Bright Eyes

It’s quite nice out. I walked to the Gym (and back) and afterwards did 40 minutes on the bike. My plan, going forward, is to do weights only when it’s not PT and Blaze, and shove all my cardio into the shed. If my maths is correct, that’s at least 700 calories today 2004193

Cycling is most definitely getting easier. The biggest single issue has been the hip injury I’ve been treated for, which still causes a measure of pain when pushed. However, there’s no doubting how things have improved in the last month. As long as I get lots of rest (and yeah, that lack of steps between 2.30 and 3.15 is me having a nap) the recovery is going great guns.

The next question to ask is whether I trust the apps being currently used or not as a judge of how much recovery time should be taken.

I’ll admit to having a sneaky look at my husband’s stats to see how this whole zonal training works out, and there’s also a mindful think about how I’ve struggled with recovery when overdoing things. Everybody is different, and I am a long way away from my husband’s level of stamina. Knowing that, and how my body’s suffering because of the mental demands of the last few weeks, having a nice long walk tomorrow seems like a better way to get my steps/exercise in.

There is a lot to think about in the next week or so. Being physically stronger will help that process enormously.

Bad

I wasn’t sick per se yesterday: my throat’s been scratchy and uncomfortable since Friday, if truth be told. It was the two night’s worth of terrible sleep because of that which did me in on Sunday: instead of working, I relaxed. I dozed. A lot of sport was watched along with playing basic tablet games. By teatime, balance and comfort had returned; rest of the evening spent happily pottering on nothing important. Significantly, there was no exercise.

Today has dawned with a renewed sense of optimism.

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This is cycling for last week, done. Not as much as I’d hoped for but setting the benchmark for what ought to happen next: bit more effort, slightly less grumbling. After Easter, one of the 45 minute classes per week adds a 55 minute variant. I have to decide this week whether I take the challenge or not. It has to happen at least once, so there’s an idea of the difficulty curve.

It’s really lovely to have a lot of exercise options on the table.

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This month has been absolutely transformative. Good and bad, both have shifted so much of the bad away. The more good that can be built as a result, the better things become.

Thank you for sticking with me as I evolve.

Bang Bang

At the end of my first round of Blaze last night,  brain wanted to go home. Fortunately, only my PT (who runs this Thursday class) picked up on the issue. Everybody else thought I had an off night. I cried for a bit in the car afterwards, again in bed. It didn’t help, not did it make me feel any better. It happened, it’s done, and there is nothing sitting here that can be dome to improve the situation. Anxiety can only managed, not eliminated. Once upon a time I would have run away.

That’s not happening any time soon.

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Somebody yesterday introduced me to the concept of Callahan’s Law, and it makes perfect sense: from the spike of anxiety comes a final understanding, that joy is forged from my own pain. Before I wasn’t physically or mentally capable of doing the transformation: even last night, in the depths of exhaustion, stuff got done, things were completed and real, tenable progress made. The bad session was needed to enlighten and move forward: lessons have already been learnt.

Today we’ll be back on the bike, because it transpires my legs are now where the most work needs to be done.

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Ideally, my paper doll colour bars need to match that of my right arm: weight on hips and lower stomach is included in my legs ‘colour’ and that is where the majority of excess fat now resides. It means carrying on the ‘something every day’ mentality that was going to be kick-started with power-walking, but cycling is just as effective. Taking the Fitbit off left wrist and placing it at the bottom of cycling shorts reproduces the movement required to count as steps. Strava does the rest.

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This will be the benchmark week for effort, showing what factors contribute to those scores in purple and red. I can cycle for longer and score lower, if the amount of effort placed in maintaining RPM (spin speed) and Watts (effort in each spin) is not high. The harder it is to pedal, the more Watts are burnt, if there’s sufficient understanding of the principle here. Wednesday’s ride therefore, where there was more effort but less time, scores higher. Ideally, that ought to be the benchmark on high energy days.

