s experience taught me that it was okay to not be okay, to not be able to stand all the time, to not always have people around me. She was literally less than half my weight when she worried about being too fat. If I held myself to that standard then I would never get out of the house again.

And so it was that I found myself sitting on the floor at the bus stop because I’d arrived 30 seconds after 3 students who availed themselves of the perch. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge them the use of it. But I was a little annoyed that I’d walked an extra stop to get to the one with the seat, just for it to be full.
And unlike my mother, although I know I looked extremely unusual sitting on the floor, I also didn’t care very much. Because I know it doesn’t matter what other people think.

The plan today was to check on a couple of geocaches in Mumbles whilst ensuring that I had roughly a mile long walk, ending it all with a bit of shopping.

It was hot today.
I sweat far more than any normal person because of my weight. I also refuse to allow that to stop me from doing things. But boy was it pouring off me today.


That is Mumbles.
I can’t help but love returning here.

The first cache I checked on was fine, and right beside it I spotted these wild strawberries. I’m getting quite good at this plant recognition thing. I even recognised these without the help of my handy app.

Cache #2 was also fine. And to make things a little better for me, it is in a shady, wooded glade.

And then came the hill to cache #3. I have photos. But they’re not going on here. Let’s just say that the potential sweat monster became a raging, wheezing reality. And then to top it off I couldn’t find the cache. I spent a few minutes dripping into bits of bushes as I searched foliage looking for the missing container. But that thing has been nabbed.

Oh well, 2 out of 3 isn’t bad.

Unlike this gate I passed.
That is bad.

Day 3 – Mile long walk
Steps taken – 8,640


Janathon 2018, Day 25 – Look how far I’ve come

It’s not the best picture in the world, but that Ladies and Gentlemen is Loftus War Memorial. And that is where I strolled to tonight – with ease.

When I started this blog back in January 2015 I was suffering from severe muscle degeneration caused by medication I had been taking for years. Although I’ve always been overweight, I’d also been active and tried to remain as fit as possible whilst trying to cope with a quite severe mental illness. But the problems caused by statins left my muscles so weak that it was an effort to physically get out of bed, or to walk across a room. By the time I started the blog I had worked out what was causing the problem, but recovery has been slow.

Back in January 2015 I struggled to walk the length of 20 houses and back. I remember how much my knees ached and how difficult it was to put on clothes. Tonight I decided to try it again. There was no problem getting out of the door. I walked the length of the street and then I decided that I’d carry on for a bit. So I did.

That’s how I arrived at the war memorial a mile from mum’s house. And then I walked back, very happy with myself indeed.

In other news today which isn’t Janathon related: the Old Trout’s squeezy marmite pot turned up. This is the one that she’s turning into a geocaching container. Apparently the plan is to decant the marmite into a different container. That way there’ll be no time pressure with regards to finishing this yeasty delight.

But just look at that box!

There were other items in the box. Things like UHT milk and toilet rolls. But essentially my mother bought £25 worth of goods from Amazon Pantry in order to get a jar of marmite that wasn’t glass. A box that she couldn’t even lift!

Look How far I’ve come Day: 2 mile walk

Steps Taken: 7,023

Difficulty level: Easy

Janathon 2018, Day 21 – perfecting my plank

It was horrible weather here again today: cold and snowing. I didn’t particularly want to head out in that. Instead, I looked out of the window for a while at the birds clustering around mum’s bird feeders. I took about a hundred useless photos before deciding that it was far too cold for such nonsense.

So, more indoor exercising for me today.

I thought I’d have a go at a straight armed plank.

Well, that didn’t go so well. After a minute and a half in the best straight armed plank position I could attain, all that was happening was that my arms were a bit sore. And they would have been better exercised had I spent that time completing kneeling push ups.

The problem was my bottom. Well, actually no, it was my stomach. Oh let’s just face it: I am morbidly obese. The problem is my size.

With my arms straight my plank looks more like a bent branch than ever. I was there, lying on the floor, with my bottom projecting far too far up in the air. I hate to think what I looked like. But hats off to mum who was watching me the whole time and letting me know how my “form” was without laughing.

I tried to get that backside down. But when I did, the weight of my huge stomach pulled everything down so much that I was afraid of the stress I was putting on my back.

So, we decided that I should try the normal, bent elbow plank again and see if I could get a better abdominal workout with that.

Please bear with me for these descriptions. I hate being the weight I am. I especially loathe the size of my stomach. And yes, these descriptions make me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. But I believe that if obese people like myself can feel less ashamed when exercising then they’re more likely to be able to lead the healthy lives that they should be leading.

And so… back to the bent elbow plank: I found it! I finally found the “sweet spot” where my abdominal muscles start to tense.

With anyone of a normal weight there is a clear gap between the floor and their stomach. (As with the monochrome man above) But my stomach rests partially on the floor. I’d initially tried to stop this from happening. But my belly isn’t holding me up; it just happens to be too large to do anything else.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how long I can keep holding one of these true planks. And… when I fall, I’ll already be that much closer to the ground 😉

I completed today’s Janathon exercising by reaching my daily step goal and by doing 3 x 50 5kg alternating chest presses with mum’s lonely dumbbell.

