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.

Whole30 Log – Week 1

Day 1 – 1st Feb:

Spent much of the day preparing food for the week. Quiche-type thing (no crust) for breakfasts, homemade mayo for my coleslaw, etc.

Moods have been fine for about a week but I think that’s because I’ve been seeing my counsellor again. I am suffering mega cake cravings but that’s normal for this stage of my cycle, although is probably worsened by the knowledge that I can’t indulge.

Had an early night (8pm-ish), woke up a few times overnight but was awake at 6:30 with the alarm perky and ready to go.

Day 2 – 2nd Feb:

Dull headache from about 11am onwards, possible caffeine withdrawal?

Mood fine / stable. Hungry most of the morning despite two slices of the eggy thing & an apple, again possibly worsened by period? Despite hunger, the carby/cake cravings much lower than day 1.

Period arrived full-on, yay! :S

Day 3 – 3rd Feb:

Slept well last night, don’t remember waking at all which is a rarity these days. Wonder if that’s the lack of caffeine, or just coincidence? I haven’t been a massive coffee drinker for ages but I guess it’s possible that 2-3 cups of a morning could have an effect.

Beef stew for breakfast because why the hell not; left it cooking in the slow cooker overnight.

Today is a workout day. I’m hoping because I’m including potatoes daily I’m not going to notice problems caused by lack of carbs. I typically can’t hit my normal workout levels during menstruation and I ache like a bitch today so not holding out much hope anyway.

Mood is fine / stable, although I’m stressed about money :(

Day 4 – 4th Feb:

Didn’t work out last night in the end as the shoulder ache that started in the day was agonising by bed time. Despite being in bed by 9pm I was tossing and turning til around 1am until I caved and took a couple of ibuprofen. Slept OK then til just after 6am.

Eggy thingies for breakfast, chicken curry for lunch then steak later at Gaz’s.

Hoping to run later to make up for the lack of workout last night.

Day 5 – 5th Feb:

Ran last night as planned, 7km in ~45 minutes which is a good time considering it’s only my second one since I started again. Really pleased that the weight lifting and exercise bike has been enough to maintain fitness over the past 6 months. Didn’t sleep particularly well though, shoulders were aching again as well as horrible cramps (period-related).

Mood is still stable / cheerful. Not yet experiencing the “kill all the things” rage mentioned in the whole30 timeline but then my symptoms so have been generally mild; most of the unpleasant bits can be equally attributed to hormones as potential diet change. I think (hope) this is a reflection on my usually sensible diet :)

Day 6 – 6th Feb:

Slept soundly last night, perky and cheerful when I woke up. Wasn’t able to work out last night because of horrid abdo cramps (hurry up and fuck off, period).

Today I’m mostly wondering how the hell I’m going to find whole30 compliant food tomorrow while I’m at WordCamp Birmingham.

Low level headache all afternoon :(

Day 7 – 7th Feb:

Woken up at 4am by Gaz/the cats but otherwise slept fine. Giving up coffee doesn’t seem to have helped my problem of not being able to get back to sleep if I wake from around 4am onwards. I end up just lying there tossing and turning for hours.

Spent half the day at WC Brum and ate only an orange and a banana. Didn’t eat a proper meal til late evening (chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto, roast sweet potato, veg)… oops.

Moods fine/stable, no headache. Achy shoulders seem to have gone.

Lift the shit out of everything! (Or how I lost 2 dress sizes)

Back in October of last year (feels weird saying that; happy new year!) I told you about how I’d started lifting weights — and some other soppy shit about being in luuuurve — and how because of it (the weight lifting, not the love part) I’d managed to finally lose two dress sizes. Well, in December I finally plucked up the courage to post a progress pic on Facebook. This progress pic (caution: features me in my undies and a badly fitting bra).

Since I posted that I’ve had a ton of people asking me how I got started, what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, what I’m eating, etc etc so I thought it’s probably about time I blogged about it properly.

