Thursday, 28 October 2010

Two-timing with the Lady of the Night

Those of you that regularly read my blog will know that I really love my bikes and cycling, so much so that I have what some will consider to be a slightly unhealthy relationship with my two-wheeled lady friends.

Bianca - my road bike - is sort of like my wife. We spend time together nearly every day doing the same mundane things. I know she's reliable and trustworthy and we're very comfortable in each other's company. Occasionally we'll have fun days out together or sit having tea in a lovely country spot. Every now and then we might have a little tiff but we forgive and forget and just make our bond stronger. I'll admit, I think about going for a younger, hotter specimen with a deliciously smooth and light body but really she's all I need and we have plenty of good times.

Roxy, on the other hand, is my bit on the side. She's mucky, curvaceous and absolutely wild. I sneak out with her for nights of breathless excitement and I know I can go to her when I want a bit of pure filth. She is however, completely uncontrollable, we definitely need to spend some more time together so I can learn how to handle her.

We did go for a naughty night time adventure last night and I couldn’t tell if it was her or me, but something wasn’t quite right. It was harder work than usual and I finished the ride tired, achy and a little bit unsatisfied. A closer inspection revealed that it was in fact her, so grimy she is that everything is a bit clogged up and with all the rough riding (more specifically, rough falling over) we’ve been doing she’s gotten a bit battered and bent out of shape. She’s going to get a pampering this evening before we head out for another dark and dirty session in the forest.

After last night’s hard effort I felt huge relief this morning as the ride to work with Bianca was superb – my quickest commute yet. Obviously the most satisfying moments come when you stick with what you know! The day was further brightened by the Thursday morning weekly weigh-in; I’d managed to lose another pound. The banning of cake, chocolate and biscuits is obviously having an effect, though the weight loss could well be due to the stress of not having them in my life rather than the actual calorie depletion!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Lent in November?!

Abingdon - just for the record - is uphill from Salisbury. In a very unusual turn of events it turns out that Salisbury is also uphill from Abingdon. Despite this elevation perplexity, my weekend cycling adventure was absolutely marvellous. Fresh, cool, clear autumn days made the journey through North Wiltshire and the Cotswolds a joy, even with all the uphill.
On the way up there on Friday I discovered the Pewsey Hill, which a little bird named Sarah had warned me about. I was nervously anticipating something horrific as I approached and after an extended but very friendly gradient of climb into Pewsey I was almost a little disappointed at the lack of effort I'd had to put in. I thought maybe I'd had a tailwind or something that had made it easier, or maybe Sarah was just a massive wuss?!
A mile or so later and my heart sunk as I realised it wasn't the climb into Pewsey, it was the climb out. It isn't a regular occurance for my face to bead with sweat when out cycling but good grief this was a climb and a half, made all the worse by a ridiculous set of roadworks that had me wobbling into a traffic cone in front of a line of traffic as I attempted a steep hill start.
After this hill however, the rest of the journey was fantastic. I left the smooth, tree-lined A4 early and got myself lost in some fantastic single-track roads through the Cotswolds. Thankfully I didn't meet any traffic. In fact, both my journeys were surprisingly car free - wonderful!
We celebrated my safe arrival with curry and wine, which I definitely felt was justified after 65 miles and 2200ft of elevation gain. With that cycle on Friday and my slightly shorter, more direct journey back today, I'm feeling a lot more confident about tackling the Exmoor Beast next weekend!
The other news to report is that in a crazed moment of excitement, I was sucked into a bonkers pact with Liz to give up chocolate and all chocolate-related products. It was all her idea and she barely gave me a chance to agree before she had written it (in ink, no less) on the calendar. She wanted to go until the end of November but as my birthday falls on the last weekend on November I managed to negotiate going to the 26th. In the midst of this negotiation we managed to egg each other on and added in cake, puddings and biscuits! So basically no treats for just over a month. No happy eating days. She even hid my chocolate horlicks.
I'm going to try and embrace this unseasonal lent in the spirit of Egg Goes Healthy of course but it's going to be tough. Now I'm off to hide something Liz loves before she gets home..

Thursday, 21 October 2010

It's Unhealthy to see Family

I do love a family gathering, a chance to see what everyone is up to, relearn the names of copious number of cousins and enjoy in a bit of general revelry!

