Always There

Two more days to go, and then I can take a whole day off… except I will end up doing my sun salutes as has been the case all month. They’ll happen as soon as I wake up, and then the rest of the day… tempted to spend large portions of it in bed, if I’m honest. Excet, of course, I have stuff to do. It can wait until Sunday. All of it can. To do nothing on Saturday is the reward for all this.

It is great to have doubled what was the default target of £150 set by Mind for my contribution. I upped it to £250 so that I’d have to hassle people to dig into their pockets and it has worked very well. I’m still hoping some notable people might turn up and provide some help, but it hasn’t happened yet, which is actually a bit disappointing. Yeah, I said it.

funding

Lots of people won’t have the conversations that matter right now. There’s too much else to worry about, and that’s fair. However, the benefits of taking that vital step out of your comfort zone are really very real indeed. I may be exhausted mentally, but physically this is an amazing new place that I can’t believe this time last week I was considering jacking everything in to go eat cake.

Sometimes, the unexpected is what validates your decisions: not the affirmation from family or friends, or support from an organisation. It really is that random, out of the blue compliment which isn’t either solicited or expected that puts everything into real sharp focus. I’d certainly not anticipated one of those at 8.35 this morning and when it happened… suddenly an awful lot of stuff just fell into place.

There are other things that now must come to pass to ensure this progress is neither minimised or lost. That does mean I’ll be in the Gym Sunday, running a 5K again. It does mean that next week we go to Tuesdays and Thursdays only with Blaze, because HIIT is not doing what it needs to do when I have no energy to push the envelope. Stamina now, I think we can all agree, is covered.

It is the right moment to find some new comfort zones to step out of.

Breathe

It’s almost been a month with the Health Wearable not owned by Google and the benefits of this piece of tech are becoming apparent. For a start, it pairs with the static bike trainer I use for virtual cycling without so much of a complaint. It has a problem with units of measurement at present, but we can fix that without too much pain in post-production. All the important stuff still gets saved.

Then yesterday, after the stress of two submissions back to back, it vibrated and asked me if I’d like to do some focussed breathing exercises to relax. It can tell me how uptight I am in traffic (a lot of late it must be said, after a couple of bad experiences in the last few weeks) and as a result I find myself wondering how to get those numbers down. I like the irony of having to reduce output to gain result.

It ought to bother me more that the answers to so many of my questions have been ‘out here’ for a very long time and I’ve just not known which questions to ask. Except that to learn how to be better, one has to also be able to accept what isn’t optimal and then work from there first. To accept knowledge, you have to be prepared to listen and that’s the biggest issue of all. It’s a complex equation based on your willingness to receive.

That’s a fact lost on an awful lot of people right now. Whether it be cultural insensitivity, political affiliation or even spoiling a favourite TV show, there’s a multitude of ways in which we can show just how ignorant and unwilling we truly are. Often you may not even realise it’s happening: in social situations, especially, the truth about prejudice and ignorance can be very hard to hide, ot ignore once seen or heard.

Ultimately, I really want to get better not just at running and weightlifting and writing,  but at interaction with other human beings. I want to start conversations that are difficult, and push through issues that make people uncomfortable. There continue to be no easy answers in life, and although once I was happy to live without conflict, I feel this is the moment to change a long-held view.

Education makes everyone better long term. Understanding does, with help and support, build greater tolerance and accommodation. That has to be a better way for everyone. If it means coming out of comfort zones whilst learning something about myself in the process, then so be it. To want something enough, there has to be a part of yourself given as means for progression. I’m gonna do this.

I know at least my health wearable will be looking out for me when I do.

Different Class

I am behind, but only notionally. It’s an indicator of progression that I realised this yesterday and have therefore made today a stay at home one, with all the stuff that needs to be done ‘outside’ tackled tomorrow. Assuming I can edit this pamphlet submission to my liking and have that plus another piece ready for husband to look at this evening, everything else is eminently completable.