First: diet

Or not diet, because I still eat exactly the same as I have for years. I eat plenty of veg, meat most days, I don’t skip carbs, I occasionally eat junk food, I love my ice cream and I don’t pass on cake or biscuits. I still drink wine but generally opt for vodka (straight) if I’m out. I love food and it’s important to me that my new lifestyle doesn’t force me to compromise on the things I enjoy. Life’s too short to be eating lettuce 3 times a day and counting calories depressed the shit out of me.

As you can clearly see in the progress picture, this enjoyment of food isn’t preventing me from losing fat. (Although obviously if I were to cut out the crap altogether I imagine my results would have been faster and more pronounced.)

Second: equipment

I can’t afford to spend a shit ton on equipment or gym membership or anything like that and I need to workout at home. I bought the York 20kg cast iron dumbbell set from Amazon for £30. You can get cheaper options made from plastic, but plastic weights deteriorate and split so you’re not saving any money long term. I also bought a pull-up bar because my aim is to be able to achieve a pull-up (sod the weight loss, I want to be ninja strong!)

Third: routine

Obviously I have two children, two jobs, housework, my various animals and a boyfriend to juggle in my schedule, so I needed to find the time to fit this stuff in that wasn’t going to be compromised by other things. I picked Tuesday and Thursday evenings because a) these are the days I don’t typically see Gaz, b) once the kids are in bed I can easily fit in a 30-40 minute workout and still have time to tidy, feed the pets etc. It is worth noting that I don’t have a TV licence and don’t watch TV, so if that’s your bag you’re probably going to be compromising screen time to fit workouts in.

Fourth: lift, baby

(Or what the hell I’m doing with this stuff.) I spent a *lot* of time reading articles on everything from what weights to use, what lifts to do, how many reps, how many sets, what to eat before and after workouts, how much or how little you should rest etc. Lift heavy and slow, lift fast and light, lift lots, lift a little, don’t eat carbs, eat carbs, do this don’t do that *brain explodes* Save yourself the time: don’t do that, because everyone disagrees with everyone else.

That said, I’m not an expert so I figured I’d pick some exercises, stick with it for 6 weeks and if it made a difference I’d keep going, and if not I’d change it up a bit. I vary the weight on my dumbbells depending on how tired I am, and add in additional exercises on good lift days but here’s my standard go-to workout, based upon advice from Nerd Fitness (I highly recommend this site, even though they’re paleo nuts):

Warm-up
30 star jumps (aka jumping jacks)
30 high knees
15 bodyweight squats
30 seconds arm circles
10 incline push-ups
15 sit-ups
10 front leg swings (each leg)
10 side leg swings (each leg)
30 second plank

Lifts
8 goblet squats
8 one arm dumbbell rows (per arm)
8 bicep curls

Repeated x 3 with a 30-60 second break between each round, depending on how knackered I am

Cool down
Various static stretches – here are some good examples

I occasionally mix it up a bit by adding in/replacing the bicep curls with something else, e.g. dumbbell bench press (and by bench I mean sofa, because I’m limited in my equipment!) or some triceps extensions. The whole thing usually takes around 30 minutes. If I’m feeling really energetic I do half an hour on my exercise bike too but this is a recent thing and not a factor in my fat loss.

Fifth: lose inches

Yay!

It’s worth noting that:

  1. as well as reading loads, I spent a lot of time watching youtube videos to ensure my form was as good as it could be.. please don’t go fucking up your back or knees off the back of this post, I can’t afford to be sued :P
  2. I still haven’t lost weight (lbs) because my muscle gains are making up for the fat loss. If you’re into tracking numbers and want to weigh yourself every day you’re probably going to be disappointed. Still, I’d rather weigh 170lbs and know I’m strong than weigh 120lbs and be “skinny fat”, weak and unfit.

TL;DR? Lift the shit out of everything!

