Fitness archive

Having started running in 2013 to try and help me with some issues I was having with my mental health, I ended up with an injury and enforced break in 2014. Desperate for an exercise that was cheap and could be done at home around my kids but without the stress on my feet, I discovered the awesome fun that is weightlifting.

These days I try to keep a rough balance of strength training and running, and here I track races, goals and progress.

Fitness Tips for Busy Work at Home Parents

Many of those who work at home find fitness right near the bottom of their list of priorities. Work at home parents in particular often find that they’re so busy juggling the demands of children, partners, work and household chores that fitness doesn’t fit on the list at all. However, this approach to fitness is shortsighted: it ignores the benefits of physical activity on both physical health (which gives you all important energy to run around after little ones) and mental health (which can keep feelings of isolation and lack of motivation at bay) as well as keeping the “work at home biscuit belly” in check. But how do you fit this in?

woman doing yoga

Workout tip #1: involve the kids

child enjoying fitnessYounger kids are usually fascinated watching mums (and dads) doing a home workout, and many are eager to join in. Try incorporating your kids into short bursts of exercise to get you both moving. Star jumps, squats, arm circles, sit ups, and the plank are all perfectly feasible for kids and can be incorporated into a 15-20 minute session to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. If you’re feeling really brave, and your kids are into it, you can even use them in place of weights for overhead presses and weighted squats. Be wary of flying drool though – I speak from experience here! Make sure you both cool down with some easy static stretches.

Studies have shown that children are much more likely to go on to have a healthy attitude to exercise when parents regularly take part, and show enthusiasm and commitment to their exercise.1

Workout tip #2: mix it up

For the majority of people, performing the same workout all of the time not only becomes boring and monotonous, but it can also become less effective at burning calories and improving overall fitness. Of course, doing the same thing every day of every week is better than doing nothing at all, but for best results considering mixing up your exercise sessions and varying your home workout types.

dumbbellsOn days 1, 3 and 5 try strength training – either with weights (your children?) or just your bodyweight. Squats, push-ups, pull-ups, chair dips are all effective home based bodyweight exercises that have a huge impact on fitness and calorie burn. Then, on days 2, 4 and 6/7 fit in some cardio: walking, running, cycling (static bike or out on the road) etc.

If you can get half an hour away from the kids and responsibilities at home, run around the block or a local park a few times. If you’ve not got that luxury, take them on a long walk (either get them walking too or strap them into the pushchair and off you go!)

One of my favourite ways of fitting in cardio (running) when I have to look after the kids is to visit the local park. I let them tire themselves out on the play equipment while I run the perimeter of the park. They’re never out of sight but are learning independence and to support each other, and I fit in a great cardio workout. We’re usually all exhausted by the time we return home!

Workout tip #3: short bursts of intensive exercise for fat burning

If you’ve got the “work at home biscuit belly” (it’s so easy to dip into the snack cupboard every time you make a cuppa, right?) you might want to consider short bursts of intensive activity instead of long runs or other cardio sessions. Numerous studies2 support the theory that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns more fat than steady sessions of exercise. This might even mean that you can burn more calories in a shorter space of time, and as work at home parents have little time as it is, this is ideal!

It doesn’t seem to matter what you choose as your activity for HIIT, as long as you alternate between bursts of high intensity (maximum effort) and then lower intensity exercise. Bodybuilding.com recommends 15 seconds of high-intensity exercise such as skipping (with a skipping rope), sprinting or using a stationary exercise bike with 60 seconds of rest of low-intensity effort. As you progress, you can increase the amount of high-intensity effort you put in and decrease the amount of low-intensity effort.

Workout tip #4: stop taking shortcuts

One of the biggest barriers to fitness has to be the luxury and convenience of modern technology. Escalators, elevators, even the washing machine encourage us to move less and less. As well as fitting in dedicated physical activity to your routine, consider increasing your incidental exercise too: take the stairs instead of elevator, hang your washing outside instead of tumble drying (I admit, hand-washing is too extreme even for me), walk or cycle the school run instead of taking the car, walk to the shops for your pint of milk, even just standing instead of sitting keeps your body active for longer! For every thing you do yourself instead of relying on technology or furniture, you’re moving muscles and burning calories.

Workout tip #5: prioritise rest

It might seem tempting (or even necessary) to burn the midnight oil to catch up when you have deadlines approaching or have not managed to achieve much in a working day, but choosing to stay up instead of sleeping can not only decrease your mental performance but it can discourage fat loss. Attempt to fit in your 8 hours of sleep a night (if the kids will let you).

