Sunrise

I dropped my daughter off at school early this morning, and was back home at 8.30 am. This allowed me to get a 50 minute Yoga session completed before 10am. It’s only the second I’ve done since I started my weight/stamina training, but the improvement in strength and ability is now very obvious.

Previously Chaturanga Dandasana has been something I simply did not possess the upper body strength to pull off. I vaguely remember being able to manage the position when I began practising Yoga alone, but certainly not in the sixteen years since my son was born. I use an ancient DvD of Ashtanga variants (from of all people MTV because its performed with a dance music accompaniment) which isn’t actually complete and misses out a key repetition which I have now added in myself out of habit. It’s a sequence of key stretches, classic poses and not nearly enough relaxation at the end, but I have now come to really enjoy the synergy of the experience. This morning I also managed Warrior Three in its most difficult form, and the joy from that’s going to keep me going for the rest of the day.

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Yoga isn’t just exercise, in fact it is more about the way you breathe your way through the poses, how you listen to your body in the process that really matters more. The spiritual side of the journey isn’t lost on me, but I’d be lying if I said this mattered more than the exercise. I grasp the significance for those who seek solace inside the practice, and being able to focus solely on inner self should never be ignored. I’ll feely admit that I do a ten minute de-stress and brain clear before my PT session, just so I’m more focussed on what I have to do. I’m going to complete my first part of the Mindfulness course today, and hopefully that too will then find a spot to exist with everything else. All of this then forms a complete daily routine, it is just the means by which I co-ordinate everything that will matter more long term.

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Then, quite possibly, we can start trying to push that envelope too. However, right now is a period for refining and consolidating technique. I have a habit of not keeping back and shoulders solid when I lift certain weights, and yesterday’s PT was the basis of relearning a couple of basic principles. Because I have hypermobility in my wrists and elbows I’m having trouble maintaining good positions in certain lifts and pulls. It is also why Chaturanga Dandasana has been proving so problematic but now I can place and position correctly, that issue appears to be largely academic. It is a reminder that every day is a School day and even the most experienced will always want to be refining and reconsidering their positions and technique over time.

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I’ve left the mat up in the front room, and I’ll be going back through the day to think about and focus on getting my body in the right places: also, it is a nice change of position from sitting down and working. I’m expecting a delivery of new blackout blinds for the bedroom: once they arrive there’ll be a walk to buy some lunch.

The plan right now is to just keep getting stronger.

Eat to the Beat

Thank you to everybody who donated yesterday, thus paying for hosting for this site for the next 12 months. I promise when the Patreon happens you’ll be very clear where all the money goes, and the rewards will be worth your time.


An awful lot of other stuff happened yesterday, which will take me some time to process properly and pass on. Needless to say, it will be worth the wait, and is tied to what happens with all my sites going forward. Therefore today, be assured that I’m all over everything but a bit emotionally fragile. The best cure for this is being outside. Once I’ve sorted the bits of my life I’ve had to shove aside since Monday? We’ll move on.


I am producing some of the best work of my ‘career’ thus far, by some way. I think this means that not only is progress happening, but there are positive and worthwhile consequences to that development. Long may this continue.

Panic

For the second time in the space of seven calender days, I’ve had a panic attack. In fairness, I could see this one coming from a while away, once it became clear public transport was going to stymie my efforts to be in the right place at the right time. The biggest problem right now in my mind is notional control: when it blows out of my hands, brain simply fails to cope. In fairness I grasp this as well. It is not a surprise I ended up gasping for breath on a cold station platform, panicking as I couldn’t answer the phone and disconnect headphones simultaneously. These are the things Normal People do without thinking. I can also do this.

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I can cope, there just needs to be some thought as to why this is happening, and that’s hardly difficult to rationalise. I’ve made major changes to my life. I’m redefining who I am, and that process is going well in some places and not in others, and it is that which is attempting to derail me. I’m not afraid of change, or failure, but this time I can see a path to success, and that means not allowing my brain to stymie the development. Most importantly, I shouldn’t be trying to self-diagnose. I’m going to leave that to somebody else to do, and simply get on with the business in hand. There’s too much that needs to be sorted in the next few weeks for the wheels to come off now.

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Tomorrow would normally be a PT session, but instead I have a week of working and motivating myself while my lovely trainer takes a holiday. I’d like to try and lose another kilo by my weigh in next week, which should be eminently doable. It also means I’ll do Monday, Wednesday and Friday night after school, to leave days free to begin the Spring Clean that this house so desperately needs. I have a trip to the supermarket planned for the morning to grab the replacement bits I need, and then I’m off, throwing stuff away and cleaning anything that’s dusty. I’ve kept up with my #MinsGame too, so will require 13 things tomorrow and to do that will require a quite significant amount of thought.