Another setback

The next time I decide to utter something as stupid as “I’ve never had a running injury…”, somebody please punch me in the face. I’ve clearly jinxed myself as I’ve now fucked up my other foot. On the 4th week of training for the Milton Keynes half marathon this is a bloody disaster (especially as I’ve been slacking off my training as it is).

I’m not even entirely sure how I did it this time. I know I aggravated that foot on Friday wearing my inch-heeled boots — the downside to living in barefoot shoes for 5 years — but it felt fine to run Saturday’s Shrewsbury parkrun. Got about 4km in and started getting shooting pains across my foot, ended up unable to do my super sprint finish.

Still, I hobbled the last leg and finished in 30:01. That’s the important thing, right? :p

Weight: Love, Loss and Lifting

It’s no secret that I have been struggling with my weight for a long time. Actually, struggling is probably the wrong word. I was fat for a long time, but I didn’t really do a whole lot about it except moan that I was fat, so struggling is perhaps over-egging it somewhat.

This is me on my 21st birthday —courtesy of Katy

(Yeah, you know, I don’t think you lot have been missing much by not seeing pictures of me for the past 10 years.)

Anyway, take a good look at that picture. Double chin, fat gut, huge boobs (in a terrible bra), thunder thighs; I can even see chub on my neck FFS. I was a UK size 18 in that picture. I was inactive and ate shit frozen food from Iceland on a daily basis.

Back then, and indeed until Isabel was born I lived in jeans and t-shirts. I told myself and others it was because I loved jeans and t-shirts — and I still do, don’t get me wrong — but the reality is that I thought jeans and t-shirts hid the flab. I thought that jeans and t-shirts meant people couldn’t see what a fatty I was. I hated the way I looked and I wanted to hide it.

Of course in hindsight the jeans and a t-shirt combo meant I a) looked like a dude and b) lacked any definition or curves which made me look WAY worse than a tighter fitting top might have. We live and we learn.

Years of gradual improvements to my eating habits and hyperemesis throughout my pregnancies dramatically decreasing my weight I get to roughly this time last year: a UK size 14, having once maybe snuck into a size 12 in a Dorothy Perkins changing room but only just long enough to stop me breathing and never long enough for it to be considered “wearing a size 12”. But I still hated the way I looked.

And I start running (for unrelated reasons), and I ditch the alcohol and I reduce my diet to 1500 calories a day and I still don’t see any improvement.

Meanwhile I go through a massive life change and fall head over heels in love with somebody new. Somebody who makes me feel attractive even though I can’t seem to lose weight. Someone who, for the first time in many, many years ever makes me feel like I deserve to wear something other than jeans and t-shirts. Someone who makes me want to buy sexy underwear and nice dresses. Someone who makes me love myself despite my flaws, and suddenly losing that weight doesn’t seem like the be-all and end-all afterall.

Of course I could end this tale of weight woes on that paragraph, leaving you all “awwing” over the fatty who found love, but it doesn’t really end there. Because it turns out that there IS a way for me to lose weight, and I can do it without massively restricting my diet or giving up the odd glass of wine.

Turns out my body likes it when I lift weights. And I’m not even doing it at a gym or with any expensive equipment: I bought a 20kg dumbbell set from Amazon for about £30. I am doing the same set of lifts once a week and even though people told me I shouldn’t lift weights (not sure why) and even though I only do it for 20 minutes once a week, I have gradually lost inches of fat. I haven’t lost weight, in fact I weigh more than I did 6 months ago (yay muscle gain), but I am comfortably wearing a size 12 for the first time in my life.

I wear clothes because I like how they look, and not because of how much they’ll cover. I eat real food (and plenty of it) and I still drink wine. I like myself, and I like liking myself.

But that’s nothing to do with my weight after all.

Half marathon training plan

Now that I have officially signed up to my first half marathon (so much for pacing myself and doing a 10k first) — a half marathon that actually isn’t that far away — I’ve had to come up with a “proper” half marathon training plan.

