Series 11 of 2020 is about to begin

As we enter series 11 of the crappiest series ever produced it becomes immediately apparent that despite the terrible reviews, falling viewing figures and utterly unbelievable storylines the producers (Westminster Productions headed by Cummings) have no plans to call an end to the dismal drama of 2020.

Series one started off well enough, if a little slowly. The outbreak of a virus in Wuhan seemed like it would be one of those filler stories as Australian wildfires, the possibility of world war three and the death of Kobe Bryant dominated.

Series two was equally as slow, focusing on a few individual cases of Corona Virus (back when we weren’t all experts and so didn’t refer to it as Covid-19). Boris was still a comedy character and Brexit threatened to be the focus of the next few series. Matt Hancock was still an extra at this stage and if we are all honest the casting directors probably should have kept him there because he has about as much stage presence as a mop.

Series three was where the drama really picked up, and looking back series 3-5 were probably the peak for this show. The Govenment held a Cobra meeting or two (when BoJo could be bothered to atend), bringing Boris, Rishi and Hancock in as major characters for the first time. The start of this series was a bit slow and not that much happened other than it becoming apparent that a disturbing number of people apparently did not know how to wash their hands, but the last couple of episodes were jammed packed with people panic buying toilet roll, pasta and Spam (because we all like spam right). Boris, Rishi and Hancock start to hold daily briefings, which become mandatory watching for everyone. We were told to work from home if we can, hinting for the first time that series 4 would massively focus on class and the vast gap between different sections of our society. Pubs and clubs and gyms and non essential shops are told to close, Rishi becomes the most popular character with his announcement of the Furlough scheme, Boris announced a National Lockdown and and we ended of a cliff hanger as Boris tested positive to Covid (Hancock did too but no one actually cared what happened to this character). Whilst all this is going on Cummings drove 250 miles to Durham whilst he should have been isolating, setting up one of the key storylines for series 5.

Series 4 was widely hailed as the most popular series in this drama. The weather was good, lots of people enjoyed being at home but a major theme was explored as we examined that (strangely shockingly for some unknown reason) massive social chasm between the people who could work from home, fully paid with family in nice houses with big gardens an those who didn’t have outdoor space, were no longer getting paid or lived alone and were socially isolated. Obviously most of the Tory voters fell into the former camp so this situation was largely deemed acceptable. Zoom becomes a ‘thing’, Boris ends up in hospital with the ‘Rona increasing his popularity as a character, the Queen made a cameo appearance just to ram home exactly how serious the situation is, Priti Patel fucks up her daily briefing appearance, a 99 year old war veteran is forced to complete 100 laps of his garden to fund the NHS, which the Government seem to hijack and praise rather than feeling even mildly bad that we require this sort of fundraising to buy ventilators and PPE. DIY becomes the new national hobby, followed a close second by day drinking at home. We all learn that old British pastime of queuing and find a love for standing outside and clapping at 8pm on a Wednesday.

Series 5 focused on the idea of testing and how bad the Government were at it. Boris made himself less available for filming in this series and so Hancock had to take a bigger role, which was unfortunate due to him having the charisma of a bus, but due to there being not much on to watch as all soaps had had to stop filming and were running out of episodes we largely stuck with him and kept tuning in for the daily briefings. When Boris did return to our screens it was to confuse the fuck out of the British Public telling us to go to work but stay at home and the slogan Stay Alert was introduced. Sadly the thing most people were now being alerted to was how inept the Tory party actually are. A highlight of series 5 was Cummings trip to test his eyesight at Barnard Castle from series 3 came to light, he was given a pretty hard time when you consider he clearly had a sight problem having mistaken a castle for the local branch of Specsavers.

Series 6 saw Black Lives Matters protests, shops reopening, that twit Hancock being seen not socially distancing in more do as I say not as I do behaviour, daily briefings stopped towards the end of the series and would be held only when something interesting happened, lots of people go to the seaside. Leicester gets locked down again.

Series 7 was a more light hearted series. Pubs reopened, people could get their hair cut again, later gyms also reopened, we suddenly decide that after all this time face masks might be useful, Manchester gets put into local lockdown and the Government then swiftly forget they’ve done it, because the cabinet aren’t really sure where the North is, so they stay in lockdown for the next few series. The frustration of a city at being left in a limbo is painted by the media as feckless northerners ignoring rules and causing a second wave because newspapers tend to prefer the south.

