Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The 24 Hour Diet - Part 1

If you've only even had but a mere glimpse at my blog you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that I am not a fan of dieting. Chocolate and cake do a happy Egg make and I think it's important to prioritise happiness, nobody likes a grump.

The idea of restricting yourself things you want is not healthy in my opinion and dieting will only take you so far before you give up and end up putting back on the weight you lost. The Atkins for instance, who would want to give up carbs, the very essence of energy?! Bonkers. Don't get me started on Gillian McKeith either, the food she recommends is barely bordering on real food at all.. Aduki Bean Stew with Millet Mash?! To cook it you need to locate about twenty ingredients from far-flung indigenous tribes scattered about the globe. So forgive me Gillian but I want to shop in Tesco and get my double points!

I understand completely the idea of everything in moderation and that's the concept I've been trying to work with (if we could ignore the one-offs like 16 ice creams in a day etc etc). However my own personal nutritional philosophy is that you should eat what you need in order to be healthy and you should eat what you want in order to be happy. If that ends up with you eating a bit too much (which it inevitably does when you want to be as happy as me) then you get rid of the excess with exercise - simple.

So far, that has been working pretty well for me. I have even managed to find happiness in healthier, more nutritious foodstuff. However, if you read my previous post you'll know I've had the lurgy. When you're sat at home wallowing in your own germs, every day is a "happy eating" day. The mind takes over and tells you all this food will help. In retrospect, chocolate probably isn't less calories if you break it into smaller pieces and therefore use more energy lifting it into your mouth.

Alas, I knew something needed to be done. Google dished up the answer: The 24 Hour Diet. On first glance it looks like something a desperate bride-to-be might resort to after binge drinking and scoffing drunken kebabs just days before she has to don her very fitted dress. But on closer inspection it doesn't look too unreasonable, plus it's only 24 hours. Even I can control myself for a single day. Really as it's for such a short period of time, it's more of a detox than a diet and a detox is exactly what I need.

A scan through the recipes uncovered just a small number of obscure ingredients. revealed that most of these were not as obscure as I thought (wheatgerm and fennel bulbs? Who buys these?!) Maybe I'll discover some gem of an ingredient that I didn't know existed. Standby for Part 2

All this in one day? That's my kinda diet..

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Starve a fever, feed a cold

It appears that when I am poorly, I lose the little willpower I have and very easily cave in to the philosophy that eating will cure me. Perhaps it's true, a few days rest and some excellent nourishment would help to get the body back on track, the body is a temple and all that.. Well, right now my body isn't so much a temple, it's more of a prison that I have stuffed full of baddies. Whilst I have consumed the customary chicken soup and eaten loads of orangery for my vitamin C, I have also packed this particular facility with almost every foodie criminal known to man.

The thing is, the more you overfill your cells with these calorific convicts, the more dilapidated the place becomes. Then when it really starts falling apart they'll all escape and spread their vandalistic crimes throughout the outer wings of the prison. In simpler terms, I eat and I'm still poorly, but just fatter.

These crazy metaphors have probably come from me being feverish and delusional, but keeping with the prison theme.. I think it could be time to send in the big green guards...

The silver lining here I suppose is that the last time I was poorly it gave me an enormous motivation to kick start my whole healthy lifestyle in the first place. Now that I've been unable to do any form of exercise for a few days on account of feeling so rough, I've never felt more determined to get going again!

As soon as I'm feeling better I shall be back on a strict regime. Until then, I need to stop letting so many of these very desirable undesirables in!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Egg and the Dangerous Black Cow

Last week a friend of mine, AJ, updated his facebook status to "loving night time mtb-ing!!!". What a brilliant idea, whole new hours of potential saddle-time.. I was very envious and demanded information immediately. One week later and I'm loading the mountain bike into a car at dusk and carrying a selection of torches, none of which I am convinced is going to be bright enough to allow me to see where I'm going. 