I’ve browsed and compared suggested training guides from the big names (Bupa, Runner’s World etc) and come up with something that balances my desire to continue strength work & bodyweight workouts (because they seem to have the biggest effect on my body shape) with the need to fit in as much running as I can to build up my stamina for the big day. I have plotted the following:

the-grand-plan

However, having done that, I am now wondering if I’d be better doing my strength work (which does involve squats and other leg stuff) to a Monday, to give my body chance to recover before the planned long runs on a Wednesday. The only problem with that is Mondays are a totally manic as it stands; first day back at work/school after the weekend, food to cook, washing to do, bedtimes and then it’s one of the nights I see Gaz. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me working out while he’s there but for some reason I’d feel a bit weird :/

Any runners out there with thoughts / suggestions… is this manageable?

Update 19:16: based on feedback via email & twitter I’ve tweaked my plan, putting the longer run on the Sunday morning and scaling back closer to race day a bit more. Now looks as follows:

updated_training_plan

I think, whatever happens, I’m just going to try and be as flexible as possible. Given my potential for childcare issues etc as long as I get some good long runs (~2hrs) in without being too f*cked I will probably be fine come race day. Here goes…

State of Mind

it's not a bug, it's a feature t-shirt
Not wearing this t-shirt, but apparently tee + pants is a common theme in my life
I’m sat here in my pants & a t-shirt having done a pretty intense workout earlier, and post-shower I just couldn’t be bothered to find clean PJs. Laziness aside though, I’m suffering from hormone-driven sugary carb cravings and for the first time in forever I am NOT acting on them.

Why? Because I feel like if I’m putting my body through the shit I’m throwing at it lately… squats and planks and push ups and lunges and bent over dumbbell rows and all the other crap that I forget the names of but basically has me sweating like hell and wishing I was snarfing down Ben & Jerry’s on the sofa? Well then it deserves better food than sugar-laden cheesecake and what’s left of Aisling‘s Canadian candy that’s sat in the back of my cupboard.

This is a total mind fuck though. Since when do I give a crap about the shit I eat? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have always eaten pretty well at meal times; salads and protein and all that crap. But since when do I care about how much cake I stuff in my face between meals?

Turns out that this exercise lark, this “getting fit” crusade I’ve embarked on… it’s all about state of mind. It’s all about pushing your body til your head catches up and realises what’s good for you.

I reserve the right to change my mind, though.

My own worst critic

After yesterday’s moan about my lack of weight loss/improved fitness despite all the extra activities I’m doing, I went for my Wednesday run (bootcamp session) and came back feeling pretty damn hot about myself (this was rapidly killed when I buckled another wheel but more about that another day).

In doing last night’s bootcamp and thinking about my ‘performance’ I realised that I *have* made improvements:

  • When I started running again earlier this year I couldn’t do more than 3km, but recently ran just shy of 10km
  • My leg muscles ARE clearly more toned/defined even when I’m relaxed and not deliberately flexing them to show off ;)
  • My arm muscles are more toned/defined – I guess as a side effect of moving them during running and also the weighted workouts during 30 day shred
  • When we do the bootcamp sessions on Wednesday, we often split into 3 groups to do activities; one group does 10 reps of whatever thing we’re doing, one does 7 and one does 5; until last night I would have done the 5 group and been dead, but last night I did the 7 and (it’s not a race, but…) finished first out of the group and still had plenty of energy for uphill laps of the field.
  • Last week I ran the route that I used to do before I joined the jogging group, and despite it being blistering hot and having not eaten properly that day, I not only DID the route at a faster pace than normal but absolutely kicked the arse of the hill that used to have me dead by half way up.