Revelry however, seems to include the consumption of much food and drink. After a very well behaved week last week I ruined it all in less than two days. On Saturday I thought I was going to do well on the self-control front. A glorious New Forest cycle to Beaulieu had us end up at a tea shop with a dribblingly good cake selection. After steaming up the glass-fronted cabinet like a rabid, panting dog I very sensibly chose to have Soup of the Day. I was delighted with a hearty bowl of chicken and cauliflower soup (complete with actual chunks of chicken!) and the thickest, tastiest homemade bread I have ever encountered. But even after licking the bowl clean and scooping up every last crumb I still couldn't take my mind of the cake. I caved and got a piece of rocky road, a small one mind! The cycle was a 46 mile round trip so I wasn't overcome with guilt at all.

Shortly after getting home, my sister arrived ready and raring to go for a family gathering that evening. She came bearing cookies. This is the point where it all started to go wrong. One cookie isn't so bad (especially a Tesco Finest one..) but when we arrived at the party and I laid eyes on the buffet, it was game over. I tried on the first attempt to get a mostly wholesome selection and even my second plate was loaded with carrot sticks, olives and celery. The real issue came when I moved down to the sweet selection and had my first homemade cupcake. They were small cupcakes, two mouthfuls if you were being polite. There was a selection of flavours too, and obviously you have to test one of each in case you miss out. I ended up just sort of hanging around near the food, and every time I spoke to a new member of the family I celebrated with another cakey treat. Suffice to say there were a lot of people to chat to!

So, stuffed full of cake (I forgot to mention the actual birthday cake and the bitesize cheesecake bits) we headed home and indulged in a bottle of wine.. and the remaining cookies.

We woke up surprisingly fresh on Sunday morning and managed to squeeze in a quick game of badminton. I'm glad we did as there was much more eating to be done. We started off well with a Waitrose brekkie before heading off to Poole to visit an Aunt and Uncle.

Now this particular Aunt and Uncle are excellent hosts, too good in fact. They do also love a drink and I promise I am not exaggerating whatsoever when I say that every room in their sizable abode is filled to the brim with more booze than you could ever imagine. We sat down and and were offered refreshments, I was thinking that a cup of tea would go down a treat. My Aunt had other ideas.. "Something light to start? How about a sherry?"

These are not the sort of people you can say no to, so the sherry came out (at just after midday, might I add). My sister was driving, but she also couldn't say no, so for this sherry and every subsequent glass of anything that was offered I had to sneakily get hers down as well. I took on the challenge like a trooper of course.

When lunch was served we all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw the delicious plates of salad that was being dished up. How silly of us not to realise this was only course number one! What followed was cake in slices the size of enormous and a cheese and cracker selection. 

By the time we left at around 15:30 I was drunk, and would have fallen asleep in the car had it not been for the gift of a box of delicious crumbly fudge..

All in all a pretty heavy weekend, and further proof that family are unsafe when trying to maintain healthy standards! This is why I need to lose weight for Christmas!

We had our weekly weigh-in at work today and I was the same, which I was very pleased with. It means I am still on track too as I lost some extra pounds in a previous week. Now the weekend is coming and I'm off to visit a friend on Oxfordshire, so I'm sure more wine and naughties will be consumed. I decided as a result of this that I shall cycle there and back to even things out. Now that's a balanced lifestyle!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Battered, bruised and blinkin' dirty

I went out on Saturday morning with some folk from the Tri Club on the mountain bikes. It was an absolutely marvellous ride through some great bits of trail around the outskirts of Salisbury. It was however - as every mountain biking endeavour should be - extremely mud-ridden. Without even a slither of exaggeration, we were riding through knee deep pits of murky, chalky sludge and it was brilliant.

As per usual I did manage to throw myself off (but just the once) and very nearly took a fellow rider out with me. I dusted myself off and got back on the bike. As I got riding I was aware that my arm and leg were hurting a bit but I couldn't see any of my skin through the filth to make an assessment and I didn't want to appear like a girly wuss so I kept schtum.

When I'd finished blocking the shower up with dirt (sorry Liz) I looked down to find an enormous bruise on my leg and a fairly decent one up my arm as well. I breathed a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that I am not a girly wuss.

I made up for the fantastic calorie-burning effect of three hours of mountain biking with lots of food, wine and excessive dessert eating on Saturday evening. Despite that I am still just about on target with my weight loss goal for the month - fingers crossed! I did peer longingly into the vending machine at work today, armed dangerously with a pound coin, but managed to escape without buying anything.

I also saw the physio yesterday who gave me some drills to get me back into the running, but this is definitely going to be a slow process (boo!). He also did a bit of acupuncture after routing around to find the most painful bits of my body. I have had some acupuncture before but had forgotten just how much it hurts, what ensued was 20 minutes of groaning, squeezing anything nearby with a vice-like grip, extreme foot tapping (because this help the pain?!) and profuse sweating - lovely.

