The Wanderer

The Nomad

I have always been a bit of a wanderer by nature. I have lived in five different towns/ cities in my thirty-five-year life. In a previous blog I spoke about how I could not rule out the possibility of relocating again. Had I passed the medical and been able to join the Army then different postings would have taken me to different parts of the world. As it turned out I ended up living in different parts of England anyway.
As each year passes and I reflect more on what I have achieved in my life I begin to think about how much of theses achievements I would have had if I only ever lived in one town/ city my entire life. I have worked with and been friends with people who have only ever lived in one place. Some have only ever lived in one house their entire life and instead of them moving out their parents did. While I admire their ability to settle in one place, I do think about what they miss out on by not experiencing life in different parts of the world. I do not mean living in different countries, although that would expand their world view and life experiences. I mean living in different parts of the same country. As an example, somebody who lives in Bradford will have a different view on life then somebody who lives in Chelsea. The media like to talk about the London bubble in relation to our elected politician’s as a way of saying that MP’s are privileged and don’t understand the real world. This may be true for some but not all MP’s.
In truth I probably would have achieved the same things had I only lived in one place my entire life. Would I have had the same experiences? No, had I only lived in one place my entire life I would not have met the people who have shaped me into the person writing this post. The life experiences of the people I have met have given me the life experiences I have had. Would I have had the same issues with Depression and Social Anxiety? Probably as my body doesn’t produce enough Serotonin naturally. All I do know is that when the urge to relocate returns I should think long and hard about what I have to gain as well as what I will be giving up.

2020 Goals

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As we return to the 20’s many people will be coming up with new years resolutions and saying things like, “New Year, New Me”. I try not to do these things, instead I like to set myself achievable goals for the year. That way I simply need to make small changes in certain areas to either improve my current situation or put me on the correct path to achieving these goals. In no particular order my goals for 2020 are:
• Read more. I am not much of a reader; I tend to learn more about a subject from watching a programme. When I do read a book or an article it is to learn about something, so fiction books are not something I would pick up for me. I do have some autobiographies I have not finished or even started reading. The small step I will take is to read one chapter a day.
• Enter a minimum of two weightlifting competitions. I have competed in one contest and really enjoyed it. I will not put too much pressure on myself to win, I will simply do them for fun.
• Learn something new, do something new and go somewhere new. This is something I have been doing since 2017 and helps me to stay on the road to recovery from mental illness.
• Spend more time enjoying the moment. This will sound corny; however, I have an annoying habit of overthinking which does not help my mental health. I am aware of different courses I can do in Swindon, my aim is to find one where I have to go somewhere instead of doing the course online.

Three Years Back

December 19th, 2019 marked three years since I moved back to Swindon. In this time my life has been a bit of a whirl wind in terms of how much change has occurred. Some of it has been good, some of the change was bad at the time, however it has all provided me with the opportunity to learn and grow as a person. Examples of this include the multiple temporary jobs I took on to keep myself employed, returning to the leisure industry and seeing how different operators run their facilities and starting to write blogs. I also trained at different gyms before finding Battleground Fitness. Had it not been for the support and positive atmosphere of Battleground Fitness I may not have gained the confidence to take part in a weightlifting competition as before Battleground, my training had reached a deep plateau and I was only training because I always have. I didn’t have any real goals and was going through the motions. This had coincided with one of the deepest relapses of mental illness that I have had.
I have lived in five different parts of England in my life; York, Weston Super Mare, Swindon, Louth and Grimsby. Each area has taught me different lessons and shaped me into the person I am today. Can I rule out relocating again? No, although I want to settle down, I cannot say that if I was offered a promotion which meant another relocation, I would reject it. What I can say though is that I have no plans to relocate again.