In addition to making sure you’re getting adequate rest at night, it’s important to take rest days if you’re working out intensively too. Your muscles need time to repair and recover, particularly after HIIT workouts and strength training with heavy weights. It doesn’t mean you have to sit on your bum with the laptop all day (try a steady 30 minute walk instead of an fast 30 minute run) but take it easy to avoid exhausation and injury.

Workout tip #6: don’t give up

It’s incredibly easy to see exercise as a chore, especially in the early weeks (and even months), if you’re not really seeing any physical benefit. If you’re over-weight you may even feel worse before you feel better, but for every session of exercise or workout that you do you’re having positive effects on your body. You’re building and strengthing muscle, increasing your stamina and burning calories. Eventually a regular exercise regime becomes part of your routine, and you will do it without evening thinking. You may even grow to enjoy it!

Don’t make excuses, just do it (sorry Nike). There’s no such thing as lack of time, just lack of proper planning and prioritisation of your health and fitness.

1 Parental Influence on Young Children’s Physical Activity

2 The Ultimate 8-Week HIIT For Fat-Burning Program (see references)

My first race (Market Drayton 10k)

Yesterday saw me getting up at an unreasonable hour (OK, it was about 7:30am) to eat breakfast with plenty of time for it to digest before dun dun dunnnn… my first proper “race”.

I entered the Market Drayton 10k some time last year. I hadn’t even remembered doing so until I went to register *this* year and it told me I was already in. The plan was to do some proper training runs before race day because one of my fitness goals for this year is to run a (recorded) <1 hour 10k. I’m fairly sure I’ve done it unofficially, but given that my phone GPS failed to pick up a signal for the entire race on Sunday, I can’t rely on its accuracy (or lack thereof)

So anyway… Sunday morning came around pretty fast; had done no training runs, not even a short run in the week or so prior, stomach was wibbly and I thought I was going to poop myself, and I’m mid-period. I was looking forward to the run but fairly certain I wasn’t going to get even close to an hour, let alone under it. I’d set my goal to 1 hour 10—1 hour 15.

I can’t be sure (thanks to my phone/Strava not picking up a GPS signal) but I am fairly sure I started out too quickly. I figured I’d be walking by 7km but kept up the pace anyway, including sprinting up 2 hills along the route. I managed to catch up with a running buddy from Broseley Joggers who I knew was likely to finish at 1hr or less and kept pace with her til right need the end when I was seriously flagging. Finish line in sight, I was practically grunting my way along the last couple of hundred metres when a random lady came up behind me and said “You’ve got this”. I tell you what, I needed that. And she’s right, I totally had it. I used that little burst of motivation to do an epic sprint finish, postively flying across the finish line.

Official time (corrected): 1 hour 1 minute and 32 seconds.

Back on track: fitness, fatness and binging

So having confessed a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been slacking off on my workouts and binging on shit food, I decided that I was absolutely going to knuckle down, STFU and get on with not-being-a-fatty again. There’s no point in me whining about ruining my hard work if it’s me that’s doing it, right? Nobody is forcing cake and (gulp!) onion rings into my face except me.

I decided I need to clock a minimum of 2 strength workouts and one run a week to get me back on track. I’m doing OK on the strength and even getting closer to my pull-up goal, although I had a bad day on Thursday where I only managed 1×5 30kg squats and then when I couldn’t lift the barbell above my head to get it in place on my back (a cheap squat rack is top of my Amazon wishlist!) I tried an epic rage lift (failed) and nearly ruined my shoulder in the process. Turns out I was coming down with a snotty cold bug. Anyway, I finished the workout there (cried) and have decide to focus a bit more on cardio this week to give my shoulder time to rest. 15-20 minutes running round the local park on Sunday, 15 minutes on the bike on Monday, and am hoping to fit in a long run tonight (mostly because I’m supposed to be doing the Market Drayton 10k next weekend!) I completed a more gentle/lighter dumbbell workout last night and my shoulder seems OK so I’ll risk the barbell on Thursday I think…

(I sometimes wonder if me making this shit up as I go along is going to end up detrimental to my health, but I take the time to warm-up properly, and take it sensibly if my body says “NO” so let’s hope not.)