After carefully analysing, I selected my brightest light and attached it to my helmet. Not really ideal and/or comfortable, but necessary for getting through this experience alive. I turned it on and realised I could actually only see about 10 metres in front of me. Fantastic. That is not a whole lot of reaction time when you're hurtling down a gravel trail in darkness.

The boys told me it's not hitting a hole or a bump I should be worried about. What I should be worrying about apparently are black cows, because you can't see them and you'll be in a world of hurt if you hit one. I thought I'd have to be pretty unlucky to hit a cow and went back to worrying about bumps, holes and other obstacles.

We set off, and I quickly realised that I really couldn't see much at all. Every descent was a blind act of faith. If I kept up with the boys then I could see more from their mega lumen beams, but for the most part I held off and maintained a slightly steadier pace. Towards the top of the first hill I had started to get accustomed to riding in darkness and just as my focus became more relaxed, guess what? I had to swerve to avoid a black cow which was staring at me with it's demonic glinty eyes and taking up a good proportion of the track with it's general massiveness!

I had a camera mounted onto my handlebars and unfortunately, like a ghost, you can't see the cow on the footage. You can however hear my gravel skid and exclamation of "cooooowww". Now I knew that there were indeed dangerous creatures out in the forest, I think subconsciously I pedalled a bit quicker and lost a bit of the worry about aforementioned obstacles.

For the next few miles I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the same way any adrenaline junkie enjoys being in a constant state of slightly scared. We whipped through some really nice bits of track and then, with a gentle reminder from Ady, I remembered what was coming next: Heartbreak Hill.

This hill is a nightmare. It goes on forever and it's made entirely of sand. Hit it too fast and you'll come to a dramatic halt and fall off, hit it too slow and you'll come to a very undramatic halt and fall off. What you need to do is get into a low gear and spin for your life whilst trying to keep going in a straight line. I've been up this hill in daylight and made it to the top before so I had confidence in my ability. However, at night all your peripheral vision is gone and with it, your sense of balance and direction. In true Eggy fashion I came off twice, both times enjoying ear fulls, mouth fulls, glove fulls, bra fulls etc of sand. I finally made it to the top. The rest would be plain sailing!

It actually was. I only had one chain coming off incident, which I liked because it was the first time it has ever happened when I've managed to un-cleat my foot in time not to fall off - success! After the last awesome bit of down and the last horrifically steep bit of up, we were done.

Verdict: exhilarating way to enjoy trails, just watch out for the cows.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pool Running

I heard a rumour that it was possible to get a special belt that allowed you to run in water. I had images in my head of those massive harnesses they put on injured horses to allow them to have "hydrotherapy". Not perturbed by this, I googled it, and came across what is effectively a big pool float with a strap and a buckle. Not quite as exciting as I thought. However, as I had spoken to a number of people who had tried it and said it was a brilliant workout - especially for injured runners - I thought I'd order one anyway and give it a shot.

Just as a matter of clarification and for anyone who is going to YouTube "Pool Running", it's not the same as Pool Cover Running, which is definitely not good for fitness or injured runners but is excellent for drunken adventures. No, what it is is doing the same movement as you would when you run normally, but just doing it underwater.

To offer an analogy: you know when you see a swan gliding effortlessly on the surface of a lake looking beautifully serene, even though you know that under the water their legs are going like the clappers? Well, it's absolutely nothing like that whatsoever. Your whole body is going is like the clappers whilst your head is bobbing around all over the shop as you try to maintain a proper running technique, and every time you turn around it's like you've momentarily been put in slow motion until you can get back into the rhythm again. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most exhausting thing I have ever done in water. 15 minutes of going up and down the deep end of the pool and I was knackered! I think the problem was that I had gone in all enthusiastic and excitable and what I had done was not merely pool running, but pool sprinting!

What was also good was that the pool was reasonably empty, and I didn't get too many funny looks. Although one very amused lady swam past at least six times before finally stopping to ask "What are you actually doing?!" From the surface it probably looks as though you're doing a very poor doggy paddle!