Today there won’t be any weights because two days of Blaze means the top half of my body’s knackered. We’ll see, when I get on a bike later (probably at lunchtime) how much is left in the legs. If it’s a 9 today, that’s as productive as a 15 or a 25. Right now, there’s no contest, just the need to start eating away at the shortfall. Oh, and there’s a good chance I’ll fuel with dirty sugar before it begins.

Sometimes, you’re allowed to cheat.

Good Day Sunshine

This morning, it was time to work out how, after weeks of struggling to provide the momentum to complete two separate workouts at over 75% effort, yesterday was the moment it all fell into place. Like it or not, I believe it was the dirty sugar hit I took before each one that gave me an energy boost needed in the first 15 minutes to make it into the next 30. So, this morning, the cheat drawer in the fridge has been replenished with things that, up until this point, have been very much forbidden. It is time to test a theory.

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It’s not like all sugar is bad for you, after all… the key is a balance of what is healthy for the weight loss, and required to provide fuel. I’ve discovered since having the gallbladder removed that pasta is 100% guaranteed to make me swell up like a balloon. This also means that my favourite ‘healthy’ pizza is also off the menu, as are a number of bread products which were once guilty treats. Carb loading, therefore, is largely pointless for me, because of the physical discomfort it causes.

Therefore, there has been a significant carb deficiency in the diet over the last few weeks, something I’ve corrected over the last seven days with lunchtime meals which contain a decent carb/protein balance. That plus the pre-exercise sugar hit appears to have hit a required sweet spot (pun absolutely intended) which needs to be capitalised on. The last pieces of the puzzle are decent kip, and a body that’s now largely niggle free. After last night’s warm down, very little of me hurt at all. This is definitely progress.

This means I’ll be off to buy sushi at lunchtime, because a) why the Hell not and b) rice + fish = perfect balance. All that’s left is to get my brain to eat more vegetables.

That’s a whole different challenge to consider…

A Forest

Yesterday’s PT was pyramid sets, and BOY can I feel it this morning: legs, arms and back are all in a state of high dudgeon. Also, as a compliment I pushed 29 minutes of cardio out of a body which, quite frankly, did not want to know. Every day this month that is the plan: something. The upper and middle part of the body is getting a lot of love, but my legs tend to miss out, so that’s where Zwift comes in. Having a training machine in the shed and not using it is no longer acceptable.

It is time to start doing the miles again.

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I wish I could have my long hair in a ponytail, but apart from that I’m pretty pleased with my virtual avatar at present. Zwift’s just introduced a virtual shop, which is chock full of exactly zero items I find of any interest. I’m not even that bothered about a particularly fast bike either, if truth be told. This isn’t about showing off a special kit to prove I did this thing or that race. Now, all that matters is somewhere I can train at my own pace, without people telling me it’s not enough.

That right now is probably the most important thing of all: safe spaces. When I get Ride On’s from people I’m going to bet a fair bit of cash that’s got absolutely nothing to do with my actual ability or attainment, and everything to do with the picture I chose to use on my profile. The entire process of encouragement online is flawed. A generic avatar grants me no interest at all, but change that to something obviously female and suddenly, I’m popular. The biggest joke of all is that I’m too busy trying to keep up HR and RPM to have the ability to Ride On anybody else.

I wonder if the designers realise this is the biggest shortcoming with their system.

Ultimately, the ‘social media’ aspects of sports is irrelevant. I’m not looking to be part of someone else’s idea of attainment, and never have, what matters most is ploughing my own, extremely distinct furrow. However, the whole esports thing with Zwift looks very interesting indeed, and might yet become the means by which I get interested in the genre. That’s a bit of a surprise I’m still adjusting to, if truth be told.

