Monday, 31 May 2010

Rest days should be renamed "fat days"

Since starting this new hardcore exercise regime I've enjoyed being able to eat a little bit more whilst generally still managing to get a little bit thinner. I only realised after a chat with one of the Tri Club coaches and generally lovely chap, Leo - that I had omitted rest days from the training plan. Apparently this is a very bad idea and rest days are just as important as exercise days... no wonder I had been feeling knackered!
I wrote in two rest days a week. The problem you see, is that after you exercise, all the endorphins release and make you feel happy and amazing. You get home, elated and generally marvellous, excitedly have your whey protein shake and a salad and become a health supremo.
On a rest day however, you wonder what you'll do with all this time you have. Whilst you ponder, you drink copious cups of coffee to stave off the boredom, dipping in your obligatory toffee and pecan cookies. You have hours of extra time to cook up a feast for dinner, followed of course by a selection of cheese and crackers which you had to get because they were on offer, and you have to look at all the offers because you're wandering round the supermarket at a snail's pace in case going any faster would mean you were exercising, and because you're so borrrrrred!
Moral of the story is, I hate rest days and need a hobby that doesn't involve exercise to stop me gorging on them!
On the plus side, today was my day off and started with an early morning round of golf, followed by a lovely 34 mile cycle into the Wylye Valley.
It was then Monday night run time. I headed off with one of the ladies at a cracking pace, she is a bit of a speedster. I was just about managing to hold a conversation and glancing at my watch, amazed at the speed we were running. 3.5 miles later, we were back at the sports centre and the dialogue goes something like:
(Her)"Wow,that was brilliant, wondered if I'd be able to keep up with you, you young whippersnapper"
(Me) "Erm.. I thought I was keeping up with you, I NEVER run that fast!"
(Her) "Oh! Well I'm exhausted I didn't want you to think I was unfit"
Good grief! What a run! Makes up for all that cheese though I suppose!
(p.s. The picture is merely a representation. I did not actually eat this much cheese - promise!)

Friday, 28 May 2010

10 Day Recap

It's been 10 days since I started the blog and decided on my health and fitness goals.
This week has been quite a good one, I've been taking it semi-easy post illness and plan to get fully back into the swing of things next week. Monday was the day of the boiling hot run. On Tuesday I went for a little cycle in the evening but took it quite easy. On Wednesday I hit the gym and then played an awesome game of squash (awesome as in fun, rather than awesome like I came anywhere near winning) that really got the heart pumping. Then on Thursday I had a great 4.5km run in the morning where for some unknown reason, I had a severe dose of the sweats! This was followed by a speedy cycle in the early evening.
I left work a teeny bit late tonight, maybe ten minutes later than usual. Grey clouds loomed overhead putting some serious doubts in my mind as to whether I'd want to go to the usual Friday night Tri Club brick session (a brick session, for those not in the know, involves doing two different disciplines one after the other. In this case, a cycle followed by a run). The combination of being grumpy about leaving work late and the lack of sunshine very nearly drove me to pick up a quick Chinese on the way home. I managed to decide I would cook instead. Then I realised I should stop being a such a wussy, boring loser and just head out, even if it was going to rain!
I am very glad I did. It was a surprisingly warm evening and the rain held off. We headed out on the bikes for a little longer than usual and took in two ascents of the infamous "mile-hill" (which some people will tell you is actually 1.2 miles - much more impressive). With a bit of jelly in the legs we then headed off for a short but relatively quick run. Feeling wildly upbeat from the surge of endorphins I came home and didn't even fancy any naughties, so I had a banana and some "ants on a log" i.e celery with peanut butter and raisins. Ants on a log comes from a childrens recipe book to make kids like vegetables and it totally worked on me!
Annnyway, generally a good week. I have indulged in a few naughties but I've avoided the cookies and the good has certainly outweighed the bad. Plus, what would life be without a few treats?!
So most of the goals are going well, I've lost 3lbs which is a great start and my fruit and veg intake is well up there.
The running will be a slow process but so long as I get out and do my 4 runs a week then it will happen. I did manage to do just under a 10 minute mile pace on my Thursday morning run.
Now, the swimming. I haven't done any swimming. There always seems to be a reason not to. I am aiming at doing my first triathlon 8 weeks this Sunday. 8 weeks to swim 400m should be ample time but I really do need to get motivated. To make the goal more specific I have decided that every weekday that I work, I will swim in the morning and do 20 lengths. I've even treated myself to a new costume so there are no excuses!
Bring it on!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Takeaway my urges