Nonetheless, it is indeed an excellent workout and I think with the addition of a bit of music or a running partner to get you through, it's a perfect way to keep the running fitness up!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Pedalling Passion

Since stopping running whilst the niggle in my knee clears up, I've really embraced cycling in all it's forms. In fact, I've gone bonkers, I just can't stop turning my legs in circles!

Mountain-biking, road-biking, attacking the hills, spinning and even time on the turbo trainer - it's all just fantastically enjoyable and I can't get enough.

I started my new job today and the idea is to commute by bike. It's about 10 miles, a nice distance to boost the metabolism in the morning and before I feast on dinner in the evening. I didn't cycle in today though as I needed to recce the bicycle storage situation and more importantly, the showers. There would be nothing worse than rocking upon my first day like a sweaty, bike-grease-tattooed wreck. 

The bus journey home was painfully slow. I found myself daydreaming about cycling, eyeing up each gradient the bus trundled over and imagining how much better it would be to do this journey sat in a saddle. I reckon it could even be possible (with the odd shortcut) to beat the bus into town, and that could well be a game I play when I'm more familiar with the route.

The other reason I didn't cycle in today though, was that I have had a serious pedalling overload in the last few days. From Wednesday to Saturday I cycled and span every single day, culminating in a 62 mile New Forest bonanza with Nicky on Sunday in the glorious sunshine. It was a brilliant ride with the occasional(!) hill thrown in. One in particular sticks in my mind: Ornamental Drive. It is very likely that this hill is so called because people should really only look at it in all it's ornamental loveliness rather than trying to pedal up it's relentless 14 degree kicker!

After a jolly good stretch and a cuppa, I decided that Monday should be a cycling-free day, just to give the legs a bit of a rest. So I had a very leisurely day and decided I would hit the gym after work. As I walked through at 18.58 I glanced into the spinning room at the 7pm class, all lycrad-up and ready to go. There was one bike left, sad and alone. I nearly kept walking but I just couldn't resist that big chrome wheel. I must say though that this is probably a better failure of willpower than my usual cake-fest..

So the commuting commences tomorrow. I am very excited about fitting in lots of extra bike time and imagine that by the time the deep, dark winter arrives I shall be a mighty pedalling machine, ploughing through the rain and snow like a tank. Let's just hope my legs don't become the size of one!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A bit of a weight

I think I must have some extra testosterone knocking around in here somewhere because I just can't get enough of weight training. There's something so satisfying about being able to lift more metal than you could lift before.

It's very much a personal thing, the only real competition is yourself. You can't compare yourself to anyone else because their goals could be completely different to your own. But everybody always does anyway. Don't pretend you don't either.. we are all guilty. During my leg endurance phase I was pushing tiny weights and was sure I got some weird glances from people who were probably thinking I was some puny girl who wasn't putting any effort in.

I am as guilty as the next person. I constantly sneak a peek at other girls around my size and see what they're lifting, makes me feel marvellous about myself if I know I can do more. If they turn out to be thin AND stronger then it just spurs me on to work harder. It's all one big egotistical, motivational cycle. What's even more thrilling than that is when you see a skinny 20-something year old man struggling with a set, then you go and choose the next weight up and pump it out, to the only-just-detectable nod of approval from the seriously hardcore men who have biceps bigger than your head. Cruel, yes. But the skinny boy will learn from that and go forward.. probably.

My current only issue is the battle of the bulk. The battle of the bulge is still a battle in itself but the bulk, you don't notice it at first and then you glance down and realise your quads are sticking out a good inch or so further forward than they were before. All that previous effort to get into smaller jeans.. bah!

I think once I get out running again maybe the legs will size down again but right now I feel like a lean-legged beast with all the weights and cycling I'm doing. Not only that (I'm aware this is becoming a rant, stick with me), but why oh why, after building up so much more leg muscle, must my body still feel the urge to store enough leg fat for a whole leg in just the ankle area. You'd think that's be the first place to get rid, surely it makes more sense to keep some in the breast and lose some in the ankle?!