Anyway. FOOD. Food. Oh my darling food. Why do I reach for the food when I’m feeling like shit? It doesn’t even make me feel better any more, doing the whole30 robbed me of that pleasure. Now I basically just over-eat, then feel like a dick for letting myself do it, THEN feel stupid for feeling like a dick because if I want to eat 3 bags of onion rings in one sitting I should be able to and fuck anyone who says otherwise. So many emotions wrapped up in what is effectively fuel for my body. I’m trying to be more pragmatic and remember that it IS just fuel for my body. I’ve started using MyFitnessPal to log what I’m eating (despite calorie counting being one of the most annoying things in the world, ever) for several reasons but mostly so that I can remind myself I do eat well 99% of the time and that the occasional bag of onion rings isn’t killing anyone, least of all me. Well, hopefully.

MyFitnessPal is also helping me track my protein intake, which I’m trying to increase in the hope that as I lose weight I’ve just put back on I don’t lose too much muscle with it. That’s the theory anyway. I’m using MyProtein Impact Whey protein powder blended with a banana and a spoonful of cashew nut butter and water for breakfast (protein, carbs, fat) and then on strength days will the end the day with the MyProtein Bedtime Extreme blended with either milk or water depending on where I’m at with my calorie count.

It’s funny, because the idea of doing this… working out, keeping an eye on what I eat etc would have made Fat Me roll my eyes so hard they’d have fallen out of my skull. I guess it’s easier to take a “nothing to lose” (ha) approach to stuffing your face when you know you’re overweight anyway.

Where I’m at with not-being-a-fatty

I have a blog post in the works about my Easter excursions with the kids, but unfortunately it needs pictures and they’re on an SD card 13 or so miles down the road, d’oh. Instead I shall ramble on for a little while about where I’m at with my lifting and running and generally not being a lazy lardarse.

So, having just joked about not being a lazy lardarse? Well actually that’s pretty much what I have been doing. I had a dip in my mood stability because of restarting the pill etc after my whole30 and this brought on the comfort eating of doom. Although that has now settled back down (mostly) 2 illnesses and 5 days in Norfolk have meant I’ve achieved a sum total of approximately 2 workouts and 1 run in about 3-4 weeks.

As a result of the comfort binging and the lack of actual movement I’ve put weight back on. I’ve not weighed myself (because it’s not going to help) but I’ve gone from nearly-size-10 to jeez-these-12s-feel-tight-again.

I don’t want my fitness journey to focus on weightloss — and this entire post probably screams hypocrisy and irony if you were reading my tweets on the F word (I don’t mean “fuck”) earlier — but I was getting to the point where I was genuinely happy in my skin and the reduction in weight was making me faster. I managed to shave some seconds off my parkrun time on the 21st March bringing me down to 28:35.

I think that if I feel happier with myself, if I feel fast and strong, then I’m going to feel better overall and with my mental health up and down like a yoyo at the moment anything is better than nothing.

You can’t go wrong with chocolate cake

After last week’s crushing failure to get back into the clean eating rhythm, recent anniversary of my oldest brother’s death, a bit of a breakdown on Saturday night where — with a room full of guests — I sobbed all over Gaz and then took myself off to bed, and a terrible morning on Tuesday which ended with both Isabel and I in tears I’ve been a little MEH.

But, on the plus side:

  • I have realised that the mood swings and desire to consume a few hundred thousand calories a day are “new pill” symptoms – I had the same thing when I started the pill for the first time so it makes sense that it’d all come back when restarting after a month break. The eating a million calories thing has already calmed down.
  • My awesome friends Aisling and Katy sorted me out with a Mother’s Day breakfast and a card on Sunday, just in time for my ugly mug to be splashed across the Telegraph moaning about how I don’t get a Mother’s Day cup of tea in bed.
  • I am taking the kids away for a week at the end of the month, so in theory that’s something to look forward to (although I have to admit that the idea of spending 5 days in a tiny caravan with 2 small children on my own is also very terrifying).
  • I’m trying a modified (harder?) version of Stronglifts 5×5 workouts as a bit of a shake up from my usual workout routines, which is exciting (I know how sad that sounds)

I re-read my “manifesto for life” this morning and I’m trying to be conscious of both what I’ve achieved and how much more I have to do (I mean that in a positive way: life has so much to offer) to keep me plodding along.

I never realised how all-consuming depression and anxiety could be until I got sucked into this whirlwind of self-doubt and negativity. The days where I wake up feeling low, it’s like a black cloud surrounds me threatening to swallow me whole. As I drag myself out of bed and make my way through the day I can feel the impact that my low mood has upon others than that just makes it worse: the feelings of guilt for wearing people down, the frustration at not being to “just cheer up” and so on.

