Quick update from the shores of sunny St Ives

Hi guys,

Sorry for the lack of updates, my feet have been too much of a mess to spend long enough in the ocean to surf and now that they’re better, the swell is too small.

Being on holiday has been absolutely fantastic and I’m hoping to write some nice long blog posts about what’s been going on with my changes in attitude, the difficulties of finding food to fit my diet in this little coastal town and talking about the beautiful little vegetarian/vegan restaurant I’m going to tomorrow for my birthday.

Hope everyone’s well, I’m missing running but I’m also missing having feet that don’t look like they’ve been mauled by a dog. I saw one of my surfing instructor’s today and he was laughing like mad at my feet saying I must have been clinging on to my board pretty tight to have gotten them so messed up – that’s one way of putting it. 😀

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3rd surfing lesson; fear and coming through it

I take back my statement about my second surfing lesson being tough going, today’s lesson was beyond tough going and I spent the first half of my lesson conjuring up the courage to stop shaking and catch some waves on my own again! My feet are bandaged up, I’m hobbling around like an old woman and feel like I’ve had my torso worked on by a top boxer but let me tell you how AWESOME today’s surfing was (eventually).

I wish I had my mum or Thom around to take shots of how mental the ocean was today, it really was all happening; seasoned surfers at the back, beginners at the front, 23mph winds, sporadic heavy showers and 6 – 8 feet waves according to the local forecast. When I found my groove again after a big confidence wobble, I really enjoyed my lesson, but I had to work through a lot, so apologies for the sentence of intense cursing. Click the ‘more’ link to find out how I went from petrified to ecstatic!

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A shift in attitude and a lot to thank fitness for

Last time I was in St Ives was 2010 and I was here for a week with my family and Thom. I was going through a really tough time back in my home-county, I’d had my dreams of being a natural horsemanship instructor shattered, had already sold two of my three horses and at this particular point (June 2010), I was so devastated by months prior to the holiday that I had even advertised Lily because I couldn’t cope with her. I was at an all time low, I had no money, no career and thought I wanted to take a break from horses completely for a few years. I still loved Lily with all my heart but she was being far too difficult and I couldn’t afford the tuition I needed to work through our problems together and was still petrified of her explosions of fear which had injured me a few times.

I’d gained all the weight I had lost from working as a horseman’s apprentice over the winter and spring, I had a horrendous tattoo on my chest that I couldn’t get covered until October and I had bad acne that I had tried to treat naturally to no avail. My confidence was dwindling and the week in St Ives was almost painful because doing nothing meant I had too much time to think about things I was trying so hard to ignore and keep buried. I tried to enjoy myself but besides an afternoon on the beach and a day at a small local bird sanctuary, I was going stir crazy in this little town. St Ives’ calmness was the complete opposite of how my heart, mind and soul felt and it just drew attention to the fact I was a mess.

On the left is a picture of me taken in St Ives in 2010, hiding away in baggy clothes, with a weight-of-the-world-on-my-shoulders slouch, a book in my pocket to hide behind and a forced smile. On the right is a photo of me taken on Monday 11th June 2012. I was standing in the waves, wearing a huge smile while facing out to sea, watching the swell. My mum said, “Turn around, Lucy!” and this was taken a split second after. I didn’t have time to do the usual womanly thing of mentally checking my stomach muscles are tight, doing my photo ‘smile’ and tilting my head ever so slightly to soften my facial features so this was exactly how I looked before the photo was taken, just relaxing and enjoying my holiday.

I can’t compare my weight because of the baggy clothes in the 2012 photo, but I can see a huge difference in my body language which is reflecting my state of mind. I may not be where I want to be yet with my career and I’m still pretty penniless because I’ve spent a lot of time off ill since November with problems with headaches and my eyes, but this doesn’t often bother me. I realise these problems are transient, and despite it being irritating now, things will work their way out so long as I know I’m trying my hardest to be the best ‘me’ I can be. My acne is barely visible now I’ve cut out dairy and my self-confidence has gone through the roof since I’ve become fitter. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a holiday before properly, I’ve always been too anxious at the thought of doing nothing. Now I am in St Ives, completely happy with planning my day as I go along, buying my food when I need it instead of doing my usual elaborate food plan and only working a little when the internet permits it. I’m not relying on my laptop to entertain me, I’m meditating a lot, I’m only listening to music when I want to hear a specific song or album and not as a distraction tactic and most importantly, I’m listening to myself. I think nothing of just going for a walk around the beach on my own with no phone and no iPod and before that would have been inconceivable.