Perfecting my plank Day: 1 useless plank, reached daily step goal, 3 x 50 5kg alternating chest presses

Steps Taken: 3,783

Difficulty Level: Easy

Janathon 2018, Day 12 – Naff!

Today was a bust! I didn’t even reach my daily step goal of 3,000 steps.

Last night I had a bad mental break and couldn’t get to sleep until 5am. I should have realised just before I went to bed when the Old Trout turned into a Lilliputian, that something was up. As we talked she gradually seemed to diminish in size as the settee she sat on grew larger and larger in comparison. In fact, the whole room was huge compared with her tiny body.

I’d thought it was just an hallucination, so didn’t even bother mentioning it. Unfortunately that turned into a full scale war of neurons misfiring in my brain. I eventually got to sleep as I said, about 8 hours later. Which meant that I wasn’t in fine fettle today.

I was too tired to do anything except for sleep and pick a fight with my mother.

At which point she produced a present which I think was meant to cheer me up:

A set of 15 klip-lock boxes. Which I was given the dubious honour of opening. To the credit of The Old Trout it had its intended effect. I soon had all the boxes opened and scrutinised.


Well, They are if you’re a geocacher 😉 We sat there for quite a few minutes talking about the relative merits of each one. Especially the largest box, one with a 9.7 litre capacity – how would that be best decorated and hidden?

After such a rousing discussion I persuaded myself to do 20 kneeling push ups.

And then with the Old Trout spotting me, I tried my very first plank. I’d been researching it last night and thought it might be a way to help strengthen my core. If only I could pull the move off.

I do weigh an awful lot (23 stone) and I had no idea if my feet could hold me up in that position at all. If you’ve read my blog posts from previous years you’ll know that I suffered from statin induced rhabdomylosis. What that means is that medication I take, caused an extreme side effect: a break-down of my muscles so severe that I could hardly walk or lift anything. I’m still recovering from that, many months after discontinuing the statins.

As I say, there was a point, not too long ago, where I found lifting a mug difficult. So I’m still discovering what my body can and can’t do. Getting into a true plank position would be quite an achievement.

And then I did my first plank.

I maintained it for 49.27 seconds! – which the daft old bat moaned at me for, because apparently keeping her arm over the timer button for that length of time nearly killed her. Ridiculous woman! She knows she’s got two extremely painful shoulders. What was she doing putting her arm up like that in the first place? Because she didn’t believe I’d even get off the ground, that’s why!

Neither did I.

Great minds think alike. Alike, but perhaps not all that great: no matter how hard we tried, there was no way we could get all of those boxes to fit back inside the largest one. We are ridiculously inept. Especially as, now I come to think of it, we even have a photo of the whole package before I tore it apart!

Naff Day: 20 push ups, 49 second plank

Steps Taken: 1,467

Difficulty Level: Hard

Janathon 2018, Day 8 – Last minute workout

Today was initially a day of flopping, sleeping, waking up and feeling awful before starting the cycle all over again.
The only emotion I felt was guilt. It’s hard to do anything except for hide from life when all you can do is feel guilty. I’ve tried explaining it before like this: imagine that you’ve woken up knowing that you’ve done the worst thing imaginable. Perhaps you’ve murdered someone. Well, you can feel the guilt associated with it, but no matter how hard you rack your brain, you can’t remember what you did. That’s how I felt today. Except thankfully, after all these years, I can at least convince myself that it is just my head playing tricks again. But there was no way on earth I wanted to do anything other than hide (and sleep).

The turning point in the day came when my sister brought me dinner: a comforting bag of fish and chips from my local chippy. Perhaps it was the sustenance from the battered cod and calorific, but gorgeous fat ladened chips that made me feel better. But I think it had more to do with the fact that my nephew turned up too. He’s still young enough to be adorable – and I’m going to hold on to that for as long as I can. But today I was also able to teach him one of those “life lessons” that I mentioned yesterday. Today’s lesson was all about how his aunt can hold a straight face when he asks what a smear test is. The poor lad got told in full detail. I swear that he was squirming off the chair and into the wall at one point. I was having far too much fun watching him to stop talking about “women’s bits” and “cervixes” sooner.
Yes, at that age I’d have been mortified too. But if he can put up with an old lady like me talking about stuff like, that then he’s not only going to be hard to embarrass later on in life, but he’s going to be better equipped to deal with the 50% of the population who have to deal with such things.

Well, after they left I thought I’d make myself a sports bra. I’m off on holiday very soon and I really want a breathable, comfortable top to wear whilst out and about. So, I made myself a brazi with some supplex that I bought ages ago.
I’m getting a lot better at sewing. I essentially started because I was fed up of having nothing suitable to wear, especially when I went out walking. And now I have loads! Tonight I also have my first ultra-wicking, breathable 3xl sports bra, complete with power mesh to stop everything from bouncing.

Not that I tend to bounce very often. My body isn’t particularly good at that sort of stuff. But in the summer if my niece or nephew challenge me to a hill-rolling contest I’ll be the best prepared adult on the hill.