In other news.. I am also well on track with the mileage, and have cycled 196 miles so far this month - just got to keep it up! I have a feeling my fun post-work longer rides will be much less regular as it gets darker and colder but with some more mountain biking on the cards for the month I reckon I'll get to the 500!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

24 Hour Diet - Part 2

After a night of tossing and turning on account of being so very excited about my detox, I couldn't even bring myself to have the Sunday morning lay-in I had planned. I was up with a start and ready for a day of seriously hardcore juicing.

Liz had very cruelly left an open box of chocolates about the place with the offer to "help myself", she clearly wasn't feeling the detox spirit. I was going to be having a very disciplined day, sticking to the eating plan and drinking my 2 litres of water.

7:45 Homemade Lemon and Honey Tea - a very simple but refreshing start to the day.
8:45 Breakfast (or "Body Blender Breakfast", as it is so called) - an unusual combination of porridge oats, wheatgerm, flaxseed, prunes and a few other bits of stuff. I was disappointed that my breakfast looked like cat sick, but after dressing it with pumpkin seeds and a few cranberries it did look slightly more palatable. It tasted of nothing at all really. If I had it again I think I'd ditch the bowl and spoon, close my eyes, pinch my nose and gulp it down in one go.

Up until lunchtime I was allowed an apple, 6 almonds and a cup of "detox tea". This tea, was quite possibly the best discovery of the day. It's a mixture of mints, dandelion and burdock, liquorice root, and other goodies and it tastes absolutely delicious. Everybody should skip one of their daily coffees and try this! Almonds are also surprisingly filling, I had a hunger pang at around 11 and the nuts sorted that right out!

13:00 The brilliantly named Vitality Soup - when I first read the recipe for this it looked very tasty, without going through all the ingredients with you it was basically a tomato and chilli soup. It was at second glance I realised that there was no actual cooking involved. The raw ingredients are all blended and you eat it cold. It wasn't completely unpleasant, the flavour itself was spicy and nice enough. I just couldn't quite get over the fact that I was eating cold vegetably mush!

15:30 My afternoon snack (if you can call it that) was another lemon and honey tea, shortly followed by a "Sanity Snack", which are little balls of mashed up nuts and dried fruits rolled in pure cocoa powder. Now these were moreish, as least they were after I managed to remove the sticky mess from the food blender. It's a major hassle to blend any sort of dried fruit, but these really were worth the mess, I'd make them on real food days and everything!

17:30 Dinner was yummy but disappointingly unfulfilling. Orange and banana juice with almond butter, another slightly unusual combination but again, marvellous flavour. I didn't bother taking a photo, mostly because it just looks like lumpy orange juice.

I am now supposed to not have anything until a detox tea before bed. I thought maybe I could go to bed around 19:00 so there would be less chance for temptation, but given that the X Factor is on tonight, that's not really a possibility. It's going to be a tough few hours, I'll tell you that much!

Hunger levels have actually not been too bad considering, but I have really missed solid food. It's quite unsatisfying eating liquid food all day. I reckon though if I make it through the evening I should definitely be thinner tomorrow! Bring on the detox tea...

Friday, 1 October 2010


Unlike the manic beer-fuelled German extravaganza, my version of this epic event will mostly involve lots and lots of lovely exercise.

Having had a glance back through my September training log, I realised that I actually wussed out of swimming much more than I thought I did. I spent a grand total of two and a half hours in the pool compared to just over twenty-one hours cycling. Woops! With winter starting to close in, now is the perfect opportunity to really start getting closer to the 8 minute 400m!

My '8 stone by Christmas' goal hasn't really taken off yet either. I'm still dangerously close to toppling back over the 9 stone barrier, so it's really time to reign in the willpower. We are doing a weekly weigh-in in the office so that is excellent motivation for me, and my 24 hour diet/detox this weekend shall hopefully get me on my way.

Hopefully I shall also be able to get back into the running over the next few weeks, I never thought Icould ever be this excited about being able to go for a run - truly a changed woman!

The tee-totalism of September was almost a complete success too, minus one small incident involving a party in London, some vodka punch and eggy-measures of sambuca (like eggy-measures of anything really, large).
In summary, the plan is to have a good balance this month of varied activities.

Goals for October:

1. Cycle no less than 500 miles between today and the end of the month. It started today with an extremely wet and murky commute. Nobody (Nicky Webb..) can call me a fair-weather cyclist after that!

2. Build back into running, slowly. No tagging along on fast and/or long runs. Must be sensible!

3. Do three swim sessions a week - no wussing out.

4. Be 5lbs lighter at the end of the month.

That's all for now!