Anyway, that sounds glum but the reality is I can see this ‘bad patch’ fading away. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, which gives me something to aim for. In the mean time, I’ll settle for self-medication: with lifting to make me feel strong, running to chase away the brain chatter, and chocolate cake… because you can’t go wrong with chocolate cake.

And it all came crashing down

After a positive end to the whole30, which I carried on for several extra days, I had planned to implement a sort of 5 days on, 2 days off approach to clean eating. Eat well Sunday-Thursday, ‘treat’ myself on Friday and Saturday. This worked as planned at the beginning of the weekend, when I gorged on sweets and pizza on Friday (and quite a lot of alcohol) but the problem came on Sunday when I was supposed to get back on track. Not only did I fail to plan properly on the Sunday, but this carried on into Monday (when I had indian takeaway) and Tuesday (when I had a mood crash so severe I ended up off work and having a panic attack).

I’m not sure if it was a culmination of various different factors (including general exhaustion after spending all Friday night boogying) but it may be that I can’t handle a 5 on 2 off approach, and need to do all or nothing. My concern is that if that’s the case, I’m going to end up with “nothing” and I’ll be a lardy arse again in no time.

On the flip side, reintroducing carbs appears to have done wonders for my running / workouts. I managed a 10k run in 1:01:38 on Friday morning which is the sort of distance/time I was aiming for when I got injured the first time last year. I then beat that on Tuesday morning doing approx 12km in the same time (I thought it was 14km originally, which was a little surprising(!) but turns out the GPS trace was all over the place). I’m back to lifting at 11.5kg on the dumbbell after having to drop back mid-whole30, and have introduced an extra set into the mix.

I finally managed to justify purchasing weight plates for my barbell bar (Happy Mother’s Day to me!) & they arrived this week, so I’ll be trialling them later. Very exciting (I know, I’m a dork)!

My Whole30: the results!

Never mind my food, my lifting and whether or not I carry on this crazy lifestyle change, I know this is the bit you’ve all been waiting for. Have I actually lost any weight or fat?

To refresh your memory, my measurements at the start of whole30 were as follows:

  • Weight: 161.6lbs (73.3kg)
  • Thighs: L: 60.3cm / R: 60.5cm
  • Calves: L: 37cm / R: 37.2cm
  • Hips: 102cm
  • Waist: 84.4cm
  • Biceps: L: 28.6cm / R: 28.4cm

And so… my measurements this morning were:

  • Weight: 156lbs (70.8kg)
  • Thighs: L: 57.5cm / R: 57cm
  • Calves: L: 36.4cm / R: 37cm
  • Hips: 98cm
  • Waist: 79cm
  • Biceps: L: 27cm / R: 28cm

So, even accounting for me potentially being cack-handed with a tape measure, I have lost a significant amount of centimetres all over which adds up to a total 5.6lbs in weight. I have no idea if that’s good or bad as results go (and weight loss was not my motivation for trying whole30) but it does suggest that even as I moaned my way through it because “nothing was happening”: stuff was going on!

Whole 30 Log – week 4 (and a bit)

Day 22 – 22nd Feb:

Made more of an effort to eat well today as Sundays are normally so manic I only eat one meal. Also got some fresh air and light exercise tromping round the woods in Ironbridge with the kids. Still feel fairly “normal” – typical me, basically. No boost, no tiger blood, no obvious benefits to this challenge at all. Considering the amount of hype it gets and the amount of people who rave about their low carb diets being the best thing since sliced bread, well… I’m clearly abnormal.

Day 23 – 23rd Feb:

Crap night’s sleep thanks to Oliver waking me up 6 times, couldn’t get back to sleep after 4:45am. This morning would be a large Americano from Costa type of morning, why did I give up coffee for February too?*

I’ve been reading the blogs of some ultra runners who train and run during whole30 and/or with a paleo diet this evening and can’t help but feel slightly cheated that these people can run 50 miles like this and I’m struggling to run for 3. I wonder if I’m doing something “wrong”? Maybe I should track my meals this week to see if other whole30-ers can make some suggestions…

Day 24 – 24th Feb:

Another bad night’s sleep thanks to Oliver, I think he’s coming down with something. I probably am too as I have 4-5 mouth ulcers and that’s usually the first sign something’s not right.

I finally noticed a positive side effect of this month’s challenge: my nails are ridiculously strong compared to usual. Normally my nails rip or break on an almost daily basis, but I’ve not had that problem in a while. I have one nail that is particularly long and it’s great for nose-picking ;) Apparently this is likely to be the increased water I’m drinking, so may actually be because of giving up coffee rather than specifically whole30-related.

