Bad

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I had a second PT session yesterday, and got pushed. That’s something of an understatement: my trainer upped all my weights, shoved in a series of negatives which mean my upper body this morning really aches, and added in a mini circuit at the end of the session that effectively reduced me to mush. I lay on the floor, laughing my head off, totally unable to move after the first set, exhausted by the second, and as I lay there I was asked if I wanted to do the third. Once upon a time, I would have simply skipped the process and just hit the showers. Yesterday, I forced my body, and BOY can I feel it in torso and arms this morning.

This is a very good thing.

This morning I am shattered, but mentally ready to catch up on my backlog. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to start just that.

Accidents will Happen

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I dropped my Son off at his NCS placement yesterday, and driving back from the car park was rear ended by a young man in a hire vehicle. I would have written off the damage and not claimed, had he not mentioned that exchanging details was like ‘going on a date’ whilst failing to maintain eye contact. In shock news, if I’m stationary and you run into the back of me, of course its not my fault. I’d like to thank the lovely insurance lady for allowing me a rant on that, and now it is somebody else’s problem. I need to go get neck looked at by the physios anyway at the Gym…

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Yesterday’s PT has broken me, literally. I cannot squat, bend down or even walk properly. This says to me that muscles that have not been previously used are working, and that I need to remember to stretch post exercise. Mostly it is the brilliant fallout that, after nearly two months off, I not only have lifting form down in my head, but that I can still lift my post-Operation weights. That’s the biggest takeaway from this, and enough to have me grinning most of yesterday until fatigue caught up with me and I passed out, face down on the sofa. Utterly worth it, for the record. All of this is brilliant, especially the weight loss. It may be glacially slow right now, but there is no denying it is happening.

Normally, the deal is simple: I work hard all week, then get to the weekend, and everything gets blown and it is back to stage one on Monday. Not so since the beginning of July. I lose stuff, stop for a bit, then lose some more, and so it continues. In this case, I can use the Gym’s Boditrax system to show me why actual weight loss is so slow. It is the efficient and consistent exchange of fat for muscle.

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So, I’ve lost three kilos of fat, and replaced it with three kilos of muscle, more or less. Just to remind you:

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My body is a triumph of efficiency. All that remains now is the fat that can’t be muscle, and as that is worked away (and it is) it is as if I am an onion: layers are shed, slowly but surely. The fat on my stomach is moving, literally melting away. Stretch marks begin to fade, translucent under the skin, marking each cardio session and rewarding every day without breaking the calorie total. I am immensely proud of my willpower and focus right now. It does work, all of this, and the results are becoming more apparent with each passing day. Once I’m done working here and when the legs are more compliant, I’ll even stick myself back in the Gym for a cardio session.

It’s stopped becoming a chore and now is fun. WHO KNEW.

PS: This is also brilliant:

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No Surprises

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Eight hours sleep is GLORIOUS.

The problems don’t go away after a good night. You just have more energy and desire to solve them.

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450 days of My Fitness Pal and it is only in the last two weeks that the process is bearing fruit. It is a sobering reminder that it doesn’t matter how long something happens, there’s only ever a difference made when application comes into play. Getting down to a target weight and staying there asks a lot of you, and it is easy to see after a hard day where the slip ups can come. Last night, I’ll be honest, ended up 15g over my fat goal with Breakfast Cups for dinner but boy, did I need them. Low carbs and sugar is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It has been an absolute revelation staring at food that I’d normally eat and realising just how much sugar is in just about everything.

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Knowing which basic foods are bad is not a problem: avoid starchy stuff, white rice is not great, white flour is the Devil’s work. The hope, of course, is that you end up in the ‘healthy eating’ aisle of the Supermarket where everything is 40% more expensive under the auspices of ‘balanced.’ Except, if you look closely, that’s often a lie too. We’ve already had the discussion about sugar in ‘whole food’ bars, and the alternatives I’ve discovered fall into two distinct camps: ridiculously expensive and essentially soulless or eating raw. I’ve therefore gained massive amounts of satisfaction in the last two days taking whole pomegranate and separating out seeds, saving a small fortune and pointless packaging. The future is doing it myself, if I wasn’t already grasping the truth.

Then, I remind myself I didn’t exercise yesterday. That was no bad thing, all told, and there’s energy in my legs plus determination in upper body to go do good work. I had an omelette at the Gym on Monday, as opposed to my normal order of flatbread and today I suspect I’ll do some kind of salad to at least keep up the pretence of vegetables. I’m not going to lie, all I want right now is cake and tea and bread and butter pudding until I’m full. I get how this works. However, if I’m going to break my body’s desire to not lose weight, something has to give.

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I don’t need a Treat day any more. I’m not looking forward to that bar of well-deserved chocolate or the slice of cake, because as soon as they are ingested my body swells. It is impossible to guilt free eat ANYTHING sugary right now, and that may be the case until my hormones finally leave for good. Knowing this, I am simply determined to keep going, not look back and run my way out of the craving. Most days, as it transpires, that works surprisingly well.

