Regeneration

Never start ANY project on the first of the month. If it matters enough, procrastination won’t help. Begin when the idea strikes you, straight away. Planning can be refined about a week in. Of course, sometimes, you don’t need the organisation. Stuff just works.

I switched my 55 to a 45 Blaze for good on Wednesdays. Reasoning is simple: 55 is not helping me work hard, but teaching more how to build up stamina. Because the extra minute per zone demands a lot of work on managing energy, it’s less simple to just go flat out. This has been confirmed by lots of weeks where I’ve genuinely struggled to feel as if anything was progress. Therefore, a change was facilitated.

More importantly however I don’t (as yet) know anybody doing the 45 in this group. I was a stranger. This was an added advantage because the sense of being in contest with people you know did not exist. It helps in some ways, but hinders in others. I managed red zone time last night in combat (though not enough to register on the app) and on the treadmill, and this is something that’s not happened before. Change holds a lot of value.

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That’s a lot of yellow. More importantly, I came out of the class awake, aware and more functional than has been the case for weeks. I walked home. That would have been unheard of a month ago. The improvement to physical fitness is only part of the picture, however. Last night I did the whole class without my glasses on, so the worry of steaming up was alleviated. Mentally, I didn’t care about anything except effort, and it happened.

Let’s be honest, it’s the mental change that is the biggest shift, and that happened last week. Since then, everything is just a little bit brighter. I could have waited until today to start this change, but then a whole week would have been wasted by doing so. All the momentum I’ve built since being in a pile on the floor in the heat, crying my eyes out, would simply have been lost.

You really are the catalyst to make major change to existence.

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I also know how easy it is to ignore your own issues. It will still happen, of course. However, that likelihood’s now far less of a certainty.

The lesson has been learnt.

Immigrant Song

Day 1 Proper of the Summer Break [TM] because we’re not counting the two and a bit days last week, for lots of reasons. I have a lot that needs fixing, not simply because it is August on Thursday. Nothing ever gets really better without some pain and real effort. I grasp this, always have, yet never really bring the business to the table: maybe now it is time to once and for all fix my shit.

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In a very particular order, here’s what is going to happen:

No Weigh Ins, Lots of Effort

I won’t weigh myself again until September 2nd. This isn’t so I can eat and not stress, it’s meant as a conscious decoupling from the scales and the way my life seems to constantly end up revolving around them. I am aware of what needs to be eaten more of, and what ought to happen less. There’s not been a real effort in that department since the start of the year. Time to finally make a change.

There’s a lot of body image stigma that needs addressing this Summer.

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A Realistic Workload

Last year, I tried to do everything, and wasn’t successful with most of it. There’s enough intelligence to realise that a lot of that was my fault, and that I really wasn’t mature enough as a writer with technical skill. That’s changed now: there’s a lot of good in my ability, as the last month has adequately proven. That means that picking and choosing what gets done becomes a priority going forward.

Therefore this week, as well as planning for August, I’ll be working out what is realistically possible with the portfolio of work that’s currently on the hard drive. Some only need a polish, others probably a re-write from scratch. It’ll take a while, but the effort will be worth it. Plus, today it’ll be time to get back to novel-ing. There are at least five days this week with potential for work to be done.

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Learning to Relax

As specified at the weekend, there’s a real deficiency here. I’ve got the Pokemons on the phone sorted, some cats on my tablet, and a to watch list longer than the Amazon (river not retail outlet) to watch. It can’t be impossible to do all this and still say sane, right? Course it isn’t, just gotta realise that there’s a balance in everything to be found and then maintained.

If I’m going to learn ANYTHING about myself in the next six weeks, this is the bullet point that matters most, which is why it’s last in the post.

Time to do the work.

Rain is Falling

FINALLY, a decent night’s sleep.

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I’d like to spend less time awake, but you can’t have everything ^^

What this week has taught me is that if I want to finally shift the tummy fat, I should be running on an incline. There’s a long way to go in terms of mental toughness, and some harsh questions still need to be asked around my body image. I’ve also admitted that eating well is a far better way of dealing with trauma than binge or fast, which is the lazy way of admitting there’s a problem.

I’m back on shakes for breakfast, which reminds me, I need to order more Huel.

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I would walk to the gym but it’s raining, and the forecast says this is the plan all day. Normally that would annoy the hell out of me but after the last couple of days it can rain all it wants and that’s absolutely fine. In fact, it’s a perfect day to drive first to exercise and then to shop. After that, we’ll organise what exactly gets done this weekend and hopefully knock off some more novel…

Oh and at some point, I’ll have a proper conversation about exactly how dieting and weight loss has sculpted a portion of my last decade…

True

My legs still hurt. I don’t remember that happening for a while, either. This is what happens when you stop worrying about falling off a treadmill at incline and just run on it. It’s also a reminder that doing what you’re told sometimes is not the end of all independent action. Stuff in exercise class is given to you for a reason. Growing is a subtle combination of taking what you need from experiences and then going the extra mile to make it stick.

This was also the result of more weight in squats (bar on your shoulders, squat with it up and down) where the long term aim is to exceed body weight lifted. What happens when I train and up weights is very simple: it exposes muscles that are weakest. In my case I suffer with wrists and ankles, tops of legs and lower back. They need to be stronger, or progress doesn’t happen. That’s why I’m here on a Saturday planning a gym trip later.

I’m also up early preparing to organise the next four weeks of my life to include wring a novel pretty much from scratch. I know it’s doable, NaNoWriMo tells me it is. It’s now how much this matters and how immersed in the world created I can become, and they’re both easy things to do. It will means a reschedule of a few things and organising others around the writing change, but I can do this. Of course I can.