My meditation has been going really well apart from missing a day yesterday, I was busy until my surfing lesson so I figured I’d meditate when I got back from dining out. After surfing, I had 20 minutes to shower thoroughly, dry my hair and put a little bit of make up on before running out the door to catch up with my family. The restaurant we went to was severely under-staffed and though they were trying their best, we waited 1 hour and 15 minutes to get our food and when my pizza came out, they had put cheese on it, despite seeing the waitress write down “Provencial, no cheese” and underline the no cheese bit. So for another 15 minutes, my family enjoyed their pizzas at 8:30pm and I was staring at the table, recalling my last bit of food at 1pm. When they righted the mistake, the pizza was very tasty so I was happy. By the time I had eaten, let my stomach settle and walked back to the house, I was too tired to meditate and after 5 minutes of attempting to, my head started bobbing as I was nodding off so I left it be.

However, I had a fantastic experience the day before yesterday, I meditated in two 30 minute sessions and my second 30 minute session of the day I felt an intense wave of happiness wash over me and my body started tingling. I was a bit intimidated by the tingling sensation as I was wondering whether I was cutting off my blood supply with my knees crossed but I quickly opened one eye to check and my skin showed no signs of the sort. I had a huge smile on my face because it felt so good and between moments of rogue thoughts I had to quell, I felt completely calm and quiet internally. I’m still not at the point where I’m looking forward to meditating, I have to remind and persuade myself to do it but it is getting much easier and there is at least one point in the meditation where I’m really enjoying it instead of getting caught up over trying to do it perfectly which is great!

Today meditating was tough, I’m feeling very tired and even though I was sat up without back support, I was still falling asleep which is relaxation to the extreme! Hopefully tomorrow will be better. A huge storm is meant to be hitting the UK, starting in Cornwall and we’re apparently going to receive a month’s worth of rain in one day. That’s my surfing lesson cancelled because the lifeguards will probably close the entire beach if the storm makes the swell too risky to be in. Still, it’s a bit disappointing but can’t be helped. There’s always the weekend and next week, I’m hoping to cram in as many lessons as my body will let me before I head home because I am loving surfing way too much not to take advantage of having a surf school a 5 minute walk away.

Oh and some great news, Thom will be getting here tonight within the hour and I can’t wait to pretty much rugby-tackle him with a huge hug. 😀

My second surfing lesson

Man, yesterday’s surf lesson was crazy! I was part of a group of 6 other people who had done surfing lessons before which was cool so we didn’t have to go over theory and safety for too long. There were two teenagers who were siblings and two sets of couples in their 30s from London.

We briefly went over the basics on the sand so our instructor (a different one from my first lesson) could see how our technique was before hitting the waves. I stood on the water’s edge and looked out at the swell, trying to compare it to what the swell was like on Monday and gauging whether I should go thigh-high, belly button-high or chest-high into the water. While I was debating, I watched everyone eagerly wade in to the deeper water with the bigger waves and thought to myself, “It’ll be great to watch someone who has progressed a few steps in front of me to see how it’s done” and settled for about thigh-height to see if I remembered what I had learned from my first lesson.

As my first lesson was meant to be a group lesson but the others rescheduled, I didn’t have to worry about collisions. However, with six other learners in the same vicinity as I was (within shouting range of our instructor), you really had to keep your wits about you. Wading back into the water, these guys catching waves became like missiles and I had to quickly get out of the way or risk getting hit.

The teenagers who were on their 3rd lesson were doing really well; no ego, no pride, just trying hard and not getting upset when they fell off trying to stand up. I wish I could say the same for the couple who bragged about learning to surf in Mexico and one half of the other couple, who looked infuriated when they fell off, barely cracking a smile. You can’t take learning a new skill seriously – you’re meant to make mistakes and you’ll make learning harder for yourself if you don’t laugh it off!

Just like my first lesson, I was with the teens on this one; hoping for the best, setting myself up as well as I could and laughing a lot when it wasn’t going well. The first 20 minutes where I was about thigh height, I caught every wave well and stood up each time. I was having a problem riding the board to the end of the wave though. The end of the wave is at the water’s edge, about ankle height and roughly 20 metres from where I started, but I just couldn’t get my board to carry on moving. It started at a decent speed, I’d maybe wobble about a bit until I remembered to bend my knees more, but then it slowed down to the point where I stepped off of it like you would calmly step off a bus when you reached your stop. A few times I had my instructor in fits of laughter as I was pretending to row my surfboard to get it closer to the beach; the class clown, there’s always one. 😉

I called over my instructor for advice, he said when I felt the board slowing down, I should shuffle my front foot forwards and learn forwards from the waist a bit to help. I tried that four times without falling off and it took me to the water’s edge once. The first time I tried to move my foot on the board, I wobbled and my back foot slid off the back. My front foot didn’t follow suit and stayed on the board, leaving me to do a very comical and painful splits, hurting my groin muscles as I fumbled about. I was laughing away to myself as my front foot eventually joined the party, putting me underwater. Ladies and gentleman, a word of advice, try to avoid laughing underwater unless you have gills.