Today was a long, hot day - the combined effect of no air-conditioning and the lifting and shifting of delivery day meant all of us were very hot and bothered. None more so than Rachel, who apparently forgot to put suncream on her feet over the weekend (see pic!).
Monday night is the Women's Running Network group run night, they're a very friendly mixed-ability bunch and welcomed me back in February. I haven't been for a few weeks on account of the bronchitus. It's easy to think that it'll be like starting from scratch again when you've missed some training but in reality it's never that bad. We did around 4 miles in the still scorching heat and I was dripping with sweat, and very much at the back after the first couple of miles. I did feel a lot better at the end though for having gone out and done some running!
One cold shower later and I was ready for a munch. I found some grapes in the fridge but that didn't quite satisfy the grumbly stomach (bearing in mind, I did eat before the run). Now it just so happens that the new Dominos Pizza menu came through the front door today, and a thin-crust American Hot was eyeing me up. Having takeaway menus around is a risky business, especially as they all deliver for free. My house is across the road from a chip shop, chinese AND curry house.. so if the urge is strong you don't have long to talk yourself out of it..
I reasoned with myself, a small pizza would be okay, wouldn't it? After all, I did go for a run and I must've climbed those stairs in work about a million times today. I went upstairs, got dressed ready to pop down to Dominos (which is less than a 10 minute walk) and score me some pepperoni goodness.
Somewhere between the bottom of the stairs and the front door my willpower kicked in, and I thought I'd have just one more look in the fridge in case there was something more suitable. Instead of pizza I ended up eating two sticks of celery with peanut butter and raisins! I am super chuffed with myself.
Tomorrow I'm sure I'll be thin..

Sunday, 23 May 2010

An easy spin(!)

This weekend has definitely shown that the British Summer has arrived. After a lovely chicken and bacon salad in the pub with mum at lunchtime I bid her farewell and contemplated finally going out for a run. I decided it was a bit too hot, but a quick check on facebook showed that Hugo was looking to go out for a nice easy ride and that sounded just about perfect..

Hugo text me to say that Hannah would be joining us, and we were going to go for a nice, easy spin. For those of you that don't know, Hannah and Hugo are fellow Salisbury Triathlon Club members, both very much with youth on their side (I think they are both 17), and both totally, ridiculously fit! Hugo is a total demon on the bike and I've heard Hannah was a fish in a previous life - which was proven at the recent Salisbury Triathlon as she lapped some of the top blokes in the swim. I knew when Hugo had said "easy spin" it would be still be a decent pace, certainly a decent pace for me anyway, but I needed to get back out on the bike as it's been over two weeks since my last ride.

After a little warm-up, Hugo and I met Hannah and we went off around the Woodfords and up mile hill, lovely. We dropped down the other side and had a couple of good climbs up the hills around Wilton - I was at the back but the legs and the heart were working and that's always good.

We left Hannah as she peeled off home and she left us with some directions, as we couldn't decide which route to take to head home. I didn't fancy going back the way we came as that meant doing the mega hills in the other direction - but Hannah said there was an easy route if we went through the next village. She said there was "one hill, it's steep but it's tiiiiiny". Great, I can cope with a tiny hill.

So, we turned into the village and were ascending straight away, indeed a very short but fairly steep hill. We rode through the beautiful village of Homington and turned left at the bus stop - as we had instructed to.

Bugger. The hill into the village obviously wasn't the one she had meant, THIS was the one she had meant. Tiny was probably not the word I would have used to describe it. Steep, yes. Tiny, no. One mini-heart attack later and we were at the top and on the home stretch. A nice ride through Quidhampton and Lower Bemerton brought us back home. 31.5 miles in total.