Much has improved this month, and undoubtedly exercise is at least in part responsible. However, there is a downside, which doesn’t matter so much now when I’m busy, but will really begin to bite when I’m not. After all, part of the wider plan last year was to drag my sorry arse out and become more sociable. It was working very well too, right up until yesterday when everybody appears to have decided they’ve had enough.

I can’t make anyone else like exercise as much as I do right now, that’s not how this works. I also get that these people have lives which are not comparable to mine. Trying to fit everything in becomes an increasingly precarious ask, and as a result it might be time at the end of the month to rethink my exercise position in terms of what is done where. I may well go down to two classes a week instead of three.

The rest therefore can be done on a bike, in the mornings instead of evenings. It occurs to me I need to set a notional goal for February as has been the case in January, and it might be a plan to do so now rather than panic and scrabble about to do so the week before, especially as classes are organised so far in advance. In fact, whilst I’m having that crucial third cuppa, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Time to move exercise to the next level.

Imagination

Planning is everything, they say. All of us who wear these belts are in a social group together, via the proprietary app. Yesterday morning the class trainer took part in the 45 minute version, managing to pull up an impressive 30 minutes in red. Seeing this was hugely helpful: it meant there was potential to run well. I also fuelled with some intent, meeting protein goal at lunchtime, in one hit.

We’ve spoken about aerobic threshold before, last night was all about managing the anaerobic threshold: normally 85% of heart-rate or 75% oxygen intake. Going too far into yellow is tricky for me, because exhaustion has pretty much followed whenever it’s happened. However, stamina training which the last few weeks represents gave me an interesting plateau to run in, and I didn’t stop to ‘recover’ between transitions.

I was exercising before each new round of exercise was supposed to start, so heart-rate did not drop. This ended up not as a HIIT class, but an exercise in endurance. However, form dropped significantly, especially at the end, and if I tried to duplicate this as a run I severely doubt 42 minutes would be doable. What it does show however is that with the right conditions, I’m in a new place.

Question is, can I prove this to confirm that is in fact the case…?

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Not gonna lie, I’m tired this morning, in a way that means a nap will be scheduled later in the day. This is a new and interesting World I find myself within, and potential is not going to be squandered. Day 15’s cross on the back of my shirt for RED January will not just signify almost halfway in my journey, but will serve as the testament to not only hard work, but sticking to a healthy diet.

All this shit really does work when you put it together.

Down Down

Undoubtedly, exercising every day is a contributing factor to this change. However, it is not the only way I am losing weight. There is some quite diligent calorie counting going on, which is making a real difference not only to my mood, but also to energy levels. It’s taken since October however to get to this stage. Three months. If you are lucky enough to be able to shift a pound a week, I salute you. 

We need to talk about calories for a bit.

View this post on Instagram

Double tap if you LOVE to feel good without the stress 🔥 . Calorie counting can be a useful on a few occasions, like if your diet is full of confusing calorically-dense processed foods, if you genuinely don't have a sense of the energy content of food and are trying to educate yourself, or you're counting to push past a weight loss plateau and have stalled. . One problem is that calorie counts on labels can be misleading. Some of those calories are not fully digested (1), while the energy estimation itself can be off. Legally, labels can have a high margin of error—up to 20 percent—for the stated value versus actual value. That means a 100-calorie snack could contain up to 120 calories, and your attempt at a 1500 calorie day could actually mean 1800 calories! . I propose a better alternative. Real food. Intuition. 😍 . On the right, I have a satiating meal of cauliflower, sweet potato, eggs, and cucumbers, which is not only going to be less calorie dense, but more satiating due to the higher amounts of fiber, water, and protein found within, as compared to the bagel with cream cheese on the right. I don't add a lot of extra oils and fats, save for a nice splash of EVOO for both flavor and health. 🤤 . The amount of calories on each side is actually nearly identical, but notice how much more volume is in the meal on the right side! . Hall et al. recently showed that when we stick to unprocessed foods, we are more inclined to eat to our maintenance calorie intake naturally, or even encourage a deficit (holla, weight loss!), whereas ultra-processed foods are highly palatable and naturally promote weight gain. (2) . Refs: 1: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/138/9/1741S/4750849 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22760558 2: https://osf.io/preprints/nutrixiv/w3zh2 . Happy Thursday. ❤️ Max • • • • • #iifym #flexibledieting #nutrition #macros #protein #calories #caloriecounting #cleaneating #gains #weightloss #mincir #fitfood #perdredupoids #myfitnesspal #mfp #instafit #healthyfood #physique #healthyeating #shredded #maigrir #pertedepoids #wellness #instaregime #reequilibragealimentaire #iifymgirls #plantbased #muscle #abs #healthylifestyle