Let’s see if today is one of them.

Come and See Me

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Slowly but surely, I am unpicking the issues that constrict my life.

Yesterday was an evening Gym session, because there was so much work to do here, and stepping on the Octane I wondered if I’d even manage one mile, so tired did I feel. Then I stopped my brain and rationalised: a mile is six minutes. Pick the right track on your playlist and that will fly by. Find something that makes you feel positive, preferably something you used as a writing prompt. I’m beginning to grasp how many other people live vicariously through their wish fulfilment (whether it be art, music or writing) and last night, it was the Bond fanfic music prompts that not only got me through three miles of Octane as a warm up, but another three kilometres of High Impact Intensity Training (300 metres walking, 200 meters running at 9 kph.) I’ve never done HIIT for that long before, my legs give out after 2.5k pretty much consistently. However, when I got there last night, something was different.

Steamed Broccoli with Dark Soy Sauce, Peanut Butter Flatbread.

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Last night, I felt I had it in my legs. Suddenly, breathing at 9kph has become less of a fight and more a rhythm. The first 200 meters is always hard but after that, it was simply instinct. I’ve only felt this way once before and that was before I was ill, the brilliant Sunday before it all went wrong on the Monday evening, and it occurs to me that it is diet that has as much to do with this as anything else. Yesterday was very intentionally virtuous, not simply for the photo opportunity. I can eat well, if it is planned, and routine is the key. It is when that organisation slips that I go backwards, and that extends not simply to exercise but into all aspects of my current working life.

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Post it Notes are keeping me sane, helping pull together all the disparate strands of existence. I’ve stuck the most used ones to card, ‘laminated’ over pencil with sticky tape to remind of what happens each day, making sure I keep to the programme. Eventually one hopes I can throw the card away because those messages will become ingrained, but for now they’re a part of a handful of magic feathers. It’s the same principle as getting through six minutes exercise: with the right prompt, things will take less time than you realise. I tried this yesterday, with a bunch of tasks that would normally take an afternoon. I gave myself two hours to complete everything.

Amazingly, it worked: not because I’ve become super efficient overnight either. This project succeeded because I stopped procrastinating and just did the fucking work. Of course there will be days when this doesn’t happen but, for now, mental ability saved the day. Old me, the one who’d eat a snack and then browse Social media and then get sucked into a rabbit hole, is still alive and well, but right now they’re no use in the timescales available. I need this version of Me to survive right now. Once everything is done I can let that part of the consciousness out again.

Until then, let’s just keep working.

Airbag

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Here’s a thing: yesterday evening, I went to the chip shop, as both kids requested a takeaway. I’d already eaten my calorie limit for the day, and sat waiting whilst the smell of frying potato made me salivate. Chips are a major weakness, always have been. This I attribute to one of the earliest memories I possess: the small of frying onions from a burger van, back in the days before that item was a staple on British high streets. Long before McDonalds even arrived in the UK; on the seafront of the town which is now our home, my parents used to drive here and reminisce of their courtship. I came home with the meals, stuck them on plates, and didn’t eat anything at all.

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Yesterday was a tough Gym session: lots of HIIT, not many steps, and to make up the shortfall I walked around the block a couple of times. Today, the fatigue in my entire body is more noticeable than it has been for weeks, and I know that if I go throw myself at anything high impact it will make things worse. Today is a day for a walk: to the supermarket to buy high protein items with absolutely no sugar in them at all, and to start working on building muscle mass and provide true, lasting strength. Now it is becoming obvious just how much my body relies on empty carbs to function, I need to go and rethink a lot of my principles from scratch.

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I suck at willpower. It is my absolute biggest failing, by a long way. I also bounce from one state to another quite fast, or at least I did, and I am beginning to grasp that hormones have been to blame for a great deal more than just lower backache and upset stomachs. As I walk away from decades of being a fucking monster for three days a month, often longer, comes the relief of being able to dictate and control exactly how I am, without being at the beck and call of a body that often felt as if it didn’t belong to me at all. In fact, with the introduction of regular exercise and a diet that appears to help and not hinder mental progress, things are most definitely looking up.

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I predict a lot of fish and vegetables over the Summer months, and very little potato or bread, even though I will miss my sandwiches so very much. If 11st 5lbs is achievable by August 1st on this level of input, I can re-introduce the stuff I love as treats without fear. The first part of this process however has to be getting to the point where I know what is and isn’t doable, and right now this plan is the right path to tread.

Time to suck it up and get moving.

Sweet Talking Woman

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My weight’s been doing odd things over the last few weeks: it is obvious my body’s adjusting to life without a gallbladder a lot better than could have been the case, however. I’ve gone from not keeping anything inside me for very long to my body returning to some semblance of what was normal before the operation. However, on what I thought was a pretty decent low fat and sugar diet before surgery there’s been a slow but noticeable creep up of weight. It isn’t muscle mass either, my lovely set of biometric scales at the Gym indicates this. So yesterday, on PT’s advice, I started scanning and recording what I’m eating using My Fitness Pal and realised exactly where my problem lies.