Series 8 saw Eat Out To help Out, which obviously definitely did not in any way at all contribute towards a rise in cases. No when the public were told to go out and spend money to boost the economy what they meant was go out spend money but stay in at the same time so really all the second wave shizzle is our fault. Do not blame Rishi ok.

Series 9 was where people started to become disenchanted with the series. Many felt that money and the economy was taking precedent over people’s health whilst many areas of the economy were feeling the opposite and that they were taking the brunt of the damage when the evidence that they contributed an extensive number of cases was low. Kids went back to school, universities told students to come to campus then locked them up and we all acted shocked that there now seemed to be more cases. It was discovered that Covid actually only gets you after 10pm so pubs were given a 10pm curfew. You also can’t get Covid in a group of 6 of less

Series 10 was utter shite let’s be honest. Boris bought in Tiers, which made no sense whatsoever. Liverpool and Manchester became the first cities to experience Tier 3, obviously the fact that they are two cities which are Labour strong holds and so the Torys have no interest in appealing to voters had nothing to do with this. The fact Boris forgot that Manchester had been in lockdown since July was also obviously not indicative of his disdain for the North. There was much debate about whether gyms should remain open and Manchester considered it’s own war of independence with new character Andy Burnham being crowned King of the North (some critics argue that it’s here with 2020 looking more like GOT that the drama starts to get a bit ridiculous). Anyway it turns out that all this Tier bollocks was pointless anyway because more and more cities started to be put into Tier 3 (well the whole of the North basically). Then they started to think that maybe London needed more measures so we stated to think about a National Lockdown – because when Boris says we follow the science he means we follow what is needed for the Capital, because the scientist have been calling for a lockdown for a wee while now haven’t they Bozza. Daily Briefings were replaced with us all watching the televised House of Commons announcements and we all realised that they announced everything there before officially announcing it later, and for the first time ever the phase ‘what time are they speaking in he house’ was often muttered. We also wondered why everything seemed to be leaked to the press, either the Government really need to sort out their guttering or they are using the media to play the public (couldn’t be that could it). Marcus Rashford shamed the Tory’s over their decision to let children starve over the school holidays, well I say shamed them, they obviously defended that decision because it’s not that children don’t matter, it’s just that poor children don’t matter. Rishi became a villan after his strong popularity in series 3 and 4 when it became apparent with his vote against feeding kids that he is in fact still a Tory.

And so we come to the last episode of series 10 – series 11 starting tomorrow. And in true cliff hanger style they’re about to announce a second National Lockdown – which is crap because we all know sequels are never as good.

The only good news about this whole 2020 drama is it’s been confirmed that there will only be another two series. Unless that is we get to the last episode of series 12 and at midnight someone shouts surprise and 2020 starts all over again.

Has Lockdown Changed Your Periods?

Are your periods normally regular, but then over the last few months during lockdown you have found them become less regular?  A few of my friends have mentioned this, perplexed as to why their cycle has suddenly changed.

Changes in your body’s level of the hormones (estrogen and  progesterone) can disrupt the normal pattern of your period (hence why young girls going through puberty and women approaching the menopause often have irregular periods).  There are also lots of other things that can affect your cycle however, and some of these relate to our environment / lifestyle, so for me, it’s not that shocking that the change to our lives and emotions that lockdown bought about might have affected how regular our periods are.

Some common causes of irregular periods include:

  • Having an IUD fitted
  • Changing birth control method or using certain medications
  • Too much exercise
  • PCOS
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Stress
  • Dramatic weight gain or weight loss
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Thickening of the uterine lining

Some of these reasons are medical and obviously require seeing a doctor to get the correct treatment.  Equally if you find your birth control has started to negatively affect your cycle it’s always worth speaking to the nurse or doctor about this as there might be a better alternative for you.  But some of these changes, specifically over exercising, dramatic weight changes and stress are lifestyle related.

For instance some women find they have changes in their periods because they exercise too much.  They may need to make workouts less intense, or exercise less often to combat this.

If stress is the problem, learning how to manage stress levels or remove the stressful situations from your life can help.

Extreme changes in your weight can affect your periods with weight gain making it harder for your body to ovulate whilst extreme, sudden weight loss can also lead to infrequent or irregular periods.  It’s important to stress here that losing weight sensibly or gaining a few pounds is not likely to have a dramatic effect to your periods (hence using the word extreme!).