I celebrated a good ride with a cup of tea and a banana. My shoulders and hands (hands?! bizarre!) are aching but the legs felt great after a post-ride stretch and I'll be ready to tear it up again later this week!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A "Big and Crazy" day of geocaching

Geocaching is basically a bit of a geeky, electronic treasure hunt where you find things that other people have hidden using a GPS receiver. I tried it for the first time just over a week ago and was immediately hooked (see link for my take on how that went!) I knew I had to spread the word, and a visit from my mum this weekend was the perfect opportunity..
Of course a family visit guarantees two things. 1. There will be laughter, laughter of the side-splitting, jaw-aching, eye-watering, small uncontrollable weeing variety. 2. Drinking.
After psyching myself up with the not drinking goal in mind, I spotted that hint of disappointment in my own mother's eyes and I couldn't do it, we had to get a bottle to share. Glorious Chardonnay Pinot Noir.. and there it was, gone. As if by some subconscious psychic miracle I then had a message from the lovely Jojo offering wonderful support for my venture into teetotalism. I am so weak of will, pangs of guilt went through me. I said no to the offer of another glass and that is definitely it, no more!
I was also extremely well-behaved with regards to food, turning down a chocolate danish and indulging in a spot (ok, large blob) of retail therapy instead.
So, now for the fun stuff! After making our packed lunch (with lots of fresh fruit and salad in our rolls, might I add) we headed off for an afternoon of geocaching. The plan was to find 23 caches on a route that would take us around 5.5 miles of countryside paths. After parking up we were only about 500m from our first cache, which proved a bit of a tricky one. A risky scramble up a steep, dirty roadside bank led us to our first location, where we quickly realised we had gone a bit wrong and saw we could have avoided that madness and reached our hidden cache from the road (though well done to mum for some hardcore clambering).
We signed the log as "Crazyhairedfish" which is my geocaching alias and "Big Chick" and with a spring in our step, excitedly set off toward our next goal. The next couple of hours we engaged in a bit of friendly competition, climbed some trees, crawled in the dirt - a lot, got more stung by stinging nettles than ever before and successfully located a lot of hidden containers. Our aliases became shorter and shorter and we amused ourselves by deciding that signing as "Big and Crazy" was sheer brilliance.
We took photo evidence of every cache we found, which was nothing to do with counting up and checking later who had found the most. A personal highlight of the day for me was mum attempting to take a photo but actually losing her balance and then taking a tumble in the mud - hilarious!
We were both completely exhausted as we came to the end and the very last cache involved another uphill scramble and a mini-tree climb to finish off.
To celebrate a great afternoon of fresh air, sunshine and exercise we headed to the pub where we guzzled pints of orange and lime sodas and then headed home for a munchy evening of cheese, crackers and crudites.
All in all a fantastic, active and healthy day. The lungs are back and tomorrow the running will commence!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Getting squashed

Last month I joined the squash league that runs in the local sports centre. After having a read of the blurb and checking it was "for all levels from beginner upwards" I decided it was obviously suitable for me. There are eight divisions, and in each division there are up to seven players. You arrange all your own games and score best of 3. Each month two people in each division go up and down - easy. The first thing I noticed when I signed up in April was that the league was fairly male-dominated, and when I say fairly, what I mean is that it is all men. What I really mean is that it's a completely testosterone fuelled sweat-fest down there every single night. If I was interested in men it would be awesome! When you join the league you're automatically put in at the bottom, and am I ever thankful that I was! My first game I lost 9-0, 9-0, 9-0. I don't believe I actually touched the ball. Sadly the man I played wasn't very much fun at all. However, I've now made a bit of a name for myself as the bonkers girl who signed up to the league who was actually a novice! Turns out everyone in the league has in fact got a reasonable grasp of the game. This is where the fact that it is full of (mostly middle-aged) men puts me at an advantage... a lot of the very nice chaps in the top divisions are ripping it up in the squash courts most evenings and if I pop down they'll usher me onto the court and take turns in giving me a few pointers - super! A very friendly gentleman named Martyn also enlightened me regarding a very important rule. The crack is: if your opponent is in front of you and you accidentally hit them with the ball, it's your point due to the fact that they are an obstacle between you and the wall. Martyn very quickly regretted informing me of this helpful hint as it turns out I'm far more accurate with my shots when the target is a person.. Nonetheless I am yet to win a single game, I scored a grand total of 10 points in April (against mostly 100+ in my division). Perhaps that should go on my goal list, win a game of squash?! What I do enjoy is when I set a reminder on my calendar for a game. Obviously I type in that it's squash and then the name of who I'm playing so I don't lose track. So at 19:30 this evening just as I entered the sports centre, my phone chimes and flashes with the message"Squash Richard", less of a reminder really and more of a motivational mantra! One day I will squash them all. The silver lining is that tonight I played 45 minutes of very energetic squash and I felt amazing. The bronchitus is clearly losing it's grasp of my lungs and I am getting back to form. Not only that, but I scored 6 points - a new PB!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Egg and the Temptation of the Chocolate Loaf