Had a massive chunk of turkey meatloaf (recipe coming soon) and some roasted brussel sprouts and walnuts for breakfast. Bolognese with big portions of veg instead of pasta for lunch, possibly with a banana if I’m not full. Workout night tonight so I may try and fit in some sweet potato around 5ish to see if that helps with my problems working out.

Day 25 – 25th Feb:

Another bad night with Olly so feeling knackered now. :(

Sweet potato before last night’s workout seemed to help. I was able to better cope with 3 rounds at 11.5kg (dumbbell) and then I threw in 15 back squats with the barbell bar (7.5kg; can’t afford weights for it yet) and then further dropsets down to 9.5kg. Was probably the longest/toughest workout I’ve done in ages but felt pretty damn good. Followed it up by a PWO hardboiled egg and then chicken & veg stir fry.

Unfortunately I left the other half of last night’s stir fry, which was to be my lunch, out on the side and the cats tipped it everywhere to get the chicken out so my meals are badly planned and probably a little wonky today. 2 x hardboiled eggs + lashing of homemade mayo, followed by a banana for breakfast. I’ve got 3 big chunks of turkey meatloaf with a quarter of a cauliflower for lunch. Sweet potato for pre-run later. Will probably have steak, chips & salad tonight because it’s Wednesday and I go to Gaz’s and it’s something easy to cook that we both like.

Less pissed off with whole30 affecting my strength following my good workout; my run tonight will be the real test and will confirm whether the difference was the sweet potato or coincidence. I am however pissed off with the fact that over the course of about a week I’ve suddenly lost a cup size. My boobs are disappearing under my very eyes! :( As well as being one of my favourite body features, none of my bras fit properly now. Why can’t the ring of flab around my middle disappear this quickly?

Day 26 – 26th Feb:

Guess who ran a solid non-stop 8km last night? YEAH. Only stopped at 8km because my foot started twinging and I was worried I’d injure it again if I kept going. It was really weird because as I slowed down to a walk, my muscles were almost pushing me forwards as if they wanted me to keep going. I’ve not felt that before. I definitely would have had enough in me to do another couple of km, and annoyingly I was on track for a sub 1 hour 10km as well. Oh well, better to stop short this week and still be able to run than push it to 10km and end up out for 3 months again.

No kids last night so slept better. Two hard boiled eggs and what’s left of the meatloaf for breakfast: all about that protein.

Day 27 – 27th Feb:

Oliver actually slept through last night for the first time all week and I still spent half the night awake. What is up with that?

Thigh is hurting today from Wednesday’s run. While I was running I did think I was favouring the one leg a bit so it’s probably a result of that. Going to skip tonight’s run and aim for parkrun tomorrow morning to give it some extra rest time.

Food-wise I’m still on track. Tuna, cucumber & homemade mayo for breakfast. Massive chicken & avocado salad for lunch. No idea what I’m eating this evening…

Day 28 – 28th Feb:

Nothing interesting to note. Still going. Didn’t parkrun in the morning because tiredness caught up with me – stayed in bed.

Day 29 – 1st Mar:

Didn’t sleep well last night and ended up with another typical Sunday: not eating properly because of distractions. Would have been nice to fix this while doing the whole30 but never mind, I’ll make it my next priority. DIY-ing til late night, scoffed some sort-of-chilli (i.e. it was compliant therefore didn’t contain beans and wasn’t served with rice) before bed.

Could have had a coffee today.. didn’t.

Day 30 – 2nd Mar:

Last day. I feel like I should be champing at the bit to get my chops around some cake and chocolate but to be honest I’m still sure I’ll continue a mostly whole30 approach to my meals, giving myself a bit of freedom on Fridays and Saturdays.

Scrambled eggs & avocado for breakfast. More of that chilli(ish) for lunch, with a banana if I’m still hungry after and then roast chicken tonight to make up for not having it yesterday.

Still haven’t had a coffee.

* Giving up coffee for the month is part of my 30 before thirty challenge, not part of whole30

My #whole30 journey

Unless something happens in the next few days, I’m on track for completing my first whole30. Notice the word first in there? Yeah, that’s because I’d consider doing this again.