Beyond these well accepted reasons that our cycles can change there are other factors that have been recognised as affecting our cycle, syncing with other women we spend a lot of time with, changes to our alcohol intake / patterns, changes to our diet, inconsistent work schedules (working late / changes in pattern) and changes to our sleep pattern (getting less sleep, going to bed later for example).

When you think about how our lives have changed in lockdown it isn’t overly surprising that some of us have found our cycles a little disrupted – our normal routines have gone out the window.  And with that you may have found your periods have change slightly as a result.

Because when you think about lockdown so many of the factors mentioned above will possibly have come into play for you.

Yes, gyms have been shut, but with many people either working from home or being on furlough / unable to go to work lots of people have had more time to exercise an so changes and potential dramatic increases to training will have been seen by many.  Conversely some people (me included) will have found their activity levels dramatically drop (even with training every day) and that change itself could also affect your period regularity.

I don’t know many people who haven’t reported feeling stress and anxiety about the pandemic at some point, whether your worries centered around Covid itself or the economy or both I think we’ve all felt a greater degree of stress.

Many people will have seen a dietary change- some for the better, some maybe not.  We are eating at home more but being indoors all day means we are more tempted by the fridge more often, therefore changes in diet and potential weight gain will not have been uncommon for many people in recent months.

Many people will also have increased their alcohol intake in lockdown, a mixture of it being cheaper to drink at home, having more time to drink etc. means that alcohol intake patterns will have changed (and increased) for some.

For the majority of people their working environment has changed, working from home, changes to hours and due to the challenges many businesses have faced many people are finding they are needing to work longer hours.  Suddenly not bein able to work is equally a sudden dramatic change to routine.

If you live with other females, you have possibly spent more time with them over lockdown so may have found your cycle sync with them.

And finally sleep.  We should theoretically have been able to sleep more – take away commuting, or work or social plans out of the house and early nights / lie ins should have been possible.  In reality, I found, and most people I’ve spoken to have said similar, sleep has been disrupted.  I’ve struggled to get to sleep until the early hours most nights and woken up frequently, which I put down to a mixture of worry and stress and also not being as active during the day meaning I find it harder to get ready to sleep.  This has meant I’ve probably had a lower quality of sleep in lockdown!

So when you think about it, given the amount of changes to our lifestyle that could potentially affect how regular our periods are that we have found ourselves facing in recent months, it’s not shocking at all that many women have found their once regular cycle has maybe become less regular.

Is this something to worry about?  Probably not, I track my cycle on the Fitbit app an have found that although I’ve had some changes, those changes appear to have settled me into a ‘new regular’ cycle.  I anticipate that as things continue to change as lockdown lifts I might see some more changes as my routine changes (and stress levels will probably continue to remain quite high) but again I will keep an eye on those via tracking and I expect they will settle.

But I’d always encourage you to speak to a doctor if you are concerned.  If the changes to your cycle are affecting your life, you continue to remain very irregular or anything seems out of the ordinary it’s always best to get yourself checked out.

If you have any of these symptoms it is generally advised you consult a doctor:

  • You miss three or more periods a year.
  • You get your period more often than every 21 days.
  • You get your period less often than every 35 days.
  • You are bleeding more heavily than usual during your period.
  • You bleed for more than 7 days (I know this is not unusual for many women but if you have a sudden change in period length it is worth getting it checked out)
  • You have more pain than usual during a period

All in all being aware of your cycle and changes to it is always a positive thing, as knowing your own body is the best way of being able to spot early on if something is wrong and understanding changes you might face can be helpful in that understanding of yourself.

Coming out of Lockdown? Do you have a Plan?

How weird is the world right now?

I spoke in a private Facebook coaching group yesterday about how I have genuinely found coming out of lockdown harder than going into it.

That surprised me because I was genuinely worried about my mental health prior to lockdown.  But in hindsight although the build up, uncertainty and speculation was anxiety inducing at the time it also meant I mentally prepared myself for the absolute worst, and because of that it was nowhere near as hard as I’d expected.  The rules weren’t as strict, I wasn’t arrested for buying non essentials with my shopping and I found a routine of sorts.  There were bad days of course but I coped.