And for some reason, sewing that calmed me down enough so that I could hop on my recumbent bike and pedal for half an hour.
Yeah Janathon – another bit of exercise that wouldn’t have been done without it.


Last minute workout Day: 30 minutes on the recumbent bike
Steps Taken: 3,548 – no way. I’ll have to remove my vivofit next time I cycle :/
Difficulty Level: Medium

Janathon 2018, Day 3 – My Birthday Dinner

Today’s exercise consisted of walking into the City centre and back for my Birthday dinner. I don’t generally eat out. I don’t even like to be seen eating in public because of my size. I never manage to enjoy what I’m eating because I keeping worrying too much about what people are thinking about me. And yes, I know that I shouldn’t care. But that’s easier said than done sometimes isn’t it?

But I did agree to this birthday meal out.
Mostly because of the way my nephew’s eyes lit up everytime he mentioned the place. I don’t know how many times he’s mentioned the “chocolate fountains” to me, but it’s certainly in the double digits.

I’d like to mention now that it is not my birthday today. My birthday was just under a month ago. But because I was mentally ill on my birthday, and then my sister was physically ill the next time we arranged to go, this was the first time we’d been able to get there.

It was lovely. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet. And you can see what I tucked into.
The sprats had a wonderful time sploshing marshmallows around in the chocolate fountain and I even got my brother-in-law to try sushi for the first time.
All was right with the world.
Until I tried to walk home. Corr! Was I stuffed, or what?!
I think I had to sit on every seat on the way back (and all of the available low walls)




Here’s a photo I took from one of the seats of our delightful Christmas lights. The Christmas trees are set up so that they look as if they’ve got garlands of Christmas tree lights strung around them.
So, it took longer than I’d imagined to walk back, but I did it and completed 7,686 steps in the process.

By the way, what do you think of my plaits? I thought it was windy and raining. So I wore them in order to keep my hair in a reasonable state until I reached my family in town. It was only when I had the photo taken that I realised I’d forgotten about them entirely!

Ach well, you’re only 38 once right?

My Birthday Dinner Day: 1.6 mile walk
Steps Taken: 7,686
Difficulty level: Medium


Juneathon 2017, Day 17 – Hawaiian Party

You know what isn’t great when it comes to Juneathon? Trying to fit it in around other things. Especially if those other things aren’t compatible in the least with exercising. And so it was with an activity I had planned for today: drinking.

The pool lads had invited me to go to a Hawaiian themed party with them. In fact, it was a party thrown in honour of our illustrious leader’s 50th birthday. When I say “leader” – this relates to the Mumbles Pool league. “He” being the organiser behind the whole endeavour. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I don’t play pool. I’m useless at it. But I have for the past few years been heading along to support one of the Mumbles’ Pool teams. It’s an unusual arrangement. But hey, life would be boring if we all followed the same path, right?!

I was a little dubious about whether or not they were pulling my leg about the supposed theme of the evening. Our pool organiser does generally sport flamboyant Hawaiian shirts, but that didn’t mean that I wouldn’t look like a right plonker if I turned up for the night and was the only one wearing a Hawaiian shirt. So I decided to hedge my bets and find something that wouldn’t necessarily look out of place even if no one else was dressed up. It’s hard enough to find anything that’ll fit me (I’m a UK size 26) let alone with an Hawaiian theme, so I resorted to trawling the internet for some suitable fabric and making myself a dress. In the end (at 5am on Saturday morning) I had something suitable to wear for Saturday night’s party.

2017 06 shirred blue flamingo dress

Shirred flamingo dress

Perhaps they don’t have flamingoes in Hawaii, but when our dear pool leader saw me he seemed incredibly nonplussed. I felt rather downcast. A couple of the pool team members were greeted with delight and given a tea-bag because they were wearing Hawaiian themed tops. No such honour was bestowed upon me. I was quite upset. Perhaps the flamingoes aren’t quite right, but the palm trees… I found fabric that had palm trees plastered all over it. I then made a dress and… well, I’ve never felt so forlornly in need of a tea-bag in my entire life! (I don’t drink tea). What an injustice!

I don’t know what the tea-bags signified. Probably just that our delightful (and Hawaiian shirt clad) leader was suitably impressed with their attempts to follow in his footsteps. All I know is that everyone else seemed to have a tea-bag except for me. Had I known that I would have been discriminated against I might have also made a suitable placard. Admittedly I really can’t work out if the sign needed to say something like “Tea-bags for all!”, “Flamingoes for Hawaii!” or “Big women can’t find Hawaiian shirts to fit them, you moron!”.


They’re happy, because they both received tea-bags 

You might be wondering what all of this has to do with exercising for Juneathon. It’s just a long-winded way of saying that I didn’t really do anything extra today. I’d showered and set my hair early and couldn’t face messing that up. So, apart from a bed stretch I didn’t do any extra exercising for Juneathon.

But I did have a great night out (even if I didn’t get a tea-bag).

Hawaiian Party Day: Bed Stretch. Walk to bus, then to the pub.
Steps Taken: 9,279
Difficulty Level: Easy