In fact, I’m really looking forward to it :D

Three

On July 7th, 2016 (it was Thursday) my PT, who I’d been seeing for a month, asked me to weigh myself at the Gym for accountability. Three years on, there are some interesting numbers to digest, as another significant exercise milestone is reached.

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My Fitbit is no longer primary means by which attainment is judged, however (hello MyZone, heart-rate belts beat all comers hands down) but having said that, those cumulative numbers are pretty cool. Still gotta go some to beat the 50k at Ride London last year, but that may yet happen over the Summer if I set myself the goal. Notional achievement like this is useful. Yes, you have the stamina to do A BIG THING. 

Others appreciate and respect shows of strength like this.

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This snapshot however is the most useful one of all, as it is the baseline from which I’ve worked from since Day One. The fat mass metric should, ideally remain at zero, considering my current numbers and therefore losing a kilo and a half is totally acceptable. That fat percentage number is most interesting of all.  Still got a fair way to go. Most of my actual weight loss came before confidence to ask for help existed…

The bigger issue however is nothing to do with numbers.

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Mentally, all of this can be a fucking HUGE ask. The day you have a ton of other stuff that piles into your brain and effects everything, to then go and work your arse off can simply be an action too much. It isn’t physical energy required to do the work, but a mental ability; often far more of a struggle when self-confidence wavers. If you’re lucky enough to be one of those people for whom mental toughness isn’t an issue, I salute you.

I call myself an idiot far more often than is healthy. Blaming yourself is easy when the numbers don’t move, or you miss out on something other people seem to achieve with ease. When I’m in these dark mental places, it is the bigger picture that always matters more. Do something. Just keep going. Finish the class. Sure, your numbers won’t look stellar, but they’re still numbers. Doing it well is better than doing nothing.

Everything adds to slow, notional progress.

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Today’s gonna be a tough ask when I get to the Gym. I’m still going, and I’ll work as hard as possible. After that, everything else is a bonus.

Forward is the only direction.

Melody of Love

Putting in the work provides rewards. WHO KNEW?

My Blaze mentality is changing. Red numbers are for other people to fret about. The staff have a poem of mine now, which makes it abundantly clear I didn’t just sign up to this for the physical benefits of exercise. Yes, I’m pushing to improve my attainment and YES that’s utterly happening, but outside the Strength, Combat and Treadmill Zones. You want to give people the experience of being better? They have to do the work.

I’ll be over here, doing just that.

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What you can’t see right now and only I can feel is the physical change to ability and stamina. I’m not getting tired lifting stuff. I can run without needing to hold onto the treadmill. However, when exhaustion hits BOY does it do that. This isn’t a problem per se, just means there needs to be some pacing along the way. It’ll happen, I’ve got months to work this shit out. It’s the stuff in-between that now matters more.

The negatives have been a game changer. The other thing you can’t see either is my waistline, that when I look down at the scales in the morning there’s nothing obscuring my feet any more. Waistline is shrinking, stomach flattening, and that alone is worth all the stress and pain. However, the biggest indicator of effort happens when I can’t see it, and that’s just brilliant.

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My sleep pattern, pretty much shot since the menopause began, is showing slow signs of recovery. The harder I work, the better it gets. One assumes this is as a result of physical effort requiring more downtime to recover from, and therefore the rest of my body (and brain) benefits from the experience. I was tired this morning, not mentally which is normally the case but in legs that are now moving past maintenance and into summat far more interesting.

I am totally ready for this next step forward.

Golden Brown

Hello July.

I could have come home and started working today but as it happens, going to the Gym was my first choice, so summat major’s changed between last week and this. I know exactly what it is: back muscles are no longer an issue. The long-term, historic pain from lower part of my spine that’s existed since an epidural slipped during Emergency C-Section for Child #1 is no longer bothering me.

Sure, it’s still a niggle, but now there’s back strength that did not exist before. That’s because I’m practising negatives for a couple of key exercises, both of which I cannot do well. Sit ups have always been a problem because of that lower back weakness, and if I want to start doing pull ups any time soon, my push up game needs some serious beefing up. Therefore, I’ve been following a particular plan of action.

I’ll warm up, then it’s off to a mat to do three lots of negative push ups, with three lots of ten negative sit ups in between. My PT will attest that body weight exercises are probably the most important thing you will ever do to build sustainable core strength, but for me it is the shoulder improvements the push ups are highlighting that’s the more useful takeaway.

Where the sit ups help enormously is when running, where what used to be an enormous physical effort is being quietly reduced both in stress and heart-rate. I’m noticing the difference as stamina kicks in too, that what used to be frantic out of breathness reduces slowly to controlled, far less panicky lung balance. We’ll do a comparable bike session this evening to see how much that’s improved in the last month too.

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The temptation for many people when trying to improve their physical shape is to go all out and wear themselves out without managing the other elements of a decent exercise regime: proper food and rest. That means that I’m trying my hardest not to snack for the next 31 days, whilst provisioning rest days in a different way. This month, that part of the equation should not be a problem at all.

I’ll be out of the country for one weekend, at a conference for another plus there’s a couple of other occasions when going to the Gym is simply not practical. Out of 31 days, eight are already marked out as booked. So, it’s time to get the planner out and provision what happens between the downtime. I don’t think what I’ve organised is unreasonable, and it’s certainly not out of my comfort zone. I just need to stick to it.

Planning works for the writing, so let’s see if I can stick to it when exercise is introduced into the equation. Now it’s online, I’m accountable and it has to happen.

Let’s see how it goes.