So what’s the deal? I thought you were fed up with it!
I have been fed up with it, for almost the entire 30 days. Fed up because I wasn’t noticing changes, positive or negative, and fed up because it was affecting my strength workouts and my running. But in dwelling on what I wasn’t seeing, I was missing the bigger picture: that if this “diet change” didn’t cause ANY negative side effects, then actually it’s probably not that big a change at all. I knew I ate well, but I have been worried about my increased sugar (cake) consumption again recently. If cutting all of this out meant NO carb flu, NO cravings, then actually I probably have this eating thing under control.

What about your workouts/running?
It was definitely super frustrating to find that this supposedly “ideal” diet was actually making me less strong, less fit, less able but in hindsight it was my own fault for not spending more time planning pre workout nutrition. Because I prefer to workout and run on an empty stomach, I normally rely on carbs eaten earlier in the day. (E.g. a pasta lunch would fuel my 7pm workout normally) But… this was obviously a flawed plan under whole30 because I just wasn’t eating as many carbs in the day – and there’s a long time between my lunch (1pm) and my workout/run (6-7pm) Eating half a sweet potato 2 hours prior seems to be the answer.

So what effects have you seen?
Visually, I can see that my boobs have shrunk. I can’t see any other changes but I guess I’ll reserve judgement until I take my measurements.

<TMI>In terms of digestion, I’ve had some weird issues with going to the loo. Normally I’m a regular-as-clockwork, first thing in the morning girl. Some days even twice. There are a few exceptions: e.g. if I eat carb-heavy meals all day I’ll sometimes find it difficult to go first thing the next day, and if I eat Indian takeaway it will often have the opposite effect ;) During the whole30 this changed. Some days I don’t go, some days I go later on in the evening, and there’s been a couple of times I’ve woken overnight needing to poop. Despite this random schedule, I don’t feel uncomfortable and bloated like I do if I’ve not pooped normally (I’m sure Gaz will testify how tetchy I get if I’ve not done a crap for +24hrs) When I do go, they’re smaller and less substantial than I’m used to.</TMI>

My nails are stronger because of my increased water consumption and my sleep is mostly better (kids wake-ups aside).

Physical/visual stuff aside, I’m planning my meals (all 3) better whereas before I only planned my evening meal and made up the other two as I went along. This often meant skipping breakfast or having porridge for both breakfast and lunch.

So what effects were you hoping for or expecting that you DIDN’T see?
I didn’t experience “tiger blood” or any of the supposed concentration / energy benefits. I don’t normally have a problem with my energy levels though.

I didn’t see any positive difference in my body’s reactions to hormone levels. Quite the contrary: because I experienced the peaks and troughs of normal monthly hormone levels my mood was much more volatile. I recognise that it’s normal to have those fluctuations throughout my cycle but the effects on my mood (high anxiety/weepiness during ovulation and then intense anger before menstruation – my doc reckons PMDD) have a massive impact upon my stress levels and as such my mental health.

I know some people claim that they need months and months for the effects of the pill to wear off but this isn’t the case for me: I can feel the effects of not taking the pill within a day and a half, which tallies with the science behind the pill (and is why you have to take it daily for the contraceptive effect to work!) I’ll be restarting the pill as soon as my period arrives (due over the weekend).

How come you managed this but not Sugar-Free September?
Who knows?! Perhaps the strict nature of the whole30 – the idea that if you screw up you have to start again – kept me on track. I do work best under pressure.

So day 31 is pizza and cake day?
Probably not. I am seriously considering continuing a mostly-whole30 approach to food. I will be reintroducing butter ASAP (as I looove my butter and know I’m not sensitive to dairy) and peanut butter in moderate amounts. I will likely continue avoiding white pasta and bread most of the time. I am looking forward to a glass or 2 of wine on a Friday night again, the odd bit of ice cream and cake, ohh cake. I’ve no interest in paleo-ising my favourite desserts, if I want to indulge I’m going to do it and do it properly.

I’m thinking if I could stick to a whole30/paleo-esque approach Sunday-Thursday, that gives me Fridays and/or Saturdays to chill out a bit, go out if I want to, enjoy a pizza with friends. Sensible, balanced approach. Or something like that.

Whole 30 Log – week 3

Day 15 – 15th Feb:

Normal Sunday: in other words, mad rush to pick up the kids, no time to sit down and eat til late. I did manage to grab a couple of hardboiled eggs and some chicken around 2pm but basically didn’t eat til my evening meal (which was massive to compensate). It might be that lack of food that caused my *ahem* annoyed outburst at the end of yesterday’s log entry but this is not a recurring thing – I eat plenty on every other day of the week.

Day 16 – 16th Feb:

Nothing particularly exciting to say. Tired and snotty, not feeling great – unrelated to whole30 though.