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I appreciate the sentiments in this Instagram post. It is all basic education: ultra processed foods are bad, eating simply beats just about everything. However, certainly for someone like me, eating nothing but ‘real’ food is the number one, sure fire way of me ending up bingeing. In simplest terms, I need some processed stuff from time to time. The bigger trick is how that’s balanced, and this is why calorific value needs to matter.

I count myself in the ‘weight loss has stalled’ category because it did. Past tense. Now that issue is being addressed, switching to what might be considered ‘real’ food in this definition has potential to send me right back to where I started. The discipline of having to work to a specific target is, like it or not, really quite beneficial to keep everything on the straight and narrow. Also, smart people don’t need a calculator to do calories.

We have apps for that.

thatsbait

Protein shakes have been hugely helpful to maintain strength gains and restrict calorific intake. There are more vegetables and fruit, lean meat, more experimentation with what is enjoyable, but undoubtedly there are days when all I mentally can handle is picking up a packet from a shelf and sticking it in an oven. Then life becomes an Instagram post where I’d shove the real food on the left and a ready meal on the right with the caption ‘You can still be healthy without being righteous.’

There is too much preaching to the gallery going on right now. There are so many ways to get fit and healthy, and none of them are the ‘right’ way, they’re all part of the same game plan. Telling people you’re way is the only way isn’t just dangerous, it’s damaging because this isn’t about someone just doing what they’re told to be healthier. This is about opening your own mind and accepting the understanding that has to happen.

If you don’t grasp the consequences of not getting healthy, nothing will ever work.

dumbledoreshadenoughofyourshit

I got a very useful, inescapable wakeup call late last year. I might look healthy on the outside, but inside that was anything but the truth. When I go back to the Doctors in a fortnight it is with the knowledge that yes, my mentality finally changed. Just exercising is not enough. There needs to be a fundamental understanding not just of the outside of your body, but the inside too. Unless they’re BOTH fit, you are fooling yourself.

If it really matters, calorie counting is a good start. Seeing a doctor and checking your cholesterol levels is also worthwhile. You know that shit they tell you that before starting any new health regime you should do just that? It is. Go talk to someone who knows what’s going on inside you whilst you sort the outside stuff. If there’s one thing to do for yourself this year, it should be that.

Then, you can work out what will be best for YOU to get healthier.

Relax

And Lo, it was Sunday.

Honestly, this is a very strange headspace right now. Last night’s dreams were full on 100% Guilt Edged Wish Fulfilment Exercises. I cycled for nearly an hour last night, at levels that are now close to where body was fitness wise two years ago. There are undeniable signs of body-wide fat loss. Is it really possible that all of this has come as a result of daily, focussed exercise?

focus_rock

Yes, it is. No mystical teas, or diets, or ridiculous new age flim flam. Fucking hard slog, every day, so that twelve days feels like about three months, if truth be told. First breakthrough was Thursday, only because it then became apparent my brain had got the memo that sleeping longer because I’m knackered will have unexpected fringe benefits. Last night’s dreams are absolutely the product of a well-fuelled imagination.

This is the point I wanted to be post Mslexicon, if truth be told. However, I wasn’t physically fit enough. Now that’s being addressed, everything else appears to be falling into place. Parts of me are still scared, of course: that’s only to be expected. New things are frightening. However, if you do them long enough, and try and learn about yourself whilst that happens, you have more than enough to help combat inability.