Whatever happens, I will be in Zwift every day this month. When we’re done, it will be interesting to judge my level of fitness as a result.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

It’s good to know that intellectual exercise has borne fruit. I was in the Gym for a secondary, unscheduled Saturday PT. I pay for this using a voucher system, so when my trainer goes away, the vouchers pile up. The hour was, it has to be said, some of the hardest stuff I have done for some time. Kettle bell work, clean and press, hanging: it’s been many months since my arms and core ached as much as they did after the session.

Then, last night, it was time to crack the hour mark on the bike.

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Cycling is a different beast to anything else exercise-related I have ever undertaken. It asks a phenomenal amount of you in terms of stamina and consistency. Neither of these things are particularly my strengths. I could not honestly say there was any real stress last night either, just a phenomenal amount of pain. This was not OW OW OW SOMETHING IS WRONG pain but nope, there’s just no energy here, I need to stop now and have a cuppa and cycling is ridiculous and nope there are better things to do pain.

My legs were effectively useless: the low level discomfort after 15 minutes was tolerable, after 30 minutes annoying and after an hour… BOY. Think of the most irritating thing anybody could do to you and that happens every time you push down the pedals, and so I zoned out. However, without these sessions, you do absolutely never move past anything than just casual attainment. It’s the perfect storm of brain and body telling you there’s no point to anything.

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62% when placed alongside the 80% Blaze output is an interesting comparative benchmark. The former, for starters, is absolutely not a full body workout. More significantly, there are no rest periods. Here’s where my exercise shortcomings come into stark focus as a result: stamina is still very much lacking. To build that, you really do have to put in the miles, which means every session is not necessarily about massive numbers, but just doing the work. I’d forgotten that along the way. 

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The depressing number is the 94W (effectively how hard your legs are working), because this time last year I was running considerably higher that that. However this is not a disaster, just a starting point. My husband also reassures me that the bike I’ve chosen in Zwift is far too heavy and not doing me any favours at all (and I’m sure he knows that this is important) so after I’ve finished typing this, it’ll be time to log into the app and alter my setup. However, there will be no riding, or weights today.

This is most definitely a rest day.

Enough is Enough

This week has not been kind. I slept without my Fitbit last night because sometimes, you don’t wanna know. A 9.30 PT should, I hope, kick-start a day of solid exercise, followed by some good personal advancement. That’s all I can do: say it, do it, hope it works. Nothing else is in my hands, just my own progression. Do I learn the most important lesson of all, finally? Can mental blocks that continue to hamper be overcome?

Yes, they are.

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The greatest advantage of owning devices that track my health is not the data companies sell to other people an ability to clearly signpost progress. Now I’m in a position of strength, quite far down the road to wellness, those numbers become the glue that stick me together. I’ve noted previously that it was writing before that served that purpose: now the lifesaver’s become a profession, except, of course, there’s still an awful lot to learn.

The metric for writing success are woeful, absolutely dreadful. If I were using that as a means to stay mentally strong right now, it would have failed miserably. Fortunately, having found a new means by which progress can be bench-marked without it destroying my sanctity, there’s now breathing space to allow other stuff an opportunity to be approached and attacked with the same enthusiasm.

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I can’t stop time, nor would I want to. With exercise, I can reverse it however: adding sympathetic care returns a measure of flexibility and strength to both body and mind. This week’s writing revelations have been just that: massive insights into the way brain operates, how to stop demons attacking my work. In fact, embracing them this week presented work capable of reopening part of my brain that’s been closed since the 1990’s.

Going through this post now, carefully re-reading and editing as I go, is a new phenomena too. Before the obsession would be to just finish, get it done, not stop and think. Care has emerged in everything. It’s not like it didn’t exist before, far from it. What mattered back then was making the point. Now, considering why, how and even if I should come before a single word is written. This feels a better order to work in.

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Once upon a time there might also have been a desire to ramp up the drama. Nope, that’s not ever happening ever again. Other people can do that, there’s more important business to concern myself with than making the stupid stuff more apparent. For now, that means finishing up here, smashing that bonus Saturday PT of Win before letting Saturday sort itself out.

These are the best kind of days.