My instructor was very happy to have turned his attention to me at the precise moment I was playing gymnastics on the board and I could hear him calling while laughing, “Lucy, that’s not how it’s done!”. As I waded back out, he suggested I go out a little deeper to try and catch the wave as it broke, getting more power from it. Easier said than done.

As my regular readers will know, I wear glasses all the time. I can wear contacts but they irritate my eyes so I didn’t bring them on holiday with me. So while I’m out surfing, I have to leave my glasses at the surf school shack which is very disorientating as I can only see up to about a metre in front of me in focus, everything else becomes blurry shapes and colours. This made trying to catch the waves as they broke very interesting.

I would get my board facing the beach ready to climb aboard when I saw a good wave coming and as I looked back out, I would spot a wave and hop on. I’ve been taught you’re only meant to paddle about 5 metres before the wave hits your feet, if you do it sooner you will tire yourself out much quicker and if you don’t paddle at all, you can often get knocked under the wave and wipe out before you even think about bringing your knees up.

As I laid on my board, looking over my shoulder, I struggled to gauge how far away my wave was. When the tip of the wave is breaking (with a little foam forming right on the top), you’ll know that’s a good wave to catch. Spotting them without my glasses was quite tricky and I kept getting knocked off my board because I didn’t notice the wave breaking right behind me. If the wave isn’t breaking, you can usually just float over it and it won’t take you out of your spot, but if it is breaking and you haven’t been paddling, you have two choices; go anyway and hope for the best or jump off. Or in my case with no glasses; go anyway or get pulled underwater.

This wave-just-breaking malarkey presented a whole new challenge for me. I could stand on the board fine, my technique was good and my confidence was growing but now I had to catch waves on my own which meant picking the right ones and timing it correctly. It’s hard enough doing that when you’ve got good vision, let alone mole-vision. Once again, many laughs were had at my expense and my instructor helped out when he could by shouting the distance and when to start paddling which was really useful. The waves I did manage to catch, I stood up on the board but because they were bigger, I wobbled about and fell off without a shred of grace. Standing up, laughing like a demented sealion, fumbling to get my board, dropping it, spitting out water and long dribbles snot hanging from my nose ring is probably not an attractive look for me but I was having too much fun to care.

Then it went from pretty tough going to hard going within the space of 5 minutes. The waves got higher and stronger, with many breaking above my head which was very intimidating. We also had a cross current which was forcing us over out of the designated surfing area, so we were having to fight out way back out to where we were supposed to be. No word of a lie, the waves were so rough I got winded walking back out when a wave right at its most powerful point of breaking crashed into my chest, knocking me off my feet. Gasping for air, I sat down at the water’s edge for 10 minutes to sort myself out, watching everyone struggle to even get off their knees before falling off their boards.

One of the guys with an obvious ego kept smacking the water shouting “Fuck!” multiple times after falling off trying to get up off his knees. The ‘surfing in Mexico’ couple were trying to hold their emotions together but had faces like thunder. The teenagers were nose-diving or wiping out by getting knocked off balance while trying to stand up but just kept laughing so I shouted encouragement at them when I could talk again.

I fought my way back out into the water and while I was waiting for the wave I had scoped out to come, I would be clinging on to my board for dear life with my feet tucked under the back, hence why I have bruised and friction-burned feet today. Instead of trying to gauge the distance and still get knocked off the board when it arrived early, I looked across to the seasoned surfers and when they started paddling, I started paddling and caught some pretty big waves!

With the waves much stronger and bigger, I found it more of a challenge to stand up. I nose-dived once and panicked at how big the waves were and jumped off last minute many times. But the waves I did catch, trying to get up on the board was tricky and my hands would be wobbling like mad holding on to the board as I slid my knees and feet up in position to stand. If I rode the wave successfully, the sea quickly reminded me I was an unbalanced doofus by sending another crashing wave to hit the back of my board, adding a surge of power I wasn’t expecting and getting knocked off. It was damn hard work but it was still incredibly funny.