2019

It is nearly the end of 2019 so once again it is time to look back on what this year has brought to my life. 2019 has had lots of ups with some downs. The downs have previously been covered in past blogs. The highs have involved being promoted at work, moving into my own place again as well as competing in my first ever Weightlifting competition. I also went to Barcelona to visit my older sister who moved there in April 2018. Seeing my older sister in Barcelona and meeting her new group of friends made me feel much more relaxed about her decision to move there. I new she would be fine as she is one of those people who always manages to land on her feet, whatever the situation. I simply needed to see her there to put my mind at ease.
So, what else has 2019 brought to my life and given me the opportunity to learn? I was promoted to Duty Manager at work. As Duty Manager my primary role is the day to day running of the building, ensuring it is safe for staff and customers to use the facility. I place higher emphasis on ensuring that the building is safe for staff to work in for the simple reason that if the building is not safe for staff to work in it will not be safe for customers to use. Each Duty Manager has an operational aspect of the building that they have overall responsibility for, mine is the gym and fitness classes. It has been a bit challenging since taking over this responsibility with some instructors leaving and having to find cover along with dealing with members concerns over some classes being cancelled before I took over, however so far it looks like I have been able to overcome these challenges. It helps that the Regional Fitness Class Lead is willing to aid when needed and that before I took over, she took the time to show me how to process class KPI’s each month.
In terms of my plans to learn something new, visit somewhere new and do a new physical task every three months I have fared well. I have taken part in my first of what I hope to be many more weightlifting competitions, which meant combined two of the three objectives. I had to learn how to perform the Snatch correctly, learn a new style of training and then had to physically take part in the competition. I have also taken up DDP Yoga, which is more of a fitness-based Yoga, developed by the three-time WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page. Once again, this combined learning a new training style along with having to physically take part in the activity. As far as new places I went to Ascot for a race weekend and stayed in Bracknall. There has also been the challenge of learning a new job role and so I have had the chance to learn new skills professionally, physically and personally.
All in all 2019 has been a good year.

Graves Disease

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Graves Disease is an immune system condition which can cause the Thyroid Gland to become overactive, meaning it produces too much Thyroid hormone. In the UK it is estimated that one in every one-hundred adults have the condition and is more common in women. In-fact women are five to ten times more likely to develop the condition then men according to endocrinesurgeon.co.uk. As it is an autoimmune system condition, Graves Disease causes the body’s own immune system to attack the Thyroid Gland as it confuses the Thyroid Gland as an invader. The autoantibodies attach to the patient’s Thyroid Gland and stimulate it to make thyroid hormones, resulting in a state of thyrotoxicosis. The cause of Graves Disease is currently unknown; however, it is thought that smoking can increase an individual’s risk. It is also thought to run in families and mostly affects middle aged women.
Graves Disease can mimic other conditions however a simple blood test will provide a diagnosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Graves Disease include:
• Being restless, nervous, emotional, irritable, sleeping poorly and being ‘always on the go’.
• Tremor of your hands.
• Losing weight despite an increased appetite.
• The sensation of having a ‘thumping heart’ (palpitations).
• Sweating, a dislike of heat and an increased thirst.
• Runny stools (diarrhoea) or needing to go to the toilet to pass stools more often than normal.
• Shortness of breath.
• Skin problems such as hair thinning and itch.
• Menstrual changes – your periods may become very light or infrequent.
• Tiredness and muscle weakness may be a feature.
• A swelling of your thyroid gland (a goitre) in the neck may occur.
• Eye problems.

Graves Disease can be treated with tablets, followed by radiotherapy. Occasionally surgery may be required. An individual with an over-active Thyroid Gland may not have all the signs or symptoms, it is more likely that they will have a combination of them, and they may develop slowly over a period of time.
Side effects of treatment include:
• Nausea
• High temperature
• Head aches
• Aching joints
• Altered taste
• Upset stomach
• Itchy rash
• Agranulocytosis- a sudden drop in white blood cells which can cause a persistent cough and sore throat
As with all medical conditions, the treatments can have complications. Complications for the treatment of an over-active Thyroid Gland include:
• Eye problems
• Pregnancy issues
• An under-active Thyroid Gland. If the wrong medication is prescribed or if the dosage is incorrect the treatment can cause the opposite condition.
• Thyroid Storm. This is a serious medical emergency and 999 should be called immediately.
• Arterial Fibrillation
• Osteoporosis
• Heart failure
It is important to note that just because Graves Disease can cause an individual to have an over-active Thyroid Gland it does not mean that all the above will be caused. Graves Disease is just one of many causes of Hyperthyroidism. People with the condition can live with the condition if they work with their Doctor and ensure that they follow the advice of their specialist.
Useful Links:
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/overactive-thyroid-hyperthyroidism/causes/
http://www.thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/research/Graves_disease.html
http://www.endocrinesurgeon.co.uk/index.php/what-is-a-graves-disease
http://www.patient.info/hormones/overactive-thyroid-gland-hyperthyroidism
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/low-white-blood-cell-count/