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I can do this. I really can. I was never really a fan of affirmation until recently but the statement ‘I am good enough to get through this’ has never been more true or heartfelt right now. I can write well, and will, for another week and once we get to the 19th there is going to have been so much progress forward I will manage a Sunday without either stress or drama. Now, however, I’m going to have a lovely steak and Stilton pie as my last treat before I throw myself into ‘good’ eating for the rest of the month. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m really looking forward to an Easter Egg come April.

I think I will have utterly deserved it.

Go

I have a couple of heavyweight posts coming up this weekend, that have taken me a while to write ‘properly.’ Because I’m trying to be a grown up about non-fiction, there’s a level of technical competence I simply don’t grasp without approaching process in a particular way. That means a series of drafts and rewrites until I get to a stage where I’m not only happy with words, but comfortable with the ‘story’ I’m trying to convey. Over the years I’ve become quite good at ‘spoofing’ my way through daily blogs, but when a reasonably serious subject matter is involved, there does need to be research, or I sound like an utter twat. Effectively, I’m now constructing blog posts in the same mindset I approach fiction, and that might take some getting used to.

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The last five days have been a revelation for me. In a way, I feel somewhat vindicated for the decision to shift away from gaming as a primary focus. What the move has done, which came as something of a surprise, is release pressure to perform I’d not previously grasped had existed. Now I am more concerned with subject matters that demands a more complex form of technical difficulty, there’s a challenge I’d forgotten is enjoyable. It also helps that in the last 10 days the Warcraft community’s undergone a bit of an epiphany for itself, which makes writing an ‘idiot’s guide’ (where I’m the idiot) somehow more significant as therapy and less as a means to keep people interested.

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Progress is real and significant on the personal front too: more weight has been lost, and the focus heading forwards for me will be less cardio-focused and more around building upper body strength. My shoulders particularly are beginning to suffer as the weak point in a chain where arms and back are both increasing in density and ability. If I can continue shifting weight at this current level (which means aiming for a kilo a week) I will be sub 70kg at the end of March and at that stage I may well decide to stay there: right now, physically, I feel in an extremely comfortable and sustainable position. I’ll do a separate post on running next week, but I have found my happy place now, and I can get there without too much effort. Now I’m back to Monday PT I’ll run across the weekend and we’ll see how things stand afterwards.

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Once upon a time I would have been obsessed with the scales, but now I’m far more aware than I ever was of how I need the mass in good ways, especially when it comes to stamina and endurance. It isn’t just my brain’s that changed this week, body is not far behind, and now it is time to reflect what I need to alter in long-term planning going forward.

However first, it’s time for a cuppa.

Up and Down

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the wonderful world of unplanned Interval Training.

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I didn’t go out this morning to do anything other than an hour on the Treadmill, let’s be honest. Normally that involves some brisk walking and a bit of running, but today I decided after a 5 minute warm-up to change things up a bit. I have a Cardio exercise that happens on a Weights day that mixes 300m of running with a 100m ‘rest’ but that’s not stop then start, it remains walking pace, and a brisk one at that. It’s what pro trainers will refer to as active recovery: a way to help you increase stamina during what would effectively be a rest day from intense physical activity. Today however I decided that I’d push myself into something more than just making a token effort. That meant 500m at 6kph and 500m at 8kph, which is less than my new ‘maximum’ speed and has effectively replaced the ‘jog’ I would do when learning how to run correctly.

The first 500m was horrible, as is always the case, and the second (as my heart rate attests) was harder and then on 2500-3000m? It got easier: I hit a Runner’s High and suddenly, amazingly, I was in a place I’ve not managed to reach since the high impact journey began. As I came down to relax I didn’t, as (again) the heart rate demonstrates, because what I could easily have done is do a full mile without stopping. That was a surprise, and the next two 500m bursts were similarly simple, and I pushed hard on both… and then, unsurprisingly, I just ran out of fuel completely. The last plateau is a period of incline just to keep my heart up, whilst my lungs recovered… and then my hour was up.

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It must have been effective because I was dripping with sweat once I’d done, and was asked by a member of staff if I was okay. I don’t look good after exercise: my face, chest and back were still bright red for an hour after I’d done. In terms of active recovery that was probably too much work, but as an exercise in interval training it was a standard I can see myself now working towards every Sunday. My normal Monday PT has been scheduled to Friday next week, to accommodate the first of my son’s GCSE assessments. That gives me a Push day tomorrow and a Pull on Wednesday, but the need to look at active recovery in between. I won’t do this again any more than weekly, but it does now make me consider what can be done in the days in between.

When you go into situations not expecting anything at all, it is often the moment to surprise yourself. I know today an important line was crossed, if only because I stopped worrying about anything except running, and on reflection I didn’t do much of that to begin with. It just happened: I did the miles and nothing was a problem. I didn’t feel out of breath, or uncomfortable. For a moment, I was like everybody else exercising and able to hold my own without my brain scuppering the entire endeavour. Lungs and body combined to produce the best session of off-day exercise I’ve probably managed since I started this journey nearly a year ago. The next step, is to keep doing the same until it becomes habit, and then move on.