What I didn’t think about was how to manage leaving lockdown.  I kind of assumed it would be easy- going back to normal.  That would be a positive not difficult.  Except it hasn’t been.  It’s been more stressful and emotional and overwhelming and anxiety inducing than I ever expected.

There’s two things I’ve since realised.

Firstly, we get used to things much quicker than we think we will.  So although I anticipated lockdown / work from home routine would be tough to adjust to, I had adjusted.  So going back into the office, things being more open has been another period of readjustment, and it’s continually changing.  Going into lockdown was very quick and a big change in one go, now things are evolving so every time I feel like I’ve got on an even footing things change a bit again.  Of course gyms are not open yet so I know that things will change again as they open and classes are integrated back into my week too.  The thing that threw me most about this is that I hadn’t really thought about how the change would impact me.  I thought as it was going back to normal it wouldn’t affect me at all and that lack of preparation on my part I think probably contributed to the feeling of overwhelm.  I’ve loved seeing real people again and getting back to a sense of reality but just because something is good in one sense doesn’t mean it isn’t also hard.

That brings me onto the second thing I’ve realised.

In March I expected a few weeks of lockdown then back to normal.  But we are not going back to normal.  Things are different, so you are going back to work and most things will be the same but some things won’t be.  That’s going to be the same for going back to the gym, going on a night out, to the pub, to the shops.  It isn’t bad or scary but it’s different and at first that is unsettling, because change is hard and takes adjustment.

So if I could give one piece of advice to people who are still essentially in lockdown and about to start easing that and going back out to work etc. be prepared.  The thought you put into how lockdown would affect you, put that same amount of thought into how you feel about this change.  being mentally prepared can help.  Give yourself time to adjust.  If you don’t train for the first week or so after you go back to work that’s ok, it’s likely to feel mentally and physically draining adjusting to the change so give yourself a break.  Finally know that it’s normal to feel unsettled by this, it’s the unknown and that sort of change makes most of us feel anxious, so you aren’t bad at coping if you are struggling a bit, you are normal so allow yourself time.

 

 

 

Training and Nutrition: Lockdown Edition

So here in the UK we are now coming up to a week into lockdown and a couple of weeks of concerted social distancing.  This has without a doubt had a dramatic impact on so many aspects of our lives.  I briefly did a blog on working last week but being a fitness related blog I wanted to take a moment to talk about how I’m approaching my fitness during this whole thing.

Obviously everyone will be different and depending what equipment you have at home and what your goals are how you approach your training and diet right now will vary.

For me, like a lot of people I would imagine, I have no equipment at home, very little space indoors and my garden is not really suitable for exercise (it’s all gravel) although there is a car park which I can make use of on the grounds.

So with that in mind I’ve decided to approach my training by forgetting about maintaining strength or fitness, forgetting about trying to improve in any particular way.  Instead I’m focusing on just moving and using moving in a way to feel good, stay mobile and benefit my mental health.

My general plan of action is to do a little yoga flow in the morning, go for a short run at some point to get some fresh air (literally 2- 3 km or some intervals / sprints/ pyramids) at lunch time and then do either some body weight training fro 2-30 minutes or an online class such as Les Mills On Demand in the evening.  This does mean I’m doing much less each day in terms of exercise but I am still keeping myself ticking over and feeling good.

Stretching and mobility work is going to be really important.  I’m sitting a lot more and my new set up of home working is not good for my posture so it’s vital that I stretch more often to avoid discomfort.

My real challenge is going to be my diet.

I normally walk a lot- I do 25,000 steps or so without trying a day.  Last week not only did I train a lot less but i also moved a lot less in general.  My step count was closer to 5,000 steps.

I’m therefore burning fewer calories.  So i know I’m going to need to eat less.  I can’t control not being able to go to the gym.  I can’t replicate my training at home.  I can’t move as much as normal with one opportunity to walk or run each day.  I can control how much I eat.

So I’ve tried to cut my calorie intake by around a fifth.  The first couple of days that was tough but I am moving less so I’m not lacking in energy from it.  This is the strategy I know that will stop me feeling like a potato by the end of lockdown because I’ve done much less than normal and eaten the same or even more .

So in a nutshell that’s my plan – it might evolve, maybe it will change but right now I have a strategy to help me feel like I’m drifting aimlessly or getting wound up because I cannot replicate my normal routine.

What’s your plan of action for the next few weeks?