Jog On…

A book review…you read that right, a review of a book.

I’ve sat with a title and one line for days/weeks now.

Not knowing where to start.

Not knowing what you would want to hear.

Questioning why you would want to hear my opinion about a book?

We’ll I’m still going to give it…aren’t you lucky. Reviewing books aren’t really my first port of call but I couldn’t help myself. This book has resonated with me more than most, probably due to my history with anxiety and depression. It was actually my brother who recommended it. Many of you know I was off for a period of time back in May time and unfortunately I was struggling with my emotions, thoughts, processing…I could go on. Lets just say things were fuzzy at best. During this extremely difficult time I got help, as you do, tablets increased again, spoke to people again, I did every task possible during a lockdown. Yoga, baking, sewing….thought I was going to be the next big thing. Well I made banana bread, a dishcloth and I can do downward dog, however nothing was really helping. Reflecting on those few months I just feel like I masked a lot of my feelings and thoughts through activities’.

After reading an article about Jog on by Bella Mackie, (Click Here to read), which my brother had sent me, I knew I needed the book. The article made so much sense to me, it was honest, realistic and didn’t make me feel crazy for having mental health problems. A few clicks later and I had the booked purchased, ( Click here to do the same).

The book arrived and I was almost apprehensive to start it. I kept thinking was this the answer to all my problems? Was I going to become the next Paula Radcliffe, (minus the peeing incident)? My irrational thoughts put me off starting the book and so it sat for a few weeks collecting dust. I can’t quite pin point what made me start reading the book but I did and I’m so pleased I did. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t read it cover to cover in the first sitting but you’ll find out why if you keep reading…

I’ve recognised a good review shares the ‘blurb’ to entice you in, grip you to read on…so here goes.

Divorced and struggling with deep-rooted mental health problems, Bella Mackie ended her twenties in tears. She could barely find the strength to get off the sofa, let alone piece her life back together. Until one day she did something she had never done of her own free will – she pulled on a pair of trainers and went for a run.

That first attempt didn’t last very long. But to her surprise, she was back out there the next day. And the day after that. She began to set herself achievable goals – to run 5k in under 30 minutes, to walk to work every day for a week, to attempt 10 push-ups in a row. Before she knew it, her mood was lifting for the first time in years.

In Jog On, Bella explains with hilarious and unfiltered honesty how she used running to battle crippling anxiety and depression, without having to sacrifice her main loves: booze, cigarettes and ice cream. With the help of a supporting cast of doctors, psychologists, sportspeople and friends, she shares a wealth of inspirational stories, research and tips that show how exercise often can be the best medicine. This funny, moving and motivational book will encourage you to say ‘jog on’ to your problems and get your life back on track – no matter how small those first steps may be.

Growing up I routinely did exercise, whether it was playing hockey, going to an exercise class or attempting to run, but I was by no means an avid athlete. Over the past lot of years I had found that being outside or going for a walk helped clear my head, so did wine but that’s a different story. I opted for the book initially…okay maybe with wine on the side. I thought it would encourage me to get back outside even just for a walk.

I began reading and was gripped for the first few chapters however I found reading about someone’s problems with anxiety and depression which I could relate too very difficult to begin with. I put the book down when this happened. It took me a few weeks to process it all and want to read again. Once I had processed it all I realised I needed that reality check as such, something to make me reflect on how I was feeling and what was causing it.

As a person I am by no means quiet, (**everyone who knows me begins to nod their heads and laugh**), however I don’t tend to share my personal thoughts and feelings on a deep level, everyone gets a superficial explanation or ‘I’m fine’ as a response. I need to process it myself or speak to a complete stranger as I worry telling people who I care about will cause them more issues or concerns. I was trying to find another way to help process my angst, while wine is fabulous, it wasn’t a conducive approach, ( I probably should tell myself this more). The other difficulty was ‘lockdown’! Nowhere was open! I had started to go to the gym albeit for a short period of time and I really found this to help but it had only been a couple of weeks and I hadn’t fully committed to the idea that I would be a regular.

You can guess what’s coming…the gym closed! I felt like I was back to square one and ultimately my mood, head and thoughts all suffered as a result. I tried to introduce different ways to help as I mentioned above but nothing really stuck. I found lockdown really difficult, not seeing anyone, going anywhere…it just played havoc with my head. For some reason when I was feeling this way I decided to start reading again. To tune out from the everyday annoyance of covid, focus on someone else’s life or story, so I picked the book back up. This time I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down until I had finished it. I needed to know what was coming next? Could anything else help me? Was I going to be the next Usain Bolt or just some crazy person, ( I say this about myself a lot)?

By the time I finished the book I had already started processing things in a rational manner, gyms were opened, lockdown was over and seeing people was the norm….well seeing half their face from a 2metre distance but potato, po’tat’o.

I was back at the gym once a week, which was enough with my schedule at the time. Now I find I’m making more time in my schedule for the gym ensuring I go twice a week at least. When I’m there I completely switch off. I leave my phone in the locker and put all my focus and energy into the PT session. I’m assuming this is my equivalent of running at the minute anyway.

I did laugh when we were on our mini break for our Anniversary we went to the gym…yes I know, who even am I? While I was there I decided to get on the treadmill and although I could do other exercises, running is always my biggest fear and great love. When I was younger I use to run the occasional 2/3miles….it had been a long time since I had done this. Plus lockdown had meant more food, more wine, reduced movement…you get the drift. So I go on the treadmill and I managed to run for a full 5 minutes, I was buzzing. This was huge for me. This reminded me on Bella Mackie going for her first run down an alley way listening to Puddle of Mudd and I felt a real sense of achievement and I knew I wasn’t alone. Yes I may not know Bella Mackie personally but I felt a connection to her story and her process. I had a feeling of belonging again, maybe not a consistent feeling but to know it was possible was everything.

Going to the gym does make me laugh though, I’m there drenched in sweat looking like I’ve just stepped out of a shower and then there are others in the tiniest clothes with a full face of makeup on! I just don’t get it! Make-up is expensive enough without wasting it on the gym just to sweat it off.

If it hadn’t been for reading Jog On: How running saved my life by Bella Mackie, I wouldn’t have progressed as much as I have. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who suffers with any form of anxiety or depression, it provides a realistic approach to life and isn’t generic, which I have found to be a common theme in books and counselling.

My Top 10 points to note about Jog On:

  1. The book is very down to earth, realistic and honest with simple language so you understand what is being said.
  2. Bella Mackie backs up information using statistics and facts however they are simple to understand and you aren’t bombarded.
  3. Although the book clearly is about running, (If you haven’t got that by the title or front cover you might have other problems), the focus on mental health is so refreshing particularly in todays society.
  4. The book incorporates other peoples journeys and stories as well, identifying something for everyone.
  5. It highlights that mental health isn’t ageist…it can happen to anyone young or old.
  6. The book is for everyone not just those who have mental health problems. I actually think my friends and family could learn a lot about mental health from it and how I am affected so I don’t just feel like the ‘crazy one’ all the time simply because others don’t understand.
  7. You aren’t told to give things up or that you are at fault. You can still have wine and a cry and feel everything is rubbish. That’s life.
  8. The book keeps its theme with chapter names which I thought was very clever. It’s the little details which makes all the difference particularly to those who are anxious at times as they focus on all aspects.
  9. You aren’t expected to be a marathon runner or even a runner for that matter, it’s just one persons perspective.
  10. It provides tips for getting started which are simple and effective.

Happy Reading

Stephanie xo

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