You know, I think I might be capable of pulling this off.

Look Away

Something happened this morning, in the Gym. I ran fast, but in my mind I was in slow motion. My legs extended and stretched and the stride became this huge, brilliant and totally relaxed combination. Yeah, by 300 metres I was gasping for breath but that’s only because lungs need to read the memo my body sent that once you grasp how to totally cheat a Thing, you should do the Thing immediately. I know how to spoof running. It’s easy now, and I’m almost at the stage where I can spoof weightlifting too. Couple more weeks on my own… but that’s not why I’m here.

Today there was the guy who stared at me whilst I did bar work, and not in a nice way. I’ve been at this long enough to grasp the difference between watching form and perving, Guys, don’t you start at me for not simply appreciating a pretty woman. I’m not here to be attractive, and this guy was only interested in my body. Plus, it was very cold in the Gym and my nipples aren’t exactly the size of Smarties any more. So, once I’d done my last set and upped the weights so I could use the bar for some core work, I went and stared at him as he lifted some dumbbells, and in very short order he asked me what I was doing.

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‘Oh, I’m showing you how uncomfortable it is when someone watches only certain parts of your body,’ I responded ‘and perhaps next time you choose to do that at someone else you’ll consider just how demeaning this feeling can be.’ Then I left him to go do bloke stuff with his weights, and by the time I looked up again he’d vanished. I wonder if I’ll get any comeback from this, but frankly I don’t care. This morning I handed in an extended feedback letter over to the management on how the membership treat the staff in my Gym, and talked about how things can be changed to improve the situation. Ironically at no point did I even consider sexism or casual stalking as a talking point because, up until now, it has not been a problem. I may be shit at names but I am very good with faces. This guy is on my watch list.

It is undoubtedly the membership of the Gym that’s the issue, but because the staff are so lovely, I’m prepared to accept that as a hazard. They can’t help who uses the place, after all, and as I know only too well everybody has the potential to be a Class A Twat at any given point? You accept the danger and live with it. What has changed however between then and now is the fact that before I’d have simply ignored the tosser and moved on, but at this point in existence that’s not enough. It’s like this morning when something gaming related flicked past on the feed and I felt almost obliged to point out that if you’re lucky enough to have internet access, a PC and a roof over your head, complaining that a game makes you work too hard’s pretty fucking rich to begin with.

Yes, you’re an entitled dicksplash.

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Honestly, some of you people really do need a reality check as a matter of urgency.

The End

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It could be a blip. Might just be because I’m sick and fighting a sinus/throat thing. Could be that my hormones finally cut me a break. Or, maybe, just maybe, the hard work is paying off. I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, really looked hard at my side profile because now I cannot avoid it. Yup, fat has reduced on my stomach. The lumps on my hips, remains of this long fight to get back to ‘normal’ are almost gone. Even the thickness of fat under my arms and on my arse seems less obvious. I could pretend to believe that there’s still a while to travel but this morning, I knew. I went to bed having eaten well and was hungry, for the first time I can remember for months.

Today, even though my face hurts and my voice is in danger of vanishing, I walked to the Gym.

I love the time I get alone now so much more than I ever did, because there is so much chaos in the world to sort and filter. The walk has changed, in the last couple of months: the footbridge I used to use is gone, and it’s all about dodging traffic and watching the junction evolve. They’re also fitting a new gas main and the area’s a massive, muddy building site. However, if you look down and around, there are many beautiful things to appreciate. I love the pavement as a canvas, looking at things that other people simply accept as boring or uninteresting. There’s a network of spray painted directions all over the area, and the digging will continue for many months more.

Then, when I got there, I genuinely forced myself to do stuff a tired body didn’t want to do. I sweated so much there’s a need to take a change of shirt from now on, because I was just drenched afterwards. It hurt, so much, my lungs just not capable of fuelling my body in the manner I’d like, but the change is unmistakable. I am stronger now than I was. I can run better, and when relaxing and not stressing, distance literally flies by. Somewhere, somehow, I have become a fitness lover. It is a feeling of disbelief and wonder that I’m really hoping never goes away. Then, there was 60kg on the Leg Press, and the guy who watched and nodded approvingly as I loaded up the weights. There may have been a lot of furious blushing.

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Vanity aside, there’s still so much to do. For now, however, there has come a satisfaction and utter joy that I last experienced when I did my first deadlift. I giggled all the way home, even though my nose and eyes are streaming and, in the next hour, I will probably lose my voice completely. I really don’t care. There is undeniable pride now, that’s the feeling as I type this. My goal is close. It means dinner tonight isn’t rice and noodles from the Chinese, but beef and vegetables. No dessert, absolutely no bad shit, and when I hit the scales on Monday in the Gym I hope the record shows that I did the work.

I know now it is only a matter of time.