The antibiotics are kicking in, finally. I know I'm getting better because I've been having a serious dose of the sweats, which my mum has always said is the body getting it all out. Wise words. I am however, nowhere near 100% just yet. An attempt in the gym yesterday evening proved that the old lungs aren't quite up to scratch as a moderate 10 minutes on the cross-trainer quickly veered downhill into a red-faced coughing fit and a skyrocketing heart rate. After another fairly relaxed day today though I am feeling confident that tomorrow will be the day. Of course with this serious lack of exercise, the whole controlled, healthy-eating thing is so much more important. Today - I am pleased to report - has been a very healthy day. I should report that I did have a bit of a near-miss. A quick dash into Sainsbury on the way home from work almost became a fatfest after a glance at their reduced shelf exposed a "Taste the Difference Chocolate Loaf".. effectively a cakey loaf of chocolatey goodness with chunky chocolate chips. It was reduced to 49p! A whole squidgy treat of cocoa utopia for just 49p! It took a fairly substantial whack of willpower to stop drooling and imagining the knife slicing through the gooey chocolate insides and chunks of chocolate rolling off the plate into my mouth.. anyway.. I got some kiwifruit instead. Egg: 1 Chocolate: 0

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

In the beginning...

This is a blog for friends and family to follow my progress as I try to go from casual exerciser with an extreme fondness for cookies, flapjacks and general junk to health and fitness supremo..
On and off I've been going through phases of being healthy and unhealthy and gaining pounds and losing pounds - but now it's time to change the bad lifestyle for good!!
The idea of the blog is to post everything I do - good and bad - and to do it completely honestly. If I sneak off and eat a kilo of chocolate I shall write it on here, hopefully by putting everything in a public forum my willpower will increase which inevitably will help to achieve my goals!
So, goals. I definitely need specific ones, and not just "get fit and eat less crap"..
As some of you know I am going to try to get fit enough to enter a triathlon this year, but the main problem with that right now is that I can't really swim. Well, I can swim, but I can't SWIM. I can splash about and get from one end of the pool to another, arriving in an out of breath manner.. but what I need to be doing is shooting like a torpedo. So..
1. Swim 400m comfortably. When I say "comfortably", I need to have enough left to bike and run after..
2. Stop drinking. I'm a very naughty drunk. I cause a lot of mischief and generally behave in a bad manner. Not only this but I get an irrestible urge to eat everything in sight. This is where I need the support of everyone, please don't encourage me to drink! Willpower is one thing but pier pressure...
3. Eat more fruit, eat way, way less cookies. Tesco and Sainsbury seem to always have some £1 deal on their triple chocolate cookies. Doesn't matter what the food is, if it's a pound, that makes me want to buy it. Most people would buy a pack of cookies and share them - I have usually eaten the whole pack before I get home. I'm a comfort eater, and it has to stop! I need to learn to find comfort in fruit and vegetables, which I actually do enjoy!
4. Break the 9 stone barrier - for good!! I know losing weight shouldn't be a priority, it should be about getting fit. But this whole thing is also about feeling good about myself. In the last couple of months I have managed to juuuust dip below 9 stone, for about an hour at a time. I'm currently sitting at 9 stone 7 after a week and a half of no exercise at all, on account of a bad case of bronchitus. I feel absolutely rubbish for it. This is why it's important to change the lifestyle and not just 'be on a diet'..
5. Run an 8 minute mile. Running is something I have never been good at. I was always at the back in school and even when I joined the Army I did the minimum possible to get through. Since joining a running club locally I've actually really started to enjoy it. I did my first race this year, a 5 miler. I managed it in 50:01, 10-minute miles, which I am absolutely chuffed with. However, this is about setting achievable goals and I think an 8 minute mile is a good one. Even if it's just one mile to start with!
Those 5 will be my goals for the time being, I'll come back to them often and check progress. There are so many others I have in my mind but if I set too many it will be overwhelming and easy to lose focus.
Obviously I will update as regularly as possible with what I've been up to and how I'm progressing. Generally all I want is to have a healthy, active lifestyle and stop the binge-eating and yo-yoing weight. Should be easy!