Day 17 – 17th Feb:

Had a vivid dream about vodka coffee ‘cocktails’ (if you can call half a cup of coffee mixed with half a cup of vodka a cocktail) last night. Maybe this is my brain finally noticing I’m doing this whole30 stuff. Says it all that out of all of the things I’m missing, my brain picks vodka and coffee to think about.

Tried to put on my only skirt and a blouse for work this morning and they basically fell off. I can’t really afford to lose any more weight, so the fact that this is the only result from whole30 so far is a bit annoying. Might need to go raid a charity shop, if nothing else but because I’m curious if I can now fit into a size 10.

Day 18 – 18th Feb:

Tired today, struggling to get going. No vodka dreams last night. Worked out with a lighter dumbbell (9.5kg) though and still struggling. Not enjoying feeling weaker :( I’m out of the ovulation phase of my cycle now so would expect any hormone-related strength issues to have passed. Still feeling pretty peed off with the whole thing (whole thing, har har, a pun) for this reason, and because I guess general stress and life “blah”s.

I don’t know why I’m moaning, the challenge itself is not actually challenging. I am making all my normal foods and mostly just changing what I serve them with: spag bol with veg instead of pasta, skipping yorkshire puddings with my roast, curry with more curry instead of rice ;) People keep pulling this face when I explain whole30, like I’ve just done a shit on their kitchen floor? But the reality is that for someone who cooks every day it’s a piece of piss. I just wish it wasn’t messing with my strength and stamina.

Day 19 – 19th Feb:

Slept well last night. Feeling oddly nervous today that I’m approaching the end of week 3, which is when I gave up Sugar Free September (twice). I guess I’m determined to see it through so that I don’t feel like the past couple of weeks or so have been a waste, even though I’m disappointed in the effects on my workouts. I need to make sure that my meal planning is tip top and I have emergency compliant snacks available to get through the next week and a half.

Second day of feeling oddly bloated and uncomfortable after eating avocado with my lunch. Maybe this new addition ain’t so great after all.

Hoping to run later, fingers crossed I’m not dying a few km in again.

Day 20 – 20th Feb:

Didn’t run, went to Ikea, because that’s enough of a fitness/stamina test for anyone :P

Slept well again but still feeling “blah”. Where’s my fucking tiger blood?

Day 21 – 21st Feb:

Tired. Bored of not being able to have a glass of wine on a Friday night. One more week to go.

Whole 30 Log – week 2

Day 8 – 8th Feb:

Slept well, late morning lie in (even though I was supposed to be picking the kids up, oops!)

Running around after the kids/doing chores all day so didn’t get chance to eat – this is fairly par for the course on a Sunday when I’m trying to get everything sorted before the busy week ahead. At least it meant I wasn’t tempted by the jammy dodgers the kids were tucking in to!

Decided to workout because of my 2 missed workouts in week 1. Struggled to lift at my usual weight but wasn’t sure if that was lack of food rather than dietary changes. Completed the full workout anyway, then chucked an extra round of lifts on at a 2kg lighter weight for good measure.

Been a tad grumpy today which could be the whole30 but is more likely some external circumstances (which I won’t go into here)…

Day 9 – 9th Feb:

Slept well but woke up at 4am again. Eggy muffins for breakfast that I prepped yesterday, leftover spicy mince & tatties (w/veg) for lunch. Clearly I can categorically say at this point that if white potatoes hadn’t been added to the whole30 allowed list I would not have got this far.

It’s weird because I’m not really seeing any noticeable whole30 related changes, be that positive or negative. I know I keep saying it but I think that’s because my day to day diet is awesome. I guess this also means there’s no harm or reason not to stick it out til the end especially as I’m more interested at this stage in reintroducing foods after day 30 to see if anything happens.

Day 10 – 10th Feb:

Slept quite well again, only woken by children (no avoiding that, bah). Eggy muffins for breakfast and I’ve got leftover spicy pulled pork (it was supposed to be a whole30 compliant BBQ sauce but my experiment failed, oops) & potato for lunch – need to nip out and get some microwaveable veg to go with it as I underestimated how much veg I’d go through this week!

According to the timeline, today and tomorrow are the days I’m most likely to quit because “the newness has worn off”. Quite the contrary, at this point I’m enjoying the fact that being more organised with breakfasts and meals in advance on Sunday is giving me more time and less to stress about in the mornings and evenings when I rush back from work and have to get the kids fed and into bed for a reasonable time. I mean, I wouldn’t mind a big fat slice of cake right now but I’ve not had any cravings since the early days. I suppose that’s one positive to the whole30 I’d not predicted.