Chron’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic bowel disease that causes severe inflammation of your digestive tract and affects your quality of life. This can lead to severe diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. Inflammation caused as a result of Chron’s disease can spread deep into the bowls of the individual. It can be painful and debilitating which can cause life-threatening complications. At present there is no known cure for Chron’s disease, although it can be managed through:
• Medicines to reduce inflammation in the digestive system – usually steroid tablets
• Medicines to stop the inflammation coming back – either tablets or injections
• Surgery to remove a small part of the digestive system – sometimes this may be a better treatment option than medicines.

You’ll usually have a team of health professionals helping you, possibly including a GP, a specialist nurse and specialist doctors.

The causes of Chron’s disease are unknown, however factors, such as heredity and a malfunctioning immune system, likely play a role in the development of the condition. If a family member has Chron’s disease it can be passed onto the next generation, making it genetically susceptible. Many people with the condition have no known family history of the condition. Viral bacterial infection may also cause the immune system to have an unusual response as it tries to fight the invading microorganism. As the immune system fights the infection it may also attack the digestive tract too.

Chron’s disease may also have the following signs and symptoms:
• Diarrhoea
• Fever
• Fatigue
• Abdominal pain and cramping
• Blood in your stool
• Mouth sores
• Reduced appetite and weight loss
• Pain or drainage near or around the anus due to inflammation from a tunnel into the skin (fistula)
• People with severe Crohn’s disease also may experience:
• Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
• Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
• Delayed growth or sexual development, in children
If you have any of the above, you should see your GP who will refer you to a specialist to be tested. It does not mean that you have the condition, however it is always better to get checked and it turns out to be nothing then to live with the condition for years without knowing it. If, however it turns out that you do have Chron’s disease it you will need to ensure that you have regular check ups with your Doctor. Unpredictable flare-ups and regular check-ups with your care team can disrupt school, work and your social life, however it will help you to live a relatively normal life.

Useful websites:
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Crohns-disease/
http://www.mayoclinic.org
http://www.chron’sandcolitisuk
https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/articles/crohns-disease.html

My First Weightlifting Competition

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Yesterday I took part in my first weightlifting competition. I competed in the under 89kg class of the British Weightlifting Midlands Open Series 3- 2019. Along with two female lifters I represented Be Strong Weightlifting Club. All three of us were taking part in our first weightlifting competition and all three of us made all six lifts, the only people in our categories to do so. It was also our coaches first competition as a coach instead of being one of the competitors. I have already said it on my Social Media pages however I would personally like to thank my Coach Val Craft for all your help and support not just on the day but in the lead up to it. As you said who would have thought all those years ago when we worked together at the Oasis that one day you would be coaching me in my first competition. I look forward to working with you for many more competitions to come.
As it was my first competition my goal was simple, make my opening lifts for the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. Anything after that was a bonus. I was not concerned with placings as I knew there would be other competitors in my weight class with more experience. In the past I have put too much pressure on myself to win and either had to pull out due to mental health issues or I ended up performing badly. In the end I placed sixth out of seven competitors with two personal best lifts. My Snatch PB was 52kg. My Clean and Jerk PB was 72kg. What I found so good about yesterday is that all the competitors were supportive of each other. Nobody wanted anybody else to fail, even if it meant that they didn’t place as high. There were some tactical games being played among the more experienced lifters who were competing for a place in next weeks National Championships, however it was not done maliciously.
What is next?
Today I relax, this coming training week I train with moderate weights to allow my body recover as well as a post event sports massage, then I start to set my goals for my next training cycle. Then I go onto the British Weightlifting website to look at 2020’s event calendar and work with Val to set target weights for the next competition.
Michaela New and Sydonie Brewis I had a great time lifting with the two of you yesterday. You were both amazing and I look forward to lifting with you in future competitions. Now rest up and relax, you both earned it.