So, OK, I haven’t visibly lost any weight off my middle (which is really what I would like to achieve) but I am kicking butt. I am fitter by miles (ha ha, a pun). I have improved my running pace and increased my distance. Hopefully that means if I keep this up and see it through, I will eventually start to lose some of the weight on my tummy that’s bugging the crap out of me. Either way, here’s to a fitter me :)

P.s. I am keeping a food log if anyone wants to nag me to ditch the last of the sugar / crap out of my diet ;)

Demotivated with weight loss (or lack of, rather)

I’m having a bad day. Personal crap, work crap, crap crap. On top of all this, I’m feeling really demotivated and disillusioned with the whole fitness / weight loss thing.

Having talked about my “problem” and my fitness/weight loss goals at the beginning of the month, I have buckled down with my eating and increased the amount of work outs I’m doing. I don’t get time to do the 30 day shred every Monday but I am incorporating some sort of movement into every day stuff. I do squats, plank etc while the kids eat their breakfast. I’ve adding a walk to my lunch break. I have cut out many of the daily coffees (although they were black / no sugar anyway) and am having water instead. I’m getting more early nights to combat the chronic sleep deprivation. I am still “dry for July” – no hiccups, no cheats.

Yet here I am, a week off the end of July give or take, and I just feel that nothing is happening. How is it that someone can massively increase their exercise and decrease their calorie intake and see NO improvement whatsoever? I don’t know whether I’m blinded by cynicism and I genuinely have made improvements or whether I’m just not working hard enough, but it’s really, REALLY fucking me off and I am not sure how to kick this feeling and move on.

I’m not going to give up. I am not going to stop running or moving or eating good stuff, but I would quite like to have something to show for all the effort :(

Accountability

Continuing my ‘year of me’, June is all about accountability. I am offering myself out there for you guys to hold me accountable. I am finally getting off my arse, stepping up to the plate and saying “this is who I am and I want to change”.

What the fuck am I talking about? My health, my fitness, my weight.

I have never been a skinny girl. I was picked on for my weight in school and I carried a lot of excess weight into college. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the hyperemesis causing 2 x 9 months worth of vomiting I’d probably still be pretty large now. I was a UK size 18 at my largest, dropping to a size 12 (my smallest) shortly after I had Isabel. I am currently a size 14, occasionally a 16 depending on brand (and wear a lot of size 16s up top because of my boobs). I weigh 73kgs, and I only know that because I had a doctors appointment this week. (I don’t weigh myself, or keep track of measurements, because I am not that sort of person.)

I don’t want to be a stick thin size 4 or whatever the cool kids are these days – if nothing else I’d look weird at that size because I have wide hips and broad shoulders! However, I do want to be able to put on a dress for a night out and not feel like the michelin man. This summer, I want to be able to put on a bikini for the first time ever and feel good doing so (perhaps oddly, the fact that I am chubby bothers me more than the ridiculous amount of stretch marks I have?) I want to get back into those size 12 jeans which are hidden in the bottom of a wardrobe somewhere.

Having started running again in March, usually twice a week (Weds + Fri) with a local group, I am now up to distances of 7km and plan on entering a 10km race at some point. My legs are slimmer, and my fitness has increased massively. Unfortunately, running doesn’t appear to do anything for overall/general weight loss (not sure if that’s a ‘me’ thing or just the type of exercise) so I need to add another workout day to the mix and this is where the accountability comes in.

See, I don’t need anyone to kick me up the butt to get me running. I enjoy it and the social aspect is motivating. I do, however, need someone to kick me up the arse on a Monday evening when the kids are in bed, the animals are fed and I have a couple of hours in which I could fit in a pretty intense workout but just want to veg on the sofa with my laptop, a bucket of ice cream and twitter. Because if I can crack that Monday evening, it gives me 3 days a week of decent exercise with rest days in between.

So I am asking you to help me make my June thing the gift of accountability. A team of hardcore supporters to keep me motivated, nag me into my leggings and make sure I’m not slacking off. Anyone up for that?