With 10 minutes left to go, a sore chest and arm muscles so fatigued I couldn’t persuade them to lift me off the board any more, I asked my instructor if I could wait on the sand for the group because I was absolutely shattered and wiped out 6 times in a row. He said, “Sure, just hop on your board and I’ll catch a wave for you” as casually as him saying he’d hail a taxi for me outside a hotel. I replied, “Okay, but I can’t stand up anymore, I’ve used up all my energy”, to which he said just as the wave was coming, “Nah, you’re the star of our lesson so you’re gonna stand up and make this last wave count okay? So paddle like hell… NOW!” and let go of the board. I rode that huge, scary wave all the way to the water’s edge, standing up like an absolute badass. But instead of stepping off gracefully in the calm ankle-deep waves like I’ve been surfing all my life, I collapsed in a heap in the sand as my body had to get the last word in.

I had so much fun and was grinning ear to ear as I asked everybody else how they got on. I told the teenagers they were being way too hard on themselves as they put themselves down and reminded them that the waves were really rough today and we’ve all been doing excellently. We also had a good laugh about one of them flying into me and knocking me off my board, joking that for a split second I thought it was a shark.

The ‘surfing in Mexico’ couple told me they simply weren’t cut out for surfing in Britain because in Mexico the water was warm and they had someone else on-hand to fetch their board when they fell off. I wanted to say, “that’s not surfing, the whole point is to be cold and wear yourself out fighting to get back in the water, knowing you’re doing it all yourself!” but they looked so aggravated that I simply agreed it was tough-going and replied in the most convincing sympathetic voice I could that Cornwall surfing and Cancun surfing sound like they’re worlds apart. We’re in Britain, it was 15 degrees celcius so the water was less than 10 degrees, but they were British so why the hell were they surprised the water was cold?

After the lesson, my instructor congratulated me for doing so well and said he was impressed I managed to cope and stand up a lot. He said not to worry about missing waves because my technique is great, it’s just about developing feeling and timing, which is something that can only be learned through practise and mistakes. So more practise and many more wipeouts is just what I need when I go again over the next couple of days. I seriously thought I was pretty fit until I hit the water, but the ocean is a very humbling force of nature. 😀

A teaser for my 2nd surfing lesson post

So I had my second surfing lesson today but the internet isn’t sticking around enough for me to post. A bit of an ambiguous teaser, but here you go, dear readers.

bruised feet

Don’t they look a pretty picture? As it is 12AM here and my flash is too bright, this is the best shot I can take and it doesn’t do the extent of the ‘owwie’ justice. I thought it was sunburn until I got home and noticed bruises starting to form, turns it out it is a burn, but not sun burn, it’s friction burn! Haha.

Hope this has whet your appetite to come back tomorrow, some of you have jumped ship because I’m on holiday, tut tut. 😉

I’m going to the library tomorrow where they have free (and dependable!) wifi and will be posting about why my second surf lesson removed the top layer of skin on my feet and an update on meditation, my attitude and a couple of personal pictures.

Hope you’re all nailing your workouts, wish I could get enough time on the net to read some of my favourite blogs as well as post on Fitterstrongerbetter

Healthy French toast breakfast recipe

So I stumbled up the recipe for Cinnamon Apple French Toast Wraps on foodfamilyfinds.com and ditched the unnecessary extra calories from butter and brown sugar and experimented with doing this as healthily as possible. My altered recipe is much healthier without compromising on the taste and this recipe and my protein pancakes recipe are my go-to’s for a cooked breakfast if I’m not in a rush to get out the door.

Ingredients for healthy apple French toast wraps
2tbsp oil (coconut oil if you have it, olive oil if not)
Two diced apples with or without the skin removed (I leave it on because it’s the most nutritious part)
Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
Stevia or 1tbsp of honey (dependent on personal preference)
1 whole wheat tortilla wrap
2 eggs
¼ cup of milk (almond milk for dairy allergy sufferers)
Vanilla extract

How to make healthy apple French toast wraps

Heat oil in frying pan over a medium flame
Fry diced apples with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and either stevia or honey. The amount of spices and stevia is completely down to what taste you would prefer, so keep adding them little by little and do a taste test to see. Don’t overestimate how much spice you’ll need unless you’re a serious cinnamon-lover as it is very easy to add too much of it!
Once the apples have gone soft and absorbed the oil and spices, take them of the heat and place them in a bowl. Cover the top of the bowl to keep the apple pieces warm.
Whisk together the 2 eggs, ¼ cup of milk and vanilla extract in a large bowl
Dip both sides of the tortilla wrap in the egg mixture until covered and fry it up, adding more oil to the frying pan first if needed
Just like an omelette or pancake, cook one side and flip over to cook the other
Serve the wrap with the spiced apples lined in the middle and eat warm

Enjoy!