Day 11 – 11th Feb:

Not a brilliant night’s sleep – Olly was having bad dreams so was crying out, which woke me every bloody time (even though he carried on sleeping). Damn my uber-sensitive supermum hearing.

Worked out last night, really struggled with the 11.5kg dumbbell but finished the workout and then did 8 back squats with the barbell bar – perfecting my form before I think about adding weights (not that I have any yet :P) I’ve actually been looking at some of the pre and post workout meal advice from whole30 too, in case my lack of planning in that department is contributing to a stalling of progress with the weights so may experiment a little and see if that helps.

Day 12 – 12th Feb:

Went for a run last night and almost immediately had a pain in my gut like I’d been punched really hard – not sure what that was about. I had eaten a few almonds and an orange about half an hour before my run so hoping it was that and not a taste of what’s to come running through whole30! Only managed 4.2km which was disappointing because I wanted to do double that.

Slept better last night though, although didn’t want to get out of bed this morning.

Had some avocado this morning because it the was the only decent source of good fats I could think of whilst running around Sainsbury’s trying to find breakfast. Never really liked it but it was ok. Could have done with some salt and pepper.

Mood is shaky today, and last night. Low level annoyance at virtually everything just bubbling away.

Day 13 – 13th Feb:

Low level annoyance yesterday turned into full on breakdown by the afternoon. I nearly burst into tears in Tesco because the woman asked me if I needed any help with my packing (probably because I felt like responding “no, just MY LIFE” … but I didn’t.) Ended up sobbing all over Gaz all evening. Still low today, but trying to bear in mind that this is smack bang OVULATION TIME for me. Fuck hormones! On the plus side, this does rather reassure me that my hormonal mood fluctuations are not caused by birth control or diet, which was the primary motivation for doing the whole30 / birth control “detox”. Let’s get a fuck yeah up in here for birth control!

Had avocado again for breakfast (other half of yesterday’s). It might not taste of much and the texture is a bit weird but it does help fill me up for longer so might buy it again.

Day 14 – 14th Feb:

Today’s challenge was finding a whole30 compliant lunch in a motorway service station. Whereas normally I’d just have a burger and coffee for probably less than a fiver, I ended up spending £7.80 on a fruit salad, compliant “handcooked” crisps, nuts and a coconut based smoothie from Waitrose. Ridiculous amount of money on what was effectively a giant snack. I could have done 2-3 homecooked meals for a family of 4 for that money.

I have to admit that after this little lunchtime disaster, which admittedly I could have swerved with better planning, I am feeling frazzled by the whole30 thing. It’s not cured me of my horrible mood swings, which was the main reason for trying it; it’s made no difference to my sleep (although some nights I’m sleeping soundly this isn’t a guarantee and I often wake early and can’t get back to sleep); and worse, it seems to be affecting my running and weight lifting. I have lost weight, but that’s not a motivation for me at all… not when my strength is affected.

If it doesn’t improve this week I’m bombing out early and I don’t care if that makes me a quitter.

Getting “Bulky”

When I started lifting weights I had several conversations (Facebook chat counts as a conversation these days, right?) with friends about how I wanted to build some muscle but I didn’t want to end up looking like this:

female bodybuilder weightlifting
(face hidden because it’s not my intention to shame this woman)

I know that a lot of women don’t lift because they’re worried about “looking bulky” and that it’s mostly bollocks (because women don’t have the same body composition / hormone levels etc as men, so don’t end generally end up looking “bulky” by accident!) but I figured I was going to be lifting so much I might genuinely end up looking a bit more muscley than I intended.

Hahahahahahaha. I was such a dick.

I have now been lifting for ~6 months give or take (including some weeks skipping workouts because I was ill or lazy). Six months in I am only just getting to the stage where you can maybe tell I lift if you see me unflexed. If I flex it’s more obvious, but I also look constipated, so I try not to do it in public too much. But the point is, how bloody naive was I to assume that lifting a dumbbell a couple of times a week was going to make me look even close to that? I couldn’t have disrespected the work that female pro bodybuilders put into their bodies any more if I’d tried.

I still don’t want to look like that, far from it, but I certainly have a lot more respect for women who can do that and who put that amount of time and effort in. Just building the small amount of muscle on my arms that I have got has been bloody hard work. (These women still remind me of David Dickinson though.)