Phew, rant over. All in all though I do love the weights, and it's a surprisingly good workout - you don't realise so much but it does get the heart pumping and the blood flowing just as much as a cardio workout. Plus I keep telling myself that the more muscle I have the more calories I'll burn (and the more goodies I can eat), how true that is I'm not entirely sure but it's a good motivator nonetheless!

To the gym!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A little bit naughty..a lot of nice

Really the title of this should have been "I've eaten loads and loads of treats and been a complete rebel", but it's probably not quite as catchy. After the incredible success of keeping two tubs of Ben and Jerry's sealed in the freezer for nearly three days, I broke. Once opened, the Chocolate Macadamia lasted all of about six minutes, and what a truly wonderful six minutes it was!

I didn't even have any guilt about the first tub. I'd just gotten in from a tough few hours of calve-curdling mountain bike action and I was due a treat. The problem is, it opened up a can of very delicious worms and my crazy, greedy alter-ego emerged ready to devour every sugary delicacy I could lay my bulging, gluttonous eyes upon.

I tried to make up for it by bringing a super healthy lunch into work, but that lasted a whole ten minutes and before you could say "ant on a log" I was drooling over Tesco Finest cookies. There's a silver lining here though. After polishing off the bag I had a very strange feeling. I felt empty. Not empty of stomach, you understand (that's a feeling that never goes away in the bottomless pit of my gut) but empty emotionally. The cookies hadn't given me that wholesome chocolately hug that they normally do. They hadn't satisfied my urge. I realised I would've felt better if I'd just eaten a melon salad. I took a moment, the astonishingly inconceivable truth hit me. Cookies: I was over them.

I was so amazed at this healthy breakthrough, that on that very evening I celebrated with the second tub of Ben and Jerry's, but get this.. I shared it. Who would have ever thought I would share a tub of ice cream?! I really am a new person.

There are no treats left in the house now and I think my crazed multi-day gorge is over. So yes, I have been riotous, but lessons have been learned and if there was any week is was going to happen, this has been a good one as I have been cramming in the training hours and being super active. So long as I end up calorie-neutral by my next weigh-in, it's all good!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

September Highs

I like the start of new things; fresh starts, new motivations and clean slates. After a pretty slacky August I'm super keen to get back on it, set some new goals and get myself into a wonderfully healthy routine. Having settled nicely into my new abode and with my new job starting soon, I'm feeling particularly chipper and in the right frame of mine to make some positive changes.

Having been notching up the alcohol units, having a LOT of lunchtime cake and giving in to a few bags of cookies in the last month, it was time to assess the damage. I tentatively stepped onto the scales this morning and was quite relieved. Yes I'd put a bit of weight on but not loads, and I haven't stepped back over to the dark side of my 9 stone barrier - phew!

As a bit of a detox, I've decided that September will be a teetotal month, not a drop of wine in sight.

The new goal is to hit 8 stone by Christmas. The idea behind this being that when I gorge and party "Cameron-style" over the festive period the inevitable weight gain will probably bring me back to a perfectly healthy weight. Or if I dance enough like last New Year's then I may even be able to maintain it! On paper, at two and a half pounds a month, this should be very achievable but will just take a bit of perseverance and discipline!

I have also now completed the "endurance" phase of my leg program, and am moving onto the strength phase. So I should be back running at the start of October. I am absolutely gagging to get back out there, hair blowing in the wind, sweat gently trickling down my neck.. I really do miss it, more than I miss cookies when I don't have any (and that is a lot). However, the focus for September will be get strong enough to crush nuts with my buns and have calves of steel.

I also want to keep up a bit of variation sports-wise. Do a bit more climbing, a few weekends in the hills and on the mountain bike and maybe even try some new stuff. I haven't decided what new stuff yet but I'm open to ideas!

Today however, I am heading out on the mountain bike as it's a lovely, sunny September day. And my goal for the day shall be: don't fall off. I'll keep you posted.