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Breakfast is already putting me on the back foot. Sure, that might be sub 300 calories, but when my sugar intake is marked at 45g maximum in a day? There I am, having thrown nearly half of it away in one hit. That’s fine however, because breakfast is awesome right now and is probably my favourite meal of the day because of the pomegranate. The problem then comes with what I shove in the rest of the day. What was my favourite protein bar up until I read the labels yesterday delivers more sugar than my 33g chocolate bar snack of choice. It really doesn’t matter how much healthy shit you chuck at me, if I’m getting more sugar as well, there’s something wrong somewhere.

This has meant a reconsideration of what counts for ‘snacks’ in the household.

These two are good staples in my cupboard and I won’t end up out of sugars by lunchtime. I’ll go investigate other brands too, but for now the lovely American protein bars aren’t being restocked. When I closed my food log last night, I found myself thinking that if writing life can be managed more effectively, why can’t the same be true for my eating habits?

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How hard would it be to make yesterday happen another 34 times, exactly? I’ve logged onto My Fitness Pal for 435 fucking days and I’m still struggling with weight, mostly because I won’t log consistently, instead cheating quietly and forgetting the transgressions overnight. No, the biggest problem I have with weight loss is myself. Because I’m exercising there’s this misguided belief that it’s okay, because not being sedentary matters more. Except, in the end, it doesn’t. Making changes requires just that, CHANGE. Stop pretending you’re somehow virtuous because of all the miles, and make the real evolution your body believes it can’t cope with but needs to overcome. Provide reliable energy, long term, and keep your body in a fit state to last the next fifty years.

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Forming habits works for me. It is a solid means of moving forward. The same thing, day after day, and I finally remember that this is part of a larger plan. Now I’ve got large parts of my life sorted using this mantra, let us see if it cannot be applied to the business of sensible eating. 34 days from now is, quite usefully, August 1st. This seems like a nice date to aim for, as it is smack bang in the middle of the Summer Holidays for kids and then gives the rest of that month to consolidate and regroup. So, that’s the plan. My target weight was 11 stone 3 pounds at the start of the year. Let’s aim there, and make it happen.

After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

Yesterday

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I live in Gym kit currently for one reason alone: if I have it on, there’s more chance of making it to exercise than not. Except yesterday I put on the clothes and then grasped I’d be better off not pushing myself physically. It was a day to clear the decks, throw out the rubbish that has been clogging my desk. Things got put away, or recycled, and we entered the Money Where Mouth Is portion of developmental proceedings. As an exercise in self control and diligence, it was remarkably successful. I don’t remember the last time I was this organised, and it has helped considerably in motivating brain to start this week the way I mean to go on.

Now, the trick has to be sticking to that plan: the Moleskine is full, not simply with written work. I gave up on bullet journaling sometime in April, but the weekly planner has now become indispensable. Exercise goals, writing subjects, forward planning is all inside, and the settling of this routine becomes more comforting with every new week. I actually started doing that on Friday, knowing what needs to be done for the Internet of Words before it all kicks off on Saturday. Thus far I am quietly confident, and hopefully once there’s some content up to entice people, I’ll grab some more Patreons. That reminds me, must sort out a Google Form for the rewards requests. Excuse me whilst I make a note of that.

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This week is another two lots of PT with a hard third session shoved in the middle. If six hours sleep is gonna be the norm again thanks to night sweats and the neighbour (who has a 5am start and is not quiet) then I may not make it to Friday without a nap inserted somewhere, or at least one ridiculously early night. The week will at least be cooler and a bit wet, which suits me fine: I really hope this is the last of the hormonal junk I have to deal with. It is bad enough in the heat without my body taking a temperature rise on an almost predictable four hour cycle. There is however the real chance this is the next 18 months to two years of my life panning out and if so, it might be a plan to just stop moaning and work through it. If I were famous I could write a book about it or maybe do stand up, but as I’m not? Time to stick the kettle on and accept the inevitable.

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I’ve been eaten a lot by insects in this last couple of weeks too, which means my legs look horrible, and as I scratch in my sleep I felt today was not the one for shorts. I’ve resurrected one of my favourite pairs of leggings, and this reminds me I should have a clear out of clothing (again) as a lot of stuff is now close to being worn out, due simply to repeated use. My running shoes went that way last weekend, 25 miles of cycling the last straw, and looking at the soles the wear on the tread is a reminder that yes, I do take this all very seriously indeed, as should be the case. That will be the second pair I’ve worn out this year, and knowing that fact I’ve ordered the replacement pair this morning on sale, saving cash in advance. Ah, the joys of Internet shopping.

… and today's legs 👍

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The Warcraft blog’s got material already scheduled for the entire week. I’m not sure yet what is going to happen here, but I promise to try and make it worth your while reading.