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That means this is quite enough time sitting in front of a computer. I wanna try and run further than has ever been managed. There’s a fairly significant application form to be filled in before bedtime. Then, as washing clothes is no longer a national emergency, I could have some time to archive old work and start on some new things. However, nothing takes place until I move.

Moving is the best thing.

New Horizons

When the Labour Party imploded before Christmas, a lot more people should have been surprised. I can remember the rhetoric on Social media when Corbyn was elected leader, that nobody in their right mind would ever trust him as Prime Minister. Of course, that’s no help now, in the darkest days of the Planet, and what is required is someone who can make ordinary people feel as if they truly do have a voice in the void.

If the future entailed voting on someone based solely on the strength of one video, this is pretty compelling stuff. However, as is about to become news once again, The Truth is no longer as black and white as was the case back when there were only four TV channels. Archive footage is irrelevant when placed beside memes and infobursts. Our future is ignoring the memories of old people, because they voted for Brexit.

What matters more than testimonial videos is what That Bloke on Facebook posted an hour ago. Although I may have abandoned the platform some time ago, my husband still sits and watches comedy videos and uses it for Hockey and Cycling groups. I’m fairly confident he’s not being manipulated in any way by fake news, but until he feels physically compelled to leave? Houston, we have a FUCKING HUGE PROBLEM.

That’s not the only issue: no other service is as badly regulated, is as casually used and abused, or easily accessible. Businesses demand employees use it, companies won’t promote themselves anywhere else. It plays on the most basic human need for connection, exploits it mercilessly, and then uses those connections TO SELL SHIT TO YOU. Most people don’t even care, but they won’t be the first to leave.

It is humanity’s inherent laziness that allows this platform to thrive.

I’m still using Instagram, it should be stated for the record, 100% in a promotional capacity. That’s only happening because it is free. However, there was a period before the writing career took precedence that Facebook was considered as a platform. I looked at ads. It scared the life out of me: how much money was needed, where the reach went, how the company pretty much demanded total immersion before anything became worthwhile… and I found myself, not for the first time, considering addiction.

This year is the one I’ve made a conscious decision to stop using Social media as a crutch. Online time is strictly limited on my phone. As this is the last day of the school holidays the tablet by the bed will be removed and left down here so there’s none of that either before sleep or when I wake up. The differences it’s making not only to sleep time but mental awareness is already obvious. Yes, you are addicted to Social media.

Addiction however is acceptable when everybody else is too.

None of this is relevant to anyone else, of course, because they aren’t addicted. It’s just a place to hang out with mates, or watch funny shit your cousin posted. Except there is increasing proof that repeated exposure to bad shit can alter good people. It’s how teens get radicalised, adults become utter morons and Chinese manufacturers convince you that purchasing their cheap generic knockoff is a better bet.

Once you can see through the lies, life becomes easier to rationalise, but no less painful to navigate, because unless EVERYBODY ELSE stops being dependant on the platforms, nothing changes… and eventually, unless we all regress back to a pre-electricity dependant state, someone else will come along and do the exact same thing. The only way life changes now is if EVERYTHING changes, and the chances of that right now seem incredibly slim indeed.

Other people can tell you the horror stories. I can recommend podcasts which explain how Facebook tries to be good, but at a terrible cost. There’s enough conspiracy theories out there to last a thousand lifetimes. The reality is simpler, easier to rationalise. You get one life, it remains finite and right now may not necessarily depend on how long you survive. The planet, for an increasing number of us, may burn before we do.

If that’s the case, this is the moment to stop staring at a screen for whatever reason, and to get out and do some good. Instead of filling social media with complaints and frustrations, this is when we get out there and do some good. Stop looking at other people’s lives and wishing yours was better. Make the change. There’s no statute of limitations on New Year’s Resolutions. Today is a great day to start fresh.

Any day can be the start of something better.